Following this weeks earlier revelations of data fudging, the authors (John McLean, Chris de Freitas and Bob Carter) have responded to the debunking of their paper by Foster et al (Grant Foster, James Annan, Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Jim Renwick, Jim Salinger, Gavin Schmidt and Kevin Trenberth). The paper was shown to be rubbed and a good example of statistical trickery nearly immediately after it was published (more on the background at Climate Shifts and Skeptical Science).
Oddly, the response was posted to the ICECAP website (click here for a direct link to the pdf) and not on either authors hompages. In fact McLean’s web site still says “The informal nature of the Foster et al critique makes it inappropriate for me to respond in detail to it here, but should the criticisms be published in the normal manner we authors will respond as appropriate”.
The document is titled “Censorship at AGU: scientists denied the right of reply”. Is there a “right of reply” in academic science? No. There is a tradition to allow authors whose work is being criticized to respond – a tradition that was followed in this case. However, the response has to go through peer review; you don’t have any kind of right to publish in any journal.
The McLean et al response was peer-reviewed and was rejected. Looking at it, or at least what they claim was what they submitted as a response, we can see why. The response contains the same errors as the original article. The point of a reply isn’t simply to repeat the statements in your original paper. McLean et al largely miss the nature of the debunking by Foster et al 2010. Contrary to blog science, this is not a mere difference of opinion; the original McLean at al 2009 paper was shown to be fundamentally flawed and the analysis was likely intentionally skewed to produced the desired result. The paper should be retracted by the authors. In scientific publishing, when your work is show to be flawed (and in this case probably fraudulent), there is no automatic “right of reply”.
One thing worth noting: this whole affair is hosted on the “IceCap” blog; AKA International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project. Interestingly, the people listed on experts page include de Freitas and Carter, and wait, also Sallie Baliunas of the notorious (and debunked) Soon and Baliunas paper. Wasn’t de Freitas the editor of that much-maligned paper? Sure enough. So he edited Baliunas’ paper even though they are members of the same small ideologically-oriented organization? Isn’t that a conflict of interest? Yup. And it is ironic given McLean et al‘s complaints about Foster et al suggesting a reviewer whose name shows up in an (illegally obtained) email of one of the authors:
In response to this request, the Foster et al. group suggested the following persons as possible reviewers for their submitted critique: Ben Santer, Dave Thompson, Dave Easterling, Tom Peterson, Neville Nicholls, and David Parker (with Tom Wigley, Tom Karl and Mike Wallace also mentioned but regarded as doubtful). Phil Jones commenting “All of them know the sorts of things to say – about our comment and the awful original, without any prompting.”
A search of the Climategate emails for each of the names suggested above shows that all six of these persons were reasonably well known to Phil Jonesm
At the end of the day, the truth of the matter largely rests with AGU and we look forward to their perspective on all this.
Despite all the song and dance about how:
Science is best progressed by open and free discussion in which all participants have equal rights of contribution.
(which is complete nonsense: all participants, don’t have equal right of contribution in any science), McLean et al seem to have spent more time documenting how they were wronged by AGU and criticising the scientific process than they did trying to rebut and correct the errors highlighted out by Foster et al (which are still valid).