Welcome to the age of diminishing returns

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Climate of intimidation: "Frontiers" blunder on "Recursive Fury".

Note: this post is published also on the blog "The Frog that Jumped out"


After the recent events in the saga of the paper titled "Recursive Fury" by Lewandowsky et al., I am stating my disappointment by resigning from Chief Specialty Editor of the Frontiers journal



You may have followed the story of "Recursive Fury", the paper by Stephan Lewandowsky and others that the journal "Frontiers" had published in 2013. The paper reported the results of a survey that showed that the rejection of climate science was often accompanied by a similar mindset on other scientific areas. So "Climate skeptics" were also found to reject the notion that AIDS is caused by the HIV virus and that smoking causes cancer. A result not at all surprising for those of us who follow the climate debate in detail.

As it might have been expected, after publication, a storm of negative comments was unleashed against both the authors of "Recursive Fury" and the journal. What was unexpected, instead, was the decision to withdraw the paper taken by the editorial board of Frontiers.

I found the behavior of the publisher already highly objectionable at this stage. However, I could at least understand it (if not agree on it). They stated that "[Frontier's] investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study. It did, however, determine that the legal context is insufficiently clear and therefore Frontiers wishes to retract the published article." The authors themselves seemed to share my opinion when they said, "The authors understand this decision, while they stand by their article"

Unfortunately, now Frontiers has issued a new note where they backtrack from the previous statement and they seem to indicate that they found substantial problems in the paper. The new Frontiers' note is discussed in detail by Lewandowsky himself in a post titled: "revisiting a retraction".


It is not for me, here, to discuss the merits and demerits of this paper, nor the legal issues involved (noting, however, that the University of Western Australia found no problems in hosting it on their site). However, my opinion is that, with their latest statement and their decision to retract the paper, Frontiers has shown no respect for authors nor for their own appointed referees and editors. But the main problem is that we have here another example of the climate of intimidation that is developing around the climate issue.

It is becoming commonplace for scientists to receive personal attacks (including death threats) for having stated their position on the climate problem. This violent reaction often takes the shape of mailing campaigns directed to the institutions of the targeted scientists. There are many examples of this phenomenon; it will suffice, here, to cite the most recent case; that of Professor Lawrence Torcello who recently was the target of an abusive hate campaign, based on the false claim that he had proposed to jail climate skeptics. Fortunately, Torcello's institution (Rochester Institute of Technology) stood for freedom of expression. In other similar cases universities stood by the rights of their faculty members. They did exactly what Frontiers did not do (but should have done) for the paper by Lewandowsky et al.


The climate of intimidation which is developing nowadays risks to do great damage to climate science and to science in general. I believe that the situation risks to deteriorate further if we all don't take a strong stance on this issue. Hence, I am taking the strongest action I can take, that is I am resigning from "Chief Specialty Editor" of Frontiers in protest against the behavior of the journal in the "Recursive Fury" case. I sent to the editors a letter today, stating my intention to resign.

I am not happy about having had to take this decision, because I had been working hard and seriously at the Frontiers' specialy journal titled "Energy Systems and Policy." But I think it was the right thing to do. I also note that this blunder by "Frontiers" is also a blow to the concept of "open access" publishing, which was one of the main characteristic of their series of journals. But I still think that open access publishing it is the way of the future. This is just a temporary setback for a good idea which is moving onward. 


____________________________________________

Addendum: some people seem to have find a handle to criticize my stance on this issue by saying that I described incorrectly what "Recursive Fury" says. Sorry, but the paper says exactly what I say: that denial of climate science is accompanied by other conspiratorial beliefs. Then, of course, it deals with the reactions to an earlier paper on the same subject, but the focus of the discussion is the same. In any case, this is just the usual trick of shifting the discussion on a marginal point to avoid confronting the main issue which is, in this case, the behavior of "Frontiers". 










107 comments:

  1. Everything was unfortunate, but somewhat acceptable, and then that second note appeared by Costanza Zucca and Fred Fenter. That was a real jaw dropper.

    They fell hook, line and sinker for the victim bully tactic. On the one hand they probably let themselves be intimidated (indirectly) by the forceful whining that the retired fake skeptics are so good at, and at the same time they let themselves become convinced that the complainants really are poor victims, whose rights should be observed (ie their public statements cannot be used for research, whereas hacked forums can be cited unobstructed).

    Do these people even read the daily toxic venom in WUWT blogs posts and subsequent comment sections? Do they not see the two faces of the complainants? Do they not understand the implications of their actions? Just when everything was about to settle, they decide to throw shovels full of shit at the fan! I'm truly gobsmacked.

    I thought about sending them daily summaries of WUWT nutteries, but that would probably only reinforce their Stockholm syndrome. Your action is much more of a statement, Ugo. I highly respect the step you've taken, and can only wish I was in the same position.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Maybe you know this blog: http://blog.hotwhopper.com/ - they debunk WUWT every day. But it doesn't seem to help against the Stockholm syndrome of WUWT readers

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    2. As TLITB and Brandon Schollenberger point out below, Recursive Fury did not report the results of any survey. The paper you're thinking of was titled "NASA faked the moon landing—Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science."

      It's important to note that the "Moon Landing" survey paper currently fails to meet the bare minimum requirement of science, as both Lewandowsky and the University of Western Australia refuse to release the original data of the survey for replication, No research can be validated without independent replication of the results. The independent replication of results is not 'harrassment' or 'intimidation' as some suggest; it's just good science. Lewandowsky, et al. can vindicate themselves and their research simply by releasing their original data.

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    3. "Everything was unfortunate, but somewhat acceptable, and then that second note appeared by Costanza Zucca and Fred Fenter. That was a real jaw dropper. They fell hook, line and sinker for the victim bully tactic." The real jaw dropper is that so many people accept this narrative uncritically, even though they themselves agree that it makes no sense. Expand your horizons. Frontiers worked out a mealy-mouth retraction notice, then felt they had to defend themselves against a lot of pressure - from Lewandowsky's supporters. The second notice is the one that tells the truth.
      We have no evidence of any real pressure from the other side, no evidence of threats, and we have Frontiers' testimony that there was none. There is abundant pressure and legal threats from Lewandowsky's side, though; no one is even trying to hide it.

