Copernicus Publications is an Open Access enterprise that provided the ability for an academic entity of some sort or another to create a new Open Access journal. In March 2013 the journal “Pattern Recognition in Physics” was started up and added to the Copernicus lineup. The journal apparently put out a few items, and then, recently, produced Special Issue 1, called “Pattern in solar variability, their planetary origin and terrestrial impacts.” The special issue editors were Nils-Axel Mörner, R. Tattersall, and J.-E. Solheim. Readers of this blog will recognize R. Tattersall as TallBloke, the bloke, apparently tall, who threatened to sue me into oblivion a couple of years back because I accept, generally, mainstream climate science and he does not.
After the initial production of the special issue, though apparently before all the papers promised were produced, Copernicus pulled the plug on the journal. Here is their statement in full:
Termination of the journal Pattern Recognition in Physics
Copernicus Publications started publishing the journal Pattern Recognition in Physics (PRP) in March 2013. The journal idea was brought to Copernicus’ attention and was taken rather critically in the beginning, since the designated Editors-in-Chief were mentioned in the context of the debates of climate skeptics. However, the initiators asserted that the aim of the journal was to publish articles about patterns recognized in the full spectrum of physical disciplines rather than to focus on climate-research-related topics.
Recently, a special issue was compiled entitled “Pattern in solar variability, their planetary origin and terrestrial impacts”. Besides papers dealing with the observed patterns in the heliosphere, the special issue editors ultimately submitted their conclusions in which they “doubt the continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project” (Pattern Recogn. Phys., 1, 205–206, 2013).
Copernicus Publications published the work and other special issue papers to provide the spectrum of the related papers to the scientists for their individual judgment. Following best practice in scholarly publishing, published articles cannot be removed afterwards.
In addition, the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis, which we regard as malpractice in scientific publishing and not in accordance with our publication ethics we expect to be followed by the editors.
Therefore, we at Copernicus Publications wish to distance ourselves from the apparent misuse of the originally agreed aims & scope of the journal as well as the malpractice regarding the review process, and decided on 17 January 2014 to cease the publication of PRP. Of course, scientific dispute is controversial and should allow contradictory opinions which can then be discussed within the scientific community. However, the recent developments including the expressed implications (see above) have led us to this drastic decision.
Interested scientists can reach the online library at: www.pattern-recogn-phys.net
So, let me rephrase. A group of climate science denialists made up a story about what they wanted to do and convinced a publisher to let them create a “peer reviewed journal.” The publisher was rightfully suspicious, but just as rightfully, open to the idea. We can’t, after all, be repressing the development, publication, and dissemination of science just because we don’t like some feature or another of the people involved.
Not long after the journal existed, the perpetrators of what we may now recognize as a hoax produced the “special issue” which includes fake science “disproving” global warming. One of the key results asserts that the interaction of celestial bodies can produce a pattern that happens to match the pattern of Earth’s surface temperature changes over recent time.
This, of course, is where “pattern recognition” (which is indeed a thing in science, though mainly for exploratory purposes) can go wrong. This is where the famous phrase “correlation does not imply causation” (which I’ve discussed here) comes in. It would not be hard to find a pattern in celestial reality to match the basic Hockey Stick curve. If we then add to that pattern some wiggles that relate, say, to insolation (the amount of energy coming in from the sun, which varies over time) and a major climate driver like ENSO (the El Nino thing) to make the “pattern” more climate-looking, we’ve got a nice match. The reason this is not hard is because celestial bodies move in a diverse range of periods and there are enough celestial bodies that we can produce many different combinations of their movements, and then pick the one that matches our data. This is roughly similar to using a quasi-random number generator to produce thousands of lines on a graph, then picking the line that matches our data, except that the final analysis using celestial bodies can say “We’ve found a pattern matching orbital geometries of the solar system that explains climate change” instead of “We made up a line from random numbers and it matches climate change.”
As I read through the papers in the special issue, I could not help but to remember the old Cosmos show, in particular the scenes (in Episode 3?) of early astronomers trying to figure out this thing where the planets go around the sun. It was Tycho Brahe, if I recall correctly, getting very frustrated when his model … physical model … fell apart in his hands because there were too many parts and not enough glue. Indeed, the basic science referred to in some of the work presented in the special issue is ancient solar system dynamics and has a nearly metaphysical feel to it.
This method is even seen as inappropriate among the hard core climate science denialists. Science Denialist Anthony Watts, while making sure to decry the suppression of his fellow denialists by the scientific mainstream, admits that the bogus analysis is bogus:
I will say that some of the papers in that special journal edition really aren’t any better than curve fitting exercises. …
As many WUWT readers know, while years ago I expressed some interest in planetary tidal force effects on climate, I have long since been convinced that there’s zero planetary effect on climate for two reasons: 1) The gravitational effects at distance are simply too small to exert the forces neccessary, and 2) The methodology employed often results in hindcast curve fitting a theory to data, where the maxim “correlation is not causation” should have been considered before publishing the paper.
The denialosphere is, naturally, reacting strongly to this event.
