Posted on October 6, 2015

Scientist Says Researchers in Immigrant-Friendly Nations Can’t Use His Software

Kai Kupferschmidt, Science Mag, September 29, 2015

A German scientist is revoking the license to his bioinformatics software for researchers working in eight European countries because he believes those countries allow too many immigrants to cross their borders. From 1 October, scientists in Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Denmark–“the countries that together host most of the non-European immigrants”–won’t be allowed to use a program called Treefinder, informatician Gangolf Jobb wrote in a statement he posted on his website.

Treefinder has been used in hundreds of scientific papers to build phylogenetic trees, diagrams showing the most likely evolutionary relationship of various species, from sequence data. Although the change in the license may be a nuisance for some researchers, the program is far from irreplaceable, several scientists tell Science Insider. {snip}

“Immigration to my country harms me, it harms my family, it harms my people. Whoever invites or welcomes immigrants to Europe and Germany is my enemy,” Jobb’s statement reads. “Immigration unnecessarily defers the collapse of capitalism, its final crisis,” the statement also reads.


The 2004 paper describing Treefinder was written by Jobb and Korbinian Strimmer, a bioinformatician at Imperial College London who says he hasn’t seen Jobb in 10 years. Jobb sent “grotesque emails with racist slogans” to professors in Germany in the past, Strimmer says. “His new diatribe against countries that host refugees is unbelievable.”

Strimmer says Jobb started a Ph.D. at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, under Arndt von Haeseler, now at the Center for Integrative Bioinformatics Vienna, who is also a co-author on the 2004 paper. Jobb later broke off his Ph.D., however, and joined Strimmer’s group for a year. “During that time I managed to persuade him to write the publication on Treefinder,” Strimmer says. It is not clear whether Jobb still has a job. (His website says that he “cannot work as a scientist, because my traditional views and values conflict with that elite’s doctrine.”)