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E&E threatens a libel suit

Filed under: — group @ 22 February 2011

Abuse of the UK libel laws is so commonplace as to require no real introduction (but see the Campaign for libel reform for more details). Because of the ridiculous costs and pro-plaintiff assumptions, it has been (ab)used by many and fought against successfully only by a few. In the realm of discussions about science, Simon Singh’s triumph over a libel suit brought by the British Chiropractors Association stands out, as does Ben Goldacre’s successful £500,000 defense against Matthias Rath – a vitamin salesman peddling bogus AIDS cures. But despite that, it remains (for now) a potent threat to throw around if you want to try to intimidate a critic.

We received this letter on Friday:

From: Bill Hughes
Cc: Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen
Subject:: E&E libel
Date: 02/18/11 10:48:01

Gavin, your comment about Energy & Environment which you made on RealClimate has been brought to my attention:

“The evidence for this is in precisely what happens in venues like E&E that have effectively dispensed with substantive peer review for any papers that follow the editor’s political line. ”

To assert, without knowing, as you cannot possibly know, not being connected with the journal yourself, that an academic journal does not bother with peer review, is a terribly damaging charge, and one I’m really quite surprised that you’re prepared to make. And to further assert that peer review is abandoned precisely in order to let the editor publish papers which support her political position, is even more damaging, not to mention being completely ridiculous.

At the moment, I’m prepared to settle merely for a retraction posted on RealClimate. I’m quite happy to work with you to find a mutually satisfactory form of words: I appreciate you might find it difficult.

I look forward to hearing from you.

With best wishes
Bill Hughes
Director
Multi-Science Publsihing [sic] Co Ltd

The comment in question was made in the post “From blog to Science” and the full context was:

The many existing critiques of peer review as a system (for instance by Richard Smith, ex-editor of the BMJ, or here, or in the British Academy report), sometimes appear to assume that all papers arrive at the journals fully formed and appropriately written. They don’t. The mere existence of the peer review system elevates the quality of submissions, regardless of who the peer reviewers are or what their biases might be. The evidence for this is in precisely what happens in venues like E&E that have effectively dispensed with substantive peer review for any papers that follow the editor’s political line – you end up with a backwater of poorly presented and incoherent contributions that make no impact on the mainstream scientific literature or conversation. It simply isn’t worth wading through the dross in the hope of finding something interesting.

The point being that if the ‘peer-review’ bar gets lowered, the result is worse submissions, less impact and a declining reputation. Something that fits E&E in spades. This conclusion is based on multiple years of evidence of shoddy peer-review at E&E and, obviously, on the statements of the editor, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen. She was quoted by Richard Monastersky in the Chronicle of Higher Education (3 Sep 2003) in the wake of the Soon and Baliunas fiasco:

The journal’s editor, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, a reader in geography at the University of Hull, in England, says she sometimes publishes scientific papers challenging the view that global warming is a problem, because that position is often stifled in other outlets. “I’m following my political agenda — a bit, anyway,” she says. “But isn’t that the right of the editor?”

So the claim that the ‘an editor publishes papers based on her political position’ while certainly ‘terribly damaging’ to the journal’s reputation is, unfortunately, far from ridiculous.

Other people have investigated the peer-review practices of E&E and found them wanting. Greenfyre, dissecting a list of supposedly ‘peer-reviewed’ papers from E&E found that:

A given paper in E&E may have been peer reviewed (but unlikely). If it was, the review process might have been up to the normal standards for science (but unlikely). Hence E&E’s exclusion from the ISI Journal Master list, and why many (including Scopus) do not consider E&E a peer reviewed journal at all.

Further, even the editor states that it is not a science journal and that it is politically motivated/influenced. Finally, at least some of what it publishes is just plain loony.

Also, see comments from John Hunter and John Lynch. Nexus6 claimed to found the worst climate paper ever published in its pages, and that one doesn’t even appear to have been proof-read (a little like Bill’s email). A one-time author, Roger Pielke Jr, said “…had we known then how that outlet would evolve beyond 1999 we certainly wouldn’t have published there. “, and Ralph Keeling once asked, “Is it really the intent of E&E to provide a forum for laundering pseudo-science?”. We report, you decide.

