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Lindzen-Choi ‘Special Treatment’: Is Peer Review Biased Against Nonalarmist Climate Science?

[Editor’s note: The following material was supplied to us by Dr. Richard Lindzen as an example of how research that counters climate-change alarm receives special treatment in the scientific publication process as compared with results that reinforce the consensus view. In this case, Lindzen's submission to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was subjected to unusual procedures and eventually rejected (in a rare move), only to be accepted for publication in the Asian Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.
 
I, too, have firsthand knowledge about receiving special treatment. Ross McKitrick has documented similar experiences, as have John Christy and David Douglass and Roy Spencer, and I am sure others. The unfortunate side-effect of this differential treatment is that a self-generating consensus slows the forward progress of scientific knowledge—a situation well-described by Thomas Kuhn is his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. –Chip Knappenberger]
“If one reads [our new] paper, one sees that it is hardly likely to represent the last word on the matter. One is working with data that is far from what one might wish for. Moreover, the complexity of the situation tends to defeat simple analyses. Nonetheless, certain things are clear: models are at great variance with observations, the simple regressions between outgoing radiation and surface temperature will severely misrepresent climate sensitivity, and the observations suggest negative rather than positive feedbacks.”

- Richard S. Lindzen

 From Dr. Lindzen…

The following is the reproduction of the email exchanges involved in the contribution of our paper (Lindzen and Choi, “On the observational determination of climate sensitivity and its implications”) to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The editor of the PNAS follows the procedure of having his assistant, May Piotrowski, communicate his letters as pdf attachments.

These attachments are part of the present package. Attachment1.pdf is simply a statement of PNAS procedure. Note that members of the NAS are permitted to communicate up to 4 papers per year. The members are responsible for obtaining two reviews of their own papers and to report the reviews and their responses to the reviews. Note, as well, that rejection of such contributions by the Board of PNAS is a rare event, involving approximately 2% of all contributions.

The rejection of the present paper required some extraordinary violations of accepted practice. We feel that making such procedures public will help clarify the peculiar road blocks that have been created in order to prevent adequate discussion of fundamental issues. It is hoped, moreover, that the material presented here can offer the interested public some insight into what is involved in the somewhat mysterious though widely (if inappropriately) respected process of peer review.

This situation is compounded, in the present example, by the absurdly lax standards applied to papers supportive of climate alarm. In the present example, there existed an earlier paper (Lindzen and Choi, 2009) [we covered that paper here -CK], that had been subjected to extensive criticism. The fact that no opportunity was provided to us to respond to such criticism was, itself, unusual and disturbing. The paper we had submitted to the PNAS was essentially our response which included the use of additional data and the improvement and correction of our methodology.

Several weeks after we submitted our contribution (included as PNASsubmission.pdf) we received the following email.

To: rlindzen@mit.edu
Subject: PNAS: 2010-15738 (On the observational determination of cl…)
Cc: ekavanagh@nas.edu
From: mpiotrowski@nas.edu
X-Brightmail-Tracker: AAAAAQCq+Kk=

MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Transfer-Encoding: binary
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary=”_———-=_129546032497941″
X-Mailer: MIME::Lite 3.027 (F2.74; T1.28; A2.05; B3.07; Q3.07)
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 13:05:24 -0500
Message-Id: <44129546032491@ejpweb15>

Full Email Recipient List:
TO: rlindzen@mit.edu
CC: ekavanagh@nas.edu

Dear Dr. Lindzen,

I am contacting you regarding your contributed paper. Attached is a letter from Randy Schekman.

Sincerely,
May Piotrowski
Editorial Manager
PNAS

Attach1.pdf
Attach2.pdf

Attachment1.pdf is, as already noted, simply a statement of the policy of PNAS. The actual letter concerning our submission is Attachment2.pdf. This attachment begins with what we regard as a libelous description of our choice of reviewers. Will Happer, though a physicist, was in charge of research at DOE including pioneering climate research. Moreover, he has, in fact, published professionally on atmospheric turbulence. He is also a member of the NAS. M.-D. Chou and I have not collaborated in over 5 years, and Chou had absolutely nothing to do with the present manuscript. There then followed a list of other reviewers that we felt were all inappropriate.

Our response was the following. Attached was a letter to Schekman.

Dear Ms. Piotrowski,

I would like to contact Dr. Scheckman directly. His characterization of Drs. Happer and Chou is hardly accurate. My last collaboration with Dr. Chou was over 7 years ago, and he has had no connection with the present research. Dr. Happer, although not a climate scientist (as, for example, is also the case with Anderson), is deeply involved in general spectroscopic issues. Four of the suggested reviewers are well known proponents of global warming alarm, and I don’t think it likely that they would provide a fair assessment. An alternative reviewer with a long and neutral record in this field is Albert Arking (of Johns Hopkins) who would be far more suitable. Of those mentioned by Scheckman, Ramanathan is the most likely to be fair.

Best wishes,

Dick Lindzen

The actual letter, Lindzen-Schekman.pdf, is attached.

The following was the response.

From: “Piotrowski, May B.”
To: “‘Richard S. Lindzen’”
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2010 10:11:24 -0500
Subject: RE: PNAS: 2010-15738 (On the observational determination of cl…)

Dear Dr. Lindzen,

Thank you for your email, which has been forwarded to Randy Schekman.

Best,
May Piotrowski

There then followed another email from May.

From: “Piotrowski, May B.”
To: “‘Richard S. Lindzen’”
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 2010 16:07:57 -0500
Subject: RE: PNAS: 2010-15738 (On the observational determination of cl…)

Dear Dr. Lindzen,

Randy has read your letter. We will seek the advice of one of the experts you approved.

Best,
May

I then received the following somewhat cryptic response from May.

