Wouldn't it be great if everyone was as good at admitting their mistakes?

Abstract: Peer-reviewed journals are a pillar of modern science. Their aim is to achieve highest scientific standards by carrying out a rigorous peer review that is, as a minimum requirement, supposed to be able to identify fundamental methodological errors or false claims. 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.

Full mea culpa, and some unkind words for the authors and their allies in the denialosphere here. Here's a little more to pump you up:

With this step I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper's conclusions in public statements, e.g., in a press release of The University of Alabama in Huntsville from 27 July 2011 [2], the main author's personal homepage [3], the story "New NASA data blow gaping hole in global warming alarmism" published by Forbes [4], and the story "Does NASA data show global warming lost in space?" published by Fox News [5], to name just a few. Unfortunately, their campaign apparently was very successful as witnessed by the over 56,000 downloads of the full paper within only one month after its publication. But trying to refute all scientific insights into the global warming phenomenon just based on the comparison of one particular observational satellite data set with model predictions is strictly impossible. Aside from ignoring all the other observational data sets (such as the rapidly shrinking sea ice extent and changes in the flora and fauna) and contrasting theoretical studies, such a simple conclusion simply cannot be drawn considering the complexity of the involved models and satellite measurements.

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Let me be the first (here, at least) to predict the totally obvious: that the denialosphere will herald this as proof that they are being systematically censored and that any violation of the united (conspiratorial) front is harshly punished.

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 02 Sep 2011 #permalink

Shouldn't step down--don't you want an honest person willing to admit mistakes in the position in the first place? The EiC had a lapse of judgement which can happen to anyone. Unless there's a history of bad judgements, the editor should stay on.

By Daniel J. Andrews (not verified) on 02 Sep 2011 #permalink

I am really confused now!
Remote sensing is some sort of woo isn't it?
Like Homeopathy, Astrology, Talking with ghosts, this kind of stuff.
So, if Remote sensing is a bunch of crap then why would anyone expect true critical thought and scientific method/peer review to matter in a Journal with the name Remote Sensing.?
And why would the editor resign because he was a bit late in catching a problem article?
thank you

By obvious layman (not verified) on 02 Sep 2011 #permalink

@obvious layman: I had the same initial knee-jerk thought too, but then I realized I was conflating it with "remote viewing", which is probably what you meant too. Remote sensing, given the context, almost certainly refers to electronic sensors of remote data, perhaps telemetry, stuff like that. In this particular instance, for instance, it looks like it was about a satellite sensor for some kind of atmospheric data.

By Randy Owens (not verified) on 02 Sep 2011 #permalink

Remote sensing is some sort of woo isn't it?

Like radar? Total bunkum.

Remote Sensing is not telepathy, telekinesis, healing touch, etc. It is the recognized technology of satellite detection, and is very often married with geomatics. Satellite imagery, be it visible light, radar, infra-red, or magnetic, are forms of Remote Sensing. Both the Candian and American governments have departmental branches doing remote sensing; both the USGS and the USDA rely upon it.

By Cornflower (not verified) on 03 Sep 2011 #permalink

Haha. The Climate Believer Zombies' meltdown accelerates even further! Don't drip any meltwater on those BS computer models that don't eve know what a cloud is doucheboy. They might break.

Lovin' it!!!!

By Douche Da'rain (not verified) on 09 Sep 2011 #permalink

You can't make this stuff up.

Make haste more slowly...............
Sep 9, 2011
It has been pointed out that ALREADY some revisions are to be made to the Dessler paper in the light of comments made by Roy Spencer even before its publication. HUH?!!


By The Count of D… (not verified) on 09 Sep 2011 #permalink

It has been pointed out that ALREADY some revisions are to be made to the Dessler paper in the light of comments made by Roy Spencer even before its publication.

At least it's still going to be published even after the widest of scrutiny, something that would never have happened if the Spencer and Braswell paper had received the same level of scrutiny. That paper only got published by remaining as hidden as possible.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 12 Sep 2011 #permalink