I think we should expect that more-even most-papers from skeptics will be of poor quality

Not me guv, but Tom Fuller (just when I'd given up hope he would ever say something sensible). You might say, "well der". But this chimes in very neatly with a not-fully-discussed problem with the Spencer and Braswell error, which Gavin talks about at RC: With better peer review, Spencer could perhaps have discovered these things for himself, and a better and more useful paper might have resulted. By trying to do an end run around his critics, Spencer ended up running into a wall.

Spencer and his ilk are afraid of peer review. Not for the reasons that they give - that the vast conspiracy will squelch them - but because they know their work is weak, and they really don't want it exposed to proper scrutiny (you might disagree; but never mind that, my argument doesn't depend no it. All you need to agree is that the sceptics avoid proper journals). So they send their stuff to journals where they know it won't get proper review by experts, as happened in this case. This is intended as a cunning plan to evade scrutiny, but it ends up depriving them of the vital feedback and interaction with peers that improves papers. And not just at review stage: from Woy at least you can see a bunker mentality which means he won't be discussing his ideas with others even as he tries to mature and work on them pre-publication. Its the lack of this feedback/interaction that will doom future skeptic-type papers from the likes of Woy.


* Conspiracy Dog-whistling about GRL and the New Dessler Paper

More like this

If that were so it would not be necessary to continuously censor in the alarmist cause. In fact, sceptics are unformly logical and scientific and alarmists uniformly willing to have their case depend on ad hom, lies, obscenities and censorship.

Well, I suppose I should be grateful that you quoted me accurately, if incompletely.

And I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised that you don't understand the logic underlying my statement. You have a habit of doing that.

But it would seem that although both of us have given up hope of the other making sense, I at least have a reason for doing so.

Stroke! Stroke! (ego, ruffled feathers, whatever).

By Tom Fuller (not verified) on 07 Sep 2011 #permalink

Probably this has been suggested by others, but it occurs to me that the most straightforward reason for Wagner's resignation may be to ensure that there is no remaining journal so obscure that they won't see Spencer coming next time. IOW could this be the last dance for this crap, at least from him? I would even hope for some of the fallout to land on Lindzen and others in Woy's network.

That said, presumably Woy will get one more shot in the form a reply at Remote Sensing, but I think we can expect that to be subjected to very thorough peer review. My guess is that the result will be no reply at all, albeit no end of blogospheric squawking. He's a Galileo, doncha know.

[It is very hard to see this working again. Then again, the current fall-out hasn't fallen out yet. In Fukushima terms, the meltdown is still in progress and it isn't clear whether the reactor vessel will maintain containment -W]

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 07 Sep 2011 #permalink


Are you agreeing with Steve that the result of Wagner's resignation should be that Spencer be effectively barred from publishing anything anywhere on climate?

[That is an odd comment. Try re-reading: I don't see anyone suggesting that S *should* be banned, effectively or otherwise. What Steve was suggesting, I think, and what I am agreeing with, is that the tricks he has used this time - sneak a paper in under the radar of an unsuspecting journal - won't work again, due to the publicity. S needs to take off the tin-foil hat and submit work to the proper journals for proper scrutiny. But ideally, also, he would write about something he was competent to write about.

My post, though, wasn't about S in particular. The same thoughts apply to all the s(c)eptics; their isolation weakens them all -W]

By Paul Kelly (not verified) on 07 Sep 2011 #permalink

"it ends up depriving them of the vital feedback"

The problem is that in Spencer's world, all feedbacks are negative.

William took my meaning correctly. Note also that Lindzen had to resort to a slightly less extreme version of the same trick to get his most recent paper published, after first trying to hoodwink PNAS into publishing it.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 07 Sep 2011 #permalink

If I may quote Pielke Sr. - Dessler 2011

"... was received 11 August 2011 and accepted 29 August 2011. This is some type of record in my experiences as editor, and indicates that the paper was fast tracked. This is certainly unusual".

For reference Spencer & Braswell 2011 was published 25 July 2011, so that means 35 days after SB11 appeared, Dessler's response was accepted for publication.

[This is just smear on your part. Or a lack of understanding - it is hard to know which. Though it is definitely smear on SP Sr's part - he knows better -W]

Kerry Emanuel of MIT is standing by his early remarks that the Spencer & Braswell paper presents results that are "significant and important" (see Revkin's blog to confirm that he hasn't changed his mind).

