Obesity Tweet "not part of research"

A Tweet sent by a University of New Mexico psychologist, which suggested that obese people do not have the willpower to complete a PhD, was not, as its author had claimed, “part of a research project”, the institution has concluded.

July 2, 2013

On 2 June, associate professor of psychology Geoffrey Miller told his Twitter followers that if PhD applicants “didn’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs” then they “won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation”.

Professor Miller, who is currently a visiting professor at New York University’s Stern Business School, deleted the Tweet shortly afterwards, apologised, and told UNM it had been part of his research. However, following an investigation, the Institutional Review Board of the university has dismissed that claim.

“The Tweeting activities of associate professor Geoffrey Miller did not rise to the level of research,” said a statement from the IRB on the university’s website.

“The board concluded that Miller’s Tweets were self-promotional in nature and did not follow research criteria which require specific research questions or hypotheses, systematic methods for collection quantitative and/or qualitative data and criteria for selecting respondents.”

The Department of Psychology and the UNM College of Arts and Sciences will now review Professor Miller’s actions, and a disciplinary process inquiry has been started. It is expected to take two weeks to complete.

Whether Miller will continue at NYU or return to UNM is under discussion, but has not been determined.

chris.parr@tsleducation.com

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