      Delete
  2. Perhaps some kind of regulation of the blogosphere, a voluntary scheme that would allow the more respectable end of it to be recognised as such, is one idea worth thinking about? See: http://livefromgolgafrincham.org/2014/04/05/plain-pages/

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    1. It is - I am preparing a post on this point

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    2. Ugo, careful: http://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/live-from-golgafrincham-not/
      Don't get fooled

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    3. Ugo has it right. Look forward to the post.

      Delete
  3. Ugo, very brave of you, and also, appropriate. It is too bad it had to come with this. It seems Frontiers have had a number of opportunities to do the right thing and has generally not.

    I share your concern over OpenAccess, but hopefully this is unrelated to that movement.

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  4. Professor Bardi, please continue to share your insights with us wherever you feel comfortable expressing them. I look forward for future insights, since the intersection of science and policy is terribly underpopulated and mostly dominated by opinion in place of facts.

    I am dismayed that you were placed in this position, but hope that it opens new opportunities for you to continue your good works.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Well, thanks, Larry, let's see where we go from now; I have several posts I wanted to publish here, but I was slowed down by this story of "Frontiers" - hopefully in a few days we go back to regular blogging

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  5. NOTE: I have activated moderation for all comments to this post. For those of you who comment from the US, please take into account that I am in Europe, so there will be a delay in reviewing comments while here it is late at night. Sorry about that.

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  6. You say of Recursive Fury:

    "The paper reported the results of a survey that showed that the rejection of climate science was often accompanied by a similar mindset on other scientific areas. So "Climate skeptics" were also found to reject the notion that AIDS is caused by the HIV virus and that smoking causes cancer. A result not at all surprising for those of us who follow the climate debate in detail."

    I think you may be mistaken in you understanding of Recursive Fury. Have you perhaps confused Recursive Fury with Stephan Lewandowsky's previous paper LOG12?

    LOG12 did use a survey with volunteer subjects, asking them questions about science and conspiracy ideation. However Recursive Fury's approach was different, it did not use a survey it rather used existing blog and newspaper commentary as raw data, placing each example of commentary along with the names of individuals commenting in various psychological categories.

    I.e. From Recursive Fury:

    "This article analyzes the response of the climate blogosphere to the publication of LOG12"

    "Our criteria were exclusively psychological and hence did not hinge on the validity of the various hypotheses."

    This brings me to another misunderstanding you may have, you say:

    "It is not for me, here, to discuss the merits and demerits of this paper, nor the legal issues involved (noting, however, that the University of Western Australia found no problems in hosting it on their site)."

    While you *will* find the Recursive Fury paper on the University of Western Australia page, they have not as yet AFAIK decided to host the associated key supplementary material which included the list of commentary with names and dates under the main heading "Excerpt Espousing Conspiracy Theories" and sub category headings.

    According to FOI material released by DeSmog blog, the inclusion of names in this supplementary material provoked a substantial amount of complaints against the journal from the individuals named .

    I am a layman, but it seems to me that a previously open source paper that has now lost its main plank of supporting supplementary data cannot be seen to be fully the same thing as it originally appeared in Frontiers, and would suggest that the University of Western Australia possibly *have* found problems in hosting it on their site.

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  7. Ugo Bardi, while I understand it is difficult to keep abreast of all details in a topic like this, I think it's important people at least be able to keep basic facts straight. In that vein, I must point out your first paragraph is entirely wrong.

    Recursive Fury did report the results of any survey. The paper you're thinking of was titled "NASA faked the moon landing—Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science." That paper was widely criticized, especially for the fact only 10 respondents (out of ~1,000) had claimed to believe the moon landing was a hoax. Not only is that a miniscule sample size, the majority of those respondents claimed to believe in global warming.

    Regardless, Recursive Fury was a follow-up paper that sought to examine responses to the moon landing paper. In it, Stephan Lewandowsky and co-authors collected comments from people on blogs they claimed espoused conspiracy theories. They used their collection to portray their critics as conspiracy nuts. It was quickly discovered Recursive Fury misquoted multiple people, and that triggered a closer examination which led to people feeling the paper had ethical problems.

    In addition to it being important to get facts right, the distinction between these papers is important for another reason. Lewandowsky et al actively mocked and provoked people during the creation of Recursive Fury. They then published the paper painting their critics, partially because of how they responded to being mocked, as loons.

    It's difficult to see how one can complain there is a "climate of intimidation" while not criticizing authors who misquote people in order to paint them as nutjobs.

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    1. Why would anyone bother to misquote Watt's content providers when the web itself records their performance as one of the great comic spectacles of the age?

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    2. > Lewandowsky et al actively mocked and provoked people during the creation of Recursive Fury.

      Lew Made Us Do It

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  8. Ugo, being a moderator and follower of skeptical Science, plus a lot of involvement and study of this critical issue, I think I can understand the bind it put you in, and how hard it must have been to arrive at this brave decision. thanks to folks like you, and the increasing awareness of the graveness of this issue by concerned citizens, maybe we can stop this ceaseless and eterminded bullying of climate scientists by the denialati.

    Paul Wigton, geologist
    USA

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  9. Kudos Dr. Bardi. The irrational internet bullies and Frontier's appalling behavior probably made your decision a lot easier than it ordinarily would have been.

    The journal should be ashamed for caving in to extremists (e.g., McIntyre et al.), their cowardly decision to retract the paper creates a very dangerous precedent. Also, because of how the journal handled this everyone loses.

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  10. Professor Bardi, the stand you've taken is commendable. It's a shame that we can't say the same about the way that Frontiers handled the situation and especially how they treated the authors of the paper, shifting goal posts, doing an apparent about face etc.

    I'd have thought being a psych journal (and especially given the topic of the paper in question), those running it would have been more attuned to the situation. (Maybe they should have talked with ERL. I'd expect last year's 97% consensus paper would have prompted lots of complaints to the ERL editors.).

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  11. I am glad you resigned. The paper in question slandered skeptics by applying labels of mental health disorders to them. If you can't understand that's a problem, then you don't need to be editing a journal.

