Revisiting a Retraction

By Stephan Lewandowsky
Professor, School of Experimental Psychology and Cabot Institute, University of Bristol
Posted on 7 April 2014

The journal Frontiers retracted our “Recursive Fury” paper on 21 March. Frontiers withdrew Recursive Fury due to legal fears, not academic or ethical reasons. The paper—probably the most widely-read article ever published by Frontiers—can now be found at uwa.edu.au/recursivefury.

The retraction was accompanied by the following statement:

“In the light of a small number of complaints received following publication of the original research article cited above, Frontiers carried out a detailed investigation of the academic, ethical and legal aspects of the work. This investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study. It did, however, determine that the legal context is insufficiently clear and therefore Frontiers wishes to retract the published article. The authors understand this decision, while they stand by their article and regret the limitations on academic freedom which can be caused by legal factors.”

This statement was the result of negotiations between the lawyer for Frontiers and a legal representative of the authors in the U.K., and it formed part of a formal retraction agreement signed by both parties. Although we disagreed with the journal’s decision, we were provided with sufficient information to understand it. Our position on the decision was shared by officers of the Australian Psychological Society and other organizations, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Although there has been considerable media attention, the authors have made few public comments since the paper was retracted. I have continued to serve as a co-editor of a forthcoming special issue of Frontiers, I accepted a reviewing assignment for that journal, and I currently have another paper in press with Frontiers. After the retraction, I was approached by several Frontiers editors and authors who were dismayed at the journal’s decision. In all instances I pointed out that I continued to serve as author, reviewer, and co-editor for Frontiers.

A few days ago, the journal released another statement about the retraction on their website. This recent statement raised several points that were new to us and that can be interpreted as a departure from the earlier, contractually-agreed retraction statement. Because of the public interest in this issue I draw attention to three issues that are most in need of disambiguation. (I defer other issues that deserve correction to future posts):

First, in its most recent statement, the journal seemed to imply that the paper was retracted because it “did not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects.” This stands in contrast to the contractually-agreed retraction statement, signed by legal representatives of both parties, that Frontiers “…did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study.” It also sits uneasily with public statements by Frontiers’ lawyer, such as “Frontiers is concerned about solid science and it's obviously a regret when you have to retract an article that is scientifically and ethically sound…

Second, in its recent statement Frontiers also stated that it had received no (presumably legal) threats. This claim sits uneasily with the public statement of at least one individual who explicitly stated that he had threatened the journal. Moreover, another complainant publicly alleged defamation, and asserted that the journal's apparent concern with “defamation liability” was justified: Details were provided by Graham Readfearn earlier. The journal’s recent claim also sits uneasily with the contractually-agreed retraction statement, which ascribed the retraction to an “insufficiently clear” legal context. I pointed out earlier that this legal context involved English libel laws in force prior to 2014. Those laws were sufficiently notorious for their chilling effect on inconvenient speech for President Obama to sign a law that makes U.K. libel judgments unenforceable in the U.S.

Third, the journal revealed the existence of a new paper that we submitted in January 2014 and that according to their latest statement “did not deal adequately with the issues raised by Frontiers.”

To resolve those discrepancies between retraction-related statements requires a brief summary of events.

During a Skype conversation on 14 June 2013, representatives of Frontiers informed me that they had decided that there were no academic or ethical grounds for a retraction of Recursive Fury, but that changes might have to be made to the paper to safeguard against the legal risk of defamation. I agreed that I would “… work towards a constructive solution with you [Frontiers] to get the paper re-posted when it is ready,” even though no such risk of defamation had been identified by the relevant officers of my host institution at the time, the University of Western Australia.

On 28 August 2013 I was informed by Frontiers that their analysis of the defamation risk—under English libel laws—had found the risk to be too great for the journal to carry the article, and that it would have to be retracted. This decision was accompanied by an invitation to submit a replacement article that dealt with the issues identified in the various reviews and assessments.

We submitted a replacement article on 1/1/14, by which time English libel laws had changed significantly. It is worth considering this replacement article in some detail because it went beyond the initial Recursive Fury in the following ways:

  • Our narrative analysis was independently verified and further refined by a philosopher and a historian of science.
  • We conducted two behavioral studies with naïve and blind subjects who were not aware of the background or purpose of the study, and who responded to anonymized web content. Those studies (a) confirmed the classification of hypotheses reported in Recursive Fury and (b) showed that naïve observers rated the web content extremely high (i.e., modal response was the top end of the scale) on dimensions related to conspiracist thinking but not on an attribute relating to the quality of scholarly critique.
  • Our narrative analysis was anonymized (by paraphrasing verbatim public statements until they no longer yielded hits in Google) to prevent identification of individuals while retaining the integrity of the study.

