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« New Nature climate change journal | Main | Live chat of statisticians »

Keep on gatekeeping

Ross McKitrick shows plainly that, despite the furore over the emails and the frantic issuing of denials, mainstream climatologists, are still determined to keep sceptic views out of the literature.

This is the story of how I spent 2 years trying to publish a paper that refutes an important claim in the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The claim in question is not just wrong, but based on fabricated evidence. Showing that the claim is fabricated is easy: it suffices merely to quote the section of the report, since no supporting evidence is given. But unsupported guesses may turn out to be true. Showing the IPCC claim is also false took some mundane statistical work, but the results were clear. Once the numbers were crunched and the paper was written up, I began sending it to science journals. That is when the runaround began. Having published several against-the-flow papers in climatology journals I did not expect a smooth ride, but the process eventually became surreal.

This is simply astonishing stuff. Read the whole thing.

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  • Response
    While Nature had turned the paper down because so many others had already shown the existence of the problem, this referee recommended rejection because no evidence for the problem existed. - Ross McKitrick, discussing the difficulties of getting sceptical papers on climate change published in climatology journals. Read the whole thing. ...

Reader Comments (40)

"The public seems to believe that climatology is beset with cliquish gatekeeping, wagon-circling, biased peer-review, faulty data and statistical incompetence. In response to these perceptions, some scientists are casting around, in op-eds and weblogs, for ideas on how to hit back at their critics. I would like to suggest that the climate science community consider instead whether the public might actually have a point."

What a blinding summary to a clear audit trail of deception.

Keep up the pressure!

As a member of the public I do feel I have a point! I am tired of being lied to and when I ask a reasonable question get called a "denialist" who must be in the pay of "Big Oil"

Quality analysis such as this and the paper when published is what is needed.

Damn well done!

Mar 31, 2010 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDarcy

Having read the whole thing, I can say it is astonishing, but somehow, at the same time, it is not surprising. I particularly loved the last paragraph.

How Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre have kept going against all the obstacles, deceit etc that have been put in their way, I shall never understand.

And the select committee inquiry found there was no evidence of Professor Jones trying to pervert the peer review process. They didn't look very far to see if he was colluding with others to pervert the peer review process.

Mar 31, 2010 at 9:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

A shocking read. If Harrabin or any of his ilk did their jobs properly they would report this. And now they wonder why they can't find any UK scientists who are sceptics. To be a sceptic is to commit career suicide.

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterDominic

Will post on the article in a few days when I have some free time, but I would like to draw attention to a key document in the CRU data dump. I mentioned it in this post:

and others as evidence that the CRU temperature data DOES NOT have the accuracy claimed by IPCC to detect tenth of a degree changes over decades. The document is here

and is very interesting in that it shows for one year in the past (1969) the uncertainty in the CRU temp data grids. The data is captured in this diagram:

which clearly shows that for 1960 temp data sampling errors ranged from 1°C for most of the world and up to 4.5°C for much of North America.

As the referenced article notes the entire AGW house of cards relies on how one question is answered:

"It would be fine if the climate signal were large and the inhomogeneities were small. But it is the other way around. We are looking for changes measured in tenths or hundredths of a degree per decade, using data from weather stations where the inhomogeneities can easily shift the record by several degrees."

There is no way a tenth of a degree signal an be detected with stated error levels of 1-4°C! I still don't understand why this document has not been used to bludgeon the IPCC into admitting it's conclusions are based on unsupported math.

Check this out from the CRU document (written in 2005)

"We have not yet made final estimates of all the uncertainty components, but we expect the sampling error to dominate the uncertainties of monthly gridded fields. Figure 4 shows the estimated sampling errors for the gridded fields of figure 3"

Per this report and the article we have the smoking gun - CRU's data is not precise enough to detect AGW levels at tenth of a degree levels.

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterAJStrata

I read the whole thing and was ...amazed and yet somehow not surpised. I will give or recommend this to any one I know. I cannot think of any article that more succinctly summarises the problems of climate science. If I were paranoid, I might even think there was a collusion (shurely not conspiracy?) to prevent publication.

