Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Right to Read Denied by Deniers

By Peter Bowditch

A research paper about the people who are drawn to conspiracy theories has been permanently retracted due to the threat of litigation by climate change deniers rather than a flaw in the science.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

In September last year I wrote about a paper that had been published in the online journal Frontiers of Psychology – “Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation” – but had subsequently been removed except for the abstract and the following statement:

“This article, first published by Frontiers on 18 March 2013, has been the subject of complaints. Given the nature of some of these complaints, Frontiers has provisionally removed the link to the article while these issues are investigated, which is being done as swiftly as possible and which Frontiers management considers the most responsible course of action. The article has not been retracted or withdrawn. Further information will be provided as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.”

The complaints came from climate change deniers who didn’t like being described as being prone to “conspiracy ideation”. The paper followed earlier research into conspiracies that had generated much response from climate deniers but almost nothing from other groups mentioned for being strongly influenced by conspiracy theories.

The journal has now retracted the paper completely, with the agreement of the authors. It seems that Frontiers was threatened with a libel suit. Two suggestions have been made – they retracted because...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.