Spat between physicists hits Italian courts for the second time

Ignazio Ciufolini

The long-running feud between Italian physicists Ignazio Ciufolini and Lorenzo Iorio (which we’ve covered here and here) turned up a notch in November, when Ciufolini filed a defamation lawsuit against Iorio.

You can read the full lawsuit here (in Italian). The gist is this: Iorio accused Ciufolini of criticizing the work of other physicists on under two separate pseudonyms (in a letter which the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, which published his claims, later retracted, saying it was a matter better handled locally). Iorio later left critical comments on articles about Ciufolini on the Science blog, Neuroskepticand an Italian newspaper La Repubblica‘s website.

This fight has a long history, despite the two having published articles together in the past. In 2004, Ciufolini’s lawyer sent Iorio a vaguely threatening letter (also in Italian) that had no specifics about what Iorio was doing wrong. Iorio described to us what the letter referred to:

This is a threatening letter by the lawyier by Ciufolini sent in 2004 after the Nature Letter in which he plagiarized me was published. In this letter he blames me for some alleged rude expressions, not quoted there, I would have used in a private exchange of mails with Ciufolini.

No further legal consequences occurred. The only consequences were to make me even more furious and determined not to be intimidated by a person like him.

The Nature letter is here, and discusses Einstein’s theory of general relativity as it relates to Earth-orbiting satellites.

Ciufolini sued Iorio once before, in 2011, in response to comments he left on this blog post under the name Solobufale, which means “only hoaxes” in Italian. Huge thanks to friend of Retraction Watch Amelia Beltramini for her translation:

You are darkened so much from your inferiority complex, from your megalomania, from your paranoia, from your persecution complex, from your intrinsic intellectual dishonesty, besides human, by your disloyalty? Do you like so much to be here to be made fun of in this manner? All the more so, then, everyone knows who you are! But do you enjoy it so much? What results do you hope to achieve, then?

Ah, then I forgot, that, apparently, in the days of the New Astronomy, rankings of most downloaded paper regularly gave still in the lead, most downloaded, the paper of the hunted by all, compared to those of the Galactic Megaemperor ….. “THE WORLD IS MINEEEEEEEEEEE !!!!!!! “

Go, Verità [the username Iorio says Ciufolini was commenting under]. Go on, you’re a legend …. PS But you’re writing from the psychiatric hospital, aren’t you?

Beltramini also translated comments on the site by user “Verità,” which means truth:

Also, if the intelligent reader will want to have fun, I suggest you read the article by Iorio “High-precision measurement of frame-dragging with the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft in the gravitational field of Mars” where this individual claims to have measured the effect of frame-dragging due to the rotation of Mars.

Can be found at…It would also be very interesting to do a search to see if there is an article by a serious scientist who cites this paper by Iorio except to say that the work is deeply wrong. You can for example do a simple search on Google Scholar to find many papers, from all over the world, showing that this paper is meaningless! “Not even wrong” would say the great Gamov!

We’ve made the entire translation available here.

The first lawsuit is still in progress. We’ve reached out to Ciufolini, and will update if we hear back.

Update, 1300 UTC, 11/3/2019: Iorio provided the decisions of the courts in the two cases, saying that he would not be punished because the court had ruled that he “acted in a state of anger following an unjust fact.” We’ve made both available here, in Italian.

3 thoughts on “Spat between physicists hits Italian courts for the second time”

  1. It may be funny to note that arXiv accepted the text of my Letter to JASIST as a preprint after it was withdrawn by Wiley for “legal reasons”. Indeed, in the latest lawsuit by Mr. Ciufolini I was accused also for that…

    Incidentally, it may be interesting to note that, actually, “Not even wrong” was due to Pauli, not Gamow….

  2. About my plagiarism complaint, details can be found in this peer-reviewed paper
    L. Iorio, Planetary and Space Science, Volume 55, Issue 4, March 2007, Pages 503–511, available also at

    If interested, I can also show, in original, the supporting emails I received in 2004 by some colleagues worldwide exposing their point of view on that issue.

    Their content, without publicly disclosing their senders, is reproduced at

  3. In the translation of Beltramini you will find also the following claims by “Verità” about myself.

    a) He casts doubts on the actual peer-reviewing process of my papers criticizing Mr. Ciufolini just because one of them was accepted by New Astronomy in 2005 soon after it was submitted. Incidentally, the same happened also for the final GP-B paper on Physical Review Letters (2011) and…for my Letter itself to JASIST, accepted without external review by the “Editor-in Chief” himself!!

    b) He wonders why, if I was really so good, nobody has ever hired me

    c) He falsely claims that I would have been fired by lots of institutions

    d) He claims that nobody in the world either knows or reads my papers…(NASA/ADS shows that, right now, my metrics are already far better than Mr. Ciufolini’s)

    e) He claims that I would be doomed to publish my “peer reviewed” (he always use “[…]” for my peer reviewed papers) papers in journals like “Acta Physica Borneo”, thus insulting Acta Physica Polonica B in which I published a paper criticizing Mr. Ciufolini

    f) He repeatedly violates my privacy by disclosing confidential information about certain my submissions to Nature and Physical Review Letters.

    Of course, I never sued Mr. Ciufolini for that since I am a physicist, not a lawyier, and I usually spent my time publishing scientific papers, not useless legal paperwork.

    “About the fact that “Verità” is actually Mr. Ciufolini, Mr. Ciufolini himslef explicitly wrote it in the text of his first (2011) lawsuit, which I cannot reproduce here. By the way, it can be unambiguously inferred from a post of him in 20centesimi where he refers to a paper “of us [i.e. Ciufolini and Pavlis]” published in New Astronomy as a rebuttal to me.”

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