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202) Fraudulent claims of Professor Reiner Protsch von Zieten

Ludwik Kowalski (2/22/05)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

A colleague posted an article about fraudulent claims made, over the last 30 years, by a German anthropologist from the University of Hamburg. His claims were taken for granted until very recently. The story was reported on 2/19/05 in the Science News section of the “Guardian Unlimited,” . Why am I posting extracts from this article on the website devoted to Cold Fusion? Because that field has often been described as pseudoscientific. The “Voodoo Science” book of Robert Park gives many examples of fraud. That book, and its Russian counterpart (by Krugliakov) give the impression that cold fusion claims are also fraudulent. That is not based on specific cases of “invented data”; the authors simply fail to make a distinction between cold fusion researchers and real con artists.

I think that fraudulent claims are more likely to appear in the area of accepted science than in the area of controversial science. What can a person gain by faking cold fusion data? All claims in that area are nearly automatically rejected. The only effect would be to impress a relatively small group of other CF researchers. On the other hand, absence of access to peer reviewed journals might encourage fraud. Do the editors of professional journals realize that their attitude toward cold fusion can encourage con artists and charlatans?

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It appeared to be one of archaeology's most sensational finds. The skull fragment discovered in a peat bog near Hamburg was more than 36,000 years old - and was the vital missing link between modern humans and Neanderthals.

This, at least, is what Professor Reiner Protsch von Zieten - a distinguished, cigar-smoking German anthropologist - told his scientific colleagues, to global acclaim, after being invited to date the extremely rare skull. However, the professor's 30-year-old academic career has now ended in disgrace after the revelation that he systematically falsified the dates on this and numerous other "stone age" relics. . . . According to experts, his deceptions may mean an entire tranche of the history of man's development will have to be rewritten. "Anthropology is going to have to completely revise its picture of modern man between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago," said Thomas Terberger, the archaeologist who discovered the hoax. . . .

During their investigation, the university discovered that Prof Protsch, 65, a flamboyant figure with a fondness for gold watches, Porsches and Cuban cigars, was unable to work his own carbon-dating machine. Instead, after returning from Germany to America, where he did his doctorate, and taking up a professorship, he had simply made things up. . . . "Prof Protsch's work appeared to prove that anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals had co-existed, and perhaps even had children together. This now appears to be rubbish." . . . The scandal only came to light when Prof Protsch was caught trying to sell his department's entire chimpanzee skull collection to the United States. . . .

Other details of the professor's life also appeared to crumble under scrutiny. Before he disappeared from the university's campus last year, Prof Protsch told his students he had examined Hitler's and Eva Braun's bones. . . . Even the professor's aristocratic title, "von Zieten", appears to be bogus. Far from being the descendant of a dashing general in the hussars, the professor was the son of a Nazi MP, Wilhelm Protsch, Der Spiegel magazine revealed last October. The university is investigating how thousands of documents lodged in the anthropology department relating to the Nazis' gruesome scientific experiments in the 1930s were mysteriously shredded, allegedly under the professor's instructions. . . . Yesterday the professor, who lives in Mainz with his wife Angelina, didn't respond to emails from the Guardian asking him to comment on the affair. But in earlier remarks to Der Spiegel he insisted that he was the victim of an "intrigue."

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