From: “Piotrowski, May B.”
To: “‘Richard S. Lindzen’”
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2010 09:24:22 -0500
Subject: RE: PNAS: 2010-15738 (On the observational determination of cl…)

Dear Dr. Lindzen,

We secured the services of one of the experts you approved, but that person suggested we also consult Drs. Bruce Wielicki or Dennis Hartmann to help evaluate the radiation budget data upon which he relies. Please let us know if you have specific concerns with us consulting either of these two experts.

Thanks very much for your time.

Best,
May

As best as I could determine, none of my suggested reviewers would have made such a recommendation. I can only speculate that Schekman considered Ramanathan as one of my suggested reviewers; I have not checked with Ramanathan. In any event, my response was the following.

Actually, yes. Both are outspoken public advocates of alarm, and Wielicki has gone so far as to retract results once they were shown to contradict alarm.

Dick

I followed this with the following recommendation.

Dear May,

Dr. Patrick Minnis, one of Wielicki’s collaborators at Langley, is agnostic on the issue, and would be a much better choice.

Best,

Dick

Apparently, Minnis was indeed asked to review the manuscript. We finally received a decision letter from Schekman (attached to the following email). There were 4 reviews. One was from Minnis. Another may have been by Ramanathan. The other two were from those recommended by the board.

To: rlindzen@mit.edu
Subject: PNAS: 2010-15738 (On the observational determination of cl…)
Cc: ekavanagh@nas.edu
From: mpiotrowski@nas.edu
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 13:05:24 -0500
Message-Id: <44129546032491@ejpweb15>

Dear Dr. Lindzen,

I am contacting you regarding your contributed paper. Attached is a letter from Randy Schekman.

Sincerely,
May Piotrowski
Editorial Manager
PNAS

Attach3.pdf

The attachment was a polite rejection of our paper. Included were the complete reviews. Although some of the points in the reviews were, in fact, addressed in our paper, we thought it advisable to respond to the reviews in detail, and to revise our paper in order to clarify matters. It was, however, clear, that the revised paper would no longer satisfy the space constraints of PNAS – especially since the reviewers made clear that important material should not be relegated to ‘supplementary material’.

Although Schekman’s rejection could be interpreted as mildly encouraging, our experience has been that any attempt to resubmit a revised paper simply leads to further delay culminating in re-rejection. Our final letter to Schekman (Letter_to_Schekman.pdf) is attached. As already noted, we chose to respond in detail to each review, and these responses are attached (Response.pdf). The revised paper (as well as the original version submitted to the PNAS: Lindzen-Choi-PNASSubmission.pdf) is also attached (Lindzen-Choi-APJAS.pdf). The final version is accepted (following review) by the Asian Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.

If one reads the paper, one sees that it is hardly likely to represent the last word on the matter. One is working with data that is far from what one might wish for. Moreover, the complexity of the situation tends to defeat simple analyses. Nonetheless, certain things are clear: models are at great variance with observations, the simple regressions between outgoing radiation and surface temperature will severely misrepresent climate sensitivity, and the observations suggest negative rather than positive feedbacks.

83 comments

1 Harry Dale Huffman { 06.09.11 at 7:59 am }

The peer-review situation in climate science is just the tip of the iceberg, as the corruption exists in every field, and is traditional, from the very beginning of modern science (e.g., the Church’s treatment of Galileo), even from the beginning of history (Aristotle was a master of rhetoric, or argumentation, rather than science — and he held back physics until Galileo). Imagine how tough it is for an untenured research associate, or independent scientist, without Lindzen’s position.

2 Andrew { 06.09.11 at 11:03 am }

The dismissal of Chou as a potential reviewer is particularly striking, I think, as if the same standard were to be applied more broadly, the number of eligible reviewers of any paper would dwindle dramatically. Many of the climategate emails suggest that alarmist individuals were reviewing their colleagues and former (sometimes current!) collaborators’ papers on a regular basis.

3 Gator { 06.09.11 at 11:37 am }

This is what I find most disturbing…

“If the analysis done by the authors prove to be correct, major scientific and even political implications can be foreseen.”

Why is politics even a consideration?

I thought we were after truths.

To Hell with politics.

4 tadchem { 06.09.11 at 1:59 pm }

Any mechanism that invokes a positive feedback must NECESSARILY result in a system doomed to self-destruction.
Imagine balancing a basketball on the saddle of a galloping horse. It simply cannot remain there. The Laws of Thermodynamics will require it to deviate from a “perfect” balance, and once deviated, to rapidly amplify its deviation. Our planet has had a habitable atmosphere for many millions of years. This could only happen if *ALL* feedback mechanisms at work used negative feedbacks.

5 CodeTech { 06.09.11 at 2:20 pm }

tadchem has it right.
The very concept that a planetary atmosphere is so incredibly delicate and sensitive to concentrations of trace gases is ludicrous. It requires a fundamental lack of scientific awareness and logic.
This is the reason the entire “debate that isn’t a debate” is political. It has little to do with Science. This is ONLY about politics, Gator. The Science doesn’t even remotely work for any of the alarmist claims.

6 Andrew { 06.09.11 at 3:13 pm }

tadchem-the statement you are making is precisely analogous to saying that “a sum of infinitely many non ser numbers of the same sign must be infitite” which is false.

Imagine that you have a feedback which would be positive, that increased an initial change by half of it’s magnitude. First, start with a unit change, the feedback adds half of that: 1.5. But the feedback now has an additional .5 units of change to react to, so it now adds half of that, .25 units of change, which must be responded to with a further .125 units of change, and so on. This is the sum of all integer powers of one half, which equals precisely two. That represents a system with a positive feedback which is nevertheless stable. Instability only arises in the feedback factor is equal to or greater than one. Having said that, while it is possible for their to be a stable, postive feedback system, it being possible doesn’t make it true. Lindzen and Choi show it almost certainly is not in the case of the climate of the Earth.

