Peer review expert journal accidentally publishes fake AI image with gibberish and giant gonads on a rat

By Jo Nova

This paper shows exactly how good “Peer Review” is

It’s not just that a clever AI image slipped through peer review, it’s that it was garishly fake in a supersize kind of way. Scientifically everything about it was radioactive satire and yet it still got through “peer review”. The words are gibberish. The editors didn’t even run a spell checker on it before publishing it, let alone the gaze of a single trained biologist in the field.

The paper has been retracted thanks to the real peer review which happened on social media. This was a case of X (formerly Twitter) saves the day. Where normal peer review can take up to two years (if you are an unpopular skeptic) it was only three days from the X review to retraction.

The Telegraph sums it up:

A scientific paper purporting to show the signalling pathway of sperm stem cells has met with widespread ridicule after it depicted a rodent with an anatomically eye-watering appendage and four giant testicles.

The creature, labelled “rat”, was also sitting upright in the manner of a squirrel, while the graphic was littered with nonsensical words such as “dissilced”, […]

The Lancet stretches half the axis and then heat deaths look worse…

By Jo Nova

What do you do when not enough people die to suit your religion? Distort the axis and hope no one notices.

Welcome to government-science, where one of top journals in the world uses graphic design tricks for political convenience. In this graph from the paper, 10 excess deaths from the heat looks “bigger” than 50 excess deaths from cold. Isn’t the whole point of a graph so we can compare the bars “at a glance”?

Björn Lomborg corrected this with chart on right. Doesn’t that tell a different story?

Thanks to Patrick Moore @EcoSenseNow:

The journal “Lancet” published the chart on left with unequal X-Axis* to downplay fact that cold causes 10X more deaths than heat in Europe. …This is disgraceful for a supposedly scientific journal.

Click to enlarge

Björn Lomborg‘s version shows us exactly how important heat deaths are. It’s no small thing. The news outlets are filled with heatwave porn trying to scare people about normal weather, while politicians try to justify spending billions to “cool” the world. These graphs hide the crime — increasing the cost of energy will kill far more than mythical cooling could ever save.


The largest scientific experiment in history was Peer Review itself and it failed

By Jo Nova

Peer Review has been a sixty year experiment with no control group

It’s touted as the “gold standard” of science, yet the evidence shows Peer Review is an abject failure.

There are 30,000 scientific journals that publish nearly 5 million articles a year, and the only thing we know for sure is that two-thirds of papers with major flaws will still get published, fraud is almost never discovered, and peer review has effectively crushed groundbreaking new discoveries.

By Adam Mastroianni, Experimental History

The rise and fall of Peer Review

Why the greatest scientific experiment in history failed, and why that’s a great thing

For the last 60 years or so, science has been running an experiment on itself. The experimental design wasn’t great; there was no randomization and no control group. Nobody was in charge, exactly, and nobody was really taking consistent measurements. And yet it was the most massive experiment ever run, and it included every scientist on Earth.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, instead it was just rubber stamp to keep the bureaucrats safe. As government funded research took over the world of science after World War […]

It’s official: Everywhere in science there’s a mysterious lack of ground-breaking papers

By Jo Nova (and UPDATED)

Across all branches of science, new ideas that reset the paradigms have quietly vanished

The spark never started in the star-ideas that should have shone, and we find ourselves suddenly under a dark sky, looking up at a galaxy of burnt gravy, thinking something is missing. As dominant paradigms became entrenched in every field of science, the great new replacement ideas starved.

Nature might as well have labeled this “A graph of Original Thought at University”

It’s like some sole giant entity infected every area of science and crushed original thinkers.

‘Disruptive’ science has declined — and no one knows why

Disruptive science sounds like something impossible to measure, but the researchers found way to test for the arrival of new papers that replace past paradigms. Genius discoveries may still have happened, but no one picked them up.

The authors reasoned that if a study was highly disruptive, subsequent research would be less likely to cite the study’s references, and instead would cite the study itself. Using the citation data from 45 million manuscripts and 3.9 million patents, the researchers calculated a measure of disruptiveness, called the CD index, in which […]

Sea level height based on aerobics and other gibberish published in top science journals

Nature and Elsevier are agog and aghast that hundreds of junk papers filled with random word salad have been published in their esteemed journals.

