Sunday, December 30, 2007

List of Media Reports

A more complete list of media reports (in English) concerning Fang Zhouzi's fraud-busting efforts. This list will be continuously updated in the future:

  1. Nature, 11/2012, John Maddox Prize
  2. Chemistry World China, 12/2010, Academic Controversy Leads to Bloodshed
  3. Nature Medicine, 12/6/2010, Fang Shimin: Least Likely to Back Down Chinese Blogger
  4. Science, 11/5/2010, Questions from China Snag U.S. Trial of Nerve-Rerouting Procedure
  5. Nature, 10/20/2010, A Hammer Blow to National Ethics
  6. Associated Press, 10/19/2010, Patients Protest Chinese Doctor's Risky Surgery
  7. New York Times, 10/6/2010, Rampant Fraud Threat to China's Brisk Ascent
  8. Nature, 9/29/2010, Brawl in Beijing: Critics of Chinese Researchers Targeted in Physical Attacks
  9. Science, 9/23/2010, Urologist Arrested for Attacks on Chinese Whistleblowers
  10. TIME, 9/8/2010, In China, the Bad News for Reporters Gets Worse
  11. Science, 8/30/2010, Assailants Attack China's Science Watchdog
  12. Christian Science Monitor, 8/30/2010, Attack on China Whistleblower Shows Risk of Unveiling Corruption, Fraud
  13. University World News, 4/25/2010, China: Universities Fail to Tackle Plagiarism
  14., 2/15/2010, Science Paper Trade Booms in China
  15. South China Morning Post, 1/31/2010, The Lie Detector
  16. Science, 2/8/2008, Lifting the Veil on Traditional Chinese Medicine, 319, 709-710
  17. New Scientist, 11/7/2007, China Special: Exposing the Science Charlatans
  18. China Daily, 12/14/2006, "Science Cop" Faces Backlash
  19. Science, 12/1/2006, China's Fraud Buster Hit By Libel Judgments; Defenders Rally Around, 314, 1366-1367
  20. The New Atlantis, Summer 2006, China's Phony Science, 13, 103-106
  21. Nature, 5/25/2006: Special Report Named and Shamed, 441, 392-393
  22. Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/19/2006, Plagued by Plagiarism
  23. Christian Science Monitor, 5/16/2006, Research Fraud Rampant in China
  24. SciDevNet, 2/3/2006, Out to Debunk: China's "Science Police"
  25. China Daily, 8/18/2005: From Scientist to "Science Policeman"
  26. China Daily, 11/19/2004: Waging War Fang
  27. Science, 8/10/2001: CHINA: Biochemist Wages Online War Against Ethical Lapses, 293, 1039

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

An Academician Who Plagiarized

In 2001, someone reported to Fang Zhouzi a plagiarism case involving a famed Academician of the Chinese Academy of Science, Professor Yang Xiongli (杨雄里). In 1998, Yang published a review article in Chinese, which is almost verbose of an earlier published review by Eric Newman and Andreas Reichenbach, "The Muller Cell: A Functional Element of the Retina" in Trends in Neuroscience, 1996.

To be sure, Fang Zhouzi did a thorough analysis of the two articles and concluded that it was indeed a blatant plagiarism. Yang's article has 14 paragraphs, 11 of which were either entirely or almost entirely copied from Newman and Reichenbach. In the few cases that Yang tried to make adjustment to the text, he actually misrepresented the original meaning. The details of the analysis can be seen here.

Professor Yang did not respond to the charge himself. His students published an open letter defending his character and laud his achievements. But the only defense to the plagiarism charge they had was that the original article was cited in Yang's article, albeit near the end.

The case was never investigated by any authority. Fang Zhouzi raised this case again earlier this year when a professor from Fudan University, Yang's school, asked the public to report fraud cases. But he has received no response.

Earlier this month, Fudan University did hand down punishments on three fraud cases in the school. Yang Xiongli's was not among them.

Would/Could a clear plagiarism case involving an Academician be investigated?

The Plagiarism Case of Wang Mingming

In his letter, professor Stearns cited an old case in Peking University (Beida):

The penalties for plagiarism that you will encounter later in life are very serious. If you do it as a graduate student, you can be expelled from university, and you will not get your degree. If you do it as a faculty member, you can lose your job. I know you may not believe that, for the sociology professor at Beida who translated an entire book into Chinese and published it with his name on it only lost his administrative positions but kept his professorship and salary. But things are not like that elsewhere. When plagiarism is detected in the United States, it can end the career of the person who did it. That is also true in Europe.
Long time followers of Fang Zhouzi and New Thread know exactly what that case was. It was back in 2002, when Fang Zhouzi was just getting into this business of exposing academic fraud. The entire history of that case is documented in New Thread's For the Record.

In January, 2002, an article was published in a small newspaper in Shanghai, accusing Professor Wang Mingming (王铭铭) of plagiarism. Wang Mingming was, and still is, a professor in the Institute of Anthropology in the Sociology Department of Peking University.

The fact was pretty simple. In 1987, Wang Mingming led the effort to translate of William A. Haviland's Cultural Anthropology and published it in Chinese. A decade later in 1998, Wang published a book of his own in Chinese (想象的异邦). It was found that about one-third of this new book, some 100,000 Chinese characters' worth, were directly copied from Haviland's book. Wang's new book cited 120 references, but did not include Haviland, a book Wang had translated himself and then copied in tantalizing scale.

The accusation ignited a heated debate in the media and internet at the time. Numerous students from Peking University rose to defend Professor Wang. Wang's own Ph. D. students published an open letter defending the character of their beloved teacher and accused the whistle-blower for having ulterior motives in defaming their school, the leading institute of Anthropology in China.

According to a report in the newspaper Beijing Youth, the original accuser was ready to apologize to Professor Wang for the trouble he had caused. On the other hand, Professor Wang only had "no comment" to answer to reporters' questions.

Later in March, 2002, Professor Wang Mingming issued a public apology to Haviland, colleagues, and readers. The school decided to revoke his administrative positions and suspend his privilege of advising Ph. D. students for two years. But he had his professorship intact. The punishment was almost identical to the ones dished out in the more recent plagiarism cases at Fudan University.

Today, Wang Mingming enjoys the full status as a professor in Peking University. His online resume indicates that he is also the Vice President of the Association of Literature and Anthropology in China.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Rao Yi: Professors Should Write Recommendation Letters Themselves

The fallout of Professor Stearns' letter continues. Peking University reports that Professor and Dean Rao Yi and a vice president of the university met with Stearns to discuss the issues raised in his letter.

Professor Stearns is happy with the progress and suggested that the school should their actions from two aspects:
  1. When professors are asked to provide recommendation letters for their students, they should not just let the students write the letters for them to sign.
  2. The school should require professors to teach with their own understandings of their class material, not just read out existing textbooks. If the professors are lazy in such a way, the students would learn to cheat by copying as well.
For many years, it has been a well known and common practice that most professors in China don't write recommendations for their students. They just ask the students to have them written and then sign whatever that were presented to them. Some do this out of lack of confidence in their English language skills, but most do it simply because they are not interested in investing the time and effort in this "mundane" task.

Rao Yi acknowledges this problem. He said that he was well aware of it when he was in charge of admitting graduate students at his institutes in the United States. Rao Yi agrees that there should be no reason for professors asking their students to write their own recommendation letters. They should write themselves, or at least ask their secretaries or assistants for help.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Reader's Comment on Professor Stearns' Letter

We continue to receive comments to our story of Professor Stearns' letter. Thanks to all who have written. I would like to share one of them, by someone who had studied in Peking University, as below:

The fact that plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty occur everywhere does not invalidate the professor's point that the scope of the problem in China, like the size of its population or the speed of its economic expansion, is staggering. In my own experience as a graduate student instructor at the University of California at Berkeley and as a former student at both Peking University and Tsinghua, the incidence of plagiarism and fraud among Chinese students is disappointing to say the least. True, much of it can be attributed to an academic culture that allows students to quote without attribution or that encourages students to compose their own letters of recommendation when applying to foreign universities. Nevertheless, I generally accept the professor's point that such a culture not only undermines his efforts to educate his students, but diminishes the Chinese educational system and China as a whole. As for the professor's "condescending" tone - all I can say is that the truth sometimes hurts. It's difficult to examine the culture of dishonesty and permissiveness at Chinese universities like Beida without considering the larger social context. Pirated DVDs, western textbooks, and GRE prep materials are only the most obvious examples. Chinese students need to hear this message. China's poverty and status as a developing country are poor excuses for such brazen and pervasive dishonesty. Bravo to the professor for saying so.

