Scientific journal withdraws 'intelligent design' study

Scientific journal withdraws 'intelligent design' study March 4, 2016

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.

It added:

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.

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  • Angela_K

    Have a read through the comments on the “Independent” article in the link above; the creationist loons, especially form the USA are out in force showing their stupidity and ignorance.

  • Rob Andrews

    A guy I used to know was born with a deformed hand and lower arm too. So I wonder what went wrong here. Is god not minding his creation or what.
    “When one reads the bible ,one is less surprised by what the deity knows than by what he DOESN’T know”–Mark Twain

  • Broga

    That a Scientific Journal, with pretentions to be taken seriously, should allow this to slip through is inexcusable. The comments claiming a Creator are blatant and the creationist lot will love it and use it. The plus side is how forcefully the comments have been criticised.

  • AgentCormac

    Ah, yes – ‘the mystery of the Creator’s invention’.
    If you can’t find a way of explaining something within the context of your iron-age book of nonsense, then it must somehow be an enigma created deliberately by your strange old man in the sky which, for reasons best known to himself, he has decided he can’t or won’t explain.
    Life must be so simple when you have an invisible friend who decides what you can and cannot know. Haven’t got a clue? Ah, that’ll be god up to his old ‘gotcha-guessing’ tricks again. What a tease that fella is!

  • Angela_K

    AgentCormac, yes life is simple for the simpletons who dare not look outside of their tiny frame of reference, the bible. It requires an enquiring, questioning mind and some degree of intelligence to consider sources of information not passed through a religious filter. The religious are terrified that they may find their comforting yet fragile beliefs are just that, beliefs.Hence their propensity to repeat the same nonsense over and over again as a security blanket, or as a means to shout down those who challenge them. The Independent’s comments on this topic contain the usual creationist nonsense including William Paley’s; it is sad to see just how ignorant and proud some of the commenter’s are.

  • barriejohn

    Forget the human hand – how about the eye? There’s obviously no way that THAT could have “evolved” without the aid of a creator:
    (See – I was going to say that some of those comments are unbelievable, like the guy who claims to have been seeking for “transitional fossils” since the 1960s, but sadly they’re not.)

  • 1859

    It says clearly in the book of jewish-christian fairy tales that god made man ‘in his own image’ – ergo god is perfectly shaped just like us and so must undergo all the same physiological functions as we do. Hence our eyes and hands etc., needed a super intelligent designer (god) to make them – that stands to reason, don’t it?.But then who was the intelligent designer who designed god’s eyes and hands? Nah – I know what you’re thinkin’ – your thinkin’-‘Man made god in his (man’s) image’ – that’s very naughty and doesn’t fit the fairy tale of the true creation. However, when you think about it in terms of the bits and pieces of human and divine anatomy, god must, like us, have a one-eyed trouser snake. Now there’s a thing – a divine prick! What could he possibly need this for? Notwithstanding the fact that he must also have an anus, what the hell does he do with his divine doo doo? – of which there must be fucking tonnes!. I mean it’s gotta go somewhere? Ah the possibilities are endless when one takes these iron-age fairy tales seriously.

  • L.Long

    This is similar to the eye argument I had some xtian throw at me. They all start the same way the start with gawd….at the wrong end.
    The hand/eye is soooooooo complex that if you take any part away it don’t work right! Well no schite!!! But they are suppose to start from the primitive forms and see how they change into the hand/eye and then look at other similar things (octopus eye) and see how bad ours is! But doing so leads to their gawd being a fairy tale and they can’t have that!!!!

  • It is time that mainstream Christianity gets condemned for fundamentalism. Any religion that opposes truth and insults the work of scientists who find no trace of an intelligent designer isfundamentalist.

  • L.Long

    Patrick….All dogmatists are fundies!!!! The actions of the fundies is determined by their ability to have balls!!! And ALL dogmatists get the balls to do their BS violence when they get gov’mintal power! See the difference between isLame USA and isLame Pakistan!!!! See xtians in Russia vs xtians in France. They are ALL in favor of hate, bigotry, violence, and intolerance; after all that is what is taught in their books o’BS!!!

