“Uh, hypothetical situation: you see a paper published that is based on a premise which is clearly flawed, proven by existing literature.” So began an exasperated Twitter thread by Andrew Althouse, a statistician at University of Pittsburgh, in which he debated whether a study using what he calls a “nonsense statistic” should be addressed by letters to the editor or swiftly retracted.
The thread was the latest development in an ongoing disagreement over research in surgery. In one corner, a group of Harvard researchers claim they’re improving how surgeons interpret underpowered or negative studies. In the other corner, statisticians suggest the authors are making things worse by repeatedly misusing a statistical technique called post-hoc power. The authors are giving weak surgical studies an unwarranted pass, according to critics.
The journal for a religious medical group is retracting a paper that supported the discredited practice of conversion therapy for homosexuals over concerns about the statistical analyses — or lack thereof — in the research.
The paper, “Effects of therapy on religious men who have unwanted same-sex attraction,” was published last year in The Lincare Quarterly, the official journal of the Catholic Medical Association. (According to its website: “LQR explores issues at the interface of medicine and religion, focusing on bioethics and also exploring medical topics which have an ethical dimension.)
So, what were those effects? Pretty darn good, according to the article. Per the abstract:
Take the case of a recent expression of concern in the Journal of Cell Science following concerns about image manipulation in a 2006 paper, “Inhibition of TPO-induced MEK or mTOR activity induces opposite effects on the ploidy of human differentiating megakaryocytes.”
The American Journal of Public Health has retracted a controversial 2018 paper on the effects of economic austerity in Spain because it contained “inaccurate and misleading” results linking those policies to a massive spike in premature deaths.
The journal also has published a second piece, by a different group of authors, refuting the central claim of the now-retracted paper. Whereas the first article asserted that austerity in Spain during the mid-2000s led to more than 500,000 excess deaths, the new research says deaths in the country slowed during the country’s economic crisis.
The flawed article, “Austerity policies and mortality in Spain after the financial crisis of 2008,” was written by a group of researchers at the Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, on the Canary Islands. The authors claimed that their analysis of the years 2011 to 2015 showed that:
We’re pleased that the first such collaboration is with Zotero, “a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share research” that “is open source and developed by an independent, nonprofit organization that has no financial interest in your private information.” Here’s a posting from lead Zotero developer Dan Stillman:
Eight months after publishing a paper claiming that homeopathy can treat pain in rats, a Springer Nature journal is retracting the work.
The move follows swift criticism of the paper in Scientific Reports, which was written by researchers from India and the United Arab Emirates about the use of Toxicodendron pubescens, “popularly known as Rhus Tox (RT),” which “is recommended in alternative medicines as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic remedy.” The species is also commonly known as poison oak.
A group of researchers in the United States and China have retracted their 2018 paper on hand hygiene, admitting that they can’t account for “data anomalies” in their work.
The article in question, “The decoy effect as a nudge: Boosting hand hygiene with a worse option,” appeared in Psychological Science last May. Led by Meng Li, of the Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver, the researchers reported results from experiments designed to increase the use of hand sanitizer in the workplace through the use of a “decoy” bottle: