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The Media Science

China's Research Ambitions Hurt By Faked Results 338

Posted by kdawson
from the science-fiction dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "AP reports that plagiarizing or faking results is so rampant in Chinese academia that some experts worry it could hinder China's efforts to become a leader in science. China's state-run media recently rejoiced over reports that China publishes more papers in international journals than any other country except the US; but not all the research stands up to scrutiny. In December, a British journal retracted 70 papers from a Chinese university, all by the same two lead scientists, saying the work had been fabricated, and expressing amazement that a fake crystal structure would be submitted for publication. 'Academic fraud, misconduct and ethical violations are very common in China,' said professor Rao Yi, dean of the life sciences school at Peking University. 'It is a big problem.' Last month the Education Ministry released guidelines for forming a 35-member watchdog committee and has asked universities to get tough but Rao remains skeptical. Government ministries are happy to fund research but not to police it, Rao says. 'The authorities don't want to be the bad guy.'"
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China's Research Ambitions Hurt By Faked Results

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday April 19, 2010 @12:46AM (#31893052)

    The Chinese approach to ethics is almost purely situational. Compound this with a manipulative media, and what you get are fat, happy citizens who are staunchly nationalistic and xenophobic. All they care about is money.

    If you want some positive moderation, reply to the above true statement about the Chinese changing only the nationality.

  • by Superdarion (1286310) on Monday April 19, 2010 @12:56AM (#31893088)
    Perhaps the scientist's cheating is a response to their government's insane minimum requirements for the number of publications a scientist with a government grant must have.

    If working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, is not enough to meet the requirements from the only funding available, what should they do? Give up and sell hot-dogs in wallstreet?

    I don't know, though. This is just a hypothesis.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday April 19, 2010 @12:59AM (#31893104)

    This is just a hypothesis.

    Based on what?

    government's insane minimum requirements for the number of publications a scientist with a government grant must have.

    Do you have any information to back up this assertion?

  • by Cryacin (657549) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:00AM (#31893110)
    Yep and so it goes. I'm sure either we or our children will hear about Africa, South America or Elbonia getting all of the outsourced manufacturing/IT work from China. It seems as though no matter whether you're communist, capitalist or any other -ist, when it comes to resource management, it's always a race to the bottom at all costs.
  • by sys.stdout.write (1551563) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:02AM (#31893124)

    they will lie cheat and steal to get their way - china has truely embraced western culture.

    Except that Western culture has watchdogs like the SEC that will bring massive fraud lawsuits against you when you try to cheat and steal.

  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@@@justconnected...net> on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:02AM (#31893128)

    Listen, I think the more science that happens, the better. And I completely support Chinese scientists attempting to make China a science powerhouse.

    But at the moment they have no real reason to self-police. If the reputation cost to a journal of accepting a Chinese paper is too high (if fabrication is too rampant), they'll reject them out-of-hand to protect their reputation. Then, the legitimate scientists in China will need to kick some ass in their academia in order to be let back in.

    Whether it's factories selling the latest iPod design for cheap knockoffs, or faked research, China has been playing fast and loose with the rules of international relations. They're with the big boys now, for better or worse, and people are starting to not excuse them for it.

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:05AM (#31893146)
    what the fuck is SEC going to do about fake science papers?
  • by dAzED1 (33635) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:09AM (#31893164) Homepage Journal

    fake science papers are vetted - peer review here is intense.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:13AM (#31893186)

    In December, a British journal retracted 70 papers from a Chinese university, all by the same two lead scientists, saying the work had been fabricated, and expressing amazement that a fake crystal structure would be submitted for publication.

    The problem isn't just with China. The real issue is how and why journals would even be accepting fake "scientific research" to be published. So many cultured and educated people complain about Wikipedia having lax standards because you don't need a PhD to contribute.

    The whole "scientific" publishing business are just ivory tower elites making money off of their diplomas and the authority that it bestows. Real science is done through allowing free access to data sets and experimental methods to the public so that research results can be reproduced. Fake science is relying on the personal authority of a PhD. or editorial board to decide what is real.

  • by rm999 (775449) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:17AM (#31893200)

    You don't see the risk of reputable journals passing over legitimate research because it comes from China?

