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Because the world needs another opinion

EE Editor Submission to UK Parliament

Posted by Jeff Id on February 28, 2010

Dr. Peiser’s complete submission to the UK Parliamentary Committee is complete below.  Dr. Peiser was editor of the journal which handled the fraud allegations on the urban warming papers by Jones and Wang.

These papers were used to present urban warming as having a minimal effect on the surface temperature record, which is something I disagree with.  I’m supposed to disagree as a skeptic, but the evidence of substantial urban warming bias in the temperature records is too great to ignore and requires a complete re-study, something Anthony Watts has taken on for the US in his surfacestations project.  In the Wang paper, the stations in question were stated to have well considered histories to prevent contamination caused by time of observations, station moves and instrument changes.  Keenan’s paper in particular alleged that these claims were not accurate.  When Jones failed to answer in a timely manner, the correspondence became contentious to say the least.   Here is a relevant quote from the emails.

Regarding the Chinese meteorological data analyzed by Wang et al. [GRL, 1990] and Jones et al. [Nature, 1990], it now seems clear that there are severe problems.
In particular, the data was obtained from 84 meteorological stations that can be classified as follows. 49 have no histories 08 have inconsistent histories 18 have substantial relocations 02 have single-year relocations 07 have no relocations Furthermore, some of the relocations are very distant–over 20 km. Others are to greatly different environments, as illustrated here: The above contradicts the published claim to have considered the histories of the stations, especially for the 49 stations that have no histories. Yet the claim is crucial for the research conclusions. I e-mailed you about this on April11th. I also phoned you on April 13th: you said that you were in a meeting and would get back to me. I have received no response. I ask you to retract your GRL paper, in full, and to retract the claims made in Nature about the Chinese data. If you do not do so, I intend to publicly submit an allegation of research misconduct to your university at Albany.

Douglas J. Keenan

My bold below.

H/T  John Pittman and Anastassia Makarieva.


Memorandum submitted by Dr Benny Peiser (CRU 38)

1. I am the editor of CCNet and the co-editor of the journal Energy &Environment (E&E). Further details may be obtained from the CCNet and E&Ewebsites: CCNet: . I am prepared to give oral evidence at the Committee’s evidence session in elaboration of my written submission. I have no declarable interests.

2. The CRU e-mails under investigation suggest that climate scientists (not only at CRU but also elsewhere) have actively sought to prevent a paper on alleged research fraud from being published in violation of principles of academic integrity.

3. In the following, I will outline the chronology of the CRU-Keenan affair as documented in the published CRU e-mails and according to unpublished e-mail correspondence between me and Dr Jones.

4. It should be noted that the CRU e-mails regarding the Jones-Keenan affair are incomplete. I am in the possession of e-mail correspondence with Phil Jones about the Keenan paper that is not included in the published CRU e-mails. The point is that the ‘unauthorised publication’ referred to in the terms of reference is by no means a complete publication. There is likely to be much more other CRU email traffic bearing on the question of the CRU’s scientific integrity, over and above the emails already disclosed. In the interest of veracity and transparency all correspondence by CRU researchers regarding the fraud allegations in question should be disclosed in full so the exact nature and extent of attempts to prevent the publication of Keenan’s paper can be established.

5. In the summer of 2007, I was a guest editor of a special issue of E&E (“The IPCC: Structure, Process and Policy,” – E&E Volume 18, Number 7 – 8 / December 2007).

6. On 29 August 2007, I received an e-mail from Doug Keenan with his paper titled “The Fraud Allegations against Wei-Chyung Wang.” In this paper, Keenan accused Wei-Chyung Wang (State University of Albany, SUNY, New York, USA) of scientific fraud. In his paper, Keenan documented evidence that Wang had fabricated information about Chinese meteorological weather stations. His allegations concern two publications: a) Jones P.D., Groisman P.Y., Coughlan M., Plummer N., Wang W.-C., Karl T.R. (1990), “Assessment of urbanization effects in time series of surface air temperature over land”, Nature, 347: 169-172; and b) Wang W.-C., Zeng Z., Karl T.R. (1990), “Urban heat islands in China”, Geophysical Research Letters, 17: 2377-2380.  The study by Jones et al (1990) has been a corner stone in multiple IPCC reports about the allegedly minimal role of the effect of urban heat islands on the global temperature record. The latest (2007) assessment report by the IPCC concluded that urbanization effects are insignificant with regards to global warming. One of the key papers to underpin this conclusion is the study by Jones et al. (1990). To refute Keenan’s claims of scientific fraud would have only required the release of documentary information about the Chinese weather stations in question which Wang has long claimed to possess.

