Saturday, February 26, 2011

End the Tsunami of Executions in Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran is the execution capital of the world. Already in 2011, it has executed at least 86 people after unfair trials and forced confessions under torture - three times last year's rate. It is the worst rise in executions since the regime's massacre of political prisoners in the summer of 1988.
 
There has been one execution every 8 hours and at least 8 of those executed have been political prisoners. Some of those killed by the state include: Zahra Bahrami, 45 year old Dutch/Iranian national who was arrested during protests last year, Ali Ghorabat for apostasy and Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaie for enmity against god. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani still faces execution.
 
We, the undersigned, demand an immediate end to this state-sponsored murder that aims to intimidate the protest movement in Iran and call on the United Nations and governments to exert pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran for an immediate and unconditional halt to executions. A regime that slaughters its citizens must face diplomatic isolation.
 
Signed by: Shahla Abghari, University Professor, Human Rights and Women Rights Activist, USA; Nazanin Afshin-Jam, President & Co Founder of Stop Child Executions, Canada; Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson, International Committee against Stoning & Execution, Germany; Sayeed Ahmad, Coordinator, Ain o Salish Kendra, Bangladesh; Association Fenomena Kraljevo, Serbia; Russell Blackford, Writer and Philosopher, Australia; Caroline Brancher, UFAL, France; Helle Merete Brix, Journalist, Denmark; Roy W Brown, International Representative, International Humanist and Ethical Union; Richard Dawkins, Scientist, UK; Patty Debonitas, Spokesperson, Iran Solidarity, UK; Sanal Edamaruku, President, Rationalist International, India; Sonja Eggerickx, President, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Belgium; Caroline Fourest, Writer and Columnist, France; A. C. Grayling, Writer and Philosopher, UK; Rahila Gupta, Activist and Writer, UK; Maria Hagberg, Chairperson, Network Against Honour-Related Violence, Sweden; Trefor Jenkins, Professor Emeritus / Honorary Professorial Research Fellow, South Africa; Hope Knutsson, President, Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association, Iceland; Nevena Kostic, Women for Peace, Serbia; Hartmut Krauss, Social Scientist, Germany; Harold Kroto, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, USA; Terry Liddle, Freethought History Research Group, UK; Anne-Marie Lizin, Honorary Speaker of the Belgian Senate, Belgium; Marieme Helie Lucas, Founder, Secularism Is A Women's Issue, France; Ed McArthur, Freethought History Research Group, UK; Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, One Law For All Campaign, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, UK; Salman Rushdie, Writer, USA; Daniel Salvatore Schiffer, Philosopher and Writer, Belgium; Terry Sanderson, President, National Secular Society, London, UK; Michael Schmidt-Salomon, Spokesperson of the Giordano Bruno Foundation, Germany; Udo Schuklenk, Professor of Philosophy and Ontario Research Chair in Bioethics, Canada; Siba Shakib, Filmmaker and Writer, USA; Joan Smith, Writer and Activist, London, UK; Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director, American Humanist Association, USA; Annie Sugier, President, Ligue du Droit International des Femmes, France; Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Campaigner, UK; Giti Thadani, Writer and Filmmaker, India; Michele Vianes, President, Regards de Femmes, France; Eli Vieira, President, Secular Humanist League of Brazil, Brazil; and Women in Black, Belgrade, Serbia.
 
2. Join us at a the International Conference on Women’s Rights, Sharia Law and Secularism, which will be held at the University of London Union, The Venue, Malet Street, London WC1E, on 12 March from 1000-1900 (Registration begins at 10am for a 1030am start). For information and to register go to: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/12-march-2010-international-conference-on-women%e2%80%99s-rights-sharia-law-and-secularism-london/
 
3. Please support our work! We welcome in kind and financial donations. You can donate at
 
4. Get in touch and join us! Contact Patty Debonitas, iransolidaritynow@gmail.com, Tel: +44 (0) 7507978745
Or visit http://iransolidarity.org.uk where you will also find contact details of our international branches. Patty Debonitas has taken over the role of Spokesperson from founder and previous Spokesperson Maryam Namazie.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

