Archive for 'Improbable investigators'

Galam’s Work on Galam Models (Reviewed by Galam)

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

In 2008, French physicist Serge Galam wrote a review article about “Galam models,” in which he cited 71 papers, all of which were written or cowritten by him.

                Serge Galam

Galam specializes in a topic known as “social physics” (or “sociophysics” for short), an area of complex systems that concerns the use of ideas and tools from physics to study collective social phenomena. Amidst the modern data deluge, sociophysics has become a very popular research area during the past decades, although the idea dates back multiple centuries and the term was first used more than two hundred years ago by French philosopher August Comte (1798–1857, credited as the founder of sociology).

There are numerous models in the physical study of social phenomena, and Galam reviewed the specific family of them known as “Galam models” in the article Sociophysics: A Review of Galam Models (available in published form at this website). The first sentence of the abstract provides a terse summary of the article’s contents: “We review a series of models of sociophysics introduced by Galam and Galam et al. in the last 25 years.” Below we excerpt the reference list (from the arXiv preprint of the paper) and show about half of the references.

The second half of the 71 references, each authored or coauthored by Serge Galam, in Serge Galam's review article on Galam models.

The second half of the 71 references, each authored or coauthored by S. Galam, in Serge Galam’s review article on Galam models.

Thanks to investigator Renaud Lambiotte for bringing this paper to our attention.

NEXT POST: Mistaken hell on a shoe?

Influential imaginary scientists, in this time of influential imaginary facts

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Why Fake Data When You Can Fake a Scientist?
Making up names and CVs is one of the latest tricks to game scientific metrics

That’s the headline on an article in Nautilus magazine, written by Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky. Here’s part of the article:

…The fact is that professional advancement for scientists around the world is becoming more and more challenging in an era of ever-scarcer funding for research and tightening competition for faculty spots. To succeed in the publish-or-perish environment of academia, most scientists hit the lab and play within the rules. Others, though, hatch schemes….

[One] of today’s most direct new frauds is incredibly simple: Make up new people.

Jesus Angel Lemus is a Spanish veterinary researcher who has lost 13 papers to retraction over concerns about the veracity of his data. That part’s not so unusual—even 13 retractions doesn’t put Lemus among the top 30 researchers for retractions. What makes Lemus interesting is that he appears to have created a fictional co-author for five of his articles, one “Javier Grande” (big Xavier, whose vague affiliations, ironically enough, made him a big man on campus at the University of Castilla-La Mancha). It’s difficult to understand why, although bulking up author lists is one way to increase the apparent credibility of a study, particularly if they’re from a prestigious—or prestigious-sounding—institution….


Time Travel and Journal Publishing

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

Can journal publishers travel backwards in time? You may think the answer is no, but consider the following case.

Along with Ginestra Bianconi of Queen Mary University of London, I edited a special issue of European Journal of Applied Mathematics on “Network Analysis and Modelling.”

To introduce the special issue, Ginestra and I wrote an editorial. As you can see from this screenshot, our editorial involved a very speedy review process (perhaps including time travel). It helped, of course, that we did know that the editorial for our invited special issue was going to be accepted.

This editorial was accepted even before it was received. (“Received 13 July 2016; accepted 12 July 2016”) The journal was fast!

P.S. No actual time travel occurred in this adventure (as far as we know). :)

“Nuts!” (of/and goats, and dogs, etc., and people), the film

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

220px-dr-_john_r-_brinkley“In 1922, Brinkley traveled to Los Angeles at the invitation of Harry Chandler, owner of the Los Angeles Times, who challenged Brinkley to transplant goat testicles into one of his editors.”

That’s just one nugget from the Wikipedia biography of “Doctor” John R. Brinkley, who lived a colorful life. Implanting goat testicles into strangers was not the half, or even fifth of it. Well, maybe the fifth of it.

A new documentary film called “Nuts!” chews over the life and claims and accomplishments of the not-so-good non-doctor. Here’s the trailer for the film:


(Thanks to Erwin Kompanje for bringing this to our attention.)

Scientists with action-hero names: Hudson Freeze

Thursday, September 8th, 2016


Another scientist with an action-hero name is Hudson Freeze, Ph.D. Or, phrased alternatively:  Hudson Freeze, Ph.D, is another scientist with an action-hero name.

Dr. Freeze says (on his website, and presumably elsewhere):

“Getting a cure is pretty difficult, but it starts from doing research. It starts from understanding the basic processes, the scientific processes, the physiological processes. So what we try to do is to uncover enough basic science that we gain insights into how the human body…works.”

(Thanks to Ivan Oransky for bringing this to our attention.)