The Copernicus-PRP fiasco: predictable and preventable

prp-cover-webAfter reconsideration of my original story, I find that there is more than enough blame to go around on both sides and that there were warning signs that were ignored.

Last Friday while at work, my Inbox exploded with news about a “climate skeptic journal getting canceled”. It was news to me, because I didn’t even know there was one in existence. This post is an update that post I made on Friday: The ‘planetary tidal influence on climate’ fiasco: strong armed science tactics are overkill, due process would work better.  Today’s post is done with the benefit of more detailed information and more time than I had then.

Much of the mail I received Friday centered around this post by Jo Nova: Science paper doubts IPCC, so whole journal gets terminated!

Jo’s post details that a particular phrase in the announcement seemed to be the reason for the termination of the journal. The editor’s announcement (the first version) is reproduced below, bold, Jo’s: 

Termination of the journal Pattern Recognition in Physics

Copernicus Publications started publishing the journal Pattern Recognition in Physics (PRP) in March 2013. The journal idea was brought to Copernicus’ attention and was taken rather critically in the beginning, since the designated Editors-in-Chief were mentioned in the context of the debates of climate skeptics. However, the initiators asserted that the aim of the journal was to publish articles about patterns recognized in the full spectrum of physical disciplines rather than to focus on climate-research-related topics.

Recently, a special issue was compiled entitled “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 “doubt the continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project” (Pattern Recogn. Phys., 1, 205–206, 2013).

Copernicus Publications published the work and other special issue papers to provide the spectrum of the related papers to the scientists for their individual judgment. Following best practice in scholarly publishing, published articles cannot be removed afterwards.

We at Copernicus Publications wish to distance ourselves from the apparent misuse of the originally agreed aims & scope of the journal and decided on 17 January 2014 to cease the publication of PRP. Of course, scientific dispute is controversial and should allow contradictory opinions which can then be discussed within the scientific community. However, the recent developments including the expressed implications (see above) have led us to this drastic decision.

Interested scientists can reach the online library at: www.pattern-recogn-phys.net

Martin Rasmussen

January 2014

Initially, this looked like another case of suppression due to the anti-IPCC message conveyed in the PRP Special Edition, much like we’ve seen in Climategate where an email campaign was used to pressure editors, and if the editors didn’t kowtow, “the team” would work to remove them. The Phil Jones email “Kevin and I will keep them out somehow” immediately sprang to mind.

My view was that the journal editor got “team” pressure, such as we witnessed James Annan crowing about, and they caved.

From James Annan:

Kudos to Copernicus for the rapid and decisive way in which they dealt with this problem. The problems at the journal were was first brought to my attention by ThingsBreak just last night, I emailed various people to express my concerns and the journal (which was already under close scrutiny by the publisher) was closed down within 24h.

I pointed out that the best way is to let due process take its course:

While the shutdown of the journal Pattern Recognition in Physics that published a special edition on planetary tidal influence on climate is likely a bit of overkill, rebuttals would have been the right way to handle it rather than the Climategate style strong-arm gang tactics exhibited against journal editors…

But then later, after my piece was published, I learned there was far more to the story, and that Copernicus had changed their statement, adding this paragraph:

“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.”

That seems like some post facto CYA to me, or, it could also be just sloppiness due to what appears to be the “panic” they were under after getting hit with an email campaign from James Annan’s “various people”.

Jo wondered in her update:

Copernicus is a large publishing group which also publishes many other journals. I wonder if “nepotism” is the word for pal-review which occurs all the time…

It turns out that “pal-review” was indeed a problem, and that both sides should have seen this showdown coming well in advance. Had either made some effort to head it off, you wouldn’t be reading about it now.

First, let me say that it takes a lot of courage and effort to put together a special edition for a journal, and I admire the people involved for doing that, even though I disagree with much of what was presented.

Secondly, it takes a lot of work to do it right. Doing it right means getting it done where any contestable items of special interest, pal-review, and other biases aren’t part of the publication. That’s where it went wrong.

Third, if the climate skeptic community became aware of a pal-review issue like this in climate science, we’d be all over it. We should hold our own community to the same standards.

In his post about the affair, Roger Tattersall, who was both an editor and an author of a paper in the special edition, responded to William Connolley in this comment with a [Reply].

William Connolley says:

January 17, 2014 at 5:25 pm

“In addition, the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis, which we regard as malpractice in scientific publishing…”

Oooh you bad boys. RT: are you in favour of nepotism in review? Come on, don’t be shy.

[Reply] I asked for reviewers from outside our discipline, but with it being a small field, there was crossover. But because the papers are open access, anyone can download, review and comment, so I don’t think it’s a big problem. Let our scientific work stand on its merit, rather than impugning the honesty of the scientists.

Climate science itself suffers from the small field crossover problem to an extent, but as we saw in Climategate emails, often they turn a blind eye to it.

I have no problem with their work in the PRP Special Edition standing or failing on its own merit, but I do have a problem with the way they went about this. For example, in WUWT comments we have:

Poptech says: January 18, 2014 at 8:47 am

People are missing the key point,

http://www.pattern-recognition-in-physics.net/

“…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.”

http://publications.copernicus.org/for_reviewers/obligations_for_referees.html

4. A referee should be sensitive even to the appearance of a conflict of interest when the manuscript under review is closely related to the referee’s work in progress or published. If in doubt, the referee should return the manuscript promptly without review, advising the editor of the conflict of interest or bias.

5. A referee should not evaluate a manuscript authored or co-authored by a person with whom the referee has a personal or professional connection if the relationship would bias judgment of the manuscript.

The problem is obvious, the papers list in many cases one of the reviewers as an author in the same edition and in some cases a known skeptic. While this is no different than what alarmists do all the time, skeptics will be held to a much higher standard and should not allow themselves to fall into these traps.

This makes what would be a clear censorship argument irrelevant.

Basically, they asked to play in the peer reviewed sandbox at Copernicus, then didn’t abide by the rules of the sandbox for peer review. That was the recipe for disaster everybody should have seen coming.

Which is confirmed:

Poptech says:January 18, 2014 at 3:56 pm

tallbloke says:

I’m surprised Poptech fell for the Rasmussen ruse. In his first email to the editors he said he was shutting down PRP because it had allowed sceptics to publish heresy about the IPCC dogma. Only later did he realise the own goal and cook up the unsubstantiated smears about “potential” issues with review.

With the original version I agree with you and on these grounds alone I consider this censorship but that is not the whole story.

My problem is with the process of using authors, editors and known skeptics as reviewers. This is not an unsubstantiated smear but verifiable,

Here are two examples:

Discussion on common errors in analyzing sea level accelerations, solar trends and global warming

Reviewed by: N.-A. Morner and one anonymous referee”

Dr. Morner is qualified to review this paper but he is an editor and a known skeptic with a potential conflict of interest in that he is sympathetic to Dr. Scafetta’s arguments.

The Hum: log-normal distribution and planetary–solar resonance

Reviewed by: H. Jelbring and one anonymous referee”

Hans Jelbring is again qualified but an author in this edition and a known skeptic with a potential conflict of interest in that he is sympathetic to your arguments.

And the reason I am told they published their names, was because they were concerned with having a conflict of interest! Thus, by the publishers own rules they should not be reviewing these papers. The saving grace is that one of the reviewers was anonymous but this is still going to lead to wild speculation for many reasons, especially since the editors were skeptics.

Why give alarmists the ammunition of Pal-Review? I don’t understand this.

Regardless, unless the papers get retracted I will list them, so people can read them and make up their own minds, but I will not be endorsing them nor defending the review process.

One of the PRP editors, Morner, published his own paper in the edition.  The other editor reviewed it. And, Morner reviewed other papers. No clearer example of circular review exists.

And then there’s this:

richardscourtney says: January 18, 2014 at 9:04 am

Friends:

I withdraw the suggestions in my earlier post at January 18, 2014 at 1:58 am.

When I made that post I was not aware that the journal used the same people as authors and reviewers for the papers of each other in a Special Edition on a stated subject. Such a practice is a clear example of pal-review.

The Special Edition should not have been published when its peer review procedures were a clear malpractice. Whether the reasons for withdrawal of the Special Edition also warranted closure of the journal requires additional information but it seems likely.

And so, the perception of the pal-review has trumped any science that was presented, and few people will hear of the reasons behind that problem.

The problem the PRP authors and editors have is existence in a small like-minded universe, yet they don’t see the problem that presents to outsiders looking in. The situation reminded me of a Star Trek TNG episode Remember Me where Dr. Beverly Crusher gets trapped in a “static warp bubble”. The pool of people she interacts with keeps shrinking as the bubble shrinks, and she keeps trying to convince the remaining people of this fact while they look at her like she’s crazy. She finally ends up alone, and doesn’t realize the reality of her isolation until she asks the ship’s computer “What is the nature of the universe?” and it answers:

“…the universe as a spheroid structure 705 meters in diameter.”

That’s about the size of the PRP Special Edition universe, and like the static warp bubble in the TNG episode, it is collapsing in on itself. The big problem with this event is that while that PRP Special Edition universe is collapsing in one place, it has exploded elsewhere, and that explosion has painted all climate skeptics with a broad brush.

Some news coverage of the event:

http://science.slashdot.org/story/14/01/18/0036252/alleging-malpractice-with-climate-skeptic-papers-publisher-kills-journal

It was easy to predict what kind of coverage we’d see.

Note there’s no distinction here of a “subset” of climate skeptics, or even  “a few climate skeptics”, no, ALL climate skeptics are being painted with this fiasco. That means people like Lindzen, Spencer, Christy, the Pielkes, Curry, Singer, Happer, and many others are being lumped into this even though they had nothing to do with it. I doubt any of them even knew about it, and I daresay that if they did, they’d have similar objections to what has already been voiced on WUWT about the process.

And that, makes me upset. What makes me even more upset is that this mess was wholly preventable if either Copernicus or the PRP Special Edition group had realized what was at stake and done something about it before it became the next target of “the team” looking to pressure an editor like we saw in Climategate. Had I known about it before it exploded. I certainly would have voiced objections about the use of a small and specialized universe of editors and reviewers. Almost any reasonable person looking at this from the outside can see this pal-review issue would eventually blow up, because no matter how careful they might have been internally to prevent such issues, the appearance from the outside of bias is what gets written about, as we’ve seen.

And, there were clear warnings.

Steve Mosher writes to me with this

A while back I happened upon the Tallbloke journal (comments from Tallbloke’s Talkshop)

Steven Mosher says:

cool. not only did you review each other papers ( where the reviewer had the ethical courage to identify himself) but you referenced your own papers that were simultaneously submitted but un published.

wow, way better than the CRU scams.