7 Joseph A Olson { 06.09.11 at 3:35 pm }

Anyone who thinks the treatment that Dr Lindzen recieved is isolated or anecdotal should read “The Hockey Stick Illusion” by A W Montford. This details the repeated mistreatment of Steve McIntyre at the hands of the IPCC-peer syndicate. It also explains the rampant ‘misconduct’ of the entire Hockey Stick team. That said, what has been presented as a two sided, but muted debate, is a FALSE DICHOTOMY between Warmists and Luke Warmists. Both of these sides are wrong, and unfortunately, Dr Lindzen is a Luke.

For the true science of climate visit http://www.FauxScienceSlayer.com and read “OMG…Maximum Carbon Dioxide Will Warm Earth 20 Milliseconds”. Yes the true extend to ‘global warming’ is only 20/1000 of a second. Same temperature, just slight CO2 impact delay.

8 R.S.Brown { 06.09.11 at 4:03 pm }

An early warning tip-off that the situation was spinning away on a political tangent was the PNAS’s original suggestion that the appropriate universe for additional reviewers should consist of a tub full of Climategators.

Congratulations on publication in the Asian Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.

9 Robert Blair { 06.09.11 at 5:20 pm }

Andrew,
So you really do believe in Zeno’s Paradox?

I guess you would be happy to stand in front of a firing squad, as the bullet can never reach you …

10 Robert Blair { 06.09.11 at 5:23 pm }

In my 30 years in IT I have never seen a physical or software system that (a) contained a positive feedback, and (b) remained stable. Electronic, Electrical and Mechanical engineers will tell you the same thing.

Why is different for Climate “Engineers” ?

11 Andrew { 06.09.11 at 7:23 pm }

I just said almost the exact opposite of Zeno’s Paradox! In fact, the fact that an infinite series can have finite sum is why Zeno was wrong! That has got to me the most bizarre criticism I’ve ever gotten.

With regard to your anecdotal, as opposed to my mathematical argument: The formalism by which feedback is defined is different between those disciplines and climate. I don’t know why this is, but all it means is that what you would probably call a weak negative feedback is called a positive feedback in the formalism used in climate. It’s a little unnerving that pointing out politely why this criticism is wrong results in rather impolite and insubstantial rebuttal.

12 Doug Badgero { 06.09.11 at 7:51 pm }

I agree with Andrew. I do also agree that as Lindzen himself has said that it is “intuitively implausible” that a system would be dominated by positive feedbacks……but not impossible.

I also personally believe it is intuitively implausible that the climate sensitivity coefficient is a constant. It is also worth mentioning that the feedback coefficient in most systems is not a constant………we as engineers simply design and operate our systems within some linear, or otherwise desired, range.

13 Roy Spencer { 06.09.11 at 7:59 pm }

Positive feedback for climate is not the same as for engineering…in the usual sense of the word, the climate system is stable, with net negative feedback.

But the MAIN climate stabilizing effect is NOT included in climate “feedback”: the increase in IR cooling to space as temperature rises (the Stefan-Boltzman effect). It’s just semantics, and leads to much confusion.

For example, positive cloud feedback would reduce the rate of radiative loss to space with temperature below the Stefan-Boltzman value…but it would still be a loss of energy with warming, and so negative feedback in the traditional sense.

14 Brendon { 06.09.11 at 9:50 pm }

I find Lindzen’s fear of additional reviewers very suspect. If his science were solid then he’d have nothing to worry about.

15 Robert Blair { 06.09.11 at 10:59 pm }

Andrew,
Formalism? Are you saying that terms like ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ have different meanings for climate scientists?

Perhaps there is a possible source of confusion there …

… I appreciate what you say about me quoting “the exact opposite” of what you said. Tell me about that positive and negative thing again …

16 Andrew { 06.09.11 at 11:09 pm }

I am saying that the definition of feedback used in the mathematics of describing climate behavior is different from that used in those other fields. Your snark aside, this means that what corresponds to “positive feedback” as you understand it is a feedback factor in excess of 1 as understood in climate work. This does not in any way cause an inversion of meaning it causes a shift in meaning. Thus the confusion. I also like how you imply that you were right that I was endorsing Zeno’s paradox, when I was in fact contradicting it in a rather obvious way.

17 Lindzen-Choi ‘Special Treatment’: Is Peer Review Biased Against Nonalarmist Climate Science? { 06.10.11 at 2:04 am }

[...] Read some-more during masterresource.org … TOPICS: Conspiracy; Education; Politics; ScienceKEYWORDS: choi; globalwarming; lindzen; [...]

18 Peer review or gatekeeping? | JunkScience Sidebar { 06.10.11 at 2:06 am }

[...] Lindzen-Choi ‘Special Treatment’: Is Peer Review Biased Against Nonalarmist Climate Science? Chip Knappenberger June 9, 2011 [Editor’s note: The following material was supplied to us by Dr. Richard Lindzen as an example of how research that counters climate-change alarm receives special treatment in the scientific publication process as compared with results that reinforce the consensus view. In this case, Lindzen's submission to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was subjected to unusual procedures and eventually rejected (in a rare move), only to be accepted for publication in the Asian Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences. [...]

19 Buffoon { 06.10.11 at 2:12 am }

Andrew

Your example works IFF the feedback magnitude has no lower bound. No natural system contains infinitely small elements. Your argument is spurious to tadchem’s initial intent.

Also your mathematical example is damped by being mathematically derivative. It has a built in negative feedback to the operation which is applied as a function of value. Derivation (rate of change) is inherently subtractive.

Your analog could be described as a feedback, but I think creating a real life example of it would require more than one logic step, thus your “feedback” loop encapsulates several logic steps.

20 Robert Blair { 06.10.11 at 2:23 am }

Andrew,
I am sorry to imply that you were right on the infinite series. I actually don’t know if you are right or wrong. I have resolved to ask a mathematician.
If you are right I will post it here :)

21 amabo { 06.10.11 at 5:04 am }

Robert: check wikipedia on convergent series
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convergent_series

The infinite series of numbers Andrew describes converges to 2.

