A scientific journal has been forced to withdraw a paper that repeatedly claimed that the human hand is the result of ‘the Creator’.
PLOS ONE, according to its website:
Accepts scientifically rigorous research, regardless of novelty … The journal’s publication criteria are based on high ethical standards and the rigour of the methodology and conclusions reported.
But according to this report, after members of the scientific community expressed anger over the paper – entitled Biomechanical characteristics of hand coordination in grasping activities of daily living – the journal announced that it would be retracted.
The PLOS ONE editors have followed up on the concerns raised about this publication. We have completed an evaluation of the history of the submission and received advice from two experts in our editorial board.
Our internal review and the advice we have received have confirmed the concerns about the article and revealed that the peer review process did not adequately evaluate several aspects of the work.
In light of the concerns identified, the PLOS ONE editors have decided to retract the article, the retraction is being processed and will be posted as soon as possible. We apologise for the errors and oversight leading to the publication of this paper.
The paper was written by a team of four researchers, three from Huazhong University in China, and one from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.
The “fairly conventional” study looked at the mechanics of how we grasp things, and involved the measurement of the hand movements of 30 participants.
In the opening sentences of the study, it claims the link between muscles and hand movements is the product of
Proper design by the Creator.
Later, it says human hand coordination “should indicate the mystery of the Creator’s invention,” and concludes by again claiming the mechanical architecture of the hand is the result of “proper design by the Creator.”
The paper’s authors appeared to acknowledge their mistakes in the comments section, saying the references to the “Creator” were down to translation errors rather than a belief in intelligent design.
Other comments on the paper called its publication “unacceptable”, and criticised the “sloppy job” done by the reviewers and editors. Some scientists said the journal should be boycotted unless amends are made.
• The picture used to illustrate this report was taken from a piece published last year that suggested the human hand evolved to throw punches.
Hat tip: Peter Sykes.