We are not surprised to find that Bill Hughes (the publisher) is concerned about his journal’s evidently appalling reputation. However, perhaps the way to fix that is to start applying a higher level of quality control rather than by threatening libel suits against people who publicly point out the problems? Is being known as the journal who tries to sue critics of their editorial policies (or worse, tries to intimidate critics by threatening libel suits) really going to help?

As a final note, if you think that threatening unjustifiable UK libel suits against valid criticism is an appalling abuse, feel free to let Bill Hughes know (but please be polite), and add your support to the Campaign for libel reform in the UK which looks to be making great headway. In the comments, feel free to list your examples of the worst papers ever published in E&E.

Bill, if you are reading, you can take this ‘form of words’ as a full and complete response to your email.

Update: The Guardian reports on the story, and Bill Hughes sends another email.


308 Responses to “E&E threatens a libel suit”

  1. 151
    KAP says:

    Oh sue, Mr. Hughes, please sue! We can’t wait to find out what kind of dross lies in the files E&E, all opened by justifiable subpoena. What is the actual review-to-submission ratio? Or the submission-to-acceptance ratio?

    Or perhaps you just might want to check with Dr. Boehmer-Christiansen before opening that can of worms?

  2. 152

    @147: Apparently, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen has difficulty counting to three.

  3. 153
    Philip S says:

    Tim Joslin @141
    Libel is something any publisher or senior editor normally knows about as a matter of course. If they don’t, they certainly should, because even innocent or casual inaccuracies can be ruinous. So I’m betting Hughes has consulted on the issue and been told he stands no chance in court; or has realised it himself. If he is seriously considering the costs (and financial risks) of litigation, then he is not going the right way about it.
    The second refernce [“peer review [has been] abandoned precisely in order to let the editor publish papers which support her political position”?] amounts to a speculation as to motive. But it is of no great consequence if the central claim that the norms of “substantive peer review” have been abandoned, is tenable. It would be hard to demonstrate in court that the attribution of a political motive in itself is damaging or injurious. (If someone hurls a brick through your window for recreational purposes; is it libelous to write that their motive was, in fact, political? Answer: no, even if that is not true.)
    As it happens, the e-mails quoted above from Dr.Sonja A.Boehmer-Christiansen clearly demonstrate a political intention (witness the repeated references to policy). Further, that intention is realised through an overt editorial policy of giving ‘skeptics’ a platform, and of ensuring that the contributions of such ‘skeptics’ are only ‘peer-reviewed’ by like-minded individuals. In this context, Schmidt’s speculations as to motive would seem to be not only fair comment, but demonstrably accurate.

  4. 154
    Hank Roberts says:

    > I publish climate ‘sceptics’, heavily peer reviewed, by
    > peers, not IPCC devotees.

    She has a little list?

    [Response: Checkin it twice. Gonna find out who’s melting the ice…. –raypierre]

  5. 155
    greyfox says:

    Re: 150;
    You are so right, really. I should clarify…Americans have been asleep at the wheel for decades, and a group who are, um, not so nice have been busily planning and executing a root-up silent coup. Doing a damn’d good job of it too, sadly. The ‘going to the streets’ was really a stand-in for getting off our collective duffs and understanding that this isn’t a pleasant high school debate. Rather, it is going to be a West Side Story rumble…if we have the stomach for it. I’m not kidding. You should see the laws being launched one after another in Arizona, where I reside. They verge on secessionist sedition among other things.
    As for the scientists and those who have faithfully written on this blog for years, I hope you know that you have my undying admiration for slogging through the research and math and making sure the climate evidence for warming is robust and valid (all while dodging the venom of the denialists). My point is that we have passed the time when we have the luxury to parse decimal points and station readings. There is beyond enough evidence and data to support what must be done. The fight, however, is not in that arena now. The post today about the legal potential for a libel suit is valid enough, but this just the sort of thing that diverts our attention and energy from the more basic battle. Intentionally. We have to get it.

  6. 156
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    “I publish climate ‘sceptics’, heavily peer reviewed, by peers, not IPCC devotees.”

    Seems odd not to send papers to the people who will be most critical of them. Didn’t stop O’Donnel et al getting published. Own goal, game over.

  7. 157
    Charles says:

    #148–\Anybody remember L’affaire Sokal? –raypierre\

    Oh, indeed. Please, please, one of you guys, or a group of you, get some grad students to put together a bogus, \skeptical\ paper that sounds just realistic enough to the unwary. Bury a bogus concept or some bogus math in the paper and submit to places like E&E, SPPI, WUWT … and sit back for the fun.