HIV/AIDS in Jamaica


One is tempted to feel sorry for Jamaica’s Health Minister, the Honourable Rudyard Spencer. There he is, trying his best to do his job, and, among other urgent health matters, reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS in his nation. Unfortunately, on his own account, this is proving to be next to impossible lest Jamaicans change their cultural attitudes to – you guessed it – sex. The Jamaican Ministry of Health website quotes him with these eminently sensible concerns about specific attitudes: ‘These include a widely held belief that sex with a virgin can cure HIV/AIDS, the high level of sexual relations between older men and young girls and a persistently hostile anti-gay environment which all contribute to the stigmatization and discrimination of infected and affected persons. A strong religious culture also inhibits open discussion on matters of sexuality.  … We to [sic!] need begin the process of unlearning those beliefs that endanger the health lives of others and rethinking the tendency to be obscene and degrading in rejecting values that conflict with our own.”[1]

A bit of background on HIV/AIDS in Jamaica:  2008 study commissioned by the Ministry of Health concluded that about 31.8% of men who have sex with other men (MSM) are HIV infected in the island state.[2] There is a strong correlation between men being HIV infected and them belonging to lower socioeconomic groups, and them having been victims of antigay violence. Thankfully the number of AIDS deaths per year is decreasing because the country has begun the rollout of antiretroviral medicines.

The Jamaican Health Minister and others tasked with improving public health have their work cut out for them. The country has the second-highest HIV-prevalence rate among MSM in the world, right after another notorious violator of the human rights of gay people, Kenya. Homosexual men in Jamaica rarely ever live in monogamous relationships because of the security risks involved in living with a member of the same sex over longer periods in the same household. This is partly a result of colonial legislation prohibiting same sexual activities among men. I decided to actually read-up on the relevant legislation. The flowery prose under the heading ‘Unnatural Offences’ is sufficiently antiquated that I should like to share it with you:

76. Whosoever shall be convicted of the abominable crime of buggery, committed either with mankind or with any animal, shall be liable to be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for a term not exceeding ten years.
77. Whosoever shall attempt to commit the said abominable crime, or shall be guilty of any assault with intent to commit the same, or of any indecent assault upon any male person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof, shall be liable to be imprisoned for a term not exceeding seven years, with or without hard labour.

Up to 10 years of labour camp for a mature-age man who has voluntarily sex with another consenting adult male is a fairly draconian penalty for a self-regarding act. One justification for this law is hidden under that well-known Christian natural law moniker of ‘unnatural’. Unfortunately, for Jamaican law makers, there is no such a thing as unnatural conduct. If something is physically possible it is very much within the laws of nature, and therefore by necessity it is natural. Normatively nothing follows from this. The phraseology of the ‘unnatural’ explains and justifies nothing. Many natural things are not desirable, natural conduct can be unethical, even criminal. However, as is well known to legal philosophers, not all unethical behaviours ought to be illegal.[3] Declaring homosexual conduct unnatural, as this law does, is arguably unintelligible and it begs the question of why the law exists to begin with.

The Jamaican law is not making a case for why sexual conduct between consenting adults is unethical, and if it is unethical, why it should be legislated against. For good measure ‘abominable’ has been added to this ‘crime’. This does not add anything either by way of justification. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary enlightens us that the 14th century originated word ‘abominable’ means that something is variously disagreeable or unpleasant or worthy of causing disgust or hatred. Finding something disagreeable or unpleasant is not a good reason to make it illegal, and frankly, whether I am disgusted by something you do is not a good yard stick either by which to determine whether an act ought to be criminal. Well, and what about that hatred criterion? No doubt plenty of Jamaicans hate gay people, but how does that provide a justification in terms of outlawing same sex sexual conduct among consenting adults? One does not have to be an old-fashioned liberal in the tradition of John Stuart Mill to realize that the criminal law has no right to interfere with the self-regarding actions of consenting adults.

Jamaica today finds itself in a difficult situation. Sectarian religious mores has been enshrined in law by its former colonial master, and has since been duly maintained as the gospel by generations of Jamaican politicians. Indeed, to give Jamaican legislators credit where credit is due, they have managed to uphold unreasonable religious dictates decades after the British have discarded them. There is little by way of actual enforcement in current-day, but as is well-known, legal norms are capable of creating as well as reinforcing extra-legal norms.

