Friday, May 29, 2015

The Journal Science Retracts Homosexual Marriage Paper After Lead Author Accused of Falsifying Data

This is the best thing to happen to the political science discipline in a long time. I mean, actual scholarly integrity appears to be taking a priority over favored ideological findings that have now been roundly attacked as faked.

Lying and bullying to push homosexual marriage has never been a problem for the left. But turns out making political science look bad is bad. What folks mustn’t forget is that this scandal reflects even more harshly on the homosexual rights movement. Here’s one instance where radical leftist fraud ain’t getting a pass. Too much is at stake for political scientists and their media shills to let it go. Perhaps leftists see homosexual marriage as a sure thing now, in any case, and are willing to throw this dude Michael LaCour under the bus. Either way, homosexual marriage politics is getting to be like «climate change»: it’s a scam in which leftists hoodwink the people only to see a rational backlash in public opinion reverse t he left’s purported gains. It’s going to be a major setback if the Supreme Court rules against the depraved leftists in Obergefell v. Hodges next month.

Either way, all traces of LaCour, a grad student at UCLA, have been removed from the Political Science Department’s homepage, and the journal Science has formally retracted the research.

The Los Angeles Times has a great report, «Gay marriage canvassing success detailed, dashed as study’s findings are doubted«:

Laura Gardiner knew she was making a difference with her work.

As national mentoring coordinator at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Leadership Lab, she and her colleagues had toiled to train 1,000 volunteers who had fanned out across Los Angeles and beyond, lobbying voters in precincts that had cast ballots against gay rights.

The idea was to push back against prejudice, house by house — and over the years, the group’s internal evaluations indicated, the Leadership Lab had gotten quite good at changing voter minds.

When an independent study published in the prestigious journal Science confirmed the group’s success, Gardiner had been thrilled.

Then, last week, a report was issued raising significant doubts about the study’s validity.

"It felt like being cheated on in a relationship," she said Thursday after the journal issued a formal retraction. "Breakup songs have been cathartic this week."

The study had excited readers well beyond Gardiner’s circle for its surprising conclusion that a single doorstep chat could prompt a skeptic to embrace marriage equality. It even reported a "spillover" effect that extended to household members who didn’t talk to canvassers.

Although the findings contradicted a body of research that said firmly held opinions weren’t easily swayed by lobbying and political advertising, they seemed to confirm an idea people were happy to embrace — that honest conversation and open minds could bring people together.

The study made headlines across the country and was featured on the public radio program "This American Life." Its primary author, UCLA graduate student Michael LaCour, scored a job offer from Princeton University.

As LaCour prepared to decamp for New Jersey, he handed off the study to a team at Stanford and UC Berkeley.

That’s how things began to unravel.

The new researchers were the first to suspect that something wasn’t quite right with LaCour’s data. They produced a report that persuaded LaCour’s coauthor, Columbia University political scientist Donald Green, to request a retraction last week.

The editors of Science agreed, citing three reasons for retracting the study. They said LaCour lied about the way he recruited participants for his study and did not pay volunteers to complete online surveys, as he had claimed. They also said he lied about receiving research funding from the Williams Institute, the Ford Foundation and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund. LaCour’s attorney has acknowledged both of these deceptions.

Perhaps most significantly, the editors said, "LaCour has not produced the original survey data from which someone else could independently confirm the validity of the reported findings."

LaCour still maintains that his study is sound. He said he has been preparing a "definitive response" to his critics, which he plans to provide Friday.

"I appreciate your patience, as I gather evidence and relevant information," he said Thursday in an email to The Times….

The study results purported to show that after speaking with canvassers, people were more  inclined to support same-sex marriage, an increase from 39% to 47%. One year later, support for gay marriage was 14 percentage points higher among people who were lobbied by a gay person and 3 percentage points higher among those who were canvassed by a straight person, the study said.

With LaCour wrapping things up at UCLA, the LGBT Center brought on David Broockman, a professor of political economy at Stanford, and Joshua Kalla, a political science graduate student at UC Berkeley, to carry on the research.

But as they made plans to track a forthcoming canvassing project the Leadership Lab is undertaking in Miami, they started noticing problems with the work. For instance, as they began their own pilot survey, they noticed that their response rate was "notably lower" than LaCour’s.

When they sought additional advice from the survey firm that LaCour had reportedly employed, they quickly realized something was amiss.

"The survey firm claimed they had no familiarity with the project and that they had never had an employee with the name of the staffer we were asking for," the researchers wrote. "The firm also denied having the capabilities to perform many aspects of the recruitment procedures described."

Alarmed, Broockman and Kalla turned a skeptical eye toward LaCour’s data and began investigating further with the help of Yale political scientist Peter Aronow. They soon realized that some of the paper’s key data were identical to that of a different national survey conducted in 2012: the Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project. That discovery raised "suspicions that the data might have been lifted from CCAP," the researchers wrote.

The researchers compiled their findings in a 26-page report and sent it to Green. When confronted with the findings, Green immediately sent a letter to Science requesting that the paper be retracted.

"I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewers, and readers of Science," Green wrote.

Also at BuzzFeed, «UCLA Student at Center of Science Scandal Apparently Faked Another Study, About Media Bias,» and at New York Magazine, «Michael LaCour Made Up a Teaching Award, Too

Still more at the New Republic, «Science Fiction: Michael LaCour’s Gay Rights Canvassing Hoax Shows the Limits of Peer Review

And see Tim Groseclose especially, at Richochet, «A Scandal in Political Science«:

I predict that UCLA will refuse to award him a PhD, and I predict that Princeton will retract the assistant professorship that it offered him. I predict that UCLA or Princeton or both will conduct an investigation. I suspect that they will find that LaCour faked results in a few papers, not just one.

Also noteworthy is that co-author Donald Philip Green, a major political science scholar and professor at Columbia University, cut ties with LaCour so fast it’s like you don’t know what hit you. And Professor Lynn Vavreck of UCLA, who is LaCour’s dissertation chair, has also thrown the dude under the bus faster than you can say the «science is settled.»

Expect updates tomorrow when this flaming fraud LaCour comes clean on his deceit.

American Power

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