A balanced piece from Jennifer Couzin-Frankel about the shutdown of the Science Fraud website. Some details of the anonymous threats that Paul Brookes (the instigator of Science Fraud) received have emerged. Science Fraud, which described by Science as “acerbic” was painted by the anonymous gmailer as a “hate website”, which is certainly was not.
A statement from Brookes employer – University of Rochester Medical Center in New York – is completely cowardly (good luck hiring more faculty!). Imagining perhaps that they will be sued, URMCNY (*or what?) tries to distance itself from the Science Fraud website, mentioning “personal activity”. Given that there was no mention of affiliation, this seems superfluous and a bit pathetic, but isn’t a surprise. Let’s hope that behind the scenes, his Chair is supportive.
Again the question of substantive manipulation to alter data and conclusions, versus cosmetic, accidental image modifications comes up, and the Science report takes an equivocal line. From memory of what I saw on the site – it is no longer up- Brookes judgement in this respect was very good. Perhaps I missed some posts that went too far. But, as those who know him say, Paul Brookes is a committed and honest, careful scientist. Every example posted on Science Fraud that I saw was clearly deliberate.
No surprise, then that none of those mentioned on the Science Fraud website, that were contacted by Science, had anything to say.