22 Coldish { 06.10.11 at 6:30 am }

There is good account of a climate dissident’s experience with submitting a paper critical of the consensus at the CO2 realist blog.
The article is
“Circling the Bandwagons:
My Adventures Correcting the IPCC”
by Ross McKitrick
Professor of Economics
University of Guelph
March 2010

23 Lars Bern { 06.10.11 at 6:33 am }
24 Peter Wilson { 06.10.11 at 6:45 am }

It is curious (or should I say downright smelly) that Chou was rejected as a reviewer because of past co publications. Given the same criteria, and their very wide co publishing networks, one wonders who would be considered suitable to review the work of, say Phil Jones or Michael Mann? It would be interesting to know if ANY papers by “Team” members have ever been reviewed by reviewers fulfilling the criteria PNAS insisted on in this case.

25 Bob Dillon, M.D. { 06.10.11 at 10:27 am }

Reasonable and scientific AGHG deniers should have started their own scientific Journal several years ago. They have been relegated to individual books, foundation publications, etc. Their unified voice found only in certain blogs and websites and a yearly conference put on by Heartland Institute. Also, Govt. money pouring into numerous “Environmental Science Depts.” is so great it will take a major public add campaign to attract lay scientists and the public to the truth. I suggest a monthly 1/2 page add in the WSJ filled with scientific info as in NIPCC report, SEPP, and Heartland weekly web updates. The alarmist have gone straight to the public for years. We should also.

26 Andrew { 06.10.11 at 11:44 am }

Buffoon-Your name is unfortunate as I can’t say it without feeling like I’m doing your intellect an unwarranted disservice. Oh well, any way:

“Your example works IFF the feedback magnitude has no lower bound.”

I am not clear how that changes anything.

“No natural system contains infinitely small elements.”

Whether nature is “discrete” or not, in “discrete” elements are sufficiently small that at macroscopic scales nature can be thought of as continuous. Show me that calculus fails to be useful to describe macroscopic phenomena.

“Also your mathematical example is damped by being mathematically derivative.”

Um, what? Whether this example is “damped” or not, this is the way climate science talks about feedback. I guess what you are saying is that the positive feedback I describe is really a negative feedback, because of some intrinsic feature of mathematics that it implicitly causes negative feedbacks to appear out of nowhere.

When talking about climate, what we call the feedback is f:

Td=dT0/1-f

this looks exactly like the formula for an infinite series of the form:
Infinity
Sigma ar^n = a/1-r
n=0

That is why I compared feedback to such an infinite series, because they are, in this formalism, the same thing.

27 Andrew Dessler { 06.10.11 at 1:25 pm }

There’s one additional piece of information missing from this post: this paper was originally submitted to JGR, and it was rejected by that journal, too. When I talked to Lindzen last Oct., he railed about how unfair the reviews from that journal had been. At that point, I think Lindzen recognized that his paper was never going to make it through any kind of legitimate peer review, so he next submitted it to PNAS so he could select his own reviewers. Kudos to PNAS for not letting him select the entirely unqualified Happer or Lindzen’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Choi. But now Lindzen thinks PNAS is being unfair to him. Of course, after so many rejections by so many reviewers, there’s another possibility that Lindzen seems to not consider: his paper is not very good.

28 cknappenberger { 06.10.11 at 1:52 pm }

Andrew (#27),

I don’t think Lindzen thinks his paper represents the end all and be all of the issue, something that he seems to indicate pretty clearly in his comments. And he also recognized that the various reviewers’ comments served to make the paper better (as most reviewers comments do). However, this is another example, to me at least, of how alarm bells go off and flags get raised at editorial staffs when certain people submit papers. There is not one iota of doubt in my mind that several recent papers that I have co-authored with Pat Michaels and which have been rejected by various journals would have been accepted had the authorship been made up of other people.

-Chip

29 Andrew { 06.10.11 at 2:27 pm }

Dessler confuses Choi with Chou. I don’t think he has any clue what he is talking about.

30 Judith Curry { 06.10.11 at 4:55 pm }

I have a post on this over at Climate Etc.

http://judithcurry.com/2011/06/10/lindzen-and-choi-part-ii/

31 cknappenberger { 06.10.11 at 6:19 pm }

Andrew (#29),

If a typo were enough for disqualification, I think we’d all be in troble. :)

-Chip

32 cknappenberger { 06.10.11 at 6:35 pm }

In addition to Judith Curry’s post linked above which I encourage you to visit, Steve McIntyre over at ClimateAudit is hosting a discussion of various aspects of how PNAS handled the Lindzen and Choi submission:

http://climateaudit.org/2011/06/10/lindzens-pnas-reviews/

-Chip

33 Andrew { 06.10.11 at 9:32 pm }

Chip, Dessler’s error is confusion of Choi, Lindzen’s current coauthor and recent (former?) grad student, and Chou, a former coauthor. In the case of Chou, there is zero justification for the “wholly owned subsidiary” comment (not that the comment wasn’t flatly ad hominem anyway). But such a mistake is no mere typo.

34 Noblesse Oblige { 06.11.11 at 12:45 am }

No way Cicerone would let Lindzen-Choi be published in PNAS.

35 R.S.Brown { 06.11.11 at 3:24 am }

Re: Dr. Dressler’s bias… consider the source.

Andrew Dessler, PhD
Title: Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University

Position: Pro to the question “Is human activity a substantial cause of global climate change?”

Reasoning: “Contrary to what one might read in newspapers, the science of climate change is strong. Our own work and the immense body of independent research conducted around the world leaves no doubt…”

“There is no question that natural causes, such as changes in energy from the sun, natural cycles and volcanoes, continue to affect temperature today… ”

“But despite years of intensive observations of the Earth system, no one has been able to propose a credible alternative mechanism that can explain the present-day warming without heat-trapping gases produced by human activities… ”

See:

http://climatechange.procon.org/view.source.php?sourceID=009955

Ipso, facto. AGW rules. Lindzen-Choi must be wrong and treated like naughty children.

36 Peter Wilson { 06.11.11 at 6:22 am }

How very typical that Dr Desslers reasoning is explicitly an argument by exception – it must be CO2, because we can think of no other explanation. I do not believe this is sound scientific reasoning.

