Bogus gay marriage study sends news outlets scrambling

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A fraudulent study on people's attitudes toward gay marriage has forced several prominent news outlets to append corrections to their stories.

The study published in the academic journal Science in December was retracted by one of the authors Tuesday.

The Washington Post, Vox and the Huffington Post all responded to Tuesday's retraction with notes attached to their original articles. The explanatory notes were reported by Poynter Wednesday.

The study's authors, Donald Green and Michael LaCour, claimed to have determined that people could change their opinion of same-sex nuptials by simply talking to gay people. But when other academics attempted a follow-up on the study, they found "a number of irregularities."

Eventually data cited by LaCour could not be verified and he claimed that he had inadvertently deleted the source material, Green wrote to Science. Green retracted the study and requested that Science retract the study as well.

The Washington Post's article on the study now contains an editor's note indicating that "a co-author has disavowed its findings." The Huffington Post posted a nearly 300-word update explaining the retraction. At the bottom of its original story, the New York Times noted the failure of LaCour "to produce data supporting the findings." Vox's Dylan Matthews added an update to the top of his post.

"In the interest of full disclosure, my original post describing the study is below," Matthews wrote. "But in light of the retraction, don't believe any of its findings."

The study was also the focus of a segment last month on "This American Life." Ira Glass, the host of the radio program, addressed the "apparent fakery" in a blog post on Wednesday.

"Our original story was based on what was known at the time," wrote Glass. "Obviously the facts have changed. We'll update today as we learn more."

By late afternoon on Wednesday, the New York Times


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