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Senior RIKEN Scientist Involved In Stem Cell Scandal Commits Suicide

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the one-way-to-handle-things dept.

Biotech 127

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Yoshiki Sasai, a noted stem cell scientist at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, Japan, who co-authored two controversial and later retracted papers that reported a simple way of reprogramming mature cells, was confirmed dead this morning, an apparent suicide. Local media reported he was found hanging from a stairway railing in the RIKEN complex in Kobe. Sasai was rushed to a nearby hospital but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. He reportedly left a suicide note, but it has not been made public."

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Case closed (0)

BobMcD (601576) | about 5 months ago | (#47608351)

Because nobody could have possibly wanted this guy dead. Right? Guys?

Re:Case closed (-1, Flamebait)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47608363)

Probably not anyone Japanese. The fundamentalist stem-cell hate comes from the bizarrely strong abortion debate that's almost unique to the US.

Re:Case closed (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 5 months ago | (#47608389)

I was thinking competitors in the global medical service industry myself.

Re:Case closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608405)

I was thinking competitors in the global medical service industry myself.

How does that make any sense as a conspiracy?

Re:Case closed (4, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | about 5 months ago | (#47608445)

0) Labs around the world are researching patentable stem-cell cures at their own expense.
1) Group finds (comparatively) trivial way to produce them and releases said on the internet, encouraging others to try.
2) [Insert unknown]
3) Research is discredited, careers ruined, and dude is dead.

Is '2' something like "research is totally false and harms science itself by its very existence so the villains must be crushed" or more like "research is close enough to scare the shit out of some heavily-invested peers"?

Whichever one it winds up being, the response to 'crappy scientific paper' is NOT typically burning at the stake, so some unknown must be at work here.

Re:Case closed (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608507)

It is Japan. People kill themselves on a daily basis there. It is practically a national hobby. This is a clear case of 'shamefuru dispuray'.

Re:Case closed (5, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#47608551)

It is Japan. People kill themselves on a daily basis there. It is practically a national hobby.

Here is a list of countries by suicide rate [wikipedia.org] . Japan is near the top. Japan's suicide rate is higher than America's suicide rate and murder rate combined.

Re:Case closed (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 5 months ago | (#47608623)

Interestingly, the #1 country in that list is Greenland with an average of 83 suicides / 100,000 people / year and the population of Greenland is only 56,968.

Re:Case closed (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 5 months ago | (#47608699)

It helps if you remember Iceland is the green one, and Greenland is the icy one...

Greenland is dark and miserable, living conditions for those in rural areas can suck, with few roads, no flushing toilets, barely running water.

Urban life is better, but it's a shock more people don't kill themselves.

Re:Case closed (2)

xevioso (598654) | about 5 months ago | (#47608897)

I've always wanted to go, just so I can say I have been. Also, Greenland has quite possibly the coolest flag in the world, next to Nepal.
Also, Iceland is rather icy, especially in the middle. Like greenland.

Re:Case closed (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about 5 months ago | (#47609961)

I've always wanted to go, just so I can say I have been. Also, Greenland has quite possibly the coolest flag in the world, next to Nepal. Also, Iceland is rather icy, especially in the middle. Like greenland.

If you just want to say that you've been, just say it. Optionally, add " not really". You'll need a better reason to go to physically go, as that involves money, effort and most likely discomfort.

And I reckon Wales has the best flag in the world. It's a &^%$%& Dragon, for god's sake!! How cool is that?

Re:Case closed (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 5 months ago | (#47611069)

Can't be no vegetarian in those places. All you get to eat is fish and dolphins and such.

Re:Case closed (1)

MisterSquid (231834) | about 5 months ago | (#47611851)

Also, Greenland has quite possibly the coolest flag in the world, next to Nepal. Also, Iceland is rather icy, especially in the middle. Like greenland.

According to that Wikipedia list [wikipedia.org] (as of now), Greenland has the highest suicide rate while Nepal has the lowest.

Coincidence? I think NOT.

Re:Case closed (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 5 months ago | (#47611057)

All they need in Greenland is more heat, it gets too fucking cold there. And to get heat, and good life, they need to learn how to run a nuclear power plant, and how to dig for that ore. Hopefully they got some of that. Once you get heat, light, energy, life is good. Even in the middle of the frozen arctic winter night. They of course have to do it in secret, without fanfare, as I would not be worried of nukes coming at us or anyone else from Greenland, but the technology proliferating to an Arab state like Iraq could be dangerous, where people routinely blow each other up because they are not cousins of each other, or the same gang, like one's a Shia muslim follower of Mohammed the Prophet, the other one is a Sunni muslim follower of Mohammed the Prophet, and that difference is enough to kill each other.