If he is still following, would like to ask him 2 simple questions
First, while I appreciate that many factors have been considered, how can you possibly have confidence that some other factor or factors, or which you are currently unaware, may be exerting a substantial influence on the climate system (or that one or more of the less well understood factors – clouds, soot, or oceanic oscillations, for instance, have been poorly accounted for in your calculations).

Secondly, the temperature increase we are concerned with is of the order of 3/4 degree C. There is ample evidence that fluctuations of this degree are not unusual in the millennial timescale. Why are you so sure there is anything requiring an explanation at all, above the normal noise of natural variation?

37 Frumious Bandersnatch { 06.11.11 at 9:46 am }

Mr. Huffman,

It is obvious from your comments on Galileo, that you know little of the background of the times. I would suggest that you read up on it. The Catholic church has some fascinating articles concerning this subject (BTW, I’m no Catholic, nor Catholic apologist, however I think that myths should not be perpetrated.).

38 Tenney Naumer { 06.11.11 at 1:11 pm }

This paper had already been rejected by JGR, and one can see why if one reads the PNAS reviewers’ objections. It’s that simple. It simply did not merit publication.

39 Orson { 06.11.11 at 2:09 pm }

IT’S now worth reconsidering our host Chip Knappenberger’s citation of Kuhn’s “Structure of Scientific Revolutions” at the top of this thread, which implies that scientific paradigms are in conflict~

Consider that, on the one hand, we have a newly coddled science orthodoxy who’s most vocal adherents insists on ringing bells about a “climate crisis” – because trust us, we’re scientists.”

On the other hand, among skeptics we have senior scientists like Spencer and Lindzen, retired climatologists like Bill Gray and retired atmospheric chemist Vincent Gray — none of whom have any direct financial interest in the outcome of global warming science; we have most geologists and meteorologists who, similarly, find the evidence presented above to be weak or unconvincing; and we have very eminent world-class and Nobel candidate scientists like Princeton’s Will Happer, the discoverer of anti-matter Antonino Zichichi from Italy, geochemist Claude Allegre in France, and on and on – nearly all of whom are similarly unimpressed by IPCC science.

Either IPCC “climate science” – which posits and Enhanced Greenhouse Effect that only revolutionary scientific visionaries know will save the planet from mankind – is somehow profoundly revolutionary and therefore indecipherable to “Old School” scientists – much like Einstein’s special relativity theory was greeted — or Freeman Dyson’s characterization of global warming theory as reigning dogma is correct. Either we are in the midst of a paradigmatic scientific revolution, or we are being had by deluded and self-interested charlatans.

Since government funding rose ten times with the rise of Vice President Al Gore as climate science spokesman, who will wager on Kuhn here?

40 Eli Rabett { 06.11.11 at 9:18 pm }

As some bunny whose Happer number is 2, let Eli tell you, Happer’s spectroscopy and the spectroscopy involved in climate are two very different animals. Lindzen is streeetching the truth with his characterization of Happer.

41 Robert Blair { 06.11.11 at 9:57 pm }

Andrew,
I have discussed this with a couple mathematicians and the short answer is: mathematically you are right.

The long answer is that it only works mathematically because non-mathematical, ie, physical, considerations are assumed away.

As buffoon noted, in the physical world size matters. Also, time matters. If the time involved in each operation is greater than zero then the amount of time involved approaches infinity. Zeno is not actually back, but he’s not that far away …

42 Robert Blair { 06.11.11 at 10:10 pm }

Amabo,
Thank you for that link. There is also this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Series_(mathematics) in Wikipedia.

I think what Andrew has forgotten is that just because a thing is true in mathematics doesn’t mean you can blithely apply it to the real world without consideration of the real world. Imaginary numbers may be another case in point.

43 Andrew { 06.12.11 at 10:25 am }

If we limit ourselves to a finite amount of time and allow each nth operation to take an amount of time which does not approach zero, then yes, the sum never completes. However, the sum taking an infinite amount of time to take does not mean that the sum will run away to infinity. In fact, in such a situation, even an f equal to one would be finite, albeit almost certainly very large. It is still true that what climate science would call “positive feedback” results in finite changes as long as f is not too large.

Although this is pretty much a moot point if the real value of f isn’t even positive!

44 Uniti contro Darwin e l’ambiente » Ocasapiens - Blog - Repubblica.it { 06.12.11 at 4:53 pm }

[...] PNAS pubblicano parecchia robaccia scritta da accademici e Lindzen ci contava. Deluso, è andato a piangere dai fans suoi – e del libero mercato dell’energia sovvenzionato nel caso di petrolio e [...]

45 Robert Blair { 06.12.11 at 6:59 pm }

Andrew,
No one has suggested that the sum will run away to infinity. By invoking Zeno I was suggesting that “the sum never completes” as you admit here.

After all this discussion I would like to return to your original post on this topic. It appears, as buffoon has noted, that your comment is not relevant in this physical context, and spurious as a rebuttal of tadchem’s comment.

Andrew, I must also ask you to take note of the fact that whilst the converging series necessarily ignores time, size and other physical constraints Zeno’s paradox is a paradox about time. I very much doubt the converging series is actually an accepted refutation of Zeno. He is wrong, but not for that reason.

46 Andrew { 06.12.11 at 9:19 pm }

Robert, I suppose we are getting a little of track now. Taking an infinite sum seems to me to be contradicting Zeno in that I can easily do so in a finite period of time, but then Zeno would have said even the mental motion must be an illusion!

My original point about the infinite series was that a positive feedback doesn’t necessarily mean instability, which I define to mean the feedback loop creates infinite change.

I do however think that the reason Zeno is wrong is closely related to the infinite series, namely that you can sum infinitely many time steps and get a finite period of time, provided that the time steps are either infinitesimal or decrease rapidly towards that. Of course, I suppose time could also be in discrete units, not infinitely divisible as Zeno assumed but I prefer not to delve into that when Calculus is so darn useful!

