The False Science Debate on Phoenix TV - Part 1

The following is the account by Sima Nan about his participation on a Phoenix TV show over false science in China.  The program producers invited people (such as Sima Nan) who debunk what is alleged to be false science, as well as people (such as Ding Xiaoping) who objected to being accused by self-appointed debunkers of engaging in false science.

(  Why Was I Suspicious About "Peking University Professor" Ding Xiaoping?  By Sima Nan.

[translated with some omissions]

Prior to the show, I was in the dressing room and I saw another man putting on make-up.  So I started to chat with him: "Who are you, mister?"

He replied: "Ding Xiaoping."

I made a joke: "So you are the famous Ding Xiaoping?"  In the media, I am portrayed as an angry man, but I am actually a prankster sometimes in real life.  But Mr. Ding was cold and distant: "There is no good person in the world.  I am not one of your kind." ...

Mr. Ding got up abruptly and walked out the door ...

At that moment, I had not realized who that man really was.  I was just confounded by the actions of that man.

I went into another room and Mr. Tao Shilong, Mr. Zhao Nanyuan, the Academy of Science's Mr. Cheng and other friends were there.  We chatted and then I suddenly remembered: Damn, Ding Xiaoping!  Isn't he the one?

Previously, I had come across some promotional materials about "a great Chinese scholar with encyclopedic knowledge."  It was nauseating, exaggerated and absurd to the extreme, and therefore I still had traces of memory about him in my subconscious.

I assembled the traces of memory: (1) he came from the Jiamusi Agricultural School; (2) he is an advisor to more than 100 masters and doctoral students on various subjects; (3) he is knowledgeable in physics, engineering, agriculture, medicine, literature, history, philosophy; (4) he developed his own philosophy system and psychology system; (5) he served as the chairman of the China Bank group.

I thought that my memory may not serve me correctly and so I called a friend to ask him to "Baidu" the name for me.  Five minutes later, the friend told me that my memory was good because that was the person: the Ding Xiaoping who would "bring humanity out of childish ignorance" and "the star of hope for Chinese academics."  His academic title was: Special professor of the Social, Economic and Cultural Research Center of Peking University.

At this time, the debate began.  The host Hu Yifu told the global Chinese audience that on his right is Tsinghua University professor Zhao Nanyuan and on his left is Peking University professor Ding Xiaoping.

While Zhao and Ding debated each other, Zhao thought that Ding was drifting and unsubstantive and therefore asked: "Are you a philosopher or perhaps you know it all?"  Ding looked pensive and did not reply.

Professor Yuan Zhong then came on and once again challenged Ding Xiaoping's status as Peking University professor.  Ding Xiaoping answered firmly: "Certain wretched people spread rumors about me on the Internet.  About this, the show producer Hou Ningyang has already verified with Peking University.  I do not want to offer any more explanation."

The program continued.

For some reason, the host Hu Yifu improvised and it showed an obvious bias:  "You ought to have the right attitude about what you don't know.  You should investigate and verify.  Look, our staff made an immediate investigation about Mr. Ding Xiaoping's status."

So it seemed that Ding Xiaoping's status as professor has been established.  Nobody in the studio could say anything.

But is that really so?

Based upon my understanding of Peking University, this was quite suspicious.  As I watched what Ding was doing on the stage, it was even more incredible.

At the time, Ding Xiaoping was just bullshitting about the three mentalities that he had discovered about scientific research: scientific mentality, image mentality and primitive mentality.  It is one thing to make people laugh with these wild speculations, but he was heaping scorn upon Professors Zhao Nanyuan and Yuan Zhong: "Have you read Levy-Bruhl's <Primitive Mentality>?  You are a long way off!"  After Ding Xiaoping uttered this rubbish while posing as the prophet and victor, the audience behind him applauded.

Faced with these fearless words of ignorance, Professor Yuan Zhong could only shake his head and smile bitterly.

