Porkies from Woy

One issue about the infamous Spencer and Braswell (incidentally, who is Braswell? Everyone is ignoring him, is he a nonentity? ) is, of course, who were the referees? The suspicion voiced in various places is that Spencer managed to wangle skeptics in as his referees; indeed, Wagner in his resignation letter says “The managing editor of Remote Sensing selected three senior scientists from
renowned US universities… the editorial team unintentionally selected three reviewers who probably share some climate sceptic notions of the authors” (note the slight contradiction in there: first off, it was the managing editor; then it was the editorial team). Now it is not possible to believe that you could, given the pool of climatologists, “unintentionally” select three skeptics: there are just too few of them. It could only be deliberate: either by choice of the managing editor, at Spencer’s private urging, or because Spencer supplied a list of suggested referees (this is commonplace) and the editor just used those.

So one question is: did Spencer provide a list of suggested referees? And if so, who were they? If Spencer has answered this fairly obvious question, I haven’t seen it. Let me know if you know better. I see in the comments on his blog that he was asked this question directly, but evaded.

Another question is, does Spencer know who the referees are? This is where it gets fun, because of course Spencer wants to say “oh yeah my reviewers were great” in order to give credibility to his tattered paper. But then again, reviewers are generally anonymous, no?

Obscurity seems to have detected Woy trying to have it both ways, or (put another way) telling porkies:

“Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says: September 2, 2011 at 1:03 PM… re Q1: Almost every journal requires a list of suggested reviewers, and except for one reviewer, the identities of the reviewers chosen was unknown to us”:

“Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says: September 2, 2011 at 5:29 PM Excuse me, but the peer reviewers were all researchers who have actually published on the subject of climate sensitivity. “

Did Woy perhaps learn something new about the reviewers in the 4 1/2 hours between those two entries? It seems rather unlikely. It is also very unlikely that you could find 3 experts in climate sensitivity who are skeptics (although looking closer Woy doesn’t say they are experts, only people who have published on the subject. Woy himself is clearly clueless, but published).

Or, can Spencer Jesuit out of this by the tense, in “the identities of the reviewers chosen was unknown to us”. Will he try to claim that at some point in the past, he didn’t know who they were, but does now? Perhaps he’ll reference the “was” to “the exact point in time when the referees were chosen? It is just possible, but not very plausible.

While I’m here: I was going to do a whole post about this, but there is no news at the moment so I’ll relegate it: why did the editor resign, rather than get the paper retracted? This has shades of von S, who resigned *because* he couldn’t get in a retraction, or a dissociation. Presumably (this is mere speculation on my part) Wagner asked the journal to retract it, and they refused (NS has a nice comment at flopsie’s pointing out how untenable Wagner’s position can look, in certain lights. Also izen a little lower down). Does Wagner’s resignation restore the reputation of the journal? No. It restores his personal reputation, but if anything diminishes that of the journal further.

Incidentally, currently if you google-news “Roy Spencer” you get this, and that nice little piccy is a link to me.

18 thoughts on “Porkies from Woy”

  1. > why
    Yup. I don’t know if the original statement was written in English, and even if it was parsing language is iffy.

    But it’s a blog comment, so —

    When I saw “After having become aware of the situation, …. I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision …”

    I thought, hm, so did he even know this was going to be published? When did he become aware and when did he decide that he would like to take the responsibility? And did he actually successfully _take_ the responsibility, or did he resign after trying to take the responsibility? Perhaps whoever published the article didn’t really give full editorial control to the ‘Editor’ and he found that out?

    Pure speculation of course.


  2. Are you not taking this paragraph that even gets in to the abstract a bit to easy.

    “While the satellite-based metrics for the period 2000–2010 depart substantially in the direction of lower climate sensitivity from those similarly computed from coupled climate models, we find that, with traditional methods, it is not possible to accurately quantify this discrepancy in terms of the feedbacks which determine climate sensitivity.”

    You could interpret that as they have shown that with some constrains a climate model gives a much lower climate sensitivity? Not that it should be, but that never seams to be how things work…


  3. Hi William,

    Me thinks porkies indeed. Talking of porkies– ooh, look global UAH anomaly for August 2011 down slightly from July– cough Roy, one should be comparing Augusts with Augusts, which makes August 2011 the third warmest in the UAH satellite record. Gotta love his 3rd order poly fit to the UAH data, which shows that global cooling started around 2009, but it is for “entertainment purposes only”…yes, I’m that his fan base will obviously see it that way 😉

    Roy now seems to be trying to bury his disgraceful thread about Wagner under as many new posts as possible, while at the same time trying to take some kind of preemptive action against Dessler’s new paper and the evil IPCC. Rather oddly his blog post cites Lindzen and Choi as being correct….reading his blog is like watching an especially bad soap opera.