Frontiers rejected this replacement paper on 12 February, claiming that it failed to deal adequately with the defamation issue. Our (English) legal advice clarifies that defamation cannot arise if individuals  cannot be identified in the minds of a “reasonable reader.” It must also be noted that the laws in England changed significantly on 1/1/14 to now include explicit provision for the protection of peer-reviewed science.

To sum up:

Throughout the entire period, from March 2013 until February 2014, the only concern voiced by Frontiers related to the presumed defamation risk under English libel laws. While the University of Western Australia offered to host the retracted paper at uwa.edu.au/recursivefury because it did not share those legal concerns, Frontiers rejected an anonymized replacement paper on the basis that non-identifiable parties might feel defamed.

No other cause was ever offered or discussed by Frontiers to justify the retraction of Recursive Fury. We are not aware of a single mention of the claim that our study “did not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects” by Frontiers throughout the past year, although we are aware of their repeated explicit statements, in private and public, that the study was ethically sound.

This brings into focus several possibilities for the reconciliation of Frontier’s contradictory statements concerning the retraction:

First, one could generously propose that the phrase “did not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects” is simply a synonym for “defamation risk” and that the updated statement therefore supports the contractually-agreed statement. This is possible but it puts a considerable strain on the meaning of “synonym.”

Second, one could take the most recent statement by Frontiers at face value. This has two uncomfortable implications: It would imply that the true reason for the retraction was withheld from the authors for a year. It would also imply that the journal entered into a contractual agreement about the retraction statement that misrepresented its actual position.

Third, perhaps the journal only thought of this new angle now and in its haste did not consider that it violates their contractually-agreed position.

Or there are other possibilities that we have not been able to identify.

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138 Comments


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Comments 1 to 50 out of 138:

  1. Brandon Shollenberger at 12:10 PM on 7 April, 2014
    This article makes many claims readers cannot check, but it makes at least one claim we can check. This claim is grossly misleading:

    This claim sits uneasily with the public statement of at least one individual who explicitly stated that he had threatened the journal.


    If one checks the reference provided for this claim, we see the person who said he threatened the journal also says:

    Shortly after my complaint the offending passage was removed from the paper, presumably because the institutions concerned realised that my allegation was true.

    This ended the matter personally, as far as I was concerned - although I continued to draw attention the the blatant fraud and malpractice in both papers.

    Trying to resurrect my long resolved complaint and brandish it as "threat" which caused the paper to be withdrawn a year later just makes you look even more of a down than usual.


    The reality is the paper was taken down twice. The first time, the journal required the paper be amended to address the concerns of two individuals (Jeff Condon and the user Foxgoose). After these changes were made, the paper was republished by the journal.

    It was later taken down a second time. This second withdrawal was what led to the paper being placed in limbo and to everything else described in this post. By the time it happened, Foxgoose's complaint had already been dealt with. His threat had no influence on the second removal of the paper.

    It is highly deceptive to pretend a threat which had no relevance to the events described in this post contradicts a statement the journal made about the events described in this post.
  2. I cannot find where the APS supports your position. The link in your article goes to a blog called "Climatecrocks" Authored by Peter Sinclair who isn't listed as an officer with APS.
    Moderator Response: The link is to a talk given at the University of Bristol which includes a quote from the APS.
  3. I did find the 2nd retraction statement rather odd in one respect, and posted this response to their 2nd retraction statement (Note: IANAP):


    I am somewhat hopeful that Frontiers in Psychology (Costanza Zucca, Editorial Director & Fred Fenter, Executive Editor) can more explicitly explain the following sentence taken from, their now, 2nd retraction statement;

    "Specifically, the article categorizes the behavior of identifiable individuals within the context of psychopathological characteristics."

    Especially, the two weasel words "psychopathological characteristics" since Psychopathology has a very specific meaning;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathology
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_disorder

    Somehow I don't find "dog whistle" or "denier" or conspiracy theorists" anywhere in the above.

    And at least here in the USA DSM-V is the current classification system;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DSM-5

    See also;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institutional_review_board (last section on social science)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denialism
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_denial
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_conspiracy_theory

    So please do clarify, in chapter and verse, according to DSM-V, what specific mental disorders were discussed or implied onto which specific individuals in the paper you recently retracted.

    Otherwise, perhaps Frontiers in Psychology is suffering from its own made up "psychopathological characteristics" in dealing with the facts of conspiracy theories which are absolutely rampant in the climate science denial communities.

    Thank You,
    The Management
  4. @Brandon Shollenberger

    The paragraph you omitted from Foxgoose's comment
    "I have explained on Twitter, and multiple blogs where the subject has cropped up, that I certainly threatened UWA and Frontiers with legal action ..."
  5. "I accepted a reviewing assignment for that journal...". Well and good. Will Elaine McKewon, one of the peer reviewers of Recursive Fury also be offered further reviewing assignments from Frontiers. Or will Frontiers be reviewing their reviewers?
  6. Brandon Shollenberger at 14:08 PM on 7 April, 2014
    MikeH, why would you feel it necessary to quote that? The post said he threatened the journal with legal action. I acknowledged that.