I was waiting for my turn to get on stage.  So I took some effort to find the producer Hou Ningyang who was supposed to have verified Ding Xiaoping's status as Peking University professor.  Hou came out of the broadcast relay vehicle.  He was frank and honest.  I asked him which department at Peking University did he confirm Ding Xiaoping's status.  Hou honestly replied that he did not seek out any department.  He had only made one telephone call.  The team had received a telephone number provided by Ding Xiaoping himself and reached a certain Mr. Liu Aimin who is a Peking University professor according to Ding Xiaoping.  Liu Aimin verbally "confirmed" that Ding Xiaoping is a Peking University professor.

Aaaaiiiieeee, if a Peking University professor can be "certified" this way, then I can also be "certified" as the Roman Catholic Pope right now.  Can you believe it?

Finally, it was time for me to get on stage.

I shook hands with Ding and I stare right into his eyes.  But his eyes were shifty.

We sat down.  I related my re-investigation of the investigation by the show producer.  Then I asked: "I still have doubts about Mr. Ding's status as Peking University professor.  Can you just give a simple 'Yes' or 'No' answer?"  No matter what the answer it, it will not change my respect for you."  The crowd was buzzing as they awaited Ding's answer.

At this critical moment, Ding Xiaoping displayed his great professional qualities.

He took over the question and then he beat around the bush.  He spoke continuously without pause to change the subject.  But the careful observer will discover that even as his mouth kept moving and his arms were making exaggerated motions, his facial expression was frigid.  He spoke about Copernicus and the theory of earth as the center of the universe, he strayed farther and farther away ... so people began to get angry.

The host then announced a short break.

An audience member asked Ding: Are you a Peking University professor?

Ding Xiaoping saw that the cameras were not running, so he immediately exploded: "I ask you -- are you human?  Can you prove that?  Can you prove that?"

In the audience section on the other side, some people were defending Ding.  A short and skinny man was particularly vicious: "What?  What?  If you have the courage, let us go down and fight one-on-one!"

Ding got up and glared at the audience in front of him.  He yelled aloud: "Some people are too vulgar ..."

Ding was getting worked up and pointed to Zhao: "You ... I ask you ... can you prove that you are a professor?  Can you? ..."

Zhao Nanyuan said openly: "Of course I can."  Then he reached into his pocket to produce his Tsinghua University employee card as proof.

Ding Xiaoping immediately stopped Professor Zhao and he changed his question: "I ask, can you prove that you are human?"

This was getting too ridiculous!  I jumped up and told Ding: "I ask you whether you are a Peking University professor.  Just tell the truth and this will be over!"

At that moment, we were unaware that the media reporters were getting frantic about what was happening.  They snapped their cameras rapidly and's Zhou Bo had a full view of the scene: Ding and I were about two meters apart and we both looked enraged.  I believe that this is how the story of "Sima Nan and Ding Xiaoping almost got into a fight" came about.

Afterwards I made some phone calls and conducted some investigation.  Here are the preliminary results:

1. Concerning the "Social, Economic and Cultural Research Center of Peking University," a knowledgeable person said that it was a product that certain people in some Peking University departments worked with outside companies.  This then became an organization that engaged in commercial operations while using the banner of Peking University.  As a result, it has caused some troubles for Peking University. But it does not have the power to confer Peking University professorship.

2. Ding's materials claimed that he graduated from the pharmacy department of the Chinese Medical Science Academy.  After checking with the academy, the name Ding Xiaoping does not appear in the list of bachelors from 1978-1997 or doctorates from 1981-1999.

3. A China Bank group confirmed that there has never been a chairman named Ding Xiaoping at the group ...

... Is Ding Xiaoping a Peking University professor?  Who is he really?  When we debate the topic of false science, those questions about Ding are unimportant.  As long as he still has his citizen rights, he has the freedom of speech no matter what his views, skills, professionalism or even ethics are.

But when Ding Xiaoping appeared as a Peking University professor in front of a global Chinese audience through a public media platform in order to debate a Tsinghua University professor about false science, his status should not be forged.  As a debate participant, we have the right to know the truth about the status of Ding.

(  By Shuixing.  December 29, 2006.

