Following revelations of data issues and other problems (which crashed our server last week), Science is retracting a paper claiming that short conversations could change people’s minds on same-sex marriage.
The co-author who admitted to faking the data “does not agree” to the retraction, according to Science. Here’s more from the note:
Science, with the concurrence of author Donald P. Green, is retracting the 12 December 2014 Report “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality” by LaCour and Green ( 1 ).
The reasons for retracting the paper are as follows: (i) Survey incentives were misrepresented. To encourage participation in the survey, respondents were claimed to have been given cash payments to enroll, to refer family and friends, and to complete multiple surveys. In correspondence received from Michael J. LaCour’s attorney, he confirmed that no such payments were made. (ii) The statement on sponsorship was false. In the Report, LaCour acknowledged funding from the Williams Institute, the Ford Foundation, and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund. Per correspondence from LaCour’s attorney, this statement was not true.
In addition to these known problems, independent researchers have noted certain statistical irregularities in the responses ( 2 ). LaCour has not produced the original survey data from which someone else could independently confirm the validity of the reported findings.
Michael J. LaCour does not agree to this Retraction.
As LaCour told us last week, he told ScienceInsider he plans to reveal his side of the story shortly:
In an email exchange yesterday with ScienceInsider, LaCour promised to provide a full “report” in his defense. LaCour said he is “doing [his] best to finish as quickly as possible.”
[Update, 10 p.m. Eastern, 5/29/15: LaCour has posted his response.]
Here’s more background:
- How we broke the story
- Ivan speaking about the events to On the Media and in the New York Times
- Ivan and Adam in the New York Times on the incentives that encourage science fraud
Science had issued an “expression of concern” about the study on May 20.
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