Saturday, July 28, 2007

Letters on ethics

Some time back I posted on the NCCS case, covered by Current Science in its June 10 issue; but removed those posts, for several reasons. One, I thought I was waffling: I had opinions but wasn't stating them. Two, I wanted to find out what others in the community think, and why the Padmanaban committee wrote the sort of letter it did. (However, my other webpage, that briefly reviews and illustrates the allegations, is still up.)

Subsequently, I have talked to several biologists, including (unexpectedly) two committee members; this helped me understand a little better what's going on. I also read Prof. Padmanaban's second letter on the subject, in the July 10 issue. Padmanaban starts by criticising Sohan Modak's language skills, goes on to question his motives, and reiterates as "fact" that "no manipulation is detectable".

My own (non-waffling) response will be posted here in a couple of weeks (though it already seems to be circulating privately). But the current issue of Current Science has further correspondence on the topic. P M Bhargava points out in forceful terms that if the committee were convinced by their conclusions, they should have shared the analysis with the journal that withdrew the paper; that they didn't do this is not good for their credibility. G R Desiraju has a terse comment that, unfortunately, sounds very true. P N Shankar discusses another, much higher-profile ethics case involving an Indian scientist (R A Mashelkar) and asks why Current Science hasn't covered it.

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