47 Is Peer-Review of Climate Science Papers Biased? | The Drinking Water Advisor { 06.13.11 at 1:52 am }

[...] Click here for a post regarding the peer-review experience of Lindzen-Choi. [...]

48 Rob { 06.13.11 at 3:47 am }

Apart from the fact that the original publication Lindzen and Choi 2009 contained a fundamental error in calculating the feedback response from ERBE results (so fundamental that anyone with a shred of scientific background would have caught it), and that Dr Trenberth spent an entire publication to explain the multitide of flaws and mistakes make in Lindzen and Choi 2009, Lindzen here again shows that he is religious in his belief of negative feedback and his dispoven Iris theory, regardless of the empirical and mathematical and scientific evidence against him.

Is Lindzen loosing it ?

Here are comments from the 4 reviewers of his latest submission :

Reviewer 1 : “The paper is based on three basic untested and fundamentally flawed assumptions about global
climate sensitivity”

Reviewer 2 : “I would advise both the author and the journal not to publish this paper as it stands”

Reviewer 3 : “I feel that the major problem with the present paper is that it does not provide a sufficiently clear and systematic response to the criticisms voiced following the publication of the earlier paper by the same authors in GRL,
which led to three detailed papers critiquing those findings.”

Reviewer 4 : “the exact same data have been used by others to get an opposing answer and I do not see any discussion or evidence as to why one is correct and the other is not”

The fact that Lindzen needs to resort to “it has been cooling for the past 10 years” Dr Happer, and co-author of referenced “Iris theory” Dr. Chou, underlines that Lindzen can’t find anyone outside his close circle of pals to back up his increasingly unsustainable belief system.

As for “special treatment” that Chip here addresses to our National Academy of Science, I’m sorry Chip, but bad papers receive bad reviews, and there is nothing “special” about that.

49 Energy and Environment News { 06.13.11 at 4:40 am }

[...] Is Peer Review Biased against Nonalarmist Climate Science? Chip Knappenberger, Master Resource, 9 June 2011 [...]

50 Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd. { 06.13.11 at 3:36 pm }

@Rob

Yeah that’s right Rob, and its completely fair for Schmidt and Trenberth to sit there and review each other’s papers. You are truly objective, my man.

“Since when is a negative feedback that reduces the response by 40% considered enormous, but a positive feedback that is purported to increase the response by 300% is considered plausible?”

Thats pretty amazing that you’re willing to defend that crap Rob.

51 Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd. { 06.13.11 at 3:41 pm }

@Eli Rabbet

Happer is more qualified than Schmidt, Mann or any of your boys. He actually studied the greenhouse effect and understands radiative absorption so he is in fact probably the most qualified to review the paper.

52 Chris Colose { 06.13.11 at 4:01 pm }

I’ve so far only read a few of the attached PDF’s in this post, but it is already clear that Lindzen is, once again, spinning his wheels to try to defend an indefensible result. His characterization of Wieleicki and Hartmann are just as bad as his positive characterization of Happer, who really doesn’t understand the first thing about climate. This is why Lindzen is an outcast at MIT and why nobody takes him seriously anymore.

53 Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd. { 06.14.11 at 9:00 am }

Oh look who it is, local coward Chris Colose. Funny to see you here, normally your hiding behind a massive wall of moderation. I would kindly direct everyone to ignore anything he says because he is an outright liar and I am quite confident he is paid to keep the hoax alive.

Maybe Lindzen’s negative feedback estimate isn’t precise…however there sure is hell isn’t a 300% positive feedback in the system. Lindzen’s estimate is much closer.

54 Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd. { 06.14.11 at 9:53 am }

@Tenney Naumer

Tenney, I know the divorce was tough but it’s no reason to attack your husband’s former colleagues.

55 Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd. { 06.14.11 at 10:01 am }

That’s what I thought, Colose. Tuck your tail and run, same with you Rabbet. I bet you 2 were some of the easiest kids at school to bully based on how fast you run back to your moderation screens. Go cry to your 20 or so followers. In the meantime, I’m going to turn on every single light, every single appliance and anything else in my house that burns fossil fuels. I have a birthday coming up and I’d like you to know I will be using the most non eco friendly candles I can find.

56 cknappenberger { 06.14.11 at 10:48 am }

Jay Cadbury at 53,54,55, etc.,

Whoa. Speaking of moderation, you are running up against my sense of decency and on the verge of being moderated here. Please tone down your invectiveness or take it elsewhere.

-Chip

57 Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd. { 06.14.11 at 12:10 pm }

Colose and Rabbet hide behind moderation screens for most of their lives so when they comment at a place where you can actually respond, I take the opportunity to unload on them. We all know, the hoax hinges on the feedbacks in the system. These guys make it sound like co2 is some living evil monster that is automatically going to make the temperature go up. It doesn’t even make sense that the earth would act to enhance the warming effect of co2, your basically saying the earth has no mechanism to cool itself.

58 Russell Seitz { 06.14.11 at 5:04 pm }

Play by the rules, Peter- you can’t deplore tree-ring cliques while giving Richard a free pass for nominating a co-author as reviewer. The problem is bipartisan.

59 Eli Rabett { 06.14.11 at 7:46 pm }

Well, since Eli Rabett doesn’t moderate even moderately Jay obviously has him confused with another Rabbet, silly bunny. Yet, Eli anxiously awaits Bill Happers review of his ground breaking string theory paper.

60 Russell Seitz { 06.14.11 at 8:28 pm }

That’s Will, not Bill, Eli.

61 Lindzen goes emeritus : Stoat { 06.15.11 at 6:50 am }

[...] makes him stark staring Emeritus is his belief that publishing this tawdry tale is actually a good idea for him. How mad do you have to be to do that? .pm_tools_small .pm_tool [...]

