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Earth Science Politics

Journal Editor Resigns Over Flawed Global Warming Paper 396

Posted by Soulskill
from the owning-up dept.
Layzej writes "Remote Sensing Editor-in-Chief Wolfgang Wagner resigned earlier today (PDF) over a global warming study published in his journal that was said to cast doubt on global warming models but was later found to be flawed. Wagner stated that the paper most likely contained fundamental methodological errors and false claims. He further expressed dismay over how 'the authors and like-minded climate skeptics have much exaggerated the paper's conclusions in public statements.' The author of the paper, Dr. Roy Spencer, has responded to the resignation."
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Journal Editor Resigns Over Flawed Global Warming Paper

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  • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Friday September 02, 2011 @05:28PM (#37291516)
    I don't know why you guys argue about this. The world's gonna end in 2012 anyway, who cares about the climate?
    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      I believe this is the current rationale at the Fed, too.
    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday September 02, 2011 @06:01PM (#37291830)

      I don't know why you guys argue about this. The world's gonna end in 2012 anyway, who cares about the climate?

      Actually, Jesus is (re)scheduled to come back before this year is out, so all us Lisp programmers won't even care about next year's weather, let alone climate change.[*]

      [*] Lisp being God's preferred programming language, as everyone should know. (Presumably making the righteous choice on that will get you rapturized as surely as making the righteous choice about which religion to join.)

    • Re:You know... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bmo (77928) on Friday September 02, 2011 @06:14PM (#37291906)

      Actually, that's not far from the truth when it comes to the likes of the Know-Nothing "Hyperchristian" Republicans. You know the ones, the Palins, the Perrys, the Bachmanns, all the ones that sign up for the Dominionist/Reconstructionist "christian warrior" woo-woo Rushdoony claptrap.

      Because they honestly, truly, believe that the end of the world is nigh and you may as well loot the planet before you're yanked bodily from Earth. The future of Earth is going to be full of raining blood and plagues anyway. Worrying about the future of the Earth in 100 years is a load of horse-shit to them because they'll be sitting at the right hand of Jesus while the Tribulation is happening.

      Or so they hope.

      --
      BMO

      • Re:You know... (Score:4, Informative)

        by rtb61 (674572) on Friday September 02, 2011 @09:59PM (#37293504) Homepage

        The only things those kinds of people believe in is their own greed. Once their rich, grow old and die, as far as they are concerned the world can choke to death on the pollution they created to get rich, even if it takes their own children and grand children's lives.

        Those people are either narcissists or psychopaths either way, they don't care about the chaos they create, the lies they tell or the people that die along the way to them getting rich. A substantial Tea Bagger segment of the Republican party has turned into nothing more than 'the bug con' with it's political members not interested in anything else but getting rich and will tell any lie, no matter how ludicrous, to do it. Even when caught out they, just like your typical conman shameless repeat it, again and again and again.

        As the rest of the world watches on via the internet, those blatant narcissist are making a public mockery of the US political process.

        • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bmo (77928) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @03:31AM (#37294816)

          >The only things those kinds of people believe in is their own greed.

          See, that's what's so great about Dominionism. It justifies their greed. Really, it does. Suddenly the whole worship of Mammon is A-Okay and righteous. This peculiar bit of philosophy is exhibited in the Merchant Church or otherwise known as the "Prosperity Gospel." It's all Dominionsm and Reconstructionism. It is the seeking of power and money on Earth to advance a particular brand of "christianity" (I don't dare give it a capital C) that is diametrically opposed to anything you or I have read in the Bible. And they mean to force all of us to toe the line, by the sword if necessary.

          I am an agnostic/soft atheist, but I particularly like the book of John, and I can't see where they come up with the justification for any of their bullshit. They are the American Taliban.

          --
          BMO

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Friday September 02, 2011 @05:42PM (#37291644)

    the paper most likely contained fundamental methodological errors and false claims."

    So, he resigned without bothering to find out for sure whether the paper in question contained fundamental methodological errors and/or false claims?

    I can see resigning as editor because "I screwed up by allowing fundamentally unsound science into my magazine", but I have a hard time with resigning because it MIGHT have been bad (but he's not sure).