    This could be the worst thing for science in China, and pretty terrible for science in general (imagine the split it could cause). Academic integrity should be bottom-up because fact checking from the top (from a journal's perspective) is often impossible.

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:29AM (#31893252) Homepage Journal
    Post ww2 it was a mess. By the 1960's it was a real North Korea, no food, cook your neighbour mess.
    Then China made a deal with Nixon and they joined the rest of the world again.
    Be like EU/UK/US and let your scientists have the freedom to raise cash, be funded, fail, dream and work on projects for decades. China did not have the time.
    Go Soviet and steal everything in easy reach and then steal some more. Long term your not trusted and are always a gen behind.
    So China flooded the west with grad students to suck up the 'how to study' feel and report back.
    Slave wages at home saw an influx of hi tech production lines too.
    No big brands to push quality, no quality control, no political/science long term reality.
    Just toxic production lines and a flow back of quality tech from the US.
    What stays at home and is not in the mil, is useless, expensive, sheltered, protected and politically unstable.
    Study hard, publish papers, get good flat, join Party, get rich quick does not produce a good long term results.
    The Party knows this but rapid, cheap, lifestyles buys the party a few decades.
    Decades to build national brands and sell quality to the world on slave wages.
    China has its best in Africa, the US, learning, understanding, extracting and building.
    The raw materials and know how have to come together to create wealth.
    Papers in international journals is just PR and jobs at home while the real work is been done.
  • by bar-agent (698856) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:32AM (#31893262)

    Real science is done through allowing free access to data sets and experimental methods to the public so that research results can be reproduced. Fake science is relying on the personal authority of a PhD. or editorial board to decide what is real.

    Fake science can supply fake data sets and experimental methods. The problem happens when someone takes those results on faith rather than trying to reproduce them. What do you expect the journals to do about it? They can't run a reproduction of every experiment. All they can do is apply a "yeah, sounds reasonable" test, using their Ph.D.s and editorial boards to decide whether something is real. Other than that, all they can do is assume the truth will come out eventually.

    Science needs to be verified by peer specialists, via the specialist journals or boards, before making it to the big journals. That's all that can be done on the publication side of things.

  • But (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hellop2 (1271166) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:36AM (#31893282)
    how can we trust the results of this article?
  • Why Do We Do This? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:36AM (#31893286)

    I mean, seriously. If it was some white dude in Wall Street caught in fraud, or some Ivy-League professor caught cheating on his results, we'd blame the perp for cheating, and the regulatory bodies for not catching the perp.

    But the minute it becomes Something About The Savage Yellow People, you get all these amateur anthropologists, who make well-reasoned and completely accurate statements, like this:

    The Chinese approach to ethics is almost purely situational.

    I mean, the article makes it clear; the Chinese government doesn't want to police, and they're pushing for results (which is why they're crowing about the large numbers of papers published). Isn't that evidence enough for making wrong-doing easier?

  • Why We Do This (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:50AM (#31893336)

    We do this because many people who have the pleasure of working with China have such similar experiences of being treated royally and being ripped off. If these were isolated incidents, we would all point to the perpetrator as the guilty party, but what experience has shown us is precisely that it isn't the case of a few bad apples. Rather, there seems to be a systemic problem (maybe cultural, maybe a problem with incentives, who knows) that leads to a huge amount of what we Westerners would consider dishonesty conducted in Chinese business (and as we see here in education as well).

    You can act like a typical mefite and claim whatever moral high ground you want, but when the vast majority of those of us who have experiences in China all come back and say the same thing, it's you who is probably wrong, not us.

  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:55AM (#31893348)

    The Chinese approach to ethics is almost purely situational. Compound this with a manipulative media, and what you get are fat, happy citizens who are staunchly nationalistic and xenophobic. All they care about is money.

    Mostly true (especially the "care about money" part, Chinese are getting very materialistic and may surpass the US in that soon if they haven't done so already - looking at the better-off city dwellers at least).

    Manipulative media? Not really - manipulated media is the correct way to say it. The government manipulates the media in China, the press has very little freedom.

    And nationalistic yes for sure, xenophobic also but less strong.

