Prestigious academic journal apologizes to Ye Shiwen for controversial article


No, settle down, it wasn’t John Leonard / ASCA, but the (for some of us) lesser Nature, hit hard for attacking Ye Shiwen in the article “Why great Olympic feats raise suspicions“, to the point where their comment system broke down. Having had to change their subtitle because (and I quote) “the original version of the title was unfair to the swimmer Ye Shiwen”, having based their accusations on a 7 seconds improvement that wasn’t since (as they originally wrote) July 2012 but July 2011, before again stressing that “it is wrong to suggest, as many critics do, that we singled her out because of her nationality”.

Nice fail, Nature.

The story’s intention as an Explainer was to examine how science can help resolve debates over extraordinary performances, not to examine those performance statistics in detail. Several analyses done by others convinced us that it was fair to characterize Ye’s performance as ‘anomalous’ — in the sense that it was statistically unusual. But we acknowledge that the combination of errors discussed above and the absence of a more detailed discussion of the statistics (which with hindsight we regret) gave the impression that we were supporting accusations against her, even though this was emphatically not our intention. For that, we apologize to our readers and to Ye Shiwen.

Read Nature, via TwoCircles


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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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