Justin Robinette: Justice Denied

Search words: Duke University, Anil Potti, Justin Robinette.

NOTE: There are two important posts today. Please read the next post on the Potti scandal as well.

✔Fact Checker here. This has been a perfectly horrible weekend for the concepts of integrity and justice at Duke.

First the Administration's decision on Potti. And last night a dismissal -- without appropriate consideration of the very compelling evidence that Fact Checker presented to Loyal Readers late last week -- of the judicial complaint brought by Justin Robinette and eight other plaintiffs.

In the Potti case, we heard pledge after pledge of "transparency." And what we got were one of more administrators, unknown, operating under rules that were not disclosed, making a decision that unspecified parts of Potti's resume are damn lies, and imposing a sanction they won't tell us about. All announced using the oldest trick in the PR handbook, a news release late on Friday afternoon when everyone had already launched their weekend. Mr. Schoenfeld, be advised you did not fool Fact Checker.

Since Potti's still on the payroll, it's reasonably certain that he wasn't fired, which brings us to the question of what the hell a faculty member has to do at Duke to get canned? Sorry for the language; this is an outrage.

Apparently the answer is something more than sully the reputation of the place and tarnish its crown jewel which is Duke medicine. Stay tuned, Potti is going to drag colleagues down with him, and undoubtedly administrators too who have tried to shield their star researcher.

Duke in this respect is no worse than Harvard, which last week found a long-time tenured professor guilty of academic fraud through-out his career. Most likely Marc Hauser of the psychology department will wind up with a letter of censure.

For anyone who thought "Professor" Hauser would be ashamed and quit (not to mention Potti), and for anyone who heard Hauser was going to take a year-long year of absence starting right now to think about his future, please be advised that the Harvard Crimson has just broken a story.

The professor says his leave of absence and discipline only affect his status in the school of Arts and Sciences, and he will teach a course this semester in another Harvard division, where the dean says it's wonderful news.

That's the way they think in the academy nowadays.

In the Robinette case, a misleading student government press release said a decision had been made, when in fact there was an abdication of responsibility.

The press release failed to reveal the judiciary split on hearing the case, though having a minority on your side is scant consolation. We'll never know their reasoning since no opinion will be filed.

Here is a fellow Dukie who has been subjected to discrimination because he is gay, an earlier judicial opinion unanimous on that point. This was harassment and intimidation day after day, week after week, continuing after a ruling in Robinette's case last fall that found individual members guilty, but not the Republican Club, meaning student activity funds still flow.

That's right. Continuing after last spring's judicial ruling.

It is all so nasty, deliberately provocative, designed to hurt. Eight other plaintiffs, including one properly not identified who was subjected to blackmail and came close to suicide, stepped forward for the first time.

And the judiciary says they have no remedy.

Robinette is also fast reaching a dead-end in Allen Building, unjustly. President Brodhead has refused to see him, which jarred my memory of his refusal to see the parents of three innocent lacrosse players facing 30 years in jail for a rape that did not occur. Mr. Brodhead, you later felt impelled to apologize for that, and so help me, Fact Checker sees need for another.

Just as important as a meeting, Brodhead has failed this university with his silence. No comment, no affirmation of Duke's "zero tolerance policy" that has been breached by a cluster of students harboring "discriminatory intent" and creating "harassment and hostile environment."

Larry Moneta, vp of student life, seemed to bark off the page in an e-mail made available to Fact Checker, an e-mail seeking his involvement in the case. Intemperate, brusk as he had been in a recent unrelated inquiry from a Deputy Fact Checker about the dining halls now that he is in charge. Larry, you can do far better. You have in the past.

Moneta did take several steps though. The most important was that he turned to an outside consultant to prepare a report on the various aspects of the Robinette case -- a good move -- a report the consultant said should be publicly available. Robinette and the others agreed and have waived their right to privacy, and every stakeholder in this university is entitled to read this report.

But that's not the way Moneta and his clandestine colleagues in Allen Building pursue their jobs. This time. Any time.

✔All this has been big news in the Daily Tar Heel over at Carolina, the lead story one day last week, an editorial the next calling on Moneta to release the secret report, while the Chronicle has weighed in before today with only one meager article that did not reach at all into the vulgar, vile e-mails that Robinette and others were peppered with.

Not to mention the personal confrontations they were made to endure as their tormentors tried to tease, belittle and demean someone because he happens to be gay or supportive of someone gay. The reason for the Tar Heel coverage is that this is an offense of the first order, and FC can only hope the Chronicle will see the same.

✔For gays on this campus, 2010 is certainly a long way from the decades when Dean Robert Cox was allowed to pursue a personal pogram, declaring homosexuals and thieves were not allowed. President Sanford eased up on that, President Brodie opened the door and made a commitment to diversity, and President Keohane stood at the entrance shouting Welcome.

What a shame to have Richard Brodhead as their successor, insensitive.

Robinette and his friends, conducting themselves with dignity, are not going to let this go -- and indeed they should not. There's talk of a civil suit for good cause, for some in the crowd that ousted Robinette as president of Duke's Republican Club charged he stole money -- a charge that is now disproved by a university audit.

Just the same, Justin, you are too wrapped up in this, and you and the other plaintiffs would be well served -- provided you do not suffer any new invidious discrimination -- to take a break, begin the semester, have some fun and revisit this in a few weeks.

To Carter Boyle and Rachel Provost and your klan, you won in the judiciary last night, but let's make clear it was a Pyrrhic victory -- at devastating cost.

Hopefully your fellow patriots in the Republican Club will impeach you, though you have twisted the by-laws behind their backs to make this unlikely. The national college Republicans also should take a whack at you, for the party -- though not FC's favorite -- is far better than your example.

Even if your "leadership" of the Republicans continues, you and your ilk stand exposed. We got your number, we watch your game, and you will not get away with it again.

Your ill will is confirmed to embrace not only gay people like Robinette, but blacks and Jews as well. People you know, people you don't know. Fags. S-on-D's (no I won't tell you, ask around). A version of the N-word. And every Jew called a pig.

Fact Checker has no doubt the list is longer, as every e-mail you wrote giving succor to each other's hate has not surfaced and every time you chortled at someone else's expense has not been recorded. As a new semester begins, when you walk down the quad, look at the passing faces of diverse Dukies and be haunted by those you have offended so deeply and what they must think of you.

✔Thank you for reading FC.
Email Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com

Administrators trip over each other in telling us about Potti

Search words: Duke University, Anil Potti

✔Fact Checker here.

The Chronicle reported this morning on Duke's finding lies on Potti's resume. The following is written in response.

Let's start by comparing President Brodhead's statement to the Herald-Sun editorial board ten days ago on Duke's hiring process with the statement furnished by Mr Schoenfeld, quoted in today's Chronicle.

Brodhead: "The university will in general continue to accept credentials on their face as presented by the people who present them... We're not going to start running background checks and police checks on everybody... You can't reasonably do that, nor is there a need to."

Schoenfeld: “In terms of faculty, [hiring] is a very thorough and rigourous process and involves extensive checking of references, conversations with people who worked with faculty members and reviewing work they do.”

Do you believe Brodhead? Do you believe Schoenfeld? Or do you believe neither? Do these people think that we don't remember what they say one day to the next? Boy am I angry.

This is indicative of the way that the Brodhead administration is turning its handling of the Potti mess into a crisis of confidence, a crisis as big as the one involving Potti himself.

Now let's move on to the pledge that the investigation of Potti's resume would be done with "transparency." Pledge after pledge, "transparency." Here is what it yielded:

A) Dancing figures in charge of the investigation. The press release says the investigation was led by Lange from the start. From the start. That does not seem to be correct. Earlier Dr Cuffe, vice dean of the medical school was the point man. He burped a few words for the news media several times, no mention of Lange. There was a conflict of interest in Cuffe's doing this; not Dr. Cuffe's conflict, but Duke's. Rather than getting into intricate details on that now, Loyal Readers please wait for the comprehensive conflict of interest report that FC is preparing. Soon. Cuffe just disappeared off the radar.