It’s as bad as it sounds — one retracted title was: “‘Sea level height based on big data of Internet of Things and aerobics teaching in coastal areas’. “

They are shocked that scammers who were “organised” and “sophisticated” found tricks to get published — wait for it — not just by hyping up, adjusting and exaggerating their cherry-picked papers and incompetent models, but with nothing more than fake e-mails “with ‘univ’ instead of ‘uni’ and ‘’ instead of ‘’”. That’s right, the highest and most intellectual “peer review” journals in the world have such inadequate, nonexistent standards, that not only do they fail to weed out weak papers, they couldn’t even defend themselves against randomized nonsense coming from fake professors with dodgy emails.

In other words, no one who matters even reads the papers before they are published.

Indeed, no one even read the titles…

Scammers impersonate guest editors to get sham papers published


Hundreds of articles published in peer-reviewed journals are being retracted after scammers exploited the processes for […]

Portland State Uni supports vilification, disruption, intimidation to enforce ideological conformity

Peter Boghossian has taught philosophy at Portland State University for ten years and he has just quit in protest.

Peter Boghossian

He fought against Woke ideology. He helped write hoax papers to expose how meaningless peer review is and exposed students to politically incorrect speakers to hone their powers of reasoning. For that he has been subject to extraordinary vilification, inquisitions, and a campaign of disruption. His students were interviewed to find instances of “discrimination” and the investigators even asked them if they knew anything about him “beating his wife and children”, fueling rumors that he was a violent misogynist. He was given no right of reply. It’s character assassination by any means possible. The University did nothing to stop it.

Even petty methods were used to silence and intimidate him. Fire alarms interrupted an interview, bags of faeces were delivered, and speaker wires were pulled out during a live panel discussion. This reminds me of stories of how the Chinese Communist Party targets dissidents overseas with petty disruptions like having minions bang pots and pans in alleys to wake them in the dead of night.

It’s almost like the CCP runs the universities of the West.

My […]

Clickbait is a winner: The most cited articles in top science journals turned out to be flops

Skeptics have known for years that Nature was more about fashion than science. A parody from 2019.

When it comes to scientific truths, even in top journals like Science and Nature, the more wrong it is, the more it gets cited. Even after other researchers have failed to repeat it, and been published saying so, the citations don’t slow down. Almost 9 out of 10 of the new citations keep citing it as if it were still correct. Who said science was self-correcting?

It’s so bad that the junkier articles in Nature and Science that couldn’t be replicated were cited 300 times as often as the more boring papers that could be replicated. In other words, the supposedly best two science journals, and the industry that reads them, have become a filter for eye-candy-science-junk.

And it was all so predictable — with the fixation on “counting citations” as an inane substitute for analysis: we got what we didn’t think about. The drive to get citations and media headlines means the modern industry of science has become a filter to amplify sensationalism, not science.

Science is a form of entertainment, not a search for the truth.

A new […]

Busted: Reef fish aren’t bothered by “acidification” and James Cook Uni isn’t bothered by potential fraud.

“Clark et al. (2020) found 100% replication failure. None of the findings of the original eight studies were found to be correct.”

Scientists tried to repeat eight experiments that showed “acidification” would make reef fish get hyper, act like their predators smell nice, and generally swim in the wrong circles, behave weirdly and need therapy sessions. Turns out the fish will be OK, but James Cook Uni’s reputation may never recover. The original junk experiments and press releases came out of the coral reef centre at JCU.

This is the “replication crisis” Peter Ridd warned us about. He was fired from JCU in 2018 after stating that work from JCU’s coral reef centre (ARCCoE) was not trustworthy. He also helped expose manipulated photos of reef fish. Obviously this latest reef research shows he was right to be concerned about quality assurance at JCU. One JCU researcher, Oona Lönnstedt, had already been caught fabricating data in Sweden, and yet JCU “investigated” and sacked Ridd faster than it investigated her suspicious lionfish shots. Indeed, two years on, JCU has not even officially appointed the committee to investigate her potentially fraudulent work. It seems JCU would rather employ untrustworthy scientists than […]

Skeptics get 49% more media, and other fairy fantasy stories from Nature Gossip Mag

Skeptics get banned, rejected, blocked and sacked from the mainstream media yet somehow Nature has a paper on Skeptics getting too much media. Believers don’t have to be an expert to control the news agenda, just a Greenpeace activist, or a teenage girl. Skeptics on the other hand, can be Nobel Prize winners, but the BBC won’t even phone them.

