Bogus Report of New Species of Turtle : Another Example of Fraud in Scientific Circles in Modern China


PureInsight | August 11, 2003

[] A news article was published in Nature on May 15, 2003 that reported on a bogus finding of new turtle species in China. [1]

According to the report, because of poaching for food and traditional medicines, turtles have become more and more scarce, to the point that their very existence is endangered in China. However, in the late 1980s, new turtle species were reported from the waterways and forests of China and Southeast Asia. By late 1990s, more than 10 new species had been reported. Conservation biologists, who have already tried their best to protect turtles, were thrilled at this. Meanwhile, they are also facing new challenges, since these newly identified species would also need to be protected.

William McCord, a New York veterinarian, bought 10 types of such turtles and studied them. Since these turtles were believed to live in their natural habitats, McCord described these new species in specialist journals based on his research. Some of his papers were included in the official publication for wildlife protection-- China Red Data Book of Endangered Animals.

James Parham, a scientist at University of California at Berkeley, was suspicious about the discoveries. Especially after he heard rumors of hybridization of turtles, he decided to start an investigation. He went to China several times for field explorations. After detailed examination, Parham drew a shocking conclusion: out of more than 10 of the new turtle "species," only one was a new species. The other 9 were either hybrids, or species that had been known already. Parham said, "It would be extremely unfortunate if our already limited funds are wasted on protecting hybrid species that were generated from turtle farms."

Some people say that these things happen but they aren't typical. Compared to this, the following examples are really black examples.

Probably the most well-known recent fraudulent evidence supporting the theory of evolution is the "dinosaur with feathers", which was identified in China. [2] According to a report in November 1999 in National Geographic, Chinese archeologists uncovered an intermediate link between dinosaurs and birds, thus filling a gap in the evolutional history. Scientists as well as nonscientists were thrilled at this. Later, detailed examination showed that this new link was composed of dinosaur bones artificially glued onto the bones of a species of bird!

Even worse are those who, for purely political reasons, recklessly shame real science, demonizing people and even persecuting them for what they call "bogus science."

There is a special government agency in China that supervises scientific development called the Science Bureau in the Propaganda Ministry. For quite a long time in the 1950s, the director of the Science Bureau was Yu Guangyuan, who had two helpers under him, He Zuoxiu and Gong Yuzhi. From the early 1950s to the late 1970s, they launched many campaigns to attack "bogus science," one after another. They covered nearly all aspects of natural sciences including Morgan's gene theory, Mendel's theories about heredity, Li Sicheng's architecture, Ma Yinchu's population theory, quantum theory, the theory of relativity, cybernetics, and many other areas. [3,4]

1. Attacking Morgan's Gene Theory, 1952-1953

Trofim Lysenko was a charlatan of a scientist in the former Soviet Union. For political reasons, he called Morgan's gene theory "a new movement in the class struggle" and massively attacked it. Many outstanding biologists in the Soviet Union got caught up in it and were brutally persecuted. With the propaganda of "Learning for the big brother Soviet Union", He Zuoxiu and his cronies started to encircle and suppress Chinese biologists, including Tan Jiazhen who had been a student of Morgan's. As a result, Chinese biologists were viciously suppressed and biological research in China could not recover for a very long time.

2. Attacking the Resonance Theory in 1958

Frederick Kekule discovered benzene's structure in the early 1900s. But during the next several decades, scientists failed to give a reasonable explanation of why benzene was structured that way. Linus Pauling, a Nobel laureate, proposed the Resonance Theory, which gave a convincing interpretation of benzene's structure. This was at the beginning of the application of quantum theory to structural chemistry. However, He Zuoxiu and others proposed that this theory was "either proletariat or capitalist class," and refered to the resonance between Kekule's two models as "the manifestation of class compromise in the scientific world." By launching a massive campaign against Resonance Theory, hundreds of structural biologists were implicated, criticized and discriminated against for their so-called "inclination to the capitalist class". Quantum theory research in China was thus severely affected and interrupted for a long time.

3. Attacking Liang Sicheng's architecture, 1955-1962

Liang Sicheng was a very famous architect who did huge amount of work in harmonizing oriental and western building styles. His architectural projects include the Chinese Department of Defense and the Friendship Hotel in Beijing. He Zuoxiu attacked Liang's architecture style as one "with the head of a Chinese, and the body of a foreigner," or, in other words, "a mutant of class compromise." Liang fell into a deep depression and died soon after.

4. Attacking Cybernetics, 1965

Nobort Wiener was an American scientist who once taught in Tsinghua University, and was also He Zuoxiu's schoolmate. In his book on cybernetics, Wiener told a story to support his opinion. During the World War II, it was very difficult for anti-aircraft guns to target a plane, so the allied forces organized a group of scientists to solve this problem. A researcher found that a hawk could easily catch a hare, because of a feedback circuit in the hawk's brain. A hawk constantly adjusted its flying direction, depending on the location and speed of the hare, until it succeeded in catching the prey. When such a feedback system was utilized in the anti-aircraft guns, the targeting and hits improved dramatically. Thus, Wiener believed there were some common characteristics between the biological world and the natural world. The political background at that time was such that even different classes could not reach compromise with each other, let alone the biological world and the natural world! Thus, with simple notion of "class compromise," He Zuoxiu and others ended the future of many scientists.

One may say these were things that only happened in the past. However, similar examples of distorting facts are still continuing today, for purely political purposes or in favor of the political atmosphere.

1. Regarding the recent SARS epidemic, a Chinese Academy of Engineering member, Hong Tao, publicized his research results. Through autopsy, Chlamydia was found on the lung tissues of some SARS patients. Hong Tao is a principle investigator in toxicology of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Two primary news sources, CCTV and Xinhua News Agency, soon reported that, "The SARS pathogen is basically determined to be Chlamydia." This was quickly adopted as scientific evidence that "SARS is not scary", or that "SARS is under control." The logic followed that if Chlamydia was indeed the pathogen causing SARS, patients just needed to take common antibiotics, such as erythromycin, as effective medication. Of course, pneumonia derived from Chlamydia infection is sporadic, and unlikely to be epidemic. Plus, this kind of pneumonia has very low death rate. However, a Hong Kong research institute soon announced that, the SARS pathogen was a virus. On March 25, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Microbiology Department of Hong Kong University made a joint announcement that the SARS pathogen was a kind of Corona virus. Soon afterwards, many research labs in the world announced the identification of SARS as related to the Corona virus. On April 16, the World Health Organization announced in Geneva that, after a global joint research effort, a mutant of the Corona Virus was officially confirmed as the pathogen for SARS.

2. In April 1999, He Zuoxiu published an article in one magazine in Tianjin. While ignoring the fact that about one hundred million people benefited physically and spiritually from Falun Gong, He instead defamed Falun Gong, saying that it would lead to mental disorder and even cause people to overthrow the Party or the nation. Tianjin Police then kidnapped over 40 practitioners who went there to clarify the truth about Falun Gong. This caused the peaceful appeal of over 10,000 people on April 25.

Ironically, the discoveries and concepts that are massively attacked and discriminated against by these "political scientists" are eventually proven to be scientific afterwards. Their campaign against "bogus science" is actually anti-scientific. Scientific method needs improvement and any abuse of scientific methods by those with a certain ideology or political power may lead to fraudulent science. In fact, we do not need to worry about it, since without support of politics, these things will immediately be overturned as the truth is later revealed under a different political wind.



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