    If everybody agrees on a point, why should I quote material demonstrating the point?
  7. "Or there are other possibilities that we have not been able to identify." No doubt after both you and Frontiers release all correspondence it will become clear.

    Until then it will remain a mystery to the whole world, breathlessly watching this unfold.
  8. Frontiers - "We remind the community that the retracted paper does not claim to be about climate science"

    Well at least Frontiers has cleared that up and hopefully the academic community will have duly noted it. This sort of stuff never was, never is and never will be about Climate Science.
  9. Darrell Harb at 16:16 PM on 7 April, 2014
    Frontiers - "We remind the community that the retracted paper does not claim to be about climate science"

    Nor, apparently, was it about psychology or any other science. That's why Elaine McKewon (journalism student) was considered qualified to review it.
  10. Jonathan Cook at 16:28 PM on 7 April, 2014
    The issue seems straight forwards, your replacement article did not meet Frontiers stated standard:

    "One of Frontiers’ founding principles is that of authors’ rights. We take this opportunity to reassure our editors, authors and supporters that Frontiers will continue to publish – and stand by – valid research. But we also must uphold the rights and privacy of the subjects included in a study or paper."

    That statement is clear - whereas the three possibilities you outline at the bottom of this post could be construed as Conspiracy Ideation.
  11. The Frontier's media statement commences:
    "As we published in our retraction statement, a small number of complaints were received during the weeks following publication. Some of those complaints were well argued and cogent and, as a responsible publisher, our policy is to take such issues seriously. Frontiers conducted a careful and objective investigation of these complaints. Frontiers did not “cave in to threats”; in fact, Frontiers received no threats. The many months between publication and retraction should highlight the thoroughness and seriousness of the entire process."


    The discussion of "threats" is in the immediate context of a discussion of "complaints received during the weeks following publication". It contains no wording that restricts the discussion of threats to later periods. Therefore, in context it is a denial that threats were received "during the weeks following publication". That denial is false, and is shown to be false by quoting foxgoose.

    Shollenberger desires to paint Lewandowsky as quoting out of context. To do so, he ignores the context of the statement about threats, therefore painting a very misleading view the statement by Frontiers; and falsely portraying Lewandowsky's quotation as misleading. It is not Lewandowsky, but in fact Shollenberger who is being misleading on this occasion.

    Granted, had Frontier's claimed that "early legal threats had already been resolved amicably" rather than that "Frontiers received no threat", quotation of Foxgoose would not have been a rebutal - but they did not.
  12. The point not to be lost of course is that in this post our host is reduced to arguing that a (possibly broken) contractual agreement with the journal over publishing rights is all he now has to cover his nakedness.

    As to which of the various public comments by his supporters finally tipped the balance in favour of Frontiers cutting their losses and pulling the rug, the comments from a journalist student reviewer would have caused my heart to stop for a bit. The other reviewer would be no use when push came to shove because he's hopelessly conflicted when it came to backing up the journal.

    One suspects nowhere for Frontiers to go to avoid negligence charges, regardless of any agreement they had signed with the authors.
  13. If Frontiers have violated their contractually-agreed position, refuse to withdraw their amendment to the retraction and go back to the contractually-agreed original retraction, there appears to be no option but to sue.

    Hopefully sanity will prevail and Frontiers will revert to the original contractually-agreed retraction rather than persisting with the non-contractually-agreed amendment to the agreed contractually-agreed original retraction.
  14. Tom,
    In the interests of fairness, if we accept FoxGoose's response as being a threat, then we must also deny Lewandowsky's claim that the reviews found anything wrong with the paper. Because, FoxGoose's complaint about out of context representation was upheld and the paper republished minus FoxGoose's comment.

    Subsequent to that, it has become clear that many quotations offered by Lewandowsky as evidence of psychological disorder, in particular of Lucia and McIntyre are also either out of context or plainly do not support what they claim to, which under any fair review would also require significant correction.

    Furthermore, it's also clear that Lewandowsky's decision not to analyse the Big Oil "conspiracy", "nefarious intent" accusations etc of climate alarmists such as himself, show that he is not in the slightest interested in any kind of real analysis, and the whole paper is merely an ad hominem attack on prominent skeptics.

    PS Don't you feel that they should remove the claim that skeptical science hosted the survey ?
  15. This sort of stuff never was, never is and never will be about Climate Science.

    Indeed, it was about climate science denial, and the psychological framework behind it. As this whole episode seems to prove, one aspect of this framework is something called querulous paranoia.

    And with regards to climate science denial it seems that it is professed and promoted mostly by middle-aged, white males with an authoritarian streak, whose characters have been particularly shaped during the Cold War era, and for whom climate science denial is a post-retirement pastime to be shared with like-minded individuals.

