Adults in the room?
Posted by Jeff Id on April 6, 2014
Several blogs are already carrying the comment by the journal Frontiers of Science, which appears to be in response to Lewandowsky et ilk’s even-wilder-than-the-paper claims of having their rights suppressed.
(Lausanne, Switzerland) – There has been a series of media reports concerning the recent retraction of the paper Recursive Fury:Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation, originally published on 18 March 2013 in Frontiers in Psychology. Until now, our policy has been to handle this matter with discretion out of consideration for all those concerned. But given the extent of the media coverage – largely based on misunderstanding – Frontiers would now like to better clarify the context behind the retraction.
As we published in our retraction statement, a small number of complaints were received during the weeks following publication. Some of those complaints were well argued and cogent and, as a responsible publisher, our policy is to take such issues seriously. Frontiers conducted a careful and objective investigation of these complaints. Frontiers did not “cave in to threats”; in fact, Frontiers received no threats. The many months between publication and retraction should highlight the thoroughness and seriousness of the entire process.
As a result of its investigation, which was carried out in respect of academic, ethical and legal factors, Frontiers came to the conclusion that it could not continue to carry the paper, which does not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects. Specifically, the article categorizes the behaviour of identifiable individuals within the context of psychopathological characteristics. Frontiers informed the authors of the conclusions of our investigation and worked with the authors in good faith, providing them with the opportunity of submitting a new paper for peer review that would address the issues identified and that could be published simultaneously with the retraction notice.
The authors agreed and subsequently proposed a new paper that was substantially similar to the original paper and, crucially, did not deal adequately with the issues raised by Frontiers.
We remind the community that the retracted paper does not claim to be about climate science, but about psychology. The actions taken by Frontiers sought to ensure the right balance of respect for the rights of all.
One of Frontiers’ founding principles is that of authors’ rights. We take this opportunity to reassure our editors, authors and supporters that Frontiers will continue to publish – and stand by – valid research. But we also must uphold the rights and privacy of the subjects included in a study or paper.
Frontiers is happy to speak to anyone who wishes to have an objective and informed conversation about this. In such a case, please contact the Editorial Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This statement is in stark contrast to some other Lewandowsky’s claims (rants) which are now known to be complete fabrications:
The strategies employed in those attacks follow a common playbook, regardless of which scientific proposition is being denied and regardless of who the targeted scientists are: There is cyber-bullying and public abuse by “trolling” (which recent research has linked to sadism); there is harassment by vexatious freedom-of-information (FOI) requests; there are the complaints to academic institutions; legal threats; and perhaps most troubling, there is the intimidation of journal editors and publishers who are acting on manuscripts that are considered inconvenient.
Lewandowsky seems posses a singular ability to ignore evidence which does not support his worldview. I’m no psycho-ologist but it seems clear that his simplified reality is a shelter for him, where he can exist as a white-hat good guy and throw rocks at those who don’t fit his model.
It seems to me that Lewandowsky is dangerously deep in his own imaginations of conspiracy. How far will a man go who has written several articles to the point with no visible evidence to back his claims up. In his recent rant, he made the even more ridiculous point that nobody has made a “scholarly” critique of his articles. The same articles Lewandowsky, and his journal, recently and consistently have refused to give others any access to the data he alleges created the paper.
They even called Steve McIntyre unbalanced in their refusal. Even one with Lewandowsky’s limitations must recognize that he cannot be addressed in science, if he refuses access to his secret data. Data which allegedly was used to conclude that many of my favorite scientists, engineers and climate professionals are conspiracy theorists.
I mean really, this scientist is claiming that his paper is un-critiqued, while simultaneously refusing data to the people who would critique it.
I have to be careful here, or he will assume that I am saying he illegitimately adjusted the data to produce a trend and publish another whacko paper referencing me, in the last continent which will have him. I wouldn’t put it past him one bit to tweak the data himself illegitimately, but his methodology is so skewed that the data doesn’t require tweaking to achieve his result. It only needs a few crazy answers created by “internet people” –having fun. Take it from a blogger, internet people are crazy!! :D
Not as crazy as Lewandowsky though.
Still, Anthony Watts had the right title for his article: Journal takes Lewandowsky and his supporters to task on ‘threats’ over retracted ‘Recursive Fury’ paper.
It seems to me that the Journal, seeing the continuing ridiculous comments by Lewandowsky and many of his internet advocates, was compelled by the extreme inaccuracy and childish behavior of the authors, to set the record straight. I unreservedly applaud them for taking that step, it restores a modicum of their own credibility in my eyes, yet I am still left with questions:
How did that kind of blatant character attack paper get published in a “scientific” journal in the first place?
Does the journal recognize this as an obvious symptom of internal problems?
Will the journal take the necessary self-examination steps required to correct the problem for the long term?