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Climate Journal Publishes Referees' Report In Response To "Witch-Hunt" Claims 330

Sockatume (732728) writes "The resignation of Prof. Lennart Bengtsson from an anti-global-warming think tank has triggered widespread outrage in the British tabloids, with the University of Bristol Professor blaming his departure on a 'witch-hunt' environment amongst climate scientists and the rejection of one of his papers. The UK's Times quotes a passage from the reviewer comments in support of this, in which it is claimed that the paper was rejected for being 'unhelpful to their cause.' In response, that journal's publisher has taken the rare step of publishing the referees' report in full. The report describes Bengtsson's paper as a 'simplistic comparison of ranges from AR4, AR5, and Otto et al [data sets], combined with the statement they they are inconsistent,' 'where no consistency was to be expected in the first place' and therefore is not publishable research. The referee adds a number of possible areas of discussion which would allow Bengtsson to make the same data into a publishable paper, but warns that publishing it in its current state 'opens the door for oversimplified claims of errors and worse from the climate sceptics media.'"
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Climate Journal Publishes Referees' Report In Response To "Witch-Hunt" Claims

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  • Witch-Hunt. Right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @11:02AM (#47017741)
    And the National Review is calling it McCarthyism [].

    Sorry, but refusing to provide a public forum for crackpots is not a witch-hunt, or McCarthyism. It's science. The journal didn't publish the paper because the referee said it was an unsalvageable piece of crap, which is precisely how peer review is supposed to work.
    • by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @11:06AM (#47017769)
      Exactly. Now if only we could get the same peer review process in place at certain media outlets that pretend to be news...
      • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @11:29AM (#47017957)
        This reporting seems to be spreading the idea that getting a paper rejected is abnormal. For most of us, it's entirely normal. Normal, decent computer science conferences/journals (the ones you never even hear about unless you're in the field) have a rejection rate of 2/3 to 3/4. In other words, MOST papers are criticized heavily in review, and rejected. In some fields (like philosophy) it's more like 90-95% rejection rate.
        • by some old guy ( 674482 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @12:25PM (#47018429)

          Surely you don't expect journalists of all people to have any inkling about rigorous peer review, quality of research, or any other attribute of publishing in a scientific discipline.

          • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @12:32PM (#47018515) Journal

            Particularly when the motive of the news item is to attack a scientific theory you don't like.

    • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @11:07AM (#47017781)

      Someone dug up some old comments by the Professor himself expressing his anger that you couldn't just ship all the climate scientists off to East Berlin. I guess he has a great sense of irony.

      It's a shame that the GDR disappeared otherwise would have been able to offer one-way tickets there for these socialists. Now there's unfortunately not many orthodox countries left soon and I surely do not imagine our romantic green Communists want a one-way ticket to North Korea. But if interested I'd gladly contribute to the trip as long as it is for a one way ticket. Perhaps you could arrange a Gallup study, since it can not be ruled out that I underestimated rush to the exit5 []

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @11:14AM (#47017833)

      The journal didn't publish the paper because the referee said it was an unsalvageable piece of crap, which is precisely how peer review is supposed to work.

      Obviously the referee is a part of the AGM movement and was doing his part to make sure the truth isn't published /sarcasm*

      * Sadly I expect this to be used as a genuine counter argument.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        There was an entire film starring Ben Stein that was making that claim about evolutionary biology. Ah my, how the pseudo-skeptic community just recycles previous pseudo-scientific babble.

        The sad part is that major newspapers like the Daily Telegraph are carrying this guy's rejection, and of course, will never print the other side of the story; that the paper was just shyte.

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      And William F. Buckley is now spinning in his grave.

    • by Prune ( 557140 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @12:19PM (#47018359)
      While Bengtsson is wrong on this, he's no crackpot. This paper was rejected, but most of his previous ones were published and he is (was?) a respected scientist in the field. His problem seems to be that he has allowed himself to mix his politics with the science. That's wrong, but so is your ad hominem; calling him a crackpot cheapens the word, and your argument.
      • While Bengtsson is wrong on this, he's no crackpot. This paper was rejected, but most of his previous ones were published and he is (was?) a respected scientist in the field. His problem seems to be that he has allowed himself to mix his politics with the science. That's wrong, but so is your ad hominem; calling him a crackpot cheapens the word, and your argument.

        I think it's perfectly fair to label somebody who calls their ideological opponents Communists and McCarthyites a crackpot. YMMV.

    • by radarskiy ( 2874255 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @03:59PM (#47020611)

      "The journal didn't publish the paper because the referee said it was an unsalvageable piece of crap"

      It worse than that: the referee suggested that it might be salvageable, but Bengtsson couldn't be bothered.