Well done for your a way the failure to publish and the repeated rejection has allowed you to tell a further tale, strengthening your argument.

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

"I guess there is a policy at GRL against criticizing phony claims if they have been stated briefly".


Having seen this line:

"Unfortunately, we recieve far more papers than we can publish"

a few times, I am encouraged by Ross McKirtrick's persistence and courage in defending his ideas and conclusions.


Mar 31, 2010 at 10:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnand

Well done Dr. McKitrick. Quite some tenacity and finally some well deserved publication.

Of course, this won't undermine the IPCC as there are "only a couple of mistakes about glaciers" in the reports. I wonder how many pillars can be knocked out from under it before the whole edifice comes crashing down?

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:29 PM | Unregistered Commentertimheyes

Since I about wrote the post in the comment above I took the time to clean it up and post it anyway - here it is!

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterAJStrata

McKitrick is most fallible (see here and more generally here) and he is spinning rather. From McKitrick's article:

There was some excitement when a blogger found a minor error in our computer code (we had released the code at the time of publication), but we sent a correction to the journal right away and showed that the results hardly changed.

What he calls a 'minor error' is confusion of radians with degrees. In a programming context an easy clanger to make, but if that is minor I'd hate to see what he considers a major error. And since 1 radian is about 57 degrees, it simply beggars belief to say it 'hardly changed the results' - and it's not true. Still the paper got published anyhow (with that error) after (supposedly) years of detailed peer review, which hardly suggests the bar is set too high.

This of course relates to the first paper discussed and not the one referenced above - but McKitrick mentions it for some reason anyhow, and it speaks to the credibility of his narrative. The claim that the error is minor and hardly changed the results can only be described as rewriting history and intellectually dishonest. The lack of any checks to catch such a snafu is certainly is at odds with McKitrick's adopted persona of meticulous auditor who takes nothing for granted and checks everything.

Mar 31, 2010 at 10:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Frank - can you see an foreign phrase in your comment?

clue: 'we had released the code at the time of publication'

A string of words that a climatologist would naturally skip, no doubt.

Mar 31, 2010 at 11:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Frank, this is the kind of comment which shows a complete lack of commitment to getting at the truth. McKitrick and Michaels published a revised version and, as McKitrick states, the results did not change - in the sense that the coefficients on the socioeconomic variables were still large and significant. This has been DEMONSTRATED not asserted. Moreover the second McKitrick and Michaels paper is completely unaffected by the original programming mistake. Going on about the original error is just a cheap rhetorical trick. What, in contrast, do you have to say about the obvious error in the Schmidt paper of thinking that autocorrelation in the dependent variable is a problem when there is no autocorrelation in the residuals? Yours is the kind of response which makes me deeply sceptical. It is an obvious attempt to confuse an issue which is in fact quite straightforward.

Mar 31, 2010 at 11:35 PM | Unregistered Commentermikep

However he pointed to a new journal that he and some colleagues had recently founded, called Statistics, Politics and Policy, which is dedicated to bringing rigorous statistical analysis to bear on important issues with policy implications. He said the paper would be a good fit, and encouraged me to submit it there. I did, and in due course my paper was accepted. It will appear in the inaugural issue this summer.

I'll believe it when I see it...hahaha...

Good work, Ross! I feel frustrated with you. What a pain in the A$$!! Maybe truth will win out some day.

Mar 31, 2010 at 11:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Frank, do you think the conclusions of the papers about UHI are right or wrong? Have they given us reason to think the surface station record is contaminated?

Mar 31, 2010 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered Commentermichel

To Frank O'Dwyer:

Have you ever considered turning your skills as a critic and agent provateur towards the poor standards set by Jones, Mann and other IPCC authors? I find it remarkable that someone with your attention to detail fails to find fault with anything other than sceptical comment. When reading your comments I sometimes get the impression that you have a general cyncism which, if true and balanced, would be a valuable foil to the debates at hand both for and against the hypothesis of AGW. But you seem to turn this only against skeptical views and I do not understand this.

