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TOPIC: Rewarding Academic Fraud

Rewarding Academic Fraud 04 Sep 2011 15:33 #1

Maybe I'm just getting irritable in my old age but.. Gene Ovnicek is back as a featured speaker at Frank Lessiter's Hoof Care Summit early next year. This is the same man who committed academic fraud by trying to use fabricated information in his talk in 2010. He showed two slides of a foot, (attached) claiming they were taken nine months apart, to show that the foot hadn't changed. Trouble is, it was the same foot on the same day. He was caught doing it, and after Frank was pressured to do something, Gene sent out an apology (two pages, single-spaced on legal-sized paper), but it went only to those of us who attended the conference.

I called Frank Lessiter to ask him why he was compromising the integrity and reputation of his forum, but Frank just got huffy about it. Apparently decided that a lot of people want still want to listen to Gene, which will sell tickets, and fill his seats. Where I'm from, when you commit fraud in a public (?)scientific forum, you don't get to do it again, ever.
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RE:Rewarding Academic Fraud 04 Sep 2011 15:59 #2

  • Tom Stovall CJF
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docfarrier in gray

Maybe I'm just getting irritable in my old age but.. Gene Ovnicek is back as a featured speaker at Frank Lessiter's Hoof Care Summit early next year. This is the same man who committed academic fraud by trying to use fabricated information in his talk in 2010. He showed two slides of a foot, (attached) claiming they were taken nine months apart, to show that the foot hadn't changed. Trouble is, it was the same foot on the same day. He was caught doing it, and after Frank was pressured to do something, Gene sent out an apology (two pages, single-spaced on legal-sized paper), but it went only to those of us who attended the conference.

I called Frank Lessiter to ask him why he was compromising the integrity and reputation of his forum, but Frank just got huffy about it. Apparently decided that a lot of people want still want to listen to Gene, which will sell tickets, and fill his seats. Where I'm from, when you commit fraud in a public (?)scientific forum, you don't get to do it again, ever.


Doc, Lessiter's "Hoof Care Summit," like AFJ, is a profit making enterprise that is as related to the scientific method as fish are to bicycles. The magazine consists of advertisements surrounded by white space that MUST be filled with copy and Lessiter has never differentiated between data and anecdotes - as long as the white space around the ads is filled with something remotely related to hoof care, his content criteria has been met.

Why would anyone be surprised to find the same criteria is applied to the Hoof Care Summit?

By the way, you're supposed to sign your posts on this forum.
Tom Stovall, CJF
"The only foolish question is the one left unasked."
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RE:Rewarding Academic Fraud 04 Sep 2011 16:00 #3

  • Jack Evers
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docfarrier wrote:
Maybe I'm just getting irritable in my old age but.. Gene Ovnicek is back as a featured speaker at Frank Lessiter's Hoof Care Summit early next year. This is the same man who committed academic fraud by trying to use fabricated information in his talk in 2010. He showed two slides of a foot, (attached) claiming they were taken nine months apart, to show that the foot hadn't changed. Trouble is, it was the same foot on the same day. He was caught doing it, and after Frank was pressured to do something, Gene sent out an apology (two pages, single-spaced on legal-sized paper), but it went only to those of us who attended the conference.

I called Frank Lessiter to ask him why he was compromising the integrity and reputation of his forum, but Frank just got huffy about it. Apparently decided that a lot of people want still want to listen to Gene, which will sell tickets, and fill his seats. Where I'm from, when you commit fraud in a public (?)scientific forum, you don't get to do it again, ever.

This is a fairly serious charge, Doc, especially since I was considering going to the Summit this year. I do agree the two pics are the same foot in the same location at the same time. Possibly different shots, perhaps edited a bit differently. Could you give yourself a bit more credulity by giving us your name and relative location and could other atendees from last year chime in?
Jack Evers CJF AFA#426

The best things about the good old days -- I wasn't good and I wasn't old.

The older I get, the more horses I shoe, the fewer things that I can absolutely, positively fix.
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RE:Rewarding Academic Fraud 04 Sep 2011 21:00 #4

  • DeniseMc
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could other atendees from last year chime in?

I was there, attended the presentation, and later received the same letter of apology from Mr. Gene Ovnicek that Mr. Miller referred to. I don't think Mr. Ovnicek's altering of the images for their illustrative purpose during the presentation was malicious "academic fraud". As Mr. Ovnicek stated in his letter of apology, he did not have "before photos" from when he first started working on the horse. Mr. Ovnicek stated in the letter of apology that the addition of the "altered image of what the hoof looked like "initially" was a last minute change to his presentation as he felt a photoshopped image of what the hoof looked like "initially" was a better illustration rather than a lengthy verbal explanation during the presentation. Mr. Ovnicek's point was that he had not made progress on the hoof in 9 months from 2008 through 2009; it was only after he changed the way he trimmed the hoof in 2009 did he make progress. During the presentation I was struck by how similar the 2009 trim was to Strasser trimming for addressing severely distorted hooves. Apparently a few other people were too and commented to him after the presentation about "Strasserizing feet". In Mr. Ovnicek's letter of apology he addresses that concern too.
Gene sent out an apology (two pages, single-spaced on legal-sized paper), but it went only to those of us who attended the conference.

