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Alleging 'Malpractice' With Climate Skeptic Papers, Publisher Kills Journal 314

Posted by timothy
from the public-scrutiny dept.
sciencehabit writes "A European publisher today terminated a journal edited by climate change skeptics. The journal, Pattern Recognition in Physics, was started less than a year ago. Problems cropped up soon afterward. In July, Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, noted 'serious concerns' with Pattern Recognition in Physics. As he wrote on his blog about open-access publishing, Beall found self-plagiarism in the first paper published by the journal. 'In addition,' says another critic, 'the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis, which we regard as malpractice in scientific publishing.'"
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Alleging 'Malpractice' With Climate Skeptic Papers, Publisher Kills Journal

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  • Anonymous Coward (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:20PM (#45994301)

    Sea level temp. hash't raised much in recent years because we haven't had an el nino year (a year in which heat from the ocean moves into the atmosphere) in recent years, yet we have managed to get year equal or even slightly surpassing the last el nino year. Arguing global warming has ended because of no el nino years is like arguing global warming has ended because winter has not been any warmer the summer 6 months ago.

  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:23PM (#45994311) Homepage Journal

    there can be no dissenting opinion because the science is SETTLED!

    *fist banging*

    There is a consensus. Now repeat after me.

    There is a consensus.
    There is a consensus.
    There is a consensus.

  • by artor3 (1344997) on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:23PM (#45994313)

    Curious minds want to know what sort of "self-plagarism" in a journal's content rates shutting the journal down.

    Apparently not curious enough to read the fine article.

    The editors of the journal copy-pasted from an earlier work without crediting their earlier coworkers. So "Ouadfeul, Aliouane, Hamoudi, Boudella, and Eladj" became just "Ouadfeul and Aliouane".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:34PM (#45994407)

    One can easily say the same thing about liberals an GMO's.

    No, the issue is there are so many dumbfucks alive today that they actually have power (thanks democracy!)

  • by hey! (33014) on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:40PM (#45994449) Homepage Journal

    The issue isn't dissent. The issue is malpractice. The authors rehashed their old papers without crediting the old papers' co-authors, and the peer reviewers tampered with the review process to favor their own or colleagues' papers.

  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:42PM (#45994469)

    That's exactly what they told Galileo.

  • by zidium (2550286) on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:56PM (#45994583) Homepage

    Hmm. I'm neither liberal nor conservative, and I do not see the evidence for Anthropogenic Global Warming (tho it does seem as though the Solar system is warming), however, I also see tons of evidence that genetically modified foods are deletrious to the biosphere, human health, etc.

    What does that make me?

  • by bunratty (545641) on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:57PM (#45994609)
    What you're missing is that it's evidence that results in changing the accepted scientific view. If you want to claim an accepted scientific view is incorrect, simply show the evidence. A snarky remark just won't cut it. Sorry.
  • by bunratty (545641) on Friday January 17, 2014 @10:05PM (#45994695)
    Do you have some evidence that journals are trying to silence climate skeptics? Don't journals publish papers from well-known skeptics such as Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer? If there actually was some sort of conspiracy, I think a skeptic that had good evidence would be able to simply put his papers on the web for all to see, yet I never see any posts pointing me to an article such as that.
  • The issue here is that the ideas have been picked apart long ago by the scientific community. But these journals are not meant to address the scientific community. They exist to provide industrial boilerplate as quote fodder for politicians and pundits. The real target is people who don't know any better. Even when the journal has been discredited, they will still quote it, because few people will know that it has been discredited.

    A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth has its boots on. That is the whole point of efforts like these.

  • by meerling (1487879) on Friday January 17, 2014 @10:36PM (#45995043)
    Actually I haven't seen ANY evidence of negative results from genetically modified organisms that has withstood scientific scrutiny.
    On the other hand, Global warming has had significant scrutiny, and it still stands with around 100% support with the experts in that field, the climatologists.

    After all, if you are asking questions about rocks you consult a geologist, not a dentist. So why are so many people listening to the dentist that disagrees with the worlds climatologists.

    I've heard some people say there's a conspiracy. Maybe, but it's not among the scientists. Don't forget that the scientists get nothing from it whether it exists or not, they are dedicated to the scientific principle where the theories must be supported by the evidence, and they often quibble about details and would dearly love to find something to prove everyone else wrong and themselves the founder of a new discovery.