The article by McKitrick describes very clearly the difficulty of publishing a view which contradicts IPCC. For me the key point is that the JASA reviewed the paper and passed it on review. This is a very strong "thumbs up" for the validity of the statistical analyis. Their decision not to publish, while regrettable, is understandable to some extent. The paper did not push the bounds of statistical analysis and so the appropriate journal for publication would be one where the subject was more important than the analysis. And therein lies the problem. The JASA gives the thumbs up technically and it is clearly more than competent to review and approve such a paper, but other journals appear reluctant to publish. One has to ask the question why? I have read enough from McKitrick (and McIntyre) to know they are worth publishing.

Apr 1, 2010 at 12:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

I hear a puppy howling. Would some please take it for walkies?

Apr 1, 2010 at 1:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

And the machine grinds on and on... For the physicists out there, inertia is indeed a well understood phenomenon whether it is physical, social or political. I guess most climate "scientists" would expect it to wear down the average man. But Dr. McKitrick has proven himself to be no ordinary man!!

It's funny, a thought struck me, today, as I walked through a busy city intersection, at how the modern world has changed in so many ways and yet has remained rooted to a dogmatic past "way of doing things."

It's clear that the best and brightest have not coalesced around the well financed flame of climate science. It proves, albeit analogously, that those with a passion for knowledge, or a passion for truth, or both can, with their passion, outwork someone who has made the subject their job. And counterintuitive, though it may seem, people seem to be more willing to fight to protect their jobs than what they truly believe in. (I realize I may have contradicted myself.)

Kudos Dr. McKitrick. You're a better man than I Gunga Din.

Apr 1, 2010 at 2:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve E


You remain the trolliest or trolls. McKitrick acknowledged his error and revised his work. Warmist literature to this day continues to deny that errors have been made. When pushed into a corner they suggest that the error really isn't that important or doesn't matter, even though from a statistical perspective, a la Mann and the hockey stick, the error is even more egregious than radians to degrees.

Apr 1, 2010 at 2:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve E

F O'D,
Thinking Scientist pegs your problem rather well.
Instead of being an apologist for the faith, why not examine the faith a bit?
Unless you are simply a sock puppet whose role is to repeat talking points, you appear to have some critical skills.
Why not use them to examine the tenets of AGW as you claim to examine skeptics?

Apr 1, 2010 at 2:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Frank O'Dwyer writes:

"McKitrick is most fallible (see [link] and more generally [link]) and he is spinning rather. From McKitrick's article: [... etc.]"

Other AGW-sceptical participants in this forum offer, further above, some
quite specific, narrow-focus criticisms of Mr. O'Dwyer's current spate of
nit-picking in this comment thread. Well and good for them. Their replies
are on-point and very telling.

But, let us step back for a moment and examine the broad strategy that Mr.
O'Dwyer employs. For, Mr. O'Dwyer is a skilled communicator, and quite
an effective spokesman of his own camp, of apologists for the AGW view.

I am not suggesting you ought to agree with his brief (quite the contrary:
see further on, below). I am inviting you rather just to notice, that whether
or not we find his arguments posted here and elsewhere to be compelling,
we are never in doubt what his arguments are, nor what his targets are, nor
what he believes the issues & sub-issues to be, nor what he believes to be
the standards that must to be met, for the main arguments of the advocates
of either point of view to prevail in this debate.

Indeed, I put it to you that Mr. O'Dwyer has done us the favour of capturing
the very essence of the AGW apologists' mindset.

It is not unfair to the AGW advocates' camp, in other words, to suggest that
Mr. O'Dwyer may readily serve as a kind of surrogate, in most instances, for
the politicised bulk of them (which, it must be admitted, is not all of them).

And I wish to suggest, that rather than fretting along with Mr. O'Dwyer, over
whether it matters if Mr. McKitrick could tell a radian from a degree, in some
or other paper -- let us instead examine the context within which Mr. O'Dwyer
is summoning this citation forth from the Vasty Deep, of what passes for the
literature in this area (can gate-kept scientific literature actually be scientific?).

I put it to you that the context is this: Mr. O'Dwyer, and his fellow defenders
of the AGW hypothesis, argue exactly as if they believe that the two sides in
this contest have to meet the same logical standards of proof.

