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Writing this I am becoming more convinced we should do something … I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor. A Climatic Research Unit person is on the editorial board, but papers get dealt with by the editor assigned by Hans von Storch.
Recall, this action is being taken before he has even read the whole paper even a single time.
Mike Mann replies:
The Soon and Baliunas paper couldn’t have cleared a “legitimate” peer review process anywhere. That leaves only one possibility—that the peerreview process at Climate Research has been hijacked by a few skeptics on the editorial board. And it isn’t just De Freitas; unfortunately, I think this group also includes a member of my own department… The skeptics appear to have staged a “coup” at Climate Research (it was a mediocre journal to begin with, but now it’s a mediocre journal with a definite “purpose”).
In other words, the publication of a single paper critical of their work—which is how any healthy discipline of science is supposed to work—is, automatically, evidence of a “hijacking” of an entire peer-reviewed journal.
Mann urges his colleagues to start a witch-hunt:
Folks might want to check out the editors and review editors:
[there follows a link to a page on Climate Research’s website listing the editors] Despite the paper having barely been looked at, Mann immediately starts to plan their
I told Mike MacCracken that I believed our only choice was to ignore this paper. They’ve already achieved what they wanted—the claim of a peerreviewed paper. There is nothing we can do about that now, but the last thing we want to do is bring attention to this paper, which will be ignored by the community on the whole… It is pretty clear that the skeptics here have staged a bit of a coup, even in the presence of a number of reasonable folks on the editorial board (Whetton, Goodess, …). My guess is that Von Storch is actually with them (frankly, he’s an odd individual, and I’m not sure he isn’t himself somewhat of a skeptic himself), and with Von Storch on their side, they would have a very forceful personality promoting their new vision.
There have been several papers by Pat Michaels, as well as the Soon and Baliunas paper, that couldn’t get published in a reputable journal.
This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the “peer-reviewed literature”. Obviously, they found a solution to that— take over a journal!
We now see what Mann and colleagues are so upset about: they believed that their cosy club was safe from intruders, as the only way to challenge them was to be published in a “peer-reviewed” journal—which they themselves controlled. But now that the fortifications were breached, the entire house of cards was in danger of falling down.
Mann immediately suggests black-balling the journal that dared to challenge their
So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board… So it’s OK for their gang to control the “peer review” process, but not OK for skeptics to have any say?
March 11, 2003: email 1047474776
Mike Mann writes:
I do … think there is a particular problem with Climate Research. This is where my colleague Pat Michaels now publishes exclusively, and his two closest colleagues are on the editorial board and review editor board. So I promise you, we’ll see more of this there, and I personally think there is a bigger problem with the “messenger” in this case…
Phil Jones replies:
Can we not address the misconceptions by finally coming up with definitive dates for the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period and redefining what we think the terms really mean? With all of us and more on the paper, it should carry a lot of weight. In a way we will be setting the agenda for what should be being done over the next few years.
Using their weight of numbers to “redefine” these historical periods? Is this the genesis of the Wikipedia censorship scandal?
March 12, 2003: email 1047484387 In trying to decide to which journal they would submit their attack on the Climate Research paper, Mike Mann illustrates that it is most definitely “not what you know,
but who you know” in this field of science:
Either journal would be good, but Eos (a journal) is an especially good idea. Both Ellen Mosley-Thompson and Keith Alverson are on the editorial board there, so I think there would be some receptiveness to such a submission.
… If there is group interest in taking this tack, I’d be happy to contact Ellen or Keith about the potential interest in Eos, or I’d be happy to let Tom or Phil to take the lead too… March 12, 2003: email 1047489122 Mike Mann discusses the difficulties in creating the Eos article after learning that the
different sets of results are inconsistent:
There are some notable differences …. The position of Crowley and Lowery, in particular, is quite inconsistent between our respective comparisons. … Mann now again suggests that they “cherry-pick” and present only those results that
support the message that they would like to portray:
So, in short, let’s see what we get, and then discuss any similarities or differences with your result, then make a decision as to what to show in the Eos piece.