Jo Nova, noting that the “Streisand Effect” may ultimately help the bogus papers achieve more attention than they otherwise might (and I certainly hope this is true … examples of really bad papers are very useful sometimes), calls for a general boycott of any journal that does not speak out against Copernicus’ closing of Pattern Recognition: “it’s time to boycott any journal which does not speak up against this weak act of caving in to the dominant paradigm. It is not about whether they agree with the scientific conclusions, it’s about free speech. It’s about science.”
TallBloke, one of the editors of the special issue, was already busy using the journal to raise funds for his own accounts, apparently, when he had to interrupt himself to become indignant. On December 13th he posted an update on the special issue and told readers, “If you would like copy of the print edition, please use the donate button on this site (top left of the sidebar) to remit 18.50 Euros plus 4 Euros to cover the cost of the journal copy and postage/packing. I will then pass these orders on to Copernicus. Thanks for all your support and consideration.” Read that twice. Yeah, I’m not sure either. Anyway, after the axing, he notes, “A conclusion and its implication in the summary paper was: because our scientific investigation leads us to the prediction that the Sun is headed into a protracted minimum, the warming forecast by the IPCC might not happen. This has led to the journal being axed by the parent Publishing house Copernicus. The papers are still available … Please download and disseminate them widely.” Tallbloke also gives us, usefully, the text of the letter sent to the coordinating editors Nils Axel Mörner and chief editor Sid Ali Ouadfeul:
Dear Sid-Ali, dear Nils-Axel, We regret to inform you that we decided to terminate the journal Pattern Recognition in Physics (PRP).
While processing the press release for the special issue “Pattern in solar variability, their planetary origin and terrestrial impacts”, we read through the general conclusions paper published on 16 Dec 2013. We were alarmed by the authors’ second implication stating “This sheds serious doubts on the issue of a continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project”. Before the journal was launched, we had a long discussion regarding its topics. The aim of the journal was to publish articles about patterns recognized in the full spectrum of physical disciplines. PRP was never meant to be a platform for climate sceptics. In addition to our doubts about the scientific content of PRP, we also received information about potential misconduct during the review process. Copernicus Publications cannot risk losing its excellent reputation in the scientific community. We therefore wish to distance ourselves from the apparent misuse of the originally agreed aims & scope of PRP and decided today to cease the publication. This decision must come as a surprise for you, but under the given circumstances we were forced to react.
We hope that you understand our reasons for this decision. We thank you very much for your cooperation and wish you all the best for your future career.
Best regards, Martin and Xenia
Luboš Motl repeats the falsehood that the journal was terminated because of one sentence by writing “One sentence in Scafetta’s paper on solar/climate patterns was too much for the AGW loons and their cowardly slaves and collaborationists,” and concludes his blog post by stating, in reference to mainstream science, “They have poisoned the Academia way too much; they have depleted their right to live,” followed by a rather ham-handed attempt to link climate scientists to the Nazi Gold Dawn party in Greece.
(I can tell you from personal experience that we are not all linked; Golden Dawn took the trouble a year ago or so to declare that I am the Anit Christ. And they produced a lot of evidence to support their claim!)
Ugo Bardi had this to say about “Pattern Recognition” (the journal and the thing you do):
…they say that it was closed, among other things, because of “the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis”
That, however, is just a part of the story and most of it had to do with the denialist stance of the editors on the matter of climate. But the problem with this journal was even deeper. What is exactly to be intended as “pattern recognition in physics”? … It is, at best, the “curve fitting” approach to physics which may be a lot of fun, but if it is not based on a good physical model is just normally an exercise in irrelevance.
So, the very concept of a physics journal dedicated to pattern recognition, alone, is very doubtful, to say the least. Then, it is no wonder that a (so-called) physics purely based on pattern recognition in physics results arrives in the denial of the physical basis of climate change.
Remember this moment, folks. I don’t think you are going to see Ugo Bardi and Anthony Watts agreeing on something too often!
Big City Lib had already recognized the nefarious nature of this journal. Of the names of some of those involves, BCL writes:
People that read this blog may be familiar with some of these names. They are climate change denialists of one stripe or another. Tattersall is a blogger who writes under the name of Tallbloke. W. Soon = Willie Wei-Hock Soon. N. Scaffeta = Nick Scaffeta. Nils-Axel Mörner is a crazed wingnut who is also a goddamn water witch! JE Solheim thinks that a simple harmonic model (movements of the sun, moon and planets together with linear trends) provides a better fit to the global temperature data since 1850 and likely a better predictor than the assembly of 44 climate models used by the IPCC….
So what appears to have happened is that a small group of denialists paid money to Copernicus Publishing, launched their own journal under its imprint, and published crap. Now they can say its all passed “peer review”. It will be interesting to see exactly what this means under the circumstances. That they read one another’s stuff?
That was written before the Journal’s termination and the assertion by Copernicus that the peer review process was conducted with “malpractice.” So, to answer BCL’s question: Yes, they appear to read one another’s stuff! Good call!