the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Strike Out

Posted by Jeff Id on March 20, 2014

Bishop Hill blog has posted a fun thread on our favorite climate scientist wannabe, Dr. Stephen Lewandowsky.  Apparently the moon landing followup psycho-paper was removed from publication entirely.   A rare and embarrassing event to be sure.  Especially for such strong pro-science individuals as Dana Nuccitelli of Skeptical Science™ (SkS) fame.

We are told from the BH article that the post vanished from their blog shortly after publication.   Probably due to the fact that the blatant lack of objectivity didn’t quite reach the bar for a typical SkS post.  The whole mess is stuck in the Google cash for us to read here.

My favorite quote in the deleted article is this:

Lewandowsky, known for his creative publication titles, came up with another doosey for the follow-up paper:

I’m glad Lew is known for his titles, cause it ain’t his sciency skills that are going to put food on the table.

Dana writes:

Frontiers Bails Out

However, nobody likes being called a conspiracy theorist, and thus climate contrarians really didn’t appreciate Recursive Fury.  Very soon after its publication, the journal Frontiers was receiving letters from contrarians threatening libel lawsuits.  In late March 2013, the journal decided to “provisionally remove the link to the article while these issues are investigated.”  The paper was in limbo for nearly a full year until Frontiers finally caved to these threats.

In its investigation, the journal found no academic or ethical problems with Recursive Fury.  However, the fear of being sued by contrarians for libel remained.  The University of Western Australia (UWA: Lewandowsky’s university when Recursive Fury was published – he later moved to the University of Bristol) also investigated the matter and found no academic, ethical, or legal problems with the paper.  In fact, UWA is so confident in the validity of the paper that they’re hosting it on their own servers.

After nearly a year of discussions between the journal, the paper authors, and lawyers on both sides, Frontiers made it clear that they were unwilling to take the risk of publishing the paper and being open to potential frivolous lawsuits.  Both sides have finally agreed to retract Recursive Fury.

It’s unfortunate that the Frontiers editors were unwilling to stand behind a study that they admitted was sound from an academic and ethical standpoint, especially since UWA concluded the paper would withstand a legal assault.  Nobody wants to get caught up in a lawsuit, but by caving in here, Frontiers has undoubtedly emboldened climate contrarians to use this tactic again in the future to suppress inconvenient research.  Academics also can’t be confident that the Frontiers staff will stand behind them if they publish research in the journal and are subjected to similar frivolous attacks.  Frontiers may very well be worse off having lost the confidence of the academic community than if they had called the bluffs of the contrarians threatening frivolous lawsuits.

Hopefully editors of other climate-related journals will learn from this debacle and refuse to let climate contrarians bully them into suppressing valid but inconvenient research.

So it was those evil well-funded skeptics who beat up on the poor government funded science team who brazenly accused a bunch of people of saying and believing things they didn’t, using blatantly fraudulent statistics and making complete asses of themselves, all in an attempt to “discredit” those who recognize that OERVATOINS ARE NOT WARMING AS MUCH AS CLIMATE MODELS!

Not even close.

In the non-government world where people need to produce something functional to make a living, we have a word for non-productive people like Lewandowsky and Dana.


And then we fire them.

9 Responses to “Strike Out”

  1. TinyCO2 said

    Lew doesn’t appear to understand sceptics.

    I think he thought the victims of his paper would act like a big business when attacked. Keep your heads down and hope it all blows over. Businesses work along the principle that to keep bringing up the unfairness of a smear is to repeat the smear and reinforce it in the eyes of the public. Better to hope it fades from the public consciousness. However sceptics repeated the slurs, mocked them and then kept repeating. You complained about it and then reported on your complaint. It’s almost like we’re not a business at all. It’s like… like we’re normal members of the public or something. No! Really?

    Not understanding people should be a barrier to getting a job in his field of work but apparently it’s not an essential skill, any more than being able to run decent survey or assessing the results properly.

  2. They should have published it in the US – then libel would have been almost impossible. However, their insistence that the paper was “sound from an academic and ethical standpoint” is probably the most damaging to them. Even a child knows that conclusions reached from samples with populations sizes of zero are fantasy at best, and pure ad hominem most likely.

