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Amazing! An evolution of religion study has actually been retracted

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Some of us thought that researchers were allowed to talk whatever nonsense they liked about the evolution of religion and call it science but apparently there are exceptions:

It made a splash on March 20: a paper that showed a connection between the evolutionary rise of complex societies and the invention of “moralizing gods” who punish non-cooperators. The “letter to Nature” paper was peer reviewed and written by 13 academics, with all the fanfare of the world’s leading science journal. Three of the lead authors, Harvey Whitehouse, Pieter François, and Patrick E. Savage, are from the Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion at Oxford University.

Well, you can forget about it. The paper has been retracted. Fifteen other scientists complained to Nature that the authors had played fast and loose with their data. …

Smarting from the loss of prestige by publishing in the world’s leading science journal, the group reworked their ‘data’ and sent new drafts as preprints in off-label journals.

Dave Coppedge, “Retraction Note: “Evolution of Religion” Study Pulled” at Creation-Evolution Headlines

Here’s the paywalled (and now retracted) paper. Here’s the paywalled complaint lodged.

If researchers are going to launch an attack on design in the universe, they could start by getting their data in shape.

The correlation isn't the problem. Both of the entities being correlated are false. There was never a non-complex society. Bees have complex societies. Social critters automatically develop division of labor and division of authority. There was never a godless society. Gods weren't invented, they're part of the brain. We can argue whether the innate god-reference is connected to an external 'server', but the 'client' end of this cable is hard-wired. polistra

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