The official Jamaican government report on HIV/AIDS to the United Nations General Assembly (2010) acknowledges the problems this legislation is causing: ‘The political framework towards HIV has not changed. With outdated laws that present obstacles for adolescents, SW, MSM and prison inmates, prevention and treatment efforts to these populations are not able to be fully maximized. The existing political framework has also been implicated in contributing to the stigma and discrimination faced by MSM. Several efforts have been made in this area however, through the review of laws that stand as obstacles to prevention, but to date no major achievements are noted in this aspect of political support.’[4]

The US based human rights organization Human Rights Watchhas published a report a few years ago highlighting the pervasive nature of oftentimes violent homophobia in Jamaica.[5] The price MSM are paying in Jamaica for this situation is very significant indeed, as can be demonstrated by the extraordinarily high prevalence of HIV/AIDS among this group of Jamaicans. Research has shown that gay Jamaicans are reluctant to present with health problems that could disclose their sexual orientation to health care providers out of fear for reprisals by health care professionals and others. It goes without saying that such health care professionals acting in such a manner would be violating international codes of health care professional conduct such as the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Geneva, requiring, as it does, that doctors ‘WILL NOT PERMIT [sic!] considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient.’[6] However, many Jamaican MSM patients reluctance to consult health care professionals is indicative of the climate in the country. It might be coincidental, but I do wonder why the Medical Association of Jamaica, unlike so many other national medical association, is seemingly not a member association of the World Medical Association.

Enlightened politicians such as Jamaica’s Health Minister, the Honourable Rudyard Spencer and his staff find themselves in an unenviable situation. They are representing or working for a government that continues to support legislation that contributes significantly to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS among MSM. Unlike in South Africa where church leaders have come together to support efforts aimed at reducing the incidence of HIV/AIDS, in Jamaica church leaders are busy trying to preserve the homophobic climate and legislative framework that assisted in giving rise to the public health problems the country faces today.[7]

It will be interesting to monitor how the situation will evolve in Jamaica. Many ethical questions arise not only with regard to the country’s unjust discrimination against its gay citizens, but also from a public health ethics perspective. The ethical challenge for Jamaica is far from unique, and it is this: is it ethical to uphold particular cultural values regardless of the human cost involved? 

Udo Schuklenk




[1] Ministry of Health Jamaica. (2010) Culture Shift Needed to Help in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS. http://www.moh.gov.jm/general/latestnews/1-latest-news/346-culture-shift-needed-to-help-in-the-fight-against-hivaids- [Accessed 13 February 2011]
[2] Kaiser Health News. (2009) Continued Discrimination Against Jamaican HIV-Positive MSM Hinders Their Efforts To Seek Health Care, Advocates Say  http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/daily-reports/2009/march/12/dr00057435.aspx?referrer=search [Accessed 13 February 2011]
[3] Joel Feinberg. (1988) The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law (Vol. 4): Harmless Wrongdoing. Clarendon Press: Oxford.
[4] Ministry of Health. (2010) UNGASS Country Progress Report 2010 Reporting: Jamaica National HIV/STI Program. Jamaica, March 31, 2010: p. 32.
[5] Human Rights Watch. (2004) Hated to Death. Human Rights Watch 16(6B): 1-79.
[6] World Medical Association. (2006) Declaration of Geneva. WMA: Geneva. http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/g1/index.html [Accessed 13 February 2011]
[7] Thaddeus M. Baklinski. (2008) Jamaican Church Leaders Say Homosexuality Will Not Be Accepted As Normal. http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2008/feb/08021804 [Accessed 13 February 2011]

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Is it OK to call someone else 'nuts'?

I have called folks 'nuts' on numerous occasions. I have called other people other somewhat offensive things, too. I don't think name-calling is necessarily a terrible thing, particularly when you're campaigning or agitating for some view or other. It's just part and parcel of political fights where people are more robust in their rhetoric than they would be if they talked to their loved ones. All you indicate is the strength of your deep felt disagreement with someone who you think doesn't deserve much respect with regard to certain views they old.

Usually when I use such terminology I mean to indicate just that strength of my disagreement with the person I refer to as 'nuts'. I only deploy it in cases where the person I call 'nuts' says something particularly implausible, irrational, unreasonable, name it. I'm sure you have heard other people calling someone 'nuts' or 'crazy' with similar intentions.