Of course Ian wilson chimed in

http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/special-edition-of-pattern-recognition-in-physics/comment-page-1/#comment-64917

when he knew what I said was true

more

Steven Mosher says: (bold mine)

“Ian:Three years ago at Lisbon, Mosh told me I needed to provide some numbers to back up our solar-planetary hypothesis. Now we are able to do that, he’s falling back on insult by comparing us to people who bent data and stats methods, intimidated journal editors, removed adverse data, hid sample sizes etc.

It’s standard fare from the people who have lost the plot on what the scientific method is. They play the man rather than the ball, because their threadbare theory has failed.”

No Rog, I’m hold [sic] you to the same standard that we hold mann [sic] and others to.

1. Your [sic] the editor of a journal and you publish your own papers. In the climategatemails we found similar problems; we found authors who selected journals because they had a guy on the inside.

Second, we complained because IPCC chapter authors were referring to their own work. Self interest. I can hardly complain about this practice WRT the IPCC and Mann and then let you slide simply because you are a friend. Further, when I was asked for a list of journals to submit to I eliminated all journals where our authors served as editors or as emeritus editors.

2. We complained about climate scientists citing papers that had not yet been published. Look through your references you’ll find the examples. Again, integrity. And yes, you’ll note for example that our AMO paper ( that confirms some of scaffettas work) was held back from publication until all the other papers it cites were published. To do otherwise is to build a house on quicksand.

3. I missed your policy on archiving data and code. I did note some people giving links as references. Sad. bare minimum would be link with the date accessed.

Finally, I looked for your numbers. they are still missing. At a minimum I should be able to go to the SI, get the data and run the code to make sure that the charts presented actually come from the method described.

Since you’re the editor perhaps you tell us how you plan to practice the things we agreed on long ago. Don’t feel bad, folks who think its not the sun get pissed when I tell them to share data and code.. to basically show their work. But you should not be surprised that I would argue that everybody, not just Mann and Jones, should aim for reproducable research. I’ve been advocating it since 2007. Why would I listen to any special pleading from friends. For example, see my comments in july of 2012 on steve mcintyre’s blog where he and Anthony get an earful from me.

It’s a principle for me.

http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/special-edition-of-pattern-recognition-in-physics/comment-page-1/#comment-65132

Did Tattersall or Wilson then do anything about this? It doesn’t seem so, but then again I’m, not privy to what went on behind the scenes, like everybody else, all I can do is look at their universe from the outside and note the clearly evident problems they seem unable or unwilling to see.

And the warnings went back even further, from RetractionWatch:

But scholarly librarian Jeffrey Beall noticed some…patterns in the journal back in September July:

The journal’s editor-in-chief, Sid-Ali Ouadfeul, who works for the Algerian Petroleum Institute, started publishing his research in journal articles around 2010, but he’s only been cited a couple times, not counting his many self-citations.

Co-editor-in-chief Nils-Axel Morner is a noted climate “skeptic” who believes in dowsing (water divining) and believes he has found the “Hong Kong of the [ancient] Greeks” in Sweden, among other things. These beliefs are documented in Wikipedia and The Guardian. Morner has over 125 publications, but pattern recognition does not appear to be among his specialties.

Moreover, speaking of “pattern recognition,” my analysis revealed some self-plagiarism by editor Ouadfeul in the very first paper the journal published, an article he himself co-authored.

Did he ask Copernicus to do something about it? Unknown, but it seems likely they would have been made aware of it. Again Copernicus is a seasoned publisher, they should have solved the problem well before it detonated into the science landscape.

So, in summary:

  1. While the idea of a special edition is fine, and certainly what science was presented in it should stand or fail on its own and have the opportunity for due process, but now that has been made next to impossible.
  2. The papers are still available at this link. I urge readers to examine them and draw their own conclusions not only about the science, but about the review and publishing process.
  3. The public perception problem of pal-review could have been prevented had either the journal itself or the people in the PRP Special Edition universe recognized and corrected the pal-review appearance that their small PRP universe presented to outsiders.
  4. At multiple blogs, including WUWT and Tallbloke’s Talkshop, some people are now defending the process of pal-review as a “more productive form of collaboration to produce a better result”. I’m sorry, that’s just not only wronger than wrong, it’s FUBAR.
  5. Copernicus and Rasmussen appeared to be indifferent to the appearance of a pal-review issue until they started to get pressure from “the team” spurred on by James Annan. They panicked, and in their panic, presented a sloppy argument for closure, which had to be revised.
  6. Knowing of the increasing sea of science journals and choices, Copernicus did what they thought they had to do to protect their brand, but they did it ham-handedly, and invited the Streisand effect.
  7. Copernicus and Rasmussen aren’t newcomers to this arena, they are considered professionals by the science community. They should have recognized this problem and acted on it long ago. Had they done so, we’d not be reading about it today.
  8. That said, with warning signs present that we’ve seen before in Climategate, and with the people in the PRP universe aware of those things, they should have been able to see the problem and make corrections themselves. Ideally, they never should have fallen into the trap in the first place.
  9. When warned about the problem, Tattersall and Wilson should have done something to head it off. They may have, I don’t know, but I see no evidence of it. Likewise it seems almost certain Copernicus/Rasmussen would have been made aware of the problem in July 2013 by Beall, and should have done something if they were aware. If Beall did nothing, he’s culpable.
  10. The coverage of the affair paints all climate skeptics unfairly, since only a small group of climate skeptics operated within the PRP universe, mostly unknown to the larger body of climate skeptics.
  11. Skepticism is about asking skillful questions to examine if a claim is true or not. In this affair we have a small group of people who think they have the answer, and they browbeat people who think their answer isn’t accurate or representative.  A good skeptic (and scientist) practices doubt, and should embrace criticisms, looking to see where they may have gone wrong.
  12. This fiasco pretty much dashes any chance of any sort of climate skeptic or citizen science based journal coming into existence, because should such a journal be started, no matter how careful, no matter how exacting, no matter how independent, this fiasco is going to be held up as an example as to why nobody from the larger science community should participate.