    But fat and happy citizens? Well in the literal sense they are fattening up indeed (not as bad as in the US but certainly waistlines are increasing), but there is a lot of unhappiness in China. Really a lot. You don't hear too much about it because such news is suppressed by the censor. Unhappiness about censorship of news, about corruption, about abuse of power, and last but not least about the shortage of women due to the skewed birth rates leaving many men without wives (and for a man to remain unmarried and childless that's really really bad in Chinese social culture).

    If you want some positive moderation, reply to the above true statement about the Chinese changing only the nationality.

    Change it to "American" and you're about as close to the truth indeed :)

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:56AM (#31893354)

    The Chinese approach to ethics is almost purely situational. Compound this with a manipulative media, and what you get are fat, happy citizens who are staunchly nationalistic and xenophobic. All they care about is money.

    Replace that "Chinese" with American and you would have a vaguely true statement as well!

    Although this report doesn't surprise me, China already had been faking Antiques 5,000 years ago. It's a long tradition.

    To be fair, faked results happen here from time to time. But the scientific community built around verifying thing would eventually collectively beat this type of behavior down - sometimes motivated by schadenfreude as much as anything from the pure good of their hearts. All that is different in China is probably this type of infrastructure. Nothing more or less.

  • China is fine.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by djupedal (584558) on Monday April 19, 2010 @02:07AM (#31893402)
    India, however, is much, much worse.

    Poles melting soon, anyone...?
  • by blackraven14250 (902843) on Monday April 19, 2010 @02:10AM (#31893408)

    At least they went after Madoff after the fact.

    In China, he wouldn't have been caught during the act, or prosecuted afterwords. If he had been caught, he would have just split a portion of the profits with their government.

  • by bhagwad (1426855) on Monday April 19, 2010 @02:10AM (#31893410) Homepage
    OTOH, the Chinese classic - the "Tao teh Ching" positively prohibits cunning and urges people to stop being too smart. It also talks about how the government should never interfere with the people and never to make too much of a commotion about anything.

    And it's older than the art of war...

    It goes without saying that the current Chinese government has completely forgotten the Tao teh ching and doesn't give a shit about its own culture.
  • by bmo (77928) on Monday April 19, 2010 @02:13AM (#31893422)

    "Alan Feduccia pointed out years ago that fake Chinese fossils are a whole industry."

    No, he has not.

    He has *disagreed* with the interpretations of some of them with regards to the dinosaur/bird hypothesis, but he has not called them fake.

    However, he is a darling of the IDers and Creationists because he represents some sort of "controversy," which is unfortunate.

    And that is all I'm going to say on this. I have learned not to discuss evolution with creationists/IDers.

    --
    BMO

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday April 19, 2010 @02:17AM (#31893436)

    I'm not going to argue for or against the cultural component to the problem - but I do think there are parallels between modern China and the United States around 1900. The big industrialists are king, and the government is more concerned with keeping those rich entrepreneurs happy than with bothering them about pesky laws. It's really a "wild west" sort of mentality.

    I expect that a decade or two having to deal with the rest of the industrialized world will largely straighten this out, whether the root is cultural or just newness to capitalism (or some amalgam of the two, which I think is probably the most likely).

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday April 19, 2010 @02:19AM (#31893452) Homepage Journal

    Citations, minus the anecdotes, please.

    Seriously - I've met lazy swine of every race, color, religion, and culture. Just as I've met hard working dedicated people of every race, color, religion and culture.

    If your own personal prejudices blind you to the good in some people, that is your loss. And, it also makes you far less valuable to the world. Try to get over it. Someone, somewhere, COULD HAVE BEEN your best freind and your greatest asset in life, if you hadn't been prejudiced against his skin color.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @02:29AM (#31893488)

    You know nothing about Chinese culture.

    First, Art of War is not a religious text nor a social/philosophical text. Like its name implies it was written as a manual for *war*, of course it doesn't teach morals (as some would even argue morals gets in the way of efficient warfare). Outside of warfare, all the great philosophers of Chinese history like Confucius preach honesty and nobility in treating others. Let's not even forget all the *real* religions such as Buddism and Tao which all talk about things like doing bad will bring bad back upon yourself.

