Really Sciency

Visit my other blog 'Really Sciency' looking at Climate Science and its portrayal, misrepresentation and denial in the media.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Told you so!

Making some headlines is the news that a science Journal editor resigned over a paper co-authored by climate sceptic Roy Spencer. This paper was actually written in 2008 and was apparently missed by the skeptic community until July 2011 when some suggested it proved that climate models were wrong because data from NASA’s Terra satellite showed 'that when the climate warms, Earth’s atmosphere is apparently more efficient at releasing energy to space than models used to forecast climate change have been programmed to “believe.”'

I first heard about it from posts on Paul Hudsons blog from message 62. By message 67 it was claimed that Spencer wouldn't be 'putting his neck on the block without being totally sure of the data'.

By 70 it was noted by one poster that it had been published in an obscure journal, 'Remote Sensing' which I agreed woith in my message 74; "Unfortunately Spencer has chosen to publish this in an online journal and one can only assume that it is not up to scratch. It just seems a way to circumvent peer review and create controversy rather than actually add anything to science."

This brought some ire and claims that peer review was over rated any way;

'Your remark that publishing this study on line to avoid 'peer review' is a disingenuous way of saying you do not believe any of the contents.

I am myself sceptical as to the value of much of the quality of peer review at present because so many scientists are presently in the pay of the EU Commission.'

'I'm slightly confused, since the initial reports of this paper stated that "Remote Sensing" was a "peer-reviewed" science journal. Is this not the case?'

I replied to both;
"I didn’t say that it wasn’t a peer reviewed journal, but it isn’t one listed on Web of Science and it has no speciality in the subject of Surface Temperature Feedback.

I haven’t seen who the reviewers were but I suspect they are not the most qualified peers."
Which predictably brought;
"So now there are degrees of "peership"?"
 And my response;

"You think experts on "the science and technology of remote sensing and the applications of remotely sensed data" is best qualified to review a paper on Surface Temperature Feedback (not the technology used to record it) ?

Why not ask a dentist, veterinarian or biologist?

This is not a credible journal to review and publish research on climatology and you must know there are far better options for a scientist to publish credible research that he intends to stand behind as an addition a body of scientific evidence.

Believe it is credible if you want but please be a true sceptic and don't give it any more bias compared to the far larger body of scientific research that suggests the conclusions of this probably isn't the case and factor in the criticism it is already receiving from other, more qualified peers."

 In case you have guessed the journal and the paper discussed is the same that the Editor, Wolfgang Wagner resigned from and over. Wagner's reasons were that he now accepted  the paper was "fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal".

"Peer-reviewed journals are a pillar of modern science," he writes in a resignation note published in Remote Sensing.

"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... is most likely problematic in both aspects and should therefore not have been published."

So I was right to suggest that the review wan't up to scratch - how could it be when it was outside the Journals normal publishing field. But I think I was also right in suggesting that choosing such a journal was a way to circumvent the normal peer review, from the BBC report;

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, ...  described the tactic of publishing in off-topic journals as a "classic tactic" of scientists dismissive of man-made climate change. "Those who recognise that their ideas are weak but seek to get them into the literature by finding weaknesses in the peer review system are taking a thoroughly disreputable approach".

This isn't really a post to shout out, look at me arn't I clever, it is just good to know that I can be right about somethings.

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