    With regards to Torcello, he proposed making financial contributions to blogs that are considered by [who? you? anybody? a court of inquisition?] a crime. So, if I bought a coffee mug from Mark Steyn, or hit the PayPal button of Anthony Watts, does that mean I just committed a jailable offense?

    How could you not see the problem with that?

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    1. How could you misread so badly what Torcello was saying?

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    2. Torcello: "What are we to make of those behind the well documented corporate funding of global warming denial? Those who purposefully strive to make sure “inexact, incomplete and contradictory information” is given to the public? I believe we understand them correctly when we know them to be not only corrupt and deceitful, but criminally negligent in their willful disregard for human life. It is time for modern societies to interpret and update their legal systems accordingly."

      If that doesn't mean 'make funding AGW sceptics a crime', then what DOES it mean?

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    3. See, Jon, there is a small difference that you seem unable to detect. Let me explain with an example: you are entitled to your opinion on the effects of climate change just as you are entitled to your opinion on drunk driving. Believing that drunk driving is harmless is not - and it cannot be - a crime (as long as it remains just a belief). However, it is would be a crime to finance a campaign that recommends drunk driving. And imagine that if such a campaign were financed by the alcoholic beverage industry!

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    4. It is not a crime to finance a campaign that recommends drunk driving. And the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, including speech believers of agw don't want to hear. You should have published my earlier comment.

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    5. Wrong. In the U.S., at least, such a campaign might be a crime, since the First Amendment does not protect speech that is intended and likely to incite imminent lawless action. In countries without the First Amendment or similar protection, there would be no question that such a campaign could be criminalized. Nice try though.

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  12. Another bizarre twist to the story.

    The editor of Frontiers reveals himself as the proprietor of a blog that used to be called "Cassandra's Legacy" but was renamed "Resource Crisis" -- hardly names to suggest even-handed scholarship. The editor also reveals himself as a fan of Sou from Bundanga, reinforcing the first impression.

    In the opening paragraph, the editor seems to mix up Moon Hoax (PsySci, not retracted) and Recursive Fury (Frontiers, retracted).

    I don't think Recursive Fury should ever have been published. You can't publicly put diagnostic labels on named people.

    The authors, referees, and editor who let this pass should be deeply embarrassed. Bardi's decision to resign is therefore appropriate.

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    1. I stand corrected. Bardi was not even the editor of the journal that published Recursive Fury.

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    2. But Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome

      MangoChutney

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    3. Your answer says it all

      One more thing though, why is it that people who believe global population should be reduce never set an example to others?

      MangoChutney

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    4. Lovely to receive such intelligent comments as this one - this is really what one keeps a blog for.

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    5. And, as an added bonus, by someone who signs as "Mango Chutney"!

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    6. Richard, thanks for mentioning to me Sou from Bundanga. I had never heard of him, but now I put his blog in my feed!

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    7. It's a perfectly valid question.

      If the Club of Rome advocate a particular policy, then they should consider setting an example to the rest of us or is it a case of do as we say, not as we do?

      MangoChutney

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    8. Ugo: You referred to Sou 8 hours and 13 minutes before I did.

      Delete
    9. Yup.... you are right. I knew that "Hotwhopper" was kept by "sou", but I hadn't realized that he was the same "sou from bundanga" you mentioned in your comment. I had been looking at his other blog http://bundanga.blogspot.it/

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    10. Mango, you are almost cute in insisting so much with the same point! Keep on like this. Who knows, repeating the same thing over and over it might become true, right?

      Delete
    11. "she"
      http://blog.hotwhopper.com/p/about-us.html

      Delete
    12. I wonder how a '60 something' FEMALE who happens to have AN INTEREST in AGW would react to be called a him/he/his.

      Research is not one of your strong points is it Prof Bardi

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    13. Truly, you guys are running out of arguments.

      Delete
    14. (or gals..... just not to offend anyone!)

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    15. @Richard Tol

      You refer to name of Ugo's blog and suggest "hardly names to suggest even-handed scholarship"

      Are you completely lacking in self awareness? You are an "academic adviser" to the climate crank group the UK GWPF. I use the term "crank" advisedly.

      Look at this piece of shite from GWPF with your name on it. "CLIMATE CONTROL, Brainwashing in schools"
      http://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2014/04/Education-reducedportrait-5.pdf

      Where is your even handed scholarship?

      LOL. You need help.

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    16. In Tol's case everything is debatable.

      Delete
  13. Ugo Bardi, the paper that included the survey purportedly showing a correlation between rejection of climate science and conspiracist ideation, and also showing correlations between rejection of climate science and fundamentalist free market attitudes, rejection of the theories that the HIV virus causes AIDS, or that smoking causes lung cancer was "NASA faked the moon landing, therefore (climate) science is a hoax" published by Psychological Science, and often referred to as LOG12. It has not been retracted.

    The paper which was retracted was Recursive Fury, which collects and analyzes denier responses to LOG12, showing a high proportion of conspiracist ideation (and some rather whacky conspiracy theories) in those responses.

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    1. Sorry, but "Recursive Fury" does report on what I said it reports - that is the correlation of various attitudes against science which was described more in detail in a previous paper (LOG12). Then on, it goes into describing the reactions to that - but the gist of the paper is on this attitude. So is my note.

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    2. Sorry, Ugo, that's nonsense. Just as the peer reviewing journalism student Elaine, you have quite generously shown that you have basically no idea about the issues you are talking about. So your attitude and anger can only be described as protecting your friends and fellow travelers. Not credible.

      Delete
    3. "...but the gist of the paper is on this attitude."
      Oh my. No it's not. Please go ahead and read the paper and maybe also a little bit about the issues raised in the aftermath.

      Delete
    4. Ugo, your reply is at the very least a little disingenuous. The only description of the withdrawn paper (Fury) that you give in your post is:

      "The paper reported the results of a survey that showed that the rejection of climate science was often accompanied by a similar mindset on other scientific areas. So "Climate skeptics" were also found to reject the notion that AIDS is caused by the HIV virus and that smoking causes cancer".