    But this doesn't apply to everyone, of course.
  16. Darrell Harb at 20:17 PM on 7 April, 2014
    Neven:

    "Indeed, it was about climate science denial, and the psychological framework behind it."

    Wrong. If it had been a psychology paper, Elaine McKewon (journalism student) wouldn't have been competent to review it. Psychology is a science (though you'd be forgiven for forgetting this); therefore only scientists can credibly review psychology articles.
  17. Wrong.

    Ah, so it wasn't about climate science denial. Thanks for clearing that up. :-|
  18. Dr, Lewandowsky seems to suggest that the authors sat idly by while this retraction fiasco has unfolded.  He writes, "...the authors have made few public comments since the paper was retracted...." Furthermore he would like us to believe that the journal Fronters In, not the authors, was the first  party to depart from the "contractually-agreed retraction statement." 

    He forgets the fact that the retraction was first announced by Skeptical Science (SKS), a website operated by one of the co-authors, using language that does not appear in the official retraction statement.  

    http://bit.ly/1mS4BhL

    Indeed from the very title, "Contrarians Bully..." this article provides an alternate narrative to the official statement regarding the retraction of Recursive Fury.  After briefly appearing at SKS the article reappeared at an environmental blog hosted by the Guardian.  That post has been linked and quoted widely.

    While Dana Nuccitelli, author of the unofficial announcement, was not an author of Recursive Fury he was aware of  the retraction before it was announced and he provided private details of the conversations between the journal and the authors of Recursive Fury. Either Nuccitelli was a party to the negotiations or a party to the negotiations related private details to him. In either case the details of the retraction were leaked by an insider on a website owned by one of the authors.

    It becomes clear that despite what Dr. lLewandowsky would have us believe the author(s) have not been silent in the wake of the retraction of their paper and it seems that one or more of them preemptively abandoned the "contractually-agreed  retraction statement."
  19. Neven - my apologies. The "science" of climate science denial is clearly one of the most exciting blue sky research areas in modern day science. And querulous paranoia aptly describes the mindset of those thousands of cutting edge researches involved.

    Although as a physicist and not a psychologist, I would suggest quivering xenophobia is equally as good. However, the in-depth psychological analysis of deniers in this and other academic papers does get to me sometimes and leaves me feeling as comfortable as a goat in Mecca about my failings. I'm seeing a psychologist about it. Maybe I should find a second year post-grad journalism student who could help me out as well.

    Yes, I'm middle aged, but still employed, a libertarian and after years spent on the beach I'm betting I'm a lot darker than you Neven. Like a goanna, I love global warming
  20. David,

    The slightly amended version of the paper was so amended according to Frontiers to avoid legal challenge. Again, in Frontier's wording,
    "In the light of a small number of complaints received following publication of the original research article cited above, Frontiers carried out a detailed investigation of the academic, ethical and legal aspects of the work. This investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study. It did, however, determine that the legal context is insufficiently clear..."


    Given this, interpreting the change of wording as admission of academic error rather than a precautionary response to a threatened legal action is tendentious.

    Beyond that, your claim that:
    "Furthermore, it's also clear that Lewandowsky's decision not to analyse the Big Oil "conspiracy", "nefarious intent" accusations etc of climate alarmists such as himself, show that he is not in the slightest interested in any kind of real analysis, and the whole paper is merely an ad hominem attack on prominent skeptics."


    shows simply that you are not interested in, and may not be capable of rational discussion of the issues. You extend an analysis of statements from several minor, and just one "prominent skeptic" into an "ad hominen attack on prominent skeptics" showing that you are grasping at straws, and resort to vilification rather than analysis. Therefore further discussion with you is of not interest to me.
  21. Barry Woods at 22:23 PM on 7 April, 2014
    "few public comments" LOL

    The video he made days (weeks?) before the retraction - quoting the retraction notice...

    http://climatecrocks.com/2014/03/21/stephen-lewandowsky-in-whose-hands-the-future/
  22. Darrell Harb at 00:18 AM on 8 April, 2014
    Neven:
    Ah, so it wasn't about climate science denial. Thanks for clearing that up. :-|

    Newsflash: just because your comment was wrong, it doesn't follow (and I wouldn't argue) that climate science is wrong.
  23. Like troughing lawyers, deniers will continue chewing over these words until forever.
    So let's cut to the chase.
    Will any single denier please give reference to a blog post/comment/article where they've clearly stated re Klimategate "No fellas the idea that there's a conspiracy amoungst leading climate scientists is just nuts".

    Or failing that, can any single denier please give reference to a blog post/comment/article where they've clearly stated that they accepted that after many investigations "the Clmategate fiasco was just a completely bonkers conspiracy idea fit only for nutters".

