Crick’s Nobel Medal Ends Up In Questionable Hands

Francis CrickYesterday, the family of Francis Crick, one of the discoverers of the structure of DNA, sold his Nobel medal for more than £1.3 million.

It was reported that the medal was sold to Jack Wang, “CEO of Biomobie, a regenerative medicine technology company located in Silicon Valley and Shanghai.”

Wang is behind a company that sells a device called a “Bioboosti”. The small elecronic orb-like device is claims to regenerate organs by transmitting “biological electromagnetism wave for cardio-cerebrovascular regeneration”. The nervous system is supposed to ‘conduct a regeneration coding signal to the brain”. This is pure gobbledegook.

His company makes grand claims,

Bioboosti is an epoch-making innovative biotechnological product capable of postponing senility, resisting viral infection, and treating diseases. It is a significant breakthrough in the field of human regenerative medicine. In addition to the unique effectiveness in the rehabilitation of cardiovascular diseases, Bioboosti has also demonstrated a great potential in clinical applications for disease healing of other organs and rejuvenation of sub-health subjects. The multiple patents resulted from the research efforts on Bioboosti will surely benefit the whole population of our human beings.

This device appears to be indistinguishable from a range of quack electromagnetic devices that claim to improve health. Most notorious of which was the Q-Link pendant.

bioboostiThe difference would appear to be that each patient is supposed to sign up for membership and undergo ”data collection in Bioboosti Center”. Then they are given the magic orb that they then hold in their hands for “8-32 minutes every day” for up to 45 days whereupon they will revisit the centre for confirmation that all has worked well.

It would appear that you then can keep on using your orb in their ‘anti-aging’ programme with yearly check-ups.

No doubt all this comes at a price. Probably enough of a price for the company to splash out on Crick’s Nobel Prize medal.

The company presents a lot of graphs from research that it claims has been done in China. Links to peer-reviewed papers though are not given.

The discovery of the nature of DNA gave us an answer to how life works. It showed how the recipes for life could be encoded in an atomic alphabet, read and transcribed by proteins, and replicated down the generations. It is undoubtedly one the pinnacles of human intellectual achievement.

Bioboosti appear to be making absurd claims that life contains some sort of electromagnetic coding that can regenerate cells. It is a shame that the symbol of the highest award for scientific  discovery  has ended up in the hands of people who appear to have not yet understood the nature of life and who make claims that directly contradict these discoveries.

If true, Wang does indeed deserve a Nobel Prize and a medal. I have a very strong feeling though that he was wise to buy one as the chances of gaining one through merit are non-existent.

 

35 comments for “Crick’s Nobel Medal Ends Up In Questionable Hands

  1. JimR
    April 12, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    The device looks like a tiny flying saucer. Probably makes a woo sound.

  2. Peter Robinson
    April 13, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Have sent your story to Doubtful News for wider propagation. Also to JREF in hope they will call Wang out with a Million Dollar Challenge. That way he could recover most of what he paid on the medal, couldn’t he?

  3. Vincent
    April 13, 2013 at 10:05 am

    I’m sorry, but this is really a sensationalist article. Jack Wang didn’t steal Crick’s medal – he bought it, at a legitimate auction. That person’s belief and business, no matter how dubious, have nothing to do with this transaction.

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

    Or are you just pissed off that you didn’t have 1.3 million to blow on a shiny trinket?

    • Peter Robinson
      April 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

      Did anyone suggest that Wang stole the medal?

      What is sensationalist in pointing out that it is sad and regrettable that the symbol of an honour presented for one of the greatest of all scientific discoveries has ended up in the hands of a peddlar of pseudoscientific nonsense?

      The story offers a good opportunity to spread the word that the Bioboosti is a scam.

    • sweetpea
      April 13, 2013 at 10:20 am

      Where ever does Andy say it was stolen? Have you read the article?

  4. Vincent
    April 13, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Of course I read the article. Did you read my comment? Where do I say Andy wrote Wang stole the medal? That’s exactly my point: it was a legal transaction. Buying the medal doesn’t mean Jack Wang is now the discoverer of DNA along with his “best bud” Watson now, does it?

    It’s just a medal. The accomplishment isn’t diminished by whoever bought it.

    It’s making connections where there are none. I’d call that shoddy reporting.