    The problem is purely social due to communist ruling which led to a super-poor lower class who has nothing to lose and would risk anything because worse comes to worse, they die either way (either from hunger from lack of money, revenge for cheating someone, or capital punishment if caught, whichever comes first), as well as the new found rich whom 10/20 years ago were the super-poor, aren't educated enough to teach their kids proper morals, or worse still, teach them to be selfish because "That's how your dad got rich! you follow me and be ruthless or you'll rot like those beggars on the street". It will take another generation or two before proper education will change the mentality. But for sure it has nothing to do with religion (as much as I'm anti-religion, the religions in China DO have good morals as well as the same stuff like the Golden Rule), it's the social condition forcing it upon people.

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Monday April 19, 2010 @02:38AM (#31893516)
    skin colour is a strawman arguement. it's not the colour brown people hate, it's the culture they identify when they see a particular set of features.

    you will see the exact same reaction from someone who hates chinese people if you shown them chinese writing as when you show them a chinese person.

    and yes, some culutres have huge flaws that anyone in their right mind would hate.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday April 19, 2010 @03:33AM (#31893692)

    When you are dealing with science, if you want results, you have to do it right. Science is a process of knowing about the natural world. When done right, it allows us to separate things that are probably true from things that are probably false better than anything else. As such, we discover new things and develop new technologies to make our lives better.

    However, that only work when you do it right. If you just make shit up, your results are worthless. After all I can write up a study that shows I have psychic powers. I can have mountains of fabricated data to support that. However, that won't do anything to actually give me any psychic powers.

    So, while individually the faked up research may do well for the scientist in question, getting them a better job and so on, nationally it'll set China back. Their fake research won't generate real results when you get down to it.

    As Feynman said "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." This was with regards to the Colombia disaster. Here was a case of faking up the science to support the conclusion that was wanted, which was that things were safe. Well, all that was for naught, as the reality was it was NOT safe and blew the fuck up.

    Same deal with any science. If a Chinese scientist fakes results on a study of a silicon doping technology to allow for smaller transistors, and a Chinese fab then tries to build equipment based on it, it won't work. Doesn't matter that there was a paper saying it would, if the research isn't true, it doesn't help. The laws of physics are what they are, we can't change them. All we can do is understand them. If our understanding is wrong, well then tough shit for us, our stuff won't work like we predict.

  • Africa, largely thanks to European colonialism, suffers from constant civil war.

    Wait, what?

    You must be insane to make a statement like that.

  • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:15AM (#31893844) Journal

    I'm not sure why that's relevant to the discussion at hand. War isn't normal morals, and misinformation and acting unpredictably has been part of it in western warfare too, long before they heard of Sun Tzu.

    E.g., even heard of the Trojan Horse? How's that for deceit in warfare? That's about a war from the 12'th century BC, while Sun Tzu is generally accepted to have lived in the 6'th-5'th century BC, while some place him as late as 3'rd century BC.

    Where was that morality of western religions then? Or maybe using war strategies to make general points about a culture's morality is just silly. Society doesn't work by the same rules, not here and not in China.

    But if you want to discuss civillian morals in the same age as Sun Tzu lived, how about The Rape Of The Sabines episode? The Romans had a shortage of women, so they invited the citizens of nearby cities (Sabines included, but not only) to a great festival in honour of Neptune. Then at a signal from Romulus himself they killed the men -- their guests! -- and took the women for themselves.

    Does it sound to you like those western moral systems were that great? We're not talking about warfare feints and deceit, we're talking an atrocity against their neighbours they were at peace with. (Though not for long. It put Rome at war with three cities immediately.)

    And lest you think it's just an ancient thing, the practice of "rehabilitating marriage" in which a raped woman is given to the rapist to save honour only came to a screeching halt in Italy in 1965. It used to be more like described as two teenagers having run away together, but it turns out most cases were abduction and rape by force, as a way to make a girl's family marry her to some guy she didn't want.

    Western morals and religious rules, eh?

  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:17AM (#31893856)

    In one instance you have worker extortion in the US where the employers (who I understand are from India) are caught and will be punished. On the other you have Chinese scientists who have successfully lied to the international science community in 60 of their papers and will not be punished in any way.