7. In the afternoon of the same day (29 August) I sent Phil Jones an e-mail with a copy of Keenan’s paper attached. In my e-mail, I asked Jones whether he would be prepared to comment on the content and factual accuracy of the Keenan paper.

8. Later that day, Jones circulated the paper to Dr Wei-Chyung Wang and Dr Tom Wigley (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research), informing both his colleagues that he “won’t be responding” to my request, but that he would be prepared to do so if his colleagues thought he should.

9. The next day, 30 August, Wang e-mailed Jones to say that Jones needed to respond “by providing E&E with a simple answer of ‘false’ to Keenan’s write-up, based on the communication with me.[…] We are facing a tricky person and group, and the only way to do it is to follow the procedure to drive them crazy. […] We are not going to let Keenan doing things his way. […] We should be thinking, after the whole odeal (sic) is over, to take legal (or other) actions against Keenan. […]”

10. In his response to Wang on the same day, Jones wrote: “Libel is quite easy to prove in the UK as you’re not a public figure. Perhaps when you’re back you ought to consider taking some legal advice from SUNY. Assuming the paper is published that is. […].”

11. Later the same day, Jones e-mailed Wang and Wigley to inform them that he would not respond to my request “until the SUNY process has run its course.”

12. Later still, Dr Michael E. Mann (Pennsylvania State University) contacted Jones [with e-mail copies to Dr Kevin Trenberth (National Center for Atmospheric Research) and Dr Gavin Schmidt (NASA)] to inform him about recommendations he had discussed with Schmidt: “With respect to Peiser’s guest editing of E&E and your review, following up on Kevin’s suggestions, we think there are two key points. First, if there are factual errors (other than the fraud allegation) it is very important that you point them out now. If not, Keenan could later allege that he made the claims in good faith, as he provided you an opportunity to respond and you did now. Secondly, we think you need to also focus on the legal implications. In particular, you should mention that the publisher of a libel is also liable for damages – that might make Sonja B-C be a little wary. Of course, if it does get published, maybe the resulting settlement would shut down E&E and Benny and Sonja all together! We can only hope, anyway. So maybe in an odd way its (sic) actually win-win for us, not them. Lets (sic) see how this plays out…”

13. On 31 August, Tom Wigley (a former CRU director) e-mailed Jones to notify him that he believed Keenan’s paper raised a valid issue: “Seems to me that Keenan has a valid point. The statements in the papers that he quotes seem to be incorrect statements, and that someone (WCW at the very least) must have known at the time that they were incorrect. Whether or not this makes a difference is not the issue here.” Jones was now in possession of authoritative information that undermined his claims about the integrity of CRU data products for which he is responsible. Confronted with the evidence from Keenan, and, most importantly, Wigley’s advice that Keenan appeared to have a point, Jones should have been insistent on getting the data and facts out rather than keeping them secret.

14. In response to Wigley’s warning, Jones now counselled him to suppress and conceal his concerns and acted as an advocate for Wang’s defence despite the ‘valid’ evidence against his claims. In an e-mail, Jones appealed to Wigley to “keep quiet” about his apparent backing for Keenan’s concern. In order to obviate any further critique or action by Wigley, Jones speciously told him that SUNY was about to take action against Keenan: “Just for interest! Keep quiet about both issues. In touch with Wei-Chyung Wang. Just agreed with him that I will send a brief response to Peiser. The allegation by Keenan has gone to SUNY. Keenan’s about to be told by SUNY that submitting this has violated a confidentiality agreement he entered into with SUNY when he sent the complaint. WCW has nothing to worry about, but it still unsettling!”

15. On 5 September, Jones e-mailed me a list of objections to the Keenan paper. Ignoring the expert advice he had received from Wigley, Jones called on me to reject the paper: “My view is that the claims are unsubstantiated.”

16. I informed Jones that I would forward his objections to Keenan and stressed: “I know this is a very sensitive matter and I will not rush any decision. I will keep you updated and informed.”