    If the paper is published by a journal like E&E, that would garner some interesting attention once the ruse is exposed.

  8. 158
    John Mashey says:

    E&E is replete with examples, with Schulte is one of my favorites, and Beck is a fine one, but another whose title caught my eye is less well-known: Climate science and the phlogiston theory: weighing the evidence by Arthur Rorsch. Fortunately, an online copy is available here. He Acks John McLean, and writes:

    “5E.G. Beck “180 years accurate CO2 analysis in air by chemical methods” In press Energy&Environment.
    6Here the reference to the research of Mann et al. is not given, because in my opinion the papers have to be retracted as violations of good scientific practice with respect to selective data use and refusal to cooperate with others to have the computer programmes reinvestigated.”

  9. 159
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    Charles #157 (And with respect to the RC crew, who are clearly the target of your suggestion) This would be an excellent project for Arts Faculty students (say from media studies, making a documentary). Do any of the RC crew have connections to the Arts faculty? Charles is right, the “debate” is no longer scientific, and what is the best way to expose the ridiculous? Humour.

  10. 160
    Hugh says:

    Text of an email sent to Mr. Hughes:

    Bravo Mr. Hughes!

    I have long despaired of the constant misrepresentation of climate science (and scientists) in the mainstream media, and wondered why more libel suits have not resulted. Yet legal systems in North America seem unable or unwilling to address the problem – the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, in fact, has recently been requested by an obscure Conservative federal government committee to LOOSEN the laws governing the publication of false information (see these Star and Globe and Mail reports)! Perhaps Britain can do better.

    Rest assured that should you decide to prosecute a libel suit against RealClimate (as your letter to them seems to threaten), I will welcome the public exposure, in a forum providing strict rules of evidence and a right to cross-examine, of the standards of science and peer review represented by the respective litigants – and will gladly contribute financially towards RealClimate’s defence.

    Hugh McLean

  11. 161
    Martin Vermeer says:

    It’s rather amusing to see a string of commentators, all the way down to the Piltdown Guy, all offering free legal advice to Gavin and company. Please folks, read the closing line of the post:

    Bill, if you are reading, you can take this ‘form of words’ as a full and complete response to your email.

    What, if anything, in this sentence suggests that Gavin has not had the benefit of legal counsel (and, as Philip S observes, what makes you think Hughes had’t either, being told the same thing)?

    Hughes tried his luck at intimidation. Gavin and friends called his bluff, in a takedown that is a thing of beauty. Hughes cannot be a very happy man right now :-)

  12. 162
    Frank says:

    Gavin: “…venues like E&E that have effectively dispensed with substantive peer review for ANY papers that follow the editor’s political line”

    #116 by Richard Tol (co-editor-in-chief of Energy Economics, and an associated editor of Economics, according to his website): “For your information, I have published a few papers in E&E. All were peer-reviewed as usual. I have reviewed a few more for the journal.”

    BTW, Science and Nature publish a variety of non-peer reviewed articles commissioned by the editors. Was Gavin and David’s “News and Views” article in Nature (Climate change: Too much of a bad thing. Nature 458, 1117-1118 (30 April 2009) peer-reviewed?

    [Response: No. ‘News and Views’ pieces are just opinion, not research. – gavin]

  13. 163
    stephane says:

    For a more successful approach to communication in climate science, maybe this article will help :

    http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110223/full/news.2011.115.html

    I think that the main problem in the US is tied to the feeling that global warming imposes restrictions and constraints which are opposed to Liberty. My feeling, from France, is that Liberty is a very strong value in the US, maybe a too strong value. And opinion, things, perceptions or facts which threaten liberty are strongly, emotionally rejected.

    Therefore, maybe changing the tone and including metaphors to convey the message that doing nothing is restricting the liberty to choose the best course may be more successful?

    Hope this helps

    Stephane

  14. 164

    Gavin

    so let’s assume you are accused by Hughes and loose a 500.000 Pounds process under UK libel law could you be arrested in Heathrow when you come home at chrystmas? I just imagine the pictures and the lead stories.

