The second act
January 15, 2014 9:10 AM   Subscribe

The Second Act "Eight years after Seoul National University (SNU) dismissed him for his central role in one of history’s most notorious scientific frauds, Hwang, 61, is in a position many researchers would envy. He heads Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, a nonprofit institute with a staff of 40, a $4 million annual budget, and a new, well-equipped six-story building. His team publishes a steady stream of papers. Devoted dog owners from around the world, as well as the Korean police, seek their services. The institute is applying its cloning know-how to rescuing endangered species and improving livestock breeds, as well as to fundamental research in developmental biology." (previously on MeFi)
posted by dhruva (13 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
"If you are ready to clone your dog*, please email Dr. Taeyoung Shin at"

*If you are ready to spend $100k for a dog that looks just like your other dog.
posted by stinkfoot at 9:23 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is why the first centaurs will be Korean.
posted by ocschwar at 9:38 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

A centaur would be harder to fake.

Fuck this dude.

In the very beginnings of western science one was often required to swear an oath before God as on your honor as a Catholic gentleman attesting to the good faith and honesty of your reports before they would be published, and obviously the specifics have changed but the basic concept remains intact. Science still inherently relies on the idea of a deeply sacred fucking trust, that absofuckinglutely must be sacrosanct if only for what happens when its violated. Everyone innocent this fucker has ever been responsible for, been responsible to, or meaningfully associated with will also always be forever tainted by him; and on top of that he was taking the eggs of his fucking graduate students? Never-mind that he was apparently embezzling funds, this fucker was inventing whole new ways to exploit vulnerable graduate students who can't say no, he was HARVESTING them with surgeries that have life-alteringly non-trivial risks.

This piece doesn't really have any bitter human interest angles but the wreckage that these fuckers always leave behind is immense, especially when they get this big. I don't even want to know how many people instantly dedicated their lives to replicating the methods in those papers hoping to expand on them or how many more careers shifted instantly to support them. Earnest replication of excitingly falsified data leads to wasted years for nothing of value, nothing groundbreaking, no publications, and only technical skills that remain marketable, which derails innocent promising young academic careers forever, breaks the backs of innocent established careers, destroys marriages, and creates alcoholics. Can you imagine what it must be like to be the kind of young researcher who does the real wetwork of science these days spending years making the sacrifices inherent to a career in science, living at the ass end of what can often only euphemistically be called a work\life balance, studiously documenting your endless frustration, only to find out that your hell - because real despair cannot exist without hope - was dictated from the beginning by the blind pointless vanity of some asshole right as you're just getting started? Can you imagine being a Primary Investigator responsible for those kinds of fucked young careers? This shit seriously fucks people up in ways that don't always mend.

That this asshole's career is being resurrected by Rich fuckers appeasing their own wasteful vanity by making excuses for his only adds icing on the goatse cake.

Fuck this dude.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:24 AM on January 15, 2014 [19 favorites]

That was a really interesting read. I had no idea animal cloning had come that far. I can't decide if it's right yet (maybe you should just try a new dog? Then again, what is it hurting?), but I like that he's gotten back to doing honest, if humble, research that's good for everyone. That's about as good a rehabilitation as one can hope for.
posted by ignignokt at 12:11 PM on January 15, 2014

This fucker should be in jail.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:34 PM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Why would anyone ever hire a proven fraud with previous ethics violations? Don't the people funding him realize that he's going to do the same thing to them? The guy should be limited to roles with heavy oversight and no independence, like technician.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:38 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

blasdelb i'm sorry but

MetaFilter: icing on the goatse cake

but I like that he's gotten back to doing honest, if humble, research that's good for everyone

Whether it's honest, only time will tell. Once bitten, etc.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:53 PM on January 15, 2014

I put him in a class with Bernie Madoff and serial pedophile priests-- not for the obvious con-man stuff, but for being white-collar and genial enough to keep being forgiven. I guess he's a good ol' boy. There's no shortage of twits who don't look past that.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 1:27 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Isn't this a double?
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:18 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I recently watch the Errol Morris documentary Tabloid regarding the "Manacled Mormon" case from 1977 and the media circus around it. Towards the end they cover the cloning of the Joyce McKinney's dog by this same group in Korea. She originally said her name was Bernann McKinney and not related to Joyce McKinney, but she was eventually found out.

Funny how these two stories cross.
posted by beowulf573 at 2:26 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cloning a personal pet with the current technology seems incredibly selfish, even heartless. According to this article, each attempt requires a minimum of three surrogate mothers (used to be over 100 before they refined the procedure), all of whom undergo a minimum of two surgeries per attempt. They must go through a hell of a lot of dogs that way. When it comes to cloning research, the ethics of this are up for debate. When it comes to private owners wanting to spend more time with their little buddy...that's way too much suffering. It doesn't even result in the same pet! A cloned puppy is very different from a resurrected one.
posted by AbbyNormal at 5:13 PM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Four million bucks is not exactly a huge organization (maybe 20 staff?) and a tiny, teeny budget for doing *anything.*
posted by KokuRyu at 12:04 AM on January 16, 2014

This is a function of a cult of personality.

This guy does not deserve a second chance. Ultimately it is not HIS work....the results belong to the scientific (and broader) community, paid for by governments and taxpayers.

His (good) work should have been adopted by other labs, he should have been barred from science and jailed. As blasdelb says, the toxicity of this man on science and everything he touched can't be overstated.

What this story says - and sets an example to others - is like many things these days, that if you're brash enough or sociopathic enough and appeal to rich twats, then it's all good.

Even worse, this isn't some unique Feynman thinking about the Hardest Problems in Physics in the ways only they can.....he's literally a lying (artificially aided) dogfucker.
posted by lalochezia at 8:37 AM on January 16, 2014

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