      Anyone reading that would think that the withdrawn paper actually studied those issues, but it does not: it (claims to) analyze the blogosphere reaction to the paper (LOG12) that (claims to) study those links. For example, the only reference to HIV in the Fury paper are those referring to other papers. The abstract to the Fury paper itself says:

      "A recent study involving visitors to climate blogs found that conspiracist ideation was associated with the rejection of climate science and the rejection of other scientific propositions such as the link between lung cancer and smoking, and between HIV and AIDS (Lewandowsky, Oberauer, & Gignac, in press; LOG12 from here on). This article analyzes the response of the climate blogosphere to the publication of LOG12. We identify and trace the hypotheses that emerged in response to LOG12 and that questioned the validity of the paper’s conclusions."

      Tom Curtis's description of those two papers is many times more accurate than yours. I see in your Addendum that you have tried to suggest this is “just the usual trick of shifting the discussion on a marginal point to avoid confronting the main issue which is, in this case, the behavior of Frontiers.” You may not be aware that Tom Curtis is active on skeptic blogs arguing from a very pro-warmist perspective. He is also a contributor to SkepticalScience, a pro-warmist blog.

      If you’re trying to make out this is some kind of principled issue, I’d recommend that you first avoid misrepresenting the paper that you are resigning over - which is what you have done. If you can’t even get the basic facts accurate, what value do you add to the discussion?

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    5. Let me repeat it: my statements exactly describe what the paper is about and you are simply trying to shift the discussion to marginal points.

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    6. I think the issue is that the conflation of these two papers makes it clear you've not read either paper, or you wouldn't be confusing the two. My recommendation to stop looking quite as silly is to at least read their abstracts.

      I understand standing up for a colleague over a journal, that is natural, but why not just state the real reasons, since you obviously haven't read the paper in question to be able to fairly judge whether the journal had behave irresponsibly or not?

      I accept the motivation "I will stand by my colleague". I think you've screwed the pooch on the "I've looked at this problem carefully, and based on reasoned considerations, have decided the journal behaved improperly here."

      Delete
    7. Still beating around the bush, aren't you?

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    8. Ugo, I am addressing the issues you bring up in your commentary, and the relevance of your resignation in that respect. Given you obviously aren't aware of the actual content of the paper that was withdrawn, it's hard to argue this was the basis for your decision to withdrawn from editorial participation with the journal's publisher.

      Were you actually an editor of the journal that published Recursive Fury (Tol thinks you are not), I say it's a shame you stepped down. You could have done more good forcing transparency on the part of the publisher by remaining associated with the journal.

      Perhaps Lewandowsky did nothing wrong, perhaps he did, but I think a fair hearing is required when you make public statements that can be viewed as defamatory towards Lewandowsky. I think on this point, you and I probably agree.

      We do know this study involved naming people by name, by assigning characteristics to comments they made that many of us would consider negative and demeaning. (Your indifference on the point of the demeaning nature of the critiquing of comments is interesting, given how upset you seem over what you view as Lewandowsky's unfair treatment by the journal). We know that no IRB approval for the full protocol used had been obtained. We know that Lewandowsky and Mariott at least interacted with many of the subjects during the research phase of this study.

      In the US this would require a detailed research plan and subject consent forms.

      Perhaps somebody can confirm whether this would be a requirement or not in Australia. If the authors failed to get signed informed consent forms from the subjects they interacted with, and if it were required to obtain signed inform consent form, then the basic point of the journal is correct:

      "But we also must uphold the rights and privacy of the subjects included in a study or paper."

      Hopefully as a person involved in the editorial process where human subjects are employed, you would agree with that last statement.

      Delete
    9. Eli,

      You can say Australia is not the US all you want but that doesn't mean that Australia doesn't have the same or similar ethics requirements when it comes to subjects of a study or paper.

      Delete
  14. Ugo Bardi, what (and how) you write brings us back to the long discussed question of how well do activism and science mix. In my humble opinion, as we can all witness, not too well...

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  15. Once someone says "gist", you know they are trying to shift their ground. In any event, how can you possibly be supportive of any paper that purports to be science but is nothing more than a vehicle for smearing other individuals. Says a great deal about you I'm afraid.

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  16. Bravo Ugo.

    A silver lining to this whole sorry saga is the enormous global exposure it's given to the conspiracist tendency of the climate pseudo-sceptics. A really great example of the Streisand Effect!

    Jeremy Kemp

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  17. I'm sorry for you. I hope you find the best way.
    Marianna

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    Replies
    1. Not sure what you mean, Marianna, but thanks for your attention.

      Delete
  18. You have resigned from the wrong journal. You should have resigned from Psychological Science.

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    Replies
    1. Excellent idea, shub. Thanks. I wonder how it can be that I was the chief editor of "Psychological Science" and nobody told me about that.

      Delete
  19. Jeepers. This seems to me to be one more of a series of posts by various supporters of Lewandowsky and co., including by one of the reviewers of the paper (http://www.socialsciencespace.com/2014/04/reviewer-journal-wilts-under-climate-of-intimidation/). What the various posts seem to have in common is that they aren't in touch in any way with the actual issues involved. Someone decided to take Cook and Lewandowsky's word for it that they are the good guys and bought their story. See that other link for plenty of information about the other side of the story, Social Science had to keep adding addendums since the original post was so clueless.
    My simple understanding of the story - see the evidence behind it at the Social Science post: Frontiers published a article by some good guys against some bad guys. Some of the bad guys complained. Frontiers began to look at their complaints and began to realize that they were right: the article was full of mistakes, full of misrepresentations, and was basically an attempt to smear political enemies with the imprimatur of a journal. They began to back out. They checked into UWA ethics investigation and found that there mostly wasn't one; UWA also just assumed that the good guys must be right. Finally Frontiers worked out a nice ambiguous retraction notice with the authors that didn't insult them much. The authors responded by getting their friends to attack Frontiers as "caving to pressure". So Frontiers finally told the truth: the story was unethical and we're glad to be rid of it. The good guys continue to attack them for this.
    If someone actually follows the details of the story, this is the most reasonable reconstruction.