B) Led by Lange, but whom was he leading? We have one or more anonymous administrators, and maybe other people, sitting in judgment. They won't tell us.

C) We do not know what rules they operated under. If there was a panel, was there a vote by majority, super majority or did it have to be unanimous. Did the panel make a decision, or did it make a recommendation? The investigation was led by Lange, but who made the decisions, as leading the probe does not necessarily mean making the decision. A Deputy Fact Checker asked all this and there were no answers.

D) We have a decision that unspecified parts of Potti's resumes are lies, and can't find out which parts. Transparency!! The press release used the words "issues of substantial concern." That means LIES.

E) Schoenfeld said Potti is receiving "corresponding sanction." In other words, they won't tell us what the penalty is either. We conclude Potti is still employed, since he is still on the payroll, raising the question of what in hell a Duke faculty member must do to get canned.

F) As for the press release itself. Using the oldest trick in the PR handbook, Schoenfeld waited until late Friday afternoon to issue it, at a time when he figured reporters and editors were in weekend mode and wouldn't ask any pesky questions. Mr. Schoenfeld, be advised you did not fool Fact Checker.

G) Anyone wanting to read the press release, please be advised that Duke did not put it on its home page. It did not put it on the home page of the PR department. There is a box on the PR home page that lists six of the most important recent news releases; it is not there either. There is very faint type that says "more releases" and if you click on that, and then scroll down, you will find an "update." Next time you see a jury verdict in a criminal trial in the newspaper, just regard it as an update. Mr. Schoenfeld, update is a rather obfuscating way of saying we caught the dude red-handed.


✔It is now appropriate to tell you more about Mr. Brodhead's interview with the Herald Sun. He cautioned against making judgments on Potti, saying some allegations will be true, some will be false, and then there will be "intermediate explanations."

You still have not seen those words in a Chronicle news story, only FC posts! Intermediate explanations, so much for the honor code!! I wonder if any of the decisions that Lange made in his report on Potti's credentials involved "intermediate explanations."

Now, Chronicle, you have to be very careful with the words "external" and "internal" investigations. Potti embraces four investigations

✔A) Last winter Duke held an in-house inquiry into Potti's science and cleared him. Below you will see that another inquiry into Potti's science is also referred to as an external investigation.

Loyal Readers know FC took the wraps off off last winter's report that Duke refused to release, naming names that Duke would not give us. Providing quotes. Remember these quotes, I shall return to them in a minute.

✔B) Duke began an "internal" investigation into Potti's credentials. That's what today's Chronicle report is about.

✔C) Duke is trying to land an august body with impeccable credentials for an "external" investigation into Potti's science. Trust me: if you think the resume was bad, the science is going to be worse. Worse. As a researcher at the renowned M D Anderson Cancer Center, U of Texas put it upon discovering that nothing added up, "there won't be a charitable explanation," meaning no accident, no error, just fraud.

The final external report will conflict directly with the quotes in A) above, and provide deep deep embarrassment to this university. Mark my words. Nothing like you have seen before. Pledging transparency, Chancellor Dzau says he won't tell us who may do this external investigation.

✔✔✔✔D) Schoenfeld's PR handout late Friday afternoon made reference for the first time to a "faculty misconduct" investigation, claiming Duke immediately began it. One problem: in outlining in a comprehensive way Duke's response to Potti in an e-mail to the medical faculty on August 26, one that was later made available to all Duke employees but no one else, Dzau did not refer to this at all. I can assure you of only one thing in the "faculty misconduct" investigation: it will be fully transparent.

✔As for the basic Chronicle report, two observations:

A) You could have mentioned in your list three different dates for Potti's medical degree in India. Some Loyal Readers have been questioning if his training is the equivalent of an MD as we know it in the US. The India medical school does not respond to FC.

B) You could have mentioned his applying to the U of North Dakota to be an intern and resident, but never mentioning he was then doing that precise work at a hospital in India.

✔Also with reference to the Chronicle, at least, welcome to the club of those of us who have been on this all along. Today's report merely scratches the surface, and Loyal Readers await far more.

One of the most urgent angles involves 109 cancer patients -- most with breast cancer, some with lung cancer. While Duke suspended NEW enrollments in Dr Potti's clinical trials... STOP RIGHT THERE. I will no longer refer to these things by the obfuscating words clinical trials. These are experiments with human beings!!!!

While Duke suspended NEW enrollments, 109 people who had previously been enrolled in Potti's human experiments were allowed to remain. These were 109 desperately ill people, coming to Duke for help, relying on its reputation, giving up other options to treat their cancer. They got Potti for their doctor and bunk for their medicine.

Has Duke even had the decency to keep them updated?

Chronicle please put this on the top of your agenda as lives hang in the balance.

If ANYONE has ANY CONFIDENCE whatsoever in Duke's many investigations of Potti, you can have my tickets in Cameron to the Carolina game!

✔Thanks for reading.
Email Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com


Duke Finds Fraud in Potti Resume, but Lets Him Keep His Job!! Honor Code be damned.

✔Fact Checker here.

Please read this in conjunction with the Chronicle article. Full text of Duke announcement below.

This is a very very weak response by the Brodhead Administration, which talks "transparency" out of one side of its mouth, and then refuses to detail what the investigation turned up out of the other.

Tell me Chancellor Dzau, Provost Lange: what did you mean when you promised "transparency" when you won't even tell us about the conclusion of an investigation, much less who sat in judgment. You guys give me real confidence!

Key point: The administration seems to be telling us that lying on your resume -- Potti presented one version to Duke when he was hired while seven different versions were to grant-makers like the federal government and American Cancer Society -- is not sufficient to get fired.

Even when you faked a Rhodes Scholarship, which incredibly the Chronicle story does not mention.

I reach the conclusion about fraud not sufficient to get Potti fired, since Duke says it must await outcome of other investigations before determining the penalty. In other words, we need more evidence to can this clown.

Mr. Brodhead, the word pusillanimous comes to mind.

Duke cleared up one fact: Potti does not enjoy tenure. Previously PR VP Schoenfeld had refused to confirm this.

And Duke added a new mystery: up until now we've been told there would be an "internal" investigation into Potti's credentials and an "external" investigation by an august body into his science. Two probes.

Now we are told two aspects of the investigation remain: the external investigation, plus a faculty misconduct investigation. Of course there is no explanation.

We are not told if any other Duke researchers are also under investigation.

✔Loyal Readers, let us remember this is not only about Potti. Duke cleared him, his mentor Dr. Joseph Nevins and another cancer researcher William Barry Ph.D. of ALL charges last winter. Imagine what will happen if -- correction -- Imagine what will happen when the independent science probe challenges Duke's earlier review.

Duke's administration serves only itself by not listing its own handling of the mess as a key issue. Come on Fact Checker, that would be too honest.

From the Cancer Letter: "When questions about Potti’s science emerged in scientific literature and in alarms sounded by internal critics, the Duke administration formed a protective barrier around the man they considered their star, forming committees that operated in secret, and then incorrectly portraying the findings of one of these committees as validation of Potti’s science."

Tonight's announcement shamefully does not mention the 107 to 109 cancer patients who are currently enrolled in Potti's human experiments. Most have breast cancer, some lung cancer. They gave up other therapies to join Potti's research -- trusting Duke's own endorsement of it. Has Duke even informed these people that they are being treated in a manner that no one outside this institution -- and many in it -- has any confidence in whatsoever?

Last point: I must wonder what role Mr Brodhead's new formulation of integrity played. Unreported by the Chronicle, our president told the Herald-Sun editorial board two weeks ago that we might find truth, we might find lies, and we might find "intermediate explanation" on Potti's resume. That's one hell of a message to send to the freshmen about our Honor Code, and I wonder if "intermediate explanation" is involved.

