An article about research on “midichlorians”, that is, what gives Jedi Knights their force powers Star Wars slipped through the review process in four out of nine journals.

The article was submitted by the names Dr. Lucas McGeorge and Dr. Annette Kin to nine scientific journals. And besides the name of the authors, was filled with more or less subtle Star Wars references.

Darth Plagueis the Wise

For example, the force is mentioned on several occasions, the two diseases ‘Yodas ataxia’ and ‘Wookie disease’ are described and there is also a monologue about Darth Plagueis The Wise taken from one of the films.

The signature Neuroskeptic acknowledges on the site that they simply copied Wikimedia text on mitochondria, parts of a cell, and replaced it with the perceived term of midichlorians.

“Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? I thought not. It is not a story the Jedi would tell you. It was a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midichloria to create life.”

In the seventh reference in the article, the bogus article authors clarify that most of the text is based on plagiarism from Wikipedia’s text on mitochondria, and apologizes.

One of the journals rejecting the article noted that the authors missed the important references Lucas et al., 1977, Palpatine et al., 1980, and Calrissian et al., 1983.

Scientific peer review

As funny as this is to see how a dysfunctional peer review process can be laid bare by such obvious fakery, it also clearly illuminates a serious problem that hurts science.

It has long been known that certain journals will publish almost any paper for a fee without proper peer review. Some watchdogs have demonstrated this by submitting fake papers by fake researchers to these journals to highlight how bogus journals harm the integrity of the Open Access publishing movement.

This newest example by the anonymous science blogger Neuroskepticis truly astounding for just how silly this problem can be.