It’s a real mess, and instead of apologizing for creating it, what we are seeing from the PRP Special Edition universe is indignant rhetoric because nobody is paying attention to their ideas.

All around, a tragedy, and a wholly preventable one.

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Ken Hall

Amen. No science worthy of the name benefits from the corrupt practice of pal review.

James Evans

What’s the big deal with “peer review”? If you’ve got an idea, just publish it. If it stinks, people will see that. If it’s useful, then great.

flyingtigercomics

In a world with pervasive online media, why not adopt a new paradigm and publish online without peer review, but with full data and working out shown, and crowdsource peer review from the entire planet?
Mo rigour mo better.

Must be a wave pulse generator as there is this disturbance in the force.

richardscourtney

Anth0ny:
That is a good summary and I agree all you say and I applaud your conclusion which says

All around, a tragedy, and a wholly preventable one.

Thankyou for writing it.
Richard

RoyFOMR

How true that old saying, ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right’, and good on you for stepping up to the plate Anthony.
Having said that, it was no less than I would expect from you.
Thanks.

Rather than the redistribution of wealth seems they do better toward and have fine results in the redistribution of stupid.

A. Scott

Anthony … seems awfully similar to the Lewandowsky debacles. With their musical chair’s cast of peer reviewers, and ultimately the papers Editor (who was also author of a key referenced cite) ending up primary peer reviewer, … and a Journalism graduate student, who also had a paper cited and had a business relationship with Lewandowsky’s institution, a second highly sympathetic reviewer.
The same “warmist” side’s strong condemnation was conveniently missing there …

When has “pal review” ever become an issue when it is committed by Warmists? Hmmm

Crispin in Waterloo

@Anthony
“Last Friday while at work, my Inbox exploded with news about a “climate skeptic journal getting canceled”. It was news to me, because I didn’t even know there was one in existence. ”
Well, I did post a long note about it in Tips and Notes with all of the names of the papers listed.
And a link.
REPLY: With so many things and so many people vying for my attention, I don’t always see everything. Thanks nonetheless. – Anthony

DirkH

So publically available science can never explore new grounds.
Einstein wasn’t peer reviewed.
Well played, well controlled.
REPLY: You miss the point. They approached a journal that had rules, the rules were apparently violated, the journal got called out by others and yanked their support. Now the very people that violated the rules are crying foul.
They can’t have it both ways. -Anthony

Joe Public

Mods:-
A couple of typos –
“No Rog, I’m hold you to the same standard that we hold mann and others to.
1. Your the editor of a journal ………..”
‘Mann’ & ‘You’re’
REPLY: That’s Mosher’s comment, left intact for accuracy in reproduction, I’ll fix the other, thanks – Anthony

The notion that ‘pal review’ is sometimes necessary because it can be difficult to find reviewers outside of a handful of people that have the specialized knowledge needed is at times valid, but not in this case. None of papers involve highly technical or specialized subjects. Any physicist would have been qualified to review papers that are based on curve fitting, hand waving, poor or invalid statistics, impossible or implausible physics, etc. There are tens of thousands of such qualified reviewers out there. Now, it is probably the case that almost all of those would have rejected most of the papers so would disqualified by the editors on that account.

Joe Public

Mods:-
Third typo
““No Rog, I’m hold you …”
I’ll hold you

Max Roberts

Sorry, but this sort of criticism is absolutely bogus.
There is nothing in the journal editors contract (British Journal of Psychology, European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, if you must know both minor, but at least it shows I have been there) to say that there is any obligation in any way for a journal editor to choose certain sorts of people who are likely to respond in certain sorts of ways. How on earth could any journal editor comply with any such directives?
At the end of the day, whether or not a paper is accepted or rejected is the editors decision, and the editors decision alone. Any absurd appeal to any sort of pseudo-democratic process (two of the reviewers didn’t like the paper and therefore it has been voted down) isn’t just a misunderstanding of science, but it is a misunderstanding of sampling of opinion.
Anthony, you are dropping a huge clanger here. It is not about due process, the editors seemed to have followed due process in as much as the whole flawed system can legislate about it in any way.

Willis Eschenbach

First, the special edition proposes a number of fairly extraordinary ideas. Hans Jelbring is among the contestants, saying inter alia:

Energy transfer in the solar system
H. Jelbring
Tellus, Stockholm, Sweden
Abstract.
… There is evidence pointing to interactions (friction) between space and satellites [meaning planets, moons, etc.] producing volcanism.