Duke played the oldest trick in the PR handbook, waiting until late Friday afternoon when everyone is in get-a-way mode, to make this announcement. But Mr. Schoenfeld, you did not fool Fact Checker!!

✔Thanks for reading FC.
Email Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com

Potti Mess: Official Duke Statement

Durham, NC -- When the Cancer Letter and other sources raised allegations of inaccuracies in Dr. Anil Potti's curriculum vitae and research, Duke University immediately took the following actions:

1. A complete review of the credentials and claims Dr. Potti made in his CV and biosketches, to be led by Provost Peter Lange.

2. A research misconduct inquiry to be conducted as specified by Duke policies and Federal law; and

3. Efforts to facilitate the initiation of an independent, external investigation of the science in question by one of the country's leading research bodies, to which Duke would supply any and all data and information, but would otherwise have no involvement.

The first part of the investigation - the review of credentials -- has now been completed. Issues of substantial concern were identified, and have resulted in corresponding sanctions.

However, a final decision about Dr. Potti's future status as a Duke employee and faculty member will also be informed by the results of the research misconduct inquiry and the independent external evaluation of the science. Until such time, he will remain on administrative leave from his research, teaching and clinical responsibilities.

Dzau Memo Details Ongoing Investigation

Part 3 - Inside the Duke Republican Club. The Chronicle discovers the story

✔ Fact Checker here. Moving away from my usual focus on our President, Trustees, administrators, governance, policies and procedures.

The thrust of this lawsuit is not a request to the student judiciary to revisit its decision from last spring.

That decision was unanimous on one point: Robinette did indeed suffer discrimination at the hands of his fellow Republicans after they found out he is gay.

That decision was 2-1 on another point: the Republicans did not act in concert under the banner of their campus club, and thus the club escaped responsibility and could retain student funding.

The new complaint builds, offering very substantial evidence of discrimination and harassment based upon sexual orientation AFTER the judicial decision.

It brings eight new plaintiffs to the table who have never been heard.

And it gives the justices new information that was unavailable before they voted.

Consider the allegations developed by the executive committee in a night-time meeting where they alone changed the bylaws to usurp all power from the general membership and then immediately ousted Robinette.

Robinette was charged with using club money for his own benefit. Or put more directly, stealing. With only 24 hours to prepare his judicial case as the semester ended, he could not offer what he now has in hand: an audit showing he performed his duties honestly. No money used nor missing.

The papers now before the judiciary -- the rather lengthy complaint that Fact Checker has gone thru word for word, and the sheaf of supporting e-mails and picture that FC has also studied -- establish that counts in the impeachment were pretextual as well. That is, an effort to hide true motive.

Loyal Readers, I hear you, you want another example.

There were allegations that Robinette failed to show leadership, to involve Duke with UNC. Perhaps the defendant who is the writer of at least two e-mails supporting his candidacy for state chair of college Republicans -- and who offered to put his name in nomination -- can explain how she changed her mind two weeks later and concluded he was a weak leader, just as the furor of Robinette's being gay reached a new crescendo within the GOP club.

It is unfortunate that the Chronicle did not quote at all from the supporting e-mails before the judiciary, and Fact Checker invites you to check out my blog if you have the stomach to start the day with vulgarity and hate.

Not only directed against gay people, the big tent of Duke Republicans brings together equal venom against blacks and Jews.


I could tell you some of the things in my blog, but the Chronicle for sure would take it down. It's nasty. Homophobic. Racist. Anti-Semitic.

And while Jews are slurred and a derivative of the N-word used, the depth of animosity and antagonism, its continuing nature in e-mail after e-mail, are most apparent in the focus on Robinette's sexual orientation.

Every Dukie should be alarmed.

FC posted on the blog without identifying any of the people who sent the e-mails.

Carter Boyle and Rachel Provost are mentioned today in the Chronicle; please check out their e-mails and conversations on my blog, vile. Small wonder that Boyle wants the complaint dismissed. Small wonder he told the Daily Tar Heel that Robinette's case is murky at best.

As for the e-mail that Boyle/Rachel gave the Chronicle today, quite honestly I see nothing objectionable. In fact if read in the context of Robinette's just having been ousted, and undoubtedly upset, it is inconsequential to this case.

The student judiciary is important. But so is action by administrators, who, FC is pleased to report, have apparently now shown their first interest in this matter. The University has a big stake,for its "zero tolerance policy" has been breached by discriminatory intent, harassment and hostile environment.

Thank you for reading Fact Checker.
Email Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com


Part two: Inside the Duke Republican Club

Search words: Duke University Republican

The lead story in The Daily Tar Heel right now is not from Carolina but from Duke -- the disgusting discrimination and hate recounted in a new complaint to the student judiciary with the cross-hairs on the leadership of the Duke Republican Club.

This is an on-line story, for the Tar Heel like the Chronicle has yet to resume its printed edition for the new semester. The decision of the Chronicle editors to ignore this controversy in their on-line edition is a journalistic lapse of the first order.

That lapse is compounded by the newspaper's year-old closing of its discussion boards to anything but responses to articles that its writers and editors choose. With no chance to raise the topic, Chronicle readers are experiencing an abrogation of the responsibility of the newspaper to foster dialogue and debate, to serve as a platform for "campus thought and action."

And so Fact Checker found in the Tar Heel quotes from one Carter Boyle, who has yet to respond to FC e-mails requesting confirmation and comment. Boyle became the coup d-etat chair of the Republican Club after the by-laws were altered by the executive committee with no notice to the membership, and Justin Robinette was bounced.

Boyle is confident the judiciary will not take up the case again.

Loyal Readers of Fact Checker, that is a fundamental mis-reading of the complaint: the new case does not rely alone on the judiciary's revisiting its decision last spring, a decision that was unanimous in finding discrimination against and harassment of Robinette because he is gay, but 2-1 in ruling that the discrimination and harassment were not institutional to the Republican Club. Thus the club charter -- and their ability to get student funds -- survived.

Rather, the new complaint focuses on invidious behavior by Boyle and other executive committee members since the judicial ruling. It incorporates earlier evidence from Dukies other than Robinette who were not parties to the first litigation, and evidence that was not possible to assemble for the judiciary in the 24 hours of preparation allowed.

As for Boyle, please read this comment:

“The best way to steer through the murky water is to keep focused on what our organization’s ideals are."

What channel is this dude watching?

FC did not attach Boyle's name to most of the e-mails quoted in our last post because we wanted to reach him first. But be perfectly clear: there is nothing at all murky about his homophobia. It's clear.

Mr. Boyle, if your hate of gays were not deep enough, coupled with your vulgarity, you and your executive board colleagues revealed themselves further in comments about blacks and Jews. Racism. Anti-Semitism. Yes, the Republicans have a big tent embracing everyone.

Every dimension is there for everyone to see.

Fact Checker can only hope that our administrators see it too, for this presents not only a "student issue" that students can resolve for themselves, but a situation that cuts to the heart of Duke's commitment to a "zero tolerance policy" on discriminatory intent, harassment and hostile environment.

Thank you for reading Fact Checker


Inside the Duke Republican Club: With malice toward all. Queers, N's and Jews alike

Fact Checker focuses on university governance, the President and Trustees and administrators, their action and inaction, processes and policies. And as our work on the Potti scandal shows, we're kept plenty busy.

But tonight, we have some acquired documents that are compelling -- documents the student judiciary will be considering on Saturday in a new appeal by nine students, including Justin Robinette, now a senior, the president of the campus Republican club who was ousted last spring.

Compelling. That's the wrong word. FC should say disgusting.

We first learned of the existence of these documents through an article in the student newspaper at UNC, The Daily Tar Heel; its message board went a big step further and carried an excerpt that shocked us. The editors have since taken that down, and that's one more reason you need Fact Checker. And yes, FC has blistered the Chronicle in private correspondence for not being atop this situation.