    "like Madoff did, rather than being caught"

    Are you from some kind of parallel universe? Madoff is doing jail time.

    Also, and this is the most important point. Why is it just because America has some issues you think that the Chinese should get a free pass to do even worse things without punishment. What the hell is wrong with you?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:28AM (#31893894)

    It seems that science coming from the old Soviet Union was top notch by comparison. Although there were some egregious cases (such as with Lysenkoism) of ideologically-driven suppression of science, overall it seems that Soviet scientists were very well respected by their international peers, most especially in mathematics and physics. Their scientists received several Nobel Prizes, whereas the it seems that the People's Republic of China doesn't actually have even one: none of the four Nobel Laureates of Chinese descent did the work which won them their prizes while they were in China, under the Chinese system of scientific research, and all of them, ironically, had at some point become citizens of the United States. Compare this with the Soviet prize winners, all of whom worked under the auspices of the Soviet scientific research institutes when they did their prize-winning work.

    The Soviet experience shows that a repressive, totalitarian society is still able to produce cutting-edge science, so the fact that China is doing so badly in this area probably has nothing to do with their form of government. You might say that if they really wanted to be a scientific and research powerhouse they're doing it wrong. They might look to how the USSR did its work in the Cold War years if they wanted a "socialist" model on how to do science so as to be respected internationally.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:39AM (#31893938)

    If your own personal prejudices blind you to the good in some people, that is your loss. And, it also makes you far less valuable to the world. Try to get over it. Someone, somewhere, COULD HAVE BEEN your best freind and your greatest asset in life, if you hadn't been prejudiced against his skin color.

    If your own personal naivete blinds you to the bad in some people, that is your loss. And, it also makes you far less valuable to the world. Try to get over it. Someone, somewhere, COULD BE your worst enemy and your greatest nemesis in life, but you think they're your best friend because you're too naive to realize it.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:40AM (#31893940) Homepage Journal

    The Europeans stopped running Africa quite some time ago. While we're on the subject, they also had a habit of fighting among themselves - but they seem to have got over it. Why can't the Africans?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:48AM (#31893962)

    > The only reason he got caught is that the economic downturn caused enough people to need to pull some of their money out of the Ponzi scheme that it collapsed when the piggy bank was emptied.

    Yes, but that's inevitable in any Ponzi scheme (well, unless you can control a major currency, but that's another matter entirely).

  • by drewhk (1744562) on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:52AM (#31893980)

    Fakes, originals -- they all come from China.

  • by hrvatska (790627) on Monday April 19, 2010 @05:04AM (#31894032)

    Asian religions in general lack the fixed rules found in western moral systems. The ancient "Art of War" text is pretty much about using manipulation and deceit to win wars without even doing battle. This kind of cunning is prized in Chinese culture. It also results in less physical conflict.

    So, should someone from China point to Machiavelli's "The Prince" as an example of the kind of cunning prized in western culture? Or maybe the "The Prince", like the "Art of War", is a product of a particular place and time and doesn't say much about contemporary culture in either the east or west.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @05:09AM (#31894058)

    What you describe is not science, and if I (Solid state physicist) ever reviewed a paper that applied such "standards", I would
    a) reject it
    b) track down the previous papers and inform the journals of possible scientific misconduct.

  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Monday April 19, 2010 @05:10AM (#31894060)

    Post-doc biologists at Harvard have to publish 70 papers in 7 years (if memory serves) to even qualify for a junior faculty position. There's no way that a scientist can publish ten papers per year that are worth jack squat, and the result is that most of the papers coming out of Harvard are garbage that get published because of where they come from. This isn't a China-only problem.

    Thank-you for pointing this out.

    In reading this whole thread, I am getting a MASSIVE propaganda vibe off the entire thing.

    Basically, the stress test of truth I sometimes use around here works like this. . .

    "If 98% of Slashdot is united in praise or condemnation on any subject, then somebody somewhere is playing the social-engineering violin extremely well, because this bunch can't even agree on the direction of gravity's pull. -Nor should they, which means something is wrong."

    I guess it's true; if you sustain a BS message for long enough, it becomes self-referential and emotionally true. How can we have come so far, learned so much and still fall for the same old and tired psychological ploys?