That makes sense that it would go only to those who attended. Who else do you think it should go to?

Denise McLain
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RE:Rewarding Academic Fraud 04 Sep 2011 21:43 #5

  • Jack Evers
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Thank you, Denise. I now recall hearing of this. As a former academic researcher myself, I agree with Dr Miller that Gene should not be invited back. I've had it with the new age crowd - NB, barefoot, boots etc stating as fact a raft of things that range anywhere from unproven to absolute lies.
Mr. Ovnicek stated in the letter of apology that the addition of the "altered image of what the hoof looked like "initially" was a last minute change to his presentation as he felt a photoshopped image of what the hoof looked like "initially" was a better illustration rather than a lengthy verbal explanation during the presentation

Gene's excuse is hollow also. All he needed to say was he had no before pictures, but in his recall there was no difference. It did not take a long winded explanation. Just a truthful statement. I've been a supporter of Gene but I can't support this.

At any rate, what Gene did last year is not the issue. His being invited back is the issue to make me forget about coming to Summit. I'm having second thoughts.
Jack Evers CJF AFA#426

The best things about the good old days -- I wasn't good and I wasn't old.

The older I get, the more horses I shoe, the fewer things that I can absolutely, positively fix.
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RE:Rewarding Academic Fraud 04 Sep 2011 22:17 #6

  • Jaye Perry
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Jack Evers wrote:
......At any rate, what Gene did last year is not the issue. His being invited back is the issue to make me forget about coming to Summit. I'm having second thoughts.


It's called "Audit". See and hear, and believe what you want to learn from. it's gene's ghost, which will haunt him, their enterprise and future admiriers.

i am planning to got to the Palm Beach thing; " What works is real"(Tom Ivers). Use all aspects of the diverse Farriery world, it benefits our ponies......:cool:
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RE:Rewarding Academic Fraud 04 Sep 2011 22:29 #7

  • DeniseMc
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All he needed to say was he had no before pictures,

I agree and do think he used poor judgement in using a last minute photoshopped image. But, I don't think that mistake alone should be the criteria for him not being invited back to the Summit.
At any rate, what Gene did last year is not the issue. His being invited back is the issue to make me forget about coming to Summit. I'm having second thoughts.

The thing about the Summit is that it serves as a venue for very diverse presentations on all sorts of hoof related matters. Sometimes you will get one speaker who advocates a certain methodology to manage some condition and the very next speaker will contradict what the previous speaker just presented. You would think the organizers of the Summit would try to get every speaker who gives presentations to be on the same page or in agreement with their methodologies, but as Tom mentioned
Lessiter's "Hoof Care Summit," like AFJ, is a profit making enterprise that is as related to the scientific method as fish are to bicycles
The bulk of presentations are not usually given by researchers in academia. Most presentations are given by working farriers and vets. Farriers like Simon Curtis, Dave Caldwell, Chris Gregory, Jim Ferie, Patrik Reiley, and Bruce Matthews and vets like Dr. Ric Redden, Dr. Amy Rucker, Dr. Stephen O'Grady, and Dr. Myers.
It's interesting that you should say:
I've had it with the new age crowd - NB, barefoot, boots etc stating as fact a raft of things that range anywhere from unproven to absolute lies.
It isn't "just the new age crowd" that does this. When it comes to hoofcare in general, most of what is assumed as "fact" has never really been proven or studied scientifically.
Denise
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RE:Rewarding Academic Fraud 05 Sep 2011 01:11 #8

  • reillyshoe
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I care about academics and validity and I also care about the farrier community. I do not think Gene's explanation seems plausible. Placing a picture and referencing it as one thing when it was in fact another is not a good excuse.

The question to me is what is a deserving penalty? Unfortunately for farriers, we do not have good academic footing on which to base a precedence. Our articles (including, but not limited to the American Farrier's Journal) are rarely referenced. We rarely give credit where credit is due. So what should be done with this current situation?

To begin, I am not for or against Natural Balance. I am not for or against perimeter fit, or uniform sole thickness or any other methodology (but I work for an institution with patents in glue on shoe technology). I do like Gene from my personal contact with him over a dozen years. Is he selling ideas? Certainly, but so is Ric Redden and Rob Sigafoos and Doug Butler. Selling something does not disqualify one from academic integrity. Falsifying pictures and information does.