Nature, the former science giant, just launched the tenets of science over the event horizon. This paper is Argument from Authority rolled into false equivalence, and powered with cherry-picked errors in both category and in categorization. Nonsense on a rocket. It’s not what science is, and it’s not what journalism should be either. And Nature is supposed to be both. Judith Curry calls it The latest travesty in ‘consensus enforcement’ and the worst paper she has ever seen in a reputable journal.


Both David Evans and I get a mention on what is effectively Nature‘s blacklist. What an honour! No really — there are 386 great names. Even more of an honour is a mention on Judith Curry’s site “blogs she’s learnt something from”. (By some freak, my name comes right after Freeman Dyson and Ivar […]

Humanities research politicized too: Silly fake papers “feminist Mein Kampf” get through peer review

Unfalsifiable theories and no dissenting ideas allowed

A kind of social snakeoil is being pushed upon us….

a culture has developed that make only some conclusions allowed.

Three left wing academics wanted to expose the political corruption in feminist, sexuality, queer, gender, race and fat studies. They hoped to bring back some rigor and reintroduce skepticism to peer review. They submitted 20 outrageously fake papers (like a feminist rewrite of Mein Kampf), got seven accepted so far, but outed themselves. They found they could get ridiculous things published as long as they framed the idea in politically fashionable terminology.

Project Summary: ○ This problem has arisen within a culture in which dissenting ideas have not been admitted or tolerated, often resulting in legitimate criticisms being denigrated on moral grounds. For example, questioning tenets of feminist philosophy might get you branded sexist or accused of carrying internalized misogyny. Questioning critical race scholarship is written off as exhibiting “white fragility” (Robin DiAngelo, 2011, 2018), “white ignore-ance” (Barbara Applebaum, 2006), a form of intentional ignorance, a form of resistance, or seeking white approval. Of note, it is impossible to counter such claims, and attempts to […]

Forbidden facts and scientific papers that are erased: Thou shalt not discuss intelligence

Announcing the advent of the disappeared scientific paper:

Three days later, however, the paper had vanished. And a few days after that, a completely different paper by different authors appeared at exactly the same page of the same volume (NYJM Volume 23, p 1641+) where mine had once been.

What topic is too hot to discuss? In this case, hotter than climate — variability of intelligence. Obviously, it is an irrelevant construct, so irrelevant it must be outlawed. This debate got so ugly, half the board members of the second journal threatened not just to resign but to harass their own journal til “it died”. It’s that bad.

These institutions are sitting ducks — staffed with nice busy people who avoid conflict and who are not equipped to handle the missiles coming. Empiricism and rational debate is being replaced with bullying and censorship. See his plea at the end. To fight back against the bullies, spread the word, buy Ted Hill’s book, or subscribe to Quillette.

Quillette: Academic Activists Send a Published Paper Down the Memory Hole

Ted Hill is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Georgia Tech. He has just published a memoir PUSHING LIMITS: From […]

85% clinical medical research is false, or not useful, not worth the money – government funded waste

John Ioannidis paints a picture of a vast hive of researchers all pushed to publish short papers that are mostly a waste of time. The design is bad, the results useless (even when meta-collated with other badly designed studies). Basically, humankind is pouring blood, sweat and tears into spinning wheels in medicine — just paper churn. Most papers will never help a patient.

Ioannidis wants rigor – full registration before the study, full transparency afterwards, fewer studies over all, but with better design. Astonishingly, fully 85% of what is spent on clinical trials is wasted. It’s really a pretty big scandal, given that lives are on the line. I can’t see the media or pollies joining the dots. Imagine how many quality life-years are being burnt at the stake of the self-feeding Science-PR-Industry.

