Pal-review at work: Spencer and Braswell rebuttal published after just SIX WEEKS

You review my paper…

Whereas a sceptical paper could take up to TWO YEARS (e.g. Lindzen and Choi). I guess it’s all a question of who you know and what side you’re on, right?

WUWT has the full story.

UPDATE: Luboš Motl goes to work on the rebuttal here. Enjoy – here’s an extract:

Well, I am really amazed that people who have self-evidently no idea about physics – and about basic reality such as the impact of clouds on temperature – could have been accepted to the college: Dessler was allowed to study at Rice University. It’s just utterly incredible how hollow skulls like his might have been accepted to a university.

Let me summarize the basic errors in Dessler’s crackpot rants:

  • he incorrectly assumes that clouds have to “trap” heat if they want to influence the temperature
  • he incorrectly assumes that the cloud cover at a given place isn’t an independent degree of freedom; instead, it is a function of the carbon dioxide emissions
  • he incorrectly assumes that it is illegitimate to test the predicted correlations of various physical models by comparing the simulations with the observations; instead, he thinks that it is legitimate to hide his head into the sand and claim that there is nothing to be seen here
  • more generally, he seems to incorrectly assume that one may be a complete imbecile such as himself to write relevant papers about the energy flows in the atmosphere.

More fallout from Spencer and Braswell

More interesting reading this morning on this disgraceful episode:

Josh nails it

Even warmists should be appalled

War on science

Anyone who values the integrity of science and the scientific process should be appalled at the Spencer and Braswell/Remote Sensing debacle (see here and here).

You can disagree 100% with the conclusions of Spencer and Braswell, but you should still be horrified at the abuse of process and the corruption of the proper scientific method that has allowed chit-chat on warmist blogs to claim the scalp of the editor of a peer-reviewed journal, and force him to make an apology to a warmist scientist for daring to publish the paper in the first place.

Don’t wait up. The silence is deafening. In fact, in yet another highly offensive and inflammatory piece on ABC’s left-wing echo-chamber The Drum by Stephan Lewandowsky (see here for Jo Nova’s view on Lewandowsky) we have quite the reverse. Not only does he fail to defend scientific integrity, he viciously attacks Spencer further with a string of cheap ad hominems and smears, claiming at one point, laughably (but at the same time dead seriously), that:

“every single ‘sceptic’ paper has been debunked within the scientific community.”

Wow. How blinkered can you get? It is a truly extraordinary tirade – full to the brim with insults and positively fizzing with white-hot anger, but demonstrating that his grasp of reality is highly tenuous – whereas the consensus science is squeaky clean, of course, “deniers” (a highly abusive term in itself) peddle only:

“ideology, subterfuge and propaganda.”

Unleashed? More like unhinged. You can read it for yourself here.

And where’s the defence of the scientific process? Of scientific integrity? Of the proper procedures for rebuttal? Nowhere to be seen. I wonder what Lewandowsky’s reaction would have been if a paper by Jimmy Hansen or Gavin Schmidt had been subjected to the same treatment. Would we have seen the same reluctance to condemn the abuse of process? Answers on a postcard. Obviously, it’s only an abuse when Lewandowsky himself determines the science warrants it.

The kind of hyperbole that Lewandowsky engages in his articles does nothing for the most important cause of all, the search for truth in science. His view is that scientific debate should apparently be censored and restricted to the papers that he personally considers appropriate, in other words that anyone who dares challenge the consensus is a [cue cliché] filthy denier funded by big oil. I am sure everyone else is as thoroughly sick of such stereotyping as I am.

But I guess we can take comfort from the fact that such a display of barely controlled rage betrays a deep-seated underlying weakness and fear. As I mentioned in a previous post, the CO2 hypothesis is built on such shaky foundations, all it takes is a puff of wind to shake them, and get the alarmists winding themselves up into full-blown tirades of abuse and vitriol.

Journal editor "apologises" to warmist for publishing sceptical paper

Bullied by the warmists

It really does beggar belief. Climate science reduced to the level of playground bullies, with journal editors feeling they have to resign for publishing a paper which the “consensus boys” failed to exclude by their cosy pal-review process.

But not only that, we now read in an article on Daily Climate by Kevin Trenberth, John Abraham and Peter Gleick, the following astonishing statement:

Kevin Trenberth received a personal note of apology from both the editor-in-chief and the publisher of Remote Sensing. Wagner took this unusual and admirable step after becoming aware of the paper’s serious flaws. (source)

So because a warmist scientist considers the paper has flaws, a journal editor chooses to resign and apologise. Let’s turn the situation around for a moment: I would assume that Spencer and many other sceptical scientists would have a few issues with some of the consensus boys’ papers too, but I don’t see any editors rushing to resign because of that, do you? No, of course not.

Note that this has nothing to do with the worth of the scientific claims in the paper itself – this is all about procedure, and the integrity of the scientific process. The proper steps would be for Trenberth et al to rebut Spencer’s claims in a further, peer-reviewed, paper, or alternatively seek a retraction from the journal. Neither of these things has happened. A few comments on a blog is enough now – provided you’re on the warmist side.

