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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘lack of balance’ Category

The camel doesn’t have two humps: Programming “aptitude test” canned for overzealous conclusion

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From Larry Summers to James Watson, certain scientists have a long and questionable tradition of using “data” to make claims about intelligence and aptitude.

So it’s no surprise that, when well-known computer scientist Richard Bornat claimed his PhD student had created a test to separate people who would succeed at programming versus those who didn’t, people happily embraced it. After all, it’s much easier to say there’s a large population that will just never get it, instead of re-examining your teaching methods.

The paper, called “The camel has two humps,” suggested instead of a bell curve, programming success rates look more like a two-humped ungulate: the kids who get it, and the kids who never will.

Though the paper was never formally published, it made the rounds pretty extensively. Now, Bornat has published a retraction, stating that he wrote the article during an antidepressant-driven mania that also earned him a suspension from his university. Here’s the meat of the notice: Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Cat Ferguson

July 18, 2014 at 8:30 am

A flying what? Symbiosis retracts paper claiming new species arise from accidental mating

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In 2009, Donald Williamson made what many biologists said was an extraordinary claim: The reason caterpillars become butterflies is that two different species accidentally mated with one another. As Brendan Borrell explained at the time in Scientific American: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

November 2, 2011 at 9:30 am

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