And so, Loyal Readers, FC shares with you elements from the complaint and supporting e-mails of the plaintiffs, a document filed with the judicial authorities, a document that you are entitled to know about. To be fair, and Fact Checker is fair, we have reached out to some of the defendants in the past few hours, and the first to reply vehemently denies some of the allegations arising from conversations. Conversations, not e-mail.

Robinette served two terms as club president and was just starting his third when he was impeached. He had also just been elected co-chair of the state-wide college Republicans. Over a long period, he had questioned his sexual orientation and gradually was coming out to friends.

He says that when leaders of the GOP realized he was gay, the executive board of the Duke club changed the by-laws at a special night-time meeting that its members called on their own, without informing the general membership, and acted against him motivated by homophobia.

Lest you think that a gay man hearing the following string of words or receiving repeated obnoxious e-mails from his political friends is what this is all about, please read on. For we have an equal opportunity bigotry, addressing blacks and Jews as well.

One Valentine's Day e-mail -- signed -- included a link to "butt sex," the subject line being "Shit on Dicks" which it turns out is also abbreviated by Republican young men and women who speak this way as "S-on-D."

Then there is another signed e-mail with the symbol 8---> <---8 which is crude, so there is no other way to describe it other than to say it derides two well hung males moving to have sex with each other. Club members signaled this to each other.

Here's how to use this in a sentence in a signed e-mail: "Pretty much anyone who could ever fathom dressing like that for Halloween is 8==> <==8"

"Faggot." "Flamboyant." "Fag." "Faggot Center" for the LGBT offices.

At a club meeting, the complaint says club leaders mimicked male masturbation with their hands, trying to humiliate Robinette.

One Republican leader wrote a signed e-mail to Robinette desribing how he masturbated with a plastic vagina called a Fleshlight, and told Robinette "try it to see ― what a vagina actually felt like." Fact Checker tried to reach the e-mail writer, but he apparently was busy last night.

In another e-mail: "If he doesn't respond shortly, it probably means that chode got this nice little nugget from (FC deleted a student name) and jumped on it (saying) Eureka! let's own those dirty warmongering Republicans! And then went to bed after sending you his steaming pile of twist-the-facts horseshit thinking he had just thrown a monkey-wrench into Duke CR's ( Duke College Republicans) plans. He'll wake up in the morning to a giant cock in his face saying, 'We're the College Republicans, bitch!'”

Discussing recruitment of more members for the Republican club, a club official wrote Robinette. Please be warned this e-mail contains a version of the N-word:

"I'd recommend finding a place to set up the [registration] table behind which I can park the Hummer, open all the doors, and blast rap music. The Hummer's sound projection is unbelievable. It should sufficiently summon the naggers, although I'm not sure how receptive they'll be to anything involving Republicans. Maybe you could make a big poster with attached pamphlets that reads, Can you spell Republican? If so, you might be one! Take a brochure.”

Try this explanation of a resolution the club had passed, contained in an e-mail discussing club business: "I'm not preaching that we bend over and spread our anuuses wide for this fucker. Rather, I urge caution about provoking this 3-incher into tying us up and then calling in a 7 foot, 300 pound black man named Tyrone to fuck us with his anaconda. The last thing any of us wants is some bullshit, legalese application of 'the rules' and College Republicans being hurt in a tangible way."

Oh yes, the President of the United States is repeatedly called "President Wheat and Rice."

And when a Congresswoman noted all the names of hurricanes sounded Caucasian: "She would prefer some names that reflect African-American culture such as Chamiqua, Tanisha, Woeisha, Shaqueal and Jamal.

"I can hear it now: a weatherman in New Orleans says 'Wazzup, mutha-fukkas! Hehr-i-cane Chamiqua be headin' fo' yo ass.... Bitch be a category fo'. So turn off dem chitlins, grab yo' chirren, leave yo crib, run fo the nearest FEMA office fo yo FREE shit!'"

And now Jews. The president of the college Democratic club is Ben Bergmann: "We should anonymously post an ad for Bally Total Fitness on one of his blogposts. How about great deals on Channukah presents."

Jewish students in general are called "pigs."

Despite the ugliness of the past few paragraphs, the worst was always reserved for gays:

A supporter of Robinette was warned -- blackmailed -- with the possible spread of information that "would be used against him by others." This presumably means the student would be identified as gay -- even if he were not. This student tried to commit suicide.

A female Republican is said to have approached Robinette during a Republican meeting on February 16, 2010 and said she believed Robinette had visible hickeys, asking derogatorily if they had been planted by men or women. This same female was asked to "stop referring to gay people by the name S-on-Ds," especially in the presence of Robinette.

Contacted by Fact Checker, the female said there was no Republican club meeting on that date; she did not say if she had made the hickey remark at any other time or used the term S-on-D, though she did allow that she does not hold "homosexuals" in disfavor.

The complaint alleges some Republican leaders were vandals, ripping down LGBT flags from students’ windows, threatening to burn LGBT flags, writing the N-word on school property, and throwing school property out windows. Countering, one defendant told FC that she saw Robinette rip off a gay flag.

Last spring the judiciary ruled that while Robinette indeed suffered discrimination at the hands of individuals, they did not act in concert under the umbrella of the Republican club, so that the club -- on trial to possibly lose its certification for Duke money -- was exonerated.

That may or may not hold up with new revelations, many of them occurring after a 2-1 verdict as the semester ended.

To FC, we may have a pattern of repeated invidious conduct that conflicts with Duke's "zero tolerance policy" on discriminatory intent, harassment and hostile environment.

Beyond the student judiciary, we therefore await the response of administrators.


Matory out as African American Studies chair

Fact Checker has just learned that Professor J. Lorand Matory is out as chair of African and African American Studies.

Matory's appointment, effective July, 2009, was hailed as a coup -- with the long-time Harvard professor coming to Duke after receiving promises of substantial support. It's believed the unannounced change was made at the end of May, immediately after Matory conducted the annual graduation for students in the department.

This timetable would mean Matory lasted less than a year. He apparently remains on the faculty as a full professor.

A Deputy Fact Checker has been assigned. There is a story here!!

Dean Angela Rand is listed in the department directory as "interim administrative contact." It's not known why the Brodhead Administration turned to her, rather than utilizing associate professor Wahneema Lubiano, who is director of undergraduate studies, or associate professor Michaeline Crichlow, who is director of graduate studies.

News the Chronicle did not print. I found it in UNC's Daily Tar Heel!!

I know nothing of this case, its merits, and so forth. But I should not have to read about it in the UNC newspaper!!!!!!! I note particularly one of the reader comments, which purports to give us an e-mail from a student. Scroll ALL THE WAY down to read this incredible document.

Former Duke CRs chairman files another suit

Fights student judiciary’s last ruling

Updated: 11:28 PM
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The story so far

March 16: Robinette re-elected as chairman of Duke College Republicans.
March 27: Robinette re-elected as chairman of N.C. Federation of College Republicans
April 14:* College Republicans’ executive board amends the impeachment process. Robinette impeached.
April 20: Duke’s student judiciary begins the trial – Robinette vs. Duke College Republicans.
April 20: Duke University administrators said an internal audit of the organization was conducted and no evidence of Robinette misusing funds was found.
April 21: Judiciary rules in favor of College Republicans, saying the organization did not discriminate against Robinette.
April 22: Duke Senate decided not to suspend or de-charter the College Republicans. It also asked all student organizations to draft non-discrimination policies.
End of May: anti-gay graffiti discovered on the East Campus Bridge at Duke University.
June: Bridget Gomez creates Facebook group – “Petition to Duke University to Take Action Against the DCR.”
June: Robinette and some of his supporters receive anonymous death threats.
August: Robinette and seven others file another lawsuit with the Duke student judiciary against the College Republicans.

Duke University’s College Republicans are determined to put last year’s discrimination allegations against the club behind them and start afresh.

But the former chairman of the organization, Justin Robinette, who said in April he was impeached by the club’s executive board for his sexual orientation, is planning to take further action against the club.