Such is the power and influence wielded by the alarmist coterie, and the almost total politicisation of climate science, that almost without lifting a finger, a journal can be intimidated into providing a grovelling apology for daring to publish a paper which challenges the consensus. Truly jaw-dropping.

One has to ask, why are they so afraid? Is their CO2 driven construction so fragile that it cannot withstand a paper which, according to the alarmists, is total rubbish anyway? Why must they shut down scientific discourse, if the sceptics case is so weak, rather than let it be given the public ridicule it so obviously deserves? You can draw your own conclusions – I have mine.

There is much, much more – Roger Pielke Sr takes the whole thing apart here – read it all.

However, Maurizio Morabito, commenting on Pielke Jr’s blog, provides a cheering conclusion to the ridiculous extremes we have now reached:

“If “post-publication discussions of a scientific paper in the media or on blogs” can now “be used as the basis for subsequently re-evaluating the scientific merit of that paper within the scientific peer review process”, it just means that blogs and the media are now to be considered on-par with peer-review as ways to evaluate the scientific merit of a paper.

In other words, all people that support Wagner’s resignation are telling the world that the old complaint against skeptics “your article hasn’t been subjected to peer-review!” is not valid any longer. A blog or an interview will suffice.

Methinks only Gavin could come up with such a spectacular own goal.”

"Blog-review": Journal editor resigns because of "internet discussions"

Where's the process?

Is this a new low? The death of scientific integrity and the scientific process, happening right before our eyes. A journal editor resigns because he dared to publish a sceptical paper (Spencer & Braswell 2011 – see here), which challenged the “consensus”. Why did he resign? Because internet discussion sites said the paper should not have been published. His resignation statement is astonishing:

Unfortunately, as many climate researchers and engaged observers of the climate change debate pointed out in various internet discussion fora, the paper by Spencer and Braswell [1] that was recently published in Remote Sensing is most likely problematic in both aspects and should therefore not have been published.

After having become aware of the situation, and studying the various pro and contra arguments, I agree with the critics of the paper. Therefore, I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision and, as a result, step down as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing.

“Various internet discussion fora”? Is this guy for real? So a few trolls on warmist sites, such as RealClimate and Climate Progress, convinced the editor of a peer-review journal to step down because he published a paper which challenged the consensus? “I agree with the critics of the paper”? Is that how peer review works? Editor of journal decides that the trolls are right and that’s that? No, if there were problems with the paper, they should be refuted by further peer-reviewed papers, not by the whim of one editor who chooses to fall on his sword to make a point.

And this:

In other words, the problem I see with the paper by Spencer and Braswell is not that it declared a minority view (which was later unfortunately much exaggerated by the public media) but that it essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its opponents. This latter point was missed in the review process, explaining why I perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal. (source – PDF)

As Roy Spencer points out in his response to this bizarre sequence of events:

But the paper WAS precisely addressing the scientific arguments made by our opponents, and showing why they are wrong! That was the paper’s starting point! We dealt with specifics, numbers, calculations…while our critics only use generalities and talking points. There is no contest, as far as I can see, in this debate. If you have some physics or radiative transfer background, read the evidence we present, the paper we were responding to, and decide for yourself.

If some scientists would like do demonstrate in their own peer-reviewed paper where *anything* we wrote was incorrect, they should submit a paper for publication. Instead, it appears the IPCC gatekeepers have once again put pressure on a journal for daring to publish anything that might hurt the IPCC’s politically immovable position that climate change is almost entirely human-caused. I can see no other explanation for an editor resigning in such a situation. (source)

I would like to see more evidence for the link to the IPCC that Spencer claims, although it is well known that there are “gatekeepers” at the main climate journals to make sure that anything that challenges the consensus is filtered out – clearly the system failed here. But this shows the extent of the corruption of the peer-review process, that an editor resigns (possibly under some external pressure to do so) rather than following the proper procedure for challenging or rebutting a scientific paper.

At this point it’s Warmists 1, Sceptics 0. Another sad day for the integrity of science.

UPDATE: Roger Pielke Sr responds to the story here  (with links to crowing articles at the BBC and Guardian), but makes the same point as above:

“The place to refute a published paper is in peer-reviewed papers, not in blogs (or the media). If the paper is not robust, it appropriately should be responded to by paper, not by the resignation of the Editor. In my view, he made a poor decision which has further damaged the scientific process of vetting new research results.”

What's driving the "lack of respect" for scientists?

Yo, respect!

Rosslyn Beebe pens a “why, oh why?” piece in the Canberra Times about an alleged lack of respect for scientists:

The global science journal Nature has suggested it’s driven by “a suspicion of elites and expertise” mixed with religious anti-Darwinism and hostility to any form of government regulation. The journal points out that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is just one timely reminder “of why the US government needs to serve the people better by developing and enforcing improved science-based regulations. Yet the public often buys into anti-science, anti-regulation agendas that are orchestrated by business interests and their sponsored think tanks and front groups.”

