Mainstream media was inundated with a paper claiming large conspiracies are impossible. But now it turns out the paper has a basic mathematical flaw that even the author and the editor concede.
Summary of the flaws:
- The only model that makes a substantive original contribution is completely flawed.
- The only reason this didn’t alter the conclusions is because the methodology was so flawed it failed to test the model adequately.
- Without the flawed models, what is left is simply a standard probability curve and not an original conclusion.
- The values plugged into that remaining model are, in any case, completely unsupportable.
Beyond that my principal concern is how this paper could ever have passed peer review. A non-monotonic cdf is such a fundamental error (it implies an underlying pdf with negative components, that is negative probabilities) that it should have been immediately obvious to any competent reviewer that the paper could not possibly be correct. The error is not hidden: the author quite openly discusses the non-monotonic behaviour and its supposed significance, and depicts non-monotonic cdf curves in figures 1 and 4.
When a journal publishes a paper containing a trivial, obvious and fundamental error then legitimate questions can and should be raised about how this happened.