FTC Doles Out $50 Million Fine For Fake Science

Last year I wrote about predatory publishers pushing out fake science in order to make a buck -- well a whole lot of bucks. One of the publishing houses called out by name was India-based Omics. The practice works like this: Omics offers a pay-for-print method to circumvent the lengthy process of peer-reviewed journals. So, if you have a paper that claims Marie Curie was an alien sent from another galaxy to help us advance in science and you have money, you can get this paper published and it will appear legit. Where it gets messy: Not every journal published by a predatory publisher is itself predatory. Some have active editorial boards and provide real peer review. (see: “Fake Science Sullies Sound Research.”)

The Federal Trade Commission just cleaned up some of the mess. The FTC won a summary judgement against Omics, which was hit with a $50 million  fine for deceptive business practices, along with permanent injunctions against most of the activities that made it money.

It is a very long tale of deception and nincompoopery and you can read all about it in an article from ARS Technica, which sums it up:

Many of the companies that engage in predatory practices are small and based overseas, so it's not clear how well the FTC will be able to pursue them. And, as long as these journals are willing to provide crackpot ideas with a veneer of scientific legitimacy, it'll be tough to shut them down entirely. Still, it's nice to know that there's legal recourse should predatory publishers become a large-enough problem.


Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing’s senior digital editor and fan of science fiction from folks like Isaac Asimov, Douglas Adams and Ray Bradbury -- NOT predatory publishers. You can email her your legitimate science-based news to tpurdum@putman.net.