How I hit a gold vein in the Google junkyard - though only at times

Thursday, March 13 2014 @ 07:55 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto



On Friday I wrote a mail to Dr. Charles A. Vacanti, professor at Harvard Medical School and one of the coauthors of the STAP papers in question, to suggest he not pull the plug on Haruko Obokata. One hour ago, he quickly got back to me. I take the liberty to publish his reply below here.

"Thank you. The studies presented were stellar. Although some formatting errors were made, I think that they were sincere mistakes, and not done to intentionally mislead. I believe that the science was not affected by these errors and that the conclusions are correct. CAV"


Yesterday Ryoji Noyori, Nobel laureate and president of quasi-governmental research organization RIKEN (PHOTO 1) offered sincere apologies for the "research misconduct" allegedly committed by Haruko Obokata (PHOTO 2) in the research papers on STAP cells she coauthored with her colleagues.

Since I'm completely in the dark about cell biology, I can't tell exactly what the Nobel-winning scum apologized for on behalf of the ambitious researcher. And yet I know for sure what's going on behind the curtain. The reason these old sadists gang up so mercilessly on her is just because they think the nail that tries very hard to stick out must be hammered down without fail.

News reports have it that the young researcher, who had been gagged while the in-house probe into "irregularities" was going on behind closed doors, now expressed her resolve to fight back against the witch-hunt of the 21st century. Her lone battle has only just begun.

CONTINUED FROM Just a search engine or a digital altar?

I listen to myself. If you trust your inner sense of sound, you create something that is truer. It is like communicating from the heart. Losing my hearing was a gift from God.
- Mamoru Samuragochi, in a 2001 interview by TIME magazine in which the interviewer touted him as "Japan's Beethoven."

[By the way] I've never felt he was deaf ever since we met. We carry on normal conversations.
- Takashi Niigaki, a music lecturer, added when he came forward to admit he'd ghost-written every "masterpiece" of Japan's Beethoven, including Symphony No. 1 dedicated to the Hiroshima victims.

You are taunting the history of cell biology.
- an e-mail the British scientific journal Nature sent to Japanese researcher Haruko Obokata, when turning down her first submissions of paper on STAP (stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency) cells.

At first no one believed in me. I thought about quitting time and again, crying countless nights.
- Dr. Haruko Obokata, at the news that Nature had reversed its previous assessments.

Neo Yamada

Mamoru Samuragochi

Haruko Obokata

What I wrote in my previous post all comes down to this:

A truth-seeker is the worst type of truth-denier.

Like a fake Buddhist monk, he seems to believe truth dwells in pain. Simply this is ridiculous because a fatal logical flaw, which is noticeable even to a kindergarten kid, is involved there.

Believe it or not, I've never been a truth-denier myself because I know it is even more painful to stick my head in the sand. And yet I'm not interested in the truth-seeking game, either. The following are some of the reasons.

Firstly there's no such thing as a universal truth that can be shared equally among two or more nations or individuals. It takes imperialist's arrogance to deny a truth can never be true when looked at from the other side. For instance, the inevitable collapse of the American empire is a dream coming true for other peoples, especially East Asians except these yellow Yankees.

The Americans, in general, view the world which is no longer revolving around their country, standing on their heads. That's why they never understand that if the West is doomed, it's a long-awaited daybreak for the East.

Some ten years ago I shared a big lobster with my date at a seafood restaurant in Sydney. No sooner had we come back to the hotel than she fell sick and couldn't get up until the next morning. All along I was so in good shape that I might have gone golfing, by myself, as we had originally planned together. The Aussie doc explained to me: "This always happens because poison never travels evenly in a living organism."

Obviously he was talking about the lobster. But my interpretation was that the same applies to human society; the implication of any event largely varies from one individual to another.

Secondly, we've already suffered more than enough from the truth of the American century. There's no reason, whatsoever, for us to ask for more.

I've known since my early childhood that treasure (or pleasure) hunting is what my life should be all about. It's an irony but my Epicurean trait is attributable to the abnormally Spartan way my father educated me. Now I believe an ascetic attitude toward life is not only meaningless but also harmful.

My way of using the search engine, therefore, is 180-degrees different from yours. To me the cyberspace is little more than a huge fact sheet which serves primarily as a free dictionary or encyclopedia, with the only exception of audio/visual websites.

In 2001, a U.S. film was released under the title of Serendipity. I think not a few people looked up the unfamiliar word in the dictionary. There they found out that as the filmmaker suggested it means "(the faculty of making) a fortunate discovery by accident." Misled by the wrong definition, these credulous and intellectually lazy people concluded the word is roughly synonymous with "windfall" you just come upon without making a painstaking effort.

