Photo credit: PDArt/Wikimedia Commons
By Daniel Cressey
Researchers who wrote “design by the Creator” in a paper about the function of the human hand have triggered a debate over the quality of editing and peer review at the journal that published it—and ultimately retracted it.
The paper by Cai-Hua Xiong of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, and his co-authors appeared in the journal PLoS ONE on January 5. But it came to prominence this week after its apparently creationist slant was flagged on Twitter, spawning the hashtags #Creatorgate and #HandofGod.
James McInerney, who works on computational molecular evolution at the University of Manchester, UK, started the ball rolling when he tweeted:
“Plos One is now a joke. ‘….proper design of the Creator’ absolute joke of a journal”
McInerney later provided a caveat, saying: “My original tweet was strong because creationism is a nuisance to me for 20+ years.”
The paper’s authors asked volunteers to perform a variety of tasks with their hands, and the researchers concluded that “our study can improve the understanding of the human hand and confirm that the mechanical architecture is the proper design by the Creator for dexterous performance of numerous functions following the evolutionary remodeling of the ancestral hand for millions of years”. It also includes the sentence, “Hand coordination should indicate the mystery of the Creator’s invention”.
When contacted by Nature, Xiong said that he was discussing the issues raised with his co-authors and would respond as soon as possible. He added, “Indeed, we are not native speakers of English, and entirely lost the connotations of some words such as ‘Creator’. I am so sorry for that.”
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