Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Retraction and Apology. Do the Right Thing.

I'm furious about the false and defamatory statements made by Paul Thacker and Charles Seife in this August 13, 2015 article on PLoS Blogs. There are several key take-home points:

1.  While they have since tacked on a clarification in a footnote, it was not complete. Thacker and Seife's allegation implication that I was a paid advsor to the Monsanto Company to defeat California Proposition 37 still stands, and has been cited elsewhere. The anemic correction leaves false statements available for maximum damage. Mission Accomplished.

2.  USRTK claimed that the FOIA request was to test relationships for why I, and other authors, answered questions for individuals on GMOAnswers.com. The article by Thacker and Seife shows that this is not the real intention. The email released has nothing to do with GMOAnswers.com.  Plus, why would a hostile activist-funded organization release that resource to authors unless it was to advance reputation damage to those communicating science?

These are two important questions that clearly demonstrate the intent and the strategy.

What should have happened?  The authors and PLoS should have made it right. 

1.  PLoS should have immediately demanded the article be changed to reflect factual information, or else pulled down the article.

2.  PLoS should have offered me equal space to clarify the real situation.

3.  Thacker and Siefe should have provided a public apology. However, Thacker has dug in, and on Twitter now accuses my actions of being orchestrated by a PR firm. 

Over the years I've made some mistakes in my blogs.  Even when I criticized Vani Hari, I heard that she left my university in a limo, and reported that. When facts came out otherwise, I was petrified. 

I felt so bad that I misreported information based on what a credible source told me, and the minute I had internet access I made the correction, and apologized. 

This is what should have happened here too.

Instead, the authors are defensive and digging in.  PLoS stands by their decision to publish harmful, false claims.

It is a bad time to be in a controversial area as a scientist.  The career that took you a lifetime to build, can be destroyed overnight by activists, and with the help of your friends in scientific publishing,