    Don't forget that Scientific Journals have to meet certain criteria to be accepted. That criteria is not based on whether or not it makes other scientists happy or sad, but rather that it is properly attributed and backed by evidence. In this case, it also looks like one of the reasons that one got canned was because it was consistently off topic, and with troll articles not backed by evidence. Then there's that whole self-plagiarizing thing. I'm not sure to consider that repeating the same dross while trying to flog it off as new, or doing a bit of circular logic by using yourself as reference for your self is the worst part of this mess, but no matter how you look at it, both are bad and definitely violations of Scientific Journals.
    So hey, if you can't follow the rules and meet the requirements, you're going to get bounced. Don't like it? Well maybe you shouldn't have tried to scam the system.
  • by laird (2705) <lairdp&gmail,com> on Friday January 17, 2014 @10:46PM (#45995099) Journal

    What an odd claim. In the real world, disproving a widely believed theory is a huge success that will make the scientist famous, sell lots of copies of magazines, etc., while doing research that supports what everyone knows doesn't get you much at all. In science, the incentive is _always_ to challenge the status quo. Add in that the oil companies are paying scientists extremely well if they can produce research to disprove global warming, and you'd think that if there was anything to the anti-global-warming theories there would be plenty of proof getting published because people like getting famous and paid well. If, despite all the incentives, there's no credible anti-global-warming research getting published in any scientific journals, that probably means that there's no credible way to support their arguments.

    Yes, everyone has biases. That's why the scientific method is designed assuming that everyone has biases, so the truth must be based on facts and on multiple, independent scientists ability to reproduce experiments to validate them. The science doesn't care what your motivations or biases are. And no matter what your biases are, other teams' motivation and bias is to prove that you are wrong. And peer review panels' motivation is to not let any flawed research get published. So everyone's competing agendas end up countering each other, and the truth emerges from that competition, validated as the truth not due to popularity, but due to being able to withstand scrutiny and be validated. In science, popularity doesn't matter, being right matters, and right can be objectively measured.

    Pretty much the opposite of politics. Which is probably why politicians can behave in ways that seem so absurd to a scientist, such as by promoting as "truth" something that's clearly not true, but which furthers a personal agenda. Which is effective for politicians, because the truth can't be objectively determined most of the time. But if scientists promote as "truth" something that's clearly not true, but which furthers a personal agenda, someone else comes along, proves that they're right and the first guy is wrong, and the first guy loses and the truth wins. And while individuals are imperfect, the system as a whole works remarkably well, getting us advancing at a remarkable rate scientifically for hundreds of years.

    If only someone could work out a system for politics that worked as well...

  • by PPH (736903) on Friday January 17, 2014 @10:54PM (#45995171)

    there can be no dissenting opinion because the science is SETTLED!

    Then it isn't real science. Theories are always up for review and revision in the face of new evidence and research.

    Yes, there are some people who attempt to re-submit old, refuted work in an attempt to get it into the public record. But others have legitimate complaints in that their original research doesn't get much more that a response of, "Shut up! This has been settled."

    Sadly, sometimes one does have to repeat themselves, more slowly and with simpler words to get everyone to understand them.

    P.S. I think you forgot your <sarcasm> tags.

  • by bunratty (545641) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:07PM (#45995269)
    I said nothing about whether science is or is not corrupt. In either case, when public opinion (or popularity) in science changes, it is due to evidence. Mere innuendo will not change popular opinion -- only solid evidence will do it. It may take some time, as in the cases of tectonic plate theory or H. pylori causing ulcers, but in the end it's the evidence that changed hearts and minds, not mere rhetoric.
  • by laird (2705) <lairdp&gmail,com> on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:14PM (#45995309) Journal

    That's not how science works. There are "revolutions" in science, disproving consensus, regularly. Because in science, popularity isn't relevant, being provably right is what matters. And, if anything, the incentives are strongly towards disproving what everyone believes, because they guy that pulls that off just proved that he's smarter and more right than everyone else, which gets him published, winning awards, etc. Scientists all need to do original research, since they don't publish the other kind, and disproving what everyone believes is HIGHLY original, while agreeing with what everyone believes is true is only marginally valuable, but isn't going to make anyone famous or rich. So you get some really weird theories (relativity, for example, etc.) that overturn the consensus because they're provably right, and amazingly enough, it's a virtue in a scientist that they change their mind when confronted with evidence that disproves their previous beliefs, and a career-ending failure to not to so. So all of the incentives are to disprove consensus, and then when that's successful for other scientists to take up the newly proven position.

    Add to that the oil companies paying researchers tons of money to write anything that "disproves" global warming, and the complete lack of peer-reviewed research that disproves global warming probably means that there's not enough support for that position to stand up to any peer review at all.

    Heck a publisher TRIED to run a journal dedicated to anti-global-warning research. The fact that they could only find an oil industry hack, and a bunch of "scientists" who used it as an opportunity to hire their buddies, and writers who tried to pass off old work as "original research" doesn't speak well to to the credibility of the people or the research supporting the anti-global-warming position.