[in translation with some omissions]

On December 28, I was a member of the audience along with two friends ...  One of the guests was Ding Xiaoping.  The program host presented him as a Peking University professor.  I did not catch which department he was with.  This did not attract our attention.  We have heard of the name Ding Xiaoping because many netizens say that he was a fraudster.  But we did not pay too much attention to that problem before.

Soon after the program began, an audience member on our side challenged Ding Xiaoping's status as Peking University.  Ding Xiaoping just skirted around the question.  Undoubtedly, the question drew the attention of Phoenix TV and they arranged for someone to make a telephone confirmation.  But at the time, we in the audience did not know that the show producers were doing that.

After a while, another audience member questioned Ding Xiaoping's status again.  The host had received the result of the telephone call and took the chance to declare that Ding Xiaoping's status as Peking University professor had been confirmed and there was no problem.  We all accepted this as fact, and we were sure that Ding Xiaoping is actually a Peking University professor.

But later events would show that Ding Xiaoping deceived Phoenix TV and us.  We thank Sima Nan for tearing through the deception.

Sima Nan was another guest on the show.  According to the schedule, he would appear later in the show.  Before making his appearance, he made another verification about the doubt of the audience and the verification by Phoenix TV.

When Sima Nan appeared, he immediately brought up the issue again.  At the time, I was more or less surprised because I thought that this issue was closed.  But it seemed that I am relatively naive and I do not have the experience of Sima Nan.

Sima Nan explained first just how Phoenix TV made the telephone verification.  He spelled out a name and a telephone number and pointed out that Phoenix TV called this person for confirmation.  But this person and the telephone number were completely untrustworthy.  Therefore, the status of Ding Xiaoping as Peking University professor remained in doubt.

There are many ways to resolve the doubt, but since Ding Xiaoping was present at the scene, it was easiest to ask him to provide a direct answer.  That was exactly what Sima Nan did.  He posed that question directly to Ding Xiaoping and said that the answer can be as simple as "yes" or "no."

This question would not take up much program time to answer and it also offered Ding Xiaoping the easiest way to establish the truth.  But for unknown reasons, Ding Xiaoping would not answer "yes" or "no" to this simple question.  His reply was: (1) this question is unrelated to the subject of the debate; (2) his identity has been confirmed by the show producers and therefore he did not have to respond again.

I thought that this kind of response was shoddy.

First, this issue was obviously related to the program in which he participated as a Peking University professor.  This was announced at the start of the program and it was then confirmed later.  If he was not a Peking University professor, then this was an open deception, and a fraudster's words should not be trusted.  I believe that if Phoenix TV knew that he was such a fraudster, they would never have invited him to be a guest on the program.

Secondly, Sima Nan has pointed out the the confirmation by the producer was unreliable.  Under these circumstances, he was obviously obliged to clarify the facts.  It seems that the producer might have been tricked by Ding Xiaoping.  He might have provided that the telephone number and he also arranged for someone to man the telephone.  In that case, Ding Xiaoping was not just any fraudster, but a deliberate fraudster.

At the scene, Sima Nan persisted with the question and Ding Xiaoping was getting angry.  The guest section erupted in chaos as both Sima Nan and Ding Xiaoping stood up.  With persuasion from the host and others, order was re-established and the program continued.

After these occurrences, the true identity of Ding Xiaoping aroused our interest greatly.  Of course, we did raise questions during the program because that would have disrupted the arrangement.  But during the rest breaks, I and my friends would ask aloud: "Yes or no?  Is it yes or no?"

Ding Xiaoping was obviously angry.  He continued to refuse to answer "yes" or "no."  Since my voice was especially loud, he noticed me.  From the stage, he questioned me: "Are you human? How do you prove that?"

I obviously can prove that I am human.  I have an identity card.  This is easy to prove.  Similarly, it is easy to prove whether one is a Peking University professor.  So why didn't Ding Xiaoping answer that question?

At that moment, it was for certain that Ding Xiaoping was not a Peking University professor.  Nobody knows if Peking University might hire him as a professor some day in the future.  But at least on that night, he was not a Peking University professor.

