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June 30, 2011
Transcendental Meditation: Hold That Paper!
I couldn't resist mentioning this one: the Archives of Internal Medicine was set to publish a paper showing a benefit for transcendental meditation in heart attack and stroke. Word was already out in the press - in the UK, the Telegraph had already published a story, with a quote from one of the paper's lead authors (from, ahem, the Maharishi University of Management) that the effect seen was as great or greater than any pharmaceutical intervention.
I don't have a link up to that particular newspaper report; its URL is no longer valid. That's because twelve minutes before the paper was set to be published online, the journal pulled it. (Other sources still have their stories up). We still don't know quite what the problem was. Nature got this statement:
“It became apparent that there was additional data not included in the manuscript that was about to be published, and the editor of Archives thought that the information was significant enough that it needed to be included as part of the paper, and then re-analyzed and verified, so she made the last-minute decision not to publish it. . .It’s an unusual situation, but the bottom line is that our journal wants to make sure that the information we put out is as accurate as can be.”
I'm glad to hear it. Larry Husten at Forbes has the data from the paper, and has a lot of questions. We'll see how things look when (and if) it ever appears. But for now, if you're looking for the latest anyone has ever pulled a paper before publication, we may well have the record.
Update: here's an excellent report on this at Retraction Watch.
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