This is a shameful action and position by the AAAS.
David C. Finster
Professor, Department of Chemistry
University Chemical Hygiene Officer
Let me start by saying that AAAS is a tremendously respected organization, and I know many AAAS fellows personally, and they are all truly great scientists and accomplished people. But these statements here are BS:
Ginger Pinholster, AAAS director in the office of public programs, said the AAAS fellow selection process is based strictly on scientific achievement.
“(Selection as a fellow) doesn’t reflect behavior or other issues,” Pinholster said.
So scientific ethics are apparently meaningless. All those various folks who conducted research on prisoners or mentally disabled patients could have qualified and never realized it? If someone decides to breed a half-man half-ape, and the science produced and offspring, they should be rewarded? If the Tuskegee experiments had wiped syphilis out, AAAS would have been overjoyed? And what of personal ethics? If Bill Cosby were a AAAS fellow, would they join the dozens of other institutions that have revoked their honors awarded to him?
Further, the AAAS web site makes this clear it is NOT scientific achievement in the strictly laboratory/eureka sense, but in its the fellow's actions in promoting and advancing science. That means every action (behavior) they take related to science: MailScanner has detected a possible fraud attempt from "urldefense.proofpoint.com" claiming to be http://www.aaas.org/general-process
A member whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished and who has been a continuous member for the four year period leading up to the year of nomination, may, by virtue of such meritorious contribution be elected a Fellow by the Council. Examples of areas in which nominees may have made significant contributions are research; teaching; technology; services to professional societies; administration in academe, industry, and government; and communicating and interpreting science to the public.
But then the real BS comes with this:
Pinholster added the AAAS administrative members who oversaw the selection process for the fellowship were unaware of the charges against Harran.
Wow, that must be a really rigorous selection process [generous dollop of dripping sarcasm]. Google the name and the #2 hit is titled "UCLA Professor Patrick Harran Strikes Deal with Prosecutors". 7 out of the top 10 hits relate to the UCLA incident and no doubt one of the others (Wikipedia) mentions it.
It's one thing to make the selection, but then, IMHO, to clearly lie about being "unaware" besmirches the character, integrity, and quality of not only the AAAS, but all of its previous and future fellows by association. There is absolutely no way that the selection committee could have been unaware of this issue. They are too smart not to have known.
Maybe they were simply being perverse here because one has to they recognize that Patrick Harran's actions in the Sangji case did indeed result in great strides and achievements in the area of laboratory safety….
By refusing to acknowledge or discuss the issue, the AAAS and their spokesperson are doing the scientific community a great disservice. Clearly, their committee must have made an argument that the UCLA incident did not (sufficiently?) overshadow his consideration, so let's hear why.
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