    • Re:Most likely? (Score:5, Informative)

      by very1silent (2194890) on Friday September 02, 2011 @05:49PM (#37291714)
      He is pretty sure:

      The problem is that comparable studies published by other authors have already been refuted in open discussions and to some extend also in the literature (cf. [7] [ucar.edu]), a fact which was ignored by Spencer and Braswell in their paper and, unfortunately, not picked up by the reviewers.

      • Re:Most likely? (Score:5, Informative)

        by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday September 02, 2011 @05:55PM (#37291766) Journal

        Let's take the mitts off here. Spencer is a posterboy for the Heartland Institute, and so basically an oil company shill.

        • ID (Score:5, Informative)

          by microbox (704317) on Friday September 02, 2011 @06:11PM (#37291892)
          He is also an intelligent designer.
          • Ouch. Double whammy.
        • by haruchai (17472)

          Spencer's results, conclusion or methodology anywhere near as much as how it was announced - in FORBES, of all places, by a senior shill for the Heartland Institute. I lost count of how many times "alarmist" was written in a half-page article.

          http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2011/07/27/new-nasa-data-blow-gaping-hold-in-global-warming-alarmism/ [forbes.com]

        • Oh poop. Science needs to be evaluated on it's scientific merits, not on the basis of how it was funded.

      • What's bizarre though is they didn't redact the paper. So.....it's so awfully wrong and terrible that the editor feels the need to resign over it, but it's not awfully wrong and terrible enough to be redacted? That doesn't make sense.
    • Re:Most likely? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sponge Bath (413667) on Friday September 02, 2011 @06:02PM (#37291836)

      FTA: "...research was not properly peer-reviewed and wrongly accepted"

      The core of the matter is the paper was given credence by its publication, which is supposed to be backed by a review process. It never received that, the reputation of the publication was harmed and the person responsible is resigning.

    • Re:Most likely? (Score:4, Informative)

      by microbox (704317) on Friday September 02, 2011 @06:31PM (#37292090)
      Not only he fairly sure the claims of the paper is wrong, he took issue with the way THE AUTHORS overtly politicised the paper through exaggerated claims. In his own words:

      With this step I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements, e.g., in a press release of The University of Alabama in Huntsville from 27 July 2011 [2], the main author’s personal homepage [3], the story “New NASA data blow gaping hole in global warming alarmism”

      I guess Wagner felt he was the victim of a climate denial drive-by shooting. We see this phenomena all the time in intelligent design. Publish a "rebuttal" in a little known non-mainstream journal, and then press-release the hell out of it. Note that the author, Roy Spencer, is also an intelligent designer too.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      It's about the only way to imply something is a complete pack of lies without getting sued.
  • Major ice sheets are evaporating, and there's someone in the wild that says, "hay, this is normal, don't worry." And then another person says, "Hay, this is great publishing!" It's like being in a theater and someone yells, "Fire!" and then a chorus of voices blocking the Exits screams, "There is no Fire!"
  • Why did he resign? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday September 02, 2011 @05:57PM (#37291798)

    For most journals this wouldn't be an editor's fault, unless they used bad judgment choosing the reviewers, or ignored negative reviews and published it anyway.

    Reviewers wouldn't resign because they're not part of the staff, but the editors should avoid inviting someone to review again if they passed a bad paper. (And that can happen for non-ideological reasons. It's really hard to get qualified people to invest the time required for a thorough review. I've gotten feedback where one reviewer wrote two pages and another wrote two sentences.

    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday September 02, 2011 @06:05PM (#37291858)

      And I should add...

      Even passing a good review doesn't mean that a paper is correct. Reviewers are not expected to re-do the authors' work, and some ideas that seem sound at the time of publication just turn out to be wrong.

      But if a paper states something that is known to be wrong at the time it is reviewed, the reviewers should catch it. Assuming they're qualified.