So to start with, they would need to present extraordinary evidence for such extraordinary claims. Unfortunately, what they think is “evidence” looks like this:

The celestial bodies in the solar system are bound together by gravitational energy. Newton’s law of gravity can be used to calculate how much energy is needed to separate the plan- ets from the Sun, and the satellites from the planets. Nothing says that the total of this amount of energy has to be constant in the long run. In fact, data from planetary bodies imply that the solar system is contracting and that potential energy is lost to space. As an example, tidal friction does exist in our atmosphere and oceans. Heat escapes to space sooner or later. It is reasonable to suggest that the rotation rate of the Sun has slowed down and that Venus once rotated as Earth still does. It is known that Earth’s rotation is slowing down on a long-term bases (Marsden and Cameron, 1966). The above arguments support the notion that one energy source in our solar system is “friction” energy in a contracting solar system in which rotating bodies also loose rotational energy.

Riiiight … no numbers. No detailed exposition. No calculations. No estimate of the size of the purported effect. Just a statement that “tidal friction does exist”, and a claim that because the solar system is contracting, that “friction” has a significant effect of some kind on the climate.
Still not convinced? Want more evidence? Here you go (op. cit.) …

Processes involving energy transfer can be regarded as reversible and/or irreversible. A pendulum, for example, is switching its total energy between potential energy and ki- netic energy. Still, friction exists and the pendulum is bound to stop its motion sooner or later. Its total energy content is dissipating and lost to the environment and ultimately to space. Any planet that does not move exactly in a circular orbit is constantly switching potential energy with kinetic energy when moving from perihelion to aphelion and vice versa. The idea that these energy pulsations would create friction energy is not farfetched.

“Not farfetched”? That’s the most weight that he is putting on his theory, that it is “not farfected”?
Sigh … their Special Edition is a joke. We’ve been through Scafetta and Jelbring here on WUWT before, their ideas don’t improve by being in some special edition.
w.

Truthseeker

Wow, the hypocrisy of this post is truly mind boggling.
For years WUWT has been railing against argument from authority and demanding that the data be respected and the evidence evaluated on its merits.
The authors of this work allowed and encouraged anyone who was interested to evaluate their work, look at the data they had collected, check their methodology and comment directly with their opinions on what they had found or concluded. This is how science should be presented and the only way science should be presented.
Peer review is nothing more than argument from authority and should be considered entirely irrelevant when evaluating the science. Only the data, methodology and resulting conclusions should be used when evaluating science. Nothing else is relevant.
The hyprocrisy of the publishing house was shown hen they found out that the published article when against the IPCC establishment and withdrew the whole publication on that basis. The hypocrisy of this post is shown when it gives any value to argument by authority which is all that peer review is.
REPLY: No, you have it wrong, I still support those things, the problem here is that those folks asked to play in the peer review sandbox, didn’t abide by the rules of the sandbox, and then it exploded all over everybody when called out. – Anthony

temp

The problem is though that you have a massive propaganda campaign producing propaganda.
This journal did nothing different then hundreds of pro-cultist journal do every day.
Don’t get caught up in the propaganda stick to the facts.
Cultists do this all the time and have been caught with proof. None of their journals get cancelled.
Pound the fact that not only have they not been cancelled but in many cases have been rewarded for this behavior.
This is a great chance to demand equal treatment.
Force them to explain why its ok to do this stuff in support of the cult but not when its against.
Demand to know when other journals will start getting cancelled for this.
The hypocrisy they have displayed needs to be thrown back in their faces if you want to counter the oncoming massive propaganda campaign thats about to start.

Keith Minto

In this small field, getting impartial peer reviewers is difficult, more so if the authors are recognised as being sceptical, the pool ‘of acceptable’ reviewers being very small. I do not have an answer for this in a traditional journal format, our job as indifferent critics has just become harder.
Anthony, this is a well considered summary.

Rattus Norvegicus

You might look at the last paragraph in the publisher’s statement. That is why they ceased publication.

WUWT says, “Note there’s no distinction here of a “subset” of climate skeptics, or even “a few climate skeptics”, no, ALL climate skeptics are being painted with this fiasco. That means people like Lindzen, Spencer, Christy, the Pielkes, Curry, Singer, Happer, and many others are being lumped into this even though they had nothing to do with it. I doubt any of them even knew about it, and I daresay that if they did, they’d have similar objections to what has already been voiced on WUWT about the process.”
WUWT policy for discussion topics (see “About”/”Policy”) clearly states that the effects of planetary orbits on solar activity is forbidden.
REPLY: Right, because it almost always turns into circular shouting matches, and I grow tired of having to moderate. There’s other blogs for those topics, such as Tallblokes. – Anthony

what temp said
Comes the final EPA rules.
Like in a prior post, they have bent the truth even at Sandia Lab, Livermore Lab and Los Alamos Lab. Very big danger this bending of truth so bad.

Konrad

“The big problem with this event is that while that PRP Special Edition universe is collapsing in one place, it has exploded elsewhere, and that explosion has painted all climate skeptics with a broad brush”
It may not be as bad as you think. Blowing up Pattern Recognition may have been a mistake. The web attention could well compromise the BBC’s current “it’s the sun” escape strategy.
To every cloud a silver lining.

Peter Miller

What is sad here is that a publication that few, if any, of us (certainly not me) had ever heard has become an undeserved alarmist triumph. The science in the two articles I read makes Mann look smart.
So the sceptic cause has been damaged by a few guys behaving like alarmist ‘scientists’.
Copernicus, the publisher, was wrong for censoring the journal, but those writing for it should never have allowed themselves to stoop to alarmist levels. Seeing William Connolley – he of Wikipedia censoring infamy — crowing the way he did, turned my stomach.

