Weekend reads: A ‘hoax paper’ author resigns; Uyghur DNA papers retracted; a year without p values

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The week at Retraction Watch featured:

Our list of retracted or withdrawn COVID-19 papers is up to 154. And there are now 30,000 retractions in our database.

Here’s what was happening elsewhere (some of these items may be paywalled, metered access, or require free registration to read):

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15 thoughts on “Weekend reads: A ‘hoax paper’ author resigns; Uyghur DNA papers retracted; a year without p values”

  1. From the “Moving Scientific Publishing Toward Social Justice” article (written by 20 Women and Nonbinary [?] Scholars):

    “Too often, top-ranking journals publish articles that are based on or perpetuate exclusionary and harmful ideas, including by falsely defining sex and gender as binary or tying socially driven inequities, such as disparities in income and educational attainment, to genetics.”

    “Doing so would have highlighted for stakeholders of the review process that 1) sex is distinct from gender and 2) neither sex nor gender are binary.”

    Does RW promote these anti-scientific ideas?
    Does RW believe we are a gonochoric oogamous species? Does RW understand Sex As A Biological Variable?

    If sex is not a categorical binary/dichotomous variable, what is it? Continuous? N-dimensional? What are its units? Why do we only see ‘male’ and ‘female’ in the largest authoritative database of clinical trials?

    1. Relax. I agree with you that sex is largely binary in humans – I say largely because there are edge cases due to genetic or developmental disorders where the definitions break down. But I think RW just links articles that might be interesting to us readers. I don’t assume that they necessarily endorse all of the views in every article they link to.

      That SJW piece doesn’t sound very interesting to me, so I’ll skip it. But if others find it interesting or enjoyable, I won’t hold it against them.

      1. Odd that you would respond to my comment suggesting I relax, articulate an incoherent position on sex (do answer the questions I ask in my post if you believe there are other sex categories, continuous multidimensional distributions of sex etc.) and then admit to not reading the article.

        1. Why would I bother with the article? Didn’t you say it was antiscientific? I don’t want to waste my time with that. I think sex is binary. There’s male and female. I’m vaguely aware sometimes things go wrong with chromosomes and hormones that interfere with that. But I don’t think there is a third sex or anything like that. Have you met anyone who is neither male nor female or a percentage male/female? I haven’t.

          1. I’m glad that you trust that the article is not scientific; it is quite reasonable to bring up concerns that it is being posted on this website since the RW post presents it without any context. It has simply become impossible to presume that the article is being presented with implicit derision wrt the absurd claims it makes.

          2. Bet you have. They just didn’t want to tell you about it, for reasons that are obvious from reading your comment.

          3. dk, We are all born with X chromosomes and about half of us with SRY. You might be talking about people with complete gonadal dysgenesis, maybe certain forms of sex reversal…tiny prevalences. Looking at the numbers it is a good bet I have not met such a person.

    2. Also, as is now bog standard for anti-scientific claims about sex and gender the claim in the IH article:

      “…falsely defining sex and gender as binary” links to the following piece in Nature:


      It’s actually a very sensible piece that is pleading for the use of “sex” in scientific work and not the ambiguous notion of “gender”:

      “Sex is biological. It is determined by the X and Y chromosomes. The article focused on male and female mice. There is no clinical identifier for gender. Thus, “sex” should have been used in the title and throughout the article.”

      The link absolutely does not support the claim (obviously absurd) claim that sex is falsely defined as binary in scientific work. The piece implicitly supports the correct claim that sex is binary and comes in two categories: male and female.

    3. I doubt RW will respond to this comment, but in my years of readership, RW does not typically editorialize on issues that aren’t directly related to retractions (e.g., arguing for more transparency and detail in retraction notices). I’m guessing that RW, as an organization, does not promote any view on this issue. They are a news organization, and links are not necessarily endorsements.

        1. No one is stopping you or anyone from asking questions. My point was that you probably won’t get an answer. RW has no obligation to explain their reasons for including that link to you, me, or anyone else. I believe they included it because they found it newsworthy, rather than as an endorsement of the point of view of the letters’ authors. You can believe as you like.

          1. So we should expect journals to respond to inquiries about questionable articles they promote…..but not RW? You are far too eager to suggest that this is somehow not antithetical to what RW generally does.

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