  4. Perhaps Roy is confident all the reviewers were selected from a list he provided but he’s not sure which people on the list were chosen, except for one who chose to tell Roy they were one of the reviewers. If so, I can imagine he might not feel entitled to publish the names of any of the people on his list, who might then be under a great deal of pressure to confirm or deny that they were reviewers, to give their opinions of the paper now that this tempest has arisen, etc. Maybe this is just my lack of acquaintance with the workings of the peer review system showing but it’s not clear to me that Roy has contradicted himself, though he could certainly explain himself more clearly if he chose to.

    [Its a thought, but unless someone told him (and it would be very odd if anyone did) there would be no way to know that people had been chosen from his list. You get to supply a list; in my experience, you never get the slightest hint that it has been used -W]


  5. I don’t think there’s necessarily a contradiction. It’s fairly common for an editor to say something like “we sent the paper to three reviewers who are experienced in [topic X]” in his cover letter to the authors.

    But then I have sometimes been accused of naivete.

    [You’re far too nice 🙂 -W]


  6. Fairly simple, one of the referees told him “got your paper and am looking at it”.

    The instructions to authors are interesting:

    “At least two of the suggested referees must be from a different country than the authors. Additionally, at least two suggested referees must be from a western country (USA, Canada, Japan, Australia or western European country).”

    Which does not leave much room.


  7. Ah, but Eli, Wagner informed us that the 3 chosen reviewers were all from the US!

    I would not be surprised if Spencer just chose to overlook that little issue.


  8. Astonishing confused disingenuity from Spencer on the Climate Change Dispatch blog. Even an amateur such as myself knows that statements like this are simply false: “The Dessler and Trenberth contrary view […] is that clouds cannot cause temperature change, unless those cloud changes were themselves caused by some previous temperature change.”

    As for “This cloud issue has become very contentious because, if we (or those working on the cosmic ray effect on clouds) are correct, it means Mother Nature is perfectly capable of causing her own climate change. And this possibility cannot be permitted by the IPCC, because it then begs the question of whether climate change — both past and future — is more natural than anthropogenic.”

    Given that there’s a whole chapter of WG1 devoted to paleoclimate, i.e. to non-anthropogenic climate change, this is total bullshit for which there is no possible mitigating excuse.

    [CCD is a comedy site, yes? Else how would they publish Carbon Dioxide Not a Well Mixed Gas and Can’t Cause Global Warming -W]


  9. Now it is not possible to believe that you could, given the pool of climatologists, “unintentionally” select three skeptics: there are just too few of them.

    OR the “consensus” is made up by so few, you could kill it with one well thrown hand grenade.

    [Are you sure? I thought the std.septic position, as articulated by Woy, was that IPCC are a vast global conspiracy. After all, his brilliant paper had to be submitted to an irrelevant journal in order to break the stranglehold, no? That can’t happen if the vast global conspiracy isn’t. OTOH, Woy is off in black-helicopters la-la land, so if you’re disagreeing with him, that says good things about you -W]

    Here on this blog we have Hank, Magnus, Eli, Nick, and Will. Same few people who were flogging the consensus position last year, and the year before that.


  10. Spencer’s hissy fit has been epic, good enough to coinl a new INTERNET tradition, the Galileo Godwin meltdown. Claiming to be Galileo persecuted by the Nazis is a first (or maybe a second, it’s a big net out there.

    [I don’t think I’ve ever seen a non-teenager use OMG the way he did. And the venture into ALL CAPS was most amusing. Sadly the one-day wonder has largely blown over; I doubt tehre will be more fireworks until some substantive new info comes out, like more resignations or info on referees -W]


  11. William, maybe today’s article from Dessler will create another hissy-fit from Roy and the septics?

    After arguing at length the paper really is not bad, Dessler probably shows another few porkies in Spencer’s work.


  12. “The War Being Waged Against Us”
    (with Black Helicopters)
    — Horatio Algeranon’s versification of Roy Spencer (Episode 2 of “All My Conspiracy Theories”)

    There’s a war being waged against us
    By the good-ol’-boy IPCC
    Whose currency is group think
    And agenda plain to see.
    The wagons are being circled
    With a report in preparation
    The peers are being rewarded
    With continued remuneration.
    There’s a bust-gut effort to ensure:
    — That nothing gets accepted
    Which interferes with political goals
    Or policies enacted.
    — Or any paper that does get by
    Which challenges consensus
    Is summarily discredited
    With ad hominem against us

    “Truth Choppers”
    — by Horatio Algeranon

    IPCC chapters
    And black helicopters:
    Scorched earth
    Truth choppers


  13. incidentally, who is Braswell? Everyone is ignoring him, is he a nonentity?

    Everyone seems to be ignoring these questions, too! Also not mentioned is: whatever happened to John Christy? I miss seeing his glorious moustache.


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