Manfred

Reminds me of the Santer et al 2008 paper in the Journal of Climatology – though McGregor is still editing and Santer still carries on his cause.
http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/12/a_climatology_conspiracy.html
It may also be compared with BEST publicating in a journal noone ever heard of and perhaps desperate to publish anything.
Credits in this case, that reviewers stood with their names, something typically not happening in pal review in mainstream climate science.

Crispin in Waterloo

It is really hard to ignore the duplicity in all the agitation about pal review and a supposed, alleged, possible, corruption of the review process. The topic of the special edition is anathema to lots of people because they don’t see, in a simplistic calculation of the gravitational force a distant planet can exert on the Earth, any possible causal relationship with climate change. I have seen this simple argument presented here on WUWT several times.
It does not take long reading sets of papers on CO2 and temperature series, followed by a reading of a similar number of papers on gravitational and tidal forces, to realize that there is a heck of a lot more in planetary measurements and celestial mechanics ‘aligning’ than there is to be found when trying to do the same for CO2 and global temperature. The number of self-appointed judges about what other scientists ‘could find’ is amazing. They deny that the conversation can even take place (Journals are conversations).
The issue of keeping the journal and watching the list of contributors and editors is easily managed with a little more oversight.
The issue of how to implement the same level of due diligence on the unending stream of papers containing some pretty outrageous and speculative claims for the overpowering influence of AG CO2 is not so simple. Which fox, after all, is watching that henhouse?
It is telling indeed to see that the journal’s use of the words ‘climate skeptic’ is only as an epithet, encompassing as he does all those who are not kneeling at the altar of Holy CO2. If that is not naked bias, what is?!
This whole matter reminds me of the burning of all the Aztec libraries by the Conquistadors because, after inspection by the Catholic monks, they could “find no reference to our Lord Jesus Christ.” Well, that’s all right then, isn’t it.
I found the papers, as a group, informed, well referenced, interesting, thoughtful and exploring the known, the unknown and the unsuspected. To ‘burn’ the authors and their works figuratively, literally or in print because the articles do not contain the right genuflections says much more about the match-holders than the condemned.

Rattus Norvegicus says:
You might look at the last paragraph in the publisher’s statement. That is why they ceased publication their version, for public consumption.
There. FIFY.

Keith Minto

I avoid personal digs in my comments, very deliberately, there is a living person at the receiving end, but, to me, that list of authors should have made the editor’s hair stand on end given past performance, but it didn’t, and what a mess this is.
The review process was just the last link to fail.

john robertson

While all of what you say is true.
What does it matter?
Who even knew this journal existed?
Climatology seems to be corrupt in every way.
This home goal is almost funny as those who point and jeer at all climate sceptics, will not notice the irony of the teams precedent setting behaviour in this business of peer/pal review.
Secondly the consensus types will use any issue to dismiss all sceptics, this is what they do.
The, we are holier than thou argument, our authorities are more wonderful, more immaculate.
Peer review of published speculation on the sciences is a dead issue, a zombie of the past when the journals controlled science, what you do here at WUWT is the future of science.
Put your idea out to roam the web, let all who may; have at understanding it, attacking it, replicating the work or not.
Science wins, we as a group are richer.
Those who jeer and point the loudest,condemning all who doubt, will in the end see their derision come home to reflect their past.

Peter Miller

I am sorry, but anyone talking about planetary alignments and planetary gravitational fields affecting the Earth’s climate is talking complete hockey sticks.
This is the equivalent of Mannian Maths, or Trenberth’s heat hiding in the ocean depths; the sceptic cause does not need this crass BS associated with it.

temp

Peter Miller says:
January 19, 2014 at 3:49 pm
“I am sorry, but anyone talking about planetary alignments and planetary gravitational fields affecting the Earth’s climate is talking complete hockey sticks.
This is the equivalent of Mannian Maths, or Trenberth’s heat hiding in the ocean depths; the sceptic cause does not need this crass BS associated with it.”
This is a big extreme… and not well reasoned in facts.
“Planetary alignment” producing gravity that is “different” from non-“Planetary alignment” is easily proven both in the small and large scale. One need only place some balls swinging around a center pillar and have them spin at the rate and thus become “unbalanced” and then have stay in perfect alignment to see they produce different affects on the center pillar.
In space we can see this effect in the moons of Saturn and Jupiter as they pull against each other and such.
It is a simply fact that if the planets align they will cause different gravity forces then if they are all spread out. The question is much like CO2… its well know the gravity they shift will have an affect… but what is that affect, is it significant? Much like CO2 with warming… yeah CO2 will warm the planet but its overall meaningless. In this case we have no way to even measure the effect the gravity change will produce. Will it be significant… I personally doubt it but to say that its doesn’t exist at all is pretty much saying that you don’t believe in gravity.

Jimbo

What a bloody palaver.
My view is if we see rotten apples in our basket, throw them out. Never hand over your ammunition – they will use it to shoot you.
As for nepotism, bribery, manipulating data, withholding data, insider (family carbon) trading, UK land owner windmills, BBC getting UK 18gate government funding, re-defining what the peer review process is, getting editors sacked, wire fraud Glieck, oil funded Dana, Shell funded CRU, etc., etc., just look at what they have done over the years. The entire edifice is built on a pack of lies and half-truths.

Dr. Phil Jones – CRU emails – 5th July, 2005
The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant….”
Dr. Phil Jones – CRU emails – 7th May, 2009
‘Bottom line: the ‘no upward trend’ has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried.’