Re:Case closed (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 5 months ago | (#47611085)

Also, Greenland has the highest suicide rate around the world not in attempted suicides, but actual suicides, because the people there don't fuck around, and the methods they use are very efficient and deadly. That means they are very smart, and can get things done and over with.

Re:Case closed (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 5 months ago | (#47611099)

Also, an interesting note is that in most places in the world where suicide rates are high, the violent crime is extremely low, almost nonexistent.

Re:Case closed (2)

Calsar (1166209) | about 5 months ago | (#47608779)

Suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged 20–44 in Japan.
Wikipeida http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Case closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47609661)

Suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged 20–44 in Japan.
Wikipeida http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

Do they still do the sword to the gut thing?

Re:Case closed (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 5 months ago | (#47611079)

That's a long tradition, but leaving a carefully crafted suicide not to everybody left behind alive, that adds a special artistic touch to it.

Re:Case closed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608555)

In japan IF a is a case is too hard, it's not investigated. This helps maintain a homicide solve rate (90%) with the police.

Re:Case closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608521)

Yeah, makes sense to exterminate someone so talented rather than, say, offer him a well paid job?

Re:Case closed (2)

KramberryKoncerto (2552046) | about 5 months ago | (#47608625)

Sometimes true, sometimes not. An enterprise parasite looking for a golden parachute would rationally prefer to suppress disruption to his personal agenda in the short term rather than enhancing the business in the long term. Disclaimer: I hold no opinion on any conspiracy theories of this case.

Re:Case closed (4, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 5 months ago | (#47608677)

'crappy scientific paper'

There was an article in the New Yorker last year - I wish I could find it - that talked about the enormous about of pressure being put on academic journals that affect big industries. It described cases where Monsanto and another big corporation set out to destroy an otherwise well-respected scientist who discovered a high health risk from one of their products.

The part of the story I found most surprising was not the online stalking, the financial pressure put on the academic departments that these researchers work, or the out-and-out physical threats (pets poisoned after phone threats, etc), but rather that there have been editors of scientific journals who have been pressured to call for retraction of papers that they themselves reviewed positively. The New Yorker writer actually got two of these peer reviewers to admit that they had gotten pressured and one had succumbed to pressure after his fellowship funding was threatened. The company that was trying to cover its ass threatened to pull funding for a new lab at a land grant university if this reviewer didn't call for the paper to be retracted. The guy so much as admitted that the only reason he had called for retraction was the pressure.

When you have billions of dollars on the line, I don't see why anyone would be surprised that there might be people willing to do some very nasty things, up to and including murder. People will kill over a pair of sneakers, I'm pretty sure they'd kill over billions.

I'm a go see if I can find that article.

Re:Case closed (1)

gigne (990887) | about 5 months ago | (#47608951)

I'm a go see if I can find that article.

Any luck?

Re:Case closed (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 5 months ago | (#47609553)

Not yet. I'm doing it the hard way, leafing through a pile of old magazines. But you will find a citation in one of the replies to my post that describe a very similar story from the New Yorker, that recounts an industry's effort to discredit a respected (and respectable) researcher because his work points out safety risks with their product.

Re:Case closed (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 5 months ago | (#47608963)

When you have billions of dollars on the line, I don't see why anyone would be surprised that there might be people willing to do some very nasty things, up to and including murder. People will kill over a pair of sneakers, I'm pretty sure they'd kill over billions.

I assume the people who deny this fall into three groups:

1) The naive/stupid/hopelessly optimistic
2) Those too afraid to imagine a world where this is a possibility
3) Those who'd rather not awaken groups 1 and 2

Again, in this particular case I have no information to add. Only vague questions. But there probably should be questions due, if not for the general loss of human life, to the billions at stake.

Re:Case closed (-1, Flamebait)

BergZ (1680594) | about 5 months ago | (#47609079)

"There was an article in the New Yorker last year - I wish I could find it - that talked about the enormous about of pressure being put on academic journals that affect big industries. It described cases where Monsanto and another big corporation set out to destroy an otherwise well-respected scientist who discovered a high health risk from one of their products."