    It shouldn't be to difficult to sort the wheat from the conspiracy ideationists from those questions. But I suspect that squealing pigs will only squeal louder.
  24. Darrell Harb at 01:20 AM on 8 April, 2014
    chek,

    what exactly are Klimategate and Clmategate? Is there a reason you included 2 nonsense words in an otherwise correctly-spelled comment?
  25. "Revisiting a Retraction" was always going to be a painful business for Stephan ;-)
  26. @ Darrell Harb #25 - yes, the reason being to prevent any further additions to search hits for a nonsense affair.
  27. Brandon Shollenberger at 03:48 AM on 8 April, 2014
    Tom Curtis accuses me of being misleading. He's wrong. The journal posted a retraction notice for the second version of Recursive Fury. Foxgoose's threat only applied to the first version, and it was irrelevant to the second version.

    The retraction notice was for the second version of the paper. A threat which did not apply to the second version of the paper is relevant to what the retraction statement for the second version of the paper said. When Tom Curtis says:

    The discussion of "threats" is in the immediate context of a discussion of "complaints received during the weeks following publication". It contains no wording that restricts the discussion of threats to later periods.


    He is being highly misleading. The "immediate context" of the retraction notice was in relation to the second version of the paper. The only way Curtis can defend Lewandowsky, and criticize me, is to ignore that.
  28. There appears to be some confusion on the Frontiers. ALL of the quotations in Recursive Fury were from public statements posted on the internet by people who object to being quoted.

    As far as Eli knows, one is ALWAYS justified in a scientific or policy or psychology paper in quoting someone as long as one provides a citation. Indeed if you do not provide the citation there is a problem and may have to do so in an addendum.
  29. Now some, not Eli to be sure, might wonder how a paper that was never published (the second version of Recursive Fury) could be retracted? It can be withdrawn by the authors or refused by the journal.

    Given that Shollenberger is simply trying to Lucia his tracks with confusion.
  30. Brandon is absolutely right - again.

    Tom's typical, verbose peregrinations around the subject seem to be designed to obscure rather than elucidate.

    I wonder if Tom remembers his initial gut reaction to Lew's original "moon hoax" paper.

    I do:-

    Given the low number of “skep­tical” respond­ents overall; these two scammed responses sig­ni­fic­antly affect the res­ults regarding con­spiracy theory ideation. Indeed, given the dubious inter­pret­a­tion of weakly agreed responses (see pre­vious post), this paper has no data worth inter­preting with regard to con­spiracy theory ideation. It is my strong opinion that the paper should be have its pub­lic­a­tion delayed while under­going a sub­stan­tial rewrite. The rewrite should indicate expli­citly why the responses regarding con­spiracy theory ideation are in fact worth­less, and con­cen­trate solely on the result regarding free market beliefs (which has a strong enough a response to be sal­vage­able). If this is not possible, it should simply be withdrawn.

    Strangely, he seemed to be able to express himself more lucidly in those days.

    Eli

    It's absolutely fine, and often great fun, to quote people saying daft things on the interwebs. People do it to you all the time.

    What's not allowed is for people researching the mental condition of others to make judgements on it without the subjects' express consent.

    Look up your own establishment's ethics rules if you don't believe me.

    I'm astonished an academic would need reminding of this though.
  31. Foxgoose, won't do. You had better have some actual text with a link from an IRB policy about what can and cannot be. The devil, is indeed, in the details.
  32. Steve Metzler at 06:17 AM on 8 April, 2014
    Foxgoose said:

    What's not allowed is for people researching the mental condition of others to make judgements on it without the subjects' express consent.

    That's just an argument by assertion, which is mostly what I see coming from the ACC deniers concerning this issue.

    Also, it's one thing to conduct a clinical trial of psychiatric patients, where of course patient confidentiality must be respected. But Recursive Fury is something altogether different, and you can't paint it with the same broad brush. It's a study of conspiracy ideation from a tribal/like-minded group perspective, using comments which are already in the public domain. You can't anonymise the comments, because Google.

    So, are you trying to say that, in your opinion, it is not permissible to conduct a study of comments that are made in public? Like, it's OK for a news or current events programme to do it, but as soon as someone tries to do it formally as a piece of peer reviewed research, that it's now off limits?
  33. It is difficult to distinguish Brandon Shollenberger's response to me from a direct lie. He claims:
    " The journal posted a retraction notice for the second version of Recursive Fury. Foxgoose's threat only applied to the first version, and it was irrelevant to the second version."


    However, Frontiers said:
    "There has been a series of media reports concerning the recent retraction of the paper Recursive Fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation, originally published on 18 March 2013 in Frontiers in Psychology."

    (My emphasis)

    It was the original version published on March 18th, 2013. That the text of the published version was later amended does not constitute a retraction of the first version and a publication of the second version. There is still only one publication date.

