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

September 2nd, 2011 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

[NOTE: the August, 2011 temperature update appears below this post.]

Scientific Progress: 0

[also see updates at end of post]

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

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

But let’s look at the core reason for the Editor-in-Chief’s resignation, in his own words, because I want to strenuously object to it:

…In other words, the problem I see with the paper by Spencer and Braswell is not that it declared a minority view (which was later unfortunately much exaggerated by the public media) but that it essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its opponents. This latter point was missed in the review process, explaining why I perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal

But the paper WAS precisely addressing the scientific arguments made by our opponents, and showing why they are wrong! That was the paper’s starting point! We dealt with specifics, numbers, calculations…while our critics only use generalities and talking points. There is no contest, as far as I can see, in this debate. If you have some physics or radiative transfer background, read the evidence we present, the paper we were responding to, and decide for yourself.

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.

UPDATE #1: Since I have been asked this question….the editor never contacted me to get my side of the issue. He apparently only sought out the opinions of those who probably could not coherently state what our paper claimed, and why.

UPDATE #2: This ad hominem-esque Guardian article about the resignation quotes an engineer (engineer??) who claims we have a history of publishing results which later turn out to be “wrong”. Oh, really? Well, in 20 years of working in this business, the only indisputable mistake we ever made (which we immediately corrected, and even published our gratitude in Science to those who found it) was in our satellite global temperature monitoring, which ended up being a small error in our diurnal drift adjustment — and even that ended up being within our stated error bars anyway. Instead, it has been our recent papers have been pointing out the continuing mistakes OTHERS have been making, which is why our article was entitled. “On the Misdiagnosis of….”. Everything else has been in the realm of other scientists improving upon what we have done, which is how science works.

UPDATE #3: At the end of the Guardian article, it says Andy Dessler has a paper coming out in GRL next week, supposedly refuting our recent paper. This has GOT to be a record turnaround for writing a paper and getting it peer reviewed. And, as usual, we NEVER get to see papers that criticize our work before they get published.

353 Responses to “Editor-in-Chief of Remote Sensing Resigns from Fallout Over Our Paper”

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