More Media Exposures

Our story of Professor Stearns' letter has been picked up by China Digital Times. We are also a "recommended blog" at the Asia Business Intelligence.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Rao Yi Responses to Professor Stearns' Letter

Professor Rao Yi (饶毅), a long time Fang Zhouzi supporter and the new dean of Peking University's School of Life Sciences, has publicly responded to Professor Stearns' letter criticizing the wide-spread plagiarism in Peking University. According to the press release, Rao Yi is the first person among the recepants of Stearns' letter to reply.

In response to Stearns' charge that the faculties and administrators have been covering up past plagiarism cases, Rao Yi announced unequivocally that should any faculty members in his School of Life Sciences be found guilty of plagiarism, they would be expelled.

It is not clear whether any of the students in Stearns' class who had committed plagiarism belong to Rao Yi's School. Nevertheless, Rao Yi had also received email from at least one such student pleading innocence. Rao promised to work with both the students and Professor Stearns to resolve the matter. He also encourages the students to face their mistakes and look forward.

It is highly unusual for an officer of any kind to respond to criticism in such a timely and clear manner. Having returned to China and become the dean only mere months ago, Rao Yi is certainly presenting himself as a new kind of administrator and scholar. It's very refreshing to see.

Of course, Rao Yi's ultimate test is still yet to come, when he has a plagiarism (or other fraud) case in his hands. Would he be able to keep his promise?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

One Reaction To Professor Stearns' Letter

When Professor Steve Stearns responded this blog regarding his letter, he said he already received many email comments. He forwarded a particularly striking comment, with the author's permission to publish it on the web:

Dear Prof. Stearns,

I read online a letter you wrote to students in Beijing University.
I felt sad but not surprised at the facts mentioned here; and I was
touched at this heartfelt message you delivered. I came from China
14 years ago; and over the last decade or so, the whole world
witnessed the huge economic and social changes of the country. I
haven't worked directly in China for extended length of time, but I
never missed a beat of its development by working on short
projects in China, keeping track on internet, vacationing at least
once a year. One thing I have observed is the lack of integrity has
been more and more pronounced, if not already ubiquitous. Cheating
academically is the norm for students; contracts never need to be
honored; data can't be trusted; --dishonesty is a way of life--you
lose if you don't cheat. My boyfriend did his first tour to China this
year and asked me "why does everyone, when receiving a 100 yuan
bill, have to check it against the light and why is no one ever offended
by that?" No trust is existent in the system; the whole society is
running on "The Sopranos" system. A friend in China commented it is
"Sodom and Gomorrah" already.

I tend not to adopt a pessimistic view. I do believe that action leads to
motivation, and economic growth will create demand for higher
morality. Yet, it takes a long time and takes a lot of lessons to be
learned the hard way. I have to admit, when I was a student in China,
I also cheated, just like many did. I didn't realize how powerful that
seemingly insignificant action has left an influence on me. For all these
years in the US, I learned it the hard way--it took me more than 10
years to finally walk out of all the mess I created for myself out of that
terrible habit and mentality. I have faith in humanity and people of my
homeland; but I know, today, they are still showered in the "success"
thus created, and they don't have the time, the attention or the condition
to yet see the hefty price tag. I don't know when and how they will
eventually; it won't be pleasant but so truth is.

I just want to tell you how much your letter resonates with people like
me, who do care about the future of the country and its people. Thank
you for bringing such an important message to them. It is a great deed
you did; thank you for the care and love.

Yale Professor Criticizes Wide Spread Plagiarism at Peking University

Professor Stephen Stearns of Yale has spent this Fall at Peking University teaching two undergraduate courses on evolution. The school, also affectionately known as Beida, is one of the most prestigious universities in China. Today, a letter by him is circulating the school's BBS and a few other web sites in China. In the letter, Professor Stearns expressed great dismay in his discovery of plagiarism cases among his students (after his explicit warning, no less), as well as behaviors of the school and the country in ignoring international intellectual rights.

What I found particularly interesting is his observation that "The fact that I have encountered this much plagiarism at Beida tells me something about the behavior of other professors and administrators here. They must tolerate a lot of it, and when they detect it, they cover it up without serious punishment, probably because they do not want to lose face. If they did punish it, it would not be this frequent."

Indeed, Fang Zhouzi and New Thread had exposed quite a few plagiarism cases involving Beida professors in the past. None of them had received any adequate punishments.

Professor Stearns has confirmed to this blog that he is in fact the author of this letter. With his permission, the full text of the letter, taken from the New Thread web site, where a Chinese translation is also available, is presented here:

To my students in Beijing, Fall 2007:
While grading papers today I encountered two more cases
of plagiarism. One was sophisticated but serious. The
other was so blatant that it was almost unbelievable.
That makes a total of three students who have failed my
courses because of plagiarism.

If I had not warned you and given you the opportunity
honestly to correct your essays, there would have been
several more. I thank those of you who were honest and
showed me what you had copied.

Plagiarism disturbs me greatly, both because it corrodes
my relationship with you as my students, and because it
tells me things about China and Beida that neither you
nor I want to hear.

It corrodes my relationship with you because I work
hard to be a good teacher, I take time to prepare good
lectures, and I spend many hours providing detailed
feedback on essays. It is hard work. You cannot imagine
what it is like to correct the details of the 500th
essay until you have done it yourself. I do that to help
you learn to think more clearly, to express yourself
convincingly, and to develop your intellectual power,
your ability to understand the world. I also do it
because I value you, I value your ideas, and I think
the world will be a better place when you can all think
clearly and behave intelligently. Later in life, some of
you will be leaders with important positions. I want you
to be competent and honest, for I have seen too often
what terrible things can happen when leaders are
incompetent and dishonest. Leadership aside, I want all
of you to be able to create value in your lives, whatever
you end up doing, and you cannot do that if you deceive.

When a student whom I am teaching steals words and ideas
from an author without acknowledgment, I feel cheated,
dragged down into the mud. I ask myself, why should I
teach people who knowingly deceive me? Life is too short
for such things. There are better things to do.

Disturbingly, plagiarism fits into a larger pattern of
behavior in China. China ignores international
intellectual property rights. Beida sees nothing wrong
in copying my textbook, for example, in complete violation
of international copyright agreements, causing me to lose
income, stealing from me quite directly. No one in China
seems to care. I can buy DVDs in stores and on the street
for about one US dollar. They cost $20-30 outside China;
the artists who produced them are losing enormous amounts
of stolen income, billions of dollars each year. China has
become notorious for producing defective products that have
to be recalled because the pose health threats to consumers.
A recent cartoon in an American newspaper shows the Central
Committee reacting to an accusation that they have violated
human rights. The response? "Wait until they see what we
put in their toothpaste next!" Corruption is a serious
problem in a booming economy. For example, in the mining
industry, about 5000 miners die each year and mine owners
cut corners in violation of the law. The social fabric
breaks when workers die because owners are greedy. The
Mandate of Heaven is lost.

China appears to have lost her way. Confucius said, do not
do to others what you do not want them to do to you. He
also said, a gentleman is honest. Honesty and reciprocity
are the basis of trust and community. We cannot get along
in a world filled with deceit and defection; such a world
becomes a Hobbesian war of all against all, nasty and
brutal. We cannot do science if we cannot trust what others
publish. There is no reason to try to replicate a result
if it cannot be trusted. It would not be worth the effort.
Without replication there can be no shared knowledge that
is tested and trustworthy - that is, no science. Without
science, there can be no technology. And without technology,
there can be no steady increase in productivity, economic
growth, and a better life for all.

The penalties for plagiarism that you will encounter later
in life are very serious. If you do it as a graduate
student, you can be expelled from university, and you will
not get your degree. If you do it as a faculty member, you
can lose your job. I know you may not believe that, for the
sociology professor at Beida who translated an entire book
into Chinese and published it with his name on it only lost
his administrative positions but kept his professorship and
salary. But things are not like that elsewhere. When
plagiarism is detected in the United States, it can end the
career of the person who did it. That is also true in

The fact that I have encountered this much plagiarism at
Beida tells me something about the behavior of other
professors and administrators here. They must tolerate a
lot of it, and when they detect it, they cover it up
without serious punishment, probably because they do not
want to lose face. If they did punish it, it would not be
this frequent.

I have greatly enjoyed teaching some of you. I have
encountered young minds here that are as good as any in
the world. Many of you are brave, most of you work very
hard, most of you are honest, and some of you are brilliant.
But I am leaving with very mixed feelings. It is quite sad
that so many promising young Chinese think it is necessary
to cheat to succeed. They damage themselves even more than
the people from whom they steal and the people whom they
deceive with stolen words.