    -FL

  • by CptPicard (680154) on Monday April 19, 2010 @05:23AM (#31894090)

    It kind of depends. It's "just" a Master's thesis, which means that you need to be able to put together something credible in the sense that you can formulate a larger academic work with an argument, sources and perhaps something of your own to back your thesis up.

    At least over here in Finland, the point is not to really produce original research. That's for Ph.D.'s. For Master's you want to show you understand your subject matter and aren't just wantonly making shit up. In this sense I can understand your professor wanting to just get your degree and move on... if you're going to do actual publication in a journal, write a PhD thesis or something, the criteria are different.

    But that's just "over here".

  • by ultranova (717540) on Monday April 19, 2010 @05:24AM (#31894092)

    I call bullshit. What's going on in Africa isn't civil war - one faction of a nation against another - but tribal warfare combined with genocidal racism. The exact same went on before Europeans came, so it can hardly be blamed on them.

    Basically, it's still stone age in most of Africa, only the cavemen have access to automatic rifles and radio. The end result isn't pretty, but once you ignore the imported technology and concentrate on cultural trends, it's quite similar to, say, the situation in Europe before the rise of the Roman Empire.

    Or, to put it even more bluntly, Africans are suffering because their culture is too primitive to support nation-states, and they should either go back to being hunter-gatherer tribes living in jungle or copy the necessary memes from Chinese or European culture to finish their transition to be part of the modern world.

    As a side note, it's interesting how this demonstrates the value of philosophy, theology, and other non-technological memes that shaped European, Chinese and other succesful cultures. Those seem superficial at first glance, yet lacking them makes technology work against people, rather than for them.

  • Re:Why We Do This (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @05:28AM (#31894102)

    To add to this -
    somethings joke surveys are run in Western nations along the lines of "would you have sex with someone who offered you $100,000 for it". A great number of people say "yes".
    Then they shrug and think about how unethical and unprincipled people in poor nations are who would do anything for money.
    What just doesn't connect in their minds is that the relative gain for these people IS equivalent to the hundreds of thousands.

  • by anarche (1525323) on Monday April 19, 2010 @05:37AM (#31894134)

    Would that be the similar to the psychological ploy that seems to be planting the idea that the US is crashing as a country?

    Coz from where I sit, you guys are doing fine. A bit fragile at the moment, but some positivity and you guy's'll be up and about in no time.

    or you could keep China-bashing...

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday April 19, 2010 @07:01AM (#31894412) Homepage Journal

    So, should someone from China point to Machiavelli's "The Prince" as an example of the kind of cunning prized in western culture? Or maybe the "The Prince", like the "Art of War", is a product of a particular place and time and doesn't say much about contemporary culture in either the east or west.

    The Prince is Machiavelli's treatise on the Borgias. It is not a manual. It is a cautionary tale. To say that The Prince is the product of a particular place and time is to completely miss the point. It is a story about what can happen in any age if the powers-that-be are permitted to use fear to control the populace; the very point of the book is that it is an effective strategy for control of a populace, but it has terrifying and undesirable results. Of course, you and almost everyone else seems to have missed this nuance; For example, this study of the book [machiavellitheprince.com] refers to Cesare Borgia as Machiavelli's "Perfect Prince", while simultaneously explaining that Cesare "remains dependent on the power and influence of his father." Clearly he is less than perfect if he is not a power in himself, which was another moral of the book. It was necessary to continually extol the virtues of The Prince to avoid being killed for writing it.

    The Prince is a cautionary tale and and indictment of the acts of the Borgias, it was not a manual for statehood. But it still says plenty about contemporary culture in both the East and West because it is an examination of the human condition. Tyranny didn't end with the invention of the Cafe' Borgia.

