Henry Markram, a chief editor at Frontiers, the journal that recently retracted (resulting in multiple resignations of editors from that journal), inappropriately, an important paper on climate change denialism, just made the following comment on a post on that journal’s blog.
My own personal opinion: The authors of the retracted paper and their followers are doing the climate change crisis a tragic disservice by attacking people personally and saying that it is ethically ok to identify them in a scientific study. They made a monumental mistake, refused to fix it and that rightfully disqualified the study. The planet is headed for a cliff and the scientific evidence for climate change is way past a debate, in my opinion. Why even debate this with contrarians? If scientists think there is a debate, then why not debate this scientifically? Why help the ostriches of society (always are) keep their heads in the sand? Why not focus even more on the science of climate change? Why not develop potential scenarios so that society can get prepared? Is that not what scientists do? Does anyone really believe that a public lynching will help advance anything? Who comes off as the biggest nutter? Activism that abuses science as a weapon is just not helpful at a time of crisis.
Shall we Fisk?
My own personal opinion:
I’m not sure if this being his own personal opinion gets him out of trouble here. As an assistant field chief editor that is.
The authors of the retracted paper
Please avoid the passive voice. “As the authors of the paper I supervised the undue retraction of.” There, I fixed that for you.
and their followers
Oh, I see, you think is a cult or something. Interesting.
Actually, I think it is you who is doing something here. They just wrote a paper in their field of expertise, published it in a peer reviewed journal, etc.
the climate change crisis a tragic disservice
No, this research is important in understanding the astonishing and critically important fact that there is a virtually 100% consensus among scientists that climate change is real, human caused, and important in contrast to something closer to a 50-50 distribution of belief among the general public that it is even a thing. This discordance is one of the most important facts of our age, because a) climate change is one of the most important things happening on this planet right now and b) humanity seems entirely unable to address it. There are reasons for this and one of those reasons is the behavior, strategy, and tactics of the denialist community. Recursive Fury was a scholarly study of an important aspect of that. Which you published. Then, the denialist community pressured you into retracting it. That, good sir, is a tragic disservice. You are the perpetrator of a tragic disservice.
by attacking people personally and saying that it is ethically ok to identify them in a scientific study.
Writing about and analyzing public comments without referring to the source is unethical. You have this backwards, It is generally accepted by the research and publishing community that you have this wrong.
They made a monumental mistake,
Well, you got that right. They should have picked a different journal. Generally, I think it would be a good idea henceforth for people to pick a different journal.
refused to fix it
Even though the paper is fine the way it is they did not “refuse to fix it” but rather worked with the editors of Frontiers (perhaps you should meet them some time!) to follow one or more paths to addressing this issue. So, that’s just a lie, apparently.
and that rightfully disqualified the study.
Disqualified the study? That you published?
The planet is headed for a cliff and the scientific evidence for climate change is way past a debate, in my opinion. Why even debate this with contrarians?
Since you are acting as a hobgoblin of the climate science denialists, I’m a little surprised to see that you accept the reality of climate change so readily. But that’s good, good for you. As to why there should be an academic study of denialism, there are two answers to that. a) academics traditionally study whatever they want, and b) see above.
If scientists think there is a debate,
They don’t, yet there is one and that debate is hampering our efforts to do something about it. This is worthy of study and investigation. Somebody should do that!
then why not debate this scientifically?
There isn’t a valid debate, but there is a debate nonetheless. THAT issue is worthy of scientific study. Lewandowsky et al. did that. You have repressed the study.
Why help the ostriches of society (always are) keep their heads in the sand?
Exactly. Let’s address this faux debate. In this case, we need to understand it better. Academic study of the debate is a good thing. Which the authors did. Which you agreed to, published, then under pressure from the denialists, retracted.
Why not focus even more on the science of climate change?
This is a very interesting question. Lewandowsky is not a climate scientist. Others involved both in this paper and other projects are also not climate scientists. For that matter the vast majority of denialists are not climate scientists either. But the issue of climate change has many aspects, including denialism, which was the subject of an academic study that your journal accepted, published, then under pressure from science denialists, retracted.
Why not develop potential scenarios so that society can get prepared?
Get prepared? Oh, I see. You actually ARE a denialist! There are many kinds of denailists, including those who think there is nothing we can do about climate change. This statement seems to suggest that this is your position. That is very interesting. This may be the most important statement I’ve seen coming out of Frontiers. This could explain the whole retraction thing. Huh.
Is that not what scientists do?
What scientists do is they study stuff and write papers and put the papers in peer reviewed journals, and part of that is the process of editorial oversight and review. That is what Lewandowsky et al did. They did what scientists did. You, and Frontiers, did something else, something that editors should not do about the science in their journals. Repress it.
Does anyone really believe that a public lynching will help advance anything?
Most people believe that study of denialism is important. Most people believe that public lynching of scientists who study climate change or climate science denialism does not help advance anything. Did I answer your question correctly? 🙂
Who comes off as the biggest nutter? Activism that abuses science as a weapon is just not helpful at a time of crisis.
Did you just call the authors of the paper you repressed nutters? Wow.