In 1996, Scientific American journalist John Horgan published a book titled The End of Science, Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age in which he claimed the “great era of scientific discovery is over”. He coined the term “ironic science” to describe research which, in his view, “resembles literary criticism in that it offers points of view, opinions, which are, at best, interesting, which provoke further comment. But it does not converge on the truth.”

She is also shocked, shocked I tell you, that anyone should take a swipe at Tim Flannery (and gets in a dig at the great unwashed, as embodied, in her view, by the “shock jocks”):

In Australia, a posse of shock-jocks and media commentators – as well as politicians – are taking aim at scientists. “Tim Flannery – Professor Bullshit” screamed a blog headline recently doing the rounds via email. Only last week, a Sydney shock-jock was all a-flurry about his discovery that Professor Flannery lives (has done for well over a decade) in a house on the Hawkesbury River. The Australian newspaper took up the issue, publishing a Google Earth image of the location. A news report headlined, “Do as I say, not as I do: Flannery’s all at sea”, tried to link prior comments Professor Flannery had made about climate change and sea level rise with his home.

Why she should defend Flannery against this obvious case of hypocrisy isn’t clear. In reality, however, there isn’t a lack of respect for scientists as a whole, there is a lack of respect for CLIMATE scientists and their associated advocates and public figures. We still trust doctors to make the right diagnoses, trust our engineers to build safe buildings and bridges, trust the particle physicists when they tell us that a multi-billion dollar circle of magnets kilometres across is required to find a new sub-atomic particle. No-one questions any of that.

The problem with climate scientists and their hangers-on is the result of the actions of a small but visible minority, who are guilty of:

  • politicising science by advocating particular responses to climate change (most of which will damage our standards of living for no benefit)
  • claiming that the IPCC is an impartial review of climate science
  • passing off Greenpeace and WWF propaganda as credible science
  • making catastrophist predictions about future climate
  • conflicting themselves by accepting research grants from a government that itself advocates AGW alarmist policies
  • playing down uncertainty in their results and claiming the science is settled
  • fudging data in order to make it fit with their pre-conceived conclusions
  • silencing dissent and skewing the peer-review process (so that it essentially becomes “pal-review”)
  • refusing to share methods and calculations for independent confirmation of their results
  • hypocritical do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do attitudes (eg. Al Gore and Flannery, above)
  • abusing and smearing (dare I say, disrespecting) anyone that dares mention any of the above

Those are the simple reasons why climate science as a discipline has lost respect. The public is not stupid, and it can see when it is being misled. More openness, more debate, more honesty and less divisive language would help reverse the trend.

Article source is here.

Polar bear alarmist investigated for "scientific misconduct"

Doing OK

Charles Monnett has been one of the leading voices in the claim that “global warming” is causing increased polar bear drownings, in particular this paper here. But, as CBS News reports:

A federal wildlife biologist whose observation in 2004 of presumably drowned polar bears in the Arctic helped to galvanize the global warming movement has been placed on administrative leave and is being investigated for scientific misconduct, possibly over the veracity of that article.

Charles Monnett is an Anchorage-based scientist with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

He has not been informed by the inspector general’s office of any charges or questions related to the scientific integrity of his work, according to Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Monnett was told July 18 that he was being put on leave, pending results of an investigation into “integrity issues.” (source)

H/t to Luboš Motl who has more here. His conclusion:

“It seems increasingly likely that the research backing the global warming doctrine is corrupt at every conceivable level.”

Climate scientists put out call for "respect"

Rank hypocrisy

Maybe they would not have lost it in the first place if they hadn’t:

  • resorted to smears and petty name calling of those who disagree (“deniers”)
  • fudged data to get their desired result (Hockey Stick)
  • avoided providing background materials for independent checking (Hockey Stick again)
  • avoided Freedom of Information requests by deleting emails (Climategate)
  • ganged up on journals that dared publish materials challenging their precious consensus (Climategate again)
  • dressed up political propaganda as impartial science (IPCC/Greenpeace, repeated occasions)

Don’t make me laugh, Anna-Maria Arabia.

UPDATE: Arabia has apparently received a “death threat” this morning – see here. I trust that it has been reported to the police.

UPDATE 2: Arabia was previously an adviser to Anthony Albanese and Kim Beazley, so there are obvious political motivations at work here.

UPDATE 3: Excellent comment on this post via Facebook:

As a real scientist I know respect must be EARNED.

These Climate pseudo-scientists are not entitled to respect. They must earn it by stopping the lies, half-truths, and deliberate politicization of their “research”.

They must perform real, verifiable work that meets the basic scientific principle that their work must be reproducible by ANY OTHER scientist who is competent in the field. They have failed that test, miserably.

Then they may begin to earn “respect”. Until then, all they deserve is contempt.

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