I’ve dished out plenty of criticisms here for bad behavior on the part of government scientists, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t carry this criticism from Retraction Watch:
Climate scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have withdrawn a study they wrote under eyebrow-raising pseudonyms.
Normally, a withdrawal wouldn’t raise our eyebrows, but climate scientist Gavin Schmidt pointed out on Twitter that the authors’ names are eerily similar to another pair who have published climate papers together: Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller. Yes, that’s correct — Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez are Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller spelled backwards. Nikolov and Zeller are currently listed as a physical scientist and a meteorologist, respectively, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The notice doesn’t state the reason for withdrawal, and Pascal Willis, editor-in-chief of Advances in Space Research from the Earth Physics Institute in Paris, France, referred us to the study’s authors for more information. Elsevier, which publishes Advances in Space Research, confirmed that the paper was retracted due to an “authorship issue” — namely, that the authors had used pseudonyms.
We used the contact information listed on the paper for “Den Volokin,” and got this response:
The paper went through a normal blind peer-review and was accepted based on its scientific value. I might be able to discuss the actual reasons for the withdrawal at a later time with you, but not at the moment.
The notice for “Emergent model for predicting the average surface temperature of rocky planets with diverse atmospheres,” which was issued before the paper could be published in print, reads:
This article has been withdrawn upon common agreement between the authors and the editors and not related to the scientific merit of the study. The Publisher apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause.
Volokin and ReLlez are listed as based at Tso Consulting; one version of the retracted paper includes an address in Salt Lake City. When we searched for the address, we found an apartment unit on realtor.com.
Volokin noted that the paper is now under consideration at “another major journal.”
Schmidt, who is a climatologist at NASA, told us he came across the now-retracted paper because it cites another paper co-authored by Volokin and ReLlez, “On the average temperature of airless spherical bodies and the magnitude of Earth’s atmospheric thermal effect,” published in 2014 in SpringerPlus. (A side note:SpringerPlus stopped accepting papers earlier this year.)
Submitting a paper with your names reversed? I’m sorry… This. is. just. stupid. And I agree with Gavin, the paper itself is nonsense. Their work has been the same sort of “pressure rules the temperature of planetary atmospheres” nonsense that the irascible Doug Cotton pushes…under multiple fake names to try to get attention, here and elsewhere. Now they seem to have followed his lead.
I’ve had experience with these two people, Nikolov and Zeller before….and it has not been a good experience. There’s some behind the scenes ugliness they presented in email that I don’t plan to talk about. That’s why I don’t carry their views anymore and never will again, that’s doubly true now after this sad move with the fake names.
Here’s an interview with Nikolov
Here are some blog bosts at WUWT discussing their claims:
(added) Travelling through other dimensions where Willis Eschebach takes on this paper with the reversed names directly.(h/t to Nick Stokes for the reminder)
A Matter of Some Gravity
The Mystery of Equation 8
N&Z reply to Willis at Tallbloke’s
And this is what got it all started, a poster that I now wish I never paid attention to:
Unified Theory of Climate
The recent London Climate Conference put together by Nils Axel Morner featured their work:
A New Planetary Temperature Model and Its Implications for the Greenhouse Theory
When I saw that, plus the paper from Oliver Manuel, I knew then I would not attend this conference, even if invited.
Stunts like this gives fodder to critics. Had they just published their paper under regular names, it would have succeeded or failed on its own merits, that’s how science is supposed to work. Instead, the stunt has become the issue, not the science.
[UPDATE] I trust that Anthony won’t mind if I add a bit of backstory which even he doesn’t know. This is that I was the one who wrote to the Editor of the paper and notified them of the imposture. I couldn’t find an email address, so I sent it by their web contact form:
|Sujet :||FW: Feedback form submission|
|Date :||Tue, 8 Sep 2015 08:56:55 +0000|
|De :||Stewart, Rosie (ELS-EXE) <email@example.com>|
|Pour :||firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>|
|Copie à :||Stoop, Jose (ELS-AMS) <J.Stoop@elsevier.com>|
|Comments:||Your support and contact page contains no contact information, so I am sending this information to you. If you’d be so kind, could you pass it on to the relevant editor(s) of Advances in Space Research. I write to officially inform you that the authors of the following manuscript are not who they claim to be: Advances in Space Research Available online 18 August 2015 In Press, Corrected Proof — Note to users “Emergent model for predicting the average surface temperature of rocky planets with diverse atmospheres” Den Volokin, Lark ReLlez http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0273117715005712 In fact, they are not scientists named Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez. They are two people named Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller. You can confirm this in two ways. First, simply reverse the letters of the names. Or, you could take a look at at the post called “A Unified Theory of Climate”, by Nikolov and Zeller, at https://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/29/unified-theory-of-climate/ There you will find a similar (but not identical) claim that a multi-parameter model fitted to a small number of data points reveals climate relationships heretofore unknown to science. I have no idea why Nikolov and Zeller have chosen to perpetrate this deception. From the outside, it appears to be an attempt to validate their theory by making it seem like two independent scientists have discovered the same thing that they previously wrote about. But regardless of their motives, I find publishing original work in a scientific journal under false names to be a truly bizarre action on their part. I hope and trust that this was not known to you, and that you will take the appropriate steps to end their charade. Best regards, Willis Eschenbach|
The Editor replied:
thanks for your email.
I am investigating this problem and should be able to come back to you soon.
Pascal Willis, Ph.D.-habil.
And now, we have the denouement … so yes, folks, one person can indeed make a difference in this world, the web makes giants of us all.
Regards to everyone,