    Cheers Georg

    PS Within one of the review processes launched by E&E on a rather dubious paper Ralph Keeling summarized his experience:

    \The Beck article provides an interesting test case for E&E’s recently advertised willingness to serve as a forum for \skeptical analyses of global warming\ (E&E mission statement, Dec. 2006). The result was the publication of a paper with serious conceptual oversights that would have been spotted by any reasonably qualified reviewer. Is it really the intent of E&E to provide a forum for laundering pseudo-science? I suggest that some clarification or review of the practice is appropriate.\

    So, Gavin, you are far from being the first to note the obvious.

  15. 165
  16. 166
    Ray Ladbury says:

    OAB@156
    Indeed. It would seem that someone has not fully understand that one’s peers are competing with one for grad students, funding, attention, accolades and fame and glory. Most of they would not pull you out of the streets if a bus were bearing down on you.

  17. 167
    Ray Ladbury says:

    You know, while I am not really a big fan of “sokaling”, such a parody might actually do the denialosphere a favor by making them a little more circumspect about gulping down every hook, line and sinker they see attached to a shiny bit of chum.

  18. 168
    Christoffer says:

    I´d say that the most ridiculous E&E paper would certainly be Ernst-Georg Beck´s claiming that the CO2 has risen and fallen arbitrarily by more than 100 ppm from one year to the next befor 1958, while suddenly calming down to a steady yearly rise from coincidentally the time of Mauna Loa and onwards:

    http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/files/documents/CO2%20Gas%20Analysis-Ernst-Georg%20Beck.pdf

    I´m a biologist and an occasional science blogger, and not a single of the students from 2.year an on I have discussed this with have not asked themselves how on earth such claimed CO2 rises and declines could indeed be possible. I struggle to believe that this paper was ever seen by a reviewer with any kind of B.sc degree before publication.

    The E&E will always be able to defend themselves by saying that the publish papers by critics, too. Nakicenovic and the SRES team was indeed allowed a response – and bothered to send in one – to the spurious claims by Castles & Henderson about the alleged failure to correct for purchasing power parity in the emission scenarios.

    http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Publications/PDF_Papers/ipcc-sres-revisited.pdf

    Maybe responding to something presented in E&E is simply ill-advised? This would perhaps lead credibility to the journal – besides wasting serious researcher´s time.

  19. 169
    Marco says:

    Christoffer, as I noted in comment 6, Arthur Rörsch, prof.em. in genetics, informed me that Beck’s article was the most rigorously reviewed article published in E&E. You will also note in Beck’s acknowledgments a range of thanks yous to people who hold a PhD in somewhat relevant fields.

    So, no need to struggle there, it WAS really reviewed by people with more than a BSc. It just shows how enormous the political pressure at E&E is: even supposedly qualified people are so much more interested in the narrative, rather than the actual facts, that they’ll accept anything that can be construed as casting doubt. Unless it rocks their own boat a bit too much, such as the apparently French theoretical physicist who reviewed Oliver Manuel’s article and thought it nonsense (it was ultimately published in E&E anyway, as an “opinion” piece; I’m guessing the political accusations in the piece were too good to be ignored).

  20. 170
    Horatio Algeranon says:

    Martin Vermeer (161) says

    It’s rather amusing to see a string of commentators, all the way down to the Piltdown Guy, all offering free legal advice to Gavin and company.

    Amusing, but not surprising, particularly not for the “Piltdown Guy”.

    Mr. Edit is not only a climate science expert and emailanyst but a libel expert too.

    People yak-it-ti-yak a streak
    and waste your time of day,
    but Mister Edit will never speak,
    unless he has something to say…

  21. 171
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Horatio, my inspiration for “Piltdown Guy” was this cartoon which somehow seems appropriate :-)

    I claim no originality.

  22. 172
  23. 173
    John Mashey says:

    re: #157
    Submitting paper:says,
    i.e., claims the mantle of journal:

    “Energy and Environment is an interdisciplinary journal aimed at natural scientists, technologists and the international social science and policy communities covering the direct and indirect environmental impacts of energy acquisition, transport, production and use. …
    A major aim of Energy and Environment is to act as a forum for constructive and professional debate between scientists and technologists, social scientists and economists …”

    WUWT claims to have some relevance to science.

    SPPI claims to be an institute.
    It is ~one-man operation, essentially a website, by Robert Ferguson, whose main address is a PO Box in a UPS store in suburban VA.

    He has a secondary address in DC, which you can see for yourself via Google Streetview (it’s the white door at right labeled 209.). Whether this is an actual office suite or a virtual office is unknown to me. Some DC resident might stroll by and see.