Who is it that I do not have in mind, when  I refer to someone else as 'nuts'? I  do not even think of someone with a mental disability. I would never refer to a person with a mental illness as 'nuts'. That would be quite pointlessly offensive and uncalled for.

A couple of weeks ago, in passing, I referred on this blog to a religious fundamentalist as 'nuts' (hint: he would object to that description :) who criticized me harshly in a newspaper article and blog entry, calling me - ironically - 'unhinged'. He made demonstrably false claims about the impact Catholic doctrine has on the clinical care patients can reasonably expect in some Catholic hospitals. I meant to offend this guy. He made obviously false factual statements and I called him on that. I was pretty angry about the audacity this guy displayed when he made these false claims and I wanted to ensure that my readers really understand the depth of my anger. So I called him 'nuts'.

Obviously, I did not call him 'nuts' in the sense that I meant to suggest that he is suffering from a mental illness that rendered him incompetent. Far from it, I very much meant to hold him responsible for the false claims he made, and I had no intention of 'letting him get away' under the pretext that he was not mentally competent anyway. So, calling him 'nuts' simply meant to suggest that his views were unreasonable, irrational, demonstrably false, name it. I can't imagine that any of my readers would have thought that I meant to suggest that the guy I criticized had a mental illness.

And yet, the blog entry caught the attention of a number of people in the US who are involved with groups looking after the legitimate interests of people suffering from mental illnesses. One of them attacked me on this blog pretty vigorously, stressing that my wording is offensive to mentally ill people, because 'nuts' is a term that is used in a derogatory manner by other folks referring to mentally ill people. The writer even suggested that stuff like my blog entry could lead to lynch mobs and other such nasty things. His comments were clearly way over the top, but the fundamental point he made, namely that I had made an error in judgment when I picked a term that is used by some people to offensively refer to  mentally ill people, seemed pretty sound to me. I immediately apologized on my blog. It's all nice and well that I did not intend to offend mentally ill people, and that I didn't not even have mentally ill people in mind when I picked the term I chose to offend the religious fundamentalist, but at the end of the day we should take into considerations - as much as is feasible - what the unintended consequences of our rhetoric might be.

Lesson learned, make sure that if you wish to offend 'A', you offend 'A' and only 'A' (or someone who is with regard to a relevant feature like 'A'), and not a whole bunch of other people.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Follow-up to 50 Voices of Disbelief in the Making

Russell Blackford and I published in late 2009 the anthology '50 Voices of Disbelief - Why We are Atheists'. The book has been pretty successful by academic standards. A Polish translation is forthcoming in a few weeks time. The publisher of the book is Wiley-Blackwell, one of the largest academic publishing houses in North America. Wiley-Blackwell is producing a series of popular volumes looking at for instance debunking myths about popular psychology. Russell and I have been asked to produce a volume looking at investigating 50 popular myths about atheism for this series. This certainly is an exciting project, both because of the popular reach of these volumes, but also because both of us thoroughly enjoyed putting together '50 Voices of Disbelief' at the time. Of course, the challenge this time is somewhat different in that we are not tasked with finding and herding together a diverse group of more than 50 contributors, instead this time around we will be writing the book ourselves.

Here then an appeal to anyone who has come across what they believe are particularly powerful myths about atheism that people fall for, do drop us a line so that we can consider including them in our line-up.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Farewell Nokia

Wow, now that's a nasty surprise that Nokia sprang on me. Just last week I decided that I'd replace my 3 year old Blackberry with a Nokia phone. I badly wanted a functional phone based on good quality hardware. My Blackberry (I had it on a rip-off contract with Bell Canada, but that's another story) has been a complete and utter disaster as far as the hardware is concerned. It effectively stopped working reliably about 8 weeks after I received it. Courtesy of Bell's 'warranty' mechanism ('Bell Canada warranty' is a contradiction in terms) I ended up receiving recycled and likely older phones than my new phone back from their 'repair' people. Goes without saying that my Blackberry essentially never worked properly. You try explaining that to Bell call centre person who barely speaks or understands English... - Anyway, I digress, so while I love the Blackberry keyboard, I would never again get another Blackberry, simply because I know now that these phones are manufactured so badly. IPhone is a no-brainer, their reception sucks and that's all that I need to know.

