Thursday, January 11, 2018

I'm damaged, and I like it
It made me what I am

When I vouchsafed to Another Kiwi that "We need a stalker", what I had in mind was someone to venture into the Forbidden Zone and bring back more incomprehensible artifacts of alien technology. Someone to take the place of Louis Carthorse, who has not been much use for anything since his last foray into the Zone.

This is not what I had in mind. The Riddled Research Laboratory and Power-Pylon Insulator Museaum is a have for tranquillity and contemplation, it is no place for Drama. But here is Mr 'BrutalAttackOnScientists', overdosing on Melodramine, paying homage to Derpsichore the Muse of Intertube Excitement:

What is going on here is an outgrowth or appendage to the Nano Alchemy story a few weeks ago, which culminated in a couple of Indian professors taking penumbrage (which is one stage away from umbrage) to the level of scrutiny that their publications were incurring from the stickybeaks and data-integrity blackboard monitors at PubPeer. Helpful inquiries had been met with threatened libel suits to seek $50,000 Butthurt Compensation; the Cyber Police would be called in, to bring the miscreants to justice.

And Lo, an image did circulate on the Twittle, purporting to be the complaint in question.... but enlivened by fresh dramatic plot twists, with International Cyber-Criminals. Also an Extortion Attempt, with menacing phone-calls demanding moneys; I like to imagine that a thick East-European accent was used, although this crucial detail is absent from the ostensible Complaint.

This version of events allows the negative PubPeer reviews to be reframed as coordinated retribution, for the failure to pay the blackmailers' ransom (and nothing to do with actual image duplication and crayon-scribbled fabrication, spanning an oeuvre of papers). Indeed the narrative depicts an attack not so much on a team of Indian academics, but on Indian science and Indian culture themselves. This appeal to nationalistic defensiveness could gain some traction with the team's core constituency (i.e. academic / political patrons) and discourage them from reading the PubPeer critiques.

However, "BrutalAttackOnScientists" -- the circulator of the document -- is not necessarily moved by sympathy for Drs Sharma & Madhuri. His (or her) concern is centred more on their occasional co-author, one Ashutosh Tiwari. Tiwari had been employed for a few years in a Nanotechnology Centre at Linköping University in Sweden, but more of his energies went into his predatory-publishing company, and his parasitical journal (in which his Linköping students were encouraged to publish their work), and in his cruise-ship mockademic scamferences, and in the Research Institute he maintained at home in India... which appears to be a heavily-photoshopped version of a private diploma-mill, his father's "Dr Ganesh Prasad Law College".

All that came under scrutiny in turn. Then toys were flung, and trolleys lost their wheels, and the @StopBlackmailer twitter-egg sprang into existence, like grey-eyed Athene, Goddess of quantum-vacuum fluctuations, birthed from the head of Zeus.

Most notably, he (or she) has been lashing out at innocent bystanders in Swedish academia, looking for potential rivals who might have been behind Tiwari's unwanted exposure... Interspersed with allegations that Ulf Nilsson of Linköping U. is involved in the conspiracy and therefore should recuse himself from the LiU inquiry he's conducting into Mr Tiwari's business activities. The plot-line has elaborated to the point where Dan Brown would find it risible. Personally I think that anyone stuck in Umeå has suffered enough and should be left alone.

The twitstorms have acquired Trumpian proportions, with umpteen dozen copies of each denunciation blasted out in an hour to nearly 6000 followers who were acquired en masse from a Bot-broker.

Just saying, dude, when you are so over-wrought and loosely duct-taped together as to make the Riddled staff look like paragons of well-compensating high-functioning rationality, then it's time to put down the crack-pipe. Do not let that @SmutClyde troll encourage you, HE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND.

Meanwhile, the collective attention of the PubPeer commentariat has moved on to a different Indian nanotech / material-science researcher. Though Ashutosh Tiwari need not feel neglected.

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