Thursday, December 15, 2005

News Report: Hwang Faked Stem-Cell Data

According to Todd Thacker reporting for OhmyNews, Professor Hwang Woo Suk falsified the stem-cell data in his article for Science (Hat Tip Marmot).

Here's a comment that I posted earlier today at The Marmot's Hole in response to the report (cf. OhmyNews) that Professor Gerald Schatten had asked Science to remove his name as co-author of the Hwang article:
Schatten himself looks pretty bad in this. He signed his name on as a co-author of an article that -- at most -- he merely read and had a graduate student proofread to correct because he wanted to be in on the cutting edge of stem-cell technology.

That was bad enough.

Now, he wants to undo the past and remove his name. Sorry, Sir, but you danced, now you gotta pay the fiddler.

As for Hwang et al., if they did cheat -- and that remains to be seen -- then they probably thought that they were close enough to succeeding that they could claim to have made the cloning technique work, thereby obtain the prize of first place, receive the glory, maybe a future Nobel Prize, keep their 'technique' a secret citing patenting issues, and quietly develop the true technique after the fact, and upon succeeding obtain the patent rights and 'prove' themselves to the world.

If that's the scenario that they had in mind, then it's not going according to the script. But I'm still withholding judgement.

From what I've seen so far, nobody looks very good in this entire affair.
I'll be curious to learn if my hunch was correct, but I don't know if we'll see that sort of investigative journalism here in Korea. This is so embarassing for Koreans that perhaps nobody here will want to know precisely how this happened.

But perhaps this will prove a teachable moment for Korea. I'll say more on this point another time.

For more reports in addition to the links for OhmyNews and The Marmot's Hole above, see Oranckay. I'm sure that we'll very soon be inundated with the details, some of them spurious, from all sources.


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