Climategate 2 and Corruption of Peer Review – Part II

This is a continuation of a narrative I am putting together from the climategate 2 emails, which shows how the ‘team’ (a group of famous climate scientitsts) get together to trash the good name and career of an editor of the academic journal Climate Research. The editor in question is Chris de Freitas, an accomplished scientist. The reason for their actions; he allowed the publication of a paper which contradicted the work of the team, and in particular published a paper which was supportive of the existence of the Medieval Warm Period. Michael Mann’s famous hockey stick chart saw this period disappear, and his ‘hockey stick’ chart was used by the IPCC as evidence of anthropogenic global warming.

Before reading this section, I strongly recommend that you start with the first post on the subject, which is here. In the first section, I detail how some of the most famous climate scientists plot to have Chris de Freitas, who allowed the contrary paper, sacked from his job. This post follows the story forwards.

As before, when quoting the emails, I do so minus annoying symbols such as >>>. Where I am commenting within the email text, I place the text as [this is my comments], and any bold text is my emphasis. For this post, I will mainly only quote parts of emails that directly refer to the team’s attempt to attack de Freitas.

In the previous post, I was up to email 1430, but had missed out a crucial email in which Phil Jones is supportive of action 3b and 3c suggested by Pittock to deal with the de Freitas problem (see previous post, email O332 ), which I will remind you of as follows:

(b) Ensure that such misleading papers do not continue to appear in the offending journals by getting proper scientific standards applied to refereeing and editing [nothing we disagree with goes into the journal]. Whether that is done publicly or privately may not matter so much, as long as it happens. It could be through boycotting the journals, but that might leave them [them??? – people who disagree] even freer to promulgate misinformation. To my mind that is not as good as getting the offending editors removed [they want to determine who can and cannot edit a journal?] and proper processes in place. Pressure or ultimatums to the publishers might work, or concerted lobbying by other co-editors or leading authors.

(c) A journalistic expose of the unscientific practices might work and embarass the sceptics/industry lobbies [this sounds like a call to smear anyone who disagrees] (if they are capable of being embarassed) e.g., through a reliable [as biased as they are???] lead reporter for Science or Nature. Offending editors could be labelled as “rogue editors” [this is simply unreal], in line with current international practice? Or is that defamatory? [I would suggest that, yes, calling anyone who disagrees with you, or allows publication of dissenting views, would indeed be defamatory]

Phil Jones writes back to Pittock endorsing both of these actions as follows, in email o332,  on 17 April:

My earlier email reply to Neville gives the details of a paper already out there and two more planned. It is clear when these come out we have to be more active in gaining more widespread publicity for them (much more than we normally do). [it is clear here that they are, quite literally, activists] At the moment Ray’s extensive paper (with others) in the PAGES volume could be a starting point.

Mike Hulme is moving towards your 3b course of action and I’ll talk to Hans von Storch, who although he says he’s not the Chief Editor is thought of by many to be this de facto. 3c is possible through contacts we all have with editors at Science and Nature. I realise the issues with lobbying groups and I’m sure this has been discussed at the IPCC planning meeting in Marrakesh this week.

Let’s see how Mike gets on and my talks with Hans (and Tom Crowley) next week.

In this email, Phil Jones is clearly endorsing actions to use whatever means necessary to blacken the name of de Freitas. It is also possible to see that they see themselves as having influence at Science and Nature, and that they consider they can call on this influence to do a hatchet job. In the same email, Mann responds to Phil Jones as follows:

I’m going to try to get ahold of Dick Kerr today to see if I can get his interest in doing a story. My guess is that Dick will go for it. If so, I’d like to give him a list of names of people to contact for comments.

Richard (Dick) Kerr is a staff writer for Science magazine. I will jump ahead a little here, as it is appears that Mann succeeds. By 15th August, a story appears in Science magazine called ‘In the Eye of the Storm‘. This is an extract from the piece, and you will note how closely it follows the team’s objective:

It has been a hot summer for Hans von Storch. In June the German meteorologist was promoted to editor-in chief of Climate Research and asked to douse the controversy from the journal’s publication in January of a paper skeptical about global warming. But by the end of July he had thrown in the towel and resigned.

