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New Climate Science Scandal Over Peer Review

Editor-in-Chief of Remote Sensing Resigns from Fallout Over Our Paper

Scientific Progress: 0

It has been brought to my attention that as a result of all the hoopla over ourpaper published in Remote Sensing recently, that the Editor-in-Chief, Wolfgang Wagner, has resigned. His editorial explaining his decision appearshere.

First, I want to state that I firmly stand behind everything that was written in that paper.

If some scientists would like do demonstrate in their own peer-reviewed paper where *anything* we wrote was incorrect, they should submit a paper for publication. Instead, it appears the IPCC gatekeepers have once again put pressure on a journal for daring to publish anything that might hurt the IPCC’s politically immovable position that climate change is almost entirely human-caused. I can see no other explanation for an editor resigning in such a situation.

People who are not involved in scientific research need to understand that the vast majority of scientific opinions spread by the media recently as a result of the fallout over our paper were not even the result of other scientists reading our paper. It was obvious from the statements made to the press.

Kudos to Kerry Emanuel at MIT, and a couple other climate scientists, who actually read the paper before passing judgment.

I’m also told that RetractionWatch has a new post on the subject. Their reporter told me this morning that this was highly unusual, to have an editor-in-chief resign over a paper that was not retracted.

Apparently, peer review is now carried out by reporters calling scientists on the phone and asking their opinion on something most of them do not even do research on. A sad day for science.

Wolfgang Wagner, editor of the open access journal Remote Sensing, has resigned over the journal’s publication of the Spencer and Braswell paper.

Peer-reviewed journals are a pillar of modern science. Their aim is to achieve highest scientific standards by carrying out a rigorous peer review that is, as a minimum requirement, supposed to be able to identify fundamental methodological errors or false claims. Unfortunately, as many climate researchers and engaged observers of the climate change debate pointed out in various internet discussion fora, the paper by Spencer and Braswell that was recently published in Remote Sensing is most likely problematic in both aspects and should therefore not have been published.

After having become aware of the situation, and studying the various pro and contra arguments, I agree with the critics of the paper. Therefore, I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision and, as a result, step down as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing.

This is quite extraordinary. Can it really be believed that Wagner heard “in various internet discussion fora” that the paper was wrong and on that basis has resigned?

A little later he says this:

If a paper presents interesting scientific arguments, even if controversial, it should be published and responded to in the open literature. This was my initial response after having become aware of this particular case. So why, after a more careful study of the pro and contra arguments, have I changed my initial view? The problem is that comparable studies published by other authors have already been refuted in open discussions and to some [extent] also in the literature (cf. [7]), a fact which was ignored by Spencer and Braswell in their paper and, unfortunately, not picked up by the reviewers.

Something being questioned “to some extent” in the literature does not represent a resigning matter. This really doesn’t look very good to me

Bishop Hill, 2 September 2011