Fang Shimin (方是民, better known by his pen name Fang Zhouzi 方舟子), is a Chinese popular scientific writer who is also well known for his campaign against pseudoscience and fraud in China. President and co-director of New Threads, a publication and website that promotes Chinese culture to the general public, Fang’s aggressive campaign against allegations of academic fraud has been hotly debated; while Fang’s works have appeared in many Chinese publications, various Chinese scholars have accused him of vigilantism and of using populist rhetoric in academic research.
Fang was born in Yunxiao County, Fujian, China in September 1967. Fang graduated from University of Science and Technology of China in 1990 and enrolled in Michigan State University, where he obtained a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1995. Fang then worked at various institutions as a postdoctoral researcher in molecular genetics.
Fang is an active campaigner against what he perceives as fraud in the Chinese society. His anti-fraud efforts initially targeted academics, but later expanded to public figures in general.
In a 2010 New York Times article, Fang ascribed the problems with Chinese scientific integrity to the university system being run by state bureaucrats with little or no knowledge of the fields they administer, who base their decisions regarding research grants and career advancements on the number of scientific publications found, rather than their quality, where or if they were published.
Despite the intent to scrutinize and improve the honesty of scientific research in China, Fang’s actions have been criticized for lacking transparency that would allow proper investigations. Many of the roughly 100 allegations posted on Fang’s website each year are anonymous and lack details, and those accused have been unable to respond as a result.
Fang has strongly criticized Christianity, dedicating a section of his New Threads website to its criticism. In an interview, Fang described the religion as barbaric, violent, and a threat to Western and Chinese culture and Jehovah a “murderous demon”. In an essay, he questioned the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus Christ, saying “there is no reliable historical record providing evidence that Jesus of Nazareth ever existed”.
Fang vehemently denounces Greenpeace as an “anti-scientific organization”.
Fang is married to Liu Juhua, a senior reporter at the state-controlled Xinhua News Agency. Fang is a permanent resident of the United States. When in the United States, he lives in San Diego.