    • Peter Robinson
      April 13, 2013 at 11:21 am

      You really have managed to grab hold of the wrong end of the stick, haven’t you. First, you raised the irrelevant non-existent connection to the idea of the medal being stolen.

      You have not addressed the fact that a pseudoscientist getting his hands on the medal is a damn shame, and the money he used to acquire it is ill gotten gains.

      Nor do you address the point that the story of the medal offers a good opportunity to highlight the scam nature of the device Wang sells. Using the story of the sale of the medal to help inform people of the Bioboosti fraud is not shoddy reporting in any way.

    • Chris How
      April 13, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      You may call it shoddy reporting, but I don’t.

      I had read about the sale of Crick’s medal in two newspapers (Guardian, WSJ), and regurgitated the same AP story which had precisely this to say on the identity of the buyer:

      “Heritage Auctions identified the buyer as Jack Wang, CEO of Biomobie, a regenerative medicine technology company located in Silicon Valley and Shanghai.”

      So without Andy’s article, I would have believed that to be true, rather than the reality, which is more like “…CEO of Biomobie, a peddler of quack remedies to the credulous and deluded”.

      If anyone’s guilty of shoddy reporting here, it’s the AP, and all the newspapers who printed their report without doing any journalism of any kind.

  5. Vincent
    April 13, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    “First, you raised the irrelevant non-existent connection to the idea of the medal being stolen.”

    Nope. Never said Andy wrote that it was stolen. I mentioned that it wasn’t stolen, it was bought legitimately, ie, what’s the fuss?

    “a pseudoscientist getting his hands on the medal is a damn shame”

    By whose standards? He could afford it, he wanted it, he got it. That’s capitalism for you. Would it be better if the person who bought it was a scientist who unbeknownst to you happened to be a child rapist, for instance? It’s just a lump of metal, it isn’t Crick’s actually discovery.

    “Nor do you address the point that the story of the medal offers a good opportunity to highlight the scam nature of the device Wang sells.”

    You shouldn’t need an opportunity to highlight a scam. The fact that it’s a scam should be reason enough.

    In that respect, we’ll done Andy for highlighting the scam, poor show for linking it to an auction that has nothing to do with the scam: as far as I can gather, buying a medal doesn’t legitimise your business.

    • Chris How
      April 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      “In that respect, we’ll done Andy for highlighting the scam, poor show for linking it to an auction that has nothing to do with the scam”

      I am sceptical that *really* don’t think there’s a story in the fact that a Nobel medal awarded for Physiology or Medicine has been bought by a quack.

      “Would it be better if the person who bought it was a scientist who unbeknownst to you happened to be a child rapist, for instance?”

      In order for that hypothetical situation to approach the irony of the actual situation, the prize would have to have been the Nobel Prize for Not Raping Children.

  6. Vincent
    April 13, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    The irony of the actuall situation? Maybe I missed it… Has Jack Wang stated that he doesn’t believe in DNA?

    • Adzcliff
      April 14, 2013 at 9:44 am

      I expect Jack Wang does believe in DNA; I expect he thinks his pioneering regenerative treatments and new physics are built upon the discoveries of Watson, Crick & Franklin; I expect he thinks the medal would be pleased with its new home. I expect many would take this story on face value, and think the same, but a little digging suggests that Crick might have looked dimly on this exchange: both in the scientific integrity of the medal’s new owner (because of what it represents), and in the way the transaction was financed (lucrative pseudoscience). Not front-page stuff, but an interesting irony to some, worth a few paragraphs in a mainstream newspaper, and a few more on a sceptical blog considering its target audience.

      Oh, and by the way, it was bought at auction.

  7. Vincent
    April 13, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Btw, paintings are being sold all the time for millions, to people who most likely wouldn’t know how to paint, let alone hold a brush. Should we limit art sales to those who are capable to making art themselves?

    As I said before, this is capitalism in action. Jack wanted the medal, he got it. Congratulations to the highest bidder, but frankly, who cares? It’s a lump of metal. The history books will not be altered now that this medal is in the hands of another person, whoever that person may be.

    Sceptics shouldn’t really hold much significance to medals and such. Other groups revere trinkets. Sceptics should be above that.