Indeed, this is why he criticises the McKitrick paper, above -- Mr. O'Dwyer
and his fellow-travellers genuinely seem to believe that some single flaw in
the critical endeavour, will be sufficient to bring the critics' edifice crumbling
down (thus obviating the need for them to answer valid criticisms).

Which implies further, that they think the critics' role is to erect some sort of
anti-AGW rhetorical edifice in the first place, just as they realise they must
build a comprehensive argument for their own (AGW hypothesis) case.

Except -- this symmetry impliedly (and probably unconciously) fantasized
by Mr. O'Dwyer and his ilk, does not in truth exist. It is a falsehood. A lie.

There can be no critical edifice, any more than people who notice cracks in
buildings made of bricks and mortar, might somehow be thereby obliged to
construct an habitable edifice out of just cracks, to justify their continued
observation of and commentary upon real cracks in physical buildings.

It is the advocates of the AGW hypothesis who are making a claim. He who
makes a claim, by the rules of both forensics and science, must prove it -- a
critic of that claim is not under some logical obligation to erect counterclaims.

The apostles of AGW have to make a flawless case. The critics do not have
to be flawless: they not only are under no rhetorical obligation to provide a
flawless answer, they do not even have to provide answers -- it is enough for
them to ask questions which the advocates of AGW, or of any other critisised
claim, cannot themselves (yet) answer.

And if that is done, then the case for the claim (AGW here, but it could be
any claim at all), simply is not made. Or, in any event, is not made yet.

This isn't a contest between "we know AGW is true", and "we know AGW is
false" -- it is a contest between "we know AGW is true", and "we don't know."

It is precisely because (as is evident from the clarity with which he expresses
his flawed reasoning) Mr. O'Dwyer doesn't understand this, that he keeps on
scrounging for the flies in the sceptics' ointment -- not realising that in fact the
sceptics of AGW (or anything else) aren't in the ointment business, but rather
merely the fly-finding business.

And it is the refusal of the O'Dwyers of the AGW camp to grasp this basic
logical context, that dooms them to inevitable rhetorical failure in the long
run, quite regardless of whether Global Warming is actually occuring or not.

By wasting everyone's time with the adamancy of their defence of falsified
data, egregious gate-keeping of the literature, ridiculous kneading of data to
make it comply with speculative hypothesis, and so on, the AGW apologists
are merely delaying the day when genuine Climatology (qua science) might
resume its work, with who knows what eventual trivial or profound results.

It is precisely because this is so, that it may he legitimately argued that AGW
advocates (of the politicised sort), are in fact merely cheap scientific vandals.

Apr 1, 2010 at 3:37 AM | Unregistered Commentermutant tunicate

Dr. McKitrick,

``If that looks confusing, rest assured that it is just a formula that take one batch of numbers and rearranges it to produce another list of numbers.`` (p.13)

Should be ``takes.``
Sorry. Rejected.

Apr 1, 2010 at 4:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterDan

Concerning Mr Frank's concerns. I believe one of the reasons for reviewing and publishing papers is to identify weaknesses and errors, to correct them and learn to avoid them in the future.

It's no surprise that the idea of open source programming has its roots in academia, a fresh pair of eyes is always welcome and helpful. Surely climate research is the same.

Apr 1, 2010 at 4:26 AM | Unregistered Commentermrjohn

Frank, your a flat out liar, as usual. And using Deltoid as a reference, what a joke. M&M realized their error was significant and redid the paper with the correct measure, and the results reduced the effect but it remained significant. That you are willing to try such an old canard speaks volumes for how desperate you must be.

Were you aware that Michael Mann made a mistake of a similar nature in his MBH98 &99 papers, who used cos instead of cos^2, which does change the results also, but guess what, he has never even acknowledged the error and the paper has never been corrected, another reason to reject that piece of "peer reviewed" fraud. Even if you aren't, Tim Lambert has in the past acknowledged the MBH error, but supports that fact not being dealt with because the results are so right that no changes to the methodology have any meaning.