It sounds like you're describing:
"A Valuable Reputation
...
The company documents show that, while Hayes was studying atrazine, Syngenta was studying him, as he had long suspected. Syngenta’s public-relations team had drafted a list of four goals. The first was “discredit Hayes.” In a spiral-bound notebook, Syngenta’s communications manager, Sherry Ford, who referred to Hayes by his initials, wrote that the company could “prevent citing of TH data by revealing him as noncredible.” He was a frequent topic of conversation at company meetings. Syngenta looked for ways to “exploit Hayes’ faults/problems.”
...
In 2005, Ford made a long list of methods for discrediting him: “have his work audited by 3rd party,” “ask journals to retract,” “set trap to entice him to sue,” “investigate funding,” “investigate wife.” The initials of different employees were written in the margins beside entries, presumably because they had been assigned to look into the task. "

http://www.newyorker.com/magaz... [newyorker.com]

Syngenta couldn't find any legitimate scientific flaws in Hayes's research so they waged a PR war against him.

Re:Case closed (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 5 months ago | (#47609487)

Wow, thanks for posting that, but believe it or not, it isn't the story I was thinking of. The researcher in the story I'm remembering was a biologist.

My neighbor has a subscription to the New Yorker paper magazine and every couple of months he drops off the read issues by my mailbox because he knows I enjoy them for bathroom reading. I've got a stack going back to January of 2013, so I'm going to see if I can find the story in question.

Re:Case closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47609539)

Dr. Tyrone Hayes is a developmental biologist that works on frogs (probably Xenopus).

Re:Case closed (1)

BergZ (1680594) | about 5 months ago | (#47611111)

I guess what made me think that might have been the story you had in mind was the part about big corporations looking to destroy the reputation of scientists that discover health problems related to the corporation's products.

The story about Tyrone Hayes (and his persecutors at Syngenta) were in my mind when I read about the court verdict that Dr. Michael Mann's persecutors at the "American Traditions Institute" must pay damages for filing a frivolous lawsuit.
http://yro.slashdot.org/story/... [slashdot.org]
I celebrated that verdict because the struggle of Dr. Mann and the struggle of Dr. Hayes are, in my mind, the same:
Wouldn't Syngenta have loved to demand Dr. Hayes hand over his private emails?
Wouldn't Syngenta have loved to torment Dr. Hayes with nuisance FOIA requests?
Wouldn't Syngenta have loved to torment Dr. Hayes with nuisance lawsuits?
Sherry Ford's spiral-bound notebook of dirty tricks tells the whole tale.

There are few things that I'm sure of in this world, but one of those things is:
I am certain that somewhere there is a carbon copy of Sherry Ford employed in the one of PR departments of the Fossil Fuel industry right now, and that Sherry Ford has an identical spiral-bound notebook full of the same dirty tricks that they'd love to pull on Dr. Mann.

It seems to be a common theme of big corporations:
If they can't find a valid flaw in the scientist's research then they order their PR people to attack the reputation of the scientist.

Re:Case closed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47609701)

Here's a link to the article. The case is a little more nuanced, but much of the above reporting is accurate:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/02/10/a-valuable-reputation

Re:Case closed (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 5 months ago | (#47611131)

When you can take over and control the whole world's food supply via intellectual property and infertile seeds, there are trillions of dollars at stake. As in, you might be getting your food cheaply today, but how much would you be willing to pay for it if blackmailed by a monopoly? What price is the free market willing to bear? $1000/mo//person? $10,000? The sky's the limit, first comes air, then water, then food, and only after that healthcare, and they are raping everyone in the ass with the cost of healthcare, with the argument of, well, how much is your health really worth to you? A million dollars? Ten million dollars? The sky is the limit, just like with food, water and air. And btw, infertile seeds have an argument going for them, biotech safety, as we're not unleashing anything biotech into the wild without being able to contain it later. I still say stick to traditional fertile seed crops, and don't bend over to Da Man called Monsanto, and take it in the ass from him.

Re:Case closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47609683)

The paper was about generating the cells - not about using them as treatment. Basically everyone (maybe not those with patents on generating adult stem cells) would love for it to have been true, since it would make it trivial to make large quantities of the STAP cells that could then be used to develop treatments (big money).
Also, they did not release detailed instructions on how to generate the STAP cells (one of the major criticisms of the origional publications).
I think the main reason for what you refer to as "burning at the stake" is that people got excited about the finding and they were let down. Furthermore, it became an embarassment to the field since something so simple that could have such a big impact on biology/health was not double-checked by anyone before being published in the most prestigious scientific journal.