Sincerely, Steve Stearns

Monday, December 17, 2007

Disciplinary Actions at Fudan University

The year is almost over, but the Committee for Scholarly Standard (学术规范委员会) at Fudan University (复旦大学), Shanghai, had just released its very first announcement of the year. But it's a good one.

The announcement include the results of investigation and subsequent disciplinary actions against three separate cases of plagiarism involving professors, teachers, a postdoctoral scholar and a graduate student at the school. Two of the three cases were reported at Fang Zhouzi's New Thread web site (but only one was credited as such in the announcement).

All three cases were found guilty of plagiarism. The graduate student who was found almost solely responsible for one case was expelled from school. The postdoctoral scholar received a penalty of similar effect. All the professors and teachers were publicly reprimanded. Professors who have the privilege of advising Ph. D. students have that privilege suspended for two years. (In China, the privilege of advising Ph. D. student is treated very seriously, almost regarded as an additional professional title along with Professorship.)

For many years, Fang Zhouzi's lonely crusade against academic fraud has been frustrated by the silence and inaction of various authorities. It is rare, although not the first time, to see a concrete action. This came from Fudan University, one of the top institutes of higher education in China, is definitely a huge plus.

However, Fang Zhouzi is also quick to point out that he is still waiting for the committee to report on another plagiarism case he had reported. One that involves an Academician in Fudan. Would Fudan just punish the small flies and let the big elephants get away?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Liu Zihua: the Lawsuit

In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union redefined the definition of planets and declared the newly discovered "10th Planet" not a planet. Pluto is also gone from the category. Therefore, the solar system is left with only 8 planets.

Three months later, in November 2006, the Beijing 2nd Intermediate People's Court held the proceedings on the defamation case brought by Liu Zihua's wife and son against Fang Zhouzi and four media companies. The plaintiff claimed Fang had defamed Liu Zihua for his essay exposing the fraud in Liu's theory predicting a 10th Planet in the Solar system. Fang's characterization that Liu was trying to gain fame through deception (欺世盗名) was a grave personal attack and insult and caused great damage to the health and psychological welfare of Liu's family members.

The defendants presented evidences of fraud and deception, including:
  • Liu's degree certificate showed that his degree was in liberal arts, but he was presented as an astronomer
  • The parameter values Liu had predicted was far from what had measured from the new "10th planet", but it was presented as "shockingly close"
  • Liu Zihua is a public figure and should legally withstand public criticism.
After deliberation, the Beijing 2nd Intermediate People's Court decided that, while it recognizes the rights that scientific opinions are debatable, Fang Zhouzi had crossed the line to accuse Liu Zihua as deceiving. Therefore, the defendants were found guilty for defamation.

The Court ordered all defendants to make public apologies to Liu Zihua's family. Fang Zhouzi and the Beijing Science and Technology should each pay 20,000 RMB ($2,500) to the plaintiff for damage. The other defendants were spared of damage payments. The damage payout was only about 1% of what the plaintiff had asked for.

As a matter of course, the defendants appealed to the Beijing High Court. This time, Fang Zhouzi provided documented evidences of Liu Zihua's deception, gathered from memorials published by Liu's family.

In July, 2007, the Beijing High Court heard the appeal case. With the evidence, the High Court recognized that the deception did occur. However, the Court also pointed out that the evidences were published after Liu Zihua's death. The deception behaviors were the responsibility of Liu's family, not Liu himself. Therefore, Fang's claim of Liu Zihua was a man of deception himself was still not supported by the evidences.

In its verdict, the Beijing High Court further reduced the damage payout ordered by the Beijing 2nd Intermediate Court to 10% of its original amount. Fang Zhouzi is now ordered to pay only 2,000 RMB ($250), a token value. However, he is still court-ordered to publicly apologize.

So now the Court had determined that Liu Zihua's descendants had committed deception. But because it was not done by Liu himself (evidences of otherwise were ignored by the Court) and that Liu had since passed away. The defendants who had exposed the deception are now ordered to pay damage fines to Liu's family, the very people who had done the deceptions.

Very interesting, indeed.

Liu Zihua: A New Kind of Astronomy

In the 1930s, a young Chinese by the name of Liu Zihua (刘子华) was living a lonely and miserable life in Paris, France. But he had a dream to pursuit. The 9th planet of the solar system, the Pluto, was just discovered not too long ago. There were much talk about the possibility of a 10th planet.

However, Liu Zihua was not an astronomer. But he found a unique approach. He set out to match the ancient Chinese philosophy, namely, the Yin and Yang (阴阳) and it's Eight Diagrams (八卦) algorithm with the orbit parameters of the known planets.

He had been doing that since he arrived at Paris in 1919. After much difficulty, he had found an initial match among the known planets before Pluto. However, the Pluto discovery forced him back to the drawing board, since the new planet did not fit into his original match. After a few years of hard work, he found a new match, with an exciting caveat. According to Yin and Yang, planets should come in as pairs. He paired the Sun with Mars, Moon with Venus, Jupiter with Saturn, etc. (Never mind the fact that the Sun and Moon are not planets.) As such, he found the Uranus left out all alone, without a partner.

To complete his match, there had to be another planet, which of course would be the 10th planet everyone was looking for! To fit his match, the new planet must have an average orbital speed of 1.65 km/s, density of 0.424 kg/m^3, and average distance to the Sun 7.4 billion km -- apparently the three parameters he had used in his match. What he couldn't do with his theory was, of course, to predict the planet's actual location or orbit.

In the Fall of 1939, Liu Zihua submitted his thesis to the University of Paris and obtained a Ph. D. degree. (His certificate seemed to indicate that it was a degree in liberal arts, rather than science.) He also published it as a book in French in 1940, and according to today's reports, caused a great excitement in the astronomy field in western Europe (the escalation of World War II not withstanding.)

Liu Zihua returned to China soon after. He must have tried hard to sell his new astronomy in the wartime China. At least one prominent astronomer, Zhang Yuzhe (张钰哲), published an essay "Do You Know How Planets Are Discovered?" to rebuke Liu's claims.

In the ensuring decades, Liu Zihua and his theory were all forgotten, buries in the waves of tremendous social and political changes in China.

But Liu never gave up. In 1978, he came out and announced that his new calculations according to I Ching indicated that the new Planet would appear around the year 1982. Lo and behold, the "Planet X" was "discovered" in 1981. Liu enjoyed a mini-revival at the time. But that soon faded away. Liu Zihua died in 1992, survived by his wife and a son Liu Shaohua (刘少华).

It was not until early this century, with the discovery of 2003 UB313, aka Xena or Eris, Liu Zihua and his theory became first-page news in China again. Finally, the 10th planet is here! Never mind the huge difference in actual parameter values from what Liu had predicted, "his prediction was shockingly similar to this new discovery!"

On August 10, 2005, Fang Zhouzi published an essay describing the flaws of Liu Zihua's theory and its absolute irrelevance to the new discovery. Using the Chinese phrase 欺世盗名, he accused Liu Zihua as someone who had tried to gain fame through deceiving the world.

The newspaper Beijing Science and Technology (BST) , one of the media outlets that carried Fang's essay, also named it as one of the "Top 10 Cheats and Deceptions in Science and Technology" in 2005.

In July 2006, Liu Zihua's surviving wife and son sued Fang Zhouzi and four media outlets, BST, Sina, Sohu, and NetEase, for defamation. They sought for 2,500,000 RMB ($312,500) in damage, an astronomical amount in Chinese court for such cases.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Xi'an Fanyi: The Lawsuit

Fang Zhouzi's investigation of the Xi'an Fanyi's fraudulent claim of being a Top 10 university in China was first picked up by a reporter named Tang Yong (唐勇). Mr. Tang worked for the Huanqiu (环球时报), a subsidiary of the official newspaper People's Daily (人民日报). He also happened to be at Los Angles at the time. So he got a copy of the October 4, 2004 edition of Los Angles Times and looked over the entire content. Based on that he reported that there was no news about any ranking of China's universities in that paper. Obviously, it had never occurred to him that he needed to check all the advertisements in the paper as well. Similarly, he searched and could not find the "USA Fifty State Higher Education Union" in any database or on Google.

On November 8, 2004, Tang Yong reported his findings on Huanqiu. (Subsequently, Fang Zhouzi accused Tang Yong for plagiarism by using Fang's contents without citation.)

In early December, even the top level authority became aware of this issue. In a news conference, the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Education (MOE), Wang Xuming (王旭明), said specifically:
... As we are aware, the report on Los Angles Times was a paid advertisement. The so-called "USA Fifty State Higher Education Union" does not exist. There was never such an organization. The paper had informed concerned people in China (中方有关人士) that the piece was a paid advertisement, not a news report. If anyone engages distorted propaganda using the Los Angles Times, the Paper will seek legal actions against them.
It was not clear whether the MOE Spokesperson based his information on Fang Zhouzi and Tang Yong's reports or had independent sources of their own.

