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


Anonymous said...

The frustration is: In both China and US, academic guru sometimes does things that he is not really proud of.
If I am not a registered MD on psychiatry, I will not address a colleague psychologically wrong, in public.

Anonymous said...

On the bright side, the downside of these fraud and cheat maybe babies dying from bad milk of our own making instead of bullets and bombs from the Japs and other "world powers". Let's just hope we Chinese will be smart enough in future generations to stop screwing each other and focuing on screwing others like the Japs and Uncle Sam. Turning bickering chickens to wolves sounds impossible? Well, you've got to start from somewhere. Way to go, Dr Fang!