Popcorn time. Stephan Lewandowsky ties himself in knots attempting to reconcile his unshakeable belief that Recursive Fury was scientifically and ethically sound with Frontiers’ statement that the paper ‘does not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects’ and ‘categorises the behaviour of identifiable individuals within the context of psychopathological characteristics’.
According to Lew:
No other cause was ever offered or discussed by Frontiers to justify the retraction of Recursive Fury. We are not aware of a single mention of the claim that our study “did not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects” by Frontiers throughout the past year, although we are aware of their repeated explicit statements, in private and public, that the study was ethically sound.
This brings into focus several possibilities for the reconciliation of Frontier’s contradictory statements concerning the retraction:
First, one could generously propose that the phrase “did not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects” is simply a synonym for “defamation risk” and that the updated statement therefore supports the contractually-agreed statement. This is possible but it puts a considerable strain on the meaning of “synonym.”
Second, one could take the most recent statement by Frontiers at face value. This has two uncomfortable implications: It would imply that the true reason for the retraction was withheld from the authors for a year. It would also imply that the journal entered into a contractual agreement about the retraction statement that misrepresented its actual position.
Third, perhaps the journal only thought of this new angle now and in its haste did not consider that it violates their contractually-agreed position.
Whichever it is, it’s truly astonishing that Lew finds it so difficult to grasp that labelling those who disagree with him as suffering from some psychopathology is ethically and morally unacceptable.
For the record, according to Recursive Fury, my particular pathologies are nefarious intention and persecution-victimisation – and of course, I am a ‘denier’ and rabid conspiracy theorist. If the paper cannot even characterise my view on AGW correctly (lukewarmer), it really has little hope of getting anything else right.
Lucia considers her free diagnosis here – I have to say, she comes off worse than me.