17. On 10 September, I received Keenan’s response which I forwarded to Jones on the same day. I e-mailed Jones: “As far as I can see, his [Keenan’s] basic accusation seems unaffected by your criticism. Unless there is any compelling evidence that Keenan’s main claim is unjustified or unsubstantiated, I intend to publish his paper in the forthcoming issue of E&E. Please let me know by the end of the week if you have any additional arguments that may sway me in my decision.”

18. On the same day, Jones forwarded my e-mail to Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt, concluding: “It seems as though E&E will likely publish this paper.”

19. The following day, (11 September), Michael Mann responded to the new development. In an e-mail to Jones, he suggested that Wang should threaten E&E with a libel suit: “Wei Chyung needs to sue them, or at the least threaten a lawsuit. If he doesn’t, this will set a dangerous new precedent. I could put him in touch w/ anleading (sic) attorney who would do this pro bono. Of course, this has to be done quickly. The threat of a lawsuit alone my (sic) prevent them from publishing this paper, so time is of the essence. Please feel free to mention this directly to Wei Chyung, in particular that I think he needs to pursue a legal course her independent of whatever his university is doing. He cannot wait for Stony Brook to complete its internal investigations! If he does so, it will be too late to stop this.”

20. Later that day, I received three e-mails by Phil Jones with additional references and objections to the Keenan paper. Jones put additional pressure on by stressing: “I don’t see how any journal would ever contemplate publishing such a paper. I hope you’ll reconsider.”

21. After minor revisions of the paper following peer review, I informed Keenan on 8 October that I had accepted his paper for publication with the modified title “The Fraud Allegation Against Some Climatic Research of Wei-Chyung Wang”. It was published in E&E volume 18, number 7-8, pp. 985-995 in December 2007.

22. The concerted efforts by a group of eminent climate scientists to prevent the publication of the Keenan paper had been unsuccessful. However, this was mainly due to the fact that I was prepared to resist peer pressure and to be open-minded regarding Keenan’s evidence and argumentation. I doubt that mainstream science editors would have dared to reject the opposition by leading climate scientists who had targeted an amateur researcher. As Phil Jones fittingly put it to me in an e-mail: ‘How would any journal ever contemplate publishing such a paper?’

23. On 1 February 2010, The Guardian reported that Doug Keenan’s E&E paper “may yet result in a significant revision of a scientific paper that is still cited by the UN’s top climate science body. […] The [CRU] emails suggest that [Phil Jones] helped to cover up flaws in temperature data from China that underpinned his research on the strength of recent global warming. The Guardian has learned that crucial data obtained by American scientists from Chinese collaborators cannot be verified because documents containing them no longer exist. And what data is available suggests that the findings are fundamentally flawed.”

24. At no time since Keenan and Wigley raised significant doubts about the reliability of Chinese climate data has Jones taken public steps to clear up the discrepancies regarding Wang’s claims and data. It is unacceptable that the scientist who disseminates a data product on which international treaties are based, as well as IPCC reports and countless government policies, should actively seek to suppress information that calls the quality of the data into question, especially after one his colleagues and a leading authority has advised him that Keenan’s evidence about the data appeared to be legitimate. Comparable behaviour in the private sector would be subject to severe sanction.

25. The revelations exposed by the CRU e-mails require the full disclosure of all documents and correspondence in this alleged fraud case. Until the whole affair is fully and publicly investigated, the reputation and integrity of leading climate scientists will remain to appear tainted and discredited. Dr Benny Peiser, Liverpool John Moores University, Faculty of ScienceFebruary 2010

22 Responses to “EE Editor Submission to UK Parliament”

  1. RK said

    Wow. This is an amazing chain of events. The scientists involved should be extremely mortified.

  2. 22. The concerted efforts by a group of eminent climate scientists to prevent the publication of the Keenan paper had been unsuccessful. However, this was mainly due to the fact that I was prepared to resist peer pressure and to be open-minded regarding Keenan’s evidence and argumentation. I doubt that mainstream science editors would have dared to reject the opposition by leading climate scientists who had targeted an amateur researcher. As Phil Jones fittingly put it to me in an e-mail: ‘How would any journal ever contemplate publishing such a paper?’

    I can testify that such patterns of exerting pressure on Editors are standard practices, with the outcome precisely as outlined by Dr. Peiser. I think that this information might be of interest to people studying the issue from the sociology/psychology of science angle. In my view, this has indeed become part of a mentality, with established phraseology and lines of behavior.

    Our work was rejected from the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, with a referee expressing his thoughts as follows

    “However much of the argument here I cannot follow, and what I can follow is just plain
    wrong. This paper is not worthy of publication in any respectable journal.