    • Meridian
      April 13, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      Vincent, are you seriously pretending that you don’t understand why the article was written with connection to the Nobel Prize sale? Have you never read a newspaper? Never read a piece of prose? Do you not understand how writing/reporting works? Here, I’ll break it down for you in the simplest possible way:

      1. Francis Crick discovered DNA and, from there, we were able to discover how the body works biologically and chemically.
      2. Crick wins Nobel Prize.
      3. Jack Wang is a peddler of woo, who clearly doesn’t understand how the body works biologically or chemically – if he did, he would know that his inventions DO NOT, AND COULD NOT POSSIBLY, WORK.
      4. Wang bought crick’s Nobel Prize. THE PRIZE THAT CRICK WON FOR FINDING OUT HOW THE BODY WORKS.
      5. Irony ensues. A ripe subject for an article or piece of prose.

      You should read more and watch some more films and documentaries. Your life will be richer once you get past the fact that many of them will contain seemingly disparate notions woven together.

    • Vicky
      April 13, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Btw, paintings are being sold all the time for millions, to people who most likely wouldn’t know how to paint, let alone hold a brush. Should we limit art sales to those who are capable to making art themselves?

      What a strange comparison. The Nobel medal is an award whereas a painting is usually a decorative object (or, for some people, a financial investment).

      Sceptics shouldn’t really hold much significance to medals and such. Other groups revere trinkets. Sceptics should be above that.

      The blog post isn’t really about the medal, it’s about the device. The sale of an award is something you read about and forget again pretty quickly, but in this case it brought a scam device to one Andy’s attention and he wrote about it.

  8. Meridian
    April 13, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Vincent, are you seriously pretending that you don’t understand why the article was written with connection to the Nobel Prize sale? Have you never read a newspaper? Never read a piece of prose? Do you not understand how writing/reporting works? Here, I’ll break it down for you in the simplest possible way:

    1. Francis Crick discovered DNA and, from there, we were able to discover how the body works biologically and chemically.
    2. Crick wins Nobel Prize.
    3. Jack Wang is a peddler of woo, who clearly doesn’t understand how the body works biologically or chemically – if he did, he would know that his inventions DO NOT, AND COULD NOT POSSIBLY, WORK.
    4. Wang bought crick’s Nobel Prize. THE PRIZE THAT CRICK WON FOR FINDING OUT HOW THE BODY WORKS.
    5. Irony ensues. A ripe subject for an article or piece of prose.

    You should read more and watch some more films and documentaries. Your life will be richer once you get past the fact that many of them will contain seemingly disparate notions woven together.

  9. Vincent
    April 13, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Meridian, you’re making a lot of assumptions about me and reaching conclusions without any evidence to back it up, and none of this has to do with the subject at hand.

    For instance, the Guardian article says the buyer is Jack Wang, not Biomobie, the company, but Jack, the man.

    It’s a stretch and it needn’t have been. It’s like jumping on the bandwagon and then present a different story that has nothing to do with the title of Andy’s article.

    We don’t need such tactics to get the message across. It makes this blog sound just like a tabloid and it’s unnecessary.

    The scam in question is important to highlight, but there’s no need to weave two disparate stories together. That’s not good writing IMHO, but of course, I can see that I’m the only one here who thinks so.

    As Vicky said, this post isn’t really about the medal, so why use the medal to attract readers? I thought Andy was better than the Telegraph or the Sun.

    • Meridian
      April 13, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      Because of the irony of it. It is a simple writing device to highlight it, to lead in to the bigger point. It is actually quite unimportant in the grand scheme of the article – that is why you are the only one who is making any noise about it.

      The story has a small ironic point to it. This was stumbled upon after news of the sale of the medal. That was the extent of mentioning it. The rest of the story is interesting, though.

  10. Patrick
    April 14, 2013 at 2:48 am

    Another reason for making a point of the sale of a Nobel medal to this guy is that there is a strong likelihood that having a Nobel medal will in short order result in a claim that the medal was earned and awarded to mr. bioboosti, or whatever the hell his product is called. The guy’s got a Nobel Prize. You don’t really think he paid more than a million just to put it on his shelf, do you? Now he can “legitimately” call it “his” Nobel Prize. I’m sure that’s worth much more than a million in credulous customers.

  11. Vincent
    April 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Oh come on Patrick! If he claims that, it would so obviously be fraudulent that lawyers would rain down on him. I don’t think a guy who can afford to spend 1.3 million is that stupid (although of course I could be wrong). What you’re saying is as absurd as someone buying a Picasso and then claiming they painted it themselves.