    Further, given the explicit statement of the publication date, it follows that in the next paragraph when it is said that "a small number of complaints were received during the weeks following publication", that refers to the weeks following March 18th, 2013. It also means that when Frontiers states "The many months between publication and retraction should highlight the thoroughness and seriousness of the entire process", the "many months" are those between March 18th, 2013, and March 21st, 2014. Therefore, when in that same paragraph Frontiers state "Frontiers received no threats", they refer to the "many weeks" following March 18th, 2013; and indeed to the entire period up to March 21st, 2014.

    The context is crystal clear. There is no basis to interpret the claim that no threats were received as only referring to the period after the amendment of the original text. That is an interpretation of convenience by Shollenberger. He needs it to be true for his criticism to be valid, and therefore he (by a generous interpretation) assumes it is true regardless of textual evidence.

    (No doubt Foxgoose will find this statement lacks lucidity because he disagrees with it. That is because the views of Foxgoose only ever bear a tenuous connection with reality to begin with.)
  34. Steve Metzler @33, apparently you can anonymize the statements by paraphrasing them. Oddly, that appears to not be sufficient protection (either legal or ethical) for Frontiers. It will also lead to immediate accusation from deniers that the original comments, kept secret for privacy reasons, did not exist. That double bind shows this exercise in vituperation regarding Recursive Fury is, and has always been, about concealment of the frankly obvious conspiracy ideation in response to LOG12 - something all sane observers noticed long before we had a hint of the forthcoming publication of Recursive Fury.
  35. Tom then:-

    this paper has no data worth inter­preting with regard to con­spiracy theory ideation.

    Tom now:-

    the frankly obvious conspiracy ideation in response to LOG12 - something all sane observers noticed long before we had a hint of the forthcoming publication of Recursive Fury.

    Ho hum.
  36. Guys, it's never going to happen that fourth rate cranks who look up to third rate cranks like Watts and McIntyre will ever concede that they are not the first class minds they wish they were.

    They'll chew all the scenery and throw up all the dust within reach, but never admit the plainly obvious.

    Which reminds me to reiterate my questions at #24.
    To wit:
    Will any single denier please give reference to a blog post/comment/article where they've clearly stated re Klimategate "No fellas the idea that there's a conspiracy amoungst leading climate scientists is just nuts".

    Or failing that, can any single denier please give reference to a blog post/comment/article where they've clearly stated that they accepted that after many investigations "the Clmategate fiasco was just a completely bonkers conspiracy idea fit only for nutters".

    Of course, the requested exercise is entirely rhetorical because none of the leading lights of this teacup tempest could ever countenance doing so.
  37. Brandon Shollenberger at 08:02 AM on 8 April, 2014
    Tom Curtis recent suggestion that I'm lying is quite hilarious. You see, he says:

    It was the original version published on March 18th, 2013. That the text of the published version was later amended does not constitute a retraction of the first version and a publication of the second version. There is still only one publication date.


    This is easily seen to be false. The paper published on March 18, 2013, did not contain the quote Foxgoose complained about. It had already been amended. However, if we look at the earliest version published, we see the line:

    Provisional PDF published on: 02 Feb 2013


    Not only does this show the Tom Curtis is wrong to say "the version published on March 18th, 2013... was later amended," it explains why there is confusion. You see, Frontiers routinely publishes provisional versions of papers. They are preprints, and changes sometimes get made to them before the paper is actually published. Foxgoose made his threat regarding the provisional version of the paper, not the published version Curtis goes on about. So when Curtis says:

    The context is crystal clear. There is no basis to interpret the claim that no threats were received as only referring to the period after the amendment of the original text.


    I agree the context is crystal clear. The paper published on March 18, 2013, is the one the retraction statement from Frontiers must be interpreted as referring to. That is the one which was amended to address Foxgoose's legal threat. It's also the one which was published only after Foxgoose had already filed an academic misconduct complaint. By Curtis's own standard, Lewandowsky's remark is deceptive.

    Apparently Tom Curtis finds it "difficult to distinguish" what I said from "a direct lie" because he's simply unaware of basic facts about when different versions of this paper were published.
  38. Brandon Shollenberger at 08:10 AM on 8 April, 2014
    Incidentally, if anyone would like me to e-mail them a copy of the various versions of the paper, I can. In the meantime, I want to point out an oddity which has probably been forgotten by most people.

    Frontiers decided to make two amendments to the provisional paper to address complaints they had received (from Jeff Id and Foxgoose). Having decided that, they published the paper on March 2013 in two versions. The .pdf version had changes made to address both complaints. The web version did not. It turns out Frontiers had inadvertently failed to amend the web version to address Foxgoose's complaint. That meant there were two different versions of the paper simultaneously published on the journal's web page. I thought it was weird, and I discussed it a number of times back then (such as here).