[You are lying by selective quotation. KE continues Basically, it presented evidence that feedbacks inferred from short-period and/or local climate change observations might not be relevant to long-period global change. I suppose I thought that rather obvious, but not everyone agrees. The one statement in the paper, to the effect that climate models might be overestimating positive feedback, struck me as unsubstantiated, but the authors themselves phrased it as speculative. -W]

It's pretty obvious that Spencer's paper wasn't that bad. Maybe it could have been better - but who cares?...

[I removed the rest, which is just rehashing things along the same old lines. If you're going to write stuff like the above, what is the point? You aren't thinking -W]

By Alex Harvey (not verified) on 07 Sep 2011 #permalink

"the tricks he has used this time - sneak a paper in under the radar of an unsuspecting journal" assumes a lot and puts the smear on the journal, its editors and the reviewers.

[Weird language. It looks to me as though you're trying to turn this into someone insulting the journal. I agree that they should have been more careful, but the "sneak" part rests firmly with Spencer (with an S) -W]

Now if Spenser was only able to get published in RS by a subterfuge no longer available and if no quality journal would be fooled anyway, then Spencer is effectively barred from publishing. And if all this quietly fades from public view, he probably will be.

However, all this is not going to go away quickly. Spenser gets to make a formal response to Dressler's fast tracked refutation. Anything that looks like an attempt to delay that response will only feed into Spenser's persecution narrative.

[What are you imagining? If Spencer submits a reply to Dressler, it goes through the normal channels, which are invisible to the outside world. He can expect it to be properly reviewed, which is going to present him with a much higher barrier than he is used to. As to his persecution narrative: its up to him to take off the tin foil hat. No-one else cares; he has no reputation left -W]

The establishment forces may have made a mountain out of a molehill here.

[You're displaying your own persecution narrative here - are you aware of it? -W]

I wouldn't be surprised if after the dust settles, Spenser finds it easier to get published, not harder.

[Its a prediction, but not one I think that many people will find credible. I certainly don't -W]

By Paul Kelly (not verified) on 07 Sep 2011 #permalink

Actually Spencer should have the opportunity to comment on the Dressler paper in GRL. There is nothing to comment on currently in Remote Sensing. If I were the editor at GRL I wouldn't have Dressler review, although of course he could write a reply. I would try to find two or three others who have stayed out of it so far.

By Nicolas Nierenberg (not verified) on 07 Sep 2011 #permalink

Nicolas, Spencer will always have an opportunity to respond to the Dessler paper. Not as a direct response, but he could always send a comment in or write a fully new paper. One problem he will have, however, is that it will be peer reviewed by those who have some understanding of the area. Spencer won't be able to select his own group of reviewers, and GRL has a broad reviewer base with expertise within this area. This means he won't get away with the sloppiness and cherry picking he showed in SB11.

My record on predictions is mixed. On the one hand, my September 2008 prediction (made at climateprogress and based on the legislative records and public statements of the candidates) that climate voters would be very disappointed in an Obama presidency has proved true. On the other, my annual prediction that the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series never comes true. Oh well, wait until next year.

Maybe it is foolish to try to draw a line between supporting Spencerâs scientific claims â which I donât â and being critical of actors and action in the RS dust up â which I am. Nevertheless, once more into the fray. There are three basic indictments of Spencer here. His paper contains error in methodology and false claims. The review process was irretrievably flawed. And what was most offensive to Wagner, Spencer publicly exaggerated the content of his paper to further a political agenda.
Having no scientific competence, I gladly defer to WC on the first charge as I do on all questions about climate science. It is hard to accurately judge the review process without seeing the actual reviews or knowing what âmay share some climate skeptic notionsâ means. Not being an academic, I have no idea whether the lack of a hostile reviewer violates standard practice.

As to the third charge, while acknowledging its validity I wonder if thereâs a bit of selective outrage at work here. Certainly the over hyping or misrepresenting of scientific papers for political purposes is not an unknown or perhaps even an uncommon occurrence. A few months ago, I read a quote about human CO2 emissions delaying the next ice age for hundreds of thousands of years that I thought came from Trenberth. So, I Googled Trenberth ice age. I didnât find the quote, but found this video. Trenberth relates that, in his 1988 testimony to Congress, Hansen claimed that a major Midwest drought was due to global warming. Trenberth then said Hansen was wrong, but he got a tremendous amount of attention from it. So Trenberth is willing to slough off and is even complimentary to Hansenâs over hyping for political purposes, but is apoplectic when Spencer does the same thing. I guess it all depends on whose ox is being gored.