As a fraudster, the fact that Ding Xiaoping got angry when exposed was risible but also understandable.  The peculiar thing was that on his side of the audience, there were several young men who also appeared to be angry.  They stood up and yelled at us angrily and they threatened to beat us up.  Ding Xiaoping pointed at me and said that if I continued to ask the question, he would slap me.  But in order to slap me, Ding needs to walk up to me at least.  But there he was on the stage, motionless.  Ha ha ...

The friend that came with me has practiced martial arts for many years.  Our situation is like one of the dialogues in a Wang Shuo novel: "Someone wants to pick a fight with us?"

It should be explained that prior to the threat of violence from the other side, we were only questioning Ding Xiaoping's status as Peking University professor and we wanted to expose his deception.  We did not say that we want to beat anyone up and we did not think about beating anyone up.  We did not even curse anyone out.  We just kept asking: "Yes or no?  Yes or no?"  But our questions were met with threats of violence from the other side.  The only way to deal with this threat is to strike back head-on.

After the program was over, there was some more clashes.  When the program was over, Phoenix TV asked the audience to stay behind for some more filming.  Ding Xiaoping took the opportunity to leave first, and we did not have the chance to question him again.  That was regrettable.  But the young men who threatened violence were still there.

After the additional filming was done, my friend went out of the studio immediately and I followed him into the lobby.  Strangely, three or four people had threatened to beat us up but now there was only one person left  The others have melted away into the dark night.  Since he was the only one left, we were not going to gang up on him.  My friend said that he can take the guy on by himself.  So we wanted the man to go outside in the open space, so that we would not destroy any public property by accident.

The man continued to insist that he wanted to carry out the violence.  However, he refused to come outside.  As he expected, many people showed up to mediate.  Sima Nan grabbed my friend.  The Phoenix TV staff worked hard.  So the fight was not going to take place.  The young man who threatened to use violence was grabbed by the hand by a Phoenix TV female staffer and dragged away.  So this was yet another regret.

... When I got home, I went to Google and I found out that Ding Xiaoping claimed to be a special professor at the Peking University Social, Economic and Cultural Research Center.  The next day, I called the Peking University Social, Economic and Cultural Research Center.  The person who took the telephone call said that there was no person named Ding Xiaoping there.

Do I need to do a more rigorous investigation?


[in translation]

I just visited the director of the human resources department of Peking University.  I have clarified the following issues.

(1) In 2006, the Peking University Social, Economic and Cultural Research Center invited Ding Xiaoping to become the special instructor (note: not 'professor') in the "training class for senior managers in small and medium enterprises."  The contact was not renewed for 2007.

(2) The Peking University Social, Economic and Cultural Research Center does not have the authority to hire Ding Xiaoping as a professor.  Ding Xiaoping has not been hired as a professor by Peking University ...

(3) Certain leaders of Peking University are aware that Ding Xiaoping has been affecting the reputation of the university.

I am legally responsible for all the statements above!

I welcome you to sue me.

My real name: Wang Wenjun
Address: Jiangxi Wuzhou Postal Building dormitory
Telephone number 0798880173

I welcome Mr. Ding Xiaoping to complain or file.  He is a turtle egg if he does not.

(Southern Metropolis Daily)  Ding Xiaoping exposes the details about his conflict with anti-false-science activist Sima Nan.  By Tan Renwei.  January 9, 2007.

On the evening of January 8, this reporter got through to Ding Xiaoping by telephone and asked him about the key questions.

Question 1: Are you a Peking University professor?

Ding Xiaoping said that if anyone uses his real name to say that Ding Xiaoping is a fake Peking University professor, he will immediately sue that person for defamation.  But when the reporter checked the website for the personnel department of Peking University, he was unable to find the name of Ding Xiaoping.  He explained that he is a special professor hired by the Peking University Social, Economic and Cultural Research Center.  But under the national standards for professorship, he is not a Peking University professor.  He has never actually said that.