    The paper is not libelous to anyone. To be libelous, a statement has to have some credibility. And that bird cage liner had none. It was potentially very damaging to the publisher as they were being mocked and ridiculed for their total incompetence in even accepting the paper. But to a skeptic/contrarian, how could they be libeled when the conclusions were based on data that had nothing to do with them? I am sure Cook, Nuccitelli, and Lewandowsky are big fantasy fans, but J.K. Rowlings does not pretend Harry Potter is a real person and then proceed to make psycho babble diagnosis of him the way that the troika did with their imaginary characters.

  3. Pouncer said

    Hi Phil,

    I _wish_ it were true that “… in the US… libel would have been almost impossible.” It is perhaps true a libel suit is almost impossible to win, but it is trivially easy and inexpensive to bring such a suit. I speak as one of the targeted victims, whose crime was to win an extraordinarily local election against a long-serving incumbent. Said incumbent, having lost the debate, the election, the re-count, and the media coverage, spent about $300 to file “pro se” charging me, my wife, and my eight year old son for making “racist” slurs about that incumbent. $10,000 and about a year afterwards, at the first hearing, the judge threw the case out. Had not a local ACLU-like team of big city pro-bono lawyers chosen to take an interest in our little suburban squabble I’m sure I would have had to settle — said settlement to include, perhaps, even, — that I resign the seat to trigger a new election.

    I am therefore somewhat sympathetic to the university regarding fear of such actions, though I am otherwise entirely in sympathy with those who actually WANT to debate public issues, vigorously, warts, insults, data, and all.

    By the way, Michael Mann is the Barbra Streisand of climate science.

    • Pouncer, you are correct in that the “winning” part is a matter of perspective. The point of most libel (or slander) suits is to bleed the opposition dry so they are forced to capitulate or to settle for some type of loss. The Steyn case is a perfect example of this where big money (Soros) is bankrolling Mann, and Steyn and the others have limited means to defend themselves with.

      That is the ugly side of the suits in the US. I am told (so this is second or third hand) that such tactics are not tolerated in the UK, although it is easier to win a libel case there.

      SLAPP was enacted to curtail such frivolous suits, but the bar for SLAPP is so high that it is often ineffective.

      And yes, actually in both senses of the term Barbra Streisand, Mann is a picture postcard representative.

  4. hunter said

    Sorry to hear you were maliciously sued like that. I think Mann is the Lewandowsky of climate science, myself.
    Jeff Id’s name keeps coming up as one of the eeeevil den*ers who forced poor ol’ Frontier to cut the Lewadowsky’s hard work.
    It must be due to his deep financial connections with the Koch brothers, lol.

  5. Orson Olson said

    The journal in question, “Frontiers,” is aparently published in Switzerland. Thus, it’s tough to believe that US law about libel could have ever at stake.

  6. hunter said

    It seems likely, from the timing and the loud incoherent protests from the klimate kooks at SkS that Frontier was looking for a way out that would not credit skeptics with being right again.
    So we hear vague mutters about ‘libel’, and ‘limitations of academic freedom (?)” . Well after a thorough review, one would not be surprised if a crap paper from a faux scientist was marked for removal. One of the limits of academic freedom is that of lying badly and getting caught. Ditto for libel.
    But as was pointed out most cleverly by PhilJourdan, since Lew’s crap was mostly made up anyway, if his paper and its claims were tested in court, discovery would only make Lew & gang look even worse. Now Lew gets to not only pretend to be a great academic, he can pretend to be a martyr as well.

  7. timo soren said

    The silver lining will be that the list of fools, of climate religious zealots, will be known and their legacy will be used to show future generations how not to behave. And ironically it is a possibility, if/when we skeptics are correct, that psychologists of the future will probably read Dana, Lew, Cook, Mann and others and consider diagnosis’s of denialism, narcissistic personality disorder, savior/messiah complex, projective conspiracy ideation, etc… or perhaps simply ethical malfeasance by a myriad of socio-pathetic people.

  8. Brian H said

    cash = cache

    Amazing how satisfying “pretending” is for some, isn’t it? Getting paid for it is not just for actors, unfortunately.

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