62 Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd. { 06.15.11 at 8:37 am }

@Eli Rabbet

Actually, you’re right Eli. I have completely mistaken the bunny for someone else. Also, talking about yourself in the third person is awesome, please continue to do so.

63 Ian Thompson { 06.15.11 at 11:41 am }

Brendan,
if you read the material you will se that the authors are not ‘afraid’ of further peer review, just not wanting ‘review’ from people with a vested interesting in rejecting the paper – thus the asking for neutral peer reviewers rather than those either in the camp or outside the camp. I feel you may be being a little naive . . .

64 Chris Colose { 06.15.11 at 2:07 pm }

someone is very angry…leaves me and the Rabett both speechless :-)

65 Chip Knappenberger { 06.15.11 at 2:28 pm }

Do I think the standing review procedures at PNAS are acceptable for a scientific publication? No. By employing such procedures, PNAS is really just an outlet for the pet projects/opinions of the NAS members. If you want the most robust science, you should probably look elsewhere.

It is one thing to have to supply a list of “suggested” reviewers like for AGU submissions (a practice that I also dislike), but to have to include two reviews of your paper alongside your submission is ridiculous. How often are the included reviews negative? Never, would be my guess. So that requirement is pointless—other than, I guess, it allows for PNAS to claim itself as a peer-reviewed journal (in the loosest sense of the term).

PNAS has a lax review policy and decided to firm it up in Lindzen’s case. Clearly, Lindzen received special treatment. Also pretty clearly, his final paper is better off because of it. Shouldn’t all submissions to PNAS be so lucky?

-Chip Knappenberger

66 cknappenberger { 06.15.11 at 2:34 pm }

Re: 61 and the discussions at that link concerning the adequacy of the peer-review process at PNAS;

Do I think the standing review procedures at PNAS are acceptable for a scientific publication? No. By employing such procedures, PNAS is really just an outlet for the pet projects/opinions of the NAS members. If you want the most robust science, you should probably look elsewhere.

It is one thing to have to supply a list of “suggested” reviewers like for AGU submissions (a practice that I also dislike), but to have to include two reviews of your paper alongside your submission is ridiculous. How often are the included reviews negative? Never, would be my guess. So that requirement is pointless—other than, I guess, it allows for PNAS to claim itself as a peer-reviewed journal (in the loosest sense of the term).

PNAS has a lax review policy and decided to firm it up in Lindzen’s case. Clearly, Lindzen received special treatment. Also pretty clearly, his final paper is better off because of it. Shouldn’t all submissions to PNAS be so lucky?

-Chip Knappenberger

67 Eli Rabett { 06.15.11 at 7:13 pm }

So Russell where is his review. Betcha Richard Lindzen is writing it up right now.

68 Pinko Punko { 06.16.11 at 10:06 pm }

Hi Chip,
This might be interesting to you.

Since National Academy members are somewhat vetted for their accomplishments, having a journal titled “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” extend some privileges to those members does not seem that out of whack. Additionally, since Lindzen clearly contradicted the spirit of the rules for contributions, which have been tightened much in the last few years, why would this really be considered special treatment? What if all the special circumstances were precipitated by his behavior? How would they be special in a way where PNAS did anything wrong?

How is their policy lax? Special privileges exist for highly accomplished scientists in this journal- this is transparent and known publicly. These privileges have limits. If an author tests those limits, how can you know that journal policy specifically changed here?

69 Rob { 06.20.11 at 3:41 am }

Regarding this new Lindzen and Choi 2011 paper, as far as I can see on the various blog, there is a great deal of talk about the PNAS rejection, but very very little about the science in the paper.

Lindzen and Choi obtain different feedback numbers from the same ERBE data than Trenberth 2010 and two other papers, and Lindzen claims (unsurprisingly) that his method is more accurately reproducing feedback numbers.
When I looked at the details of his method however, I found something very concerning :

The Lindzen and Choi method of doing FLUX/SST analysis (called “lead and lag” by Lindzen) seems to have a (strong?) bias towards negative feedback.
Here is why :
L&C analyzes fragments of SST changes that are either rising or falling, and then measures the FLUX response over the same period.
No problem there, has been done many times before by numerous other scientists.
The difference is that Lindzen is looking back and forth (lead and lag) in time, and finds the FLUX response that has the highest correlation with the SST change.

First remember that the FLUX (response) has significant noise on it. Let’s note that if you do not look back and forth in time (no lead or lag), then on average the FLUX response will tell you the average FLUX response to that SST change.
But also remember that the FLUX response with the highest correlation with SST will always be the response that starts at one extreme and ends at the other extreme. All other responses will correlate less, since they will show opposite slopes at the start and/or end points, which obviously don’t correlate well with the SST.
So, if you are allowed to look back and forth in time through that noisy signal, you have a high chance of finding a lead or lag time where the FLUX response is larger (and thus correlates better) than the no-lag response alone.
So Lindzen and Choi method will (for each fragment of SST analysed) find the lead or lag time where the FLUX response is the largest !

When the FLUX response is larger for a certain SST change, the calculated feedback will be lower, and thus this method has a bias towards lowering the feedback calculated from the ERBE data.
Let me note that the effect (bias) will be stronger the more lead or lag time is allowed, since there will be more start and end-points in the noise to consider, and the largest response will correlate the best.
So for short lag times and strong negative feedback (large FLUX response), Lindzen’s method will be approximately correct. But for no-feedback or positive feedback the lead-lag bias will be very significant.

In fact Lindzen mentions himself that his method works best for large negative feedbacks .
He also mentions that his method works less good for small feedbacks (and consequently) large lag times, which, as I showed above is consistent with increased bias.

Interestingly enough, he does not show what feedback parameter number he obtains for a system with no feedback or positive feedback, in which case the lead-lag-noise bias will be greatest.

Needless to say that maybe Lindzen drew some very premature conclusions when he discards other scientists’ work (Trenberth et al, Dessler et al) who do NOT use his (biased) lead-lag-correlate method.