Re:Case closed (4, Informative)

Niedi (1335165) | about 5 months ago | (#47609699)

Disclaimer: I work in bioscience, so I actually know a thing or two about the process.
If there is a comparatively trivial way to produce stem cells THAT ACTUALLY WORKS, people will go heads over tail to do it themselves. I'd assume every lab that is even remotely connected to the stem cell field would set people on replicating this since the method is basically the equivalent of turning lead into gold. It is the holy grail. No matter how much money you have, no matter how much influence you have, you can't contain such a breakthrough, especially not after it's published. That is, if it actually is what it is claimed to be.
On the other hand, if you claim to have made such a breakthrough, everyone tries it out and no one can replicate it, weeeellll, you'll piss a few people off. Considerably more people than when you just say you found that protein X interacts in subcascade Y under conditions Z and it turns out it doesn't after all.
And if serious intentional misconduct is found, the result is burning at stake. I suggest having a look at http://retractionwatch.com/ [retractionwatch.com]
And finally, Sasai wasn't the main author behind the whole thing but rather the seniour guy who slapped his seal of approval on it. So even IF the conspiracy nutjobs were true, it's the wrong man that's dead.

Re:Case closed (4, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47608419)

Oh yeah, competitors are out to murder their disgraced colleague for all his fame he got from his famously retracted paper. We must be on the right trail, Dr. Holmes.

Re:Case closed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608475)

The retraction was a forgery, and the thought police do not want you to have free medical knowledge that would invalidate the slavery of mankind.

Keep on being indoctrinated.

Re:Case closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608513)

This is sarcasm, right? Right?

Re:Case closed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608681)

Keep on supporting irreproducible science and loony conspiracy theories.

Re:Case closed (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 5 months ago | (#47608479)

Did the disgrace shut him up?

Not rhetorical, I genuinely don't know.

But it stands to reason, in a truth stranger than fiction way, that first you'd discredit, then you'd eliminate. Sort of like how you don't mix bleach and ammonia, but you clean, rinse, clean, rinse until you get it all gone.

Re:Case closed (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47608501)

shut him up

I just got the oddest sense of deja vu, like I've had this exact same debate with the exact same presumption of a crazy conspiracy as a baseline for the discussion. Completely different subject, but the exact same argument, at the exact same threading depth. I seem to recall it ending in intransigence on the part of the paranoid party.

It is not "simpler" to concoct an elaborate conspiracy to draw international attention to the subject just before you kill them.

Re:Case closed (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 5 months ago | (#47608695)

Crazy conspiracies make more sense than they did fifty years ago.

Especially considering some of the real conspiracies that have been uncovered, starting with Watergate.

We live in a very strange world and money makes people do very strange things.

Re:Case closed (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47608753)

Do you know what actual conspiracies have?

Concrete goals with palpable results.
Watergate had political leverage for a national election.
Operation Valkyrie had the goal of removing a racist dictator from office, and protecting the political stability of Germany.

Do you know what conspiracy theories have that mark them as crazy?

Allegations of a widespread and well-covered up plan to achieve a nebulous unstated group who benefits in an abstract matter, by deceiving as large a group of people as possible.

A "strange world" is full of people doing stupid shit for stupid reasons.

Re:Case closed (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 5 months ago | (#47608881)

Is this real enough for you?

http://www.who.int/trade/gloss... [who.int]

Re:Case closed (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47609025)

Hey, look. A major industry exists.

For a more important question that actually having this debate, since like I said, intransigence, do you know how crazy you are, or do you think that you're exceptionally insightful and have stumbled, through reading an articles' summary, upon a grand and important conspiracy with unspecified ends, that just happens to need this researcher, in particular, dead?

I mean, what degree of self awareness do your kind have?

Re:Case closed (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 5 months ago | (#47609465)

Oh noez, insults on the internet? Whatever shall I do?

Oh that's right, ignore them.

Carry on, then...

Re:Case closed (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47609901)

No, this isn't an insult. Do you know you're crazy or not?

Re:Case closed (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 5 months ago | (#47609525)

I wonder how many real conspiracies with concrete goals have been ignored because of the term "conspiracy theory". It's a great way to end discussion. You just say "conspiracy theory" and everybody has to shut up.

As you can see from someone's post above regarding the New Yorker story, there are conspiracies that exist to discredit good researchers and good research. And apropos to BobMcD's post, the pharmaceutical industry has been one of the main perpetrators.

Re:Case closed (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 5 months ago | (#47608569)

i think you meant "paranoid ideation stranger than truth".

Re:Case closed (1, Interesting)

retchdog (1319261) | about 5 months ago | (#47608667)

Oh, please. Maas Biolabs would never conduct such a sloppy wetworks. Their general operating policy is abduction and indoctrination of the talent. In extremely rare cases, termination followed by cryonic preservation of the cortex prior to neural "biosoft" imprinting is acceptable as well, but don't expect any surviving witnesses in either case. Often, they use localized airburst toxins or a satellite projectile to zero out the target area. If the situation permits, venting of a military hallucinogenic/sedative can also neutralize the crowd. Either way, it would be indistinguishable from a random act of civil unrest such as those of the notorious Panther Moderns.

