Hilarity did not ensue

Oct 07 2010 Published by under Links Best Served Cold

There's this disturbing (and simultaneously hilarious) article in yesterday's NY Times about rampant fraud and plagiarism among China's academic ranks.

My favorite line, by far :

He cited the case of Chen Jin, a computer scientist who was once celebrated for having invented a sophisticated microprocessor but who, it turned out, had taken a chip made by Motorola, scratched out its name, and claimed it as his own.

I can just imagine the poor man patiently scratching out "Motorola" and writing "Chen Jin" over it in crayon.  Brilliant, really.  What's truly amazing, of course, is that anyone believed this -- as my friend Joe pointed out, taking credit for a chip is kind of like taking credit for a 767.  "Oh zees?  I built it in in ze evenings, weeth some scrap metal an' a soldering iron."

More unnerving :

After Mr. Chen was showered with government largess and accolades, the exposure in 2006 was an embarrassment for the scientific establishment that backed him.  But even though Mr. Chen lost his university post, he was never prosecuted. “When people see the accused still driving their flashy cars, it sends the wrong message,” Mr. Zeng said.

The problems in China are more than a little blatant.  But what have the recent American scandals told us about US institutions?  --Are these anomalies, to be brushed under the table?  Or does the integrity of scientific research in the US deserve a closer look?  (Thanks to @CaldenWloka for the scoop)

One response so far

  • Avery Andrews says:

    People are under a lot of pressure to do too much. My institution is full of people running around boasting about their 60-80 hour work weeks, which this article suggests is unsustainable:

    http://archives.igda.org/articles/erobinson_crunch.php

    Some of this stuff we've been reading about seems to me like it might have a substantial component of mental illness, whatever induced by