The "official" pronouncement not withstanding, Xi'an Fanyi's President Ding Zuyi sued Tang Yong and a local paper which carried his report in January, 2005. In May, the Chang'an District Court in Xi'an decided that Tang Yong had written his report without learning all the facts and therefore was guilty of libel and defamation. He and his paper were ordered to apologize.

At the same time, Fang Zhouzi, New Thread, and other media received letters from Xi'an Fanyi's lawyers to remove related contents and apologize. In defiance, Fang Zhouzi reiterated the Xi'an Fanyi fraud case in a column published in Beijing Science and Technology (BST) on July 27, 2005. In the article, he cited the MOE Spokesperson that the ranking news and its sponsoring institution are "non-existent" (子虚乌有).

On August 30, 2005, Ding Zuyi and Xi'an Fanyi filed a lawsuit against Fang Zhouzi and BST for defamation. More than a year later, on November 10, 2006, the case was heard in the Chang'an District Court.

The Court apparently ignored Fang Zhouzi's plea that the passage in his article was a direct quote from the MOE Spokesperson and not his own and proceeded the case against Fang. The defendants provided copies of the Los Angles Times, which clearly showed that the "news" in question was a paid advertisement, as well as results from State of California registry showing the registration date of the so-called "USA Fifty State Higher Education Union" and its current defunct status. The court ruled that these evidences inadmissible since they haven't been properly notarized by the Chinese Consulate in the US.

Without any other evidences, however, on November 14, the Court declared that it had verified that on October 4, 2004, Los Angles Times had published a news article on the ranking of "most respected" universities in China. That the defendants did not have sufficient evidence to prove the report was a paid advertisement. Nor could the defendants prove the "non-existence" of the "USA Fifty State Higher Education Union". Therefore the defendants had based their criticisms of Xi'an Fanyi on falsehoods and were guilty of defamation.

The Court decreed that
  1. Within 10 days, Fang and BST must publish an open apology to Xi'an Fanyi, reviewed by the Court
  2. Within 10 days, Fang and BST must pay Xi'an Fanyi 150,000RMB ($18,750) for economical damage
  3. Within 10 days, Fang and BST must pay Ding Zuyi 10,000RMB ($1,250) for psychological damage
Fang Zhouzi and BST appealed. In April, 2007, Xi'an Intermediate People's Court delivered the final verdict and rejected the appeal.

On October 22, BST published an open apology to Xi'an Fanyi and Ding Zuyi, fulfilling it's part of the court obligation. It was not clear if the paper had paid for the damage fine. Fang Zhouzi, however, continued to choose defiance. He is appealing to the Highest People's Court of the nation.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Xi'an Fanyi: A "Most Respected" School?

During October, 2004, a small news item appeared in several Chinese newspapers and online media about a ranking of Chinese Universities, done by an American organization. One such piece can still be seen on the web today. Rankings of colleges were just getting popular in China then, so such news wasn't all that interesting by itself. What was interesting, however, is its Top Ten list of universities: while the usual suspects such as Tsinghua and Peking Universities occupied the top 9 spots, the 10-th spot belong to a school by the name "Xi-an Fanyi University". Not many people had ever heard about that school by then.

What's more, the accompanying Top Ten University Presidents list ranked Ding Zuyi, the President of the "Xi-an Fanyi University" in the 2nd spot, right between the Presidents of Peking and Tsinghua universities.

Where did this ranking come from?

The news report said it was from the October 4, 2004 issue of Los Angles Times, which is certainly a reputed source. It also included an original English version, which perhaps inadvertently provided the first hint of something not being right:

Ranking of Chinese Universities by USA Fifty State Higher Education Union

  The first list of most respected Chinese universities and their presidents was established by the USA Fifty State Higher Education Union through a survey. 80,000 questionnaires were distributed with 50,000 returned as valid. The event is the first of its kind in China done by international agencies. Noticeably, China's first private university Xi-An Fanyi University in the country's western province of Shaanxi has entered the top 10 list. It is now the biggest private universities in China boasting about 40,000 students in residence.

It's quite obvious that Los Angles Times could not have published something in such awkward English. The name of the institute "USA Fifty State Higher Education Union" also sounded fishy. Could this be another blatant fake?

Fang Zhouzi thought so. He was in China at the time when he encountered this "news". Without direct access to the Los Angles Times paper itself, he did the next best thing: searching its online archives. He found nothing. In his first report on this case, Fang Zhouzi was careful enough to point out that just because it was not in the online archive was not proving enough that the report was not in the paper. However, based on the English writing itself, he was confident that this news was a piece of forgery done by some Chinese people with sub-par English skills.

Although a self-claimed "university", Xi'an Fanyi University (西安翻译学院) is really a small college specializing in training for foreign language translators and interpretors. Unlike public colleges in China, schools like this one are "private" and charge hefty tuitions from students. They usually compete for the students who had failed to earn admission in the more traditional colleges and had to pay their own ways for a skill education. Not withstanding the successfulness or the lack thereof, such a school would not be qualified to be on anyone's Top 10 list.

After Fang Zhouzi's initial exposure of this "fake news", the school fought back immediately and provided copies of the certificates it had received to prove its authenticity. The two certificates read:

After a survey of American colleges, Professor Dingzuyi,
the president of Xi-an fanyi university is acknowledged
to be the venerable president of college run by the
local people in China.

After a deliberation of the colleges run by the local
people in China,
Xi-an fanyi university is acknowledged
to be the first study-worthy by
American Colleges.
It is quite interesting to note that, Xi'an Fanyi University, a school specializing in English skills, could not recognize the many mistakes in English in these certificates alone.

In the meantime, the news of the ranking was still spreading in China and made into mainstream news outlets including the official Xinhua News Agency and Chinese Youth Daily. A copy of the October 4th, 2004 edition of Los Angles Times was made available. The "news" of the ranking was indeed in the paper, not as a report, but as a paid advertisement. It was also found out that the socalled "USA Fifty State Higher Education Union" was registered in the State of California by someone named He Yumin as a company. The company was registered on May 26, 2004, merely 5 days before it delivered the "most respected" certificates. It is quite unlikely that the company had the time to send out 80,000 questionaries and process the 50,000 returns as it had claimed in the news/advertisement.

In December 2004, Fang Zhouzi's supportors in Los Angles visited the address on the registration and found the "USA Fifty State Higher Education Union" is no longer there. It probably never was.

But by now, Ding Zuyi (丁祖怡) had had enough. He decided to sue.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

We Have Been Picked By Danwei

Danwei, a nice blog about "Chinese media, advertising, and urban life" has picked Xiao Chuanguo's open letter from our blog as its "Danwei Picks" of 12/12/2007. Here is what Danwei said about the piece:

Xiao Chuangguo is an academic whom anti-fraud activist Fang Zhouzi accused of falsifying his resume. He sued, and published a rather nasty open letter before legal proceedings began last year. A translation of that letter appears on a new blog, the China Scientific & Academic Integrity Watch, which follows the activity of people in China working to uphold academic and professional standards.
Danwei had also reported on Fang Zhouzi's efforts in the past.

Also, a couple of days ago, Danwei reported that blogspot has been unblocked in China. They keep a great tab on the blocking and unblocking of various sites by the Great Chinese Firewall.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Professor Rao Yi Speaks Up

One prominent intellectual who was outraged by Xiao Chuanguo's lawsuit and open letter was Rao Yi (饶毅), then the Steiner Elsa A. Swanson Research Professor at Northwestern University. On September 6, 2006, Professor Rao Yi published an open letter of his own, practically denouncing Xiao Chuanguo's public behavior as brain-dead.

Because of this letter, Professor Rao Yi is now a co-defendant with Fang Zhouzi in a libel suit filed by Xiao Chuanguo in New York. The case is still awaiting for trial.

Meanwhile, Professor Rao Yi has left Northwestern and become the Dean of School of Life Sciences at Peking University in China.

Professor Rao Yi's letter can be read here in its original Chinese. Thanks to Yush for providing the English translation:

Yi Rao
Professor of Neurology
Northwestern University, USA
Senior Investigator,
National Institute of Biological Science, Beijing, China

The following is my opinion on the Chuan-Guo Xiao vs. Shi-Min Fang case.

I have been in the field of neuroscience for 23 years since I began my graduate study. In the past eleven years, I have been interacting with Chinese researchers and teaching and conducting research in China. I did some study on the historical evolutions of biomedicine in China. I am familiar with the Chinese academia in biomedicine, and I also know international academia in neuroscience quite well. In addition, I have a fair understanding of the current status of the academia in China.