I already knew what serendipity means. When I was in my late-teens I learned about the same idea in the context of Plato's epistemology and Kierkegaard's "forward recollection," although the two thinkers didn't use the word serendipity. But after watching the cheap "romantic comedy," I made a web search to look into its etymology.

From a Wikipedia entry, I learned that an Englishman named Horace Walpole wrote in 1754 to his friend to the effect that he coined the word from the Persian fairy tale "The Three Princes of Serendip," in which "the heroes were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of." (Emphasis mine.) In short, serendipity takes both good luck and some mental effort.

A truth-seeker's problem lies in the obvious fact that any preconceived search criteria won't work. If he already knows the answer, there's no point in seeking it while if he doesn't know the answer, he doesn't know what question to ask, either. A hunter of pleasant truth faces the same dilemma in his quest for something really creative. That's why I always let serendipity guide me especially when I do my video-mining exercise.

YouTube was a rich reservoir of creativity until Google acquired it from these young entrepreneurs, Steve Chen, et al. But now it looks like a vast graveyard of civilization. For instance, the moment you upload a video in which your Pomeranian does a funny trick, as my disowned son used to be doing, tens of millions of idiots come to view it. Now a creative video is a real rarity. But with my serendipity-guided search method, I can distinguish art from crap, science from superstition, or philosophy from delusion.

In December I found an 11-year-old jazz organist named Neo Yamada (photo on the top.) I saw in this gifted kid an audio-visual confirmation that as is true with treasure-hunters, serendipity is an integral element when you are working on the embodiment of your creativity into an artistic performance or technological achievement. It takes serendipity for two contradictory attributes, spontaneity and discipline, to meet in a same person. Discipline with which to pay due respect to tradition is not really a rarity here, but in this cultural wasteland you seldom come across spontaneity which isn't contaminated by impurities from commercialism, nationalism or anything that has nothing to do with art or technology.

The chord progression called "12-bar minor blues" isn't my type of music. But it was a real blessing that I stumbled on Neo's excellent performance.

I think it makes little sense to tell you exactly how I landed at this video because the way to exercise sagacity varies from person to person. But to make a long story short, I've been in touch, though off and on, with half-a-dozen female musicians, including one professional vocalist in the last ten years. I've had a lot of discussions with them over the chromatic scale, fine articulations particular to jazz, etc. I came upon the particular artist when I was looking around for videos featuring Harry Warren's "There Will Never Be Another You" to recommend to a lady who plays the trumpet in the band organized by my biological son. Had it not been for this background, I might have overlooked Neo as just yet another prodigy.

My serendipity method also helps deselect rubbish from Japanese male "artists."

Westerners, especially Americans, are always looking eastward for handy alternatives in the face of the ruin of their traditional value system. What if I had carelessly keyed in a set of keywords such as "japanese music fukushima hiroshima" as they often do? Then I would certainly have hit this small-time crook named Mamoru Samuragochi (photo in the center) and his "masterpiece" Symphony No.1 which was originally dedicated to the Hiroshima victims and now re-dedicated to those who suffered from the Fukushima disaster. This is how an American truth-seeker is often taken in by Oriental rubbish.

I'm glad I could avoid wasting my limited time with yet another fake thanks to my intuition-guided search method.

When the obscure music teacher named Takashi Niigaki came forward to cough it up, his confession ignited a public outcry especially among "classical music lovers" who bought 220,000 copies of the CD featuring Symphony No.1. But actually this is not a big deal. The only crime Samuragochi committed is the collection of the disability pension from the goofs in Yokohama City Hall for his feigned deafness almost for two decades. There's nothing wrong with using a friend's name with his consent or outsourcing one's task to someone else.

If this farce should still be called a fraud, the main perpetrators are TIME magazine that dubbed him "the Japanese Beethoven" in 2001 and NHK that deified the petty thief taking a cue from TIME. Now that the Japanese Beethoven finally revealed himself, the government-owned broadcaster has started playing dumb as it has always been doing since August 1945 every time a deity was exposed as fake.

Just imagine what would happen if a forensic expert revealed that one of the masterpieces previously credited to Ludwig van Beethoven was actually composed by someone else. Of course that wouldn't affect the way real music lovers appreciate it. But in Japan, the moment it was revealed Niigaki was the real composer, every piece of music released under the name of Samuragochi turned into rubbish which is what it actually is. This, alone, is telling evidence that entire Japanese culture is fake.

Admittedly my serendipity-guided search method is not flawless. One week or so before the revelation, another intriguing news broke out about a young cell biologist named Haruko Obokata (photo at the bottom.) Until then her name meant absolutely nothing to me.