And this is clinical medical research, where standards are higher than in many other scientific areas and where there are easily defined terms of success unlike “blue sky” studies. Ioannidis doesn’t say it directly, but his description of the effect current funding has (which is almost all government based) almost guarantees that researchers will be wasting time in the paper churn — fast, short papers of little […]

How many children died because peer reviewed data was buried and results cherry-picked?

This example below shows the dangers of cherry picked and buried data. It shows how great news and joy can be reported from rancid results, and the only protection against this is open access. When the taxpayer funds research that is not fully and transparently public, and immediately available, the people are funding PR rather than science. “Peer review” does little to stop this, little to clean up the mess after it happens, and the truth can take years to be set free.

Ten percent of teenagers taking an anti-depressant harmed themselves or attempted suicide. This was ten times the rate of the teens on the placebo. The results of this clinical trial were published in 2001, but those alarming statistics were not reported. The drug went on to be widely used. A new reanalysis of the data, reported in the BMJ, revealed the dark and hidden dangers. The company that funded the research, Glaxo Smith Kline, has already faced record fines of $4.2 billion. The Journal of the Ameri­can Academy of Child and Adoles­cent Psychiatry won’t retract the paper.

There are many ways to hide data. In this case, the results of the trial include 80,000 records which were […]

Shaking the foundation of medical research: Half of failed peer reviewed papers “spun” as success

Was that a half-truth or a lie by omission? Trick question…

Malcolm Kendrick reports on a new study that he says should “shake the foundations of medical research” but laments that it almost certainly won’t.

In the year 2000, the US National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) insisted that all researchers register their “primary aim” and then later their “primary outcome” with This one small change in the way medical studies were reported transformed the “success” rates in peer reviewed papers. Before 2000, fully 57% of studies found the success they said they were testing for, but after that, their success rate fell to to a dismal 8%. When people didn’t have to declare what their aim was, they could fish through their results to find some positive, perhaps tangential association, and report that as if they had been investigating that effect all along. The negative results became invisible. If a diet, drug or treatment showed no benefit at all, or turned up bad results, nobody had to know.

The world of peer reviewed climate research: like a universe of dark matter

It’s not like climate science suffers from unpublished “negative results” — no, it’s more […]

The 99.99% pure climate consensus – how to ignore thousands of skeptical scientists


Joy. It’s another profoundly unscientific “consensus” study. At least one person thought that the 97% PR figure was not enough, and that magic 99.9% would sway the crowds. As if there was even one fence-sitter sitting, waiting, saying, “97% was too low…”

For the herding type of human, “consensus” is magnetically convincing. Not so for the independent minds who have seen prediction after prediction fail. If a 97% consensus on a highly complex, immature science is difficult to believe, a 99.99% one is comic. More of the same unconvincing stuff will do nothing except set off the BS meter. This new study will sway no one. The supernatural purity of it will work against “The Cause”.

A consensus is the one and only argument of the unskeptical, and they are doing it to death.

One fan, James Powell, was so enthused he spent nine months reading titles and abstracts of 24,000 papers, and found only four scientists (4!) who didn’t agree with the consensus. Some 69,402 other scientists apparently endorse “the consensus” (whatever it is) because they used the terms “climate change”, or “global warming” and they didn’t also make a clear statement that it was false, or […]

The 97% Cook Consensus – when will Environ Res Letters retract it?

Richard Tol has an excellent summary of the state of the 97% claim by John Cook et al, published in The Australian today.

It becomes exhausting to just list the errors.

Don’t ask how bad a paper has to be to get retracted. Ask how bad it has to be to get published.

As Tol explains, the Cook et al paper used an unrepresentative sample, can’t be replicated, and leaves out many useful papers. The study was done by biased observers who disagreed with each other a third of the time, and disagree with the authors of those papers nearly two-thirds of the time. About 75% of the papers in the study were irrelevant in the first place, with nothing to say about the subject matter. Technically, we could call them “padding”. Cook himself has admitted data quality is low. He refused to release all his data, and even threatened legal action to hide it. (The university claimed it would breach a confidentiality agreement. But in reality, there was no agreement to breach.) As it happens, the data ended up being public anyhow. Tol refers to an “alleged hacker” but, my understanding is that no hack took place, and the […]

Nature admits peer review filters out controversial “champion” papers

How to separate creative genius from creative mistakes? Not with peer-review. It is a consensus filter.

