Academic guilty of scientific fraud – a second time!
Media release dated May 2012
An academic at the prestigious Harvard University, Mr. Van Wallach has been shown to have committed scientific fraud for a second time.
A paper published last month showed that Van Wallach in 2009 committed an act of fraud to attempt to steal naming rights for a genus of Cobras from an Australian zoologist, Raymond Hoser.
On 21 September 2009, Wallach and two associates published a paper in the journal Zootaxa “naming” a group of Cobras “Afronaja”. The major issue wasn’t that Hoser had already named the same animals as Spracklandus six months earlier, but rather the false and fraudulent claims made by Wallach and the others to justify their audacious move.
To justify their action, Wallach and others claimed that the Hoser journal, Australasian Journal of Herpetology had not been published in hard copy and was therefore invalid according to the Zoological Code. However, in writing Wallach had earlier sent an e-mail to Hoser seeking hard copies of the said journal, meaning that at all materially relevant times, he was fully aware that the earlier journal had been validly published in hard copy.
Of greater significance was the misleading claim in the Wallach paper that him and his friends had done a global search for hard copies of the Hoser journal but been unable to find any.
That the alleged search results was fraudulent was shown by the fact that the men chose not to look in the one place that the Zoological Rules said hard copies should be sent to, namely Zoological Record and that they never sought a list from Hoser as to where copies were sent. The men made it clear in their publication that they had a copy of these rules and had read them.
Shortly after the Van Wallach paper was published, Hoser contacted the authors and advised them their claims against his original paper was false and provided evidence in support of the fact. Co-author Wuster acknowledged receipt of this information.
This didn’t however stop Wallach and his friends Wolfgang Wuster and Don Broadley from continuing to peddle their lie in relation to the original Hoser publications over the next two years and also widening it to include several other Hoser papers, putting the stability of several scientific names in jeopardy.
Finally, more than two years later, Hoser retaliated by publishing the details of the scientific fraud by Wallach and the others. He did this in another paper in Australasian Journal of Herpetology issue 9.
Within the journal was copies of e-mails, library receipts and the like proving that not only had the original February 2009 paper by Hoser been validly published in hard copy, but more importantly that Wallach and the others were fully aware of this when they committed their fraud.
It also came to light that Wallach had engaged in a similar scientific fraud in 2006. On that occasion he tried to usurp naming rights on a genus of blind snakes. He then published a description of a genus “Austrotyphlops” claiming that an earlier description of the same genus under the name of Sivadictus by Wells and Wellington in 1985 wasn’t valid as it lacked a diagnosis. But an inspection of the original description by Wells and Wellington (p. 41), yields an extensive diagnosis, showing that again Wallach had lied in a bid to improperly usurp someone else’s naming rights on a genus of snakes.
Fraudulent and dishonest conduct by people paid as scientists is rarely exposed, so this case should be widely disseminated and widely reported so as to act as a disincentive for other academics to engage in similar practices.
Australasian Journal of Herpetology Issue 9 can be obtained as either hard copy or online at: www dot herp dot net