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Benestad et al rejected

The Benestad (Cook, Nuccitelli) et al paper on "agnotology", a bizarre concoction that tried to refute just about every sceptic paper ever written, has been rejected by Earth System Dynamics

Based on the reviews and my own reading of the original and revised paper, I am rejecting the paper in its current form. The submission is laudable in its stated goals and in making the R source code available, but little else about the paper works as a scientific contribution to ESD. While I think as an ESDD publication at least a discussion was had and the existence of the R routines has been brought to the attention of the various interested communities, the manuscript itself is not a good fit for this journal and would need substantial further revisions before being ready (if ever) for this journal.
Which is all fine and well, but then you get the paragraphs below, which seem to me to be almost as strange as the Benestad article itself:
The root logical flaw in many of the papers discussed in the appendix is that showing a statistical correlation between some non-CO2 variable and some observed climate time series somehow disproves the hypothesis that CO2 is a driver of climate change. This is as silly as saying the cost of my sneakers is correlated with how fast I run and therefor I have invalidated the hypothesis that training makes me run the 100 yard dash faster. Do we really need 70 pages of text and two dozen R routines to recognize the logical problem here?
And therein lies the real problem. The climate science community has strong theory (dating back more than a century) and good, physics-based models that underly the attribution and prediction endeavors and these guide the interpretation of observations and their statistical characterization (i.e. what the null hypothesis is). If one ignores that foundation as most of the studies being criticized in this submission do, then one is left with unconstrained statistical analyses or curve fitting exercises that have no clear plausible, physically viable explanation. The reality is that many of the authors whose work is being criticized are on the record as thinking that either climate theory and/or climate models are fundamentally flawed, hence the adopt the kind of approach which leads them to conclusions that are in opposition to the vast majority of climate scientists. Again, this can be said in two sentences
Not having been on the end of many editorial decision notices myself I'm perhaps not best placed to say how normal such a stream of conciousness is in scientific discourse. But it seems very odd to me.

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Reader Comments (54)

omnologos quoted part of the Wikipedia article on "agnotology" but I think the first sentence of the article is even more interesting.

Agnotology (formerly agnatology) is the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data.

Do the phrases "culturally induced ignorance" and "the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data" make you think of any particular subject?

Sep 4, 2013 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

What I found most bizarre is the paper itself. It's an astonishing combination of arrogance and naivety.

Sep 4, 2013 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter B

"Which is all fine and well, but then you get the paragraphs below, which seem to me to be almost as strange as the Benestad article itself...'

What they are trying to say, I think, is that your nonsense is not worth the candle. Is that how they say it in the UK? "Not worth the candle".

Sep 4, 2013 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterBIGCITYLIB

Is it just me, or is the most bizarre part Benestad's replies to the replies.

Most of them, to me, could be summarised as

"thanks for your reply, but you're a poopy head."

I found the replies to the Norwegian climate group, and the philosophy of science guy to be especially odd.

With the former he appears to be suggesting that association with right of centre people is sufficient to disprove their argument (yes I know he is also trying to show them as political, because their reply said they are non political, but this is tangental)

With the latter, the guys criticises him for erecting an ex cathedra model in which the consensus can not be criticised. In his reply, he appears to criticise the guy for making his own ex cathedra model, one in which all sides must be criticised. This is like a toddler's style of argument.

Sep 4, 2013 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterCopner

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