Last month, This American Life ran a story about research that asked if you could change people's mind about issues like same-sex marriage and abortion — with just a 22-minute conversation. The research was published in Science, but Donald Green asked the publication to retract the paper recently. It seems his co-author and UCLA graduate student, Michael LaCour, made up a lot of data.
Green today told me if there was no survey data, what's incredible is that LaCour produced all sorts of conclusions and evaluations of data that didn't exist. For instance, he had "a finding comparing what people said at the door to canvassers to what they said on the survey," according to Green. "This is the thing I want to convey somehow. There was an incredible mountain of fabrications with the most baroque and ornate ornamentation. There were stories, there were anecdotes, my dropbox is filled with graphs and charts, you'd think no one would do this except to explore a very real data set."
"All that effort that went in to confecting the data, you could've gotten the data," says Green.
Stanford and Berkeley researchers found that something seemed off when they tried to reproduce the results.