Last week, we wrote about a somewhat remarkable retraction, of a 15-year-old paper by a current Illinois senator who used to be a mathematician. At the time, we were a bit perplexed by the language of the notice, which the senator — who helpfully took our call — couldn’t answer, since he wasn’t involved in drafting the notice.
We’ve since heard back from the journal that retracted the paper, which explained that their phrase that “most results are false” meant the findings by state senator Daniel Biss were inaccurate — not fraudulent.
Here’s more explanation from a joint statement sent to us by Jan van Mill and Jerry Vaughan, the editors in chief of Topology and its Applications:
Here’s something you don’t see every day: A state senator with an academic publication record, in his former career as a mathematician. Even more unusual: A retraction of one of his 15-year-old papers, after the journal realized most of the results were incorrect.
According to the notice, some aspects of the paper by Daniel Biss — now a democratic Illinois State Senator — are also “ambiguous.”
We spoke with Senator Biss, who told us he had been contacted by an editor who told him someone had raised questions about the paper, but he didn’t have much input in the notice: