Science Magazine Officially Retracts That Discredited Gay Marriage Study

Science magazine officially retracted a major study on same-sex marriage and public opinion on Thursday without the consent of the lead author, UCLA graduate student Michael J. LaCour.

The events leading to the retraction became public on May 19, when the article’s second author, Columbia University political science professor Donald Green, issued a request for the retraction based on evidence that the study data were at least in part falsified.

As The Huffington Post reported last week:

The LaCour-Green study had examined the work of activists with the Los Angeles LGBT Center. After California’s gay marriage ban passed in 2008, activists at the center had more than 12,000 one-on-one conversations in Los Angeles neighborhoods with people who overwhelmingly supported the ban. LaCour’s idea was to see if those conversations produced any lasting change. He purportedly designed a randomized experiment to replicate those conversations, with a series of follow-up surveys online to test how the anti-gay voters felt about gay rights and gay marriage over time. Those who were contacted by the openly gay canvassers showed substantially more positive attitudes toward gay marriage as much as nine months later.

But according to a report issued Tuesday [May 19] by two University of California, Berkeley, graduate students and a Yale professor, there are enough questions about the data to warrant retracting the study. Retraction Watch broke the story Wednesday [May 20] about what students David Broockman (soon to be an assistant professor at Stanford) and Joshua Kalla and Yale professor Peter Aronow found.

After the LaCour-Green study was published, Broockman and Kalla were impressed by its findings and wanted to extend the research. In January 2015, they found some patterns in the data that seemed to be too perfect — statistically speaking, there was —> Read More