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  20. The hubris of climate scientologists is just amazing. You won't be hurting the world one bit by removing your drama from the stage. You'll be helping it. Please contact all your Club of Rome friends and get them to resign from their positions as well. Thank you in advance.

    And with all your free time, maybe you could help organize that strike that Weepy Bill McKibbon has been threatening. Yes, all climate scientologists should go on strike! Explore the space, baby. Explore the space.

    May all eco-activists learn that the activism that drives them corrupts scientific detachment. May they learn to choose only one of these mutually exclusive activities.

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    1. It is great to keep a blog if it stimulates commenters to attain such levels argumentative cleverness

      Delete
    2. I'll confess to the intentional snark in the first two paragraphs, in order to set up the third, which is completely serious. Your side of this debate seems oblivious to the potential harm in the things you advocate. If you can't accept that a foregone conclusion drives much of the so-called science in the climate alarmist "community" (the team, as ClimateGate emails details), then you may never allow through your own psychological filters the notions that valid points were made against the Lewandowsky paper, that the paper was flawed and silly, that science is never tendentious, that what is tendentious (such as activism) is not science, ergo, the point of my post was not frivolous. Please consider the intersection of activism and science, and its risks. Consider Lewandowsky, Marriott and Cook's agenda, and how that might have influenced "Recursive Fury." Good luck in your future endeavors.

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    3. Well, thanks for the snark, then! But this is a reasonably serious comment which deserves an answer. So, you are perfectly right in saying that we are all influenced by our psychological filters. It is true for me as it is for you. But, please, consider that the point of my post is not about the validity of Lewandowsky's paper - it is about the climate of intimidation that is developing on climate science. Try to place yourself in the shoes of a climate scientist - or a scientist in general - and you'll see what I mean.


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  21. Thanks Dr Bardi for your actions.

    And, wow, have you smoked out some cranks in these comments. Nasty bunch that shows a little of what Frontiers may have been exposed to and cowered by.

    And I do wonder what other conspiracy theories Tol subscribes too.

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    1. "And I do wonder what other conspiracy theories Tol subscribes too."

      . . . which would be your own conspiracy theory ideation.

      Delete
  22. I'm just an engineer, I'm not paid to write anything, I don't receive funds from the Koch brothers or from the $2.5 billion federal dollars spent to "Combat Climate Change" every year. I think INDEPENDENTLY - and so do most of the people who comment on Anthony's site.

    The theory that human GHG emissions are having any measurable affect to raise global temperature is now dead. It is dead on all three fronts of the hoax:

    1. "The earth is warming". No, it WAS warming but the OLS trend has gone completely flat for over the last ~15 years more or less depending on what data you wish to look at. RSS is over 17.5 years which satisfies the "Santer test" by 1/2 year and the NASA test by 2.5 years.

    2. "Warmer is bad." No, within this last ~15 years, being the warmest 15 on record, we have seen a DECREASE in tornado and hurricane frequency/strength. We have seen a net increase in plant life and crop yields. Droughts and floods are no different than they were 100 years ago. We see no acceleration of sea level rise. We see no correlation between earth's temperature and extinctions of species; polar bears are doing fine. In short, there is no evidence that "warmer is bad" and even the body of AR5 admits it, (the WG2 summary however is an outrageous misrepresentation of the body of the report).

    3. "CO2 is a major factor in affecting earth's temperature". There remains ZERO empirical evidence that ALL of the CO2 in our atmosphere makes any measurable difference to earth's temperature - let alone the tiny amount humans add to it with fossil fuel. There's still no "hot spot" either.

    Prove me wrong.

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    1. Well, since you are an engineer, why don't you get yourself a good book and start seriously studying climate science? You would do first a favor to yourself and then to everyone else by avoiding pestering blogs with silly comments.

      Delete
    2. Nice! I love simple challenges like "prove me wrong."

      1) "No, it WAS warming but the OLS trend has gone completely flat..."

      This is wrong. The trend for the past 15 years is 0.138 ±0.161 °C/decade (2σ) (HadCRU+C&W). That's just shy of 95% confidence but still better than 90% confidence. So, not flat at all. Once you choose a statistically significant time frame you get 0.141 ±0.127 °C/decade (2σ).

      The challenge with choosing RSS for your data set is that it's the odd man out right now. You're cherry picking the lowball, and one that doesn't agree with the other satellite data set (UAH) that is derived from the same data. What you may NOT understand is that satellite data is a PROXY of temperature, not an actual temperature reading. Thus, satellite temperature data has to be taken with a grain of salt.

      2) "...we have seen a DECREASE in tornado and hurricane frequency/strength." Again, you're using very selective information. (Information that's being fed to you BTW.) The data actually shows increasing kinetic energy within these storms. The challenge is that the traditional ways of measuring storms doesn't account for this. Hurricanes, for instance, are measure on the Safir-Simpson scale which is derived from peak wind speed and doesn't account for the physical size of storms. Thus Sandy, even though it was a cat 1 at landfall, was a huge storm that extended nearly the entire eastern seaboard of the US.

      We actually DO see acceleration in sea level rise. http://naturescapebroward.com/NaturalResources/ClimateChange/Documents/GRL_Church_White_2006_024826.pdf

      If you go to google scholar and search "climate change and extinction" you will find dozens of articles on exactly this subject. All them showing exactly the opposite of what you've stated.

      Polar bears: Their primary habitat is Arctic sea ice. That's how they feed. Arctic is expected to be seasonally ice free starting around 2030. That means zero habitat. You can read more about this on the NSIDC.com website and on the polarbearinternational.org site.

      There is an entire IPCC working group dedicated to the impacts of climate change. They lay out the very serious consequences of not addressing CO2 emissions.

      3) "There remains ZERO empirical evidence [that CO2 is affecting earth's temperature]."

      Really? I'm curious how it is we measure the radiative absorption bands of CO2 and in your book that's not empirical?

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/Greenhouse_Spectrum.gif

      mikeishere1st... You can now consider yourself proven wrong.