I’m sure we can come up with something we’re all happy with… April 23, 2003: email 1051156418 Tom Wigley writes to a large number of recipients, building on the idea that every critical or skeptical paper published in the peer-reviewed literature must be due to a “conspiracy of skeptics”:
Danny Harvey and I refereed a paper by skeptic Pat Michaels and coworkers and said it should be rejected. We questioned the editor (de Freitas
again!) and he responded, saying:
The manuscript was reviewed initially by five referees. … The other three referees, all reputable atmospheric scientists, agreed it should be published subject to minor revision. Even then I used a sixth person to help me decide. I took his advice and that of the three other referees and sent the manuscript back for revision. It was later accepted for publication. The refereeing process was more rigorous than usual.
On the surface this looks to be above board—although, as referees who advised rejection, it is clear that Danny and I should have been kept in the loop and seen how our criticisms were responded to.
Again, Wigley perpetuates the arrogant myth that this small club of scientists should have the right to interfere with, and ultimately veto, the review and publication process for each and every paper published in their field. Such censorship is not how a healthy discipline of science operates; indeed, any discipline that operates in this manner is not “science” at all.
I suspect that de Freitas deliberately chose other referees who are members of the skeptics camp. I also suspect that he has done this on other occasions.
How to deal with this is unclear, since there are a number of individuals with genuine scientific credentials who could be used by an unscrupulous editor to ensure that “anti-greenhouse” science can get through the peer review process (Legates, Balling, Lindzen, Baliunas, Soon, and so on). The peer review process is being abused, but proving this would be difficult.
This is a damning admission by Wigley: he acknowledges that these skeptics have impeccable scientific credentials; the only reason that they should be banned from reviewing papers for journal publication is that they don’t buy into their dogma of global warming! This email dispels any doubt that this cosy club redefined “peers” to mean “scientists who agree with us”—which makes a mockery of the entire idea of “peer review”.
The ultimate irony in all this, of course, is that skepticism is not a scientific insult, but rather an essential tenet of the scientific method. Only in debates within dogmatic theology are sceptics branded as heretics.
April 24, 2003: email 1051190249 Tim Carter, research professor at the Finnish Environment Institute, suggests to Tom
Wigley a way of ensuring that no papers get published without their ability to veto:
On the Climate Research issue … I wonder if a review of the refereeing policy is in order. The only way I can think of would be for all papers to go through two Editors rather than one, the former to have overall responsibility, the latter to provide a second opinion on a paper and reviewers’ comments prior to publication. A General Editor would be needed to adjudicate in the event of disagreement. Of course, this could then slow down the review process enormously. However, without an editorial board to vote someone off, how can suspect Editors be removed except by the Publisher (in this case, Inter-Research, the publishers of Climate Research).
Tom Wigley replies:
Re Climate Research, I do not know the best way to handle the specifics of the editoring. Hans von Storch is partly to blame—he encourages the publication of crap science “in order to stimulate debate”. One approach is to go direct to the publishers and point out the fact that their journal is perceived as being a medium for disseminating misinformation under the guise of refereed work. I use the word “perceived” here, since whether it is true or not is not what the publishers care about—it is how the journal is seen by the community that counts.
In other words, Wigley is unambiguously advocating a “smear campaign” against the journal.
I think we could get a large group of highly credentialed scientists to sign such a letter—50+ people. Note that I am copying this view only to Mike Hulme and Phil Jones. Mike’s idea to get the editorial board members to resign will probably not work—we must get rid of von Storch too, otherwise the holes will eventually fill up with people (skeptics) like Legates, Balling, Lindzen, Michaels, Singer, etc. I have heard that the publishers are not happy with von Storch, so the above approach might remove that hurdle too.
April 24, 2003: email 1051202354 Mike Mann responds to Tom Wigley’s suggestions, again highlighting the fact that the
politics is more important than the science:
This might all seem laughable, if it weren’t the case that they’ve gotten the (Bush) White House Office of Science & Technology taking it as a serious matter (fortunately, Dave Halpern is in charge of this project, and he is likely to handle this appropriately, but not without some external pressure).
So, the conspirators are fortunate to have a man on the ground within the White House itself.
Here, I tend to concur at least in spirit … that other approaches may be necessary. I would emphasize that there are indeed, as Tom notes, some unique aspects of this latest assault by the skeptics which are cause for special concern. This latest assault uses a compromised peer-review process as a vehicle for launching a scientific disinformation campaign (often vicious and personal) under the guise of apparently legitimately reviewed science, allowing them to make use of the “Harvard” moniker in the process.
Mann’s outrage is laughable: he cannot bear to be criticized by an astrophysicist—from Harvard, no less.
However, his relief at being able to control almost all of the media is equally evident: