Science retracts published study on gay equality

One of the premiere science journals in the world is retracting a study it published that purported to show that the more people came in contact with homosexuals, the more they supported the gay rights agenda.

Science magazine embarrassed itself in rushing this study to print, despite several alarm bells that should have gone off beforehand:

Science, with the concurrence of author Donald P. Green, is retracting the 12 December 2014 Report “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality” by LaCour and Green ( 1 ).

The reasons for retracting the paper are as follows: (i) Survey incentives were misrepresented. To encourage participation in the survey, respondents were claimed to have been given cash payments to enroll, to refer family and friends, and to complete multiple surveys. In correspondence received from Michael J. LaCour’s attorney, he confirmed that no such payments were made. (ii) The statement on sponsorship was false. In the Report, LaCour acknowledged funding from the Williams Institute, the Ford Foundation, and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund. Per correspondence from LaCour’s attorney, this statement was not true.

In addition to these known problems, independent researchers have noted certain statistical irregularities in the responses ( 2 ). LaCour has not produced the original survey data from which someone else could independently confirm the validity of the reported findings.

Michael J. LaCour does not agree to this Retraction.

Misrepresenting how the study was funded or if the subjects were paid or not is a minor point compared to that bombshell paragraph that the authors could not produce the original data from the survey so that someone else could verify their conclusions.  And that's not the only problem . Researchers seeking to duplicate the results of the study were surprised when they contacted the company that was listed as conducting the survey only to find no such survey existed.

Washington Times:

In May, Mr. Green, a political science professor and quantitative methodologist at Columbia University, asked Science to retract the study, listing the problems with it and saying he was “deeply embarrassed by this turn of events.”

In addition, two graduate students at University of California, Berkeley, and a Yale University researcher said they were unable to replicate aspects of the study. Later, when they called the survey company that was said to have polled some 9,500 people for the LaCour/Green study, they learned that no such survey had been taken, according to a report by John Bohannon, a contributing correspondent to Science’s news department.

According to an earlier Washington Times report, the study said gay canvassers had “softened” the views of conservatives who support traditional marriage by visiting them at their homes and having a 22-minute conversation about gay marriage.

Some 9,500 voters in conservative districts in Southern California were said to have been selected for the study, which was done with the help of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

I don't think there's any doubt that pro-gay marriage bias was a large part of the magazine's rationale for publishing a study where the authors and the origin of the data were not vetted.  This wasn't "cooking the books," because there were no books to cook.  The entire study was apparently a mirage designed to put pressure on courts to rule in favor of gay marriage. 

Science should be ashamed of itself for putting political advocacy above quality scientific research.

One of the premiere science journals in the world is retracting a study it published that purported to show that the more people came in contact with homosexuals, the more they supported the gay rights agenda.

Science magazine embarrassed itself in rushing this study to print, despite several alarm bells that should have gone off beforehand:

Science, with the concurrence of author Donald P. Green, is retracting the 12 December 2014 Report “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality” by LaCour and Green ( 1 ).

The reasons for retracting the paper are as follows: (i) Survey incentives were misrepresented. To encourage participation in the survey, respondents were claimed to have been given cash payments to enroll, to refer family and friends, and to complete multiple surveys. In correspondence received from Michael J. LaCour’s attorney, he confirmed that no such payments were made. (ii) The statement on sponsorship was false. In the Report, LaCour acknowledged funding from the Williams Institute, the Ford Foundation, and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund. Per correspondence from LaCour’s attorney, this statement was not true.

In addition to these known problems, independent researchers have noted certain statistical irregularities in the responses ( 2 ). LaCour has not produced the original survey data from which someone else could independently confirm the validity of the reported findings.

Michael J. LaCour does not agree to this Retraction.

Misrepresenting how the study was funded or if the subjects were paid or not is a minor point compared to that bombshell paragraph that the authors could not produce the original data from the survey so that someone else could verify their conclusions.  And that's not the only problem . Researchers seeking to duplicate the results of the study were surprised when they contacted the company that was listed as conducting the survey only to find no such survey existed.

Washington Times:

In May, Mr. Green, a political science professor and quantitative methodologist at Columbia University, asked Science to retract the study, listing the problems with it and saying he was “deeply embarrassed by this turn of events.”

In addition, two graduate students at University of California, Berkeley, and a Yale University researcher said they were unable to replicate aspects of the study. Later, when they called the survey company that was said to have polled some 9,500 people for the LaCour/Green study, they learned that no such survey had been taken, according to a report by John Bohannon, a contributing correspondent to Science’s news department.

According to an earlier Washington Times report, the study said gay canvassers had “softened” the views of conservatives who support traditional marriage by visiting them at their homes and having a 22-minute conversation about gay marriage.

Some 9,500 voters in conservative districts in Southern California were said to have been selected for the study, which was done with the help of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

I don't think there's any doubt that pro-gay marriage bias was a large part of the magazine's rationale for publishing a study where the authors and the origin of the data were not vetted.  This wasn't "cooking the books," because there were no books to cook.  The entire study was apparently a mirage designed to put pressure on courts to rule in favor of gay marriage. 

Science should be ashamed of itself for putting political advocacy above quality scientific research.