Although I cannot possibly know every detail regarding this case, I urge the court to dismiss the case and never accept similar cases in the future for the dignity of the law. The reasons are as follows: I am not sure if Chuan-Guo Xiao’s intelligence does not match his age or is defected, or if he is psychologically ill or abnormal compared with ordinary adults. I am afraid that there may be a relatively big issue with one of these problems.

Except that I once responded to his questions indirectly in an explanatory article in 2002, I have been reluctant to express my opinion regarding matters related to Xiao, which is mainly to avoid the possible situation of arguing with someone of low IQ or psychological illness. It is often said that, if one argues with a fool (or psychopath), others would think that he is also a fool (or psychopath). I have not met with Chuan-Guo Xiao, and I cannot be sure, and neither can I exclude the possibility, that he has one of the two aforementioned problems. For example, if an adult scientific researcher who is psychologically healthy and understands the basic rules wants to be recognized by the academia, he should know very well that this depends on his own scientific work, and would not endlessly spend time and efforts in the media, the Internet, or court rooms. If someone actually torture himself by reading Chuan-Guo Xiao’s Open Letter to National Media, Academia and Shi-Min Fang, he would easily raise questions that are more serious than whether Xiao is talking sense, and he would find it hard not to question the psychological health of its author. Is it really that Chuan-Guo Xiao is so important that he deserves the attention of the media all over the nation, or that he sent the letter to the wrong recipients due to his unusual judgement? Is it really that he spent so much time fighting against Shi-Min Fang such that he had to give up his opportunity to earn a Nobel Prize (quote: “[I will] temporarily put Nobel Prize aside”), or that he would actually never win any Nobel Prize at all? As for putting foul language in an open letter to “national media” and “academia”, is it because Xiao has a low IQ or EQ, or is it because the taste of Chinese people is as low as he had thought, so low that they would not feel ill due to his foul language?

Since I suspected that he has one of the two aforementioned problems, I would not risk becoming an idiot or psycho by launching lawsuits against him for his attacking and falsely accusing more than twenty Chinese scholars residing in the United States including me. I urge the court not to accept his case without careful consideration. If sometime later evidence proves that he indeed has one of the problems, the acceptance of the case by the court now might become a shame for the court in the future. I am risking becoming an idiot or psycho by writing this opinion, only for the sake of the dignity of the court.

If Xiao failed to become a member of the Chinese Academy of Science not because that some members of the academy realized that Xiao’s academic achievement was insignificant and rejected him, but because the influence of the articles by Shi-Min Fang, I would think that Shi-Min Fang has done a good deed to the Chinese Academy of Science. In my opinion, there is no strong evidence that shows that Chuan-Guo Xiao really understands the norms of scientific research, or that sufficiently shows that his level of academic achievement is better than my junior graduate students, senior undergraduate students, or even students of my students. If Chuan-Guo Xiao had become a member of the Chinese Academy of Science, it would probably have set the record of the lowest level of academic achievement for the members of the academy.

September 6, 2006

An Open Letter Supporting Fang Zhouzi

In the summer of 2006, as a response to Professor Xiao Chuanguo's lawsuit and his open letter, another open letter was circulating the internet collecting signature to support Fang Zhouzi. The letter was drafted by Yush, and eventually signed by 601 intellectuals both in China and abroad. By the rule, all signatures are supposed to be real names, accompanied by their work address.

Later, Xiao Chuanguo hired a couple of law firms in China to "investigate and seek prosecution" of the letter signatories. To date, this has been shown as an empty threat.

The original Chinese version of this open letter, along with the signatories, can be read here. The English version is once again provided by Yush:

Recently, the first-instance judgment was made at Jianghan District Court of Wuhan City in the defamation lawsuit of Xiao Chuan-Guo against Sohu Information Technology Inc., the University Press of Peking Union Medical College, and Fang Shi-min. This judgment was astonishing that it was evidently partial to the plaintiff while disregarding the facts. We, Chinese intellectuals around the world who have been paying attention to this lawsuit in which the court intervened an action against academic misconducts, would like to express our opinions to the public in this open letter and also to show our support to Dr. Fang Shi-min, a well-known whistleblower against academic misconducts in China, who should have been protected by law.

The lawsuit was launched after Dr. Fang Shi-min, in his well-known pen name Fang Zhou-Zi, published an essay entitled “Academician Candidate Straddles Two Boats” during the period the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) solicited public comments on its 2005 candidate list. In the essay, Fang presented solid evidence and charged Dr. Xiao Chuan-Guo, then a CAS academician candidate, with a series of dishonest and unethical activities, including lying in his work experience and his overseas job title, as well as exaggerating his publication record, academic awards and research achievements, etc. Subsequently, Xiao filed the defamation lawsuit against Fang, the newspaper who published the essay and the internet media who interviewed Fang. In the first trial, Fang lost the case and was ordered to apologize publicly and to pay compensation to Xiao.

We believe that it is legitimate for Dr. Fang to criticize and question the qualifications of Xiao as a CAS candidate; it is purely academic criticism and media monitoring; it fits perfectly into the goal of the CAS to encourage the public to monitor its member selection process by publishing the candidate list; it is also a fundamental right for a Chinese citizen to express his opinions on public issues.

We believe that Dr. Fang plays an irreplaceable and positive role by fighting against academic corruptions which are increasingly widespread and serious in China nowadays while no official mechanism really enforces academic integrity and punishes the violators.

We believe that Jianghan District Court of Wuhan City has damaged the dignity of the law by disregarding the abundant evidence provided by the defendants that clearly shows Xiao’s academic misconducts, calling a stag a horse, and calling black white.

We believe that the judgment made by Jianghan District Court of Wuhan City on this case would embolden the academic fabricators, ruining the efforts of the Chinese authorities in improving the academic supervision mechanism and curbing academic corruptions.

Finally, we appeal to superior judicial authorities and relevant organizations to pay close attention to and to investigate into the obviously wrongful judgment and the role of local protectionism in this lawsuit, so as to set a good precedent for judicial bodies to judge cases involving academic misconducts and frauds.

Xiao Chuanguo: In His Own Words

On June 8, 2006, days before the legal proceedings started in Wuhan court, Professor Xiao Chuanguo published an open letter to "all media in the nation, all fellows in academia and Fang Zhouzi" regarding his case. It is an unusual letter for a professor and an Academician candidate, as it was filled with vengeance, hatred, and personal attacks towards Fang Zhouzi. It also contains occasional profanity. The original letter in Chinese is available here and here.

The letter has been translated into English by several supporters of Fang Zhouzi: polik, fuzzify, eng, xj, Yush, et al. Thanks to Yush, here is the letter in its entirety:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

An ugly bride eventually has to show her face to her in-laws. Fang Zhouzi, maybe you can hide yourself for now, but you cannot hide yourself forever. You will be brought to justice someday. The two defamation cases of Xiao Chuanguo vs. Fang Zhouzi will be heard on June 21st, 2006. I hereby announce this event to the media and fellows in academia who are interested in these cases, and sincerely invite and welcome all of you to come to Wuhan to be present in court.

Fang Zhouzi launched large scale false accusations, libel and personal attacks right before the membership election of the Chinese Academy of Sciences using his website New Threads and some of other irresponsible media. I tried my best to persuade my friends, relatives and students to refrain from counter-attacking on the internet, also gratefully turned down my employer’s offer to stage positive reporting to set the record straight. One obvious reason for my doing so, is that I would like to follow the Academy’s rule forbidding the seeking of publicity using the media. But more importantly, I desire to carry out the revenge myself. My membership in the CAS is secondary to such more vital things as my reputation and my dignity. Not only did Fang Zhouzi’s accusation based on pure fabrication blemished my flawless image built over a period of 30 years, he also maliciously insulted my spouse, vilified my teacher. If I do not settle the score, I swear not to call myself human. My advice to you, Fang Zhouzi, is to receive the punishment according to law without any resistance.

A thief is in constant fear of being caught. Fang Zhouzi has under various circumstances admitted his “pessimism” about the outcome of the above mentioned litigations and has “prepared himself mentally” for the defeat. But Fang complained vociferously about the “unfairness” of the trial before the verdict was given and even before the court hearing, which is a blatant derogation of the law of the People’s Republic of China. Fang Zhouzi, do you really think that in the court room over looked by the National Emblem, you will be allowed to do whatever you like and wag your tongue without any regard for truth, just as on your rogue website which is a shelter for evil activities? Do you really think that the reporters all over the country who will be attending the court hearing, their cameras and tape recorders especially their eyes and ears cannot tell the right from the wrong? Fang’s talk about local protectionism and social network is completely nonsense. I have returned to China for ten years, in the past four years, I have been nominated for both the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, but I am only acquainted with no more than ten members of the Academies, most of whom are neuroscientists that I got to know while serving as the principle investigator for 973 project. I did not use “networking” for such important matter as getting nominated for the memberships of the Academies. It would be funny if I needed “networking” in order to deal with an unemployed person as insignificant as you, Fang Zhouzi. Fact and law are more than sufficient. A key step in my litigations with Fang is the issuance of a summons directly to Fang Zhouzi in Beijing. Fang Zhouzi, it is not easy flush you out in order to place a case on file for investigation and prosecution. When you sued Shanghai Zhen Ming Magazine, you asked the residents’ committee of the Xinhua News Agency to authenticate that Fang Shimin and his wife has been living in (the address omitted by the translator). However, all the summonses sent to that same address were returned. The Beijing Xi Cheng District court had to go so far as to deliver the summons in person while you were interviewed by Sohu. Is this local protectionism or national protectionism? You also said that the Xi’an court practices local protectionism. Does the case have to be handled by Judge Zhang in the court in your hometown in order for it not to be local protectionism? You have a habit of quoting the following sentence from the works of Mencius: “If on self-examination, I find that I am upright, I will go forward against thousands and tens of thousands.” And you also have a habit of bragging: “many people liken me to the character Qiao Feng in Tian Long Ba Bu.” Actually being liken to Qiao Feng may not be something that worth bragging about- Qaio Feng does not even know who his father is. Please don’t say that you don’t mind being called a turtle who dare not stick its head out of the shell hiding in your wife’s room or even under her skirt not having the guts to answer challenges to unsheathe the sword and to acknowledge the receipt of summons from the court. Fang Zhouzi, in order not to be chased around by “local protectionists” trying to deliver the summons from the court, I suggest you to publish your place of residence. But do you dare?

When you know you are in trouble, you should accept the fact that you are in trouble. “The truth of science and the merit of news can not be judged in court”. The above dim-witted remark as a death struggle to save face can only be written by an idiot like you, and can only be published imprudently by Zhao Jianhua, the editor of the Beijing Sci-Tech Report who has a special relation with you as a colluder. You already know where you trouble is: (1) my professorship has practiced medicine and conducted research for 30 years and have essentially flawless track record. (2) My professorship believes in returning favors and settling scores unlike some members of the academy who are unwilling to come down to your level to respond after being insulted by you. When I cure an illness, I only need one treatment plan. The more plans there are, the worse the outcome will be. If you want to destroy the career of a professor, it is enough to focus the attack on one issue. Too many issues won’t help your case. Your all-around attack of me only shows your sinisterness, ruthlessness and exasperation and your inability to find an issue to attack. On the other hand, it can serve as evidence of your crime in the court. Very soon the fake judge like you is going to meet a real judge. Are you ready with the “evidence”? If your are trembling with nervousness, here is an opportunity for you to achieve a “satisfactory” result without going to court: you can select any number of publications from your dozens of publications that attack me, attach anything you want to them as “evidence” and make two copies to send to Tsou Chen-lu and Ho Tso-Hsiu (who “always supports Fang”) respectively. If both of the two people agree that any of your accusations is true, that I have “committed fraud”, I will unconditionally accept their conclusion, I will resign from all the teaching positions in China and abroad that I current hold, and make an announcement in the Beijing Sci-Tech Report (which your livelihood depends on) to apologize to the whole country and disappear from the academia forever. What do you think? (Note: Please do not use any false evidence to deceive those two elderly people. I have caught you doing such things once before.) Please also note that I do not know those two members of academy in person. I have a great deal of respect for Academician Tsou. I do not have a favorable opinion on some of what Academician Ho said and did. But I believe that those two people will not lie.

As a Chinese saying goes, you do not need to worry about the shape of shadow if your body is straight; and you have to be strong enough to do the iron hammering. Fang Zhouzi has insulted me so much that his bad words are everywhere, which also deceived many immature young people. However, when we had a PK (personal kill), hasn’t all those words gone like smoke? Why do I need to explain the accusations item by item? I am busy. I am not a freelance. At the same time, I invite and welcome all of my fellow scientists and Chinese media from all over the country, especially the media in Hubei province, please do check every item that Fang Zhouzi has published on his website New Threads to accuse my wrongdoings. If you find one, I will give you 50,000 Yuan. I am confident that you will find that Fang Zhouzi’s accusations have no ground and are pure rumors. During the past 30 years, Xiao Chuanguo has done nothing that violates scientific ethics, and nothing that violates biomedical ethics. Nowadays, how many people can brag this? I am confident that I can. Since I was arranged by the ex-Minister of the Chinese Health Ministry Chen Minzhang, and by my mentor professor Qiu Fazhu, to return to China in 1997, I have tried my best to avoid the media, not only because I don’t like the vulgarity of some of the media reporters, but also because I know myself well. I know how much I have done for medical science and patients. I know the weight and share of my contribution. For people like me who have already achieved so much academically, if they still need the media to gain more fame, they should not work in the academic. This time, I heartily invite the media to report this issue not because I want you to testify my innocence, but because I hope you can expose more about Fang Zhouzi based on my case. I hope you can expose how Fang Zhouzi uses methods similar to that of the Chinese Culture Revolution to attack those researchers who are working hard for the development of Chinese science and technology, while Fang still has some supports; I hope you can examine how people like Fang Zhouzi can make great damages to the establishment of a harmony and legal-based society; I hope you examine how to morally and legally prevent people like Fang Zhouzi making more damages to the development of Chinese science and technology. Meanwhile, I hope you warn those individuals who did commit scientific frauds, don’t let their stupidity become the excuse that people like Fang Zhouzi can use at their wills to taint the reputation of Chinese academic.

Since I am PKing you, how about I also PK you, Fang Zhouzi, on your plagiarizing an article from the Science Magazine? so that you can be saved from being asked by everyone, and from the need of quibbling every time, which must be tiring. Yes, I was one of the people who reported your plagiarism to the well known US magazine, Science, and the Editor-in-Chief and editor J who was in charge of the actual investigation mainly contacted and discussed the issue with me because I was holding the title of Professor in one of the top US universities. Since I had an agreement with the Editor-in-Chief and editor J that we would not reveal any details of the process and the final conclusions to any third party, I have kept the promise. And I will still keep that promise. Of course, since then, everyone who was not blind could see that the Science Magazine would never want to have anything to do with you. Now there is the huge scandal of Hwang Woo-Suk in Korea, and there are many news reports plus commentaries in the Science Magazine, but there has never been any mention of you, “biochemist” and professional “debunker” since year 2000, whom they once specially reported on. Didn’t you understand? Sure you did. Otherwise why did you take your almost crazy revenge by “debunking” my “falsehood”, which was almost non-existent? If you really want to deny it and insist that it was not plagiarism, I dare you to give both the paper by Greene that appeared in the Science Magazine in September 2001 (Science: September 2001, volume 293, pages 2105-2108), and the issue of Southern Weekly on October 4, 2001, where Fang Zhouzi’s article was published, to Academician Chen-lu Tsou and Academician Ho Tso-Hsiu who “always supports Fang Zhouzi”, and let them decide whether you were plagiarizing. Wouldn’t you at least trust these people? If they two were bold enough to put their signatures on a statement that asserts that you were not plagiarizing, I would immediately write a letter to apologize to the Science Magazine, and make all the relevant articles and documents public by putting them on news papers, and I would quit the academia forever. How about that? Everyday I am saving lives, facing blood and flesh, leaving my back to the heaven. Every night I am doing research around the clock in labs. These are indeed noble and good deeds, but this is damn f***ing tiring. It would be much easier to write some articles on popular science using “one’s own words”, or do some bad deeds. But, but, but, “what if” those two academicians also think that you were plagiarizing? What then? I believe at least Ho Tso-Hsiu, the Academician who “always supports Fang Zhouzi”, will not keep his silence.