The paper that led to his rise and fall claimed that the 20th century was in fact cooler than a period in the late Middle Ages.Authored by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, it was based on a study partly funded by the American Petroleum Institute and widely quoted by politicians skeptical of global warming. The Bush Administration even referenced it in a recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency that critics said was altered to hew more closely to the party line.

But other climate researchers say the authors’ data was too limited to support their claims. “They could not draw those conclusions from the methods they used,” says Von Storch.

This was not the only piece that appeared in Science. The following paper is published:

Bradley, R. S., Hughes, M. K., & Diaz, H. F. (2003). Climate in Medieval time.(Climate Change). Science, 302(5644), 404(402).

It may come as no surpise to see that the paper rebuts the Soon & Baliunas (S&B) paper, the publication of which led to the team’s attack on de Freitas. This is the conclusion of the paper:

The balance of evidence does not point to a High Medieval period that was as warm as or warmer than the late 20th century. However, more climate records are required to explain the likely causes for climate variations over the last millennium and to fully understand natural climate variability, which will certainly accompany future anthropogenic effects on climate.

And, if looking at the references used in the paper, it contains references to three Mann papers, and offers this at the end:

We thank J. Hansen, J. Lean, M. Mann, and J. Salinger for comments. Support by the U.S. Department of Energy (R.S.B., H.F.D,), NSF Earth System History program (M.K.H.), and NOAA Earth System History program (R.S.S., M.K.H.).

And here is the rub. Apparently, according to Mann in email number 2469, the article was ‘a solicited piece’. It seems that the planned journalistic expose and the rebuttal all took place as planned. This should, at the very least, cause some concern about Science Magazine in this ugly business. Furthermore, for example, Bradley was on the distribution of many of the key emails plotting against de Freitas, including the one in which Wigley admits that the attack on de Freitas is ad hominem. Here we can see the extent of the team, and a cynical view might suggest that Richard Kerr is joining as a team member (he is later copied in on emails from other members of the team e.g. here).

I have digressed a little, as I wanted to follow up on some interesting points in the emails, and I continue the story at email 4132, of 28th April. This is Phil Jones to Mann:

Now had a chance to catch up a little.  On de Freitas I hope something is going to happen, but I don’t to say anything yet. Hans and Clare will write to the publishers and try to get the reviews from de Freitas. Hans is now convinced he should go, but wants to do on a due cause basis and by the book so any backlash can be dealt with in a fair manner.

From the previous post, you may remember that all along, the team wanted to know who had been responsible for the Soon & Baliunas (S&B) paper. It seems here that the pressure from the team is finally working with regards to Hans von Storch. Mann only makes one comment on this, which is below:

Re, DeFreitas–good to hear. That piece that Jim Salinger just forwarded is especially damning…Thanks for the message.

I am assuming that Mann is referring to the email, in which Salinger is proposing sending a letter with the clear intention of getting de Freitas sacked from University of Auckland. However, I cannot be sure from this snippet, as it may refer to the email below.The next email I have found comes quite a bit later, on 16 May, and is email 4808. (corrected 28 November, thanks Alex) MannPhil Jones is following up on the email of Mann Hulme, in which he proposes writing a letter to the other editors of Climate Resarch, asking for the editors to resign in protest at de Freitas being an editor.

Did anything ever come of this? [the email to the CR editors]

Clare Goodness was in touch w/ me indicating that she had discussed the matter w/ Von Storch, and that DeFrietas would be relieved of his position. However, I haven’t heard anything. A large segment of the community I’ve been in contact with feels that this event has already done its damage, allowing Baliunas and colleagues to  attempt to impact U.S. governmental policy, w/ this new weapon in hand–the appearance of a    legitimate peer-reviewed document challenging some core assertions of IPCC to wave in congress. They appear to be making some headway in using this to influence U.S. policy, which makes our original discussions all the more pressing now.

