June 29, 2013
Crisis: Stapel arranges, Senators accuse, US army blocks
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1.  Diederik Stapel arranges with prosecuters
Senators accuse government of using 'secret law'
US army blocks access to Guardian website
About ME/CFS


It still is the case that sleeping remains quite difficult for me. This also makes my life rather difficult, at the moment.

Anyway. Yesterday there were varia on the crisis, plus (a link to) some pictures of the Statue of Liberty, and today there is another brief choice from items relating to the crisis we're in, which is preceded by a brief piece + some reflections by me on Diederik Stapel's getting out from facing a court.

1. Diederik Stapel arranges with prosecuters

This is in today's NRC, and I will translate all of it, basically because it seems to open the door wide, in Holland, for more of the same, as I will explain after having translated it:
Stapel arranges with public prosecuters:
120 hours of work in punishment

The Tilburg psychologist Diederik Stapel gets a punishment of 120 hours of work for the falsification of research data. This the Office of Public Prosecution arranged with him. Also, he gave up the sickness- and unfit-to-work payment that he is judicially entitled to by the collective work agreement.

The Public Prosecution investigated six subsidized publications of Stapel. This confirmed the findings of the Levelt-commission, that investigated Stapel's work before. The Public Prosecution did not find evidence for the abuse of subsidized money. The money was especially intended for paying personnel. The personnel did, according to the Public Prosecution, do the work they were expected to do, albeit in part on the basis of data Stapel had imagined. Stapel did harm the integrity of science and the interests of his promovendi, the Public Prosecuters said.

The Public Prosecution thinks the working punishment is sufficient. It also weighs that Stapel has not personally enriched himself, has experienced important consequences of his actions and has returned his title of doctor on his own initiative. Also, the dupes of Stapel did rather not repeat their stories in front of a judge.
And that's it. A small entry on the bottom of page 2: No court case, no public investigation, no judgmental statement. A mere 120 hours of "work punishment", which means 3 weeks of work for the state, and as far as the Dutch laws are concerned, that's it. [1]

You get off in Holland for publishing at least 50 fraudulent articles, over a period of at least 15 years, by 3 weeks of work for the state, without even appearing before a judge.

Now I have written before that I doubted the court is the place these things have to get settled, and this shows why:

If you publish at least 50 fraudulent articles, over a period of 15 years, with the purpose of becoming a leading psychologist, which you also succeed in, and then you are found out as an out and out fraud, and several professors take over a year trying to establish your many frauds, which you only very superficially admit, then the Dutch public prosecution office arranges with you a private deal to the effect that you need not go to court if you do three weeks of work for the state.

Meanwhile, you have not met the press, you have published a book, you have set up your own company, and you have found work in your own speciality of lying for profit, except that this time the implied lying is part of the job.

It seems to me that this should enormously support everyone who wants to be a real scientific fraud in Holland, which according to Stapel are many, since he claims that he mostly did what most of his university colleagues did anyway.

The chances of discovery are very small, and if you are discovered, 120 hours of work without even a court case is your punishment, in Holland, if you play it somewhat well.

Ordinary science pays well, at least if you've assured a university position, but deeply fraudulent science pays better, and may make you quite  famous, unless you are discovered (after 15 years with at least 50 frauds), of which the chance are very small anyway - and a legal punishment, at least in Holland, does hardly exist.

And that seems to me the moral of the story.

I do agree that there are much bigger frauds in e.g. psychiatry who are not punished at all, or only very ineffectively - see my Jan 18, 2013
Diederik Stapel, the DSM-5 and medical and scientific fraud - while I am rather doubtful this can be effectively dealt with in court, but all in all the actual  outcome seems to me an effective goodbye to real science, at least in what I regarded and regard as partial or nearly total pseudosciences anyway, such as psychology and psychiatry.

It's sad, very sad, also because I see no solution.

Senators accuse government of using 'secret law'

There is now a movement in the senate of the U.S. that goes back to Snowden's revelations. It gets reported in the Guardian in this article:
It starts as follows:

A bipartisan group of 26 US senators has written to intelligence chiefs to complain that the administration is relying on a "secret body of law" to collect massive amounts of data on US citizens.

The senators accuse officials of making misleading statements and demand that the director of national intelligence James Clapper answer a series of specific questions on the scale of domestic surveillance as well as the legal justification for it.

In their strongly-worded letter to Clapper, the senators said they believed the government may be misinterpreting existing legislation to justify the sweeping collection of telephone and internet data revealed by the Guardian.

Note the "strongly worded letter" and "revealed by the Guardian", which revelations were mostly written by Glenn Greenwald, on the basis of information mostly given to him by Edward Snowden.

Next there is this quote from the letter:

"We are concerned that by depending on secret interpretations of the Patriot Act that differed from an intuitive reading of the statute, this program essentially relied for years on a secret body of law," they say.

"This and misleading statements by intelligence officials have prevented our constituents from evaluating the decisions that their government was making, and will unfortunately undermine trust in government more broadly."

Quite so.

The senators also published a press statement, in which they said:

"The recent public disclosures of secret government surveillance programs have exposed how secret interpretations of the USA Patriot Act have allowed for the bulk collection of massive amounts of data on the communications of ordinary Americans with no connection to wrongdoing."

Again: Quite so. Next, they also said:
"Reliance on secret law to conduct domestic surveillance activities raises serious civil liberty concerns and all but removes the public from an informed national security and civil liberty debate."
And that is very important.

For more, see the last dotted link, that includes a list of points that the senators want answered and clarified.

By the way, if you think that this may be read by US military persons: not if their government can help it. See the following item.

3.  US army blocks access to Guardian website

The full title is this, that mentions the reason: network hygiene. Yes, network hygiene:
Here are the first three paragraphs:

The US army has admitted to blocking access to parts of the Guardian website for thousands of defence personnel across the country.

A spokesman said the military was filtering out reports and content relating to government surveillance programs to preserve "network hygiene" and prevent any classified material appearing on unclassified parts of its computer systems.

The confirmation follows reports in the Monterey Herald that staff at the Presidio military base south of San Francisco had complained of not being able to access the Guardian's UK site at all, and had only partial access to the US site, following publication of leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

There is quite a bit more, including very evasive statements, but the DoD does block parts of sites to members of the defense.
"O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
 O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?".
     -- The Star-Spangled Banner (U.S. national anthem)

[1] I had to face a court over a period of 3 years and 10 days, after which the court said I had been right, and the University of Amsterdam wrong. After that, my letters to the University were never answered, except by saying that I, who was admitted of being seriously ill should go somewhere else if I wanted a diploma.

I list this not to brag or to complain, but to show the Dutch "justice" does not work, for, although I agree with the court's general decision, it was simply ignored, and I had to wait for over 3 years on it.

Stapel got off very much better than I did, and the difference is probably mainly due to the facts that he was an arrived professor who was a major fraud, and I was a non-arrived student who was a major critic of the university.

Also, Stapel never was physically ill, and I was and am.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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