Anthony, an excellent summary and well said.
It is disappointing to see the continued support of “pal-review” here simply because the authors are skeptics and their views skeptical. This sort of behavior is both bizarre and mind-boggling. I see no reason to create further embarrassment for the members of the parties involved with verifiable charges of hypocrisy.

Bernie Hutchins

It was once explained to me that “anonymous” peer-reviewers are almost always correctly guessed on available evidence, and if they ARE KNOWLEDGEABLE of the subject matter, they are probably either your best friends (collaborators) or worst enemies (competitors). Either way, it SOMETIMES does works. This (sadly) in fact, IS the “good news”.
Oh – I guess there is more good news. If chosen more randomly you will have a reviewer who, while unlikely to be familiar enough to really HELP – may nevertheless be able to give it a pass/fail “sniff test”. Really. Perhaps this is related to what Malcolm Gladwell told us in his remarkable book “Blink”, or to Feynman’s ploy of constructing a practical parallel example in his mind when hearing a math theorem formally presented and then immediately responding “true” or “BS”, and usually being right.
Peer review is an idea whose time is long gone. It used to be that the time it took to perform it was comparable to the time it took to edit, typeset, galley-proof, print, and mail. Now it IS the only real cause of delay.
Should it really take a person of my age (late 60’s) to suggest that a change is necessary, rather than clinging to the past? And to do so on a forward-looking internet blog! Perhaps that is what is required.

NZ Willy

I suspect the sequence of events were choreographed on both sides, jointly. This is because you don’t usually get a “special edition” after just one regular edition, unless that special edition was hurriedly published to beat the impending axe. Then both sides agree to both the publication and the axe. Just my speculation.

I remember it like it was yesterday…”Why don’t you get your own blog?” (:
AGW activists seeking to create a new Scarlet Letter for skeptics should be aware that because of the hostility towards this theory on WUWT, we all ended up with two good, award winning science blogs instead of just one.

sabretruthtiger

Peter Miller, Lunar modulation of cosmic rays and solar winds is a very real phenomena and is a major factor in climate events. Planetary alignments of course are another matter.
Anyone that claims otherwise is attempting to derail the truth about the origin of climate change.
The Alarmists would have us believe that solar activity can hamper global warming but is not a driving force, that CO2 is the driving force (against all evidence of course.)
There seems to be a lot of correlation between sunspot activity/solar flares and climate change.
I hope that we can avoid the ‘Meteorologists vs Solar-caused climate change scientists’ conflict, because there seems to be a combination of Atmospheric/oceanic/tectonic/solar/lunar/electromagnetic/axial tilt and orbital elliptic cycles that drives climate and the Anthony Watts, Tallblokes and Piers Corbyns of our world have contributed to our knowledge and fought the green monster of the CAGW scam.
As for the journal one notices that they haven’t attacked the science in any way.
Because they can’t.
No Alarmist magazine has ever been withdrawn due to pal review so these actions are completely unjust. Another difference is that holes can be easily poked in warmist papers.
As the majority of climate scientists involved with peer review work for the CAGW establishment it’s hard to get a balanced panel. As the ‘skeptical’ scientists are far more interested in the truth (sacrificing unlimited funding and promotion form the AGW gravy train to become vilified, heretic skeptics) then a skeptic pal review is the most objective panel an AGW paper could possibly have.

Peter Miller

I agree with Anthony that this subject of planetary influence on the Earth’s climate is an exercise in futility.
The only influence the planets could have is by gravity. You have to remember gravity is subject to the inverse Square Law which means that Jupiter, despite its enormous size, only has a gravitational pull on the Earth about 1% of that of our moon. And that is at its closest point to the Earth, so normally it is a fraction of 1%!!!!!
As our planet rotates every 24 hours, any minuscule effect gravitational effect from the planets will be spread evenly over the Earth’s surface.
Occasional planetary alignments will not make a rat’s poo worth of difference to their gravitational impact on the Earth and less than a cockroach’s poo’s difference on our climate.

troe

If you cannot find enough qualified and willing reviewers you have to say so. You knew the rules when you signed on. The Team are human beings who put their pride and cause in front of their training.
Skeptics are human beings as well.

Anthony writes: “Note there’s no distinction here of a “subset” of climate skeptics, or even “a few climate skeptics”, no, ALL climate skeptics are being painted with this fiasco. That means people like Lindzen, Spencer, Christy, the Pielkes, Curry, Singer, Happer, and many others are being lumped into this even though they had nothing to do with it.”
Another big hurdle for skeptics to face. A shame.

I believe Jo Nova will be posting a counterview to the WUWT peer review panic tomorrow.
Meantime, anyone who prefers interesting science to hatchet jobs can freely download and review our open access papers here.
http://www.pattern-recogn-phys.net/special_issue2.html
Please leave comments about the scientific content of our work over at my website. Comments about peer review can stay here on WUWT.
Cheers
REPLY:No panic here, the only panic was at the journal. Apparently you missed the fact that I’d already posted that link with suggestion that people look at it and judge for themselves. People can leave any comments they want to here pro and con, science or non-science speaking to the fiasco you and your team created as long as they are within policy.
Unfortunately, I see apologizing for having a hand in creating this mess is beneath you, it’s almost Mannian. – Anthony