In this context, it seems important that either Clare and Von Storch take imminent action  on this, or else actions of the sort you had mentioned below should perhaps be strongly considered again. Non-action or slow action here could be extremely damaging.I’ll forward you some emails which will indicate the damage that the publication has already caused.

Thanks very much for all your help w/ this to date, and for anything additional you may be able to do in this regard to move this forward.

It seems that the pressure of the team is bearing fruit, and that they will achieve their aim of having de Freitas sacked as an editor. Also, the primary concern of Jones in this email is the impact of the S&B on policymakers. Other people researching other climategate emails have found the team openly referring to the ’cause’, and it is apparent that the big concern about the S&B paper is that it is damaging ‘the cause’.

You may have noted that Clare Goodess has been floating into view in some of the emails. As a backgrounder, she is a researcher at the CRU East Anglia, and is therefore a colleague of Phil Jones. She was also copied in on email 1051156418.txt in which Wigley admits that they are discussin an ad hominem attack on de Freitas, so must be aware of the role that she is about to play. This is email 4159, and the following is from Goodess to Mann on 19 May:

Hans and I have already raised this issue with Inter Research, but they havent taken  it up yet. Hans and I have have contacted de Freitas and InterResearch over the issues that you and others have raised before. One of the things de Freitas said in response, was that he had contacted the editor of Energy and Environment to see why it had been published. The editor told him that it deserved ‘a less interferedwith version’ , i.e., the original authors had complained about the  changes required by the CR reviewers!

Hans, InterResearch and I are still discussing what action needs to be taken and how to respond to de Freitas’ inititial responses. I will ensure that all those who have expressed concerns to me and/or Hans/Mike Hulme are informed of the outcome.

Notice here, that team members are being kept in the loop at all stages. In the normal world, even if accepting that there should be a review of the position of de Freitas, you would expect this kind of review to be confidential, as it directly relates to the reputation of an individual.The response from Mann is:

Thanks very much for the update, and for your efforts to do something about this. De Freitas’ argument seems to amount to “well the editor at ‘Energy and Environment’ was even worse than me”, and that doesn’t quite hold water.

As de Frietas apparently seeks to distance himself from culpability, please keep in mind that this is only one of  numerous past complaints of suspicious and apparently unethical behavior on his part in association with his position at “Climate Research”. I’m forwarding, under separate cover, an email describing a complaint from Danny Harvey and Tom Wigley.

I, as well as many other of our colleagues, look forward to hearing what happens here.

For this email alone, it might be reasonable for de Freitas to challenge Mann in court for libel. Mann is directly suggesting that de Freitas has behaved unethically in relation to his role at Climate Research. Meanwhile in email 2104, they are planning a new line of attack. On 22nd April, Harvey sends an email copying an email he, Wigley and Goodess write the following to de Freitas:

Dear Dr. de Freitas:

We have discovered that we were both reviewers of the paper Revised 21st century temperature projections by Michaels et al. recently  published in your journal (vol. 23, pp. 19, 2002). In our reviews, we both judged the paper to be in category d (Publication not recommended) because of numerous flaws in the arguments, which we carefully documented.

We now see that the paper has been published almost without alteration from the original submission, except for a few added paragraphs that  either do not address or inadequately address the main objections that we raised. The revised manuscript was apparently not subjected to re- review at least not by us. We find this to be most unusual  even if the authors presented a counter-argument to each of our objections, it is the normal procedure among reputable journals for the authors reply to be forwarded to the original reviewers for further comment.

We note in this regard that even under the less damning evaluation category c (Revise and re-submit for additional review), responses and      revisions should be sent back to the original referees. Your decision that a paper judged totally unacceptable for publication should not      require re-review is unprecedented in our experience.

