UPDATE: I’m amazed by the level of emotion out there. Makes you wonder how science can be possible at all in such an emotionally charged environment. A word to the wise: Those who live by the sword, die by the sword. More fallout!:
There are lots of accusations flying about concerning the PRP journal controversy. What’s disturbing is that the whole thing seems to be on the verge of devolving into mob rule. So far there have been only accusations and mudslinging. There has been no formal investigation or due process to get to the bottom of the matter.
The law of civilization tells us that the accused are to entitled to a fair hearing before the stones get cast. There’s something out there called due process, the presumption of innocence, and allowing the accused to present a defence in an objective forum. Last I checked, most everyone was damned glad to have it.
I’M NOT PICKING SIDES HERE. My sole interest is to see to it that the accused are at least given a fair chance to present their case.
Unfortunately climate science does not operate like the other fields of science. It’s a mess and stinking-rotten to the core. Can it be that some potentially valuable, groundbreaking science gets dismissed outright because MAYBE its authors did not properly go through what has long become the climate science circus tent called peer-review?
Nicola Scafetta has asked me to publish his case here and I ask those holding the noose to first hear it out before tightening it one last time.
Before putting the noose on, could we at least get a trial?
Here I would like to briefly add some comments to my previous post and also respond to two blogs articles authored by Anthony Watts on WUWT following the suppression of Pattern Recognition in Physics by the publisher, Dr. Martin Rasmussen:
I found both posts by Anthony highly misleading and subtly malicious. I would like to address the two major points here:
1) In the first post Anthony insinuated the journal was stopped because of the topic of our special issue (the planetary theory of solar and climate variation). Anthony titled his post: “The ‘planetary tidal influence on climate’ fiasco”. However, the “planetary theory” did not play any role in the decision of Rasmussen.
In fact, in a letter sent to Mörner, the accused editor of the journal, Rasmussen wrote: “While processing the press release for the special issue ‘Pattern in solar variability, their planetary origin and terrestrial impacts’, we read through the general conclusions paper published on 16 Dec 2013. We were alarmed by the authors’ second implication stating: ‘This sheds serious doubts on the issue of a continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project’.” In the official version published on the PRP web-site, Rasmussen wrote: “Recently a special issue was compiled titled ‘Pattern in solar variability, their planetary origin and terrestrial impacts’.” Besides papers dealing with the observed patterns in the heliosphere, the special issue editors ultimately submitted their conclusions in which they doubted “the continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project” (Pattern Recogn. Phys., 1, 205–206, 2013).
Thus, it is evident that Rasmussen was not disturbed at all by the astronomical aspect of our study, as Anthony Watts insinuated in his first post, which was the primary topic of our works. By his own words, Rasmussen was “alarmed” only and exclusively by a single secondary statement in our Conclusion paper (a 2-page article) where the global surface temperature projections of the IPCC for the 21st century were questioned based on our analysis. That single statement was evidently interpreted by Rasmussen as a kind of “heresy” that required the instantaneous “burning” of the entire journal without even first inquiring with the accused editors.
Very likely Rasmussen overreacted because he ignores similar questioning of the IPCC temperature projections that have recently appeared in numerous scientific papers. Indeed from his statement there is no evidence that he has read any of the papers of the special issue where one finds the arguments which the statement in the Conclusion is based on, and which is supported by numerous references to other works already published in the scientific literature.
In fact, the IPCC models have predicted a 2oC/century warming from 2000 to 2014. But this warming never materialized. The scientific community is currently wondering about the causes of the large discrepancy between the climate models and the data. A possibility that we put forth in the special issue is that solar-astronomical effects and natural cyclical variability are currently underestimated by the IPCC models and, because for the next decades the sun is projected to experience low activity, this will likely slow down the warming. When one reads the papers of the special issue, he sees that they shed serious doubts on the issue of a continued or accelerated warming that is claimed by the IPCC project, and would also easily realize that the concept is perfectly consistent with the current scientific knowledge. Rasmussen’s “alarm” is incomprehensible.
Also an article on BBC, Has the Sun gone to sleep?, published on January 17, 2014 supports our conclusion that projected low solar activity would imply colder weather for the imminent future. But Rasmussen evidently did not know anything about this recent research and misinterpreted the meaning of our research by taking a sentence out of context.
Going back to Anthony Watts’ first blog, it seems to me Anthony, who is a notorious skeptic of the planetary theory discussed in our special session, took advantage of this unfortunate situation in order to discredit the planetary theory, as Rasmussen clearly stated he had been “alarmed” not by the planetary theory, but by some secondary climatic implication of doubting IPCC temperature projections. Ironically, Anthony fully agrees that the IPCC projections are significantly overestimated but he is apparently very allergic to the fact that the physical explanation might be found in astronomical causes.
In his second post, Anthony switched the focus of his attack against the authors and editors of the special issue. Here the claimed offence was deduced from an accusation present in Rasmussen’s statement declaring that: “In addition, the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis, which we regard as malpractice in scientific publishing and not in accordance with our publication ethics we expect to be followed by the editors.”
