[Taxacom] Nonsense in ZooKeys (photo based taxonomy again)

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Mon Aug 28 20:55:50 CDT 2017

Geoff said: "However, I take a very dim view of distortion of fact when I think I see it. We should be able to trust fellow scientists not to misrepresent past work"

Well, you know, Geoff, I've always been a bit cynical of "the system", but 2017 has certainly rammed it home to me just far supposedly reputable institutions will go to secure profits by compromising standards, thereby disadvantaging students and the general public. In Dec 2016, I made a formal complaint to the University of Auckland Dean of Science, regarding a Masters thesis project which, in my estimation, was both a gross waste of public funding on nonsense and disadvantaged students (by denying them the opportunity to achieve excellence, since you can't turn a nonsense project into a scholarship winning Masters). I had already been told by an associate professor [quote] public money gets wasted all the time, so why are you making a big deal of this case?[unquote] and [quote]we don't expect masters students to do very well anyway [unquote]. I made the formal complaint just a few days before my access agreement was due to be renewed for another year. It wasn't renewed for another year, but, at the very last minute, it was renewed for 3 months, without explanation. A few days before the 3 months was set to expire, I was summoned by an HR person to a meeting with her and the Dean to "discuss access". There was no discussion. I was simply told that my access was terminated immediately and I was escorted off the premises by security guard, with nothing written on paper that I was given! I was told that it had nothing to do with the complaint that I had made, but the Dean refused to "go into details" of what it did have to do with (except in the most vague and unconvincing terms). It "could be interpreted" that the idea behind the 3 months was just to put sufficient distance between my complaint and my eviction from the University to make them appear unrelated. Speaking generally, it really seems to me now that the Third World starves to death while First World scientists desperately try to find ways to waste public money (for the sake of corporate profits)! In this particular case, public money was being spent in the name of saving the world from climate change, but putting wire mesh cages over tussocks in the mountains of Fiordland, digging a bucket pitfall trap in the middle of the cage and leaving it out day and night for 4 months, with only some material fabric over the top of the cage to supposedly increase the temperature when the sun shines on it, and then basically just counting all the thousands of adult beetles killed in the pitfall traps, and doing this over a four year period, is not going to help us to find ways to mitigate climate change, but all the money spent on transport (including helicopter rides) and accommodation is a good way of getting rid of the money quickly and easily after the "overheads" have already been "recouped" (i.e. maybe a 50% cut of the original funding taken by the institution(s) involved to add to corporate profits). I'm not sure how this can possibly be consistent with UoA's stated duties (of the Council) to "Ensure proper standards of integrity, conduct and concern for the public interest and the well-being of students" and "Ensure that systems are in place for the responsible use of public resources". I suspect that it doesn't mean a thing if there are profits to be made. There appears to be no way to bring specific matters to the attention of the University Council, and they can decide any issue in whatever way suits them anyway, or simply ignore the issue altogether. A couple of days ago, I sent an email to a UoA student, just requesting a pdf copy of an article that they had published with their supervisor. I got an out of office reply from someone else at UoA, who I did not send the email to! They are evidently still intercepting my emails to any UoA address, for fear that I may speak the uncomfortable truth about the issue and what they did to me.

So, it is not only past work that we should be able to trust scientists (and major universities) not to misrepresent. Corporate research in NZ (and probably elsewhere) is in an absolutely shocking state, with a huge amount of pretense about "standards", but it don't mean a thing if there are profits to be had.


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