    Later, when the consideration was over and the paper was rejected, a referee who was supportive of this paper informed me in private correspondence as follows:

    “And although the editor in chief of ACP felt much like me, he could not withstand the pressure of the community. I know. I discussed it with him.”

    When I read the submission of Dr. Peiser, I was struck by the literal similarity between the case he described and our own experience.

    Our results were later published in Physics Letters A and Proceedings of the Royal Society Series A.

  3. jimchip said

    Hah, this was one of my favorite submissions. Dr. Peiser stuck to the facts (I thought he might get political) but he did a good job. The whole set of E&E controversies deserves a re-look.

    I will just say to Anastassia Makarieva that her bold-face comments are searcheable within the emails, given some flexiblity on exact terms. The Team were always guessing who was who as a reviewer, confiding reviewer status, and trashing or complaining about not being able to review. Something similar happened.

    Anastassia, I especially like your Proceedings of the Royal Society Series A. Be careful, though… Briffa got caught on a RS paper and had to publish his supporting data 🙂

  4. John F. Pittman said

    Re: Anastassia Makarieva (Feb 28 11:44), The truly damning part is that papers like yours’ and Doug’s are supposed to be published, right or wrong, in order that the science as a whole is self-correcting. Contravening accepted practice to yield to pressure, can only prolong the time necessary to correct a problem if a problem exists, and should be forceful discouraged by the editors and the journals.

  5. Peter B said

    I would be interested in knowing whether or not anyone who was ever involved in publishing or reviewing scientific papers in any field but “climate science” ever heard of similar stuff going on in the background.

    Especially since so many people have commented that such — gangsterism is “normal”.

  6. Tim said

    #5 Stem cell experts say they believe a small group of scientists is effectively vetoing high quality science from publication in journals.

  7. Peter B said

    #6 Thank you! My own experience of publishing and reviewing papers is in the field of chemical engineering, which is a more boring and so less politicized field. And I had never glimpsed anything like that happening, nor have colleagues with far more papers, and more recent ones, than I.

  8. Jimmy Haigh said

    What a circus. Go get ’em Benny!

  9. Steve McIntyre said

    Jeff, do you know where the misrepresentation about the Chinese stations was first raised?

  10. AMac said

    There is a summary of the Wang case at “The Scientific Misconduct Blog” dating from May 2009, here.

    A 3-page PDF which appears to be the unredacted version of the SUNY-Albany “Report of the Inquiry Committee” was among the leaked/hacked/stolen UEA files. Douglas Keenan has archived this PDF at his website, under “2009-11-17” on this page.

  11. Cement a friend said

    I am on the editorial board and reviewer of an International Journal connected to a major institution. I find the comments of the reviewer of Anastassia’s paper appalling. He has admitted he does not understand the technology behind the paper and the mathematics (which is not that complex). He is clearly incompetent and should have not been asked to review the paper (an indictment of the editor) and if he had any ethics (which is a necessary part of the Institution of which I am a member) he should have declined the invitation. Pseudo-scientists (which covers a large number of those involved in climate research) such as this reviewer and such as Phil Jones and Wang involved in the subject of this post give all concerned with science and technology a bad name.
    I have rejected papers but that was on the basis of not being on the theme of the Journal (I suggested another Journal), not being new or innovative which is a requirement of the Journal policy (I suggested points for a rewrite including description of experimental failures), not providing sufficient experimental methods and data so others could verify the results and conclusions, and making assumptions which affected experiments and conclusions without justification or comprehensive referencing.
    I am not competent to citique Anastassia’s paper but in the context of the Journal where I am a reviewer I would have liked to see a) a wider list of references particularly if submitted as a review of the subject b) a table of actual hurricane/cyclone data c) some laboratory experimental data such as from a wind tunnel which could be scaled up and compared with actual data.

  12. Steve McIntyre said

    #10. AMac, it’s a rhetorical question. I know the answer. 🙂

  13. I reviewed a number (not many) of papers in theoretical biology for major journals, including PNAS and American Naturalist. My position has always been as follows: the paper must be published if it is novel and the reviewer is unable to prove it is wrong.

    My point is the reviewer cannot decide how to IMPROVE the paper. This is against logic. To establish a novel, previously unknown thing demands huge work. At the moment the novel thing is first presented to the public, it is the author and nobody else who is the first authority in this area. It is the author who knows best how to present his new findings.

