Friday, July 10, 2020

Paper retracted to avoid political pressure

Retraction Watch:
The authors of a controversial paper on race and police shootings say they are retracting the article, which became a flashpoint in the debate over killings by police, and now amid protests following the murder of George Floyd.

The 2019 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), titled “Officer characteristics and racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings,” found “no evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities across shootings, and White officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non-White officers.” It has been cited 14 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, earning it a “hot paper” designation.

Joseph Cesario, a researcher at Michigan State University, told Retraction Watch that he and David Johnson, of the University of Maryland, College Park and a co-author, have submitted a request for retraction to PNAS. In the request, they write: ...

Although our data and statistical approach were valid to estimate the question we actually tested (the race of civilians fatally shot by police), given continued misuse of the article (e.g., MacDonald, 2020) we felt the right decision was to retract the article rather than publish further corrections.
The death of George Floyd is currupting academic research.

Apparently it is too sensitive to publish data on the race of civilians fatally shot by police.

If the data showed that police were killing Blacks disproportionately, then it would be fine. The supposed "continued misuse of the article" is just some academic argument about the significance of the findings.

No one is allowed to say that George Floyd died of an overdose, or that the police treat similarly situated perps the same. Everyone must say that there is a White supremacist plot to kill Blacks. The above authors are just tried to save their careers from the angry mobs.

Update: For an example of an anti-free-speech essay in the press, see this HuffPo essay.

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