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Geoffrey Miller Claims Mocking Obese People On Twitter Was Research; University Disagrees

07/02/2013 10:45 am ET
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Psychology professor Geoffrey Miller claimed his tweet mocking overweight students was research, but reviews by the two institutions where he teaches did not support his claim.

The University of New Mexico, where Miller is a tenured associate professor in the psychology department, announced Monday its Institutional Review Board determined his tweet "did not rise to the level of research" as the federal government which would require university approval. UNM's determination follows a similar conclusion last week by New York University, where he's currently a visiting professor.

Miller elicited outrage when he tweeted on June 2: "Dear obese PhD applicants: If you don't have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won't have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth."

Miller apologized, and told UNM his tweet was research to test peoples' reactions. That claim prompted both UNM and NYU to launch investigations because research involving human subjects requires institutional approval.

According to a UNM review board memo:

UNM IRB board was in agreement with the NYU IRB determination that Dr. Miller’s tweeting was self-promotional in nature and that key elements were absent in order to classify his actions as “research”. Specifically, the committee determined that there were no clear research questions or hypotheses, systematic methods for collecting quantitative and/or qualitative data were absent, and that criteria for selecting respondents were unclear, at best.

Miller is now subject to further review.

"The Depart­ment of Psy­chol­ogy and the UNM Col­lege of Arts and Sci­ences will now review Miller’s actions," UNM director of communication Karen Wentworth said in a statement. "A dis­ci­pli­nary process inquiry has been started, but will likely take a cou­ple of weeks to com­plete. Whether Miller will con­tinue at NYU or return to UNM is under dis­cus­sion, but has not been determined."

Miller did not respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post. He is currently scheduled to remain at NYU through the end of August.

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