The thoroughly discredited Regnerus study has met another ethical challenge. The Regnerus study was a bit of hackwork that tried to demonstrate, using Science, that gay parents were bad parents. It was an ideologically loaded mess endorsed by right wing think tanks that had massive procedural problems, but the conclusions aligned with what the think tanks wanted, so they pushed it.
Here’s an example of the procedural problems. One man, Brad Wilcox, seemed to do everything.
It’s also been alleged that W. Bradford Wilcox, associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia with former ties to the conservative Witherspoon Institute that funded the study, served as a reviewer. He also consulted on the study, according to documents made public by the University of Texas. Wilcox, who also serves on the journal’s editorial board, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
That’s only the tip of the problem. It turns out that Wilcox initiated the study, arranged the grant from the Witherspoon Institute, was planning to run the study (but had to beg off because he was too busy screwing science in other ways), was paid as a consultant to the study, and then was one of the reviewers of the paper. I presume he also signed the standard statement on the review that he had no conflict of interest.
You know, in science we make a very big deal about faking data — it can easily cost you your career, and definitely devastates your reputation. Shouldn’t subverting the entire process of peer review and independent evaluation count as something even worse?