      Sorry, Ugo, for the lengthy reply. I love such simple challenges. ;-)

      Delete
    3. Hopefully not getting too o/t, but as a follow-up to Rob on (1), here's Roy Spencer himself "On the Divergence Between the UAH and RSS Global Temperature Records"

      http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/07/on-the-divergence-between-the-uah-and-rss-global-temperature-records/

      He notes "RSS data is undergoing spurious cooling because RSS is still using the old NOAA-15 satellite which has a decaying orbit" and offers advice that it appears you or your source may have found compelling: "until the discrepancy is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, those of you who REALLY REALLY need the global temperature record to show as little warming as possible might want to consider jumping ship, and switch from the UAH to RSS."

      Here's what the last 17 years looks like in NASA surface temp index.

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1996/plot/gistemp/from:1996/trend

      Even more to the point, when science looks at global warming it looks at the climate system as a whole, in which well over 90% of heat is absorbed by the oceans. NOAA page on global ocean heat content:

      http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/

      The sort of relentless cherry picking you unfortunately demonstrate here is a pretty common/core part of the online backlash against the mainstream science. When people point out that basically every scientific organization with standing in physical science around the world supports the basics of global warming theory, and ask critics to explain how their own views (that global warming is a transparently non-existent hoax etc.) comport with this, they usually hear back some variant of conspiracy theory, as commonly whipped up on WUWT and per the subject of the papers in question here.

      Everyone appreciates your independent approach, that's how science works, but repeating internet urban legends without critically fact checking them against mainstream scientific understanding is, in and of itself, a deeply *unskeptical* behavior pattern to be cautious about.

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    4. mikeishere1st: The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.K. Royal Society have just jointly published a 36-page booklet, Climate Change: Evidence and Causes, which you can download for free at the link. It includes 20 common questions about anthropogenic global warming, with answers distilled from the aggregate expertise of two of the world's most respected scientific bodies. You can assume that the contents of the booklet represents the scientific consensus on AGW. If you dispute any of it on a venue frequented by climate scientists, you'll need an argument that hasn't already been addressed in the sources linked on the last page of the booklet, or the sources for those in turn. Otherwise you'll only expose your ignorance, as you have done here.

      Delete
  23. Approval? Anthony Watts' site doesn't require "approval". He reserves the right to delete stuff and he does on occasion but often due to community outcry not alarmist ranting.

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  24. Ugo Bardi, my compliments on your standards and your actions. It is a shame that Frontiers has shown so little spine in this matter.

    What amazes me the most in this entire episode is the apparent lack of self-awareness in the climate science deniers, whose very actions and claims confirm and amplify the conclusions of both LOG12 and Recursive Fury: that a great many of them are prone to conspiratorial ideation. The more they yell about their perceived conspiracies the worse they appear.


    For your amusement, I would recommend The Paranoid Style in American Politics, Richard Hofstadter 1964, who discusses some common elements in conspiratorial thinking. In it he includes a quote from Norman Cohn (regarding millennial sects of the 11th-16th centuries):

    “the megalomaniac view of oneself as the Elect, wholly good, abominably persecuted, yet assured of ultimate triumph; the attribution of gigantic and demonic powers to the adversary; the refusal to accept the ineluctable limitations and imperfections of human existence, such as transience, dissention, conflict, fallibility whether intellectual or moral; the obsession with inerrable prophecies . . . systematized misinterpretations, always gross and often grotesque.”

    ...a mindset I encounter again and again in the denial of climate science.

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    1. Thanks - I read that book. It is getting worse all the time!

      Delete
  25. It is so heartening to see climate alarmists getting interested in undue pressure undercutting the independence of scientific journals.

    Who said this: "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"

    Answer: Phil Jones, of the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University, in an e-mail to Michael Mann of Penn State University (and referring to Kevin Trenberth, NCAR, Boulder, Colorado)

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    1. You know, Anonymous? You seem to be a bit confused about who does what in scientific publishing. A scientist who acts as editor can and should decide whether a paper should be published or not - that's exactly what Phil Jones was doing in that occasion. Everyone should do their job: you know the old story, "Hell is when the Germans are Policemen, the British are cook, etc...?" Something like that. That was the mistake Frontiers made

      Delete
  26. Ugo, every one of these denialist comments is another brick in the edifice of recursive fury. It's like you handed out shovels and everyone started digging their holes. Very amusing to watch!

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  27. Firstly congratulations on taking a stand of principle - rare in this day and age.

    Can I take issue with this claim:
    "Sorry, but the paper says exactly what I say: that denial of climate science is accompanied by other conspiratorial beliefs."
    Recursive fury doesn't really say that at all - it is a kind of an odd critique of random comments on blogs. Lewandowsky et al have published a more uptodate survey of an internet panel recruited by a 3rd party professional online opinion firm - and hence free of the biases associated with using blogs habituated of motivated climate science affirmers.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24098391

    It appears according to my calculation that if you said “agree ” or “strongly agree” to the proposition that most warming over the last 50 years was due to CO2 you had an odds ratio of 2.1 of believing that the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by the US government and an odds ratio of 1.6 of believing the moon landings were hoaxed compared to those who disagreed or strongly disagreed with the CO2/warming proposition.

    It appears that if you believe in some of the canonical conspiracy theories you are far more likely to endorse mainstream climate science than if you do not. This of course, tells us nothing about how reliable this science is or the motivations of people who affirm climate science but do not have conspiracy ideation.

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  28. Watts represents the epitomy of Blog Science, having serially embraced and given evangelical head space to every climatic fringe theory adduced in the last decade, in a discourse favoring industrial vanity press publications like Energy & Environment.

    It is very hard to exagerate how far beyond the fringe such performance art extends

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  29. Ugo .... perhaps you would comment on the fact that one of the original peer reviewers for the Recursive Fury paper expressed concerns to the authors, which were not addressed, yet the Editor Viren Swami went ahead and approved for publishing regardless. WHich prompted the orig reviewer Michael Woods to withdraw and ask his name be removed.

    Mr. Woods was replaced by Prof. Sabitha Nateson, Univ of North Texas, only to have her name quickly removed as well. The Editor then apparently appointed himself peer reviewer in addition to his editor responsibilities.

    IF as you claim there was nothing wrong with this paper how do you explain the highly unusual step of a peer reviewer withdrawing after publication, a 2nd peer reviewer posted then also withdrawn, and the even MORE highly unusual action of the Editor also appointing themselves a peer reviewer?