    Steve Goddard claimed affiliation with SPPI in the recent Lisbon affair, despite not appearing on the list.

    In Nick Stokes’ list, we find:

    Steve Goddard SPPI
    Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit
    Steve Mosher, Independent Consultant
    Roger Tattersall, Leeds University (“tallbloke”)

    Unless they paid their own ways, the EC took care of this, in which case:
    SPPI = PO Box/website, which doesn’t even list Goddard
    Climate Audit = website
    Mosher’s description is open and a fair.

    Tallbloke is a web content editor in Leeds School of Education, in a university that has substantial efforts in environmental sciences. He was excited to be invited to Lisbon on official climate business. His own list says “independent researcher.” I.e., as best as I can tell, tallbloke (properly) did not claim the Leeds affiliation, but it got there somehow.

    Actually, I was a bit surprised no one from E&E attended.

  24. 174
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    Ray Ladbury #167. Variations on the “Dihydrogen oxide causes multiple deaths” theme surely don’t need a scientist to invent them :)

  25. 175
    Hank Roberts says:

    What has Peiser done lately? I can’t find anything more recent than:
    http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/NewsCentre/72620.htm

  26. 176
    dhogaza says:

    John Mashey:

    as best as I can tell, tallbloke (properly) did not claim the Leeds affiliation, but it got there somehow.

    He said he filled it in on a form. Logically, I assume that would be the official registration form, which one might expect to have a field for “affiliation”. He claimed to have been surprised that this showed up on the official list of attendees, which seems a bit naive (regardless of exactly which form he filled in had “affiliation” on it, if I’m wrong about it being the registration form).

    Also, it’s not clear that the EC paid attendees’ expenses, it might have been the foundation that sponsored it.

  27. 177
    Snapple says:

    Dr. Mashey,

    How dare you spread such total nonsense about the SPPI! I have personally been to Bob’s SPPI. I couldn’t find the SPPI for the longest time! (Even the CIA at its most cunning has never been able to replicate the SPI’s brilliant disguise!)

    I personally cruised back and forth right in front of the parcel post store and could not locate Bob’s institute. My GPS was doing flip-flops. As everyone(in Washington) knows, this happens when you are near a national security facility that has jamming.

    You have failed to realize the obvious, Dr. Mashey: Bob is a mighty wizard who operates a REALLY DENSE NETWORK of highly-miniaturized SPI reconnaissance satellites and other classified SPI sensors from his primary address (mailbox #209 in the Haymarket, Virginia parcel post store).

    America has no need for climate scientists or CIA reconnaissance satellites now that we are served by the mighty eyes and ears of Bob’s state-of-the-art SPI facility, mailbox #209.

    Bob’s SPI satellites and classified SPI sensors are so small that they are invisible to the naked eye, which is obviously why I couldn’t see them. These invisible satellites and classified sensors prove there is no global warming.

    And one more thing. Pay no attention to that Russian conspiracist Andrei Areshev. He is a fabricator who claims that the mighty Bob is CAUSING global warming by beaming secret climate weapons at “certain countries” and burning them to the ground.

  28. 178
    Clippo (UK) says:

    Re: Hank Roberts #175……… What has Peiser done lately?,

    He did complain to the UK Daily Telegraph about AGW ‘deniers’ being called ‘deniers’ because of holocaust associations. I am pretty certain I read this but I can’t find the link in the DT’s website – it was ? 1-2 years ago

    Therefore, answer to above question – nothing remotely serious..

  29. 179
    GSW says:

    Coming at this from a different angle. I think there is a problem with how the Climate Science community is perceived post climategate.

    Going head to head with journal editors and ‘rubbishing’ publications, that don’t follow the concensus line, appears very much a continuation of what was disclosed in the emails.

    My opinion; This doesn’t play well. A small percentage of people take the time to evaluate the science for themselves. Most people recognize boorish behaviour when they see it. Argue the science, don’t take cheap shots at the opposition.

    [Response: You’re kidding right? Scientists have been “arguing the science” on this, and other controversial topics, for as long as science has existed. Maybe if more than “a small percentage” of the population took the time to fulfill their basic human responsibility (yes, that’s right, basic human responsibility) to understand very fundamental facts about the world they live in, and didn’t just lazily soak up the soap opera that the media presents to them, then we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.–Jim]

    The ‘middle ground’ is being lost. To regain it, a more tolerant, understanding, and inclusive approach is required. You’re not going to get it by shouting everyone down, no matter how frustrated you may be.