  • by sunyjim (977424) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:19PM (#45995329)
    Yes. Lets try this on for size. We have been coming out of the last ice age for ALL of human history. "An ice age, or more precisely, a glacial age, is a period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental and polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers. Within a long-term ice age, individual pulses of cold climate are termed "glacial periods" (or alternatively "glacials" or "glaciations" or colloquially as "ice age"), and intermittent warm periods are called "interglacials". Glaciologically, ice age implies the presence of extensive ice sheets in the northern and southern hemispheres.[1] By this definition, we are still in the ice age that began 2.6 million years ago at the start of the Pleistocene epoch, because the Greenland, Arctic, and Antarctic ice sheets still exist.[2]" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_age [wikipedia.org] Once we have said that we know the general slope of temperature has been warmer for a steady 2.6 million years. Yes there is some fluctuation with minor times getting colder or warmer. But global climate not weather over centuries has been warmer and warmer. We know that it will continue in general terms to get warmer than it is currently until there are no glaciers, no sea ice, no ice caps at all. Having said that, and you can check, it's fact. How much would you bet that a trace gas, measured in parts per million, representing 0.04% of the atmosphere and created by humans for perhaps the last 200 years of that 2.6 million years actually has anything at all even slightly to do with why we are coming out of this ice age? If you knew these facts how many scientists would you pay to do research on that trace atmospheric gas and it's affect on long term global climate? Yes climatology would fall apart pretty quickly.
  • by bunratty (545641) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:46PM (#45995545)
    Yeah, like string theory. Currently, there's no evidence to support string theory, so we don't use it in engineering calculations. We do use Newtonian physics, relativity, and quantum mechanics, because those theories have lots of evidence to support them. Only highly theoretical physicists take string theory seriously (or really consider it at all), and they all realize it could be completely wrong. That's why they're attempting to devise experiments to test it.
  • by NatasRevol (731260) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @12:36AM (#45995871) Journal

    "hiding" the decline.

    http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence [nasa.gov]

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/records/ [noaa.gov]

    Yet, we keep getting more low temps and even more high temps - more weather extremes - just as predicted.

  • by ApplePy (2703131) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @01:42AM (#45996229)

    From your very article:

    “We estimate that around 90% of the literature on which the conclusions of the report are based is on non-industry funded, peer-reviewed research,” said Sofie Vanthournout, head of the Brussels office of EASAC.

    In other words... 90% of the research in this study was non-industry-funded, not 90% of all research on the subject. There's a big difference between the two.

    Also from the very next paragraph in your linked article:

    “In this specific case, extra care was taken in order to ensure that none of the experts had strong ties with industry, although a certain level of industry connections cannot be completely excluded,” she told EurActiv

    Unless they specifically define the phrase "strong ties with industry", which is entirely vague and subjective, I'm going to give a pass on believing it.

    But, guess what happens when we cherry-pick quotes from articles! Here, I present a single sentence from YOUR article:

    A study by researchers at the University of Caen found that rats fed on Monsanto's NK603 GM maize or exposed to the company's top-selling Roundup weed killer were at higher risk of suffering tumours, multiple organ damage and premature death.

    Ah, there we go. See what I did there? I picked a different sentence to quote, so now they support MY position! ROFL! :-D

    Meanwhile, I'll continue to do my research, as always... maybe you can work on your reading comprehension. Mmmkay? Ciao!

  • by jandersen (462034) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @04:09AM (#45996757)

    And, if anything, the incentives are strongly towards disproving what everyone believes, because they guy that pulls that off just proved that he's smarter and more right than everyone else, which gets him published, winning awards, etc.

    I agree - an here's a contemporary example that I think everybody already knows about: the conflict between General Relativity (GR) and Quantum Mechanics (QM) - those two theories being fundamentally incompatible. For a long time, now, those in favour of QM have tried in every way to disprove GR, even to the extent that you can find numerous articles along the lines of "this is another symptom of GR being wrong". Now, personally, I favour GR as being the more fundamentally sound theory, but I have to admit that the "QM side" is scientifically sound in their attacks. In my view this conflict is a good illustration of how real science works, and it is also a very prominent example of how even the most popular, scientific theories are not safe from good, honest criticism. It also demonstrates why climate deniers, creationists and the like are not taken serious: the just don't have what it takes, scientifically. They can make noise and bluster, and that can fool the popular view for a while, but they don't have any true evidence.

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @04:14AM (#45996769)

    Hardly. Mathematics is a construct based on pure logic, the foundations are absolutely, unquestionably true *because we say so* - any similarities to the physical world are pure coincidence, or (more likely) the result of choosing a set of axioms that aligns with our understanding of the world. Mathematics makes no attempt to describe what we would normally consider "reality", rather it is concerned with exploring the logical implications of an arbitrary set of axioms. Importantly there is no possible way to experimentally test the validity of an axiom, the very idea is preposterous - an axiom is by definition valid, only it's applicability to "real world" problems can be called in to question, and that's not a question that can be answered within the context of Mathematics.

    Physics and the other hard sciences *are* concerned with describing reality, that they generally do that within the language of mathematics is a credit to the value and clarity of applied mathematics (that field based on axioms that seem to reflect. Theoretical physics ventures much further afield, and often involves even more ornate mathematics than applied physics, but it continues to be bound by an attempt to describe a reality that can only be known experimentally. Applied mathematics is deployed as a tool to ensure the theories remain consistent with experimental evidence, and to generate predictions, but the foundation is experimental data, not axioms. The language may be similar, but that implies no more relationship than there is between poetry and legal documents.

    If you're going to try to conflate the two you're going to have to step back and say that both are simply branches of philosophy and leave it at that.

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