Apr 1, 2010 at 5:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterEd Snack

heard u live last nite (australian time) bish. very, very good. only criticism is i wish you had added 'catastrophic man-made' when u said 'climate change'. hopefully, next time!
harrabin hoping the polls would now show the some of the public regaining a belief in CAGW was sad, though.

am posting a followup to this lord rees quote yesterday:
MARTIN REES: Well, I am perplexed by it because of course, although not an expert, I have talked to a great deal of the experts and there is a general consensus that climate change is something which could have very worrying consequences if the world goes on burning fossil fuels at the present rate....

IOP are confident there's a 'consensus':

31 March: Institute of Physics: Response to report on the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit
In response to the new report, Dr Robert Kirby-Harris, chief executive at the Institute of Physics, said: “We welcome the clear statement in this report that there is independent verification, through the use of other methodologies and other sources of data, of the results and conclusions of the Climatic Research Unit. This solid body of evidence allows us to be confident in the scientific consensus on climate change...

so much for the scientific establishment. who needs proof?

mckitrick and mcintyre are an inspiration.

Apr 1, 2010 at 5:02 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

april fools! now we know why the whitewash was rushed out yesterdayt:

all details in here:
1 April: Reuters: FACTBOX - Britain's new corporate carbon trading scheme
Mandatory scheme comes into effect April 1, 2010 and affects an estimated 5,000 businesses with annual energy bills over 500,000 pounds ($753,600) as of 2008.

1 April: UK Tele: New carbon trading legislation confuses businesses
A compulsory carbon trading scheme for 5,000 UK businesses will launch today, amid widespread confusion about its complex rules and a bonanza of extra fees for environmental consultants.

1 April: Reuters: Costs, confusion greet new carbon trade scheme

1 April: UK Times: Carbon inspectors will force companies to reduce emissions

BBC: Carbon emission reduction scheme comes into effect
A survey by NPower said almost half of firms did not know what was required. ..
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband : "It's no longer simply about doing the right thing for the environment, it's now a sure-fire financial investment," he said. ..

1 April: HeraldSun Australia: Australia backs carbon markets
Parliamentary secretary for international development assistance Bob McMullan told the advisory group on climate-change financing in London, convened by United Nations general secretary Ban Ki-moon, that carbon markets could provide the right economic incentives to cut forest carbon emissions...
Those at the London talks included billionaire financier George Soros and US President Barack Obama's economic adviser Larry Summers

Apr 1, 2010 at 6:21 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Can we please keep the conversation to the article and the subject of gatekeeping.

Frank, will you especially make efforts to keep the conversation on-topic.

Apr 1, 2010 at 7:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterBishop Hill


Frank, do you think the conclusions of the papers about UHI are right or wrong?

The conclusions are about socioeconomic effects and not UHI. The paper from the Dutch authors that McKitrick says found the same effect explicitly states that whatever it is, it is not UHI:

Finally, we point out that it seems unreasonable to assume that the ‘classical’ urban heat island (different heating due to different land cover) is the cause of the enhanced surface warming over industrialized regions since the area coverage of urbanized regions is far too small to explain the spatial extent of the regional temperature trend enhancements discussed in this paper.

As to this:

Have they given us reason to think the surface station record is contaminated?

I think the McKitrick paper has problems in methodology, weird results (finding 'contamination' in areas remote polar regions that clearly aren't industrialised), and I simply don't trust the source.

The dutch paper, however, is more interesting - it is a new one on me and I haven't checked it out much yet. The whole tone of the paper is different to that of McKitrick. I have an open mind as to whether the effect reported by this paper is real. I note that they say that the effect they report would affect satellite readings also, which answers the most obvious objection. But I also note that there is a paper responding to it from Schmidt, which is also a new one to me.

To ThinkingScientist and others, this thread isn't about me. I am trying to respect Bishop Hill's wishes and neither dominate the thread nor drag it off topic so please help me out and at least address the topic rather than pile on me personally simply because I am the only one here putting a dissenting view. I am more than happy to answer your questions - some of them very interesting - but please ask them somewhere else. I won't answer them here. You could use this post on my site if you wish. Alternatively if you wish I can set up an open thread for you to discuss my many personal failings :-) Or suggest another venue.