Well, once upon a time I was young, and in those long bygone times Nokia phones were pretty much the best. Turns out that the latest reviews suggest the same of their latest smartphone. Problem is that there's not gazillions of 'apps'. Truth be told, I don't need apps permitting me to switch my TV on from my mobile phone or to flush me toilet while I'm in the car, using said mobile phone. I need my mobile essentially for three purposes: phone calls, email and internet browsing. Nokia's phone does all that well, and it has better hardware than any other available smartphone (eg it boasts a 12MP camera). So, there I was bent on buying this phone - much to the amusement of blackberry/iphone using folks around me.

Too bad that's all history. Nokia's CEO has decided to tie Nokia's superb hardware to truly crappy software, namely Microsoft's. No wonder, given that said CEO is a former Microsoft executive. A German newsmagazine rightly suggested that these two turkeys won't make an eagle.

Any suggestions re a good smartphone that ain't Blackberry, Nokia or Apple and that does the three things that I'm keen on, do let me know!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pride

I remain puzzled about people taking 'pride in being xyz', or about people saying, 'proud to be xyz'. Some of these pride taking activities are obviously not unreasonable and they are indeed understandable. These types of activities pertain to be people taking pride in things that they can take credit for. Say Usain Bolt has reason to be proud of his world record demonstrating that he currently runs faster in circles than other people who also would like to run faster in circle than anyone else in the world. Bolt can't reasonably take credit for bodily features that permit him to compete, provided he trains properly. He can take pride in training very hard and disciplined in order to do the circle run faster than anyone else in the world. So, my view is that pride taking requires some conscious deliberate activity on our part aimed at achieving a certain thing that we would like to achieve. When we have achieved this thing, we take pride in that achievement.

So, here's my puzzlement then. Lots of people take pride in things that they couldn't help one way or another. People take pride in being of one skin color or another, they take pride in being gay, disabled, tall, short etc etc. None of these things, surely, lend themselves to pride taking activities. After all, if you're black you are black you are black, and nothing (save some idiotic skin bleaching exercises) is going to change that. If you're tall, you're tall, you're tall, and nothing  (save some idiotic leg cutting exercises) is going to change this. Same for sexual orientation. Given that most, if not all, people do not make a considered choice to be asexual, heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual or whatever sexual, how can any of us sensibly take pride in being of a particular sexual orientation? At best we can take pride in making a considered choice to be good about who we are as opposed to being in denial.

One of my facebook friends said that she is proud of the Egyptian revolutionaries that are bent on kicking their dictator out. Now, how can she be proud of something that she had no hand in? Makes little sense, or does it? Have the people in Egypt who took risks during this revolution have every reason to take pride in their bravery. Arguably they have a case to be proud. Has someone who cheered them on from a comfy living room in Canada (supporting them on facebook or tweeting busily revolutionary slogans) reason to take pride in anything that has been achieved in Egypt? Surely not.

Over to you, would we not be better off if people stopped taking pride in things that they can't reasonably take credit for? Perhaps I have missed something in the concept of pride, so do not hesitate to comment and get back at me if you think so.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Malawi? Really?!

Something fishy is likely going on in Malawi, and I don't know what it is. You know that government or politicians generally have something to hide when they are desperate to draw our attention to irrelevant issues. Malawi lawmakers are quite busy by way of engaging in a remarkable set of skirmishing activities. So, they're busy currently drafting legislation making lesbian sex among consenting adult women illegal. They are also discussing legislation aimed at making farting in public illegal. Really? In a country where the life expectancy of its people hovers around the 50 year mark, they're concerned about legislating against the sex life of lesbians and those evil doers who dare to fart in public places? The atheist in me can't help but wonder whether these public and private 'decency' activities can be explained by way of the country's population being 80% Christian. I am not claiming that that's the reason for these bizarre policy propositions, but generally speaking, Christian conservatives have a habit of focusing on things that truly don't matter and ignoring things that do matter. You know, the kinds of people who busily protect the unborn life while they couldn't care less for any already born life, those sorts of Christians. Watch out for more exciting news coming out of Malawi, Uganda and other African places. Kinda ironic that the powers that are in these places seem to really work day and night to prove that Western stereotypes about 'Africa' are lived up to.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Policing academic fraud

A big scandal is brewing in good ol Germany. A former hospital based clinical and researcher, Joachim Boldt, was fired by his employer some time last year when it came to light that a study he had published in a US medical journal was forcibly retracted because the journal had sufficiently serious doubts about the veracity of the data. 


