"Compromised science" news/opines (includes retractions, declining academic standards, pred-J, etc)

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by C C, Apr 28, 2023.

  1. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Two papers poorly making a case?
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    Can selection tie evolution more closely to physics?
    https://arstechnica.com/science/2023/10/can-selection-tie-evolution-more-closely-to-physics/

    EXCERPTS: Usually, when someone starts talking about the interface between evolution and physics, it's a prelude to a terrible argument that attempts to claim that evolution can't possibly happen. So, biologists tend to be slightly leery of even serious attempts at theorizing about bringing the two fields closer.

    Yet this October has seen two papers that claim to describe how a key component of evolutionary theory—selection—fits in with other areas of physics. Both papers are published in prestigious journals (Nature and PNAS), so they can't be summarily dismissed. But they're both pretty limited in ways that probably are the product of the interests and biases of their authors. And one of them may be the worst written paper I've ever seen in a major journal.

    So buckle up, and let's dive into the world of theoretical biology.

    We can start with the terribly written paper. It introduces Assembly Theory ... (PAPER: "Assembly theory explains and quantifies selection and evolution")

    [...] The second paper is written by a team that includes a bunch of astronomers ... (PAPER: "On the roles of function and selection in evolving systems")

    [...] None of this is to say that Assembly Theory is wrong, just that the challenge of obtaining the information needed to put it to use may range from impractical to impossible for many important questions. Figuring out how to use it effectively for situations beyond chemistry will be a real challenge. Unfortunately, the people who are proposing it are claiming it handles problems that don't exist and aren't addressed by it, so I expect that the challenge will be much harder than it needs to be... (MORE - missing details)
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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Alcohol researcher faked data in animal studies, US watchdog says
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...aked-data-in-animal-studies-us-watchdog-says/

    A neuroscientist who studies alcohol and stress faked data in two published studies and two grant applications submitted to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to a U.S. government watchdog.

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    Article defending private-equity involvement in autism services retracted
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...ity-involvement-in-autism-services-retracted/

    An article that proposed potential benefits of private equity firms investing in autism service providers has been removed from the journal in which it was published.

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    Exclusive: Professor in France blames alleged ghostwriter for plagiarism
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...ce-blames-alleged-ghostwriter-for-plagiarism/

    A professor of interventional radiology in France pointed the finger at an alleged ghostwriter after he was caught plagiarizing large portions of text in a review article...

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    ‘Prompt and decisive’: Editor says obesity study will be retracted after critique
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...esity-study-will-be-retracted-after-critique/

    In February, David Allison came across a study with a familiar problem...
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  5. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Superconductivity ‘damaged’ as researchers look to move on from retractions
    https://physicsworld.com/a/supercon...researchers-look-to-move-on-from-retractions/

    EXCERPT: .... And when other researchers tried to reproduce the findings, they failed. ... Theorists who tried to explain the high-temperature superconductivity found themselves struggling too...

    [...] What will happen regarding Dias’ group is unknown. In August the University of Rochester announced it is investigating Ranga Dias’ work again, although when that investigation will be complete is unknown. “Unfortunately, Dias’ inconsiderate behaviour has harmed the reputation of the field and it may take a few years to repair the damage,” says Boeri.

    That view is backed by condensed-matter physicist James Hamlin from the University of Florida, who examined some of Dias’ group’s work. “I do think the whole saga is damaging to science in general, and superconductivity research more so and more broadly it’s fuel for anti-science types,” he told Physics World. “It could have an impact on funding for high pressure research and that would be unfortunate given that it’s been such a fruitful area with so many exciting recent developments.” (MORE - missing details)

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    My letter to the Washington Post on race
    https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2023/10/22/my-letter-to-the-washington-post-on-race/

    EXCERPTS (Jerry Coyne): ... The author Sydney Trent, is a science journalist who covers social issues, and that may explain why the article was replete with scientific problems, among them the neglect of existing research on ethnic groups (my preferred term for “race”). You can see the article by clicking on the headline below. Since it’ll probably be paywalled if you subscribe, I found the whole article archived here.

    [...] Implicit in Trent’s effort to dethrone the term is the misguided idea that if you think “races” have any biological reality, then that buttresses racism. That need not be true, but, historically, belief in races has been associated with the idea of a racial hierarchy in various traits (most often intelligence), and so I prefer to use “populations” or “ethnicity”, which doesn’t carry that historical taint.

    [...] But there is no doubt that ethnicity, and even the “old fashioned” races, carry meaningful biological information and are genetically differentiable. If they weren’t, then you wouldn’t be able to pay companies like 23andMe to suss out your ancestry, or to trace the history of human migration by using genetic differences between populations.