Now I have not quantified this bias yet, but this bias should be very easily reproducible using Lindzen’s (Spencer’s) “simple model” simulation,

Interesting ?

70 barry { 06.20.11 at 6:50 am }

“Any mechanism that invokes a positive feedback must NECESSARILY result in a system doomed to self-destruction.
Imagine balancing a basketball on the saddle of a galloping horse. It simply cannot remain there. The Laws of Thermodynamics will require it to deviate from a “perfect” balance, and once deviated, to rapidly amplify its deviation. Our planet has had a habitable atmosphere for many millions of years. This could only happen if *ALL* feedback mechanisms at work used negative feedbacks.”

If climate change entails a runaway effect, why doesn’t the planet boil as the season change to summer, or turn into am icecube during winter?

If negative feedbacks predominate, how do ice age changes occur?

Whenever the last question is asked of Roy Spencer, he dodges it. He simply doesn’t deal with it. Is Lindzen able to demonstrate how his feedback regime comports with a 5 degree C change in global temperature? And if planetary climate is balanced on a precipice, how come it hasn’t streaked towards disaster when the planet became even cooler or hotter?

(I’ll assume we’re all agreed climate has changed before..)

71 No Apologies { 06.20.11 at 7:10 am }

[...] a blog piece at MasterResource.org, meteorologist Chip Knappenberger presents and discusses the implications of communications from [...]

72 RW { 06.20.11 at 8:03 pm }

And still no one can explain why GHG ‘forcing’ will be amplified by nearly 500% when solar forcing is only amplified by about 60%.

Yet they vehemently object to a negative feedback of about 40% from Lindzen and Choi. I think the peer review process is seriously broken.

73 Rob { 06.22.11 at 4:49 am }

RW wrote : no one can explain why GHG ‘forcing’ will be amplified by nearly 500% when solar forcing is only amplified by about 60%.

In absense of any evidence from you for any of your statements, I suggest that you confused the solar irradiance on a disk with the forcing of GHG on a sphere with the same radius; which is a factor 4 diffence.

And regarding they vehemently object to a negative feedback of about 40% from Lindzen and Choi

I would like to point out the Lindzen and Choi 2011 method has a fundamental scientific flaw which I pointed out above, which creates negative feedback where it is non-existent.

Now, if you are happy to embrace scientifically flawed methods as long as they sustain your preconceived belief system, then by all means, stay ignorant.

For the rest of us, and for the L&C reviewers, Lindzen and Choi 2011 obtains conclusions that are inconsistent with previous analyses of the same data, analyses that were not tainted by the fundamental scientific errors that have become a consistent theme for papers originating from Lindzen and Choi.

74 Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd. { 06.23.11 at 2:45 pm }

@Rob

Well ho ho ho. Michael Mann got a pre-selected reviewer for his new paper on seal level. You are nothing but a far left, biased hack. I found a fundamental flaw in your analysis; you find positive feedback where it is non-existent. These journals, especially PNAS and Nature, are complete jokes.

75 Las nubes como problema del huevo o la gallina. Roy Spencer. « PlazaMoyua.com { 07.17.11 at 5:37 am }

[...] no coinciden con su interpretación de la ciencia motivada políticamente  (ver aquí, aquí, aquí, y aquí), Espero que me disculpéis si no digo el nombre de la revista hasta el momento de la [...]

76 Climate Scientists Comments Absurd « Reasonable Doubt on Climate Change { 07.22.11 at 6:12 pm }

[...] Lindzen, has had a distinguished career, but 30 years after his major contributions, he appears to struggle to respond to devastating peer reviews when he attempts to publish his contrarian views in a major [...]

77 Roy Spencer Wants You to Believe the Magician Really Cuts Her Body in Half « Global Warming: Man or Myth? { 09.06.11 at 4:59 am }

[...] stood with Monckton at a press conference to publicly criticize Dessler’s previous paper and Lindzen complained about being shut out of prestigious journals and ended up publishing in the unheard of Asian Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Science. Both of [...]

78 The Eternal Return or: The Unbearable Wrongness of Spencer and Braswell « The Policy Lass { 09.06.11 at 12:03 pm }

[...] just so you don’t think Lindzen is above whinging, here’s his take on why his paper was rejected at Proceedings of the National Academy of [...]

79 Notable readings of the day 05/02/2012 « Pro Bozo Publico { 05.02.12 at 7:39 pm }

[...] among climate scientists for his publication difficulties, saying the majority is determined to suppress any dissenting views. They, in turn, contend that he routinely misrepresents the work of other [...]

80 Wild Speculation on Climate and Polar Bears | Watts Up With That? { 07.27.12 at 2:02 am }

[...] sensitivity to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions isn’t as large as commonly thought was rejected by the PNAS editor in change, overruling the recommendations of the reviewers chosen by Lindzen. But [...]

81 Infowars Wexford | Wild Speculation on Climate and Polar Bears { 07.27.12 at 4:41 pm }

[...] sensitivity to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions isn’t as large as commonly thought was rejected by the PNAS editor in change, overruling the recommendations of the reviewers chosen by Lindzen. But [...]

82 ezra abrams { 12.20.12 at 3:25 pm }

As a PNAS editor, Dr Sheckman has to deal with 1,000s of cases like this every year – hundreds of authors demanding that Dr Shekman spend time and effort going thru their MS.

I think that the expected, rational, reasonable result is tht Dr Shekman has very little time for each case, and that slipups and errors are probably normal (SNAFU) – I’m sure each of us has encountered errors that are due to overwork.

I also have the sense, perhaps wrong, that despite his fame, Dr Lindzen has a history of errors, so that perhaps people are sensitive to his new papers.

83 rbradley { 12.20.12 at 4:41 pm }

Ezra Abrams:

I would hope that such is not the case all around, and that timely review of major papers would occur without according to impartial procedure. And I might add that evidence continues to accumulate toward the Lindzen view of water vapor feedback, as indicated here: http://judithcurry.com/2012/12/19/climate-sensitivity-in-the-ar5-sod/

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