PLOS One, a generally respected scientific journal that has been at the forefront of the open access movement, just published an article attributing the morphology of the human hand to Intelligent Design. Specifically, the abstract claims that


The explicit functional link indicates that the biomechanical characteristic of tendinous connective architecture between muscles and articulations is the proper design by the Creator to perform a multitude of daily tasks in a comfortable way.

Needless to say, this has not been received well, with multiple scientists calling for immediate retraction and one PLOS editor threatening resignation.


PLOS’s staff has issued a generally unsatisfactory statement, which refers to the issue as a language error. One of the study’s authors has attempted to respond to some of the criticism in a rather ineffectual manner.

It is simply unacceptable that this festering pile of bullshit managed to get through both the editor and the peer review process. PLOS needs to retract this immediately if it wants to hold onto a shred of its reputation.

Addendum: given the national backgrounds of the authors, I am willing to accept that the wording in the article is due to a spectacularly bad translation mishap. I honestly don’t think that is relevant broader point, which is that PLOS should not have allowed language referring to a Creator to get through its editorial and review process.


Update: The paper is being retracted.