    It would consider resolving things amicably, a ‘form of words’ you are both happy with – you don’t have to endorse the publication, you can even express some reservations about certain papers. Just downplay the petulant ‘Climate Scientists’ meme. It turns people off!

    [Response: Unfortunately science is kind of like that. You don’t get to be nice with every random idea that’s floating around. Not everyone’s idea is very good, and science is a method for winnowing out the bad ones, and keeping the ones that work. Much as I’d love to say ‘oh that’s interesting’ every time someone proposes that the sun is made of iron, or that CO2 changes by 100ppm in a year (but only prior to 1957), I can’t. If you want validation, go to a therapist, if you want science, you have to deal with the fact that it is a tougher environment. There is nothing wrong with discussing the reputation of journals and whether one would consider publishing there, scientists do it all the time – in emails and over coffee. And journals (normally) are quite keen on maintaining a high reputation. But when they slip up (in this case, over and over again), I don’t know why you think we can’t mention it. – gavin]

  30. 180
    GSW says:

    Gavin,

    I think you can mention it. The point is rather- should you mention it ;)

    As I said, I doesn’t play well, particularly if your intention is to re capture the middle/moral high/ ground.

    [Response: I don’t know about that – plucky little scientists standing up against faceless corporations who’d rather sue than deal with their problems – actually plays quite well, and is accurate to boot. – gavin]

  31. 181
    GSW says:

    @Gavin,

    OK

  32. 182
    John Mashey says:

    SPPI: yes.
    Peiser seems to be at Buckingham, an interesting place, and doing GWPF, and coediting E&E.

  33. 183
    SecularAnimist says:

    GSW wrote: “The ‘middle ground’ is being lost.”

    What is this “middle ground” you speak of?

    The middle ground between scientists seeking the truth and propagandists perpetrating deliberate deceit?

  34. 184
    Ray Ladbury says:

    GSW, So, is it your position that biologists should invite the Discovery Institute to Lunch, or that we should publish Jenny McCarthy’s views on vaccines in the New England Journal of Medicine?

    I’m sorry. You don’t improve truth by diluting it with lies. Science says the truth is where the evidence points. The evidence ain’t stuttering.

  35. 185
    dhogaza says:

    Ray:

    GSW, So, is it your position that biologists should invite the Discovery Institute to Lunch

    Well, remember, when William Dembski of the Discovery Institute posted a photo of a darwin doll with its head in a vise, and suggested that he’d like to apply this technique to evolutionary biologists to get them to tell the truth, the anti-science types said “oh, he’s funny!”.

    But when a scientists says that a creationist claiming the world is 6,000 years old is being stupid, that’s *boorish behavior*, which is added evidence that evolutionary biologists know that creationism is truth and science fradulent.

    The same kind of double standard is in play here.

  36. 186
    Eli Rabett says:

    John finally knocked the cobwebs out. 209 1/2 Pa Ave SE used to be a very good and very small restaurant. It’s next door to where Eli gets his hares cut now

  37. 187
    caerbannog says:


    GSW wrote: “The ‘middle ground’ is being lost.”

    What is this “middle ground” you speak of?

    It is the “middle ground” between 2+2=4 and 2+2=6.

    IOW, 5.

  38. 188
    Edward Greisch says:

    179. GSW: “Science is not so much a natural as a moral philosophy”

    “Science and Immortality” by Charles B. Paul 1980 University of California Press. In this book on the Eloges of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1699-1791) page 99 says: “Science is not so much a natural as a moral philosophy”. [That means drylabbing [fudging data] will get you fired.]
    Page 106 says: “Nature isn’t just the final authority, Nature is the Only authority.”

    GSW: YOU are the one who is being immoral. “Climategate” was indeed a crime. THe crackers who broke into a computer that was not theirs were the criminals. The scientists did nothing wrong.

    Mother Nature is neither subtle nor forgiving nor gentle. There is no middle ground. Your species either survives or goes extinct. Mother Nature has a great deal of experience in making species extinct. To survive, we must follow the dictates of science exactly. The scientists are speaking for Nature, not for themselves.

  39. 189
    GSW says:

    Apologies All,

    Some of the things attributed to me above, I don’t recognize and can’t really comment. The point I was making was – in some circumstances it is better to keep the commentary down to a dry statement of fact, i.e without the ‘Edge’.