    That confirms what I said about the publication record of the paper. It also shows how paying attention to details matters.
  39. Darrell Harb at 08:47 AM on 8 April, 2014
    chek,

    You're very amusing. You refuse to write 'Climategate' because you want to 'prevent any further additions to search hits' for Climategate, which you consider a 'nonsense affair.' But you expect the rest of us to disavow The Gate Which Must Not Be Named (Climategate)? Why?
  40. I will now grant that it is possible to distinguish Brandon Shollenberger's claims from a direct lie in that his plainly ignorant of what he speaks.

    From the FOI request to Frontiers on Recursive Fury, we have on page 23 of the release, a legal threat dated April 4th, and presumably on behalf of Foxgoose. Perhaps he will be prepared to concede that April 4th is after March 18th, and that the Frontiers statement is inaccurate in claiming that there were no threats.

    Of course, he was evidently not that ignorant as he himself details the fact that the passage in regard of which Foxgoose made his legal threat was still published in the online version on March 18th. Therefore he knew that the issue was not resolved as of March 18th and that referring to the Feb 2nd pre-publication was just a red herring.
  41. Foxgoose @36 apparently believes that either:

    1) LOG12 and Recursive Fury are the same paper so that because I criticize one, I must think other is also bad; or that

    2) Considering some criticisms of LOG12 to be valid, and devestating to LOG12 shows that all criticisms of LOG12 are valid.

    With out either of these suppositions, his contrasting quotes are of two entirely different subjects, and irrelevant. Of course, either supposition demonstrates the same disconnection from reality which is so typical of Foxgoose.

    For the record, some criticisms of LOG12 are valid. As such, while LOG12's thesis is probably true, it is not shown to be true by LOG12. Most criticisms of LOG12 from the "skeptical" side of the blogosphere, however, showed clear conspiracist ideation - and were quite frankly bizarre. What is more, McIntyre's detailed analysis showed that his academic integrity falls well short of that of Lewandowsky, and his wholesale rejection of data he did not like would not have passed muster in any genuinely critical analysis. So, I stand by nearly all of my criticisms of LOG12 posted variously on comment on the internet - but none of my criticisms has any bearing on issues raised in Recursive Fury in its current form, except that the fact of my criticism was the subject of its own little example of conspiracy ideation.
  42. Last year, the Murry Salby blog storm originated in Australia and propagated around the world, with 1900+ comments, including by 400 people who demonstrably rejected the mainstream climate consensus.

    People might read through archived blogs and see if they notice any trace of conspiracy ideation. Jo Nova's is a good start, especially since it has upvote/downvote counts.

    Foxgoose got in late, see this extract of comments, after Salby's NSF debarment and problematical court cases were exposed.
  43. Why, Darrell? Really?

    Because Claemitage is the key conspiracy ideation that connects all others. There isn't an AGW denier here who will reject that alleged conspiracy and disavow that the related multi-agency investigations were cover-ups.

    Perhaps you could be the first to correct that discrepancy whilst the rest argue in their vain attempts to confirm their sanity.
  44. Darrell Harb at 09:54 AM on 8 April, 2014
    chek,

    Is Claemitage yet another way to avoid writing 'Climategate'? You may find the terror of Climategate will diminish once you find the courage to speak its name. Much of your anxiety might be self-reinforcing—the more avoidant you are, the more of a hold Climategate has over you.

    Anyway things like this are a total nonspiracy:

    "I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"

    It's just a well-meaning collusion among friends.
  45. Brandon Shollenberger at 09:58 AM on 8 April, 2014
    Tom Curtis now insults me because the (one) complaint in question was filed after March 18th. He claims:

    Of course, he was evidently not that ignorant as he himself details the fact that the passage in regard of which Foxgoose made his legal threat was still published in the online version on March 18th. Therefore he knew that the issue was not resolved as of March 18th and that referring to the Feb 2nd pre-publication was just a red herring.


    The only argument he has for claiming Foxgoose's complaint was directed at the paper discussed in the retraction statement by Frontiers is Foxgoose wrote the complaint after March 18th. Rather than proving anything, he has merely offered a non-sequitur.

    There was nothing which prevents a person from discussing the provisional version of a paper after a final version is published. The publication of the latter version does not erase the publication of the former. Foxgoose was obviously able to discuss the version made available on February 2nd in April. He was not obligated to only discuss the March 18th version.

    If there is any dispute as to what Foxgoose's concern was, I can quote his complaint to the journal:

    After my complaints to the authors and UWA, the text on the linked PDF version of the paper on your website was modified (implying that my criticism had been acknowledged) but the online text still maintained the defamation until your eventual recent removal.


    This shows Foxgoose's complaint to the journal was regarding the quote of his used in the original version. As I explained in this comment, that quote was inadvertently kept in a web version of the paper. However, it was not contained in the final, official version of the paper.

    The statement Foxgoose took issue with was not contained within the final, "published" version of the paper. His threat of legal action was not in reference to the final, "published" version of the paper. It did not have any relevance to the decision to retract the paper.

