A research paper that is more than a decade old has been retracted by the European scientific community because of the expressed hostile policies towards refugees by one of the co-writers of the paper. The article describes Treefinder, which is a computer program that is frequently used by evolutionary biologists.
The program’s developer and co-author of the paper, German scientist Gangolf Jobb, banned the use of the Treefinder program in European countries that he said were too accepting of refugees.
Last September, Jobb made the announcement on his website that researchers from eight different European countries were being forbidden from using Treefinder. These countries included the United Kingdom and Germany, which are known for being particularly accepting of immigrants.
Jobb wrote, “I am no longer willing to support, with my work, the political system in Europe and Germany. In particular, I disagree with immigration policy. Immigration to my country harms me. It harms my family. It harms my people. Whoever invites or welcomes immigrants to Europe and Germany is my enemy.”
The decision made by Jobb resulted in the anger of many scientists. Recently, the paper’s associated academic journal BMC Evolutionary Biology pulled the paper, citing the fact that the removal of the Treefinder program from certain countries violated the journal’s policies regarding the availability of software.
According to Jobb, European scientists can still use the Treefinder program as long as the associated research is physically conducted in one of the allowed countries. Jobb also stated that the other authors of the paper, Arndt von Haeseler and Korbinian Strimmer, do not control the licensing of the software and that they are actually in support of the paper’s recent retraction from the journal.
Treefinder is used to construct phylogenetic trees by making use of sequence data. The paper describing the use of this program was originally published in 2004. It is unknown which countries are still allowed to use the Treefinder program.