I am angered by the news that Dr. Fang Shimin, a science writer in Beijing, was attacked today near his home. The attack apparently aimed to kill him. Luckily he escaped with only minor injuries.
Dr. Fang is the most famous person in science in China, not because of his scientific accomplishments, but because he has devoted past ten years in exposing scientific fraud in China. His webpage, http://xys.org/, reports about 100 fraud cases each year, and is blocked by the GFW (Great Firewall) of China. The vast majority of the perpetrators of the scientific fraud in China have not been punished. Today's attempt at Dr. Fang's life represents a new escalation in the fight between the good and the evil in China.
Here is the description by Dr. Fang himself:
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This afternoon (Aug. 29) at 3pm I had a scheduled meeting with two reporters from Liaoning TV station and met with them at the gate of the subdivision where I lived. We walked together to a tea shop (similar to cafe in the west) for an interview about the Li Yi case (a fraud case). Around 5pm, the interview was over, I send the two reporters off with a taxi. As I turned back toward home only a few steps, a man suddenly jumped in front of me and sprayed something to my face. I smelled a strong gas, felt dizzy and almost fell. I held my breath and ran across the street. Another man chased after me with a hammer in his hand and tried to hit my head. I ran hard. He chased behind me but could not catch me. Then he threw the hammer at me twice. The first time he aimed at my head but missed. I heard the hammer fall to the ground as I was running, and looked back. He picked up the hammer and threw it again, this time hitting me in the back, and I started to bleed. I ran for one or two hundred meters, the attackers stopped chasing. I ran into the subdivision and called police. The police came quickly. There were witnesses and police looked for them. After filing the police report, I went to the hospital. Other than two places bleeding on the back, they didn't find other problems on my body.
I first thought the spray was pepper spray. After discussion with police doctor, we concluded that it might have been anesthesia agent with ether component. I had used ether in animal experiments before, and remember that the smell is the same. The attackers' plan may be that one person would disable me with anesthesia while the other would kill me with the hammer. They may have learned their lesson with the failed attack on science reporter Fang Xuanchang. Luckily I reacted quickly and ran fast. That saved my life.
The last part referring to the attack of the science reporter Fang Xuanchang, happened about three months ago. An English report can be found here.
Dr. Fang's fight against scientific fraud in China started 10 years ago:
On a quiet night in the spring of 2000, in a small apartment in San Diego, California, US-trained microbiologist and author Fang Shimin, who is also known by the pen name Fang Zhouzi, turned on his computer as he did every night. Soon, a piece of Chinese news caught his attention about a biology professor from the Chinese mainland who claimed to have developed a new gene mapping technique.
As a biologist himself, Fang knew that the researcher's so-called innovation was not new at all, but instead directly lifted from Western studies. He wrote an article exposing the fraud and posted it on his "New Threads" (Xin Yu Si) website and blog, a site popular among Chinese fiction and literature lovers at the time.
As Fang turned off his computer that night, he didn't know that his blog would become his battlefield to fight against mainland academic fraud for the next decade.
Dr. Fang Shimin is a biologist by training. He uses the net name "Fang Zhouzi" and runs a website "New Thread" which was originally intended as an online resource for Chinese literature. Since 2000, however, Dr. Fang's website has devoted more and more attention to scientific fraud, and to a lesser degree, other types of frauds in China. Most recently, Dr. Fang exposed the fake resume ("credential-gate", or "resume-gate") by former president of Microsoft China, Tang Jun.
Dr. Fang's work in exposing scientific fraud has been covered by many news outlets in the west and in China. Some recent reports include this editorial of the journal Obesity,
But an emerging problem apparently exists. In some countries, the cost/benefit ratio may favor dishonest behavior. This danger is emphasized by Dr. Fang Shimin. Dr. Fang Shimin has a PhD in biochemistry from Michigan State University, and like all graduate students in the United States, he was carefully schooled in appropriate conduct. But upon returning to Beijing, Dr. Fang Shimin was shocked to uncover apparent widespread misconduct among scientists in China. In fact, he has worked hard to identify and expose apparent misconduct, and claims of misconduct are reported in his website New Threads (http://www.xys.org). His work was reported in an excellent article in South China Times by Paul Mooney (4), which appeared in January of 2010. In that article, which I am paraphrasing here, a variety of astonishing cases of scientific cheating are described, which include not only plagiarism, but claiming of scientific prizes not awarded and falsification of data.
A recent CBS report also mentioned Dr. Fang's work.
There have been no arrests in the case of Fang Xuanchang's attack. The government is not interested in bringing these attackers to justice. If they also fail to act in this case, it further proves that China is not run by the police, as we used to believe. Instead, China is run by the mafia.