  • 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.”
    What does that say about “the Creator” when some people are born without hands, or are born with hands they cannot use? And what does it say about “the Creator” that some people with entirely healthy and strong hands are unable to use them to save others in emergencies? And what does it say about “the Creator” that hands have been used for the duration of human history to kill other people who believe in “the Creator?”
    It says “the Creator” is a monster.
    Fortunately, there is no invisible monster that lives in the sky.

  • Ellis-e-yum

    Google this guy. Andy McIntosh. A creationist and one time professor of thermodynamics with the most constipated mind I have ever had the misfortune to meet. That a man like this walks the street without shame or embarrassment is a testament to the dangerous effects of religion. He is living breathing evidence that creationism is wrong … No god would produce a person like this.

  • Newspaniard

    The current education minister in the UK is a creationist so this article could soon become required reading in science classes in England.

  • John

    As Max Bygraves used to sing “You need hands….”.
    It was hands that nailed someone to a cross – allegedly.
    That must be a perfect example of the creative use of them!
    No wonder one person allegedly cried out “Why have you forsaken me”.
    Perhaps “he” should have said “Thanks a lot, dad” instead!

  • Horace

    Here is a list of UK Creationists.
    Makes interesting reading….Know your enemy
    Andy McIntosh is on it.

  • Horace

    Actually you should study a list understand how this bunch of dangerous fundamentalists are seeking to pollute the minds of our children right under our noses. Not only are they dangerous they are dishonest.

  • Laura Roberts

    People really need to take it down a notch. PLoS is a reputable journal (I’ve published there myself) and a quick scan suggests that other than the odd use of the phrase “the Creator” it appears to be a decent enough paper. It really wouldn’t surprise me at all if some Chinese collaborators mistook the phrase as a common English colloquialism for “Nature”. Yes, the reviewers should have caught the phrase and suggested changes. Yes, the editor should have suggested a change in wording. But condemning the journal wholesale is an over-reaction, in my opinion.
    As for the creationists who think they’re being persecuted: Y-A-W-N…

  • Brian Jordan

    I’ve read elsewhere that Nicky Morgan is a creationist but I haven’t found any evidence of it. If there is any, it should be better known. Any chance of a link, please?

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    @1859: What does god do with its doo-doo? I thought that that was what created the universe 🙂

  • Newspaniard

    @Brian Jordan. As with you, I have read it somewhere, registered the shock, and then moved on. Cameron has already said that he is a strong believer in his supernatural god and very happy in the education minister being a creationist (see the link by @Horace and search for education. It is about the 10th or 11th reference where the conversation is quoted), but I don’t remember the source which outed her.
    It could have been in a weekly NSS newsletter.

  • Tom80

    Nicky Morgan is my MP. What exactly do people mean when they say she is a creationist? Yes she is a Christian and worships locally but I have never heard her say she disagrees with Evolution, and I have met her a few times and discussed various items with her.

  • barriejohn
  • John

    Following her appointment as Education Secretary in August 2014, one of Nicky Morgan’s first actions was to allow local authorities to cut off state funding to nurseries that “promote extremist views” – including the teaching of creationism (see
    The same article reported ‘Labour was quick to attack the move as a distraction, pointing out that “there is no concrete intelligence about individual nurseries that demands immediate action.””Morgan’s first intervention is more headline-chasing from a Tory government failing to focus on the most important thing in education: delivering a world-class teacher in every classroom,” said a Labour source.
    It does seem, therefore, her intervention may not be altogether serious as early years classes are unlikely to enter into debates about creationism.
    A few months later, she was saying ‘as an Education Secretary I’m a huge supporter of faith schools, a huge supporter of Church schools.’ and describing herself as ‘a Christian Secretary of State for Education’ (see which – arguably – makes her a religious extremist to my perception.
    There is more on her views at

  • 1859

    @ Graham Martin-Royal: This thought crossed my mind too, but when I realised it meant that we’re all in the same shit together, I decided to rein in my imagination!