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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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January 31, 2012

The Andrulis Paper's Fallout

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Posted by Derek

The fallout from the bizarre Andrulis paper continues. Carl Zimmer reports that editorial board members are resigning from the journal, having had no idea that their names would wind up over something like this.

Naturally, that brings up the question of just who did let this thing through the review process, but my bet is that we'll never know. Whoever signed off on it is no doubt running for cover.

Another useful feature this affair has had is the chance to see who just posts press releases for fun and profit, and who has some tiny residual bit of editorial discretion. In the former category, apparently, are PhysOrg.com and ScienceDaily.com (the latter has taken down their post. But then again, the Times of India bit for it as well. . .

Comments (16) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: The Scientific Literature


COMMENTS

1. John Wayne on January 31, 2012 1:50 PM writes...

This is an interested aspect of modern, connected life; the vengeance of the masses is swift. Controversial papers get hashed out in under a week, Netflix got hammered within days for their 'we are now two companies for no reason' plan, and people are much more informed of the vagaries of various corporations.

I'm sure that there are some disadvantages, but I kinda like it.

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2. Rhenium on January 31, 2012 2:10 PM writes...

I feel bad for Andrulis. He's only an assistant professor, so don't be surprised if in a few years he's looking for a new job.

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3. student on January 31, 2012 2:17 PM writes...

The only real surprise is that the Andrulis paper didn't cite El Naschie as inspiration.

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4. newnickname on January 31, 2012 2:48 PM writes...

I haven't read the Andrulis paper but if it is not fully consistent with or does not adequately accommodate the Plutonium Atom Totality Theory (q.v.) then it will need some serious reworking. I wonder if Archimedes Plutonium (q.v.) was a referee?

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5. Anonymous on January 31, 2012 3:24 PM writes...

I feel bad for Andrulis. He's only an assistant professor, so don't be surprised if in a few years he's looking for a new job.

If he's as crazy as this paper implies, finding a job will be the least of his problems.

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6. jamjel on January 31, 2012 3:51 PM writes...

I laughed hard over the ScienceDaily article. It was so laudatory I wonder now whether SD allowed Andrulis to write it himself.

I have previously noted that some ScienceDaily pieces based on publications whose authors are based in non-English speaking countries have used very unusual English constructions.

I think it would actually be a very good thing to get original authors to write pieces for the popular science press, and if this is what SD is doing I applaud their efforts, but they clearly could use a final editorial filter.

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7. petros on January 31, 2012 3:55 PM writes...

Will Andrulis be lost in the borogoves or fall foul of the Jabberwocky?

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8. Brooks Moses on January 31, 2012 5:06 PM writes...

@jamjel: As per the Ars Technica article that Derek links to (see the "chance to see" link), Science Daily runs quite a lot of unedited press releases. So, yes, many of their "articles" are written either by the subject or someone at their institution.

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9. Carl "SAI" Mitchell on January 31, 2012 5:26 PM writes...

PhysOrg is a science news aggregator + editorial service, like a combination of reddit + Ars Technica. I'd expect them to just publish every press release they see, that's what they are for. They also sometimes have original stories and articles, but most of their content is press releases.

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10. ananymous on January 31, 2012 6:49 PM writes...

Read the paper. Now I feel like I need a helmet made of aluminum foil. Gotta keep those pesky government mind-control rays out.

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11. Anonymous on January 31, 2012 6:57 PM writes...

More Yeats than Carroll:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world...

Quite sad, really

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12. JasonP on January 31, 2012 8:48 PM writes...

The funniest part of the paper is his repeated mentioning: "Life is complex and perplexing."

It's almost an admittance of being stupified.

Or also great: "These warnings represent a full and sincere disclosure of the difficulties in effectively presenting my model and theory and of convincing the reader of its scientific merit. I also mean to emphasize, up front, that this manuscript is dense."

In some ways the manuscript is rational and erudite, until he gets to proving his points.

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13. Derek McPhee on February 1, 2012 11:14 AM writes...

The journal's side of the story will be published as an editorial in a couple of days. As far as I can tell the paper went through what would be considered a normal review process with the referees (all faculty from equally reputable institutions) requesting extensive revisions that were done prior to final acceptance and publication. Looks like the only ones running for cover are some Editorial Board members trying to distance themselves from the whole event.

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14. etomlins on February 1, 2012 11:17 AM writes...

Someone remembers Archimedes Plutonium? I miss Usenet sometimes.

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15. Owen on February 1, 2012 11:37 AM writes...

#14: He's still posting, astonishingly.

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16. nacbrie on February 1, 2012 7:20 PM writes...

From Andrulis' faculty page:

My group has been asking two broad questions: How does the spatiotemporal control of RNase interactions and post-translational modifications relate to RNase recognition and metabolism of specific classes of RNAs in living cells? How does RNase activity relate to cell structure and function? To answer these questions, we are studying Dis3, Rrp6, and the ribonucleometabolic exosome. Dis3 is a processive, sequence-nonspecific 3' to 5' RNase that is homologous to eubacterial RNase R/II. Rrp6 is a distributive, sequence-nonspecific 3' to 5' RNase similar to eubacterial RNase D. The exosome is a multi-subunit complex or set of complexes that contain(s) putative RNases (Rrp41, Rrp42, Rrp43, Rrp45, Rrp46, Mtr3 are eukaryotic homologs of the eubacterial RNase PH) and the S1 RNA-binding domain proteins Rrp4, Rrp40, and Csl4. We have proposed and are testing the hypothesis that these subunits assemble into multiple independent, functionally interrelated complexes called exozymes. Extending upon this RNA research, I recently compiled an incommensurable, trans-disciplinary, neologistical, axiomatic theory of life from quantum gravity to the living cell.

Sums it up, really.

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