Tuesday, December 20, 2005

How the mighty are fallen...

. . . like dominos.

So says the Chosun Ilbo yesterday (December 19, 2005) in its article "Hwang Achievements Succumb to Domino Effect":
The Biological Research Information Center of Korea (BRIC) argues on its websites that a photograph of stem cells accompanying a 2004 paper by Hwang is identical to one illustrating an article on stem cell cultivation from fertilized embryos written by Kim Sun-jong and MizMedi Hospital research staff, which was published in Stemcells magazine in November 2004.

. . .

Doubts are also spreading to what is ostensibly the world’s first cloned dog Snuppy. Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun on Monday quoted geneticist Robert Lanza as saying he had proof of scientific errors in Hwang’s paper on the cloning of the dog. Lanza proposed comparing the original dog with the clone to confirm Hwang's claim.

. . .

The avalanche unleashed by Hwang's admission on Friday also threatens to sweep away the cow Youngrongi, which Hwang claims to have cloned. Scientists now point out that the cow is said to have been healthy and given birth to a calf since it was born in 1999. But cloned animals are weaker than ordinary ones, and most are short-lived and lack the ability to reproduce, they said.
The final domino to fall will be "Korean Pride," when Koreans fully confront Hwang's fraud.

But in the words of Joseph Steinberg, "South Koreans have to learn to . . . replace pride . . . [with] confidence. "

How do they do that? Cho Se-mi suggests that (among other things) Koreans should "pursue excellence." I'd add that they should strive to be honest in, e.g., their pursuit of a university degree, where honesty would entail actually doing the work required rather than plagiarizing so much. The problem lies not just in academics, of course, but also in the Korean business world, whose level of dishonesty foreigners constantly complain about.

I also think that Korea needs to develop a culture of discussion, and that would entail a flattening of the hierarchical social system to enable juniors to openly question their seniors.

But that will take a while.


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