Re:Case closed (2, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | about 5 months ago | (#47608535)

Fetal stem cells. FETAL.

F E T A L

That is spelled

F

E

T

A

L

Re:Case closed (0, Troll)

retchdog (1319261) | about 5 months ago | (#47608587)

Oh, come on, what are the chances that the kid would have grown up to be more useful than its harvested biomaterial? Pretty low if you ask me, especially if the stem cell therapy is expensive. I just hope the aborting mother gets market value for her labor (no pun intended) and goods.

And sometimes you even get a marketable biotech product [forbes.com] out of it. Would you rather have 113 patents [wikipedia.org] , or a useless infant? I know which one I'd pick.

Re:Case closed (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 5 months ago | (#47608631)

That's an odd way to spell "embryonic." You do know it's taken from a simple ball of a few cells, right? It doesn't work like in the South Park episode about Christopher Reeve.

Re:Case closed (2)

lgw (121541) | about 5 months ago | (#47608687)

Sure, but the point is: the American religious never objected to stem cell research in general, only quite specifically to embryonic stem cell stuff. And, really, it is a bit creepy, and I think it's great that it's starting to look like embryonic stem cells aren't all that important to the field after all, and maybe humanity can give that particular sort of creepiness a miss (imagine e.g. a situation where the only way to get a cure for your illness was to conceive an embryo for harvest - just so many kinds of creepy there).

Questions of medical ethics, especially in research, shouldn't be lightly brushed aside regardless of where they come from. Finding an approach where such questions just aren't relevant is welcomed.

Re:Case closed (3, Insightful)

sillybilly (668960) | about 5 months ago | (#47611209)

If you ask me about it, one of the most important things when getting killed is the awareness part. As in, if you have to kill me, please do it in my sleep, so that I go to sleep but never wake up. Every time I wake up it's a new surprise. So if you have to kill an embryo, you should do it before it's aware, before it develops a functioning brain and senses, like a skin that can sense heartbeat or motions. By the way it's easy to step back and just reject all embryonic research, but had you had the chance to walk in Christopher Reeds shoes, you might have ended up being a big fan too or stem cell research, as the only way to live your life normally again, at the expense of killing an unconscious, unborn embryo, who was never meant to be born in the first place, but created for stem cells. People kill each other all over the world, sometimes with the blessing of the highest of the highest powers. Such as Bin Ladin, watched by the whole White House while it was going down. You say he committed a crime, but a child is born innocent. And you would be right. But innocent was a cow that sits as steak on your plate, with more conscience and life "wasted" than an embryo of a few cells. I don't have a problem flushing sperm, potential for life down the toilet. And neither do women flushing eggs from periods. Not every potential egg has to turn into a child. So we're wasting all the reproductive capacity, potential for human life, as a custom, and we're wasting live creatures with eyes, ears and brains, for meat on our plates, but we're not willing to waste a few undifferentiated embryonic cells to fix somebody in a wheelchair? It's complicated, I know it's complicated. That's why I'm happy I don't have to deal with it, and let other people do it. That's how I deal with meat, I'll eat it, but I let other people do the killing. Makes me feel less guilty.

Re:Case closed (2)

xevioso (598654) | about 5 months ago | (#47608923)

Certainly more appropriate then fecal stem cells.

Re:Case closed (0)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 5 months ago | (#47608549)

Japanese man commits suicide and still you're going to sit there and blame the largely harmless fundamentalist Christians in the US?

Who the hell do you think you are, sport? Are you aware that you're a bigot? This sort of crap is textbook prejudicial behavior. The irony that you're actually the bigot in this situation is likely completely lost on you. In fact, you'll probably try to defend your bigotry here like any of the hate groups when backed into a corner. They'll say how the people they hate are inferior or they're descended from pigs and apes or some other load of crap.

And you know that would be fine... you wouldn't bother me if you were just a typical bigot. But what makes it worse is that your ideology deludes you into thinking you're morally pure... that you're incapable of political incorrectness... that your most hateful statements are all forgivable in the cause of your ideology.

They're not. Bigotry is bigotry.

Re:Case closed (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47608703)

No, you misunderstood my post, to say the least. I was alleging a substantial separation from any sort of politicized violence the GP was implying.

