Friday links: two more retractions for Jonathan Pruitt, and more

Also this week: when “following the science” makes for bad policy (?), and more.

From Jeremy:

Animal Behaviour has retracted Pruitt et al. 2013, at the request of Pruitt’s two co-authors, without Pruitt’s agreement. The retraction is for two very serious data anomalies. First, extensive duplication of observations from behavioral assays, across different spiders that were assayed at different times. Second, fully 74.3% of the observations are identical with those from another unrelated publication that purportedly measured completely different spiders (!) Going forward, I think it will be…interesting to see if other investigations into Pruitt’s papers begin checking for duplication of data across papers. Kudos to co-authors Lena Grinsted and Virginia Settepani for doing the right thing and requesting the retraction, and to the journal for clearly stating the reasons for the retraction.

Sticking with Jonathan Pruitt’s retractions, Pinter-Wollman et al. 2016, for which Jonathan Pruitt collected the raw data, has now been retracted. This one was retracted because many of the observations differed by the same exact integer amount from other, purportedly independent observations. Again, kudos to Pruitt’s co-authors for doing the right thing and requesting the retraction, and to the journal for spelling out the reasons for the retraction.

In related news, I’m just going to leave this here. And this. And, ugh, this. Without wanting to go into detail, I can tell you that they’re not the only ones.

BBC Newsnight journalist Lewis Goodall with a deep dive into why Britain didn’t lock down sooner in response to COVID-19. Also asks why Britain, with all its scientific expertise, apparently didn’t respond as effectively as countries with less scientific expertise. One possible, partial answer: waiting for the science in order to finely calibrate a policy response took too long. Very curious to hear what our British readers think of this.

It me. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Friday links: two more retractions for Jonathan Pruitt, and more

  1. “Very curious to hear what our British readers think.”

    Hold my beer, I’ve got this.

    I think that the idea that the British government was waiting for the science to report is horse shit. This is just the government trying to cover its arse and deflect the blame. Our esteemed prime minister and his cronies were following a populist line early on in the year about “it’s nothing to worry about, no worse than flu”. Was that about waiting for the science?

    The bottom line is that the government has always had a pandemic crisis plan; that plan has been in place for decades and is regularly revised and simulations undertaken. Because the ONE thing that governments can predict, above all others, is that AT SOME POINT THERE WILL BE ANOTHER PANDEMIC!

    But this time the crisis plan wasn’t followed because the prime minister was listening to his main advisor and thought he could wing it. They also knew that deep and unsustainable cuts to our National Health Service and local governments meant that we were poorly prepared to implement the pandemic crisis plan. The result was inertia followed (now) by pointing the fingers at others.

    Apologies for the swearing. If I sound angry it’s because I am. Angry at the government and the whole sorry mess they’ve gotten us into.

  2. I think this reply to the tweet thread is interesting:

  3. You’ve highlighted one very specific partial answer raised by that thread (that too much science is a hinderance in crisis policy-making). I think you’ve chosen the wrong one.

    Goodall has strong evidence that the UK government was concerned about “behavioural fatigue” regarding lockdown, despite the fact there was no evidence for it (and it may not even be a concept in the relevant scientific fields). Government spokespeople centred it in their arguments.

    In contrast, it’s not entirely clear that it was the size of their scientific establishment that caused the problem. To know that, you would need to see the uncertainty with which the scientific advisors reported their results, and find out who decided to ignore precautionary principles. Given the evidence that Goodall dug up, the issue could have been the high risk tolerance of the policy-makers.

    (* Also, the link to “has now been retracted” opens a new zoom meeting with you 🙂

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