Political retractions to end 2020 on a woke note
I fucking love science, especially when studies I don’t like are retracted. That is true science for the people.
2 papers published 30 years ago and authored by Philippe Rushton were recently retracted. This follows the retraction of a paper that found some less than ideal findings about women mentorship. In both cases, these retractions have been almost fully politically motivated.
When should a paper be retracted? COPE explains it well:
Now look at the reasons for the retraction of Rushton’s papers. There is 0 overlap, besides the unjustified unethical claim.
What they do try to justify is wrong and vague. How did Rushton misuse population genetic measures? How did he have misconceptions about heritability? How does this vague “better understanding of the human genome” invalidate his findings? We will never know.
It’s worth mentioning that at least 2 of the sources (Anderson 1991, Cain & Wonderwolf 1990) cited against Rushton were already responded to by himself directly. This is not even mentioned, presumably because the editor did not actually read Rushton’s works.
Another source (Bailey 1997) stands well outside mainstream Behavioural Genetics and is itself based on misconceptions and strawmen (for a review, see Plomin 2016 and Wright 2015. Maybe the retraction should be itself retracted for this.
I can squabble about sources, but this does not matter. Being wrong, no matter how terribly wrong, does not warrant retraction. The reasons given for the replication are wrong, but even if they were 100% right, the paper should not be retracted.
Then why was it?
Simple. Political and ideological reasons (not scientific). Let’s quote Cernovsky, an ex-collegue of Rushton:
Rushton’s articles have been instrumental (via subtle academic discrimination) in excluding talented blacks students from graduating from universities, and preventing those who graduated from being employed according to their credentials and skills. It is a great success that there was the retraction of Rushton’s articles from 1990 and 1991. It will reduce some of the future harm.
What is this “harm” done by the existence of 2 barely cited, forgotten studies reporting a valid hypothesis with valid data? We will never know. Cernovsky acts like Rushton is causing blacks to be killed. Well, under critical race theory delusions he really might. Ideas that do not actively promote social justice in the status quo view are “harmful”.
Supporters of this retraction are people you would expect. Communists, woke academics and what I like the most: nobodies. I particularly liked a “scientist” that criticised IQ research while his own research was about… brony, hentai and furry discrimination.
The trend will likely continue and Rushton’s papers will be retracted. He was not a man without flaws. Yet, he was also right many times. Good people should stand against these biased retractions, for the sake of whatever is left of science if for nothing else.