The new year will bring a sixth retraction for food scientist Brian Wansink, whose work has been under fire for all of 2017.
Although the notice has not yet been released, the journal Appetite plans to retract a 2003 paper about the different forces that motivate people to try new foods (referring, in this specific context, to soy).
It’s unclear why “Profiling taste-motivated segments” is being retracted (we asked the journal, but haven’t immediately heard back); some potential issues were flagged in March by Nick Brown, a PhD student who has devoted hundreds of hours to analyzing Wansink’s work (and forwarded us the email from Appetite confirming the upcoming retraction).
For instance, Brown alleged the article contains duplicated material, and similarities to the results from another 2002 paper that also measured soy consumption. After analyzing those two papers and a 2004 paper (also about eating soy), Brown concluded:
1-Around half of the F statistics reported in these three articles cannot be correct, given the means that were reported. Either the means are wrong, or the F statistics are wrong, or both.
2-The attitudes towards soy products reported by the participants in the Cheong and Westgren studies are remarkably similar, despite the samples having been drawn from very different populations. This similarity also seems to apply to the items for which the results give impossible test statistics.
3-The distribution of the digits after the decimal point in the numbers representing the means and F statistics does not appear to be consistent with these numbers representing the values of measured random variables (or statistical operations performed on such variables); nor does it appear to be consistent with random transcription errors.
I am trying hard to think of possible explanations for all of this.
This will mark Wansink’s sixth retraction; one of his papers was retracted twice after the journal pulled a revised version. He also has issued 13 corrections. The Appetite paper has been cited six times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.
Update January 3, 2018 18:44 UTC: The editor of Appetite has sent us the text of the upcoming retraction:
This article has been retracted at the request of the Editors on the grounds of unreliable data in Table 1 and duplication of text in the results and discussion sections from an earlier publication (B. Wansink and J. Cheong, Taste profiles that correlate with soy consumption in developing countries, Pakistan Journal of Nutrition 1: 276; 2002; DOI: 10.3923/pjn.2002.276.278).
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