    The reviewer sees this for the first time and spends at best a few close days to study the paper. What might seem to the reviewer as an improvement, may (unnoticed for him) fall out of the great number of logical interconnections that surround the presentation of the novelty. If the reviewer DEMANDS changes that he sees as improvements, the Editor gets an impression that the paper content is of insufficient merit. So, whenever I made suggestions in my positive reviews, I explicitly pointed out in a humble way that these are just ideas for the authors to consider and not in the least conditions of acceptance/rejection. I recommended acceptance and indicated that I had nothing against if the authors decided to use my ideas if they chose so as to modify their presentation.

    It looks to me that the culture of the respect for the Author has apparently eroded in modern science. It is useful to remember that it is the Author, not the Reviewer, who is responsible for the progress.

  14. Pete said

    The problem with peer review is that there seems to be no consensus on its definition. In my mind peer review should focus on scientific plausibility by verification of two things:
    – verifying the quality of the data (in many of the biggest scientific scandals, this has actually been the key problem)
    – verifying the plausibility of the scientific method used by the author (which naturally demands full access to all codes used in the research)

    If these two elements can be verified the paper should be published. The actual conclusions of the author should then be tested by the scientific community though transparent debate. Unfortunately some peer reviewers feels that they have to agree with the conclusions which naturally leads to problems within fields of science where there are several competing schools of thought.

  15. Another very important submission.

  16. RC Saumarez said

    I’m sorry to say I’ve had the same problem in the field of medicine. When you get “leaders” in a field, they tend to reject anything that does not conform to their particular version of the truth. The logic of paper in question is neither here nor there. The only thing to overcome this is persistance.

  17. timetochooseagain said

    6-That might explain how Hwang affair happened.

  18. PhilJourdan said

    Perhaps I am just naive, but this seems to be a “smoking gun” in the CRU fraud debate. You highlighted parts of the submission by Peiser, but the whole submission needs highlighting.

  19. Jeff Id said

    This problem exists in other fields but it is widespread in AGW. Anastassia’s papers went right to the heart of the hurricane models and were automatically contentious, in that case the incident was isolated. in AGW, my impression is that many papers are actively blocked for not achieving the right conclusions. This is not a new opinion in the CA community at least, and climategate emails bore it out in spades. My belief, wrong or right, is that bad science is more widespread in climate due to funding pressures, which results in a more widespread need to block correcting papers.

    #9 I do now!

  20. […] EE Editor Submission to UK Parliament Dr. Peiser’s complete submission to the UK Parliamentary Committee is complete below.  Dr. Peiser was editor of […] […]

  21. KevinUK said

    #12 Steve (aka Toto :-))

    A lot of the posters here Steve (including Jeff ID himself) aren’t CA veterens (like myself and Willis E, Mark R etc) so won’t realise that your question is rhetorical.

    It’s now become a common activity of mine Steve to use the search facility at CA and pull up and re-read many of your seminal threads on some very important subjects (my personal favourite is stil the ‘bucket adjustments’ thread(s)).

    For the benefit of the non-CA veterens posting here, here are some clues in answer Steve rhetorical question.

    And so, as is more often than not the case it was Steve McIntyre who did much of the work to help expose the ‘Great Leap Forward’ and so who deserves much of the credit. It’s quite likely that but for Steve’s initial analysis Doug Keenan may well have not spotted Wang’s fraudulent activities in respect to the Chinese station data.

    Click to access WCWF07a.pdf

  22. Regarding KevinUK’s comment #21, here is the first paragraph from my paper on the subject (sans footnotes), which credits Steve McIntyre.

    The work of Jones et al. (1990) is a significant paper in global warming studies (see below for details). In February 2007, Stephen McIntyre blogged about evidence he had found showing that it was “impossible” for Jones et al. to have carried out their work as they had claimed. An anonymous comment on the blog then indicated potential issues with the closely-related work of Wang et al. (1990). Further study by myself found additional evidence of problems. The evidence particularly implicates Wei-Chyung Wang—the lead author of Wang et al. and a co-author of Jones et al.

    After putting together the data that I got from my FoI request and elsewhere, I concluded that Jones was innocent—in 1990. I later found strong evidence, though, that Jones committed related fraud in his work for the IPCC 2007 Assessment Report. (That evidence is presented in §2.4 of my paper; there is an update in my submission to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.)

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