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Medical journals publish fake 'Star Wars' paper

A neurology expert has written a fake Star Wars-themed manuscript and sent it to a series of medical journals in an attempt to prove some publications are not as credible as they seem.

It must have been a Jedi mind trick.

A neurology expert has revealed they were able to convince a trio of medical journals to publish their Star Wars-themed 'fake' manuscript, despite it being packed full of references to George Lucas' iconic series.

The author, who writes online under the name Neuroskeptic, said their paper titled 'Mitochondria: Structure, Function and Clinical Relevance' was poorly written and 'an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes'.

'I wanted to test whether 'predatory' journals would publish an obviously absurd paper,' the hoax's author wrote for Discover Magazine. 

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This is the front page of one of the published versions of the phony paper, showing it was written by 'Lucas McGeorge' and 'Annette Kin'

'So I created a spoof manuscript about "midi-chlorians" - the fictional entities which live inside cells and give Jedi their powers in Star Wars. 

'I filled it with other references to the galaxy far, far away, and submitted it to nine journals under the names of Dr Lucas McGeorge and Dr Annette Kin.'

The name of the authors given in the fake piece are thinly-veiled references to Lucas - Star Wars' creator - and Anakin Skywalker. 

Neuroskeptic went on in their blog post to explain the paper was picked up by four different journals - the American Journal of Medical and Biological Research, the International Journal of Molecular Biology: Open Access, the Austin Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and American Research Journal of Biosciences.

The pretend paper was said to be written by 'Dr Lucas McGeorge and Dr Annette Kin'. Pictured are George Lucas and Anakin Skywalker, otherwise known as Darth Vader

This passage from the fake scientific paper includes direct quotes from Episode III, in which the film's villain, Palpatine, tells a pre-Darth Anakin about Darth Plagueis - a historical figure so powerful he gained the power to bring people back from the dead

The AJMBR did not publish the paper but did request a $360 fee in order to do so.

Versions of the manuscript in other journals mentioned can be found online.

'So what did they publish? A travesty, which they should have rejected within about 5 minutes – or 2 minutes if the reviewer was familiar with Star Wars,' Neuroskeptic wrote for Discover Magazine.

The paper frequently discussed the 'midi-chlorians' (pictured) - the fictional entities which live inside cells and give Jedi their powers in Star Wars

The writer then went into detail on a few of the most-egregious lines worked into the paper, including an entire section about the above-mentioned 'midi-chlorians'.

'Some highlights: "Beyond supplying cellular energy, midichloria perform functions such as Force sensitivity", "Involved in ATP production is the citric acid cycle, also referred to as the KyloRen cycle after its discoverer", "Midi-chlorians are microscopic life-forms that reside in all living cells – without the midi-chlorians, life couldn’t exist, and we’d have no knowledge of the force. Midichlorial disorders often erupt as brain diseases, such as autism",' Neuroskeptic's manuscript read.

The paper then included an entire passage that was almost lifted entirely from Star Wars Episode III, in which the film's villain, Palpatine, tells a pre-Darth Anakin about Darth Plagueis - a historical figure so powerful he gained the power to bring people back from the dead.

The paper directly quoted the villain of the first six episodes, Palpatine, during a discussion in Star Wars Episode III. Palpatine is pictured with Anakin Skywalker during the movie

'Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? I thought not,' the passage reads, reciting a direct quote from the film.

'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 [17] to create life. 

'This process increases the number of reducing equivalents available to the midichloria electron transport chains, and thus generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) [14,15]. 

'He had such knowledge [18] of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying [20]. The dark side of the Force’s a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.'

Neuroskeptic continued in his blog post to explain the dodgy paper, before saying that some of the journals he sent it to were quick to shoot the work down.

The author then wrapped up the rant by explaining why they put together the paper, and what it means for journals going forward.

'So does this sting prove that scientific publishing is hopelessly broken? No, not really. It's just a reminder that at some "peer reviewed" journals, there really is no meaningful peer review at all,' Neuroskeptic said.

'All I did, as Lucas McGeorge, was test the quality of the products being advertised.' 

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