Members say he was impeached for poor leadership, fixing elections and neglecting to coordinate events with UNC’s chapter, among other reasons — all of which Robinette says are false.

“All that we’re really asking for is a declaratory judgement,” Robinette said. “The reasons that they gave were false, and something was taken from me that I worked hard for.”

Certain events during the summer, such as the discovery of anti-gay and anti-Robinette graffiti on Duke’s East Campus and anonymous death threats received by Robinette and his supporters, have prompted another complaint against the College Republicans, Robinette said.

He has joined with eight other plaintiffs to file another case in the student judiciary against the club. During the last trial in April, the judiciary did not find sufficient evidence to rule that the organization had discriminated against Robinette.

“I think we stand a much better shot,” said Cliff Satell, former member of the College Republicans and one of the plaintiffs. “We literally had less than 24 hours to prepare last time.”

The student judiciary will be reviewing the new case on Aug. 28 and deciding whether or not they want to take it up again, said Matt Straus, chief justice of the student judiciary.

College Republicans’ chairman Carter Boyle said that he does not think the judiciary will take up the case and that he does not consider his club to be in any trouble.

“The best way to steer through the murky water is to keep focused on what our organization’s ideals are,” Boyle said.

Robinette said he is also seeking to file a case against the College Republicans in civil court on charges of slander or civil conversion, which is wrongfully taking something away from a person.

“I’m considering all options and contemplating my next step,” Robinette said.

The American Civil Liberties Union is in the process of reviewing Robinette’s case to see whether or not the organization will be assisting him if he chooses to go ahead with the civil charges.

Despite the serious allegations against the College Republicans, Duke University administrators have attempted to stay out of the conflict.

They want the student judiciary to resolve the issue to maintain the self-governing tradition of the university, Robinette said.

But many believe that the university should be more involved.

Bridget Gomez, a junior at Duke, created a Facebook group — “Petition to Duke University to Take Action Against the DCR.” The group had 327 members yesterday.

The university’s Vice President for Student Affairs, Larry Moneta, declined to comment on Duke’s plans in dealing with the allegations.

“It’s a new year and I’m looking forward to new students and new opportunities. I don’t really have anything to add,” Moneta wrote in an e-mail.

Satell said the university is not getting involved because administrators are trying to minimize the negative publicity that Duke has received as a result of the recent events.

Duke University police are still investigating the vandalism on East Campus. They could not be reached for comment.

Robinette said he hopes his complaint against the College Republicans will set an example for future students who face discrimination.

“It’s not what happens to you,” he said. “It’s what you do about it. That’s what my thought process has been.”

Contact the State & National Editor at stntdesk@unc.edu.


I’m a student over here at the rival institution, the big old bad Duke. For the record, the court ruled last time that the club itself wasn’t responsible for the discrimination. This article is right. In fact, it said “the individuals did discriminate” but they couldn’t find compelling evidence that they did it in the club. But this article is also right in that the individuals on this club’s Executive Board, and only them, changed the impeachment process right before they impeached Mr. Robinette so that only they, and no one else, could vote on the impeachment. And then there were officers who resigned immediately after and testified that they were approached about Mr. Robinette being gay before the meeting.

The complaint, it’s about 60 pages (whew) was forwarded out to the Senate yesterday here at Duke, and let me tell you, some of these emails this poor kid reproduces from Mr. Boyle, they made my stomach turn. Truly disgusting what they did to him. There’s one, in fact, that is like: “we have personal information we’re going to release on you and use against you,” signed by these people!!! Unbelievable, what century is this, Repugs?

Hold your head up, kid, you have a lot to be proud about for who you are and for the people you’re standing up for. You’ll be a better person as a result, you should remember that too. You didn’t start this fight, it was brought to you, and you’re not just drawing blood, you’re bringing justice, remember that. Hold it high, young man!

1:09 AM August 24, 2010, by Mary R.
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The case really is truly disgusting. This guy Carter sent one email, I’ll reproduce it here:

“I’m not preaching that we bend over and spread our anuuses wide for this fucker. Rather, I urge caution about provoking this 3-incher into tying us up and then calling in a 7 foot, 300 pound black man named Tyrone to fuck us with his anaconda. The last thing any of us wants is some bullshit, legalese application of “the rules” and College Republicans being hurt in a tangible way [emphasis added]. That being said, given Cliff’s role on the “former” board…I don’t think we could find a better choice for someone to attack [DSG Vice-President of Student Affairs Spencer Eldred] relentlessly and if it goes sour, just distance ourselves from Cliff and say he doesn’t represent the views of Duke College Republicans…Just think how pathetic it is that he is stroking it to the fact that he thinks he can own us with the DSG Constitution. We can get him back with the revised resolution”

I can’t believe, one, they would do this and think they can get away with it, and then two, Really???? You would put this in writing to each other? Where’s the political sense, fellas?

1:16 AM August 24, 2010, by trivialpursuit11
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can someone like scribd the case so we can see it? I’d like to read it

1:19 AM August 24, 2010, by Can someone?
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Hmm. Isn’t it relatively a big deal that they said he misused funds, but then there was no wrongdoing. He’s right, that’s like a dern good slander case.

1:25 AM August 24, 2010, by FactChecker
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1:34 AM August 24, 2010, by Here is the lawsuit, which they called a "cause of action:" http://www.mediafire.com/?i9us0nfyvrc1oer
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Here is the lawsuit, which they called a “cause of action:” http://www.mediafire.com/?i9us0nfyvrc1oer

1:35 AM August 24, 2010, by Here is the lawsuit online
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Wow, really Duke? How did they nit deal with this?? I’ve never heard a more straight forward harassment case. These death threats are absolutely ridic… Duke better do something this time, whether it’s this student court or the admin grows a pair and takes a stand. I won’t hold my breath, I’m sure duke will yet again pass up this golden opportunity to do the right thing.

1:49 AM August 24, 2010, by WilyCoyote
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Welcome Freshmen, particularly those assigned to a dorm that honors a racist

✔Welcome to Duke. Your dorm is Aycock, the first on the right.

"....protect the white race, especially the
white women, against the Negro.”

Charles Brantley Aycock
Honored with a Duke dorm

✔Hello FELLOW DUKIES!!!! Fact Checker here.

Dean Christoph Guttentag has the worst job on this campus. Every year he has to say "no" to thousands and thousands of the best and brightest kids.

Two years ago the daughter of an alum whom FC knows tried to gain admission. She -- like almost 800 other high school valedictorians -- was turned down.

She was also among the 42 percent of applicants with math and verbal SAT scores of more than 1,550 who was rejected. Even with her mother's legacy. So she went to Princeton.

You, my new Fellow Dukies, survived and made it here!!

Dean Guttentag also has the best job on campus which he does extraordinarily well, assembling 1700 awesome, diverse candidates each year and bringing them to the front door of the Chapel for Convocation. A few more this year.

✔Welcome! Fact Checker joins in the chorus, welcoming you to Duke and wishing you Godspeed.

What? You don't know about Fact Checker? Well we are a small group of stakeholders in love with Duke. We realize that reasonable people of good faith can disagree, and we just happen to disagree with much of what the current administration does.

Our essays are more than our opinions, however. We hope to inform, engender and enable your participation in the governance of Duke.

In that respect, we have the same goal as President Brodhead, who often declares at Convocation that "I want Duke to be your school: not just the school you attended but the one you helped create." Dean Baker, in today's Chronicle, echoed this.

✔Never one to dally, FC launches the irreverence for the Class of 2014 with a look at a couple of the people generations ago who did just that, helped build the future.

✔First, Angier Buchanan Duke. His name rides on some of our most valuable scholarships, but don't get carried away and think he's some sort of intellectual. He was the family playboy who never really took off his frat pin as he became an adult.

He married in his 30's, his wife in her teens. (The play and Disney film "The Happiest Millionaire" are based upon his courtship.) They had two children and a divorce, allowing Angie to return full-time to a life of cruising in his custom Rolls Royce Phantom and sailing on his own 86 foot yacht.