The editor of the journal published this editorial today:




1. There are no original patient data or laboratory data to support the findings in the study.
2. According to the head of the perfusionist team, no albumin has been used as a priming solution since 1999.
3. According to the pharmacy, no albumin has been delivered to the cardiac operating rooms for many years.
4. All laboratory measurements, including IL-6, IL-10, intercellular adhesion molecule, neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin, and alpha-glutathione-S-transferase, would have been performed in the clinical laboratory at the Klinikum Ludwigshafen. These assays have only been performed on patients receiving hydroxy-ethyl starch priming solutions. The laboratory could identify no assays from patients receiving albumin priming solutions.
5. Professor Boldt has admitted forging the signatures of the coauthors on the copyright transfer form submitted to Anesthesia & Analgesia.
6. The coauthors denied participation in the fabrication.
7. There is no convincing evidence that this study was performed at all.

The state medical board also investigated the good doctor. A press released issued today states: 

Based on today’s announcement, LÄK-RLP has reviewed 74 scientific articles describing
clinical trials subject to the requirements of the German Medicinal Act. This includes the article
by Professor Boldt recently retracted by Anesthesia & Analgesia and an article submitted by
Professor Boldt to Anaesthesia but not published. By law these studies required IRB approval.
Although the articles typically stated that IRB approval had been obtained, LÄK-RLP could not
find evidence of approval for 68 of these articles.
LÄK-RLP also identified 30 published articles that describe research that did not fall under the
jurisdiction of the German Medicinal Act but physicians performing such human research must
conform to the Code of Deontology, which includes a requirement for IRB review. Some articles
describing epidemiological studies with non-identifiable data did not require IRB review. For six
articles LÄK-RLP was able to document IRB approval. For the remaining articles LÄK-RLP has
not been able to document IRB approval.
LÄK-RLP has again contacted and asked the authors of published articles for which LÄK-RLP
cannot document IRB approval to provide evidence of such approval. LÄK-RLP is presently
awaiting documentation of IRB approval from the first/corresponding author of every questioned
article before making a final determination. LÄK-RLP will notify the respective journals of
articles describing clinical research for which there is no evidence of IRB approval.
Few comments:
1) it is odd indeed that co-authors on the initially published study claim to have not been 'involved' in the fabrication of relevant data. Well, does it mean, they did know about the fabcritation, but didn't technically contribute to the falsification? Or does it mean that he or she was co-author on a paper of which they had no idea how the basic data had come about? Or does it mean that because the good Prof Boldt forged their signature under the copyright release form, they had no idea they were even listed as co-authors? The latter is not very plausible a claim, because every researcher checks on google scholar or PubMed every now and then how their publications are doing by way of citations etc. Surely, a paper one is unaware to have contributed to would have popped out like a sore thumb then. Is it possible, in other words, that these folks really were unaware of their publication with Joachim Boldt. It is possible. Is it very likely? Not really. 
2) While this case is pretty terrible, it's a bit unclear what consequences should be drawn, procedurally, by journal editors or oversight bodies. Realistically journal editors are unable to investigate such fraud. How should we check whether or not eg a co-author signature is real or fraudulent? Similarly for the ethics committee (in the USA IRB) approval documentation. Some journals ask simply for confirmation from the principal author that ethics approval was given. If an author then lies, there is little we can do. Some journals ask for the approval letter from the IRB, but truth be told, anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of Photoshop and the necessary criminal energy, could forge such documents. And, as Boldt's case demonstrates, these sorts of folks are not exactly lacking criminal energy. This is not an easy one then to solve, because with the necessary infrastructure and resource deployment most such frauds could be caught, but realistically most publishers of academic journals are in it for the profits, and this would deplete such profits in a quite significant way. What should we do? We could unload the task to the employers of researchers. They could be required to keep tabs on their researchers' publications and cross-check them against their ethics approvals. If the necessary penalties were on the book for institutions failing to monitor their staff conduct sufficiently, I suspect we might be able to reduce unethical research. However, would this, or any other solution, completely eliminate academic misconduct of the type described? No chance.