    • Patrick
      April 14, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      Sorry, Vincent, but I don’t think you’re right about that. In fact, I’m sure you’re wrong. Lawyers raining down. Nope. Whose lawyers? Whose jurisdiction? Perhaps eventually, after years of scamming, the Nobel Committee might send a cease and desist letter, which he would ignore. His legal problems, if any, are far in the future. Long after he’s gotten his money back on his investment.

      And if you think people won’t believe him because he’s making an obviously false claim, then all I can say is that you are touchingly naive. There is no story, no claim, so outrageous that people won’t believe it if it is claimed with apparent sincerity. That’s how cranks work. Who could possibly believe in “body thetans,” or “therapeutic touch” or the divinity of Jim Jones or “yogic flying” or transsubstantiation or the Cleveland Browns chances of going to the Super Bowl or any of a million other things that to you are obviously preposterously wrong.

      Cults and cranks can only exist because people will believe absolutely anything someone tells them. Making up a story about how he really did earn the Nobel, but it’s being suppressed is child’s play. He’s GOT THE MEDAL, for goodness sakes. What more proof could he possibly need?

      • Adzcliff
        April 14, 2013 at 3:33 pm

        Although I don’t understand the lengths Vincent has gone to insist the irony of this story is misplaced and uninteresting, I do happen to think it would be very unlikely (as opposed to Patrick’s very likely) that Wang will make an attempt to pass this Nobel medal off as his own. It would only take a quick Google search to discover no mention of him in the Nobel record, and his reputation would be in tatters (even amongst a portion of the credulous). That would indeed be a dry dumb and risky move for someone who appears to have an exceptional talent for business.

        • Patrick
          April 14, 2013 at 4:21 pm

          Hi, Adzcliff,

          I’m really not trying to be argumentative, but I would just point out that people still believe Bill Gates will give them money for forwarding an email. And people still believe Andrew Wakefield is a persecuted genius. And people still believe Peter Popoff can cure them over the TV.

          His name not being on the list is not proof he never won the Nobel; it’s proof that he’s being suppressed. A shockingly large number of people will see it like that, anyway, if that’s what he goes for. That’s the way conspiracy belief works. It’s not rational.

          Perhaps — hopefully — he won’t use it that way. I’m not sanguine, though. He has too much invested in that little bauble.

          • G-Po
            April 15, 2013 at 12:37 pm

            I think a more subtle approach would be more likely. Say, a photo of the medal on the website, with a note to the effect ‘Biomobie [or Jack Wang, CEO of Biomobie] has a Nobel Prize medal for Medicine. The award was made for pioneering work in the field of human cell research’.

            Hope that doesn’t give him ideas.

    • PatD
      July 27, 2013 at 7:07 pm

      It is not a legal issue as much as a moral and ethical one. He takes the medal, shows it off to people, makes himself and his product more believable. From your way of writing style (and consistently logical way), that you may not fall for such scams (or oversold promises of health claims). But, 90% of the world does fall for it. Some fall for it, because they don’t know any better. Some fall for it because they did not have higher education. Some fall for it because they were so desperate to get of the depression with problems in their lives that they would do almost anything. I used to argue like you do. I still do, most of the times. But, sometimes, I feel guilty. Am I talking on behalf of the 10% of elites OR am I talking on behalf of the 90% of people who don’t know any better?

  12. Patrick
    April 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    You may be right, G-Po, although I somehow doubt that subtlety is part of his toolbox. The odd thing to me is that some folks here seem to think that whatsisname spent over a million dollars on that medal and has no plan to, or won’t be able to, *use* it rather than simply possess it. That makes no sense to me.