Just like the Japanese Beethoven was lifted out of obscurity by the stupid interviewer at TIME magazine, Obokata's recognition came just after the British scientific journal Nature published the paper Obokata coauthored with Charles Vacanti, Professor at Harvard Medical School, and some other fellow researchers. But her dethronement came much sooner than Samuragochi's deposition.

Although I'm interested in the idea of initializing human cells, I'm completely in the dark about cell biology. So I can't tell for sure if there were "fatal" foul plays in the way Obokata and her colleagues handled their experimental data. And yet what's going on right now is somewhat familiar to me. Time and again I've experienced this for most of my adulthood, and until the last days of my eight-decade-long life.

Vacanti, one of the coauthors of the article in question still maintains he doesn't agree to the proposed withdrawal of the paper because as he told a Yomiuri reporter a couple of days ago, "some mistakes were made, but they don't affect the conclusions" about STAP (stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency) cells.

But the pleasantly ambitious and Moomin-loving cell biologist with jovial eyes in her roundish face is now having a hard time as these jealous old boys in 日本再生医療学会 (Nihon Saisei Iryo Gakkai or the Japanese Society of Regenerative Medicine) have started to gang up, first insidiously and then openly, on the researcher, on the pretext that Japan's credibility is now in jeopardy because of the "defective" paper. They include Nobel Laureate-turned emperor of the JSRM Shinya Yamanaka and Professor at Yamanashi University Teruhiko Wakayama who posed as a wholehearted supporter of Obokata when she came under the spotlight.

Wasting no time, the media followed suit and are now chastising Obokata as if they weren't touting her as a heroine as recently as two weeks ago.

She has fallen silent in recent weeks. Today (March 14) a joint statement was released by the names of the members of her team at the quasi-governmental organization named RIKEN. It said to the effect that they have decided to agree to the withdrawal of the article because so many people have found defects in their way of compiling the paper.

Obokata must have learned a bitter lesson that she should first and foremost represent Nippon before representing herself as a cell biologist or whatever she wants to be, in this dead country where people never fail to mercilessly hammer down a nail that sticks out. Yet I hope in her next public appearance she won't offer apologies before the TV cameras as Samuragochi and Niigaki did in their recent press conferences.

This is yet another reminder of the case with Maestro Seiji Ozawa. In 1961 he was ostracized by NHK just because the young guy had acted like himself. Only after he got certificates from Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein, the gifted musician was re-imported accepting apologies from NHK. Now he was finally enshrined here as the emperor of Japan's classical music. He was fortunate because the late Hideo Saito, Ozawa's first music teacher, kept encouraging him to stick to his unique style even after he was kicked out of their home country. Unlike Professor Yamanaka, Saito never betrayed Ozawa in his lifetime.

This is also reminiscent of my own experience with Gordon G. Chang and his agent. They were desperately trying to keep my heretical view at bay. Instead of pointing out possible logical flaws in my argument, they enthusiastically nitpicked over my "run-on" sentences and minor grammatical errors.

By now the dreg of humanity in New Jersey should have retracted all his baloney about China heading for collapse by 2011 and Japan once again overtaking China, GDP-wise, by 2013. But with feigned ignorance of the fact that corrections, apologies and refunds of royalty income are already long overdue, the shameless crisis-monger is now talking about Asia's 1937 Syndrome.

Perfection is one thing and integrity is quite another. And the pursuit of perfection cannot be a goal for a self-motivated individual like Neo or Obokata. That means creative people is totally defenseless before establishment which knows very well where to find their weak spot. Most of the time an exceptional talent is ruined outright, or subtly incorporated over time into the society of conventionalists and conformists.

.Here's a creativity test for you.

How would you cope with the situation if the Internet connection was totally disrupted in your country because the entire infrastructure had been destroyed by a full-fledged war or a gigantic earthquake and there was no prospect of recovery in sight?

You would say, "I'm too busy to discuss such an unrealistic situation. You are crazy." You bet I am. But don't forget you are crazier. This situation is a reality for billions of people in underdeveloped countries. And even in industrialized countries not a few people are exposed to the same threat everyday. I, for one, will get totally disconnected the moment my ailing PC goes dead because I have no money to replace it and I have no Sumaho as a backup device.

What you actually want to say is: "I don't want to use my brain if there's no monetary award at stake. And to begin with I'm not sure if I still have one." So my call for papers is meant only for those who can make believe I'm offering $1 million for the most creative idea.

FYI: For the contemporary Japanese, it would be a piece of cake to live without the Internet. They are using the technologies of the 21st century to do exactly what their ancestors were doing in the 19th century.

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