Mostly he was accident prone, impaling a woman with his car in the city of New York, shooting off one of his arms in a hunting accident in the woods.

One night in 1923 three women and two other men joined him for dinner at a seashore country club in Great Gatsby country. Impatient after bubbly to return to the yacht, which was too big to reach the dock, rather than wait for a launch they stole a dinghy which capsized in Long Island Sound. The five friends scampered to the main deck and had resumed the party when they discovered Angier was missing, just then floating by, his head split open in a collision with a piling.

✔Though you will live on East Campus, you undoubtedly will spend much time in Perkins Library, named for James Buchanan (nickname Buck) Duke's personal lawyer William R. Perkins. Not to be confused with Thomas L. Perkins, his son.

What an odd choice for namesake of a library. I mean, the guy could not write. Witness the document he prepared for Buck to sign to create this university, with its sentences of 230, 233, 240, 268 and 275 words. Sentences, not paragraphs.

There's more, the irony of a lawyer and Trustee who wanted to limit inquiry and stop the beat of our intellectual heart with his name on our library! When some students at the fledgling university tried to invite a harmless speaker to campus -- a third party Presidential candidate -- Perkins blew a gasket.

The target of his ire was Norman Thomas, pacifist, six time standard bearer for the Socialist Party of America.

Luckily we had a president stronger than the bombastic lawyer, and President William Preston Few wrote a letter to straighten him out.

✔Some of our buildings are named for Durham politicians, Carr and Southgate for example. It's hard to imagine that happening nowadays.

✔Which brings us nicely to Aycock Dorm, named in honor of Charles Brantley Aycock, 50th Governor of North Carolina from 1901-1905.

Cheered as the first education governor, the good he did was more than eclipsed by his racism. Violent rabid racism.

He was a terrorist.

On November 10, 1898, Aycock -- a great orator positioning himself for his run for Governor -- backed a mob of 2,000 who marched to city hall in Wilmington and staged a coup d'etat, the only one in American history.

The violent gun-firing mob forced the progressive city government to resign -- whites and blacks together -- and installed their own segregationists. They torched a black newspaper.

According to his biographer Oliver Orr, Jr., Aycock instructed the coup organizers “to wear red shirts or carry guns” and to remember that “they must do these things to protect the white race, especially the white women, against the Negro.”

By days end, Aycock proclaimed the city to be “the center of the white supremacy movement” in North Carolina. Once elected governor, Aycock diligently worked to protect and further entrench segregation in the state, setting the stage for a Dixie stain upon the Democratic Party.

November 10, 1898 in Wilmington: Scores of blacks were killed during the rampage, with some estimates going well over 100.

Late August, 2010: Duke University still honors the memory of Aycock with a dorm.

✔All this was brought to the attention of our campus last spring by two students who wrote a letter to the editor of the Chronicle. They learned of the horrendous crimes of Aycock by accident -- because the Democratic Party in North Carolina stripped his name from its annual fund-raising dinner in Asheville. So far as FC knows, the letter writers did not follow up. And shamefully neither did the Chronicle.

A Deputy Fact Checker was assigned. President Brodhead was sent repeated e-mails about his position on this matter. He never answered one. Not one.

There was no answer either from Duke's spokesman, Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public relations and obfuscation.

Class of 2014, particularly those moving into Aycock, make this your first contribution to this great university: get this dorm renamed. Promise each other to make this your first mission.

Duke is not unique in facing an issue like this. Two years ago Georgia Tech tore down its Pickrick Cafeteria. The school had acquired the eatery from Lester Maddox, "Mr. White Backlash," who in 1964 chased blacks trying to eat there with a revolver. His son wielded a pickax. Politically active, candidate for Governor, Maddox achieved iconic status in segregation's last stand.

The University of Texas at Austin held a campus dialogue -- and its president took the lead in having the Regents strip the name of William Stewart Simkins from a law school dorm this summer.

Simkins taught law at UT -- continuing as an active and open member of the KKK, promoting the organization in his classes and elsewhere on campus.

Gregory Vincent, vice president, UT: "...the name compromises public trust and the university's reputation... By his own admission, Simkins engaged in violent behavior against African Americans. These were actions taken outside of the law....

Continuing, a building "... named for a founder of the Florida KKK is inconsistent with the core values of this university."

University President William Powers: "An institution like ours is shaped by its history, but it need not be encumbered by it... While reflecting on the past and learning from it, it is important to focus on the future.

"The University of Texas at Austin is now among the most diverse institutions of higher education in the nation, and we will continue to invest in ensuring this is a place of opportunity for young people from all racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds."

Why did Texas act and our President doesn't even respond to e-mail? In Powers, the University of Texas has a leader. In Brodhead, Duke tolerates a mistake.

Thank you for reading Fact Checker. GO DUKE✔

Potti Mess: two researchers who blew the lid off add new perspective

The researchers whose intrepid pursuit of truth led them to stand up to Duke officials and question repeatedly the cancer "discoveries" of Dr. Emil Potti are giving their first interviews to the news media, and Fact Checker does not like at all what he is hearing.

(( See full interview in Oncology Times - http://journals.lww.com/oncology-times/blog/newestnews/pages/post.aspx?PostID=34 ))

The researchers are from the renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, Houston. They are Keith Baggerly, Ph.D., associate professor of bioinformatics and computational biology and his colleague, and Kevin R. Coombes, Ph.D., professor and deputy chair of the department.

-- The researchers suggest deep fraud in Potti’s breath-taking claim to discovery of unique information locked in DNA and RNA that would allow doctors to tailor their treatment for lung and breast cancer to the individual, selecting the proper chemotherapy drug and the precise dose.

The next paragraph is the FC understanding of this highly technical situation. The paragraph following is from Oncology Times.

Baggerly explained that Potti's research showed a gene -- ERCC1 -- responded to treatments in a pattern determined by DNA and RNA. However, the tool that Duke investigators said they used in their experiments -- their commercial micro array chip -- does not recognize the ERCC1 gene at all.

From Oncology Times: "Dr. Baggerly says that (Potti and crew claimed) their data showed that expression of a particular gene, ERCC1, correlated with response to some agents. However, the commercial microarray chip the Duke investigators said they used in their experiments does not have that gene."
Loyal Readers, how could Potti, Nevins and Barry possibly reach their conclusions? “I admit this is one for which I do not have a simple, charitable explanation,” said Baggerly sadly.

-- Time after time, Baggerly and Coombes say they were ignored by the administration at Duke. “We have been yelling about the science for three years…. So I find it ironic that (revelations about Potti’s fake Rhodes Scholarship) got things rolling,” said Baggerly. “But I am sufficiently opportunistic that if you give me a way to get attention paid to the science--or to get trials that I really disagree with suspended and have people look at them--I will take that opportunity.”

✔In a separate interview, Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer, American Cancer Society, which paid for some of the Duke "research" and may demand its money back, said Duke may have thirsted for the big bucks it stood to make on licensing Potti’s discoveries -- rather than checking them out.

Brawley said that the community of researchers trying to beat cancer used to be able to depend on a university to oversee its faculty. “But now, in the current age, when people are patenting research and every university has an office of intellectual property, the university, which is supposed to police and supervise the investigator and make sure they are doing things properly and with integrity, has a conflict of interest.”

More Brawley: With the big rush to claim intellectual property rights, “There can be a tendency to rush, and to get sloppy as one rushes to get a product or finding.... I really think our attempt to do this quickly and our attempt to do this with some secrecy, with proprietary nature to it--that is what is hurting us.”

Fact Checker conclusion: Duke's administration is reviewing the lies in Potti's resume, the Rhodes Scholarship and so forth. It claims to be making arrangements for a top-flight scientific body to come in and review all of the science of Potti and his co-scientists, an "unfettered" examination that can move in all directions. But these two steps are not enough.