The reproter asked that what is the difference between a Peking University professor and a Peking University Social, Economic and Cultural Research Center special professor?  Are they all Peking University professor?  According to some netizens, the Peking University Social, Economic and Cultural Research Center is an enterprise of Peking University which provides training and does not have the right to hire professors.  Therefore, Ding Xiaoping was a hired instructor and not a professor.  Ding Xiaoping said that he is indeed a professor hired by the Center and has proof.  Concerning the title of Peking University professor, Ding Xiaoping that based upon his academic accomplishments, he would not even bother to become a fake professor at Harvard University.  "Let me say something out of anger.  I will go and print a business card tomorrow for 'fake Peking University professor.'  This fake professor will outdo all the real professors."

Question 2: Was there a physical clash at the television studio?

Concerning the physical clash on the program, Ding Xiaoping said that he did not have a physical clash with anyone.  The Internet rumors were "rubbish"!  "When you reason with someone, you don't resort to force.  When you fight with someone, you don't care about reasoning.  How is it possible for me to fight with anyone?"

Ding Xiaoping said that Sima Nan and his people are shameless.  They are keenly aware of his situation.  For political reasons, he cannot obtain a proper professorship.  But Sima Nan makes a case out of it.

Ding Xiaoping said that in this field of research, he is among the best if not the very best.  It is for certain that he has international influence.  "The Central Intelligence Agency is interested in every move of mine."  He said that ever since he exposed during his interview with Qianlong Net that there are special agents working for Japan and the United States on the Internet, he became the target of the attack by the anti-pseudo-science folks.  The attacks against him are organized and pre-meditated.

Question 3: Can someone teach 600 courses?

Ding Xiaoping said that he does not go to work anywhere.  He holds a job title at the Chinese Enterprise Consulting Centre.  But he has not been there for years.  His principal source of income is via his reports (which he priced at more than 10,000 yuan per report but actually most of them are given out for free).  As for his students, he said that he has acted as thesis advisor to some graduate students at the Chinese Ethnic University.  How can he act as thesis advisor there when he is not a professor?  Ding Xiaoping said that while the state has many regulations, the universities do things their own way and it is all a word game.

Concerning his resumés on the Internet, Ding Xiaoping said that these came from the various speeches that he gave at various universities.  The organizers clearly praised him for which he may be quite unworthy (such as "leading humankind out of childish ignorance" etc).  But there was nothing inaccurate about his being able to teach 600 courses -- he could easily teach 700 or 800 courses.  He even created a list of the courses.

He said that to erase such doubts, he can teach designated students at designated classrooms with third-party witnesses.  If he cannot deliver the lecture, then he would be lying.

Finally, Ding Xiaoping said that he hoped that Sima Nan, Fang Zhouzi and He Zuoxiu can hold a debate with him about his Peking University credentials and the issue of false science in a public setting with third-party judges.


Actually, Ding Xiaoping is already an Internet celebrity.  At the Cat898 Forum in KDnet, an Internet post entitled <The most awesome person in China: Professor Ding Xiaoping> has 597 pages of comments ... in this post, almost every item on Ding Xiaoping was challenged by netizens who concluded that they were all false.  Here is the overall summary:

1. He studied at a re-organized technical school (Jiamusi Institute of Technology) and he did not receive the equivalent of a bachelor's degree.

2. His resumés at Tsinghua University, China Ethnic University, Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Medical Science were all fake and he has not formal academic credentials from them.

3. The American AEU (American Enterprises University) and DBU (Dallas Baptist University) are unaccredited universities that are not acknowledged by the Chinese government or its Ministry of Education.

4. The Chinese Capital Group, the China Bank Group and the State Council Enterprises Consulting Centre are all fictional entities which are illegal and without licenses to operate.

5. It would be fraud to act as a doctoral thesis advisor at the Peking University Asia-Pacific Education Centre or the Social Development Research Institute.

On March 13, 2005, Ding Xiaoping gave a lecture on <Dream of the Red Chamber> at the Chinese Agricultural University.  According to his presentation, "Ding Xiaoping is the founder of the third generation of philosophers in human history after Laozi and Aristotle, Kant and Marx."