Classical peer review is a form of scientific gatekeeping (it’s good to see that term recognized in official literature). Unpaid anonymous peer review is useful at filtering out some low quality papers, it is also effective at blocking the controversial ones which later go on to be accepted elsewhere and become cited many times, the paradigm changers.

And the more controversial the topic, presumably, the worse the bias is. What chance would anyone have of getting published if, hypothetically, they found a consequential mathematical error underlying the theory of man-made global warming? Which editors would be brave enough to even send it out for review and risk being called a “denier”? Humans are gregarious social beings, and being in with the herd affects your financial rewards, as well as your social standing. Even high ranking science journal editors are afraid of being called names.

Mark Peplow discusses a new PNAS paper in Nature:

Using subsequent citations as a proxy for quality, the team found that the journals were good at weeding out dross and publishing solid research. But they failed — quite spectacularly — […]

The Peer Review Scam: Why not review your own paper?

If you suffer from an uncontrollable urge to claim that peer review is a part of The Scientific Method (that’s you Matthew Bailes, Pro VC of Swinburne), the bad news just keeps on coming. Now, we can add the terms “Peer Review Rigging” to “Peer-review tampering”, and “Citation Rings”.

Not only do personal biases and self-serving interests mean good papers are slowed for years and rejected for inane reasons, but gibberish gets published, and in some fields most results can’t be replicated. Now we find (is anyone surprised?) that some authors are even reviewing their own work. It’s called Peer-Review-Rigging. When the editor asks for suggestions of reviewers, you provide pseudonyms and bogus emails. The editor sends the review to a gmail type address, you pick it up, and voila, you can pretend to be an independent reviewer.

One researcher, Hyung-In Moon, was doing this to review his own submissions. He was caught because he sent the reviews back in less than 24 hours. Presumably if he’d waiting a week, no one would have noticed.

Nature reports: “THE PEER-REVIEW SCAM”

Authors: Cat Ferguson, Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky are the staff writer and two co-founders, respectively, of Retraction Watch in […]

Political bias in peer reviewed science

An excellent article in The New Yorker: Is Social Psychology Biased Against Republicans?

It’s an article about the failings of peer review and research design in psychology due to the dominance of one particular political ideology (rather than having a spread more representative of the total population). You won’t be shocked to find there is a dominance of liberal left-leaning views in the profession. The paper it discusses is by Jonathan Haidt and co-authored by our friend Jose Duarte — the psychology PhD candidate and blogger who entertainingly and comprehensively dissected Lewandowsky on his blog: Do we hate our participants?

It will be no surprise that controversial psychology papers (which disagree with the reviewer’s world view) are usually treated harshly — no matter if the data is as strong. So, thinking of another field we know, what does it mean for research design and peer review when 97% of certified climate scientists hold one world view? (They not only agree on the scientific hypothesis but on the political action as well — and they boast about that?) What chance does a “controversial” paper have? Has anyone done a study on the political diversity of official climate scientists? There are plenty […]

Failure of Peer Review, meaningless statistical significance, needs fixing says Doctor & journal

Most of the results reported in peer reviewed literature in medicine are mere artefacts of poor methodology, despite being done to more exacting standards than climate studies. There are calls in the medical literature for all data to be made public and for higher P values to be required. (Yes please say skeptics everywhere). Miller and Young recommend that observational studies don’t be taken at all seriously until they are replicated at least once. That would have ruled out the original HockeyStick two times over.

Even the absolute best medical papers are wrong 20% of the time, but mere observational studies (like climate research) failed 80 – 100% of the time. These studies of papers demonstrate why anyone who waves the “Peer Review” red flag is in denial of the evidence — “Peer Review” is not part of the scientific method. It’s a form of argument from authority. A fallacy of reasoning is still a fallacy, no matter how many times it is repeated. Those who claim it is essential or rigorous are not scientists, no matter what their government-given title says.

GEN, Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, May 1, 2014, Point of View

Are Medical Articles True on […]