As to the rest of your post, you're taking that rather substantial misunderstanding and running pretty crazy with it. We can talk about the dozen or so actual murders performed specifically in the name of "pro life" ideology if you want. But if we did, it would a red herring and unrelated to my post.

Re:Case closed (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 5 months ago | (#47608731)

Justify bringing them up in a discussion about a disgraced japanese scientist killing himself. ... or concede.

Re:Case closed (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47608769)

Because the OP alleged motivated murder, and that was the most plausibly motivated group, while still being insane to allege.

Now, you can stop being insane too, or we can go down a rabbit hole where you pretend that there's no reason to assume the OP meant that because nobody could ever mean that. You'll know you're lying, I'll know you're lying, and people reading will know you're lying, but at least you'll have saved face by not admitting that relatively plausible explanation.

Re:Case closed (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 5 months ago | (#47609313)

How many American evangelicals have gone over seas to murder scientists for abortion reasons.

Zero.

Do religious crazies sometimes do nutty stuff? Obviously... we're dealing with it all the time. That said, the danger posed by christian fundamentalists from the US is quite small. Its mostly passed around these days to their various factional enemies appear more reasonable by comparison.

Appreciate... I'm not even a christian. I just find this reflexive bigotry to be both offensive and dangerous. The real threat here is that because you think you're in the right, you won't monitor your own actions. Most of your self auditing mental processes are just turned off in these matters. And that sort of thing is extremely dangerous because you could unconsciously do something or approve of something terrible simply because the right tribal/ideological/factional boxes are checked.

Whatever you might think of American christian fundamentalists there is a great deal worse in this world and much of what is worse you can count on those same fundamentalists to stand at your side and fight beside you.

The animosity and gainsaying is mostly for domestic political oneupsmanship. Internationally and over the long haul you're probably more allies then not. There are of course radical exceptions but lets not pretend they're even a small minority. The sort that blow up buildings are literally about one in a million. That isn't even a minority. Its simply a failure to properly classify what you're talking about. If one in a million of a given group have a certain property you're not filtering the data properly.

Re:Case closed (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47609909)

Okay, so rabbit hole it is.

You know you're lying. I know you're lying. I'm done with the conversation.

Re:Case closed (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 5 months ago | (#47610435)

Denial is not an argument.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Re:Case closed (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47611353)

No, but argument is reserved for the intellectually honest.

Re: Case closed (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 5 months ago | (#47610099)

You totally failed to grasp WTF he was saying and, as such, are guilty of reinforcing a perfectly valid stereotype (this assessment is based on a dozen years experience living in the ignorant shithole referred to as the Bible Belt). :p

Re: Case closed (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 5 months ago | (#47610493)

Really? Then tell me about the evangelicals that fly around the world assassinating scientists and making it look like a suicide.

Or you're both morons.

Re:Case closed (4, Insightful)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 5 months ago | (#47608559)

Except his research was on using adult stem cells, so it is unlikely he would have triggered the angst of religious or abortion groups.

Re:Case closed (0)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47608669)

Not everyone bothers with these distinctions. To say that the debate is one rife with ignorance is to master the skill of understatement.

Re:Case closed (4, Informative)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 5 months ago | (#47608745)

Not everyone bothers with these distinctions. To say that the debate is one rife with ignorance is to master the skill of understatement.

It's not the religious fundamentalist groups that are the ones that typically purposefully conflate the two.

Re:Case closed (4, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 5 months ago | (#47609077)

Not everyone bothers with these distinctions. To say that the debate is one rife with ignorance is to master the skill of understatement.

Religious people were against stem cells from aborted fetuses because they considered it murder. There is nothing hard to understand about this.

Therefore, a way to do this with adult (or any non-abortion-based cells) would be hailed by the religious.

You should learn what people claim before drawing conclusions. As with the Hobby Lobby argument, stopping implantation might not technically be an "abortion", but it is killing a viable embryo nevertheless, "ensouled", so to speak. People stop being facetious.

Re:Case closed (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 5 months ago | (#47608739)

Those folks start their day with angst and a sense of martyrdom. Who can say what's going to set them off?

Plus, I doubt religious freaks had anything to do with this. If it was murder (a big "if"), then it's more likely there was money involved than religious fervor. The people that will kill in the name of "pro-life" are not likely to be able to track down a researcher and travel internationally and then set up a phony accident. They'd be more likely to just walk into a church during mass and blow a doctor's head off. The subtle approach does not come readily to someone who would stand in front of a gynecologists office and scream at young women walking in to see a doctor.

Re:Case closed (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about 5 months ago | (#47611097)

You are assuming that these groups are logical.