    • Adzcliff
      April 15, 2013 at 5:54 pm

      Hi Patrick

      This is a response to both your recent posts. First off, I don’t think you’re trying to be argumentative – so don’t worry about that. I think the analogy to art probably works well now. I would happily spend a tiny percentage of my income on a piece of art or memorabilia just for the sake of owning it – but yes, would probably need to envisage some sort of useful function for anything much more expensive than that. I have no idea what Wang’s earnings are, and/or the extent of his taste for art and memorabilia. I still think it’s highly unlikely that he would pass-off one of the rarest and most venerated awards in science as his own, but think it highly plausible that he hopes to publicise his enthusiasm and love for science by this high-profile purchase. Perhaps even give some (false) impression of the sort of company he keeps. I mean, it sometimes takes a conscious act to resist the subtle suggestion of a signed picture of Gordon Ramsey hanging over the frier at the local chippy – if you catch my drift?? Not sure what you think…

      • Patrick Moore
        April 16, 2013 at 3:35 pm

        I guess you’re, it seems to me, just a teeny bit more positive about people than I am. I just cannot see Wang being as restrained as you imagine. The scenarios you propose are plausible: he is simply a collector, or he will limit his use of the medal to encouraging people to respect him on the basis of his love for science or his relationship with scientists.

        Given the behavior of others in his “moral category,” though, I don’t buy it. Would Burszynski be so subtle? And did you notice the post below about the book in Sweden that apparently falsely claimed two Nobel Prizes for a homeopath?

        In the end, I’ll probably never know, unless he ends up in court over it and it’s fairly highly publicized, because as soon as this comment board ends, which it almost has, I sort of doubt I’ll ever hear about it again. He’ll do whatever he’ll do, and I’ll move on, having been made just a bit more depressed about people than I already was.

        The Boston Marathon bombing happened yesterday. North Korea is still threatening with nuclear weapons. A 7.8 earthquake just killed lots of people in Iran. People are still dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, not remotely in the same category, but of more immediate urgency, I have to grade a bunch of papers and finalize adoption of textbooks for my fall classes. So Wang and his behavior will fall off my radar screen. Oh, well…..

  13. JimR
    April 15, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Is there a market for used Nobel Prizes? I’ve never heard of another being sold. The Peace prizes are usually the most contentious. Do people collect these things?

  14. Jonathan
    April 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    This reminds me of the two Olympic athletes who had their medals stolen from a bar at an after-Olympics party. The theives quickly returned the medals as I guess they got them home and had a good think about their behaviour (“Who deserves an Olympic medal most? The person who trained, fought and competed successfully for it or some twat who dips their pocket? Mmmm. I guess I’d better give it back as I can’t live with the shame”).

    I would imagine Jack Wang has no such unease about using the achievements of others to make himself appear scientifically relevant. Pseudo-scientists do tend to lack the self-awareness and honesty even of the most hardened criminals.

  15. Pharmacist-in-Exile
    April 16, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    A simple Google search is often far too much effort for a lot of people in the woo business (regardless of producer or consumer role)… In Sweden we have been blessed with a practically non-existing homeopathy community, something they tried to affect by publishing a book on the “truth of homeopathy”… Fantastic facts in this book include the TWO Nobel prizes to Jaques Benveniste – including the one he got for the “memory of water” theory! Checking that Benveniste has not been awarded any Nobel prize (though his work on PAF could have been worthy of Nobel recognition), but two Ig Nobel Prizes (for the “memory of water” in 1991 and its “transmissability over telephone” in 1998) was a task beyond the PhD-holding author (admittedly in art history) of the book. And this in the home country of the Nobel Prize!
    And isn’t checking your references just for conspiracy confirmation among woosters anyway?

  16. JimR.
    April 16, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Thank goodness for the ig Noble awards.That is just precious beyond belief. Just as good as citing an article from the satirical online magazine TheOnion.

  17. Sean Kelly
    April 27, 2013 at 4:11 am

    I think if the woo-woo merchant was going to use the fact he had the medal, it’d be along the lines of “Jack Wang, CEO of Biomobie and owner of a Nobel medal for Physiology or Medicine”.

    Most of potential purchasers of his rubbish wouldn’t recognise the difference between Nobel prize and Nobel medal, and he can claim to be the owner. That he’s not the recipient of the award wouldn’t necessarily bubble into the consciousness of the gullible.

    • adzcliff
      April 28, 2013 at 11:21 am

      Now that would be an ingenious bit of lie-avoidant (as opposed to ‘honest’) marketing that is probably at the most decpetive end of what I was envisaging. Unfortunately the psychology of anchoring tells us that most who read that genuine statement, won’t realise it’s about as endorsing as “Jack Wang, CEO of Biomobie and owner of a 1978 Landrover 110”.

  18. May 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    He must be selling a ton of his gizmos to afford £1.3 million…..

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