    [...] the widely-reviled “classical” races are genetically differentiable using cluster analysis. This is not surprising because these groups evolved in different parts of the world, and for much of their history they evolved in semi-isolation, leading to the accumulation of differences in the DNA by either genetic drift or natural selection.

    At any rate, the Post‘s article was scientifically misleading, and so I set out to correct it by writing a letter to the paper... (MORE - missing details)
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  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    The Coyne thing raises an obvious point that is in danger of being suppressed for ideological reasons. I suppose the point is that the small variations that distinguish one ethnic group from another are just that:small. And not fundamental in the way that the racists used to assume. But it’s the case that people from Africa have dark skin, and that people from N Europe have pale skin , both for fairly clear evolutionary reasons. That is a genetic difference. Similarly with lactose tolerance, or sickle cell anaemia or whatever.

    As ever, the ideologues take an extreme position and claim moral superiority over those with a more nuanced view.

    The Dias thing looks more straightforward: he’s a crook, trying to make money off patents.
     
    C C likes this.
  8. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    "Scientific American" is back to distorting the facts to buttress its ideology
    https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2023...istorting-the-facts-to-buttress-its-ideology/

    INTRO (Jerry Coyne): It’s been a while since Scientific American has published misleading and distorted articles to buttress its “progressive” Left ideology, and I hoped they had shaped up. (To be honest, I haven’t followed the magazine, and got the following link from a reader.) My hope was dashed yesterday when I read this new article claiming that women constituted a high proportion of hunters in early hunter-gatherer societies. It is full of misconceptions and distortions (some of which must be deliberate), neglects contrary data, is replete with tendentious ideological claims, and even misrepresents the claim they’re debunking. You can read it for free [...] by going going here..... (MORE - details, analysis of article)
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    Last edited: Oct 25, 2023
  9. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    An historical take on malpractice and quack medical science with respect to a doctor who might have contributed to Hitler's loonier decisions later in the game (if not earlier effects). Debatable whether it helped to cause an extra dose of WWII deaths and suffering or not.
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    Adolf Hitler’s Personal Charlatan
    https://skepticalinquirer.org/2023/10/adolf-hitlers-personal-charlatan/

    Most biographers of Hitler seem to think that Morell’s influence on Hitler and the Third Reich was negligible. Yet a review of Morell’s treatments suggests a different conclusion. Morell’s medical incompetence turned Hitler into a drug addict and subsequently into a physical and mental wreck. It seems, therefore, hard to imagine that Morell did not have a major impact on the history of the Third Reich.
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    Last edited: Oct 26, 2023
  10. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    History repeats itself: Diabetes researcher gets four expressions of concern in journal he once sued
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...pressions-of-concern-in-journal-he-once-sued/

    A diabetes researcher who lost a defamation suit against a journal that marked four of his papers with expressions of concern now has four more papers flagged – by the same journal.

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    Publisher looking into COVID vaccine paper with ‘serious flaws’
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...-into-covid-vaccine-paper-with-serious-flaws/

    A controversial paper on the safety and immunogenicity of an Iran-made COVID-19 vaccine is being investigated by the U.S.-based publisher Wiley...

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    Cancer researcher with nine retractions says he’ll take publisher to court
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...etractions-says-hell-take-publisher-to-court/

    A cancer researcher who lost nine papers in one day as a publisher purged articles offered in “authorship-for-sale” schemes told "Retraction Watch" he and his co-authors “will soon defend ourselves legally.”

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    PLOS and scientist appear close to settling lawsuit over expression of concern
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...-settling-lawsuit-over-expression-of-concern/

    The publisher PLOS appears close to an agreement with a scientist who sued to stop the addition of an expression of concern to one of her articles, according to a recent filing in the case.
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  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Grave consequences': scientists warn of extreme bias in brain aging research
    https://www.sciencealert.com/grave-...-warn-of-extreme-bias-in-brain-aging-research

    INTRO: The risk of Alzheimer's disease and depression differs significantly between male and female bodies, and yet the vast majority of research on the human brain does not reflect that.

    Instead, male anatomy is too often considered 'the norm' against which all other human brains are measured.

    A new review, led by the neurobiologist Claudia Barth from the Diakonhjemmet Hospital in Norway, argues that this continued scientific bias has "grave consequences" for wellbeing and places a "disproportionate burden" on female health.

    Barth and her colleagues are not the first group to call out the prevailing sex bias in neuroscience research, but their report is incredibly comprehensive, spotlighting the numerous ways in which sex hormones might impact healthy brain aging... (MORE - details)
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  12. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    This seems to be an example of the kind of thing referred to in the book Dave recently read and posted about here: http://www.sciforums.com/threads/bo...data-bias-in-a-world-designed-for-men.166174/

    In a general sense, this kind of thing reveals something about the progress of the scientific method. In order to make any progress in science, one looks for patterns in nature that enable generalisations to be made, so that behaviour can be predicted in other, similar, situations. So at the first level in medicine, one look for patterns in the behaviour of human bodies in general. But then there comes a point at which to explain the divergences in behaviour that remain, one has to split human beings into sub-categories and look for correlations within, and systematic differences between, the sub-groups. And sex is clearly one to try.