This lawsuit only involves Fang Zhouzi’s attacks on me published in the Beijing Sci-Tech Report and on the website Sohu. Fang Zhouzi used other pen names to publish dozens of articles with defamatory statements and personal attacks on me in the column “Snapshots” (of Academic Misconducts) on his website New Threads. Since those attacks were more malicious, I will make Fang pay for each of those articles. Being afraid? Want to hide in the US? Wait for me. The part-time faculty position I have been kept at the New York University was for my academic purpose in the past, but now it is mainly for the purpose of you, Fang Zhouzi. I could temporarily leave Academician behind me, and also temporarily forget about a Nobel Prize; however, I have to carry out the revenge on Fang. Using such means as “speaking out freely, airing one’s views fully, writing big-character posters, and holding great debates”, which originated from the Great Cultural Revolution and are forbidden by the Chinese Constitution, Fang Zhouzi maliciously made personal attacks on Chinese scientists, especially the Academicians with outstanding achievements, by wielding a stick, putting a label on other people, “capturing wind or shadow instead of a real person”, making false accusations anonymously, making a mountain out of a molehill, and tarnishing other people’s reputation on purpose. He got his fame and made a living out of damaging other people’s reputation, which is shockingly disturbing. Fang’s defamatory statements against me are just one typical example. A person who devotes oneself to sciences has no intention to get promoted to a government officer position, has a more difficult task to make a fortune, but cherishes one’s own reputation the most. Chinese scholars usually stick to the bad habit of “A pure person keeps oneself free from obscurity”. Furthermore, many well-known scientists don’t want to get down dealing with such a no-name low-life rat. Therefore, many people who got defamed by Fang Zhouzi either ignored him or failed to clear themselves of such defamation because they found nowhere to submit a lawsuit due to Fang’s wandering in the dead-zone between Chinese law and US law. As a result, there came an extremely angry professor Yu Jianrong, calling Fang “Son of Bitch”. However, the good days of Fang Zhouzi are coming to an end: I have determination, financial ability, and capability to fully expose and severely punish Fang, no matter where he is hiding, China or America.

Fang Zhouzi, personality-wise, I disdain you to the most; academic-wise, I look down upon you even more; professional ethics wise, sorry, you do not have a profession. But I would treat you equally in front of the law. See you in court if you dare to show up.

Xiao Chuanguo

Department of Clinical Urology, Xiehe Hospital
Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan

June 8, 2006

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wang Rui, One With Many Faces (And Genders)

In July, 2007, a netter reported to Fang Zhouzi that a Dean at Yunnan Nationalities University (云南民族大学) by the name of Wang Rui (王锐) has a peculiar resume. The resume was posted in the official school site but has since made unavailable.

In his resume, Mr. Wang Rui claims that he had spent six years (1997 - 2003) in University of Southern California (USC) under the Nobel Prize winner Professor George Olah and earned a Ph. D. in Chemistry there. He then spent a year or so there doing postdoctoral research. His resume then listed five papers he had coauthored and published in prominent research journals during the period.

What was peculiar, however, was that none of these papers listed USC as the author's address. Neither was Professor Olah in the coauthor list. Could this be a blatant case of identity theft?

This won't be hard to find out. Indeed, Fang Zhouzi's investigation quickly turned up the following facts:
  1. One of Wang Rui's papers, published in Nature Biotechnology, is the product of a lab in University of Kentucky. The coauthor Wang Rui of that paper, is a female. Not even the same gender of the Dean at Yunnan Nationalities University.
  2. The other four papers are all the products of a group from North Carolina State University. According to the corresponding author of those papers, Dr. Chen-Loung Chen, the Wang Rui in these papers is still in the United States and can not be the same person at Yunnan Nationalities University
  3. Responding to Fang Zhouzi's inquiry, Professor Olah testified that "Mr. Rui Wang to my recollection spent maybe six months in my Institute on a Chinese fellowship in the late 90's. He never received a Ph. D. degree here or thus could not have been a post-doctoral fellow."
  4. A search in ProQuest database showed two other Wang Rui's who had obtained Ph.D.'s during the time period in question. But their major areas are so different from the Dean's, they could not be possibly a match.
Therefore, it's pretty safe to conclude that the resume of this Dean at Yunnan Nationalities University is a complete fabrication. This Wang Rui most likely had never earned a Ph.D. degree as he claimed. His publications are stolen from other people with the same name.

Sadly, such a clear-cut fraud case did not seem to disturb much within Yunnan Nationalities University itself. Students in the school reported, anonymously, that their discussion of the issue in the internal BBS has been banned by the administration, and that Wang Rui continues to enjoy strong support from the school leadership.

Four months later, in November, a reporter from a local evening paper picked up the story. The reporter managed to get Mr. Wang Rui on the phone, who told the reporter that "not everything Fang Zhouzi said is true" and made an appointment to meet with the reporter. But alas, he turned out to be a no-show.

What Mr. Wang Rui did tell the reporter, though, is that he had since received a lot of phone calls from renowned professors throughout the country, inviting him to join together and sue Fang Zhouzi (presumably for libel and defamation).

The reporter still could not get in touch with Mr. Wang Rui and there is so far no news from Yunnan Nationalities University on this matter.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

What is "Xiao's Reflex Arc"?

Professor Xiao Chuanguo claimed that the fruit of his research, the so-called "Xiao's Reflex Arc" or "Xiao's Procedure", is one of the very few world-wide recognized surgical procedures that are named after a Chinese national. If true, it is certainly a remarkable achievement worthy consideration of Chinese Academy of Science's Academician-ship.

However, after an exhausive search, Fang Zhouzi concluded that the terms such as "Xiao's Reflex Arc" or "Xiao's Procedure" do not exist in either medical literature or general information base. Indeed, up to today, a google search on these teams only turn up pages about Xiao Chuanguo vs. Fang Zhouzi libel case. Therefore, Fang Zhouzi accused that Professor Xiao Chuanguo had cooked up such terms on his own to gain fame.

On the web site of New York University, where Xiao worked during the period of dispute, it describes that Xiao "is actively engaged in pioneering research regarding creation of a somatic-autonomic reflex pathway for treatment of neurogenic bladder in patients with spinal cord injury." The term "Xiao's Reflex Arc" is nowhere to be found.

Today, we seem to know this much:

  • In 1999, Xiao coauthored a paper describing a bladder reflex pathway in cats. This work was cited in Walsh Campbell's Urology, 8th edition, 2002. Xiao uses this example to show recognition of his work, but he never mentioned the fact that the cited work is not on human, nor did he mention his co-authors. More importantly, nowhere in Urology, can the term "Xiao's Reflex Arc" be found.
  • The only occurrence of the term "Xiao's Reflex Arc" is in a Chinese textbook, edited by Xiao Chuanguo's thesis advisor Qiu Fazu(裘法祖).
During the trial in Wuhan, the presiding judge ignored Fang Zhouzi's plea that the validity of Professor's work itself is not in dispute. The issue is whether the term "Xiao's Reflex Arc" is an internationally recognized name for the work, as Xiao had repeated claimed. Instead, the judge declared that since Xiao's research work is real. "Xiao's Reflex Arc" must also be real.

What Awards Had Professor Xiao Chuanguo Earned

In 2005, Professor Xiao Chuanguo boosted in his resume that he had won two big awards for his urologist research from the American Urologist Association (AUA): the Jack Lapides Award and an AUA Achievement Award. According to Xiao himself, these are the highest honors from AUA.

In his essay exposing Xiao's resume-padding, Fang Zhouzi pointed out that Jack Lapides award is not an achievement award but an award for an essay contest. Xiao did not provide the exact name in English of the other Achievement Award name, so Fang searched for recent winners of AUA's Achievement Awards and did not find Xiao in it.

During the libel lawsuit proceeding, Xiao presented his Jack Lapides Award certification. Although the certification clearly states "Jack Lapides Essay Contest ... ... Grand Prize Winner", Xiao continued to claim that it is one of the highest honors in the urological field, that "only the most world-renown scholars had won this award." Despite Fang Zhouzi's rebuttal and without further investigation, the Wuhan Court sided with Professor Xiao.

For the other award, Xiao presented a different certificate, indicating he was the winner of "Pfizer Scholars in Urology Award" in 2000. This is certainly different from the AUA Achievement Award he seemed to have claimed in his resume. The "Pfizer Scholars in Urology Award" is an award sponsored by the Pfizer Inc. and given to many young researchers each year. It is not uncommon for this award being given to outstanding residents. It is hardly prestigious worthy of "highest honor". What is more, it has since been discontinued.

In the Wuhan Court, Fang Zhouzi argued that this "Pfizer Scholars in Urology Award" is irrelevant since Professor Xiao had claimed in his resume as the winner of the AUA Achievement Award, which he certainly did not.

On this issue, the judge in the case pronounced: just because Fang Zhouzi failed to find Xiao Chuanguo's name in the past winners of the AUA Achievement Award is not enough evidence that Xiao did not win the award. Therefore, the Court recognizes that Professor Xiao has won the AUA Achievement Award.

Just like that, Fang Zhouzi was pronounced guilty for libel.