    If there were no issues with this paper how do you explain this high unusual situation of multiple peer reviewers withdrawing, and the Editor becoming a reviewer. Would you accept that on papers you are responsible as editor for?

    Also - I encourage you to become more knowledgeable about the "Hoax" (LOG12) paper if you are going to pass judgement. The LOG12 paper allegedly expressed the opinions of climate skeptics - yet essentially no responses were obtained through skeptic sites. Nearly all were obtained thru promotion of the survey at highly anti-skeptic blog sites.

    Further - the highly sensationalized headline claim was, first, a very minor finding of the paper ... a finding supported by the thinnest of threads - a small handful of responses out of the N=~150 total. And a number of those handful were clearly manipulated responses attempting to sway the results of the survey. Take away the manipulated responses and the already tenuous support for the headline claim vanishes.

    How do you feel about authors using minor, barely supported, findings of the paper, as the headline claim - then adding a highly inflammatory title to the paper, and releasing to the media months before any publication?

    A. Scott

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  30. It is your right and privilege to resign from this journal.

    A problem I have is the statement " "Climate skeptics" were also found to reject the notion that AIDS is caused by the HIV virus and that smoking causes cancer. A result not at all surprising for those of us who follow the climate debate in detail."

    This conflates two issues, the first paper which was generalized to climate "deniers", and the second, which was specific to certain people and their blog posts. Do you have any evidence that these specific people in the second case have the attributes you described here, or are these different issues?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Both papers deal with the same issue; the second starts describing the results of the first and then maintains that the reactions to it are a confirmation of a certain widespread attitude. This is the way I read these two papers but, of course, different interpretations are possible

      Delete
  31. It seems obvious to this layman:

    In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei

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    1. In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Bozo the Clown.

      Delete
    2. Mr. Whyard, as a layman, what may not obvious to you is that "The first principle [of Science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard Feynman, at the Galileo Symposium in Italy (1964), aptly enough.

      That's why inter-subjective verification is a core principle of Science: without, it a single individual has no way to know whether he's fooling himself or not. It's the function of "peer-review", broadly defined. A scientist's peers are other scientists, trained as he is in critical thinking, who know as much or more about his topic than he does. They're the ones best able to spot the errors he's overlooked. If they're not convinced, then who is more likely to be fooling himself?

      Delete
  32. Ugo, have you read any of the letters of complaint to Frontiers - the ones Frontiers described in its statement explaining the retraction as "well argued and cogent"?

    ReplyDelete
  33. A decision made for the right reasons, even when difficult. That's not a bad standard to hold yourself to. You've gone up yet further in my esteem, Ugo, and I'm sorry for the work you may have lost through your choice.

    All the best,
    Shaun

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    1. "A decision made for the right reasons, even when difficult. That's not a bad standard to hold yourself to."
      The same thing could be said of the people at Frontiers. Perhaps the decision to retract the paper were for the right reasons, ethical problems, invalid research, etc. I'm sure they knew it would be difficult and there would be a backlash, they went out of their way to point out that this paper was not about climate change but psychology.

      Ugo, I would expect that before making your decision to resign you contacted the authors of the second retraction statement to get their take on the whole issue. They clearly offered to give further information to interested parties. You did ask them for their side right? What did they say?

      Delete
  34. Well Ugo, your post sure did bait the extremist and deluded elements of the populous-- they just cannot help themselves. This is the sort of inanity and obsessiveness that climate scientists have had to deal with for decades.

    If this keeps going you might have enough material for a paper ;)

    Again, well done on taking a stand against the extremists. Don't bother with Tol's trolling, the man loves to argue just for the sake of attention.

    ReplyDelete
  35. "It is not for me, here, to discuss the merits and demerits of this paper, nor the legal issues involved (noting, however, that the University of Western Australia found no problems in hosting it on their site). However, my opinion is that, with their latest statement and their decision to retract the paper, Frontiers has shown no respect for authors nor for their own appointed referees and editors."

    In one of Lewandowsky's previous papers, he found evidence that skeptic based their views on the evidence and that those who believe global warming catastrophism were susceptible to suggestion.

    So, he knows that skeptics aren't "motivated" to reject climate alarmism. They have no choice because their science or engineering training teaches them to look at the facts and to draw their conclusion from the facts. WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU EXPECT!

    With the lack of recent warming in the last 15+ years and the failure of all climate models to predict that, skeptics BY THEIR EDUCATION & TRAINING are compelled to reject those models and therefore conclusions based on those models.

    So it appears to me Lewandowsky, knowing this and knowing that the evidence could not change skeptics minds, instead set out intentionally to discredit skeptics by misportraying the motivation of a whole group of honest decent people in the most cynical, sickening & perhaps whilst I'm not religious it probably applies ... evil way.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Frontiers updates their statement:
    http://www.frontiersin.org/blog/Rights_of_Human_Subjects_in_Scientific_Papers/830
    Nice and simple, as I've been saying. No caving to threats. They think the paper violates their ethics guidelines.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Is it too late for Ugo to withdraw his resignation?

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    2. You folks haven't really read what I wrote, right?

      Delete
    3. I guess I'd add that I find it bewildering that so many scientists have sided with Lewandowsky and co. Why can't anyone see that writing a paper that quotes (or misquotes) some things from one's political enemies with insufficient context, psychoanalyses them to find imaginary pathologies, and then publishes all that in a scientific journal as a way to damage those enemies - why can't anyone see that co-opting a scientific journal for that is terrible for science and unethical to boot? Of course no journal would want to be used in a such a way.

      The answer is, of course, that these scientists don't think that's what's happening at all. They think that some nice normal scientists are being attacking by knuckle-dragging cretins, whose politics prevents their brains from working, some of whom know enough math to make reasonable sounding attacks. All decent people need to help the scientists defeat the cretins.