    There seems to be a general shift in the practice of medicine towards women. Most of the young doctors I have had dealings with are women now. I'm sure this is going to be a great benefit. Women tend to have less ego and thus be better listeners, which is important in diagnosis, as well as making them more open to "whole body" implications for the patient of disease, rather than just treating it mechanistically as an isolated piece of biology. But clearly too they will be acutely aware of the effect of sexual difference on various medical conditions. I feel sure this will lead to a lot of insights.
     
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  13. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Phelps dives deeper into the pseudoscience of cupping
    https://skepticalinquirer.org/exclusive/phelps-dives-deeper-into-the-pseudoscience-of-cupping/

    EXCERPTS: The world watched in awe as Michael Phelps—the most decorated Olympian in history—added another five gold medals to his record-breaking tally at the Rio Games in 2016. This he did with conspicuous purple bruises across his back and shoulders, caused by cupping therapy. Today, it’s so common for an elite athlete to fraternize with pseudoscience...

    [...] On the one hand, cupping proponents finally putting healing energy aside is progress of a sort. On the other hand, we’ve just replaced one set of implausible claims with another.

    For instance, “increasing blood flow” to the muscles has become the default mechanism for a vast number of health, wellness, and alternative practices, including cupping therapy, acupuncture, massage, compression tights, cryotherapy, hydrotherapy, magnetic therapy, and herbal supplements, among many others. And cupping-related research is being retroactively performed to support the assertion. Several studies show that there are indeed increases in skin blood flow at the sites of cupping treatment. In turn, this can lead to changes in local skin temperature. The studies, while far from perfect, appear fairly robust. They comprise randomized trials, control groups, and attempts to make physiological measurements with the right equipment. But there’s still a problem... (MORE - missing details)
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  14. TheVat Registered Member

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    I was unable to find the tendentious ideological claims in the SA article. It seemed to rest on well-established research on women and athletic stamina for extended pursuit of prey. Nor was I led to disagree that the Man the Hunter traditional view of gender tasks has been poorly supported. Indeed, it seems like the Man the Hunter view is the one saddled with sexist and ideological baggage. (for the record: I am an Independent who has long rejected partisan political considerations in the conduct of science)
     
    C C likes this.
  15. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Yes. The SA article is addressed in the opening. But the "research" that it is appealing to is what Coyne's blog entry is actually evaluating from the start of the "First, note that..." paragraph onward.

    Yes, good illustration. The ideology of philosophical genres like critical theory do often interpret and judge just about everything in terms of oppressive power structures.

    Yes, another excellent depiction. That's what many people guided by motivated reasoning (personal preferences) and political agendas do often assert. That they're impartial or unbiased, independent, lack allegiances to particular thought orientations and activism, etc.
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    Last edited: Nov 2, 2023
  16. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Research integrity during the COVID-19 pandemic: A book excerpt
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-a-book-excerpt/

    INTRO: We are pleased to present an excerpt from "Thinking About Science: Good Science, Bad Science, and How to Make It Better", by Ferric C. Fang and Arturo Casadevall, published by ASM Press/Wiley, October 2023... (MORE - details)

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    Guest post: A look behind the scenes of bulk retractions from Sage
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...ind-the-scenes-of-bulk-retractions-from-sage/

    INTRO: When I began my graduate work almost 15 years ago, retractions of papers in academic journals were rare, reserved mainly for clear misconduct or serious errors. Today, rarity has given way to routine, with retractions coming more often and increasingly in bulk.

    Sage is not immune to large-scale retractions, nor are we passive observers of their growth. As Retraction Watch wrote, we were “one of the first publishers to recognize large-scale peer review manipulation and begin retracting papers in bulk nine years ago.”

    Recently, we issued some major retractions; just in the last few months, we put out 37 from Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and 21 from Concurrent Engineering. And there are more to come. While we don’t celebrate this type of action, the news is not all bad... (MORE - details)
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  17. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Hmm. I can see why Coyne is annoyed. The tone of the article is very journalistic, employing the standard journalistic mantra: simplify and exaggerate.

    As I read it, the concept of "Man the Hunter" was the title of a symposium held in 1966 (!) . This focused, not primarily on the supposedly different roles of men vs. women, but on the importance of hunting in understanding how early cultures lived. "Man" here means mankind, not men as opposed to women. It's true that there were secondary assumptions made that most of the hunting was done by the men, but that was not the thrust of the symposium.

    It seems equally clear that the notion of "Man the Hunter" has been challenged repeatedly over time in the half century since. It looks like setting up an Aunt Sally to suggest it is somehow an entrenched paradigm that these iconoclasts are bravely bringing down.

    Coyne is basically annoyed by the axe-grinding, political tone of the article and in that he has my sympathy. But he has now got a real bee in his bonnet about Scientific American having gone off the rails and risks becoming a bit of a bore on the subject, even if he is perfectly right about it.
     
  18. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    (Jan 2023) The demise of Scientific American: Guest post by Ashutosh Jogalekar
    https://scottaaronson.blog/?p=6202

    (Nov 17, 2021) Scientific American Goes Woke (Michael Shermer)
    https://michaelshermer.substack.com/p/scientific-american-goes-woke

    Since SciAm is just a pop-sci magazine (and has been owned by German publishing interests since 1986), the question does arise as to why so many have spent focus on it in recent years.

    In an era of growing distrust in experts, perhaps in the end it is just disturbing to the Old Guard to have such a public influence both promoting that "science is political" and exemplifying that.

    (2020) Yes, science is political
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/yes-science-is-political/

    (2017) Science has always been inseparable from politics
    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/science-has-always-been-inseparable-from-politics/
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  19. TheVat Registered Member

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    I will save us both some trouble and simply note you have misunderstood me, and pretty thoroughly. Probably best to learn where a newbie is coming from before jumping to conclusions on their biases, agendas, etc.
     
  20. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Fluoride and IQ
    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/fluoride-and-iq/

    EXCERPTS: The anti-fluoride movement continues to make dubious claims about the safety of fluoride in public drinking water. They are also expanding into new social media platforms, like TikTok, where everything old is new again. These platforms give a second (or more) life to old debunked claims, which means we have to constantly be whacking these moles down again.

    [...] The latest study to make the rounds in being presented with headlines such as: “Water Worry: Excess Fluoride Linked to Cognitive Impairment in Children.”

    This study is similar to the China studies in that it takes place in a rural community, this one in Ethiopia, in which there is high levels of naturally occurring fluoride. [...] The results are also not that compelling, even for a risk of high fluoride exposure.

    [...] And, as always, the media needs to do a better job of reporting this data and putting it into proper perspective... (MORE - missing details)
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  21. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Sci Am used to be a great deal more than "a pop sci magazine", in the days when I used to read it. It carried articles in depth, which assumed an undergraduate level of knowledge on the part of the reader. I expect Coyne remembers those days and laments its - apparent - dumbing down and politicisation.

    It is facile in the extreme to claim "science is political" as a justification for introducing a political agenda to a science magazine. Science strives not to be political and every decent scientist knows this. Science may have political implications, it is true. And there may be political bias in some social science, as it is hard to apply the standards of reproducible observation that the hard sciences endeavour to apply. But that by no means excuses writers about science abandoning the attempt to stay objective and dragging politics into their work.
     
  22. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    My journal was hijacked: an editor’s experience
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/11/03/my-journal-was-hijacked-an-editors-experience/

    INTRO: At the beginning of February 2023, I discovered that the Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems (SJIS) had been hijacked.

    As editor-in-chief of the publication, I had been contacted by an author confused by receiving both an acceptance letter and a desk rejection for her manuscript. I had rejected the paper because it did not align with our editorial policy.

    Upon investigation, the acceptance letter turned out to have been issued by cybercriminals attempting to charge her for publication in what she thought was SJIS but was in fact a fraudulent website posing as the journal... (MORE - details)
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  23. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Sage retracts more than 200 papers from journal for compromised peer review
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/11...ers-from-journal-for-compromised-peer-review/

    The publisher Sage has retracted 209 articles from an engineering journal after an investigation found “compromised peer review or 3rd party involvement,” according to a company spokesperson.

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    Exclusive: NYU cancer center director suspended
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/11/01/nyu-cancer-center-director-suspended/

    The director of one of the nation’s premier cancer centers has been suspended amid concerns over several of his papers – but he tells Retraction Watch it is unrelated to comments about that work on PubPeer.

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    Paper on homeopathy for ADHD retracted for ‘deficiencies’
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/11/01/paper-on-homeopathy-for-adhd-retracted-for-deficiencies/

    A paper touted as “the first systematic review and meta-analysis” of research on the effects of homeopathy for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been retracted more than a year after critics first contacted the journal with concerns.

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    Controversial French researcher loses two papers for ethics approval issues
    https://retractionwatch.com/2023/10...-loses-two-papers-for-ethics-approval-issues/

    Didier Raoult, the French infectious disease scientist who came to prominence for promoting hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment, has lost two papers for ethics concerns after other scientists flagged issues with hundreds of publications from the institute he formerly led.
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