✔✔It is clear that we have either malfeasance or nonfeasance at the highest levels of Duke. At their October 2-3 meeting, the Trustees must intervene, performing their highest function which is to protect the integrity of this institution. We need an outside probe of the administration, and yes, some hard decisions from the Trustees.

Fact Checker is working on the conflict of interest angle, but this is taking longer than anticipated. Check in a few more days.

Fact Checker would like anyone in a Potti trial -- or anyone who knows of someone -- to make immediate contact.

✔Thank you for reading and caring about Duke.
Archive: http://dukefactchecker.blogspot.com/


Text, Harvard dean's letter to faculty on verdict. Scroll down for story.

Dear faculty colleagues,

No dean wants to see a member of the faculty found responsible for scientific misconduct, for such misconduct strikes at the core of our academic values. Thus, it is with great sadness that I confirm that Professor Marc Hauser was found solely responsible, after a thorough investigation by a faculty investigating committee, for eight instances of scientific misconduct under FAS standards. The investigation was governed by our long-standing policies on professional conduct and shaped by the regulations of federal funding agencies. After careful review of the investigating committee’s confidential report and opportunities for Professor Hauser to respond, I accepted the committee’s findings and immediately moved to fulfill our obligations to the funding agencies and scientific community and to impose appropriate sanctions.

Harvard, like every major research institution, takes a finding of scientific misconduct extremely seriously and imposes consequential sanctions on individuals found to have committed scientific misconduct. Rigid adherence to the scientific method and scrupulous attention to the integrity of research results are values we expect in every one of our faculty, students, and staff.

In brief, when allegations of scientific misconduct arise, the FAS Standing Committee on Professional Conduct (CPC) is charged with beginning a process of inquiry into the allegations. The inquiry phase is followed by an investigation phase that is conducted by an impartial committee of qualified, tenured faculty (the investigating committee), provided that the dean, advised by the CPC, believes the allegations warrant further investigation. The work of the investigating committee as well as its final report are considered confidential to protect both the individuals who made the allegations and those who assisted in the investigation. Our investigative process will not succeed if individuals do not have complete confidence that their identities can be protected throughout the process and after the findings are reported to the appropriate agencies. Furthermore, when the allegations concern research involving federal funding, funding agency regulations govern our processes during the investigation and our obligations after our investigation is complete. (For example, federal regulations impose an ongoing obligation to protect the identities of those who provided assistance to the investigation.) When the investigation phase is complete, the investigating committee produces a confidential report describing their activity and their findings. The response of the accused to this report and the report itself are considered by the dean, who then decides whether to accept the findings, and in the case of a finding of misconduct, determine the sanctions that are appropriate. This entire and extensive process was followed in the current case.

Since some of the research in the current case was supported by federal funds, the investigating committee’s report and other supplemental material were submitted to the federal offices responsible for their own review, in accordance with federal regulations and FAS procedures. Our usual practice is not to publicly comment on such cases, one reason being to ensure the integrity of the government’s review processes.

A key obligation in a scientific misconduct case is to correct any affected publications, and our confidentiality policies do not conflict with this obligation. In this case, after accepting the findings of the committee, I immediately moved to have the record corrected for those papers that were called into question by the investigation. The committee’s report indicated that three publications needed to be corrected or retracted, and this is now a matter of public record. To date, the paper, “Rule learning by cotton-top tamarins,” Cognition 86, B15-B22 (2002) has been retracted because the data produced in the published experiments did not support the published findings; and a correction was published to the paper, “Rhesus monkeys correctly read the goal-relevant gestures of a human agent,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B 274, 1913-1918 (2007). The authors continue to work with the editors of the third publication, “The perception of rational, goal-directed action in nonhuman primates,” Science 317, 1402-1405 (2007). As we reported to one of these editors, the investigating committee found problems with respect to the three publications mentioned previously, and five other studies that either did not result in publications or where the problems were corrected prior to publication. While different issues were detected for the studies reviewed, overall, the experiments reported were designed and conducted, but there were problems involving data acquisition, data analysis, data retention, and the reporting of research methodologies and results.

Beyond these responsibilities to the funding agencies and the scientific community, Harvard considers confidential the specific sanctions applied to anyone found responsible for scientific misconduct. However, to enlighten those unfamiliar with the available sanctions, options in findings of scientific misconduct include involuntary leave, the imposition of additional oversight on a faculty member’s research lab, and appropriately severe restrictions on a faculty member’s ability to apply for research grants, to admit graduate students, and to supervise undergraduate research. To ensure compliance with the imposed sanctions, those within Harvard with oversight of the affected activities are informed of the sanctions that fall within their administrative responsibilities.

As should be clear from this letter, I have a deeply rooted faith in our process and the shared values upon which it is founded. Nonetheless, it is healthy to review periodically our long-standing practices. Consequently, I will form a faculty committee this fall to reaffirm or recommend changes to the communication and confidentiality practices associated with the conclusion of cases involving allegations of professional misconduct. To be clear, I will ask the committee to consider our policies covering all professional misconduct cases and not comment solely on the current scientific misconduct case.

In summary, Harvard has completed its investigation of the several allegations in the current case and does not anticipate making any additional findings, statements, or corrections to the scientific record with respect to those allegations. This does not mean, however, that others outside Harvard have completed their reviews. In particular, Harvard continues to cooperate with all federal inquiries into this matter by the PHS Office of Research Integrity, the NSF Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.

Respectfully yours,

Michael D. Smith

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Harvard convicts professor of scientific misconduct but does not fire him. Report kept confidential. Federal prosecutor investigating.

August 20, 2010 - NY Times
Harvard Finds Scientist Guilty of Misconduct

Loyal Readers, note that the following is not a Fact Checker story. It is from the NY Times.

Harvard University said Friday that it had found a prominent researcher, Marc Hauser, “solely responsible” for eight instances of scientific misconduct.

Hours later, Dr. Hauser, a rising star for his explorations into cognition and morality, made his first public statement since news of the inquiry emerged last week, telling The New York Times, “I acknowledge that I made some significant mistakes” and saying he was “deeply sorry for the problems this case had caused to my students, my colleagues and my university.”

Dr. Hauser is a leader in the field of animal and human cognition, and in 2006 wrote a well-received book, “Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong.” Harvard’s findings against him, if sustained, may cast a shadow over the broad field of scientific research that depended on the particular research technique often used in his experiments.

Harvard itself had faced growing criticism for not releasing more details of the inquiry since The Boston Globe reported on Aug. 10 that the university had found evidence of scientific misconduct in Dr. Hauser’s lab. On Friday, Michael D. Smith, dean of the Harvard faculty of arts and sciences, issued a letter to the faculty confirming the inquiry and saying the eight instances of scientific misconduct involved problems of “data acquisition, data analysis, data retention, and the reporting of research methodologies and results.” No further details were given.

The dean’s letter said that the United States attorney’s office for the District of Massachusetts had begun an inquiry and that Harvard was cooperating. Because some of the experiments involved federal money, inquiries are also being conducted by the Office of Research Integrity in the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Inspector General for the National Science Foundation.

A Harvard spokesman, Jeff Neal, said in an e-mail, “We were informed last week that the U.S. Attorney is looking into this issue.”

Citing those inquiries and Harvard’s rules, Dr. Smith said the report by the Standing Committee on Professional Conduct would remain confidential. (( These people need Fact Checker!!!! )) But he also promised to convene a faculty panel to review Harvard’s policies for investigating misconduct cases.

According to the letter, three of the misconduct problems occurred in published articles and the rest were found and corrected before publication.

The sanctions to be imposed on Dr. Hauser are confidential, but could include involuntary leave, extra oversight, and restrictions on the ability to apply for grants and supervise students, Dr. Smith said. (( WHAT A BUNCH OF DOORMATS. This clown should be FIRED ))

The university said in a statement last week that Dr. Hauser or a co-author had been directed to correct three published papers for which the original data could not be found. But in two of the challenged papers, Dr. Hauser redid the experiments and obtained the same results as published. In one of the journals, his information was titled an “addendum,” not a correction. The other journal, Science, has not yet decided how to handle the issue.

