Questionable boards, falsified studies, and rigged discoveries are behind the biggest scandals in science.

Cloning, paleontology, and predatory magazines are some of the scams.

Although science is characterized by rigor and revision, in recent decades various scientific frauds have occasionally spilled over into scientific publications and researchers. From the Japanese who falsified data in almost 200 studies to the paper signed by characters from The SimpsonsHere are some of the most notorious scientific scams and hoaxes:

A dog on the board

An Australian dog was on the board of seven scientific journals after his owner, researcher Mike Daube, created a false personality for him in order to denounce the lack of rigor in many publications. In his rich (and ridiculous) resume, Ollie (under the name Olivia Doll) claimed to be an expert, in canine massage and in fields such as respiratory medicine, psychiatry and drug abuse.

A polish avatar

Ollie is not the only member of a questionable board. In 2015, a team of researchers invented Anna Olga Szust, a fake researcher with an imagined CV who wrote emails to 360 scientific journals to work on them. Although many declined or did not respond to the offer, several, including a Spanish woman, accepted her request.

The Simpsons signature

It was signed by Edna Krabappel and Maggie Simpson and also by a certain Kim Jong Fun. Besides, it was full of nonsense. And still, the paper was accepted by two scientific journals: Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems Y Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology. How? Because they are two predatory magazines, fraudulent publications that accept studies without review (despite proclaiming otherwise) with the aim of deceiving young scientists who are made to pay a fee for accepting the text.

Edna Krabappel, character from the Simpsons, signed a scientific study.

Edna Krabappel, character from the Simpsons, signed a scientific study.

Fake cloning

In two publications in 2004 and 2005, the scientist Hwang Woo-suk announced that he had managed to clone a human embryo and extract stem cells from it, something that opened the door to great advances in curing diseases. However, only a year later an investigative commission from the University of Seoul confirmed that it had falsified the experiments and that such stem cells never existed. Sentenced to two years in prison that he did not have to serve, the achievement that is recognized is that of the first successful cloning of a dog in 2005.

The fake vaccine scandal

Sadly in vogue, the false link between vaccines and autism stems in part from a fraudulent study conducted by Dr. Andrew Wakefield. In 1998, this doctor published an article in the magazine The Lancet in which he stated that the MMR vaccine caused autism in children. Although it was later discovered that the study was fraudulent, the methods were wrong, and that he had financial conflicts of interest, the damage had already been done and a part of society believed the claims of this specialist, whose license to practice law was withdrawn. medicine in the United Kingdom and that still today remains a banner of the anti-vaccine movement.

An unproven theory

Swedish science has not won lately to disappointment and it is that after the dome of the Karolinska Institute of Sweden, which houses the body that awards the Nobel Prize in Medicine, had to resign due to a scandal related to trachea transplants, a study by the Uppsala University was withdrawn and branded fraudulent. The work argued that debris in the form of microplastics that are abundant in the sea increases the mortality of some fish. However, following the alert of several scientists, a committee ruled that the work had irregularities and a lack of basic data and recommended its withdrawal, stating that its authors were guilty of scientific dishonesty.

The record of counterfeiting

Although some scientists have been accused of fraud in one (or several) papers, there is a Japanese man who has the upper hand in the art of scientific lies. This is Yoshitaka Fujii, an anesthesiologist who published a total of 212 studies. After a thorough investigation of his work, after questions were raised about him, it was discovered that only three of his works were clearly free from doubt and that 193 used falsified data.

The Piltdown Man

The Piltdown Man is one of the oldest scientific frauds and also the longest-standing. In 1912 a skull was presented that, according to the experts of the time, corresponded to the missing link between man and monkey. However, in 1953 the fraud was exposed and it was revealed that the remains were actually part of a human skull and an orangutan jaw, crushed to match them and give them the appearance of antiquity. Still, the Piltdown man still has another mystery to expose, as it has not yet been proven who the forger who made the skull was (although all eyes are on Charles Dawson, the archaeologist who discovered it and who also forged other objects during his career).

John Cooke's painting commemorating the discovery.

John Cooke’s painting commemorating the discovery.

Buried and dug up

It is not the only scandal in paleontology. In Japan, starting in the 70s, the archaeologist Shinichi Fujimura revolutionized the conception existing until then of the dates on which the Paleolithic began in the country due to his findings. However, after a meteoric career, in 2000 a Japanese publication revealed images of the scientist planting the objects he later discovered and exposing his great lie.

Those to come

According to a recent study, dozens of clinical trials contain suspicious statistical patterns, which could indicate that your data is incorrect or falsified. And although the conclusions of the analysis may seem exaggerated, the person behind the study is John Carlisle, the expert who uncovered the Japanese anesthetist scandal and its record fraud. Could any of the studies pointed out by this researcher’s work be really fraudulent?