Do science and morality share any bond? One country is finding out the hard way that the two are inseparable.
China’s President, Xi Jinping declared that his goal is turning China into “a global scientific and technology power” by the year 2049.
Yet there is a shocking lack of honesty and integrity by its academicians and scientists. This situation is undermining that goal and destroying China’s credibility with other nations.
A recent New York Times article stated that since 2012 China has led the world in falsified peer reviews of scientific papers. In the last year a single scientific periodical, Tumor Biology, retracted 107 of its published articles. This was after their peer reviews were found to be fake. Almost all of these were authored by Chinese scientists.
One Chinese geneticist, Han Chunyu, of the Hebei University of Science and Technology, won international fame after publishing an article in Nature Biotechnology.
In the article he claimed to have discovered a method to edit the human genome – in such a way to eliminate diseases and help parents choose their child’s gender and IQ.
In response to his global notoriety the “local government even offered to build (Han Chunyu) a $32 million gene-editing research center at his university, which he would run.” Alas, it did not come to be. He also faked his research, results and peer reviews.
Why all this shameful lack of honesty? Many blame it on the standard of success which the government imposes. This standard is based upon the number of scientific papers a researcher gets published (in reputable periodicals) and how many times his or her work is cited by other authors. This standard is referred to as the Science Citation Index (SCI). Those with the highest SCI would receive fame and funding for further research.
Unfortunately, the selling of phony peer evaluations and completed research papers is a huge business in China. The Times reported that these organizations offer services ranging from faked peer reviews to entire scientific papers already written and ready to submit.
One of the companies advertised, “We have helped professors of all backgrounds. Don’t worry, we’ll keep it a secret.” One respected scientist lamented, “We need to work harder to develop a culture of integrity.”
Back in the 1990s the importance of character, honesty, and integrity was largely dismissed in America. All that mattered was intelligence and job performance. What a person was and did in his personal time was nobody else’s business.
Perhaps this abandonment of morals was an effort to accommodate an administration which seemed devoid of morality and character.
As China can demonstrate, good science and academic excellence can only take place with the practice of honesty and integrity.
Without morality, science degrades into a culture of cheating and mediocrity.
In Psalm 25:21 King David prayed, “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,” (NKJV).
Dear Father in heaven please develop in me the discipline, honesty, integrity and Christ-like character that I need in order to survive the temptations and pressures of this life. Amen.
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