    You can choose to make the agenda the ‘Science’ (fact), or you can hand over the agenda to those who do not wish to discuss the science, rather focus on personalities and acrymonious disagreements about, well… not very much.

    Other points;
    Ding Dong battles between biologists and creationists, I think, is ultimately only beneficial to the creationists. Worth thinking about. Avoid the ‘confrontation’ as much as possible and when engaged, ‘control’ the agenda.

  40. 190

    GSW 179-180,

    In this case, there is a big difference between the high ground/moral ground on one hand, and the middle ground on the other.
    [edit – a metaphor too far]

  41. 191
    Paul A says:

    @John Mashey

    “Peisner seems to be at Buckingham, an interesting place, and doing GWPF, and coediting E&E.”

    I’m sure you will have noticed, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, Dr Terence Kealey, sits on the Academic Advisory Panel of the GWPF. Small world isn’t it?

  42. 192
    Paul A says:

    Further to my previous comment, I have just noticed that Prof Alan Peacock who is also on the Academic Advisory Panel of the GWPF is also a former Vice Chancellor at the University of Buckingham.

  43. 193
    David Chiles says:

    I certainly hope that “truth” and “valid, reasonable opinion” are legitimate defences agains accusations of libel in the UK, as they are in Canada… Good Luck! And I do fully support your ‘form of words’, perhaps Mssr Hughes may not find it ‘mutually satisfactory’, but such is what he deserves!

  44. 194
    J Bowers says:

    Re. 192 Paul A

    University of Buckingham, the only private uni in the UK, self-described as libertarian, academic home to the International Policy Network’s director, Julian Morris, prior co-director of the Institute of Economic Affairs. Get a taste of IPN’s views on climate change (no prizes for guessing)…

    http://www.policynetwork.net/category/sub-issues/climate-change
    http://www.powerbase.info/index.php/Julian_Morris

    Bucks has its very own GMU by the looks of it.

  45. 195
    John Mashey says:

    Re: #191 192 194
    I said it was interesting, and you will find more if you look around.
    As one tidbit, you might ask what U of Guelph economist happened to be on sabbatical there Fall semester 2009?

  46. 196
    Seb Tallents says:

    “I refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram”

    You mean the response given to the plaintiff?

  47. 197
    Seb Tallents says:

    Off topic, but:

    “Response: You shouldn’t misconstrue the above post to imply that all libel laws are unjust, but rather that, the situation in the UK is that the costs and in-built bias for the plaintiff result in a situation where the merest threat of a suit is enough for big institutions and deep-pocketed individuals to squelch justifiable critiques. A fairer system would allow people whose comments were justifiable to at least make that case in court without bankrupting themselves – win or lose. – gavin]”

    A lot of the problems with big libel cases, in particular the recent trend in jurisdiction shopping, seems to revolve around trials presided by a particular judge, Justice Eady. I believe he was the one who determined that the definition of “bogus” in Simon Sings article on Chiroprachters implied that he was asserting they were *knowingly* providing false cures, rather than merely providing false cures.

    Definitely, things have got out of hand over the years, in part because various rulings set precedents.

  48. 198
    Hank Roberts says:

    > private uni
    What does “private” mean in British English in that context?

    E’n’E’s Board, whether actual or alternate-history (Lomborg and Wossname), and Bucks and IPN and whatnot does sound like they may offer a fine opportunity for someone’s application of social network mapping tools.

    Has anyone blogged or circulated a suggestion to potential reviewers who may have glanced over E’n’E’s ‘reviewed’ papers so they might consider whether putting together a reply or followup to any of them could under any imaginable circumstances become a worthwhile use of their time?

    Not that a bad paper becomes any more worth noticing because the publisher has gotten I’m sure there’s a good British word for this. “Shirty?”

  49. 199
    Seb Tallents says:

    Reading the comments of Hughes and, I have to agree with 125. and others.

    Sure, you are protected from any damages via recent US legal changes making UK rulings hard to enforce. HOWEVER, you should think about the damage to your own credibility by losing: “realclimate.org shown to be dishonest” etc. would be real ammo for denialism.

    I would suggest it may be better to re-word so as to be more explicit as to what you are arguing.

  50. 200
    E and E says:

    [edit – sockpuppetry and impersonating other people/commenters are not tolerated. Do not do this again]


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