      Anyone who follows the issues in detail, reading both sides (not just Skeptical Science's version of the other side), knows better. Certainly there are cretins on the skeptical side. Every cause attracts fools; read any comments thread to see loads of people on all sides who know nothing about the issues. However, Lewandowsky's paper wasn't attacking those fools. They specifically chose quotes from a number of their enemies. These enemies are not "deniers"; go see their sites - pretty much all of them agree that CO2 is warming the planet, and say so. They are arguing on a number of points that are causing problems for the Skeptical Science crowd: Lucia has been arguing for some years that the climate sensitivity to CO2 is probably on the low side of the IPCC estimates, and that the global climate models are failing validation. McIntyre has arguing for some years that the dendro reconstructions have enough statistical flaws as to make the results pretty much unusable. Etc.
      You can argue that their work is wrong and that's fine (though Robert Way from Skeptical Science says privately that McIntyre's work was right and refutes Mann's Hockey Stick effectively (http://climateaudit.org/2013/11/20/behind-the-sks-curtain/), and by now mainstream climate scientists including the IPCC are already dealing with probable lowered climate sensitivities and validation failure of the models). That's how science works.
      But the Skeptical Science group has been trying to push a very different narrative, that these people aren't really scientists at all, just political operatives. That's not fine. Of course, there are real political operatives out there - Marc Marano, Heartland... But that doesn't mean that the really effective skeptics are in it for the politics, and one shouldn't accept that narrative just because Skeptical Science says so. These people are arguing within the consensus scientific spectrum (the "97%") and Skeptical Science doesn't get to push them out because they disagree with some details that SkS doesn't want questioned.

      I really think that those who care about science should stand up and say something like: I agree with Skeptical Science's picture of the science, and the political and economic types of solutions that their views imply. But I support Frontiers' principles here. Science has lots of divergent opinions, and no one should be using a scientific journal to fight wars. I hadn't realized that was what's happening, but now that I see that it is, I support Frontiers.
      I think further that those who care about AGW and solutions for it should be anti- these kind of wars. Most climate scientists agree with Skeptical Science. But most of them are not political operatives, not fighting wars against those who disagree. The general public has a lot of respect for scientists, and none at all for political operatives. Don't risk that. You cannot afford to convince them that climate scientists are political operatives; the loss would be far greater than the gain.

      Delete
    4. Nice reasoning, Mike, too bad that it is flawed because of just a detail: in this dispute, science is only on one side.

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    5. Well, I did. "my opinion is that, with their latest statement and their decision to retract the paper, Frontiers has shown no respect for authors nor for their own appointed referees and editors. But the main problem is that we have here another example of the climate of intimidation that is developing around the climate issue." That's what you said. Frontiers has responded to that directly. The retraction is not because of intimidation. They themselves decided that the complaints were justified.
      As for the rights of the authors, referees, and editors, sounds like all three of those groups let them down. Frontiers like any scientific journal has rules for what you can publish. They rely on their editors and referees to make sure that papers are acceptable. If those three groups failed in their duties, and published something that violates Frontiers' rules (and normal human ethics in my opinion), Frontiers should take it down, and you should be criticizing those three groups of people.

      Delete
    6. Did you read the link http://climateaudit.org/2013/11/20/behind-the-sks-curtain/ I posted? It quotes from Robert Way from Skeptical Science that McIntyre had the science right and Mann was wrong.
      "I don’t think these are minor points. I think they get major points correct. MBH98 was not an example of someone using a technique with flaws and then as he learned better techniques he moved on… He fought like a dog to discredit and argue with those on the other side that his method was not flawed. And in the end he never admitted that the entire method was a mistake. Saying “I was wrong but when done right it gives close to the same answer” is no excuse. He never even said that but I’m just making a point. What happened was they used a brand new statistical technique that they made up and that there was no rationalization in the literature for using it."

      "to be clear in all this, steig is wrong. CA [climateaudit.org] is right in terms of their reconstruction and their subsequent response. They included way too much snark over at CA but that doesn’t detract from them being right statistically."

      And quite a few more. Just out of curiosity, do you follow the details of this subject? Or do you just take RealClimate and SkS's word for it? Which is not a terrible thing to do, life is short and we're busy. But in this case I think it's a mistake; "science is only on one side" happens to be false. McIntyre has (as Way is pointing out) done correct work that refutes Mann's sloppy work. ("I’ve been shown before by even climatology profs in my university time that it might be best to stick clear of Mann’s reconstructions until the dust settles (although this debate has been going on for 10 years)" - Way again).
      I have been following these things for a while, and I see what happens in particular issues. An article comes out, various skeptics find issues with it, various AGW supporters respond. Or the other way round, say with Nic Lewis's articles on low climate sensitivity. I was impressed with Cowtan and Way because they came to ClimateAudit and defended their work personally, and I think most people there felt, effectively. But for a lot of issues (not all!), I see McIntyre and other statisticians at climateaudit get the last word pretty clearly, and people at RealClimate and SkS will never know it because they only read what's there. And comments at those places are very strictly moderated. If you think there is only one side, maybe it's because you are only reading one side.

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    7. Mike, you keep repeating the same things over and over. All this is either wrong or irrelevant to the question being discussed here. If you don't mind, with this I consider this thread closed

      Delete
  37. Prof. Bardi,
    Congratulations on your principled stand. You are obviously a man of high intelligence and ethical standing. Humankind will have to make tough decisions in the coming decades in the face of the wicked, dreadful problem of climate change. What do you think of the opinions attributed to the cognitive scientist C.R.R.Kempen at the following website?
    http://climatenuremberg.com/2014/04/11/communication-dilemmas-1-wishing-death-on-people-without-losing-them/

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    1. You think you are funny, right? Well, you are not.

      Delete
  38. Professor Bardi, Kudus for your brave decision to resign from being an editor of Frontiers in protest against their behavior in the case of the Recursive Fury paper.

    I fully agree with the statements of, eg,
    --Greg LadenApril 8, 2014 at 12:58 PM
    --Larry OliverApril 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM
    --AnonymousApril 8, 2014 at 4:47 PM (= Paul Wigton, geologist, USA)
    --AlbatrossApril 8, 2014 at 5:40 PM

    Please continue with your good work.

    ReplyDelete

Who

Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted: how the quest for mineral resources is plundering the Planet" (Chelsea Green 2014)