  • by pooh666 (624584) on Monday April 19, 2010 @07:51AM (#31894684)
    Very sad that this comment was highly moderated. Every argument above has been painstakingly debunked, more than once. Much of our modern state building civilization came from Africa and I am not talking about Lucy. Colonialism did force peoples together that didn't get along and this wasn't an insignificant contribution to the current state. Of course nothing is that simple and blame can be shared between hundreds of variables. If you think the BLACK AFRICAN people are different from the rest of us, then do read

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns,_Germs,_and_Steel [wikipedia.org]

    And try to remember we are all human, more so that you might like to think.
  • by mike2R (721965) on Monday April 19, 2010 @07:57AM (#31894734)

    The Prince is a cautionary tale and and indictment of the acts of the Borgias, it was not a manual for statehood. But it still says plenty about contemporary culture in both the East and West because it is an examination of the human condition.

    Are you sure that is generally accepted? I'm sure I remember being taught that it was written as a job application. I've done a little searching online and found the job application idea (although not as a definitive interpretation), along with the idea that it is a satire, or even some sort of counterpoint to the Discourses (which I guess is what you are saying). I'm not sure your interpretation is universally accepted however, although I'm happy to be corrected.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday April 19, 2010 @08:20AM (#31894936)
    I suspect that if you dug into the root causes, you would find a massive amount of pressure on Chinese academics to "publish or perish." [wikipedia.org] Of course, publish or perish is a problem throughout academia worldwide, but with the Chinese government exerting such an extraordinary amount of Nationalistic pressure *on top of* the normal academic pressure, the temptation to fake results must be even stronger (and many academics have resorted to this under much less pressure). It's bad enough when grant money is at stake, but add to that the government breathing down academics' necks wanting them to make the country look good and I can understand why this is so pervasive.
  • by Grashnak (1003791) on Monday April 19, 2010 @08:44AM (#31895148)

    Ya, like all those people who went to jail after those banks crashed the economy. Oh, wait...

  • by Rayonic (462789) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:20AM (#31895680) Homepage Journal

    So you're saying that Chinese businesses aren't more corrupt than Western ones?

    Your attempt at moral equivalence is as rickety as, well, Chinese research papers.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:39AM (#31895980)

    Heh, what do you think happened with Madoff for 20 years?

    Well, what do you think happened? I think he hoodwinked everybody including regulators with his reputation and (in the case of his shareholders) consistently high returns dissuading them from asking questions.

    But the point remains, once the (rather negligent) regulators realized what was happening, he was prosecuted.

    Regulation in general is tough. The incentives for good regulation will NEVER be 10% as good as the incentives given to those who need to be regulated. If the government paid a regulator $20 million it would be a scandal, even though they're regulating people who make 10 times that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @10:24AM (#31896626)

    Slight difference, while Stalin basically put the proverbial gun to the head of many a scientist and mathematician during his time, or had them at fields that would bolster national pride e.g. the Soviet Space program, (or both). Communist China under Mao basically executed intellectuals, most fled to Taiwan, HK, Singapore and the West. The Cultural Revolution was famous for not only destroying or defacing many works and ideals of the "Old" China, but barring many new ideas.

    So now after throwing out this socialism schtick and now trying the "bigger better brighter" free market concept, China is forced to conjure up some semblance of a academic and intellectual infrastructure. Given the cutthroat nature of modern China, the fact that this news of falsified results has only been brought to light now is rather surprising.

  • by DarenN (411219) on Monday April 19, 2010 @11:58AM (#31898156) Homepage

    Interesting post, with which I largely agree but:

    You can't have a free market without a free society,

    This isn't quite accurate (of course this depends on your definition of free society, I think you mean democracy of some kind. Apologies if I'm putting words in your mouth).
    If you agree that prosperity is well-nigh impossible for a country at large without some kind of functioning free market (which it is, incidentally, for examples see sub-saharan Africa), it has been suggested, and I strongly agree with this, that prosperity is a pre-requisite for democracy, not the other way around. For democracy to work at all, you have to have a population prosperous enough to start worrying about the state of the country rather than where the next meal is coming from. For further examples, see, again, sub saharan Africa :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @01:06PM (#31899400)

    You are right, of course. Europe contributed significantly to the situation in Africa.

    But at some point every culture has to decide to take responsibility for itself. At this point it's up to them to decide to have peace, or to continue dying in pointless wars.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @06:08PM (#31903820)

    ...is, put more bluntly, racist drivel...

    I don't see anything racist in the GP post. He's criticising cultures, rather than races.

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