IONS' Retraction Statement


IONS' Retraction Statement

Researchers at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) submitted a manuscript in November 2015 for publication to Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (FHN) entitled Prediction of Mortality Based on Facial Characteristics. It was peer-reviewed, accepted, and published by FHN on May 17, 2016. The article reported the results of an experiment in which people were asked to guess if individuals depicted in photographs were presently alive or deceased. The authors concluded that while “the most straightforward interpretation of our results is that the participants were sensitive to facial features that indicated impending health problems” such as markers of smoking or illness, the results of the experiment supported claims of certain individuals who report that some as-yet unknown features of the face predict mortality. In the paper, they stated conservatively, “regarding alleged claims of clairvoyance by the tested subjects, our data does not allow for a rigorous test of that hypothesis, but it is certainly compatible with it.”

Interestingly, FHN heavily promoted the article via its social media channels in an effort to generate awareness among its readers, resulting in widespread public viewing of the article. To IONS surprise, approximately two months later, FHN notified IONS that it planned to retract the published article, noting that they had become concerned about the scientific soundness and methodology of the article. But despite numerous queries made by IONS to FHN, to date no methodological or interpretive concerns have been revealed to the authors.

Given that none of the ordinary criteria for retraction were met, and repeated requests for an opportunity to respond to specific criticisms have been ignored, IONS strongly objects to the unethical retraction of this peer-review published research. Science thrives on healthy debate, not on censorship. IONS continues to encourage the senior editors of FHN to provide an opportunity for the authors to respond to specific concerns raised by their investigation and to consider reinstating the article.

IONS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization engaged in scientific and scholarly research on the nature of consciousness and its role in the physical world. The IONS research team maintains a deep commitment to scientific methodologies and rigorous publication standards.