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.

Holy editor resignation, Batman!

This couldn’t be more damming:


the paper by Spencer and Braswell [1] that was recently published in Remote Sensing… should therefore not have been published… 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… 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

Spencer and the Mystery Journal refers, as does the eerily-similar von Storch Climate Research affair.

h/t: JM and FS.

Updated to add: the more detailed reasons are interesting:

If a paper presents interesting scientific arguments, even if controversial, it should be published and responded to in the open literature. This was my initial response after having become aware of this particular case. So why, after a more careful study of the pro and contra arguments, have I changed my initial view? The problem is that comparable studies published by other authors have already been refuted in open discussions and to some extend also in the literature (cf. [7]), a fact which was ignored by Spencer and Braswell in their paper and, unfortunately, not picked up by the reviewers. In other words, the problem I see with the paper by Spencer and Braswell is not that it declared a minority view (which was later unfortunately much exaggerated by the public media) but that it essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its opponents. This latter point was missed in the review process, explaining why I perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal.

What I read that to mean is that Yes, novel and interesting challenges to the established view should be published – perhaps even get given a slightly easier ride, if they are novel. But No: just saying the same old thing again isn’t any good.

Another update: Woy Wesponds: it appears the IPCC gatekeepers have once again put pressure on a journal for daring to publish anything that might hurt the IPCC’s politically immovable position that climate change is almost entirely human-caused. I can see no other explanation for an editor resigning in such a situation. Quite where Woy gets the evidence for IPCC involvement is a mystery; presumably, it is inconceiveable that there could possibly be anything wrong with any of his papers. Spencer’s “Update 2” is funny as well; his “immediately corrected” is a joke; his temperature series was wrong for years on end, before RSS put him straight.

Update, again: this is just too funny: Woy, in the comments section:

Well, well…is that you, Kevin Trenberth, hiding behind a screen name? [Obscurity – WMC] First of all, our results were GLOBAL, so transport between regions are irrelevant to the issue at hand. Secondly, the lag associated with the heat carrying capacity was central to the point we were making!!! If you even bothered to read our paper, you would understand that! OMG! You are wasting time and space here with your straw men and red herrings! CONGRATULATIONS, OBSCURITY, YOU ARE THE FIRST TO BE BANNED FROM THIS SITE. THE CHARGE IS EITHER (1) CHRONIC IGNORANCE, OR (2) MALICIOUS OBFUSCATION. YOUR CHOICE.

Another update: Spencer will be delighted: the creationists are on his side.


* Grauniad
* Beeb Journal editor resigns over ‘problematic’ climate paper
* Remote Sens. 2011, 3(9), 2002-2004; doi:10.3390/rs3092002 Editorial: Taking Responsibility on Publishing the Controversial Paper “On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance” by Spencer and Braswell, Remote Sens. 2011, 3(8), 1603-1613. Wolfgang Wagner; Published: 2 September 2011
* MediaMatters: Journal Editor Resigns After Publishing Flawed Climate Study Touted By Forbes, Fox
* Retraction Watch
* Deltoid
* Bart
* Peter Gleick in Forbes
* QS
* Fluffy

* SMBC (its even vaguely relevant: h/t: BA)
* BB
* arstechnica
* Nurture – but beware porkies in the comments
* Science
* Kevin Trenberth, John Abraham, and Peter Gleick say Spencer is cr*p
* RP Sr foams at the mouth

Broon oot

Broon has gone, for good this time, unlike yesterday’s fake resignation. He appears to have achieved one thing: yesterday’s last-gasp offer to the LD appears to have forced the Tories to offer a referendum on AV.

However, it wasn’t enough to tempt the LD’s to him, and his own party was iffy, and it wouldn’t have been a majority. So today he said “bugger this for a game of soldiers” and pissed off. Only he wrapped it up in a dignified speech.

My own keyinsight (hexapodia!) is so-far unarticulated by anyone else, and is hidden over the fold.
Continue reading “Broon oot”