Why should all Koreans pay for the sins of one fraudulent ‘scientist’?

Nicholas Wade has a report on the immediate aftermath of the disgraceful end to the Hwang Woo Suk saga. This guy seems to have figured out how to trick the system:

The South Korean government, which promoted Dr. Hwang as a national hero and an international celebrity, has seen its investment wasted. The leading scientific journals that vied to publish Dr. Hwang’s work are re-examining their acceptance procedures. […]

Three ingredients of his ascent were attracting generous support from the South Korean government, compartmentalizing his laboratory so that few others had any overall view of what was going on and reporting plausible advances that scientists abroad felt they, too, might have achieved if they had access to as many human eggs as Dr. Hwang obtained.

In addition, Dr. Hwang invited well-known American researchers to be co-authors on his articles, which he may have hoped would make his findings more acceptable to leading journals like Science and Nature. He even invited Dr. Gerald Schatten, a stem cell expert at the University of Pittsburgh, to be the lead author on the June 2005 report although Dr. Schatten had done none of the experiments. But Dr. Donald Kennedy, the editor of Science, said the inclusion of American co-authors “certainly did not affect us.” […]

An indication of Dr. Hwang’s good connections to the government was the inclusion of Dr. Park Ky Young as a co-author of his 2004 report on human cloning. A botanist by training, Dr. Park may not have contributed much scientifically to the task of cloning of human cells. She is, however, the science adviser to Roh Moo Hyun, the president of South Korea.

Now, this part of the article really irritates the hell out of me:

“Clearly the scientific credibility of Korean investigators has been compromised,” said Dr. John Gearhart, a stem cell expert at Johns Hopkins University and a member of Science’s board of reviewers. He referred to the fact that duplicate and misidentified photos had turned up in articles by other South Korean authors besides Dr. Hwang.

This is utter nonsense. Two or three groups have screwed up. Does it mean that you start with the premiss that every Korean scientist is a fraud until proven innocent? The response of Donald Kennedy, the editor of Science is puzzling:

Dr. Kennedy said, “You cannot avoid a sense of taint from an experience like this.” He added, however, that many leading American universities had had at least one case of scientific fraud.

Read the two sentences again. What do they really mean? Just how many scientists in these American universities suffered because of “a sense of taint”?


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