Dr. Hauser presumably tried to repeat the third experiment as well but if so, he apparently failed to do so. He wrote this month to the editor of Cognition, the journal in which it was published, saying he was retracting the paper, but gave no reason for doing so.

In his statement, Dr. Hauser, who is on a year-long leave, said: “I acknowledge that I made some significant mistakes and I am deeply disappointed that this has led to a retraction and two corrections. I also feel terrible about the concerns regarding the other five cases, which involved either unpublished work or studies in which the record was corrected before submission for publication.”

He said he hoped that the scientific community would wait for the federal investigative agencies to make their final conclusions. He added, “I have learned a great deal from this process and have made many changes in my own approach to research and in my lab’s research practices.”

There is a wide spectrum of scientific sins, ranging from wrist-slap offenses like bad data storage at one end, to data fabrication at the other. It is still not clear where on this spectrum Dr. Hauser’s errors may fall. He has admitted only to unspecified "mistakes," not to misconduct.

Many of his experiments involved inferring a monkey’s thoughts or expectations from its response to a sight or sound. But the technique required somewhat subjective assessments by the researcher as to whether the monkey stared longer than usual at a display or turned its head toward a loudspeaker broadcasting an unexpected sound.

At least some of Dr. Hauser’s students disagreed with his interpretation of one such experiment three years ago, and reported their reservations to the Harvard authorities in a letter that was obtained this week by The Chronicle of Higher Education. It was this letter that spurred a three-year investigation of Dr. Hauser’s work going back at least as far as 2002.

In view of Dr. Hauser’s prolific output, the finding of missing data in just three experiments, two of which he was able to repeat with the same results, is perhaps not greatly surprising. Scientists trying to assess Dr. Hauser’s work are likely to attach considerable weight to the exact nature of the problems Dr. Smith says were found by the faculty committee. But separately from the Harvard inquiry, Dr. Hauser already had several critics in the scientific community who felt some of his published results were incorrect or unconvincing.

For his part, Dr. Hauser said that after he finishes taking some time off, he looked forward to returning to work, “mindful of what I have learned in this case.” He said, “Research and teaching are my passion.”

The Potti Mess: Why the delay?

✔Fellow Dukies, FC here. Friday, August 20.

Three weeks ago today, the Chronicle posted a special summer-time story about two investigations into the life and work of cancer researcher Dr. Anil Potti.

We will dispose of the "science" probe first, even though the immediate reason for this post is the internal "credentials" investigation.

For the scientific investigation, Duke will line up outsiders of impeccable reputation (external is the word used) to re-do an in-house investigation that Duke had completed last winter clearing Potti. FC need not recount for Loyal Readers the storm that this decision caused.

We learned three weeks ago today that Chancellor Dzau was talking -- even before he wrote an e-mail to the medical school faculty -- with Dr. Harold Varmus, Nobel Prize winning director of the National Cancer Institute. Varmus in turn had us in touch with the National Academy of Sciences which seemed ready to undertake -- and finance -- the investigation. Not bad.

Since Dzau's e-mail, we have not heard a damn peep. This is unacceptable and inspires no confidence. With the university's crown jewel, its medicine, under siege, and its reputation being sullied world-wide, we all have a vested interest.

No one is asking for information about Potti. We are asking for information about what Duke is doing. I am sick and tired of the PR effort to obfuscate the two.

We understand the scientific investigation is going to take time, months, maybe a year. That does not excuse the failure to inform us of the reason for the delay.

✔Now, the internal probe. If you think Fact Checker is worked up about the external probe, watch me launch into the internal probe for faculty misconduct, that is, Potti's lying about his credentials.

Three weeks ago today, Dzau gave the Chronicle an interview. He said this probe was "close to being completed."

The review had been in the hands of Dr. Michael Cuffe, vice dean of the medical school, but for reasons unannounced, Provost Lange superceded him. On that day Lange told the Chronicle the investigation would be completed "promptly." Indeed, Cuffe had offered a timetable when he was in charge that meant a verdict no latter than July 30.

So what the hell is going on? In three weeks since Dzau's e-mail, we have only two official statements. One says Duke wanted to give Potti a chance to find a lawyer; surely that has been done.

The other was a request from President Brodhead who joined with editors of the Herald-Sun for a chat, a request that stakeholders not reach a conclusion because "every allegation is not a truth."

Brodhead went on to embarrass himself and this university: "We want, therefore, is for people to back off until they can learn whether the allegation was true or whether the allegation was false or if there is some intermediate explanation..."

With so much at risk, stakeholders in Duke deserve a leader who is going to make solid pronouncements defining honor. Not muddle this mess more by diluting the concept.

✔FC has made NO inquiry to Duke administrators about matters of substance involving Potti. FC has requested substantial information about the process involved in this review -- due process if you want a legal phrase.

This has nothing to do with the turmoil of the moment, and everything to do with fairness. One of the factors distinguishing the American system of government is our open knowledge of the judicial system, not being subjected to a kangaroo court or star chamber where we do not even know the rules.

OK Lange has the investigation. Will he make a decision, or will he make a recommendation to Brodhead?

Is Lange operating alone, or did he create a panel? Who is on the panel? If we cannot be told, why?

How will the panel operate? Is there a "prosecutor" who will go up against Potti's lawyer?

Will the panel make decisions by a unanimous vote, by a super majority, or by a simple majority?

What misconduct is needed for Duke to fire a faculty member? Is one gross instance -- like a bald flat out lie about a Rhodes Scholarship -- enough? Or must there be a pattern of misconduct, which, as Loyal Readers know, FC has outlined in great detail.

A Deputy Fact Checker did ask two questions relevant to Potti: Does he have tenure? And is his suspension from his post as a medical school associate professor, or a cancer center researcher, or both?

The Deputy also asked what it means when a faculty member is placed on "administrative leave" with full pay, in as much as we have unconfirmed reports of Potti in his office and lab. Again, a policy question very much in the public interest, not a Potti question.

As FC has noted, Michael Schoenfeld, VP for public relations and obfuscation, has not even acknowledged any of these requests. You can bet your seats in Cameron to the Carolina game that the flack would have answered immediately if we were cheering Brodhead's leadership.

✔Mr. Brodhead, your penchant for secrecy..... wrong word.... Mr. Brodhead, your insistence on secrecy in everything surrounding the Allen Fortress is costing you whatever support you have left on this campus. To borrow some words from history, and not to be cute about it by repeating the name of the disease, a cancer grows on your presidency.

✔None of this touches the factor that bothers me most: 107 or 109 patients whose treatment for lung and breast cancer was determined by the "science" of Potti and his crew. These people gave up other therapies to participate in his human experiments, and a Who's Who of genome researchers world-wide says they are in substantial danger.

I gather Chancellor Dzau does not share that evaluation. But we need more re-assurance than what FC can "gather" on such a crucial issue. Has each of these people been contacted? Tell us what Duke told them? Is there a letter? Let's see it.

Or are the lawyers muzzling you -- knowing that this is going to cause a cauldron of malpractice lawsuits not only from the 107, but from more than 1500 who underwent painful and risky procedures to donate tissue for Potti to check their DNA and RNA.

It has never meant more to be a stakeholder in Duke, for this institution is at a moment of great challenge that requires our vigilance to protect our great school's integrity. Stakeholders, from the newest freshman to the oldest alum, from someone laboring earnestly and loyally at the bottom of the pay scale to the retired professor who held an endowed chair, have a great responsibility. This is not a matter for the current batch of administrators alone, as they themselves have shown.

✔FC will post the promised essay next time: Comparing the Potti Mess and the investigation into Hellenga's Hell. The two-faced standard the Brodhead Administration is using for conflict of interests.

Thank you for reading and supporting FC.

Email: Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com
Blog: http://dukefactchecker.blogspot.com/