Top science study retractions of 2014

Headline & Global News has an interesting write up about the top science study retractions of 2014. The news story cites a Live Science article that points out that retractions of manuscripts published in peer reviewed journals is on the rise. The reason for this is wanting to be first in line despite having done sloppy research. The top science study retractions relevant to this website are:

Former researcher at Iowa State University, Dong-Pyou Han, had his HIV vaccine success study retracted when it was discovered he tainted samples of rabbit blood with human blood. This being done to make it look like his HIV vaccine worked. Han is facing criminal charges and his former employer has to pay back $500,000 of his salary.

In 2012 Dr. Mehmet Oz talked up green coffee extract as the elixir to achieve weight loss. However, in September of 2014, Texas-based manufacturer of green coffee extract, Applied Food Sciences, Inc., paid out a $3.5 million settlement to the Federal Trade Commission for falsifying data. Soon after, the authors of the study (who were paid by the manufacturer) issued a retraction to the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy. The manuscript was revealed to have been hopelessly flawed and its weight loss claims were baseless. Homeopathy is used and furthered by environmentalists (including anti-vaccine groups) as being an alternative to conventional medicine.

In August anti-vaxxers thought they had finally found the link between vaccines and autism. As it turns out, they could not have been more wrong. Researcher Brian Hooker published Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young African American boys: a reanalysis of CDC data. Hooker’s manuscript claimed black children were at increased risk of autism if administered the MMR vaccine. The journal that published the paper ,”Translational Neurodegeneration”, removed it a short time later citing serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions. By October, the paper was fully retracted with the journal citing an undeclared competing interests on the part of the author. According to CNN, it was revealed the Brian Hooker had expressed views that his son was vaccine damaged and he alleged a coverup by the CDC to hide the vaccine-autism link. The group, Focus Autism Foundation, financed Hooker’s research in which they are dedicated to focusing on the role of vaccines in causing autism.

Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Bristol University Stephan Lewandowsy and three other researchers were able to get a study entitled Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology: Personality Science and Individual Differences. The manuscript purported evidence linking conspiracy theory thinking to climate skepticism. For example, researchers were said to have found proof that those who believed that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated by the FBI tended to deny or be skeptical of human induced climate change. After receiving complaints, the journal retracted the study citing concerns about the legal context of the research’s findings. There were allegations of threats of lawsuits in which it prompted climate alarmist-friendly papers to create a narrative that Frontiers was bullied into not reviewing the research. However, Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit fame revealed he did give the publication notice of his intent to pursue legal action at WattsUpWuthThat?:

The Lewandowsky article made a variety of defamatory and untrue allegations against me with malice. I accordingly sent a strongly worded and detailed letter to the journal formally requesting that they withdraw the allegations and retract the article. I didn’t “instigate a libel lawsuit” or get “a lawyer involved” but the letter was a formal one. It was my hope that the journal would recognize the many defects of the Lewandowsky article and behave responsibly, as they eventually did.

The fact that there are so many study retractions and in the last two cases attempts to purport untrue research along with making slanderous claims against people does serious damage to the institution and integrity of science overall. Fortunately, the studies in question were caught, questioned and retracted. However, the overall problem maybe that there are few people who take an interest in science that it can lead to this kind of politicization. Particularly environmentalists who attempt to use science for political purposes in their quest for political control and to attack mankind. Such as in the case not only of climate science but also other fields such as pesticides, genetically modified foods, medical testing using animals and vaccines.