Wither "International Journal"

When Professor Xiao Chuanguo was a candidate for an Academician post in Chinese Academy of Science in 2005, his resume boosted that he had published 26 research papers. These papers were all written in English, he claimed, apparently to enhance their credibility. After an extensive search in publication databases, Fang Zhouzi concluded that, at that time, Professor Xiao had only published 4 papers in "international journals". The rest of them, Fang pointed out, were only abstracts submitted to conferences, whose inclusion as bona fide papers in the resume is one of Professor Xiao's unethical practices.

The term "international journals" is widely used in China, to distinguish publications in domestic ones, which are not widely read and generally considered inferior as credentials for achievements. It's not unusual for Chinese Academy of Science and universities to impose performance standards that included number of papers published in "international journals".

Among the various disputes around Professor Xiao's credentials, this one seems to be the easiest to decide. However, a judge in Wuhan presiding on Xiao's libel case against Fang Zhouzi has other ideas.

During the proceedings in the Jianghan District Court, Xiao Chuanguo produced a different list of his publications as evidence that he had published more than 4 papers as Fang Zhouzi claimed. Indeed, this list includes 15 papers, and apparently none of them were abstracts for conferences.

Upon close examination, however, these 15 papers are entirely different from the original 26 Xiao had listed on his resume. Indeed, there is no longer any conference abstract in these 15. But 9 of the 15 were actually written in Chinese and published in Chinese journals, in direct contraction of his "written in English" claim accompanying the original 26.

Nevertheless, the presiding judge of the case, Luu Ying, ignored this detail and ruled that since these Chinese journals are publicly available internationally, they are also "international journals". Therefore, Fang Zhouzi's claim that Xiao had only published 4 papers in "international journals" is a falsehood.

This peculiar ruling raised many eyebrows in the academic circle in China and became a running joke. Unfortunately for many, Chinese legal system does not allow the use of legal precedent. Otherwise there could be a flood of lawsuits by people who had lost their positions due to their lack of publications in "international journals".

In the meantime, the real issue, that Professor Xiao Chuanguo had used conference abstracts to inflate his original resume (which he had tacitly admitted by providing a different list in court), had fallen wayside and been ignored.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Fraud Case of Prefessor Xiao Chuanguo

In September, 2005, the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) announced a new slate of candidates for her prestigious Academician program. Almost on the same day, an alert New Thread reader reported that one of the candidates, Professor Xiao Chuanguo (肖传国), although nominated from the Huazhong Science and Technology University(华中科技大学) at Wuhan, China, actually holds a full-time faculty position at New York University (NYU). If so, he should not be eligible to become a CAS Academician.

Other New Thread readers soon joined in to dispute many of the critical accomplishments listed in Professor Xiao Chuanguo's resume. On September 21, 2005, Fang Zhouzi published an essay in Beijing Science and Technology and summarized the major disputes surrounding Professor Xiao Chuanguo's credentials:
  1. Professor Xiao's position at NYU had been an Assistant Professor up until recently (2005), not Associate Professor as he had claimed. Even then, he was promoted as a Clinic Associate Professor, not a tenured Associate Professor.
  2. Professor Xiao's resume claimed that he had published 26 papers written in English. However, there had been only 4 such publications. The others are abstracts submitted to conferences. There were only 9 citations to the 4 publications he had, hardly a laudable record.
  3. Professor Xiao claimed that he had won a couple of highest awards from the American Urological Association (AUA) for his achievements. However, one of the awards was given for a conference abstract and the other unverifiable.
  4. Most important of all, Professor Xiao claimed that his work resulted in a "Xiao's Reflective Arc" procedure that is internationally recognized. In fact, he claimed that it was one of the very few procedures that were named after the name of a Chinese national. However, an extensive search of that term and its similar variations did not turn out any results. The so-named procedure could not be so recognized or acclaimed.
Professor Xiao eventually lost his bid to be elected as a CAS Academician. It is not known how much impact Fang Zhouzi's essay had had in the matter. Nevertheless, Professor Xiao launched a series of lawsuits against Fang Zhouzi and the media that had carried Fang's work, resulting in some very interesting, and even peculiar rulings.

In China, It's A Matter of Principle

Ouyang Ziyuan, the Chief Scientist of China's Chang'e lunar probe project, commented on the rumors and discussions surrounding the authenticity and quality of Chang'e moon picture. He said:

Whether the picture is real or fake is a matter of principle. Any doubt on this is intolerable and can not be allowed. To doubt the picture's authenticity is an insult to our Country. It is an affront to the work of 17,000 people who had worked on the project.

There you have it.

It's worth pointing out that the said Chief Scientist had publicly claimed the proof of the picture's authenticity is that there is a new meteorite site in the picture that was not present in the NASA pictures. However, amateur astronomers in Shanghai and USA quickly figured out that the new site was a defect in the data-processing of the picture itself. A mistake that had evaded the Chief Scientist and the 17,000 workers.

Ironically, the presence of the defect also proved the picture's authenticity, just not the way the Chief Scientist had wanted. So, now he no longer feels that he needs to present any evidence at all.

But then again, it is simply a matter of principle.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Moon Photo is Real, But...

There is an independent verification today that the moon picture from Chang'e is real. But it is not for the reason the Chinese space official had presented, which is becoming a big embarrassment by itself.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Moon Photos From Chang'e

Danwei has just published an excellent summary on the current discussions of the moon photos from Chang'e: Netizens pick apart the Chang'e moon photo.

Monday, December 3, 2007

From Tiger To The Moon: The Credibility Crisis

Today's news from the Reuters has a blaring headline: "China Says Moon Pictures Not Faked From NASA". At the same time, the official China Daily had just declared that "South China Tiger Photos Are Fake". Two stories, neither may be of great significance in the long run, but both pointing to a phenomenon that can no longer be ignored in China: the great trust crisis.

The tiger photos came first in the early October. A farmer and hunter in the remote Shaanxi claimed to have seen a live "South China Tiger" in the wild and took a series pictures to prove it. This type of tigers has been declared extinct in the wild for decades. The farmer's stories and pictures were initially backed by local forestry authorities and given great fanfare in the Chinese media. However, the authenticity of the photos was immediately questioned by many on the internet. Much analysis shows that the pictures are more likely to be a product of photoshop-ing.

Then came the launch of Chang'e 1 in late October, the very first lunar probe from China. By any means, it is a big milestone in the China's surging space program. In deed, the official media in China hailed it as a great victory for the nation.

It took weeks for Chang'e 1 to reach its lunar orbit, during which there was a curious silence in the media on this subject. Rumors circulated on the internet that Chang'e 1 was in trouble, and may have been lost. It was not until a month later, on Nov 26, a picture of the moon surface taken by Chang'e was released to the public, first unveiled by no other than the Premier Wen Jiabao.

Taken the cue from the experience in the tiger pictures, the Chinese internet is once again abuzz on the possibility that this picture from Chang'e could be a doctored version of NASA's old picture, available on the internet. It has become the talk of the day, so much so that it was necessary for the high officials in China's space program to issue an official denial.

Of course, it is highly unlikely that such blatant forgery could be practiced in a high-profile program as Chang'e. But the problem now is, you can just never be sure. In China, people are suspicious on anything, no matter how sacred it could be.

It is a crisis in trustworthiness.

For the record, Fang Zhouzi was marginally involved in the debunking of the tiger pictures. He wrote a couple of articles commenting on the tiger's appearance and habitat. He also pointed out that, even if the tiger were real, it would be pointless to protect since the forest area involved was too small to support even a single tiger.

So far, he has not participated in the Chang'e picture debate.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Current Court Cases

Fang Zhouzi has been sued by some of people he had exposed as fraud, for libel and defamation. Here is a brief list of the current lawsuits. (More details will be filled in later.)

  1. Liu Zihua's family vs. Fang Zhouzi, Beijing, China
  2. Ding Zuyi and Xi'an Fanyi vs. Fang Zhouzi and Beijing Science and Technology, Xi'an, China
  3. Xiao Chuanguo vs. Fang Zhouzi, Wuhan, China
  4. Xiao Chuanguo vs. Fang Zhouzi, Beijing, China
  5. Xiao Chuanguo vs. Fang Zhouzi, New York, USA
  6. CEB Rice vs Fang Zhouzi, Beijing, China

Exposed Fraud Cases

How many fraud cases has Fang Zhouzi and his New Thread exposed so far?

It may just be too many to list. According to the most recent report by New Scientist, Fang Zhouzi himself has estimated that they have exposed more than 700 cases, involving falsification, corruption, and pseudoscience. Sadly, very few of these cases received official attention in terms of formal investigation and resolution.

New Thread maintains a For The Record (立此存照) column, where discussions surrounding major cases are archived. About 100 more prominent cases are documented there (all in Chinese).

Resume Padding Cases:
(This post will be frequently updated with English summaries of major cases as they become available.)