If you must absolutely must abuse me here, then at least have some respect for your host and do so on the 'unthreaded' post he has set up for off topic stuff.

Apr 1, 2010 at 7:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Bishop, our posts crossed. I have tried to email you but the contact form does not appear to work.

Apr 1, 2010 at 8:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Well. let me mark my calendar to check Realclimate for its response to the published article.

Apr 1, 2010 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Eagar


My blog name (all one word) round thingy

Apr 1, 2010 at 9:19 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Frank, your posting about the substance of the papers will lead to a quite interesting discussion about the extent of, and the evidence for, contamination of the surface station record by UHI.

There is nothing in your post to suggest that the papers do not deserve publication. On the contrary, your post suggests that their arguments need examination. You don't think them valid, but you are not saying that they are unfit for serious discussion. Your post rather suggests that they are in the category of hypotheses which, if proven false, would advance our knowledge.

So, once more with feeling, why exactly should the climate science community have been entitled to act, as the circumstantial evidence suggests they did, to deny publication?

If you think back to the famous MBH98, with its creative use of PCA (or rather, its creative use of statistics, because that was no more using PCA than always using the number 42 is using the mean or median or mode), do you think that seminal paper should have been published, if the same standards are applied?

Apr 1, 2010 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

It is perhaps as well Einstein never took up climate science as a career. His radicalism would have been too much to bear for modern journals.

Apr 1, 2010 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

[There is no point in responding to me on this here, as I'm done commenting on this blog, for reasons I will explain on the 'unthreaded' thread for off-topic stuff. Which is also where 'sceptic' trolls should respond with their cheers, if they want to respect their host's wishes for a change]


There is nothing in your post to suggest that the papers do not deserve publication.

I didn't say they shouldn't have been published. They have been published, haven't they? Any delay in publishing McKitrick's socioeconomic paper seems to have been entirely justified, as it seems to have its origins in what was (in the words of Robert Grumbine) a "pile of tripe", and for very good reasons. There is also a pattern of scientific illiteracy with McKitrick - his garbage about 'no such thing as average temperature', his talk in this article of not being given statistical proof of a problem that is an already established issue he'd been informed about before - all that is difficult to ignore.

Notice also that McKitrick says that the dutch paper found the same effect he did. And yet I don't see the dutch authors whining about peer review. Did they? Are they unemployed now? I doubt it. If not that gives the lie to McKitrick's claim that his paper was held up because of its sceptical conclusions, or that publishing such is a career limiting move.

Indeed McKitrick's own evidence to the parliamentary inquiry quotes an email which he interprets as Jones arguing that the de Laat paper was 'very good' and urging its publication in a climate journal, while saying MM's paper was 'just garbage'. This is the famous email where he says he will try to keep both out of the IPCC report, mind you (which clearly did not happen).

As for his latest paper, he has approving comments from a stats journal but they are not domain experts and would not know of any climate related reasons that it was a bad paper (if it was). The rest of it is McKitrick's narrative, which I simply believe to be biased and incomplete (and have already shown one example to back that up). I have also checked his claims about the IPCC discussion of the two papers and while the part about statistical significance seems OK and a reasonable point, the rest is highly misleading and cherry picked. Still at this point I think he is essentially correct to say that statement in the IPCC lacks proper support (at least, where it refers to statistical significance). Indeed it may even be wrong. But that doesn't make McKitrick's original paper correct, and there is since Schmidt's paper giving other reasons to think it isn't. Indeed if the IPCC's statement there is wrong, that doesn't even mean his new paper is done right.

Apr 1, 2010 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

Truly astonishing. How do these people sleep at night!

Apr 1, 2010 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

Indeed McKitrick's own evidence to the parliamentary inquiry quotes an email which he interprets as Jones arguing that the de Laat paper was 'very good' and urging its publication in a climate journal

Huh? I don't interpret it as Jones advocating on behalf of de Laat's paper. The email itself names the author of the paper that Jones wants to see published ("Adrian," as in Simmons), and says it's a rebuttal to the work of "Eugenia" (Kalnay). When Jones goes on to refer to him and Trenberth keeping "both" papers out of the IPCC Report he's obviously referring to different papers than the one by Simmons that he so strongly endorsed.