We therefore request that you forward to us copies of the authors responses to our criticisms, together with: (1) your reason for not sending these responses or the revised manuscript to us; (2) an explanation for your judgment that the revised paper should be published in the absence of our re-review; and (3) your reason for failing to follow accepted editorial procedures.

Yours truly,
Danny Harvey and Tom Wigley
Best wishes, Clare

In other words, a new line of attack has opened up. I have had several academic papers accepted for publication, including some that have strongly divided reviewers, but where the editor has come down upon my side and accepted the paper (and some with the opposite outcome). From this experience, it seems that their complaint is without any foundation, but I have never been a journal editor (although I have reviewed articles).

I’m afraid that, at this point, I will call it a day again. I have just had a comment on the original post on this subject from Steve McIntyre, and he has mentioned that he plans to follow this up. As this blog is only a minor one, and this is a major story, I will leave it to those that can give a better airing to finish the story. I only hope that the work I have done on this might help.

As a conclusion, I would just like to say that the de Freitas affair is, I believe, a very, very major story. In particular there is no question of ‘out of context’ or any of the other excuses that were wheeled out for climategate 1. They are absolutely explicit in their aims, and their endorsement of Salinger’s proposal to try to get de Freitas sacked. This is something that most people, even those who do not follow this subject, can grasp hold of.

In the meantime, I have every confidence that Steve will take this story forwards, and give it the reach it deserves . In particular, Steve’s good name has enough weight to carry the story into the mainstream media. I suspect that this might finally be enough for the ‘team’ to held accountable for their corruption of science. Let’s hope so.

As a final note, I will follow up this story with the New Zealand media, in particular when Steve’s version of events is published. In my original post, I have posted a copy of the email I sent to the New Zealand Herald, effectively challenging them to respond to the story. More of the same may be on the cards, time allowing.

Update: 28 November

I see that this post has been linked to on Real Climate in some comments on Climategate 2. This is the comment:

Any context on this thread – which might be interpreted to constitute a coordinated effort to have someone dismissed for not following the party line?

And the answer is given as follows:

[Response: The issue has nothing to do with not ‘following the party line’, but rather of being guilty of appalling editorial practices, whereby papers were published with claims that were not justified by the analysis, or that were accepted almost ‘as is’ regardless of the views of referees. Hans von Storch in email 2106: “For me it is important that we admit that the result of the review process of Soon & Baliunas was insufficient”, and noting the pattern “We should have been more vigilant after we had seen that actually two critical comments were written on the first Soon paper” (also handled by de Freitas). The corruption here was de Frietas, not anyone who responded. – gavin]

My response to ‘Gavin’. When reading the whole series of emails, and looking at the context of the whole, I think readers can make up their own minds. This is yet another attempt by the ‘team’ (Real Climate is their online support) to shift the direction, again smearing Chris de Freitas. Again, here again we have accusations of Chris de Freitas as ‘corrupt’. If I were Chris, I might be chatting with some lawyers right now.

Interestingly, I do not think I need to say more. I think the emails speak for themselves, except to say that  it is interesting to see how they will try to spin this. I saw (and responded to) a comment (awaiting moderation at time of writing) on Wattsupwiththat which was very similar to this, and said something similar to my comment here.

Update 1st December

I have noticed that the campaign against Chris de Freitas is being restarted, so I have written a post dedicated to the subject, which can be found here.

25 responses to “Climategate 2 and Corruption of Peer Review – Part II

  1. Pingback: Climategate 2 and Corruption of Peer Review | New Zealand Climate Change

  2. Pingback: The tribalistic corruption of peer review – the Chris de Freitas incident | Watts Up With That?

  3. Kudos for this excellent exposé of the total corruption within the international and supranational clique called the “Team”. If the U.S. had an honest Attorney General instead of a gun-running criminal, he could open a RICO investigation into this corrupt scheme to lie and game the system for taxpayer loot.

    I long for the day when one of these climate charlatans makes a mistake that lands this whole corrupt enterprise in a legal setting, with long depositions from all the key players, and witnesses cross examined under oath. Maybe this event will do it. If so, I’m ready to contribute.