Re:Case closed (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 months ago | (#47608613)

Even if it were a raving American pro-life-at-least-until-birth enthusiast, it'd be a fairly atypical one. Reprogramming of mature cells is usually hailed as the superior alternative to fetal cells by those opposed to their use. It's likely that some very, very, strict ones have noticed that research on mature cell modification typically needs some real stem cells to work with, in order to better understand what they are trying to do; but it's commonly either ignored or treated as a lesser evil that will (real soon now, always real soon now) eliminate even the pragmatic arguments for fetal cell use.

It would be like animal rights enthusiasts assassinating someone working on in vitro or computational models for toxicology. Such research would necessarily involve animals; but it's either hope that that works or convince everyone to just surrender the benefits entirely.

Re:Case closed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608427)

Don't rush to crazy conclusions. The person disgraced himself in one of the most prestigious scientific journals. Anytime someone wants to look for his name in scientific literature, there it is.

Some people just can't allow themselves to make mistakes and then accept it for what it is, a mistake.

Don't try to make a hurricane in a teapot.

Re:Case closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608491)

In a world where Asian parents pressure their child into achieving only perfection ("What? You only got 99% on the test? Bad child!"), I am not surprised.

Re:Case closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608725)

would make for a pretty damn epic teapot...

Re:Case closed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608489)

He was Japanese - Japanese people are famous for commiting "honor" suicide when being seriously shamed and/or as a way to accept responsibility for a major failure.
So, yes, "case closed"!

Re:Case closed (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 5 months ago | (#47608517)

lol ...or, that makes a fine and handy cover story, doesn't it? :D

Re:Case closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608547)

Yes, that makes a great "cover story" if you like conspiracy theories, but as i explained in my previous comment: "case closed"...!

button up your assholes, it's gonna get rough! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608583)

This happens right when we have a lost Malaysian plane crash, killing 30 HIV researchers and we have a out-of-control ebola outbreak in Liberia with the CDC smuggling infected patients into the homeland and curing them with some "secret sauce" experimental treatment?

This has Shoko Asahara's sticky fingerprints all over it.

Re:Case closed (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 months ago | (#47608643)

He was originally going to use stem cells to regenerate his lost honor; but then realized that the method didn't actually work.

Re:Case closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608537)

I'm convinced! Nobody needs to even bother looking at his failed research now.

Heal Thyself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608361)

Maybe they can use Stem Cells to revive him. /sarc

It wasn't his fault (4, Interesting)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about 5 months ago | (#47608437)

The article makes it seem like the retracted Nature articles were why he committed suicide (or a major contributor to it).. but they weren't really his fault. Haruko Obokata was the lead researcher on those, and also the person responsible for fabricating the research results. Sure, his name was on it as a co-author, but that sounds more like the result of office politics than actually believing what she was publishing. Even his employer seemed like they held him in high regard after the scandal broke.

Sucks to see a man driven to suicide by something he didn't do.

Re:It wasn't his fault (4, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47608481)

They haven't released the note, that makes assessing the motivations impractical.

they will not release the note (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 5 months ago | (#47608645)

Especially in a country like Japan where suicide is a huge problem, the note's contents will never be released.

Reporting on suicide has serious ethical consequences, and revealing the contents of the note means others will see suicide as a valid way to bring their ideas, grievances, or innocence to public light.

In most cases suicides are not reported, and even if they are newsworthy, generally the suicide nature is downplayed as much as possible.

It's one of those really sucky problems that's hard to deal with. Few really realize how much of a problem it is, but bringing awareness often makes it worse. One of the many things insidious about mental illness.

Re:It wasn't his fault (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 5 months ago | (#47608571)

He's the senior researcher _and_ was ready to take credit.

Even if he knew nothing of the fraud, it was partly his job to prevent it.

Re:It wasn't his fault (4, Informative)

pavon (30274) | about 5 months ago | (#47608599)

Sure, his name was on it as a co-author, but that sounds more like the result of office politics than actually believing what she was publishing. Even his employer seemed like they held him in high regard after the scandal broke.

It was a bit more than that. He recruited Obokata to RIKEN, was her mentor, and supervised her STAP work. As you said, there is not even the slightest hint that he was engaged in any misconduct, but the RIKEN investigation did find that Sasai and Wakayama carried “heavy responsibility” for what happened, and the incident opened questions about how closely co-authors and research advisers should oversee the work of their underlings.

Re:It wasn't his fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47608607)

He wasn't the author of just another paper. It was groundbreaking. And as they say, extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence.
His name as an author was precisely a certificate of quality. And he failed to quality test the work.
At least he should have known her better.