  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Taylor123456789 ( 1354177 ) <jheard@ms[ ]om ['n.c' in gap]> on Friday May 16, 2014 @11:29AM (#47017961)

    I read an interview of him, and the rejection of the paper was a small part of his complaints. He is basically saying that anyone who questions anthropogenic global warming dogma is ostracized. This is the basis of McCarthyism and witch hunts. It also questions the foundation of the global warming "consensus" so often cited. The fact is that questioning orthodoxy is part of the scientific process. Ironically then, those who attempt to ostracize global warming skeptics for being "anti-science" are the ones themselves being anti-science.

    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Layzej ( 1976930 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @11:48AM (#47018089)
      He joined the "Global Warming Policy Foundation" - and anti climate policy advocacy group known to spread falsehoods about the science in order to further their political objectives. He quit one week later when colleagues started distancing themselves from him. Well - what did he expect?
      • by crmanriq ( 63162 )


        How can one be anti-climate? Does the "Global Warming Policy Foundation" advocate for elimination of climate?

        [sarcasm off]

        From "The Global Warming Policy Foundation is unique. We are an all-party and non-party think tank and a registered educational charity which, while open-minded on the contested science of global warming, is deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of many of the policies currently being advocated."

        As I understand (from a very short reading), GWP

        • Your sig:

          "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing for money."

          Think tanks, many on the "left" too, are in it for money. They write to further the economic interests of their backers. Some see the truth as something that must be carefully tiptoed around when it's not beneficial for what they promote. Others just don't give a damn and have decided that any position, no matter how dumb, deserves a defense lawyer as long as they can pay. And if they have to employ the Chewbacca defense or the Shaggy defense, so be

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      He has a point. Within the citing for rejection is the statement;...... " and worse from the climate sceptics media side. "

      It indicates a possible bias, and media reaction should never be a criteria for determining what has scientific merit.

      Its also interesting that they guy has a reasonably 'reputable' career history, and also is quite up-front about his views. Yet this one instance is enough for many folks here to trash him, call him a crackpot and other names.

      Maybe his paper is total crap. I gu
      • by Layzej ( 1976930 )
        Here is a rejection given to Dr, James Hansen of NASA who is at the forefront of global warming research. The second reviewer is particularly vicious (as is his right). Hansen writes "The rejection was a bit like the one Snoopy received, which said, “Enclosed please find two rejection slips: one for the manuscript you submitted and one for the next one you write.”" - []
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @11:56AM (#47018145)

      You have to ask yourself, if so many of your qualified peers think you're crazy for taking a given perspective, and your new paper on the subject is rejected for being crappy: have they all lost their minds, or have you?

    • They do the same thing to creationist research! These so-called "scientists" just don't like having their dogma challenged! It's a conspiracy!

  • FTFA: The Daily Mail, much loved for its objective reporting on climate change (and other stuff)
    And just prior to that: Rupert Murdoch apparently trying (and failing) to look as harmless as possible.
    And: Absurd anti-science faux journalism flares up again - as usual, it's Big Oil that's set to benefit, not the public

    Self-introspection isn't the Guardian's strong suit, is it?
  • He's at Reading, not Bristol. To be fair they're on the same train line.

  • by MacTO ( 1161105 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @12:48PM (#47018683)

    It is not that science is rejecting scepticism. Heck, scepticism is fundamental to science. The issue that legitimate climate sceptics face is that they are trying to disprove a large body of evidence that is both diverse and mature. If sceptics want to prove their point, they have to collective evidence that is also diverse and mature. That is no simple feat.

    That is also making a huge assumption: that the climate sceptics are legitimate. I'm sure that some sceptics are, particularly when it comes to critiquing particular pieces of evidence. On the other hand, they seem to be a tiny minority. Most of the debate that I see comes from people who have little understanding of science, nevermind climate science.

    • I'm not sure I've ever seen a "legitimate climate skeptic." The vast majority I've dealt with are ignoramuses who don't try to answer their own questions, and when you show them the evidence they easily could have found themselves, they go into denialist lockdown mode and just say the evidence is not valid/fabricated etc. A few are just underinformed and turned off of the idea for non-scientific reasons (many of which are understandable...who wouldn't want to disbelieve what Al Gore preaches at you?)

      I think

    • by thoromyr ( 673646 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @04:15PM (#47020769)

      It isn't even that they need extraordinary evidence. Ordinary evidence would do just fine. But creating strawmen to demolish is not a rebuttal of actual science and that is the issue here. What is really sad is the part where the "bias" shows and is trotted out by deniers is true. He would've been remiss to omit it because it is a negative. All the referee did was acknowledge the political reality of the entire point behind the paper.

      Its like being accused of bias when rejecting a paper that uses phrenology as proof that that whites are smarter than blacks due to greater cranial capacity because you point out that, in addition to being flawed and incorrect, it will just be used to support a racist agenda.

  • This is useless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WayGoneDoug ( 1199867 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @02:00PM (#47019403) Homepage
    There is no reasoned debate in the forums of /. anymore (it was rather sparse to start with). Everyone is either a climate Nazi or fucking stupid, depending on which side you are on. I give up on humanity, or at least the nerd subbranch represented here.

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