Gavin must be having a bad hair day, because this headline is most certainly over the top:
From: Bill Hughes
Cc: Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen
Subject:: E&E libel
Date: 02/18/11 10:48:01
Gavin, your comment about Energy & Environment which you made on RealClimate has been brought to my attention:
“The evidence for this is in precisely what happens in venues like E&E that have effectively dispensed with substantive peer review for any papers that follow the editor’s political line. ”
To assert, without knowing, as you cannot possibly know, not being connected with the journal yourself, that an academic journal does not bother with peer review, is a terribly damaging charge, and one I’m really quite surprised that you’re prepared to make. And to further assert that peer review is abandoned precisely in order to let the editor publish papers which support her political position, is even more damaging, not to mention being completely ridiculous.
At the moment, I’m prepared to settle merely for a retraction posted on RealClimate. I’m quite happy to work with you to find a mutually satisfactory form of words: I appreciate you might find it difficult.
I look forward to hearing from you.
With best wishes
Multi-Science Publsihing [sic] Co Ltd
Notice the missing key word “lawsuit”. It does not appear in that letter anywhere.
Note the tone of the last paragraph. In essence it says: “hey, I’m upset, but happy to work it out with you”. No mention of legal threats whatsoever.
What follows the letter on RealClimate’s post is a whole bunch of bluster and posturing about how E&E conducts its reviews. I wonder though, did Gavin even bother to ask how they conduct their affairs of review, or did he simply (as Joe Romm loves to say) “make stuff up”?
And then there’s this paragraph:
As a final note, if you think that threatening unjustifiable UK libel suits against valid criticism is an appalling abuse, feel free to let Bill Hughes know (but please be polite), and add your support to the Campaign for libel reform in the UK which looks to be making great headway. In the comments, feel free to list your examples of the worst papers ever published in E&E.
Appalling abuse? Again, there was no legal threat. Using the word “libel” in the subject line states an issue of concern, and doesn’t automatically assume that lawsuits are attached, especially when the sender says: I’m prepared to settle merely for a retraction posted on RealClimate. I’m quite happy to work with you to find a mutually satisfactory form of words.
When that word libel is used in conjunction with the word lawsuit, then by all means, assume that to be a threat. When the word libel is used to point out an issue, absent the word ‘lawsuit” or phrase “legal action” or “our attorney will be contacting you”, it doesn’t automatically follow then that “…threatening unjustifiable UK libel suits against valid criticism is an appalling abuse” is a valid description of what was communicated in the letter. That’s an important distinction, don’t you think?
Here’s a few thoughts.
What is disappointing about all that is that Dr. Gavin Schmidt could just as easily have said all that posturing bluster in a private email to Bill Hughes. Given what RC did with a request for a change in wording, it really underscores the deliberate defiant chutzpah that The Team is famous for, which really offends taxpayers like myself that fund this NASA GISS Team.
Gavin, remember, thou art mortal (and a public servant).
And of course this post today is all a front: in reality they could not give a rodent’s posterior about anyone’s peer review standards.
Look at their own problems with “pal review”, look at the famous ‘lets re-define what the literature is’ from Climategate emails. The reason E&E has been, and is being attacked, is that its very existence contradicts the slogans like ‘all peer reviewed science agrees’, so it has to be derided at every opportunity.
And if some papers out of the couple of thousand or so it has published over 20+ years are poor quality, then they’re wheeled out again and again as being typical of the journal, which is not the case and plenty of journals publish papers that have all sorts of problems.
Peer review isn’t perfect no matter who’s doing it. One has to wonder if the Steig et al Antarctica paper might have gotten a more thorough review in E&E than it did in Nature, because the likelihood of such a paper being reviewed by someone who might question The Team PCA style math.
So I’d suggest that
1) Gavin, when somebody actually threatens you with a lawsuit, you’ll most certainly be able to know it by the inclusion of the key word “lawsuit” and
2) I think you owe Multi-Science an apology
For those that would like to judge for themselves, you can view issues of E&E here.
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