Do you denounce the practice of “hand-tuning” LIGO data in peer-reviewed, scientific journals? 

Dear Jennifer Oullette & Sean “Let’s Retire Falsifiability 2014” Carroll,

Thank you for your recent article Danish physicists claim to cast doubt on detection of gravitational wavesPerhaps I missed it, but it seems that you omitted the part about hand-tuning the LIGO data reported on in The New Scientist article you claimed to summarize.

Do you denounce the practice of “hand-tuning” LIGO data in peer-reviewed, scientific journals?  If the paper has not yet been corrected or rescinded, will you lobby Physical Review Letters to correct and/or rescind the paper?

Regarding the ongoing LIGO kerfuffles, The New Scientist reports:

This presentation of “hand-tuned” data in a peer-reviewed, scientific report like this is certainly unusual. New Scientist asked the editor who handled the paper, Robert Garisto, whether he was aware that the published data plots weren’t derived directly from LIGO’s data, but were “pedagogical” and done “by eye”, and whether the journal generally accepts illustrative figures. Garisto declined to comment.

What?  Hand-tuned data in a physics paper published in Physical Review Letters?  The editor declines to comment?  Have they retracted the paper yet?  Have they placed a warning on the massaged data plots? When undergraduates are taking physics labs at Caltech, are they allowed, or perhaps expected to, “hand-tune” the data?  What class do they learn this in? Does Sean Carroll perhaps teach it?
Purely illustrative

And there are legitimate questions about that trust. New Scientist has learned, for instance, that the collaboration decided to publish data plots that were not derived from actual analysis. The paper on the first detection in Physical Review Letters used a data plot that was more “illustrative” than precise, says Cornish. Some of the results presented in that paper were not found using analysis algorithms, but were done “by eye”.

Brown, part of the LIGO collaboration at the time, explains this as an attempt to provide a visual aid. “It was hand-tuned for pedagogical purposes.” He says he regrets that the figure wasn’t labelled to point this out.

How exactly is massaging data plots “by eye” “pedagogical,” while refraining from telling folks they have been massaged?

Websters states:

Definition of pedagogical
: of, relating to, or befitting a teacher or education

How does hand-massaging data, while presenting it as real data, further education Dr. Brown?  What exactly are you trying to teach students?

So the question remains, Jennifer & Sean & Caltech & LIGO et al., “Do you denounce the practice of “hand-tuning” LIGO data in peer-reviewed, scientific journals?”  Or do you exalt in it and celebrate it?

And for that matter, other than Andrew D. Jackson, do any physics professors anywhere denounce the practice of “hand-tuning” LIGO data in peer-reviewed, scientific journals?”



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