Check on Czech dynamite disclosures

A letter from Prague

Dear Editor,

I would like to point out that the recently publicised Michael Pyshnov case (Genetic manipulations, JUST Response, February 7, 2003) is by no means an isolated issue. I shall not comment on this particular case but would like to share with your readers my own personal experience of serious misconduct at a top scientific institution.

Some time ago, a leading figure from the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague announced in a newspaper interview his discovery of a new explosive possibly one thousand times more powerful than dynamite. It was a blatant case of absolute nonsense. I duly attempted to distribute my critical remarks to the relevant Czech scientific community in accordance with standard scientific ethics which calls for the correction of such errors in order to prevent their diffusion and repetition. Although it is extremely difficult to publish such criticism within the Czech scientific community on account of their fear that it could worsen an already shaky image, I did eventually succeed in publishing my remarks in Skeptical Inquirer (Slanina1).

Meanwhile, a strange fax arrived from a Canadian scholar of Czech origin addressed to the head of a Far Eastern university department where I was working as a professor. The scholar, a fellow of a No-Name Royal Society and a close friend of the pseudo-discoverer, used a manipulation fraud in order to misrepresent my letters as having been anonymous. The disgusting form of distortion, manipulation and fabrication he resorted to was obviously aimed at harming my own reputation. I have now sent several letters to this Canadian scholar and also to the No-Name Royal Society clearly stating that he committed a fraud, but despite my reminders I have never received a reply. 

Obviously this lack of response actually helps to spread various forms of misconduct rather than to reduce them. Your readers can find more details of this case in The Whistle (Slanina2).

Zdenek Slanina
Prague, Czech Republic
Currently a professor of chemistry at a university in the Far East

Note: This letter was published by JUST Response on March 9 2003.

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