    That said, I was mistaken about the timing of Foxgoose's legal threat. He had contacted Stephan Lewandowsky's university (filing an academic misconduct complaint) prior to March 18th, but he contacted Frontiers on April 4th. Still, it was only in reference to material Frontiers had decided to remove from the paper prior to March 18th.

    Frontiers was correct to say it did not receive legal threats in this context. Foxgoose's complaint was no more relevant to the retraction statement than if he had threatened to sue them about an entirely different paper published by entirely different people.
  46. Brandon Shollenberger at 10:24 AM on 8 April, 2014
    To make it clear Foxgoose's complaint did not deal with the paper which was retracted, here is the portion of the paper he complained about:

    The notion of "scamming" took center-stage in the blogosphere's response to LOG12, although not all comments went so far as to suggest "...there are are no 'Human Subjects'"
    (http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/ccc1.html#198).


    The corresponding section of the paper now hosted by the UWA says:

    The notion of "scamming" took center-stage in the blogosphere's response to LOG12.


    As you can see, the part Foxgoose took issue with has been removed. It is not present in the version Stephan Lewandowsky says is Recursive Fury. If the Recursive Fury which was retracted didn't have the material Foxgoose complained about, his complaint could not have been about it. If his complaint was not about it, any threat he may have made could not have been received in regard to it.
  47. Page 26 of the FOI request:

    "After my complaints to the authors and UWA, the text on the linked PDF version of the paper was modified (implying that my criticism had been acknowledged) but the online text still maintained the defamation until its recent eventual removal.

    I hope that you will see this as a clear case of quote falsification, academic misconduct and defamation and that the paper will now be permanently withdrawn.

    (My emphasis)

    The date and time of the letter? April 4th, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    "I am afraid your response has given me the impression that you are simply inventing deficiencies in my complaint in order to avoid dealing with it.

    I should also remind you that, if this proceeds to legal action, any court or tribunal will take a very poor view of you attempting to impose an arbitrary and unreasonable deadline ..."


    Time and date? April 4th, 2013 at 10:08 PM.

    So, the threat of legal action took place after the amendment of both online and PDF versions, and with respect to the Frontier's potential response to a request that Recursive Fury, as already modified should be "permanently withdrawn".

    So when Shollenberger writes:

    "The statement Foxgoose took issue with was not contained within the final, "published" version of the paper. His threat of legal action was not in reference to the final, "published" version of the paper. It did not have any relevance to the decision to retract the paper."


    his claims are simply false.

    The legal threat took place after all versions of the paper had been modified to deal with Foxgoose's complaint, and it was a threat held in readiness should Frontiers not "permanently withdraw" the modified paper.

    Finally, Shollenberger's entire line of argument in the preceding post is nonsense. In the end it comes down to arguing that a preprint and a published paper, with only a few lines different are "entirely different paper[s]" - a patently absurd claim.
  48. Brandon Shollenberger @47, it also says:

    "Each of those hits was then examined to establish whether it contained any recursive hypotheses, de ned as any potentially conspiracist ideation that pertained to the article itself or its author, such as "Dr Smith is a government agent," or unsubstantiated and potentially conspiracist allegations pertaining to the article's methodology, intended purpose, or analysis (e.g., "there were no human subjects")."


    You keep leaving out important little details? Why is that?
  49. Mr. Lewandowsky claims there were no problems with the paper. Yet we know that there were multiple peer reviewers whose names were added and/or removed from the paper - after publication.

    Original reviewer Michael Woods expressed concerns during the review process. These concerns were not addressed. Editor Dr. Viren Swami apparently approved for publication regardless of Mr. Wood's concerns. Mr. Wood subsequently withdrew as a reviewer and asked his name to be removed from the paper.

    Prof. Sabitha Nateson, from Univ of North Texas was then added as a reviewer, and just as quickly removed as a reviewer.

    Finally, the Frontiers Editor assigned to oversight of the paper, Viren Swami, appointed himself as the 2nd peer reviewer.

    While Swami is qualified as a reviewer, considering Lewandowsky's underlying LOG12 paper was based in large part on Swami 2010, it has at least the very strong appearance of ethics concerns - especially considering the multiple post publication changes of reviewers prior.

    In light of the post publication peer review issues this paper underwent, Lewandowsky's claim there were no academic or ethics concerns is not well supported by the facts.

    If Lewandowsky wants people to believe there were no issues with this paper than he should stop playing games and insulting people. Step up to the plate, share the reviewer concerns, and how they were addressed.

    And while he is at it respond to the legitimate requests to provide all of the data necessary to replicate and validate the LOG12 paper.
  50. Third, perhaps the journal only thought of this new angle now and in its haste did not consider that it violates their contractually-agreed position.


    Seems eminently plausible.

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