Suspiciously Fabulous Study Retracted

I missed the reports on this thing back in December, but apparently UCLA graduate assistant Michael LaCour used “dubious” means and outright fabrications in a study about how simple it is to change minds in favor of gay marriage — and his “study” has since been retracted:


The retraction this week of the popular article published in a December issue of the Science academic journal follows revelations that his co-author allegedly faked data for the study, “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support of gay marriage.”

According to academic watchdog Retraction Watch, Columbia University political science professor Donald Green published a retraction of the paper on Tuesday after confronting co-author Michael LaCour, a graduate assistant at UCLA.

The study received widespread media coverage from The New York Times, Vox, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and others, when it was released in December.

“I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewers, and readers of Science,” Green told the blog.


As someone who has spent 20 years or more trying to win hearts and minds in support of gay marriage, I would have called BS on this “study” had I noticed it last winter. Overcoming deeply-held religious beliefs and/or simple human biases is almost never going to happen, if ever, over the course of a short conversation.

However, I’m not at all surprised that The New York Times, Vox, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal fell for it.


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