Breaking Down Science, Step by Step

Killing Rage - Fraudulent "Scientist"

A colleague of mine recently shared this surprisingly detailed story of academic fraud wherein the perpetrator has breached so many ethical standards that I think he should be stood against a wall and shot. On the surface, it seems to be a run-of-the-mill falsification of credentials scheme, but it gets much worse.

First this guy lied about his credentials. Rather than just make up lies, he plagiarized the work of people with similar names. He also relied on Americans not to fact check or be familiar with Indian institutions of higher learning. Upon being caught, he apparently coerced two students/employees to lie on his behalf, and also make accusations of racism and sexual impropriety on his behalf. I wonder if the graduate student is counted in the statistics of sexual harassment of scientists article posted recently. False accusations only exacerbate the real problem, both for sexual harassment and racism.


Rather than face the consequences, this guy doubles down and tries to game the system relying on creating negative public opinion about his accusers to "win." The good news is he lost and was successfully sued, and his students too. One seems to have disappeared while the other is working in an apparent academic position even though he didn't finish his Ph.D. (after essentially being kicked out).

Adding insult, he apparently taught other students to manipulate data because the results weren't interesting enough without it. Teaching students that deception and lies are fine in science is pretty much the opposite of science; so he is contributing to scientific backlash as well. To say I loathe these actions is not strong enough. This guy appears to be one of the worst people in science today. And although he has now been kicked out of two positions (maybe three?), he is still gainfully employed and likely makes more money than you or I or most reputable scientists. As I sit on my first tenure and review committee, I am pleased that the person I am evaluating is a good and ethical scientist, and I wonder how I can not only support her, but work to prevent other frauds from stifling her (and my) opportunities. I welcome discussion about how we should treat fraud of this magnitude and how we can prevent it from propagating.

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