Saint Petersburg Branch of the Russian Humanist Society
RAS suppots a pseudoscientist?

Translated from

        I have been requested to pass this appeal from Russian science journalists to the leadership of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) to English-speaking scientists and skeptics. The translation is mine.

        Some background: Viktor Petrik is a phenomenally successful con man who has put the name of the Speaker of the lower house of the Russian Parliament (Duma) on a patent he holds for mediocre water filters and been able to get the dominant Russian political party to endorse his filter as part of a 15 trillion (yes, that's the right number) ruble national water treatment program. He has also been involved in many other scams and has even come to American political fundraisers to get his picture taken with George H. W. Bush, Jeb Bush, and Sen. McCain to use on his website as implied endorsements.

        Gary Goldberg

Dear Yury Sergeyevich, Dear members of the Russian Academy of Sciences Presidium, Dear members of the Academy

One of the most shameful things in the existence of the Russian Academy has occurred which is comparable with the events around the notorious academician T.D. Lysenko. In recent months the activity of a certain con artist and would-be scientist V.I. Petrik has begun to take on threatening dimensions with the aid of members of the RAS.

We, people professionally associated with science, want to direct your attention to the fact that very recently a group of members of the Academy headed by its Vice-President, S. M. Aldoshin, have exhibited an uncritical attitude for scientists of such administrative rank and engaged in the servile glorification of V. I. Petrik. They called his work "discoveries of genius", compared him (in complete seriousness) to Edison, including him among the "classics", and suggested erecting a monument to V.I. Petrik while he is still alive. The group of RAS academicians included I.L. Yeremenko, V.M. Novotvortsev, O.G. Sinyashin, and Corresponding Member V.I. Ovcharenko. A video of their statements is now openly available on the Internet.

It is all the more unacceptable that it is not at all difficult to detect the scandalous ignorance of V. I. Petrik. Even from his brief statements which are quoted by the mass media it is immediately obvious that he is not only not a scientist in any field but does not have the elementary information from physics and chemistry that one gets in high school. This impression is only redoubled when one acquaints oneself with materials published on his Internet sites ( and

The majority of V.I. Petrik's ideas are based on pseudoscientific assertions and "unique" technologies hidden behind a curtain of phony secrecy, and the publicly demonstrated products replicate the achievements of other scientists without mentioning them. Members of the Academy might be alarmed by just the fact that V.I. Petrik was convicted of fraud (which is mentioned on his own sites). Representatives of the Academy's Commission to Combat Pseudoscience and the Falsification of Scientific Research have talked in the press and honest journalists have repeatedly written about his swindles, about his being awarded foreign projects, and about the intolerable exaggeration of their effectiveness and novelty.

Finally, academicians could simply check whether V.I. Petrik is who he passes himself off to be. They would immediately find that there is no Doctor of Technical Sciences Viktor Ivanovich Petrik in the database of the State Commission on Academic Degrees and Titles and no candidate of science with that name. There is also no V.I. Petrik in the databases of the physicomathematical, chemical, or biological sciences. It is quite probable that he does not even have a higher education.

It does not excuse this group of members of the RAS that he has powerful protectors in the Yedinaya Rossiya [United Russia] Party. On the contrary, in passing off a swindler as a scientist they are doing the Party leadership a disservice, making the leadership of the State Duma a laughing-stock. By exhibiting the elementary honesty of experts, the members of the Academy could have helped high-ranking officials avoid mistakes which, without exaggeration, would go down in history.

To our deepest regret the leadership of the RAS has been silent about this incident, thereby giving reason to think that it is indifferent to the authority of the Academy both in Russia and in the world. The "false evidence" of S.M. Aldoshin and his colleagues casts a shadow on the reputation and professional competence of the entire Academy.

Respected members of the RAS, the Academy is simply obligated to conduct a careful professional expert assessment of the work of V.I. Petrik, not only to save face but also because the charlatanism is seriously threatening the health of Russian citizens. With the dishonesty and incompetence which accompanies all the activity of V.I. Petrik his participation in the targeted federal program "Chistaya Voda [Clean Water]" can be assessed as a financial fraud. What is more, there is an extremely high probability that the devices produced by firms under his patronage (rather "covers") threaten the health and possibly the lives of many people. This is made worse by the fact that an increase in the administrative influence of V.I. Petrik is leading to strong pressure on the organizations of government expert assessment which produce findings on his devices. This pressure will now be based even more on the irresponsible interviews of RAS members and the authority of the Academy.

We think that the Presidium of the RAS should initiate a good expert assessment of the efforts of V.I. Petrik (evidently bringing in foreign scientists inasmuch as even leaders of RAS institutions, as we have seen, are easily subject to pressure) and convey the results of this expert assessment to the public at large and the country's leadership. In addition, the Presidium of the RAS should give an assessment of the actions of RAS members who are protecting a pseudoscientist who is actually undermining science itself in Russia.

For our part, we will try to do everything to inform the public as widely as possible through the mass media what is behind the "new Russian Leonardo da Vinci" and that there is a threat of an expansion of pseudoscience in fields of critical importance to Russian citizens.

Attached to this appeal are materials which will help you familiarize yourselves with the activity of Petrik himself and the laudatory testimonials of members of the RAS about his pseudoscientific machinations.

14 December 2009