‘Hand of God’ paper sparks concern


7 Mar 2016

A scientific journal has come under fire for publishing a paper that suggests ‘the Creator’ designed the human hand.

The paper called Biomechanical Characterisics of Hand Coordination in Grasping Activities of Daily Living mentioned “the Creator” several times and was published in January by PLOS One.

It went largely unnoticed until James McInerney a researcher in computational molecular evolution in the UK took to twitter to call the journal “a joke”.

The tweet then took on a life of its own, culminating in the hashtags #Creatorgate and #HandofGod.

A misunderstanding?

Lead author of the paper Ming-Jin Liu from the Huazong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan said the inclusion of the term “the Creator” was the result of a mistranslation. She explained in a comments section in the paper:

We are sorry for drawing the debates about creationism. Our study has no relationship with creationism. English is not our native language. Our understanding of the word Creator was not actually as a native English speaker expected. 


PLOS One issued the following statement on its website:

A number of readers have concerns about sentences in the article that make references to a ‘Creator’. The PLOS ONE editors apologize that this language was not addressed internally or by the Academic Editor during the evaluation of the manuscript. We are looking into the concerns raised about the article with priority and will take steps to correct the published record.

They later followed it up with a retraction.

In light of the concerns identified, the PLOS ONE editors have decided to retract the article, the retraction is being processed and will be posted as soon as possible. We apologize for the errors and oversight leading to the publication of this paper.”

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