  • Roy Spencer again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Friday September 02, 2011 @06:07PM (#37291872) Homepage
    The paper in question was written by Roy Spencer. Aside from his views on climate change he's also a vocal proponent of intelligent design. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Spencer_(scientist)#Views_on_intelligent_design [wikipedia.org] and what he calls "the theory of creation". While in a strict formal logic setting ad hominem attacks are not useful, they are a relevant heuristic to decide if someone knows what they are talking about. In this context, it seems pretty clear that Spencer lets his ideological allegiances dictate beliefs instead of careful scientific thinking. There's a certain point where you just stop assigning large amounts of weight to claims made by an individual because they've demonstrated repeated failure before. Spencer is past that point.
    • Who gives a flying fart if he supports ID. A whole shitload of great science has been done by religious people. Like Einstein and Newton. It is a complete red herring to assert that his science is no good because he also holds religious beliefs.

      The science is either right or wrong on it's own merits. Period.

      • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
        Who gives a flying fart if he supports ID. A whole shitload of great science has been done by religious people. Like Einstein and Newton. It is a complete red herring to assert that his science is no good because he also holds religious beliefs.

        First, Einstein wasn't religious in any traditional sense. He did occasionally have his deistic moments, and his views changed over time. (He was like most humans in this regard. There's a mistake in viewing him as some monolith. That's why there are so many duelin

        • Wow. That was one of the best defenses of ad hominem arguments I have ever seen.

          But it still doesn't fly.
        • Applying hueristics to decide what science is worthwhile?

          How about an article written by someone with these credentials:

          XXX is a principal research scientist for University of Alabama in Huntsville. In the past, he served as Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASAâ(TM)s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. XXX is a recipient of NASAâ(TM)s Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement.

          That's Roy Spencer. So your Heuristics are a big old wonking FAIL.

          You win the award for the mos

  • Flawed? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Friday September 02, 2011 @06:14PM (#37291910)

    For all the drama of the editor's resignation letter, he seems to be awfully vague about any actual flaws in the paper. Citing argument against it somewhere on the intarwebs as a reason not to publish it is like asserting that no pro-AGW papers should ever be printed because of wattsupwiththat.com.

    Any relatively intelligent warmists want to break down for us specific flaws in the paper?

    • Read Spencer's own blog, where three or four other climatologists tear his claims apart. But do it quick. Spencer, I suspect, won't let any post that isn't from like minded ideologues survive long.

    • by pnot (96038)

      For all the drama of the editor's resignation letter, he seems to be awfully vague about any actual flaws in the paper.

      If you want a peer-reviewed rebuttal you'll have to wait till next week when Andrew Dessler's paper is due to appear in Geophysical Research Letters -- the wheels of peer review grind slowly, which is why blogs tend to get used for more instantaneous responses. If you are happy with a non-peer-reviewed rebuttal by two respected climate scientists go here [realclimate.org].

      Citing argument against it somewhere on the intarwebs as a reason not to publish it is like asserting that no pro-AGW papers should ever be printed because of wattsupwiththat.com.

      The difference here is that Anthony Watts is not only not a respected climate scientist but not in fact a climate scientist at all.

      • Realclimate is difficult to take seriously - simply asserting that a model is too simple seems a critique that should be heeded by the various climate modelers out there who don't have any sort of realistic cloud modeling at all. It's not an identification of a flaw, it's hand waving.

        I certainly can tell that Realclimate wishes to interpret the results in a different light than Spencer, but they haven't addressed the central questions regarding the flaws of the models we currently have. It seems less of a

    • Any relatively intelligent warmists want to break down for us specific flaws in the paper?

      Any relatively literate reactionaries want to do their own research?

      • I did the research, and didn't find any flaws. Now do you want to enumerate the flaws you've found, or do you simply expect people to take it on faith?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The following is taken from Desmogblog [desmogblog.com]

    Spencer and the “Interfaith Stewardship Alliance”
    Spencer is listed as a “scientific advisor” for an organization called the “Interfaith Stewardship Alliance” (ISA). According to their website, the ISA is “a coalition of religious leaders, clergy, theologians, scientists, academics, and other policy experts committed to bringing a proper and balanced Biblical view of stewardship to the critical issues of environment and d

    • I don't give a rat's ass where someone get's their funding from. Calling out a person on those grounds is a classical red herring and is totally irrelevant as a means of evaluating their science.