[I do wish people wouldn't use that stupid goring phrase. Anyway:

There might be some selective outrage, I'm not sure. As to Trenbeth, firstly that is shorthand: he means the familiar "you can't attribute a given event". That is at a whole different level of wrongness from Spencer. It was also back-in-the-good-old days when the bulk of the literature didn't exist. Nor was Hansen doing the sneaking-papers-under the radar that Spencer is doing: that really is unacceptably bad faith from Spencer. Though I've been critical enough of Hansens stuff in the past -W]

By Paul Kelly (not verified) on 08 Sep 2011 #permalink


A stylistic question. Why don't you like "it all depends on whose ox is being gored"? It's a commonly used phrase that probably goes back to biblical times. It means that a given event will be seen differently depending on the degree to which the viewer's self-interest is involved, so it seemed to me to be applicable here.

[I've never heard the phrase outside an al-Gore-a-like context -W]

By Paul Kelly (not verified) on 08 Sep 2011 #permalink

This same problem, refusing to be subjected to legit review by experts, is probably what helped Creationists isolate themselves from the broader scientific community.

Spencer was already in the process of isolating himself years ago by refusing to submit to outlets with a more rigorous review than GRL, and increasingly just posted ideas on his blog or into books. He's said before that the editorial policies of GRL were more favorable to him than Nature. So I'm wondering if he didn't submit S&B2011 to them first only for it to be rejected, leaving him on the hunt for a journal too young and small to have amassed a stable of experts qualified to ask deep questions of the paper. I don't know if the next step is to even attempt getting a reply published, judging by the conspiracy talk from his blog posts on the backlash. He might just give up any attempt at publishing for a while and retreat to the blogosphere, maybe write a book about how he's so persecuted.

Also, he seems to have an inordinate fixation on Trenberth in particular. Any clues why that might be?

[Trenberth is very much a scientist, and not at all afraid to speak his mind. Whch probably, given Woy's thin skin, means he has offended him.

Re in-the-process-of: S (&C) are really only known for their MSU series; even if it hadn't been shown to be multiply wrong (which, to be fair, is to be expected; only their ungracious reaction is off) they would still be scratching around for something to do with the rest of their careers. With better choices, they would be off being "the great and the good"; but they (and la Curry) have blown that -W]


Just in case you thought I was making some sort of veiled reference to Al Gore, be assured that if I have something negative to say about him - and I often do - I'll say it directly. While I think he is the epitome of over hyping for political purposes, he isn't a scientist publishing in journals and is, therefore, irrelevant to this discussion.

By Paul Kelly (not verified) on 08 Sep 2011 #permalink

Trenbreth and others are setting up a group to investigate how to do model based attribution studies. Sounds interesting. But not so for dear Judith who calls it "scientifically unsound".

I have to say, really? Is is scientifically unsound to investigate a problem which everyone (press, policymakers, general population) wants answers to?

So what is more unscientific? Producing obvious dreck (SB) or well, producing obvious dreck (JC)?

By Rattus Norvegicus (not verified) on 08 Sep 2011 #permalink

Re GRL, IIRC they officially bowed out of accepting comments a while back. That leaves Woy with replying to RS comments (I suspect more than one), and I think the RS editors can be relied up to be very, very rigorous in this circumstance. So as I said above, I think in the end there will be no reply.

That's funny, RN. Frankly, Judy lacks the chops to make that judgement.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 08 Sep 2011 #permalink

England and America, two countries separated by a common language. Googling whose ox is being gored yields 167,000 results. On the 1st ten pages, only one result refers to Al Gore, but it is about a trip he made to Saudi Arabia and makes no mention of climate.

By Paul Kelly (not verified) on 08 Sep 2011 #permalink

I'm writing this on a phone because the wifi chip on my cp seems to have gone.
To confuse science with polotics - you, historically speaking, know how bad that is. You and I are, both left wing farts, old and used to an old war. Perhaps we want science to 'fight' on the same basis but, knowing that cannot be so, like children, we want it to be so. We want 'truth', our desirous attempt at 'truth', to say "Yes, you are right, you were always right!" How assinine, how narcissistic, how childish! You know and I know that 'truth' is not pleasent (nor unpleasent!). So the idea that we only have a certain amount of time and lets dispense with the pleasentries and with reason itself must be nonsense. What is life for? What does one exist for? I tell you, I would sacrifce this whole world if it meant Shakesperear could write a play.
Why do you fight? What are your dreams? What are your ethics?

By Lewis Deane (not verified) on 08 Sep 2011 #permalink

Why do you fight?

Because I can't stand ugliness. I don't want to be part of it.

What are your dreams?

Having a garden and a library.

What are your ethics?

No violence, and thus trying to prevent situations that make violence likely.