Research into paranormal activity supported by the head of the nation's most prominent university has drawn the ire of members of its physics department, who accuse their chief of violating scientific ethics.
Shortly after National Taiwan University (NTU) president Lee Si-chen (李嗣涔) reportedly announced last year that the university's electrical engineering department had achieved a breakthrough in research on extrasensory perception (ESP), physics professor Yang Hsin-nan (楊信男) sent an assistant to the campus library to locate a paper discussing the findings.
Yang could have used a bit of ESP himself, because Lee has blocked access to the paper, authored by an NTU student, for 10 years.
"By the author's request, public access to this thesis is restricted until the year 2016," library staff reportedly told the assistant.
Further piquing Yang's curiosity were alleged changes to the thesis' outline on the department's Web site, including the removal of references to Lee's research into ESP.
The full version under lock and key at the library, meanwhile, has been edited down to 60 pages from its original 70, former director of Academia Sinica's Institute of Physics Tsong Tien (鄭天佐) confirmed yesterday.
Previous references in the thesis to Lee's papers on psychokinesis -- the ability to move objects with one's mind -- and clairvoyance are gone, Tsong said.
Academics yesterday slammed Lee for authorizing the block, saying that he had violated an academic tradition of openly exchanging information.
Tsong said that blocking access to research papers for a few years while their authors seek patents for the ideas contained within is a common practice.
"But to deny access for 10 years, and in the meantime try to secretly revise or destroy part of the thesis is in violation of scientific ethics," Yang added.
The director of Academia Sinica's physics institute, Wu Maw-kuen (
Wu added that denying access is sometimes required in cases regarding national security.
"I had a similar experience while working in the US. About 20 years ago, I was contacted by the CIA, which was concerned that my work on high-temperature superconductors had national security implications. They restricted public access to my research, but then lifted the blocks after examining [my] work," Wu said.
Speaking to the Taipei Times yesterday, Lee admitted to authorizing the block, but said he had done so to protect the author's ideas while the author seeks a patent for them.
"These critics are the same professors who have been unhappy with my own research for a decade," Lee said, referring to Yang, Tsong and others.
Appointed president of the nation's premier university in 2005, Lee has come under constant fire from colleagues in the "hard sciences" for his research into the paranormal.
A leading figure in the university's Star Trek and ESP student clubs, Lee made numerous academic enemies by holding classes on ESP before being promoted to president of NTU.
Lee said the hostility his colleagues harbored toward his "spiritual" research had sparked the current debate on the "top-secret thesis."
"I haven't done anything illegal or improper," he added.
When asked how scientists viewed Lee's research, Tsong said:
"We forbid quacks from practicing medicine, but we let a fake scientist lead the most important university in the nation."
COSTLY TECH FAILURE: More than 25,000 files for nearly 8,000 students from 81 schools were lost when system administrators updated a server, the Ministry of Education said The academic records of 7,854 high-school students have been lost due to a hard-drive failure, the Ministry of Education said yesterday. The records were being stored at National Chi Nan University, which was commissioned by the ministry’s K-12 Education Administration to host a computer server of student portfolios that universities could access to evaluate their applications. Under a program introduced in 2019 for high-school students starting that year, students are to create portfolios to be used for university applications, which include their grades, extracurricular activities and other information related to their character and achievements. System administrators discovered that files were missing when rebooting
CONFUSING RESULTS: A New Taipei City worker tested positive for COVID-19 in a rapid test and a PCR test, but negative in a traditional nucleic acid test, the CECC said Travelers from Bangladesh, Brazil and Peru are no longer required to quarantine at a government center, and from Saturday can choose to quarantine at hotels, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The three nations are no longer considered “key high-risk countries,” as their COVID-19 case numbers have continued to fall, the CECC said, adding that no travelers from these countries have been confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 in the past two months. The revised classification would allow travelers from the three countries to choose where they stay during their mandatory 14-day quarantine, although they would be required to pay
Paraguay, Belize, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, three of the 15 UN members that have official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, voiced support at the UN General Assembly on Friday for Taiwan’s inclusion in the UN. In a video played at the 76th session of the General Assembly in New York, Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez said that universality is a basic principle of the UN, and based on that principle, “we support the inclusion of Taiwan within the United Nations system.” Taiwan lost its UN seat in 1971, when most countries shifted recognition to Beijing. Belizian Prime Minister John Briceno on Friday attended
ONE NEW DOMESTIC CASE: The CECC confirmed the COVID-19 case based on an antibody test, despite other tests indicating that the woman was likely not infectious The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) would ease COVID-19 restrictions depending on the vaccination rate and other factors, but lowering the level 2 COVID-19 alert would require more careful consideration, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said yesterday. In its decision of when to lower the alert, the center would take into account Taiwan’s first-dose COVID-19 vaccination rate, with the aim to reach 60 percent, people’s compliance with disease prevention measures and the general COVID-19 situation in the nation, Chen told the CECC’s daily news conference. The center would take “a more rigorous approach” when making