Dupesy was inspired by Dr. Elisabeth Bik, a respected microbiologist (fifteen years at Stanford) who now exposes scientific malpractice full-time.

Elies mainly hunts images in scientific journal articles that have been wrongfully manipulated, in particular pictures of biological samples in which parts have been “copied and pasted.”

It’s a widespread and concerning practice. After all, we’re supposed to be able to trust scientists.

Elies has an uncanny ability to spot repeating patterns and shapes, a skill honed by examining thousands of scientific papers, exposing many bad ones in the process.

Her story has now been told in The New Yorker by Ingfei Chen. Although others have written about Elies, for the first time Ingfei’s insightful profile reveals in depth the person behind the work.

As part of her background research Ingfei talked to people who knew Elies well, including me. Elies and I are good friends.

Ingfei was to meet Elies soon after we spoke, and learning of my interest in psychology she asked if I knew of a test or game that might help her observe Elies’s pattern-matching prowess first-hand, and measure her performance against that of other people.

A psychology researcher who co-runs a visual perception testing website suggested some helpful tests to Ingfei. Alongside these I quickly designed and built a prototype online game that Ingfei also asked Elies to play.

And that was how Dupesy came to be.

Me? I was a London ad executive before moving to San Francisco to do start-up stuff, mainly in mental health. I love psychology and making cool things.

Dupesy is a slight diversion, but a fun one. I hope you’ll agree.

The game’s themes change every day on a seven-day cycle, so visit often to experience the full range. But if you truly can’t wait, here are all 28 themes.

Jon Cousins

jon (at) joncousins (dot) com