Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘lack of balance’ Category

Author retracts statements about gay conversion therapy

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Key assertions in a paper on homosexuality have been removed from the Journal of the Islamic Medical Association of North America, in what the notice describes as a “partial retraction.”

The 2006 article “Homosexuality: An Islamic Perspective,” states that conversion therapy can be effective, and that gay people have poorer health. Those statements are among those that lack evidence, according to a note on the paper published in July. The retraction pulls those assertions, among others, and instead argues that a homosexual person should be helped to “accept his or her LGB identity,” and find a welcoming community.

The 2006 article is definitely a perspective — it states the opinion of the sole author, M. Basheer Ahmed, who has a private psychiatry practice in Texas, as to whether homosexuality is a choice. He thinks yes, though the science on the matter is fairly clear that it’s not.

But we still think it’s interesting that a journal chose to take back some of the statements contained in the article. Here’s the abstract from the “partial retraction” note:

Read the rest of this entry »

Entrepreneur ranking retracted for not being “inclusive enough”

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This is a first for us — a publication that covers start-ups in South Africa has retracted a list of 13 rising tech entrepreneurs for not being “inclusive enough.”

Lists are a staple of popular media, so much so that they’ve earned their own word: listicle. But we’ve never seen one get retracted before. We weren’t sure what metric of inclusion the retraction was referring to, but looking at an archive of the webpage, where the listicle appeared before the publication was taken down, we saw that every person on the list appears to be a man, and almost all of them white.

We asked Stuart Thomas, Senior Reporter at Memeburn — which published the list with a related publication, Ventureburn — if this was what the publication meant by not “inclusive enough:”

It was a factor, yes.

Here’s the note for “Digital All Stars 2015: 13 South African tech entrepreneurs on the rise:”  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

October 21st, 2015 at 11:30 am

Anti-fish oil researcher netted two more retractions

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Brian Peskin

Earlier this year, Food and Nutrition Sciences retracted two papers from an author who criticized highly popular fish oil supplements after an additional round of peer review concluded his papers present a “biased interpretation,” among other issues.

Last year, Brian Peskin lost a paper for an “undeclared competing interest” — namely, that he held patents and directed a company associated with essential fatty acids.

In place of fish oil, Peskin touts plant-based supplements for treating cardiovascular disease. From the abstract of the freshly-retracted “Why Fish Oil Fails to Prevent or Improve CVD: A 21st Century Analysis,” he claims that Parent Essential Oils (PEOs) — such as alpha-linolenic acid, which can be converted into the EPA and DHA found in fish oil — “fulfill fish oil’s failed promise”: Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Written by Cat Ferguson

July 18th, 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 2nd, 2011 at 9:30 am