Mike Groll / AP
Cornell University food behavior scientist Brian Wansink has retracted yet another problematic study. This makes his fourth full retraction this year, along with at least eight corrections published or forthcoming.
The just-retracted paper, which looked at the shopping habits of World War II veterans, was published in 2016 in the journal Frontiers of Psychology. In a retraction note posted on Friday, the editors wrote that they have found “there is no empirical support for the conclusions of the article.”
The editors wrote that someone had alerted the publisher with concerns about the article’s validity. The journal decided to withdraw it after an expert evaluated the study’s raw data, according to the editors. The specific nature of the errors was not disclosed.
Wansink, Cornell, and the editors of Frontiers of Psychology did not immediately return requests for comment.
Wansink has faced scientific misconduct allegations for at least 50 of his studies. Journals have so far retracted four papers — one of them twice, as BuzzFeed News reported last month — and corrected (or planned to correct) at least eight.
The latest forthcoming correction, as BuzzFeed News reported earlier this week, was about the habits of household cooks. A ninth article, about vegetable-naming, also stands to be corrected or retracted.
The study just retracted was reportedly based on surveys of 355 World War II veterans and their shopping habits. Those who experienced heavy trauma in combat, versus those who experienced light trauma, tended to be more open to switching brands, trying new products, and buying the cheapest option, the authors claimed.
BuzzFeed News first reported in August that Wansink and his collaborators were re-examining a batch of papers about World War II veterans, including the newly retracted article.
In addition to Wansink, the paper’s authors were Marc Rockmore, an economist at Clark University, and Ozge Sigirci, a former graduate student in Wansink’s Food and Brand Lab at Cornell. Neither Rockmore nor Sigirci immediately responded to requests for comment.
A year ago, Wansink praised her as “the grad student who never said ‘no’” to doing extra data analyses in a blog post that kicked off the subsequent flurry of outside criticism and corrections.
Sigirci has also collaborated with Wansink on one other article that has since been retracted and two others that have been corrected.