Kina er utvilsomt blitt en stor industrimakt, men den som måtte tro at et korrupt diktatur — som verdsetter lydighet, lojalitet og bevaring av ansikt mer enn frihet, frittalenhet og kreativitet — vil bli en vitenskapelig gigant med det samme, vil muligens skifte mening etter å ha lest et intervju med den kinesiske vitenskapsjournalisten Shi-min Fang i New Scientist.
Kinesisk forskning er etter hans oppfatning gjennomsyret av juks og uredelighet:
What prompted you to start challenging dubious pseudoscientific claims in China?
– In 1998, after eight years studying in the US, I returned to China and was shocked to see it was deluged with pseudosciences, superstitions and scientific misconduct.
What action did you decide to take?
– I had created a Chinese website called New Threads in 1994 when I was a graduate student at Michigan State University as a forum for sharing Chinese classics and literature. From 2000, I started to publish articles on the site fighting scientific misconduct and fraud. Eventually, New Threads became a flagship for those fighting pseudoscience, misconduct, fraud and corruption among the Chinese science community.
Are dubious claims a big problem in China?
– The majority of cases exposed are plagiarism, the exaggeration of academic credentials and faked research papers, which are endemic in China.
Tell me about some of them.
– A typical case was the nucleic acid «nutrition» scheme – supplements promoted to boost energy levels in the tired, pregnant and old. It involved more than a dozen Chinese biochemists and was the first that brought wide media coverage, both domestically and internationally. New Threads has exposed more than 1000 cases of scientific fraud.
Hvilken ironi at en mann som Shi-min Fang blir rettsforfulgt i sitt hjemland, når det nettopp er kritikere av hans støpning Kinas vitenskapelige miljøer trenger for å ta steget inn i den akademiske førstedivisjon.