My initial response was to give Gene a mulligan. Everyone makes mistakes, and Gene does not have a history of this type of behavior (to my knowledge). As our standards are low, I thought he deserved a pass with the assumption that this was an honest oversight. Where should we draw the line? If one writes about the use of (for instance) clogs, should you be banned for not referencing Dr. Michael Stewart? Part of the difficulty is that because we do not reference our writing who knows where an idea originates? What is fraud and what is an honest mistake?

Conversing with some trusted colleagues has caused me to re-think my position. Some mistakes are NOT excusable, regardless of the academic climate. Some mistakes deserve a penalty. I think, considering the circumstances, speaking at the Summitt is not appropriate this year- at least until the event has been publically discussed and debated.

Farriers do not write, and (with a few exceptions) those who do write articles have a financial incentive. Rob Sigafoos sells glue on shoes, Doug Butler sells books, Scott Morrison sells shoes and his clinic. I sell New Bolton Center and Rob's innovations. Who can be trusted when everyone has an adgenda? The easy answer is that Gene is the only one caught misrepresenting the truth. I do not think he is the only person, but he was caught. I will not pay to hear him speak as a result. My position is not solely about Gene's transgression, but about the industry in general. I would like for the next person to think twice about their claims in a presentation or an article.

I have made my position known to Frank Lessiter and others at the AFJ. I have recommended that an ethics panel be included in this year's program to openly debate the ethics of science and journalism. I have asked that speakers disclose their financial interests to the audience.

I am not sure what should happen to Gene in regard to this conference or in the future, but this CANNOT happen again if we are to be taken seriously as a profession. If we take this lightly, it is certain to happen again. It cannot happen again.
P
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RE:Rewarding Academic Fraud 05 Sep 2011 01:31 #9

  • Eric Russell
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reillyshoe wrote:
My initial response was to give Gene a mulligan. Everyone makes mistakes,

LOL, I'm not sure how you photoshop a pic and don't realize it. :confused:
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RE:Rewarding Academic Fraud 05 Sep 2011 01:36 #10

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If I remember correctly, his excuse was "I meant to say that this is about what the hoof looked like" as the slide was up, but (in the moment) he forgot to say this. Does someone have Gene's letter to post? I think his letter said that his son altered the photo, not Gene.

On one hand, I have forgotten to mention things as a slide was up ad nauseum. On the other hand, I would make a point of mentioning such an important slide to the audience.
P
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RE:Rewarding Academic Fraud 05 Sep 2011 01:38 #11

  • Eric Russell
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reillyshoe wrote:
this CANNOT happen again if we are to be taken seriously as a profession. If we take this lightly, it is certain to happen again. It cannot happen again.

Are you serious about this? Off the top of my head I don't know if I shoe for anyone who cares about whether or not I can shoe a horse well. It's one big game. If you want to play you can make a lot of money. If you don't you're still in luck cause there's a lot of horses out there.
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RE:Rewarding Academic Fraud 05 Sep 2011 01:41 #12

  • Eric Russell
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reillyshoe wrote:

On one hand, I have forgotten to mention things as a slide was up ad nauseum. On the other hand, I would make a point of mentioning such an important slide to the audience.


Not being a clinician I wouldn't know. I tend not to forget to mention important things. I would say a photoshop pic is something I wouldn't forget. If I knew how to photoshop I'd probably add example in the footer to make sure.
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RE:Rewarding Academic Fraud 05 Sep 2011 01:44 #13

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This is my point Eric, If we take this lightly, farriers will be laughed at in the academic community. Does this matter to the client? Does this matter to other farriers? My point is that I think it SHOULD matter. I think Gene thinks this SHOULD matter. What happens now, because there is no precedence for this in the farrier community?

This is what we, and Frank Lessiter, have to answer
P
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RE:Rewarding Academic Fraud 05 Sep 2011 01:54 #14

  • Eric Russell
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reillyshoe wrote:
This is my point Eric, If we take this lightly, farriers will be laughed at in the academic community.

Academic community, you mean vets? I laugh at vets on a daily basis for there lack of knowledge.

Does this matter to the client?


NOPE
Does this matter to other farriers?

It matters to a few then they get over it and either play the game or not.
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RE:Rewarding Academic Fraud 05 Sep 2011 01:59 #15

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I do not mean vets, but there are more academic vets than farriers....

Please explain this: "It matters to a few then they get over it and either play the game or not."

My fear is that this debate will fall into the NB/traditional shoeing debate. This issue in not about methodology, but I am afraid the perception is that this is the underlying cause of the conversation.
P
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