Is there a list of authors, editors, and reviewers in this post?
There are a few names scattered here and there, but not a list that I see.
If you don’t want all skeptics to be tarred with the same brush, then name names.
My brief attempt from this post and from the PRP TOC.
Sid Ali Ouadfeul: chief editor (but not listed on the cover?)
Nils-Axel Mörner: editor, author of 2, and reviewer of (x) papers.
Roger Tattersall: editor, author of 3
J. E. Solheim: editor, author of 3, and ?
H. Jelbring: author of 2, reviewer.
N. Scarfetta: author of 2 and ?
I. Charvátová: author and ?
P. Hejda: author and ?
I. R. G. Wilson: author
R. C. Wilson: author
R. J. Salvador, suthor
Author list of the conclusion, not counted in the above list.
N.-A. Mörner, R. Tattersall, J.-E. Solheim, I. Charvatova, N. Scafetta, H. Jelbring, I. R. Wilson, R. Salvador, R. C. Willson, P. Hejda, W. Soon, V. M. Velasco Herrera, O. Humlum, D. Archibald, H. Yndestad, D. Easterbrook, J. Casey, G. Gregori, and G. Henriksson
Table of Contents: http://www.pattern-recogn-phys.net/special_issue2.html

That means people like Lindzen, Spencer, Christy, the Pielkes, Curry, Singer, Happer, and many others are being lumped into this even though they had nothing to do with it.

No sense in drawing attention those these researchers who seem to have nothing to do with PRP.

NevenA

ALL climate skeptics are being painted with this fiasco. That means people like Lindzen, Spencer, Christy, the Pielkes, Curry, Singer, Happer, and many others are being lumped into this even though they had nothing to do with it.
Really? Where? Can you direct me to media reports where this happens? Or if you can’t, a handful of alarmist comment threads?

DirkH says: So publically available science can never explore new grounds.

Strawman argument, the current debate is about the peer-review process not new theories. Nothing is stopping anyone from publishing their work online and there are free, respected sites to do so (http://arxiv.org/). However, if you wish to make the argument that your paper has been peer-reviewed and published in a peer-review journal, you need to follow the procedural rules laid out and widely agreed upon by the scholarly community (which includes skeptical scientists).
As Richard Courtney pointed out, peer-review is an insurance policy for a journal.
I would like to add that it is an additional level of scientific scrutiny designed to weed out scientifically baseless claims. Like any process it can be abused and manipulated, as alarmists have done in the past using both pal-review and gate-keeping.
Now, maybe some of the commentators here are new to some of these known problems so I recommend the following reading material,
The Double Standard in Environmental Science (PDF) (Stanley W. Trimble, Ph.D. Professor of Geography)
Caspar and the Jesus paper (PDF) (Andrew W. Montford)
A Climatology Conspiracy? (David H. Douglass, Ph.D. Professor of Physics; John R. Christy, Ph.D. Professor of Atmospheric Science)
Circling the Bandwagons: My Adventures Correcting the IPCC (PDF) (Ross McKitrick, Ph.D. Professor of Environmental Economics)

Much as I admire you Anthony Watts, I have to disagree. It’s part of my wider disagreement with this whole debate and how picky and academic the whole thing is. Yes, I of course understand scientific integrity has been lost by the alarmists and your concern that “our side” shouldn’t go down the same route.
In the round, I don’t think integrity was lost in this case but given such a small pool of reviewers of a few skeptic papers who wouldn’t immediately, and without getting past the abstract, kick it out of play – we are where we are. Sorry mate, when you get a shot, you take it.
I’m an academic, who’s learnt how debased what’s laughingly called climate science actually is. Our science kills people and that was never what I signed up for.
I really don’t give a damn arguing the level field scientific merits of phrenologists or eugenicists with them – I just want to stop them dead. They’re just junk science which hurts people.
Pointman

REPLY:
I respect well phrased and polite disagreement. Thanks – Anthony

I won’t speak on the pal/peer review issues as I am in no way qualified to offer any opinion.
but there is one thing about this that really bugged me
******************************************************
Before the journal was launched, we had a long discussion regarding its topics. The aim of the journal was to publish articles about patterns recognized in the full spectrum of physical disciplines. PRP was never meant to be a platform for climate sceptics.
*********************************************************
that last sentence bothers me a lot.
the acceptance and encouragement of close mindedness is alarming to me.
anyways, thats all I will say, hope everyone is having a good day/night.

pdtillman

Thanks for keeping after this, Anthony, and revising your first take. Class act, guy!
Yes, unfortunate all around. No one involved looks very good. As you say, the skeptics/outsiders need to hold themselves to a higher standard, and apparently didn’t. Sigh.
Oh, well. Life goes on. Presume you will continue updates as needed?
Best regards,
Pete Tillman

Jimbo

Spray and clean out the dirt. The sooner it’s done the quicker it is to move on.
****** Can you imagine Warmists saying what I have just said again??????? Nahhhh.

Paul R. Johnson

To paraphrase Senator McCarthy:
Are you now, or have you ever been, a known climate skeptic?

Peter Miller says:
January 19, 2014 at 4:45 pm
Occasional planetary alignments will not make a rat’s poo worth of difference to their gravitational impact on the Earth and less than a cockroach’s poo’s difference on our climate.

If you look on wikipedia for ‘planetary orbital resonance’, you’ll find a harmonic beat of alignments is capable of transferring enough energy to shift gas giants into new orbits, or eject smaller planets from the system altogether. What our new research shows is that our solar system is transferring energy between Sun and planets which periodically alters their spin rates and eccentricities among other orbital elements. This affects climate too.