Rasmussen’s accusation is paradoxical for several reasons, and therefore invalid as I will demonstrate below. Firstly it was not present in the email sent to the editor, Dr. Mörner. In this email a weaker statement had been written: “we also received information about potential misconduct during the review process.”
Note the difference between the two statements. The statement written in the email to Mörner simply indicates a complaint over a “potential misconduct” that the publisher received from somebody. Here it would be interesting to know who complained – an IPCC AGW advocate with conflict of interest against our theories? The sentence then reported in the official statement, on the contrary, is a definitive verdict of “guilty.”
Rasmussen found an editor “guilty” of a malpractice without first properly investigating the issue. In fact a proper inquiry requires asking the accused to respond to the accusations: a fact that did not occur because the editors were not informed of anything. This is a case of censorship that is even worse than what was suffered by Galileo and, ironically, Copernicus himself, whose works at least were subject to a trial before being put into the index of the forbidden books.
Rasmussen’s “guilty” verdict was based on the claim that “the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis”. The literal meaning of the accusation implies the editors selected as referees were “blood-relatives” of the authors. I suspect that Rasmussen would have hard time in demonstrating his claim in a court room. But let us interpret his accusation figuratively as meaning that the editor selected as referees people who fraudulently favored the authors.
Was the review process scientifically fraudulent? This is the very point that needs to be demonstrated.
The obligation of an editor, as I understand it, is to select honest referees who can provide a professional scientific review of a paper to prevent that papers containing evident scientific flaws are published. An editor should avoid referees who are not expert in the topic and/or who could fraudulently favor or harm an author.
It is evident that simply selecting (as a referee) an expert in a scientific field who might happen to share a similar scientific interest or opinion of an author is not “nepotistic malpractice”. Would a paper advocating IPCC AGW being reviewed by a scientist who shares the same scientific view be considered “nepotistic malpractice” by Rasmussen? Moreover, for a special issue on a very narrow scientific topic, when an editor invites a restricted group of experts it may not be unusual to ask authors of other papers of the same issue to serve as referees of a paper of another author. This actually could improve the scientific quality of the special issue because authors would not want to publish their papers in special issues containing evidently flawed papers.
The problem that I have with Rasmussen’s “pal-review” accusation is that he did not demonstrate that the reviews of the papers of the special issue, as well as of the entire journal were fraudulent, (nor did he demonstrate that editors, referees and authors were blood-relative to each other). To prove the fraudulent claim he should have pointed out the existence of evident scientific errors present in all papers published by the journal so far. It is the presence of evident errors that would have demonstrated that those papers had received a poor and unprofessional review and that the editors were fraudulently trying to promote a personal ideology instead of advancing a specific field of science. But Rasmussen did not provide any evidence that the papers published in the journal contain evident erroneous claims. Rasmussen’s only “scientific” argument against our work was his erroneous claim that the IPCC temperature projections for the 21st century are valid beyond doubt and, therefore, those who questions that claim should be ignored and treated as anti-scientists. To “distance” himself from these scientists he closed the journal.
Rasmussen’s argument is not only offensive, but also absurd and hollow. Thus his accusations are groundless and based on a prejudice. He evidently rushed to judgment in fear that our research could in some way displease the IPCC establishment. For the same reasons also the accusations of Anthony Watts at his blog are equally groundless and in large part based on prejudice. Many times on his blog he was asked to point to factual errors in the papers, but he could not find any and focused only on the “appearance” of the facts interpreted in a malevolent way.
I can only testify that my papers received very professional reviews from the reviewers and especially from the editor, Dr. Morner, who dedicated a lot of his time to this project by personally reviewing and editing my papers as best as he could and, I suppose, each paper of the collections. I am fully satisfied on how my papers have been handled.
Basically it appears that Rasmussen skipped trial and hastily rounded up a lynch mob, and some in the blogosphere appeared to have been quite happy to join in.
It is evident that our work will stand or fall based on its scientific validity.
I invite the readers to study our works and judge by themselves: http://www.pattern-recogn-phys.net/special_issue2.html.”
Comment from Nils-Axel Morner (e-mail to Tallbloke):
(1) We were alarmed by the authors’ second implication stating: ‘This sheds serious doubts on the issue of a continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project’
So what? This is the direct inference of the 12 research papers (especially Papers 1,4,5,7,9,11,12).
(2) ‘the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis’
Nepotism is to favor friends and relatives without respects to qualifications. We did the opposite; the reviewer chosen were all specialists on the topics in question. It is true that they primarily were chosen among the authors of the special issue with some additional from outside. This does not mean “pal-reviewing”, but serious colleague reviewing. Most members of the author-team only new each other superficially or as authors. It is common practice when printing proceedings or collective volumes to seek the reviewers within the group, not in order to make the reviewing process less serious, but because those persons are the true experts within the field. And almost always they do a tremendously good job to improve the papers in constructive ways. So also in our case: our reviewing was simply excellent, which I am sure all persons involved would happily testify. This includes strong points and forces for relevant changes and updating. And what we achieved was a wonderful collection of papers that together make a very strong impact of elevating an old hypothesis into a firm theory saying that the solar variability is, indeed, driven by the planetary beat.”