BREAKING: Editor-in-chief of Remote Sensing resigns over Spencer & Braswell paper

BREAKING: Editor-in-chief of Remote Sensing resigns over Spencer & Braswell paper (2011-09-02). Anthony Watts reposts Roy Spencer’s sputtering self-defense over the humiliating fall-out from his spectacularly stupid Remote Sensing paper, which we covered back in July. Seems the knock-out punch to the “IPCC climate conspiracy” was actually a denialist own-goal even after a co-ordinated media campaign. Perhaps Anthony is trying to “get out in front” of the embarrassing details to ensure his readers stay locked in the feedback loop.

What provoked Roy’s passionate self-defense? The Remote Sensing editor-in-chief, Wolfgang Wagner, has resigned in disgust (PDF here) over the deception by denialist scientists he believed were impartial reviewers and over the campaign that Spencer organized to promote the overstatement of his paper’s unsupported conclusions and play up its publication as proof of a credibility. Remote Sensing got played.

Spencer’s paper concocted a deliberately over-simplified climate model for the sole purpose of creating the appearance of a scientific refutation of the prevailing climate models and was gamed into Remote Sensing by “sympathetic reviewers”. The well-primed denialist community, including Forbes, Fox News and of course dear Anthony, immediately trumpeted its alleged conclusions.

Roy’s deeply nuanced summary of the response to his paper is “IPCC :1 Scientific Progress: 0″. Or perhaps I’m right and they’re wrong. Of course invoking “the IPCC” is equal parts conspiracy theory and wounded ego. Funny how denialists can spent years muttering about imagined conspiracies but determinedly look the other way when their own actually, if amateurishly, collude to form one. On second though, not so much funny as inevitable.

To restate Roy’s over-simplified assessment of his over-simplified paper, this is “Scientific Progress: 0, Roy Spencer -1″. Roy and company colluded to insert a worthless paper into the scientific record through an off-topic journal and both time and effort have been wasted in dealing with an obvious scientific dead-end. Thanks for nothing.

Read more about at:

2011-09-07 Update

Well this hasn’t taken long. Spencer’s ‘final nail in the coffin of AGW’  has completely unravelled. Turns out his crayon version of atmospheric physics has in fact proven the validity of current “alarmist” climate theories and models! Thanks Roy. That’s what happens when you work backwards from a baseless conclusion and ignore logic. Thanks for wading through the stupid, Dr. Dessler (preprint here, watch a video summary here).

Real Climate has posted intelligently about the dynamics of scientific publishing, but if you want to read mutterings about conspiracies and “repression” of determined stupidity, well, you know where to go…

It was S&B’s desire to avoid dealing with [people disagreeing with and criticising his conclusions ], that likely led them to a non-standard journal, whose editor very likely followed the authors suggestions for (friendly) reviewers, whose resulting reviews didn’t do very much (if anything) to strengthen the paper.

8 thoughts on “BREAKING: Editor-in-chief of Remote Sensing resigns over Spencer & Braswell paper

  1. I, for one, would like to congratulate the IPCC on having scored a goal without leaving any evidence that they ever entered the field. It’s quite an effort.

    [They're so skilled at ostracizing disobedient scientists that they probably didn't even notice they'd done it! - Ben]

  2. I think you’re being very generous to Spencer. I’d say, taking Spencer’s dismal effort with the long delay in correcting his satellite records plus his book plus this paper – it is Scientific Progress: 0 Spencer:-10 (that’s if you’re equating it to soccer scores – if AFL it would be Spencer: -100).

    What’s the bet that any future papers from Spencer will be published in E&E.

    If he stopped thinking his job was to be a legislator and started doing science he might have a chance still, but he’s probably getting a bit long in the tooth to change his spots. (He probably has a better chance of becoming a legislator than getting another paper published in a reputable journal.)

  3. It must suck to think the entire IPCC is out to get you and to lose a lot of reputation. I suppose a Spencer paper is now going to be met with substantially more peer review scrutiny. I would assume any new Spencer results are flawed unless shown otherwise.

  4. Is Spencer still raking up tax payers’ money at Huntsville University? Must end. We’ll see what happens there.

  5. “…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…” Roy Spencer at WUWT

    The peer review association……….The above quote is a reference to Climategate emails about the journal Climate Research that published Soon & Baliunas (2003)

    “I will be emailing the journal to tell them that I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor…” Phil Jones email

    “Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal…” Michael Mann’s reply (from Skeptical Science)

    Mann, Jones and Trenberth, however, have denied that they carried through on the threat against the journal or to keep the papers out of the IPCC report. Von Storch has stated that his resignation as editor of Climate Research had nothing to do with any pressure from Jones, Mann, or anyone else, but instead “because of insufficient quality control on a bad paper.” Wikipedia

    The resignation association……….The Editor-in-Chief at Remote Sensing, Wolfgang Wagner, resigned after the publishing of Roy Spencer’s paper…..The Editor-in-Chief at Climate Research, Hans von Storch, and half of his editorial board, resigned after the publishing of Soon & Baliunas (2003)……Neither paper has been withdrawn.

    Caution……….Roy Spencer should avoid making an accusation that leads directly to a comparison of his situation with that of the truly execrable Soon & Baliunas (2003).

    Among its sins, the most readily obvious is the non-synchroneity of the data that was presented to supposedly demonstrate a global Medieval Warm Period. The minimum requirement was just 50 continuous warm years. anywhere in the 500 year interval between 800AD and 1300AD. So, this was to be a global MWP in which the separate regions did not have to all have been warm at the same time!

    So, we find that the email threats were not the typical response to a routine skeptic paper, but the understandable first response to an abominable paper.
    And we see why Roy Spencer would be well advised to avoid his accusation, because of the association it engenders.

    [When you lie with dogd, you rise with fleas. - Ben]

  6. When the IPCC models “determine” the net radiative flux at TOA by presumably taking the difference of the upwelling and downwelling flux which these models determine, it appears that they seem to consider a result like 0.5% of total incoming radiation to be so accurate that they are confident it is not, say, -0.5%. One implies warming, the other implies cooling. Could someone explain here (as no one has been able to on other forums in the last week or so) how the error bars end up so small? Here’s a paper regarding errors in their figures.

    [Maybe you should contemplate error barsand what they represent statistically. The accuracy of measurement and quantity of measurements are the key factor. The abstract of the 2004 paper you link to discusses systematic errors and concludes "we have been able to reduce the overall uncertainties from 10–15 to 5–10 W/m2 at [Top Of Atmosphere] and from 20–25 to 10–15 W/m2 at [Surface].” As an aside, I wonder what the error bars on your website’s assertion of a 60-year climate cycle driven by “Jupiter / Saturn resonance” would look like and how close to zero that effect would be? – Ben]

  7. Me thinks the creative Drs Spencer and Lindzen, have much egg on their respective faces, from a recent paper published by Dr Andy Dessler debunking their shenanigans.

    Skeptical science link: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Dessler-2011-Debunks-Roy-Spencer-And-Richard-Lindzen.html

    Video Summary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2ngavUkmis

    Anthony Watts comment on the latest debunking “I’ve been given an advance copy, for which I’ve posted excerpts below. This paper appears to have been made ready in record time, with a turnaround from submission to acceptance and publication of about six weeks based on the July 26th publication date of the original Spencer and Braswell paper”.

    Now, why do I think Anthony Watts, is deliberately overlooking the inconvenient truth, concerning the time of the original submission of Dr Roy’s paper, prior to first publication.

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