An editorial in the British Medical Journal earlier this week described Andrew Wakefield’s controversial 1998 Lancet article linking the MMR vaccine with autism as an “elaborate fraud”. Although the article was retracted in 2004 by ten of Wakefield’s co-authors, Wakefield himself continues to insist on its validity, despite new evidence presented by the journalist Brian Deer in the BMJ that the study was not simply flawed but that data were fabricated by Wakefield in a way that could not possibly have been accidental.
I’ve been reading the academic blog Retraction Watch for a few months now, and find it interesting for more than just the Schadenfreude that comes from seeing others go down in flames, because of the ethical meta-commentary that accompanies notices of retractions, and because it has made retractions much more prominent than any one journal could (except presumably the highest-tier ones). But that leads me to think: can anyone name cases of retraction in anthropological publications? I’m not talking about Piltdown-style refutation without retraction, or disputes such as Mead vs. Freeman or Chagnon vs. Tierney, or of anthropologists publicly changing their minds about earlier publications. Obviously in a non-experimental science we wouldn’t expect them at nearly the rate or in the same circumstances, but surely there must be cases of blatant plagiarism or ethical dishonesty that have resulted in a formal retraction … right?
Does anyone know of a list of anthropological publications that have been formally withdrawn from the academic record? Or, can anyone name some?