Apr 1, 2010 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss McKitrick

Some of this stuff just looks like stupid peer review stuff which happens all the time e.g. to myself. Some of it looks sinister to say the least.

But stupid question - isn't UHI a form of anthropogenic climate change assuming a chaotic feedback system sensitive to initial conditions?

Apr 1, 2010 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterRT

In the 1920s, the cocensus in science was that the sun comprised of mainly iron. When Celia Payne analysed the spectroscope lines without the precoceived idea that iron was the major component, she discovered that hydrogen might be the main element. The response of the scientific comunity was much the same as it is today when mainstream science is contested.
Henry Norris Russell declared that she was wrong and that meant that she was wrong. Russell controlled most of the grants in the field of astronomy and he insisted that she recant her assertion if she wanted her research to be accepted. Only years later was her research proved to be correct and even then she received no apologies from the old guard. It seems to me that nothing has changed much in the 100 years since this shameful episode of scientific censorship.
Keep fighting Ross McKitrick, you are in good company, but don't expect much in the way of apologies if you are right.

Apr 1, 2010 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

apologies for spelling errors. must be more careful in future

Apr 1, 2010 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

To be honest Frank I usually enjoy reading your perspective here at BH and often get some interesting information from your contributions. However, your comments here about Ross McKittrick are pointless and make you sound like a child in a playground sneering at at the smart kid for making a minor mistake in his homework. Please be constructive and avoid the ad hominum attacks, they really have no place in a grown up debate.

Apr 4, 2010 at 1:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterEddie O

To those of you who have attempted to publish in a peer reviewed journal (I myself have no such experience), has your experience been in any way like that of McKitrick? If you have been refused, have you been told why, or were you ignored?
It seems to me that McKitrick has been treated badly, but I need a baseline. Any inquires that I have done on pro-AGW sites have implied that the responses he has received are not out of the ordinary for peer review in general.

Apr 6, 2010 at 5:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarold


I have been on both ends, as a submitter and also as a reviewer. In my field of Applied Geophysics in the oil industry the relationship between reviewers, editors and submitters is generally very healthy. But you do get problems. For example, I was coauthor on a recently rejected paper. The two reviewers rejected it for different reasons. One said the submitted paper was not new material and therefore should not be published. The other said the problem could not be addressed in the way we did ie our analysis was flawed. If you think about it, those two reviews cannot both be true! But we got clear statements from the reviewers and that is all you can ask for. It is up to the authors to address the concerns, challenge them (via the editor) or accept the paper will not be published. If (like me) you are not an academic, then the imperative of being published may take second place over getting on with fee-paying work. But for an academic, publication is much more important for your career progression so rejection is not taken lightly.

In general, my experience is that reviewers take the task seriously and always try to be constructive. Most reviewers have themselves submitted papers and know how much time it takes to write up a paper.

Most reviewers, myself included, try to be constructive but we all have our foibles and prejudices. For example, I don't like reviewing poorly worded papers or grammatically sub-standard work. It makes it hard to be sure what the author intends sometimes. This is very unfair on authors for whom English is not their first language, so I try to make allowances. If English is their first language then I will be quite hard on them. If the technical content is clearly worthy of publication then I would usually refer this back to the editor with a recommendation to publish once the paper is re-written to a suitable standard.

Another issue with reviewing is the question of anonymity of the reviewer. For many journals the reviewer can elect to be anonymous, or elect to be made known to the author. Personally I always elect for my name (not ThinkingScientist, I might add!) to be made known to the author whether I reject or recommend acceptance. There is an argument that reviewers should be anonymous and this would be a workable system providing the editor is doing their job of arbitration correctly.

I think the experience of McKitrick shows that there is a problem with peer review in the climate change journals and my reading of previous problems reported (eg by M&M) and the content of the CRU emails suggest to me that the reviewers have far more authority than they should have and that in some cases the editors are lacking in backbone.

Apr 6, 2010 at 8:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

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