Case Western explains why it withdrew press release about Andrulis origin of life paper
Yesterday, Ivan wrote on his Tumblr about Case Western’s Erik D. Andrulis‘ paper, “Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life:”
The paper is 105 pages, which includes a whopping 800 references. It depends heavily on the gyre:
In the theory proposed herein, I use the heterodox yet simple gyre—a spiral, vortex, whorl, or similar circular pattern—as a core model for understanding life. Because many elements of the gyre model (gyromodel) are alien, I introduce neologisms and important terms in bold italics to identify them; a theoretical lexicon is presented in Table 1. The central idea of this theory is that all physical reality, stretching from the so-called inanimate into the animate realm and from micro- to meso- to macrocosmic scales, can be interpreted and modeled as manifestations of a single geometric entity, the gyre.
…this catholic theory provides an innovative and elegant solution to the origin, evolution, and nature of life in the cosmos. I humbly proffer my theory as a viable system for knowing life.
Our humble author also includes paragraphs like this, which led some on Twitter to wonder if the paper was for real:
The philosopher Bachelard claimed that scientific history is replete with unconsciously constructed or immanent “epistemological obstacles,” that are eventually broken through and shed during “epistemological rupture .” I conclude that my theoretical work elicits a Bachelardian rupture of intradisciplinary noöspheres and interdisciplinary boundaries. Kuhn proposed a related concept of “paradigm shift” to explain the process surrounding worldview conversion during a scientific revolution . Whether the advent of this theory elicits a Kuhnian gestalt switch is debatable, though such an iconoclastic event has been foretold [798-800].
On Thursday, Case Western had put out a press release about the study. That release is still available on ScienceDaily and other sites, but the medical school removed it from their own site. Today, Liz Lear, senior director, School of Medicine Marketing and Communications, tells us:
The School of Medicine’s public affairs office promotes all faculty research as possible. We have been evaluating our processes regarding media outreach and elected to remove the release from our website while we assess our policies surrounding promotional communications.
We’ll continue to update this story as we find out more. In the meantime, you can read PZ Myers’ take, in which he suggests that “the comparison to jabberwocky” is inevitable, and John Timmer’s, in which he wonders “How the craziest f#@!ing “theory of everything” got published and promoted.”
Update, 5:45 p.m. Eastern, 1/31/12: Carl Zimmer reports that a number of the journal’s editors have resigned.