      What is important is whether or not the science in the article is right or not. Nothing else. Not the personality of the author, what he writes in his blog, how the article was publicized, yadda yadda.

      The fact is there has been damn little written on the most salient point - the science.

      So what if some guy editing t

  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Friday September 02, 2011 @06:22PM (#37292000) Homepage Journal
    I read the response by Dr. Roy Spencer. I even went so far as to read some of the comments on his site and his responses to those comments. Regardless of whether Spencer's work is flawed or not, he handles himself like a juvenile blogger driven by ideaology rather than a professional scientist interested in research. At one point he bans another commenter from continued comments for raising issues with Spencer's original paper. Upon banning the commenter, he proudly proclaims in all caps,

    CONGRATULATIONS, OBSCURITY, YOU ARE THE FIRST TO BE BANNED FROM THIS SITE. THE CHARGE IS EITHER (1) CHRONIC IGNORANCE, OR (2) MALICIOUS OBFUSCATION. YOUR CHOICE.

    Reading the whole discussion is like watching the dick-waving comments go back and forth on Youtube, or like watching a transcript from a Bill O'Reilly episode where the guest speakers just yell at each other until someone gets their mic cut off.

    This kind of petty bickering has got to stop if we're ever going to make any progress in this country again. We have to stop putting value in the antics of drama queens. It may have been cute in high school politics but this kind of crap is going to render our country irrelevant if it keeps going on much longer. (And for the pedants and assholes, I am American, so I use the term, "our country," to refer to the United States).

    • Re:Uggggggh! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday September 02, 2011 @06:28PM (#37292060) Journal

      Well, more to the point, read his critics, who he seems determined to ban. They are making cogent points, calling him on his methodological failings, and he's basically sticking his fingers in his ears and shouting "Neener neener neener!" and basically claiming that the IPCC is screwing with him.

      As I said, Spencer is a shill, and his peers know this. He's the Michael Behe of climatology, except even Behe is smarter than to try to get any of his ID bullshit published in any biology or molecular biology journals. Of course, Behe's benefactors don't have the vast sums of wealth that the oil companies do.

      • No, I get all that. I suppose I am just venitng my frustrations about the fact that, at some point in my younger years, I imagined issues important to society at large would be met by people with some semblence of mature discourse. The fact that both politics at our national level and a matter of scientific research are being governed by the same types of argumentation that prevailed when I was 16 and my peers motivations were fueled primarily by hormones is grossing me out.
        • I *so* agree with you. As "adults" we like to believe in all the crazy people out there, not aware that we /all/ suffer under the weight of delusions. The buddhists refer to this as the 2nd noble truth, which is part of the *core* buddhist teaching. (All buddhist teachings fit into the 4 nobles truths.) The origin of suffering *is* about false beliefs, and how they 'cause us to suffer in samsara forever.

          Politics suffers under a chronic failure to listen, and the most puerile level of argumentation demands
      • Hmm. I've read Spencer's retort and the comments that follow. He issued a ban on a *single* individual on this topic. More to the point, I could barely find any cogent criticism of his work in that discussion. The one half-way salient link I did see was from William Connolley [google for this guy's history on Wikipedia for some fun] to a realclimate.org article, a site so infamous for selective editing and outright censorship of awkward questions that people have had to set up other sites to fully recor

  • For every study that says global warming is real there is funding behind it and researchers who need more funding to keep doing what they're doing. The same can be said for studies disproving global warming theories. At this point Occam's Razor could be applied. Is it more likely that humans are affecting the climate or is it more likely that Nature with far more power than humans have yet achieved is the cause?

    • by dcollins (135727)

      "Is it more likely that humans are affecting the climate or is it more likely that Nature with far more power than humans have yet achieved is the cause?"

      What a stupid fuckin' argument. Riffs:
      - "Did humans cause the dodo to go extinct, or did Nature with far more power than humans do so?"
      - "Did humans bring disease to Native Americans, or did Nature with far more power than humans do so?"
      - "Did humans create the internal combustion engine, or did Nature with far more power than humans do so?"

      Fucking please.

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