About this Author
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: Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Anyone Still Swimming in the Chiral Pool? | Main | DUCTS: Down with Useless Clinical Trial acronymS »

February 7, 2013

How To Enhance Your Online Reputation. Sure.

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

We will file this one under N, for Nerve, Lots Of. Readers will probably remember the cancer research scandal at Duke a couple of years ago, where Anil Potti turned out to have faked a wide range of results in the clinic. This led to his leaving Duke rather abruptly, with a trail of retracted papers, all sorts of unpleasant complications with the funding agencies and so on. Retraction Watch covered this business extensively, as well they might have, since it's just the sort of thing that site helps to spotlight.

The campus newspaper (the Duke Chronicle) noted at the time that Potti had hired some sort of online reputation management firm. (I should mention in passing that I owe a debt to that newspaper, whose crossword puzzle got me through an electron spin resonance course while I was a grad student in the 1980s. Without it I would have been forced to listen to the lecture material, and who knows what would have become of me then?) It looks like these reputation-polishers are still in business. That's why that link to Retraction Watch goes to their front page instead of one of their posts on the scandal itself.

Those posts have been taken down, you see. Oh, yes. Copyright problems, don't you know - why, one of the most famous news sites in the world, one "" turns out to have published all that stuff on its own, and has filed a DMCA takedown notice with Wordpress to have the posts removed.

It must be bovine waste products week around here at In the Pipeline. because that's another big steaming load of the stuff. Here, take a look at the request itself:

Myself Narendra Chatwal Senior editor in NewsBulet.In, a famous news firm in India. All the news we publish are individually researched by our reporters from all over India and then we publish them on our site and our news channel. Recently we found that some one had copied our material from the category Medical Reviews and published them on their site. So we request you to help us in protecting our content and copy right.

Ah, but if you take a look at that domain, you find that it didn't even exist until October 2012, well after all but one of the posts that they're complaining about. And as the commenters to the Ars Technica post on this noticed, the address given in the WhoIs records corresponds to a nightclub in London. Peachy. So not only is this a spurious copyright complaint, it's a stupid, incompetent spurious copyright complaint. Whoever is providing this sort of service to Anil Potti is ripping him off - not that that bothers me much after reading the facts in the Duke case.

And the thing is, this sort of effort is futile. It's the very definition of futile, because getting the internet off of you is impossible. That Duke Chronicle story says (at the time of its writing) that the first page of Google results about Potti contained no mention of the scandal, just social media sites and glowing statements. That sure didn't last long, though - now the front page contains lots of details about the Duke imbroglio, and (as of this morning) several discussions of this current ridiculous DMCA effort.

After reviewing the facts of the earlier case, and these new attempts at reputation-burnishing being done on his behalf, I'm sticking with my earlier statements about Dr. Potti: I would not hire him to mow my lawn. Has published that before?

Comments (16) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: The Dark Side


1. Tom on February 7, 2013 8:48 AM writes...

Who could have expected a creator of fraudulent research to use fraudulent means to try to hide his fraud?

Permalink to Comment

2. nitrosonium on February 7, 2013 8:53 AM writes...

ESR class.....taught by Peter Smith at the time??

Permalink to Comment

3. John Wayne on February 7, 2013 9:02 AM writes...

This seems like the polite and electronic version of hiring a goon to break somebodies kneecaps. Electronic hit men, now with more lawyer!

On one level, our society has come a long way. On another level, nothing has changed.

Permalink to Comment

4. Pete on February 7, 2013 9:15 AM writes...

Where is the bovine scatyl disseminase inhibitor when you need one?

Permalink to Comment

5. Am I Lloyd peptide on February 7, 2013 9:39 AM writes...

So now Potti is hiring some fake Indian firm to serve out copyright notices that are as transparently incompetent as bovine waste is opaque? He's about as pathetic as someone can get. What's ridiculous is that by now Google searches regularly turn up evidence of his fraud on their first page, no matter how hard he tries to embellish his fake credentials.

Give it up Potti; the only thing left for you to do is to try getting a job mowing lawns. Oh wait...

Permalink to Comment

6. Hap on February 7, 2013 10:19 AM writes...

I don't think I would trust him to mow my lawn, if I had one of note. Maybe he could clean trash from roadsides with others of his ilk, but only if there were active supervision.

How I love the DMCA - let me count the ways...

Permalink to Comment

7. DCRogers on February 7, 2013 10:34 AM writes...

Trying to go directly to "" redirects you to the much-more-reputable seeming news site "".

Looks like they're hoping you won't notice the slight spelling difference in the names, and will associate their spam with the reputation of the real news site.

Permalink to Comment

8. Old CMC Guy on February 7, 2013 10:45 AM writes...

@2: It could only have been Peter Smith! That same crossword puzzle got me through several lecture classes, including his.

Permalink to Comment

9. Derek Lowe on February 7, 2013 12:48 PM writes...

I'm afraid that #2 and #8 have guessed correctly!

Permalink to Comment

10. Nekekami on February 7, 2013 1:02 PM writes...

I spent most of my Algorithms lectures chatting on IRC or working on my own hobby projects.

The prof I had in that course was a prime example of Academically Brilliant, Worthless With Real-World Problems. Quote "You will find, as you analyze this, that this is the fastest algorithm in its class, and you'll never need to use another one". Of course I got called in to talk about an "attitude problem" when I pointed out that there are at least 3 processor architectures where that algorithm would be the SLOWEST option available, if it ran at all....

Permalink to Comment

11. Scarodactyl on February 7, 2013 3:41 PM writes...

Note that filing a false DMCA takedown is an act of perjury...

Permalink to Comment

12. Tom on February 7, 2013 4:23 PM writes...

"Note that filing a false DMCA takedown is an act of perjury..."

That's probably why this task was given to someone that the law can't reach in India.

Permalink to Comment

13. Sili on February 7, 2013 5:11 PM writes...

Has published that before?
They have now. Permalink to Comment

14. daze39 on February 7, 2013 5:46 PM writes...

And Retraction Watch went along with this obviously-fake "DMCA claim" that would never stand up in court?

Permalink to Comment

15. Mike on February 7, 2013 7:59 PM writes...

@14. Retraction Watch did not remove the blog posts, their hosting company, WordPress, did so. They have a legal near-requirement to remove content first and ask questions later. The blog posts may get restored if an investigation shows that the copyright claims are false.

Permalink to Comment

16. Jonadab on February 19, 2013 9:14 AM writes...

Trying to remove information from the internet is like trying to put all the feathers back in the pillow, on a windy day.

Permalink to Comment


Remember Me?


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

The Last Post
The GSK Layoffs Continue, By Proxy
The Move is Nigh
Another Alzheimer's IPO
Cutbacks at C&E News
Sanofi Pays to Get Back Into Oncology
An Irresponsible Statement About Curing Cancer
Oliver Sacks on Turning Back to Chemistry