The Professor de Freitas Story and Wikipedia

I have just found an update on the story of Professor de Freitas, and the attempts to have him sacked for allowing the publication of a dissenting article on climate change. Wattsupwiththat has recently published a post which details the way in which the Wikipedia entry on the debate about the dissenting article was distorted to paint a negative picture of Professor de Freitas.

Whilst the post argues that there were many problems in the Wikipedia entry on the incident, it focuses on the claim that all of the peer reviewers of the dissenting article rejected the article. This claim was patently false, and relied upon a single Guardian article, which flew in the face of all of the evidence that suggested the opposite.The story does have a (sort of) happy ending, in that the post led to a correction of the article in question:

UPDATE: Following a conversation on Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales’ talk page the error has been removed despite initial resistance from those who perpetrated the misinformation:

Also, I’d like to thank Nona, who tried to correct the error earlier as an anonymous user.

I added ‘sort of’ to the happy ending, as these ongoing attempts to smear the good name of Professor de Freitas should not be occurring in the first place. It just serves to place emphasis on the way in which some people have no qualms about presenting lies in order to preserve their world view, and the hell with the personal impact on a perfectly reputable scientist.

Another point mentioned in the article, of which I was previously unaware, was that Michael Mann (of hockey stick fame, and who also engaged in the conspiracy to have Professor de Freitas sacked) had complained to the New Zealand Press Council about a New Zealand Herald article written by Professor de Freitas:

The grounds of Professor Mann’s complaint are that the two articles were inaccurate, lacked balance and showed excessive advocacy. Under lack of accuracy he said the overall tone of the articles left readers with the false impression that the jury was still out on global warming and climate change where, as far as the vast majority of the world’s climate scientists were concerned, it is not. He gave particular examples of the inaccuracies he observed, along the lines of those cited in his article.

Mann had written a rebuttal of Professor de Freitas’s article, and was essentially demanding that it be published. Unsurprisingly, the complaint was not upheld, and I liked this part of the ruling:

Advocates of a particular standpoint may not find the press always serving their purpose, but then the function of the press is to serve their readers in the broadest terms.

In the context of what I found in the Climategate emails, I found this new information to be quite revealing. It is yet more confirmation that Mann is quite obsessive about protecting his views on climate science from any challenge whatsoever. At least in this case he seeks to address the problem with scientific argument, which is better than attempting to blacken a person’s name ( or something of an improvement on trying to get an individual sacked for allowing dissenting views).

However, it does bring to mind the somewhat obsessive commentary on my Climategate articles by Chris C, who attempted to defend the attacks on Professor de Freitas. It crossed my mind at the time that this might be Mann posting under an alias, and the thought once again crosses my mind. Of course, I will never know, and can only speculate; it could be that Chris C was indeed just posting as ‘himself’.


Update: I just took a look at the  debate within Wikipedia on the question of the rejection by the reviewers. It is well worth a quick read….you will need to scroll down the page and will find the section. The attempts to defend the wrong information are somewhat comedic….


7 responses to “The Professor de Freitas Story and Wikipedia

  1. Thank you for continuing to pursue all aspects of this sordid affair.

    The more that is known about it and the parties involved the better. At least the University of Auckland and NZ Press Council seem to have behaved in a professional manner.

  2. Pingback: The Professor de Freitas Story and Wikipedia | Cranky Old Crow

  3. Concerned Senior, Ipswich

    A hearty pat on the back and well done to the writer of this article.

    As I have said in my earlier posts about Dr Chris de Freitas, he is an honourable, dedicated, honest climatologist and shame on anyone who would attempt to besmirch his good name.

    The world needs many more of the ilk of Chris de Freitas, reputable scientists prepared to put it all on the line to denounce CAGW and the CO2 fraud, backed by people like New Zealand Climate Change, Andrew Bolt, Jo Nova and others who fight for the truth.

    Somewhere on the internet I found and printed a letter written by Dr John Happs to Professor Chubb, Neuroscientist, appointed by the Australian Government as Australia’s Chief Scientist on the 3rd October 2011. I have not been able to find it again to be able to send you a link but in my opinion it would be worth publishing in full. It nails Chubb, as in one particular paragraph he says “This is an absurd statement and reflects a total lack of knowledge about paleoclimate”.

    To help someone more computer literate than I here is the greeting and first sentence :-

    “Dear Professor Chubb
    I have written to you on several occasions expressing my concerns about incorrect public statements you have made about climate change.”

    I hope someone can find a working link so that I can spread this letter wide and far.

    • You have your opinion on de Freitas, but the fact is that even Kinne later admitted that the paper should have never been published. This tweak to the Wikipedia article does not change the basic fact that de Freitas failed to do his job properly, as he had failed to do numerous times before.

      Chris de Freitas, therefore, undermines the peer review process.

  4. The full text of Dr John Happs letter to Professor Chubb can be downloaded here:

  5. Concerned Senior, Ipswich

    Thank you Terry,

    I feel that the letter puts the case against CAGW in a very forthright and telling way.

    It should be sent to all Australian school teachers and see how many of them have live brain cells. We already know that most politicians have just enough left to vote for a pay rise.

  6. This doesn’t change the fact that the paper was fatally flawed, that de Freitas allowed it to be published despite it being fatally flawed, and that de Freitas thereby made a mockery of the entire peer review process.

    Indeed, as we can see: “Kinne agreed that the Soon and Baliunas paper should not have been published as it was”

    And von Storch: “The review process had utterly failed; important questions have not been asked … the methodological basis for such a conclusion (that the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climate period of the last millennium) was simply not given”

    And: “Von Storch later complained that he had been pressured to publish the paper”

    Wow. So they were using bullying tactics to get a paper they knew was fatally flawed published?!

    Kinne later admits: “I have not stood behind the paper by Soon and Baliunas. Indeed: the reviewers failed to detect methodological flaws.”

    And more on de Freitas: “I have had papers that I refereed (and soundly rejected), under De Freitas’s editorship, appear later in the journal — without me seeing any response from the authors.”

    The Wikipedia article is still damning. The peer review process was clearly not followed correctly, and de Freitas should never have allowed that fatally flawed paper to be published.

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