Re:It wasn't his fault (0)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 5 months ago | (#47608673)

Haruko Obokata was the lead researcher on those, and also the person responsible for fabricating the research results. Sure, his name was on it as a co-author, but that sounds more like the result of office politics than actually believing what she was publishing.

"Who's listed as author and in what order" is full of politics and bargaining. It's extremely common for first author to be a PI (faculty member or head of a group/lab) simply because the research happened in their lab and the actual primary researcher did most/all of the work.

Sometimes one researcher gets "scooped" and in exchange for providing help/data, gets authorship on someone else's paper as a sort of last-ditch attempt to get something out of their work.

Re:It wasn't his fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47609181)

PI is actually usually last author in biology. The post-doc/grad student who did most of the work and wrote the first draft of the paper is usually first.

In Western Culture, It wasn't his fault (1)

BBF_BBF (812493) | about 5 months ago | (#47609413)

You don't understand Asian culture, or Japanese culture in particular.

When one is "responsible" for something, even if one wasn't directly involved with the failure, the failure is attributed to EVERYONE responsible and is a major loss of "Face". It's especially bad in this case since it wasn't just an error, it was a planned deception by the lead researcher. So every project this person is associated with will now be "tainted"... (yeah, a bit different than Western culture) so pretty much his career would not advance any more.

Sure, suicide is a bit extreme, but in Japanese culture, as opposed to other Asian cultures, it's more common.

Re: In Western Culture, It wasn't his fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47609891)

He did the honorable thing and committed sudoku.

Re:It wasn't his fault (2)

drolli (522659) | about 5 months ago | (#47609841)

Even if it was not his fault, it was his responsibility. If you accept a senior-author position on a paper, then you have responsibility for the scientific integrity. You also accept the impact factor very willingly.

That does by no way mean that your career should be completely over after one mistake happening under your supervision.Let alone that, a society in which one mistake after a very sucessful and long scientific career pressures a man to kill himself should strongly question its own standards in dealing with mistakes.

I worked for four years in Japan in research and there are two different versions which i would perfectly believe:

a) He did what every good Japanese boss does: Stand to your employees. This is something which is not wlle understood by westeners, but if an institution/group is under attack from the outside then the highest rank defends. That means, if you are a postdoc, and somebody tried to attack your students, you will take the hits. Likewise, if you are a group leader and postdoc messes up, you will defend him/her. So he defended his student, and fell.

b) He did something which bad Japanese scientists do: tell their employees how the data has to be interpreted and let them work the data until it looks fine (while convincing yourself that everything is allright). I have seen that happen before (usually they would not fake the data but misinterpret it in way that it hurts.). Now it would have come out;.

Sad (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#47608813)

My heart goes out to his relatives. People get so caught up in their public persona, they often forget that they could lead a fantastic life in obscurity after a major failure like this. I live in obscurity every day! It's great!

Last week I had a cousin make an attempt with a bunch of pills. Rather than hospitalize him, the police took him to jail for possession where he promptly finished the job with a belt. I didn't know him really well so I'm not all torn up but some in my family are. This is an entirely different thing that just having a relative die. It's a different emotion. What did we miss? What could we have done? Is it my fault because I didn't hang out with the guy enough and help him get on a better path?

Logically, I know it's all nonsense. The guy made his own choice, but I certainly feel for his immediate family. They're obviously taking it hard.

Difficulties to cope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47609183)

Given that he also had rather recently checked into a mental facility [wikipedia.org] (for stress), it is obvious that not everything was ok (the article says that he had tried to resign in March, but the request was denied and he checked into a hospital for a month). The Japanese media had put more pressure/blame on him in the past week, so this is not really surprising that this might have led him to suicide.

Clone him (1)

Jumunquo (2988827) | about 5 months ago | (#47609473)

And put his clone on trial.

There is a lot of pressure on scientists (2)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 5 months ago | (#47609597)

And publish or perish has an even deeper meaning in many Asian countries.

Both the pressure to release things before they are fully proven.

And the pressure to always succeed no matter the costs.

The lack of critiques by junior scientists involved in the institutions and labs involved is another cause of these distorted results.

One of the first thing scientists from Asian countries learn when they work in US labs is that they are expected to critique and question senior scientists, which is regarded as Not Done in their original countries.

(this is an observation based on personal experiences)

Doh! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 5 months ago | (#47609637)

If only we had some stem cells, we might have saved him!

If Only Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47611833)

If only Obama could do this 100s of millions of humans would not be killed to achieve his ambitions of world domination.

Yet, if only.

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