  4. A note – email 4808 is not from Jones, it is from Mann to Mike Hulme.

    • Thanks Alex!

      In gneral, if there are any other errors, please let me know, and the comments section can catch them and disclose them. I would rather that this is all 100% correct, so welcome any similar comments.

  5. Interesting. I’ve reviewed for a journal for over a dozen years and, from my experience, Wigley and Goodess may have a point, the paper should have gone back to the original reviewers for further review/comment if the editors felt that the issues being addressed were of a sufficiently technical nature that the editors needed another set of referees to determine whether the next set of revisions sufficiently addressed the first set of comments. Since they recommended rejection that might be the case. An editor might have to consider the bias of the reviewers in possibly rejecting all opposing views (at least in their emails that certainly seems to be the case) as to whether a second review is appropriate. At no point in this discussion/thread do I see a discussion of the details/merits/flaws of the S&B paper which I find particularly interesting.

    • Mann and others published a paper in EOS in July of 2003 that addressed directly the S&B paper, and gave several criticisms that Hans van Storch referenced in the editorial that he wrote, as seen in the 2106 email that Gavin cited at RealClimate. The paper is here:

      Among the criticisms (which were also alluded to in the emails) are that the paper had a very vague and (as I see it) silly definition for what constituted a “MWP” for a proxy, and also that it did not consider whether these instances occurred simultaneously at each location.

    • “At no point in this discussion/thread do I see a discussion of the details/merits/flaws of the S&B paper which I find particularly interesting.”

      You wouldn’t because the thread isn’t about the S&B paper per se but the very poor behaviour of the hockey team. Given you cannot see this point, I am VERY concerned that you have been allowed to review for a journal!

  6. Thatcher:
    At no point in this discussion/thread do I see a discussion of the details/merits/flaws of the S&B paper which I find particularly interesting.

    That’s the point I found interesting as well.

  7. Wow, thanks for this detailed story.
    It is also interesting to read email 3265 (which was also in climategate 1) .
    In it, De Freitas writes a long and detailed account, explaining that there were four expert referees of Soon and Baliunas, and none recommended rejection. He asks Mike if there were any papers that S & B misrepresented. The Team have no answers. Mike says he is “not responding to this” while Phil says ” I don’t want to start a discussion of it “.

  8. Yes, enviroscifi reaches ever new lows. Researchers incorporate facistic propagandizing into the neo-neo-scientific method where apprently (T)(t)ruth is irrevelent.

  9. Wikipedia on de Freitas:
    “De Freitas received both his Bachelors and his Masters at the University of Toronto, Canada, after which he earned his Ph.D. as a Commonwealth Scholar from the University of Queensland, Australia.[1] During his time at the University of Auckland, he has served as Deputy Dean of Science, Head of Science and Technology, and for four years as Pro Vice Chancellor.[1] He is Vice President of the Meteorological Society of New Zealand and is a founding member of the Australia-New Zealand Climate Forum as well as serving on the Executive Board of the International Society of Biometeorology from 1999-2001.[1] He has written extensively in popular media on an array of environmental and climate-related issues. The New Zealand Association of Scientists has made him a four-time recipient of their Science Communicator Award.”

    And on M.Mann
    “Michael E. Mann is an American physicist and climatologist, currently director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. He is best known as lead author of a number of articles on paleoclimatology and as one of the originators of a graph of temperature trends over the last thousand years, called the “hockey stick graph” because of its shape.”

    Who wins the Wiki test?

  10. Pingback: #Climategate 2.0…the kiwi connection | pindanpost

  11. Pingback: Climategate 2 | Cranky Old Crow

  12. All you say about Steve M is true… but I would encourage you to continue your research and writing. This is something that has a particular impact on and resonance for New Zealand and needs a New Zealand perspective. You have put together a very fine, coherent and well-documented narrative. Don’t stop.

