Following a number of articles in the media making false claims about the retraction of Lewandowsky, Cook, Oberauer and Marriot’s “Recursive fury” paper, the journal Frontiers in Psychology has issued a statement clarifying the situation. They say that
Frontiers did not “cave in to threats”; in fact, Frontiers received no threats.
The statement goes on to confirm what critics of the paper said about it in their complaints.
Frontiers came to the conclusion that it could not continue to carry the paper, which does not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects. Specifically, the article categorizes the behaviour of identifiable individuals within the context of psychopathological characteristics.
We take this opportunity to reassure our editors, authors and supporters that Frontiers will continue to publish – and stand by – valid research. But we also must uphold the rights and privacy of the subjects included in a study or paper.
So they are saying that the paper was not ‘valid research’.
Here is part of what I wrote in my complaint to the journal, a year ago:
“The labelling of named individuals as conspiracy theorists in the text and accompanying table is contrary to the ethics of your field which requires individuals to be treated with respect.
Most of the excerpts listed as espousing conspiracy theory are no such thing. They merely point out errors and bias in his procedures. His response to criticism is to label his critics as conspiracy theorists.
Labelling individuals as conspiratorial, as this paper does throughout its text and in the accompanying data sheet, is derogatory and does not constitute treating participants with respect, even if such allegations were correct.”
Update 14 April:
Frontiers issued another statement on 11 April, Rights of Human Subjects in Scientific Papers, which reiterates the vindication of Lewandowsky’s critics. They say “It is well acknowledged and accepted that in order to protect a subject’s rights and avoid a potentially defamatory outcome, one must obtain the subject’s consent if they can be identified in a scientific paper” and go on to add “While the subjects and their statements were public, they did not give their consent to a public psychological diagnosis in a scientific study. Science cannot be abused to specifically label and point out individuals in the public domain.” Anthony Watts notes that “Frontiers agrees” with his complaints.