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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,, 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:

今天(8月29日日)下午3点我约 好辽宁卫视"王刚讲故事"的两&# 21517;记者在北京住所所在小区௚ 0;门口见面,然后一起走到附&# 36817;一家茶馆(就是《中国企ߏ 4;家》详细描述过其位置的那&# 23478;)接受关于李一事件的采෹ 5;。5点左右,采访结束,我把& #20004;位记者送上出租车,转身û 65;走两、三步路,只见一名男& #23376;突然窜到我面前,朝我的Ŋ 80;喷射气雾,我闻到一股刺激& #24615;味道,头晕脚软,几乎要Ì 98;下,我立即屏住呼吸,向路& #30340;对过跑去,后面另一个人Ű 61;着我,手持铁锤要砸我头部& #65292;我拼命往前跑,此人在后ƃ 54;追,没能追上,就把铁锤向& #25105;扔出,连扔两次,第一次ć 97;我的头部扔,没有砸中,我& #21548;到铁锤落地的声音,边跑ů 93;回头看了一下,此人又捡起& #38081;锤扔过来,这次击中了我į 40;腰部,流了一些血。我跑了& #26377;一两百米,歹徒未再追赶z 90;我跑进小区后,报了警,警& #23519;很快来了。当时路边有一É 23;人,警察立即去现场寻找目& #20987;者。做完笔录后,到附近Õ 07;院验伤,除了腰部有两处破& #30382;出血外,目前身体还未发Ĩ 16;其他异样。

  歹徒所用的喷雾,我一 320;始以为是辣椒水,后来与法 医探讨,觉得应该是含乙醚 104;分的麻醉剂,我以前做动物 解剖实验用过乙醚,现在想$ 215;来就是那种味道。歹徒的计 划,是一人先用麻醉剂把我( 635;倒,另一人再用铁锤置我死 地,大概吸取了上次让方玄 124;逃脱的教训。幸好我反应敏 捷,跑得快,躲过一劫。


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 ( 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.

Originally posted to xgz on Sun Aug 29, 2010 at 02:31 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Dude, if it was anything like what (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snacksandpop, Anak

    we call the mafia, he wouldn't have

    escaped with only minor injuries.

    I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

    by doc2 on Sun Aug 29, 2010 at 02:47:16 PM PDT

  •  We generally don't beat people up here. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Opakapaka, xgz, Anak

    And I agree with you that the scale of the problem is much, much, much larger in China, and to a lesser extent India.

    However, academic misconduct is pretty common. Just last week, another case at Harvard came out.  And that's on top of many other incidents there and elsewhere.

    Don't give the US too much credit.  Peer review is as often about stifling dissent as it is about double checking facts.  And that's served to produce a homogeneity in academia that's disturbing.  

    American academia has in large part turned its back on research and teaching for the pursuit of pieces of paper that grant social standing, and pay raises. And senior scholars have often used their ability to confer these in order to prevent the publication of opposing views.

    by ManfromMiddletown on Sun Aug 29, 2010 at 03:02:23 PM PDT

  •  It always was (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, xgz

    I still remember being surprised in the 1970s, the first time I went from Taiwan to the Mainland (via Hong Kong), to find out I was going from a society where almost everything had its price, if you knew whom to ask... to another society where almost everything had its price... if you knew whom to ask. Since then, Taiwan's been cleaned up some. It sounds as if the Mainland has gotten worse.

  •  China is fascist. Benito fascist. Only in their (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snacksandpop, crankyinNYC, CMikkelson

    case the gov became big business, not the other way round ala Italy.  Still, their essential problem - and strength paradoxically - remains simple, ungovernable, sheer numbers. 3/4s of their society could fail and they'd still kick our ass if the other 1/4 performed.

    The truly sad thing is that we are ceding the future to a government/elite that is at best trapeze artists trying to balance far above the ground without a net.  The world oligarchy that seems hell bent on betting the farm on China - and abandoning the US to do so - is going to curse the fragility it traded for just to save some pennies and spite the 'lesser classes' when it all comes crashing down.

    But, of course, lots of them think they'll survive by climbing over our dead bodies.  I, for one, find myself contemplating if cannibalism would be so bad just to beat them to it. :)

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