Friday, September 02, 2011

Editor Steps Down For Publishing Denialist Paper

Peer-reviewed journals are a pillar of modern science. 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 [1] that was recently published in Remote Sensing is most likely problematic in both aspects and should therefore not have been published.

After having become aware of the situation, and studying the various pro and contra arguments, 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.
The paper at issue, “On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance”, was authored by Roy Spencer and William Braswell.  It was pretty clear several months ago that Spencer was trying to sneak it through the peer review process, refusing to name the journal that had accepted it so as to head off attempts by outraged climate scientists to have the thing yanked. 
Wolfgang Wagner, the editor in question, has behaved honourably, stepping down so as to protect the good name of his journal (Remote Sensing).  Mr. Spencer and Mr. Braswell's only accomplishment, other than grabbing a few headlines on Fox news,  has been to damage the reputation of that journal.  And I say "only" because at this point it is hard to imagine how their own scientific reputations could become more sullied by this incident than they already are.


Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

I could have sworn that it's now become "accepted science" that while the climate has been changing, and while people may be contributing to it marginally, it's nothing to spend much time worrying about.

The real killer is going to be Yellowstone.

And Al Gore isn't going to save us from that.


Live it up.

Drive your S.U.V. while you can.. the volcanic winter is coming!

Holly Stick said...

Being willing to swear to any old lie is not ethical lawyerly behaviour.

Tell the victims of Hurricane Irene it's nothing to worry about, and the Texans suffering drought and flooding along with the Australians, Chinese, etc., etc.

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm sorry Wagner had to fall on his sword over this but it was the only responsible thing to do. Thanks for posting this.

crf said...

This editor's criticisms of the peer review process of this paper are, I think, cogent and valid.

But I don't think it lends his argument more weight by his resigning. It might even stir up criticism, by people claiming that was his intention. In science, being earnest is of no importance.

bigcitylib said...


As I recall Remote Sensing allows you to suggest your own reviewers, which may not be best policy in a case like this.

Unknown said...
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