Sunday, February 10, 2008

Another creationist-leaning paper published

Another paper that seems to advocate creationism has somehow managed to fly under the radar and get published in a science journal, Proteomics, authored by a couple of South Koreans. Unfortunately for creationists, the paper is not only badly argued, it is full of plagiarism.

Pharyngula has a two-part summary, and one of the authors whose work has been copied has put together a side-by-side comparison of the plagiarized sections and their original sources (PDF). Lars Juhl Jensen has also reported details of the plagiarism at his blog.

The authors, Mohamad Warda and Jin Han, are both in South Korea. South Korea, perhaps not coincidentally, is the home to four of the world's ten largest megachurches and a young-earth creationist movement second only to the one in the U.S. in size, and larger in percentage of the population with having membership in creationist organizations. Ronald L. Numbers' The Creationists (2nd ed.) states that "By 2000 the member ship [in the Korea Association of Creation Research] stood at 1,365, giving Korea claim to being the creationist capital of the world, in density if not in influence" (p. 418).

UPDATE (February 11, 2008): Mike O'Risal at Hyphoid Logic finds someone (apparently a creationist) defending Warda and Han's paper at something called "AcademicFreedomBlog." That poster, "DrMC," apparently thinks that plagiarism should be published as part of academic freedom. As it turns out, part of the reason that the logic seems so awry in the Warda and Han paper is that almost the entire thing (aside from a single paragraph, presumably the one with the God reference) has been cobbled together from pieces of other people's work.

UPDATE (February 13, 2008): The Guardian's blog has an article on this issue, including a non-apologetic response from one of the authors (Warda) which denies plagiarism.

UPDATE (March 14, 2008): A month later, Proteomics still hasn't explained how it came to publish such an awful paper. Lars Juhl Jensen points out:

The manuscript contains four parts with unsupported claims that should have been caught by any peer reviewer or editor:

  1. Title - “Mitochondria, the missing link between body and soul”.
  2. Abstract - “These data are presented with novel proteomics evidence to disprove the endosymbiotic hypothesis of mitochondrial evolution that is replaced in this work by a more realistic alternative”.
  3. Section 3.4 - “More logically, the points that show proteomics overlapping between different forms of life are more likely to be interpreted as a reflection of a single common fingerprint initiated by a mighty creator than relying on a single cell that is, in a doubtful way, surprisingly originating all other kinds of life”.
  4. Conclusions - “We realize so far that the mitochondria could be the link between the body and this preserved wisdom of the soul devoted to guaranteeing life”.
Attila Csordas, PZ Myers, and Steven Salzberg joined with Lars Juhl Jensen to post on their blogs pointing out that Proteomics editor Prof. Michael J. Dunn still hasn't answered these questions about those parts of the paper:
  1. Were they already in the initial version that was submitted to Proteomics and sent out for peer review?
  2. Did they appear in a revised version that was sent to the peer reviewers?
  3. Were they introduced in a revised version that was accepted without sending it to the reviewers?
  4. Or were they added at the copy editing stage, that is after the manuscript had formally been accepted?
UPDATE (March 23, 2008): Commenter JPCollado at William Dembski's Uncommon Descent blog has linked to this post as supporting evidence for his claim that the Warda and Han paper "seems like" a "false flag" operation to make creationists look bad. I don't think there's any evidence for that here or in the sources I've linked to. I don't think we do know the motivations behind their paper at this point, though we do know from Han's response to P.Z. Myers that his English is very poor and his explanation for how the paper came to be written makes no sense.

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