  13. Email 4993.txt – May 12, 2003

    See the P.S. at the very end of this email string.

    How did Mann know Chris de Freitas was going to be dismissed?

    Date: Mon, 12 May 2003 11:41:55 -0600
    From: Jerry Meehl
    X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.79 [en] (Windows NT 5.0; U)
    X-Accept-Language: en
    To: “Michael E. Mann”
    Subject: Re: [Fwd: Harvard-Smithsonian Climate study]
    X-Spam-Status: No, hits=-7.1 required=5.0
    Thanks! It never ceases to amaze me what tactics the naysayers come up
    with–this latest, using what would appear to be a quasi-legitimate
    “journal” to publish results that they then claim are peer-reviewed and
    mainstream to launch a disinformation campaign, is very devious. Plus
    it appears they have won–the current administration is on their
    side–but they keep it up anyway. Bizarre.
    Johannes Loschnigg (the AMS congressional fellow I mentioned) may
    contact you directly if he needs more ammunition in his capacity of
    climate person assigned to deal with these issues in Liebermann’s
    Thanks again!
    “Michael E. Mann” wrote:
    > HI Jerry,
    > This is crap of the worst kind–it was written explicitly for
    > political purposes; there is no science there at all–the mainstream
    > media completely ignored it, having figured that out, but various
    > right-wing groups (such as “Western Fuels Association”) have continued
    > to try to promote this in fringe media circles and through political
    > channels within washington DC (so the story continued to appear on web
    > sites like “Techcentralstation” and Murdoch-supported newspapers).
    > I’ll forward a whole bunch of emails (in confidence) that should
    > clarify the situation. We’ve all decided that this is so bad a direct
    > response cannot even be made. Phil Jones and I, and Ray Bradley, Henry
    > Diaz, and Malcolm Hughes are writing two review papers which will
    > dismiss much of what they’ve said.
    > please feel free to contact me for more information,
    > cheers,
    > mike
    > p.s. NYT, Scientific American, and a few other journalists are working
    > on exposes of Baliunas and co., and those should appear soon. It
    > looks like Chris Defrietas, the editor at “Climate Research”
    > responsible for publishing the Baliunas et al piece, and numerous
    > other dubious other awful articles by “skeptics” over the past couple
    > years, will be dismissed as a result of this latest act.

  14. Pingback: Climategate 2: More Shabby Behaviour From the ‘Team’ | New Zealand Climate Change

  15. NZ site Hot Topic want to put a different spin on this

    • I see that there is an attempt to continue to smear Professor de Freitas. Unfortunately, for those who wish to further smear his reputation, the emails speak for themselves. When the Climategate 1 emails were released, there was a cry of ‘lack of context’ well, now we have the context – and people can make their own minds up; Michael Mann taking offense at a paper that rebuts his (now entirely discredited) dishonest hockey stick, a concerted dirty campaign against de Freitas in response, culminating in a non-public smear to get him the sack from his job. I do not think readers of this blog will be fooled by this new smear. The emails speak volumes.

  16. The smear campaign against Chris de Freitas is ongoing, and the NZ Herald newspaper occasionally joins in, as in a recent article where they were complaining that he wasn’t teaching IPCC “science” in his classes.

  17. Renowden examines “a new analysis by John Mashey of 700+ papers published at Climate Research” as though it were significant. But I’ve looked up this “paper”. It hasn’t been peer-reviewed or published in any decent journal, only published informally by his pals at the desmogblog blog.

    Renowden usually insists on citations of only peer-reviewed material, just like the IPCC. But not on this special occasion.

    Why do we pay either the analysis or Renowden’s comments on it the slightest attention? It’s all worth exactly what the blog site paid for the “paper”.

  18. Shocking conduct. These people are not scientists, but ideologues, and I have nothing but contempt for their behaviour.

  19. Pingback: Peer review…corrupt antics of climate ideologues | pindanpost

  20. Pingback: Climategate 2 – Defending the Indefensible | New Zealand Climate Change

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