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« Ed Davey leads the charge to nowhere - Josh 269 | Main | The Economist goes all lukewarm and pragmatic »
Friday
Apr042014

The final Frontiers

Frontiers, the journal that published and subsequently retracted Lewandowsky's notorious 'Recursive Fury' paper has issued a statement in an apparent attempt to draw a line under the affair. It at least seems to have put an end to suggestions that threats of libel action had anything to do with their decision. In fact the statement could be construed as "throwing Lewandowsky under the bus".

Retraction of Recursive Fury: A Statement

(Lausanne, Switzerland) – 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. Until now, our policy has been to handle this matter with discretion out of consideration for all those concerned. But given the extent of the media coverage – largely based on misunderstanding – Frontiers would now like to better clarify the context behind the retraction.

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.

As a result of its investigation, which was carried out in respect of academic, ethical and legal factors, Frontiers came to the conclusion that it could not continue to carry the paper, which does not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects. Specifically, the article categorizes the behaviour of identifiable individuals within the context of psychopathological characteristics. Frontiers informed the authors of the conclusions of our investigation and worked with the authors in good faith, providing them with the opportunity of submitting a new paper for peer review that would address the issues identified and that could be published simultaneously with the retraction notice.

The authors agreed and subsequently proposed a new paper that was substantially similar to the original paper and, crucially, did not deal adequately with the issues raised by Frontiers.

We remind the community that the retracted paper does not claim to be about climate science, but about psychology. The actions taken by Frontiers sought to ensure the right balance of respect for the rights of all.

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.

Frontiers is happy to speak to anyone who wishes to have an objective and informed conversation about this. In such a case, please contact the Editorial Office at editorial.office@frontiersin.org.

Costanza Zucca, Editorial Director

Fred Fenter, Executive Editor

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Reader Comments (50)

Good to see there is at least one ethical journal out there.

Apr 4, 2014 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Catley

"Frontiers will continue to publish – and stand by – valid research".
No need to read between the lines on this occasion.

Apr 4, 2014 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

I construe this statement as an admission that the complaints had validity to them. (Which I suppose is a corollary to throwing Lew under the bus.)

Apr 4, 2014 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeC

I wasn't happy with how the journal handled the complaints when they were filed as they basically told the complainants everyone should bugger off while they investigated. I thought the complainants were entitled to information about how their complaints were being handled.

Given that, I must say I'm pleasantly surprised with this statement by the journal. It shows they did in fact take the complaints seriously, and they did take appropriate actions. It's a shame we only found this out because they felt pressured by negative media attention, but it does speak fairly well of the journal.

Apr 4, 2014 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

We remind the community that the retracted paper does not claim to be about climate science, but about psychology.

Just so.

Apr 4, 2014 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Warmist narrative: threats, unfounded complaints, paper not retracted legitimately.

Reality: No threats, well founded and justified complaints, paper retracted as unethical.

More blatant warmist lies, or rather the same warmist lies we have seen before - they certainly do believe in recycling.

Apr 4, 2014 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Good for Frontiers.

Apr 4, 2014 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterleon0112

Well stick that in yer pipe, Vice chancellor, and smoke it

Apr 4, 2014 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

This clarification, taken together with the Economist article on the WG2 mentioned below, means its been a bad week for the warmists. At last it seems reality has intruded on their extremism.

Apr 4, 2014 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

So, Lewandowsky's own publisher confirms what we have all been saying for years - that his work is invalid and unthethical.

Where does that leave our Royal Society - who gave him an award & bunged him a wodge of taxpayer's money?

Or the UWA Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson - who's decided to lash himself to the mast of the good ship Lew?

Or Bristol University - who appear to have handed their Chair of Cognitive Psychology to an academic fraud?

It can only be a matter of time now before his lies about the data and methodology of the first paper come home to roost - which will make the position of all three organisations completely untenable.

Interesting times.

Apr 4, 2014 at 5:54 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Not so sure - I think the withdrawal notice can be read as saying that they withdrew the paper because it outs a bunch of internet nutters (i.e. us lot) in that there are "identifiable individuals within the context of psychopathological characteristics".

So it's like withdrawing a paper on schizophrenia because it identifies certain patients without permission.

Apr 4, 2014 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

Lew keeps digging on his down under site.

The journal Frontiers retracted our “Recursive Fury” paper some time ago not for academic or ethical reasons but owing to legal fears.

http://shapingtomorrowsworld.org/rfmedia.html

Apr 4, 2014 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterharold

This may not end the debate over the paper but it strongly suggests that the criticisms of the paper both ethical and methodological are seen by others as valid. UWA's VC is now way out on a limb that is getting both higher and more fragile. A climb down is called for.

Apr 4, 2014 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie1815

As foxgoose says, this vindicates what we've been saying for the last year.
There were no 'legal threats' as falsely claimed by Elaine McKewon and others.
The paper "does not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects" because it assigns to them "psychopathological characteristics". "we also must uphold the rights and privacy of the subjects included in a study or paper".

Not very different from what I wrote in my complaint,
"The labelling of named individuals as conspiracy theorists in the text and accompanying table is contrary to the ethics of your field which requires individuals to be treated with respect. "

Apr 4, 2014 at 6:03 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Unlike UWA, Frontiers have obviously realised the conclusions that thinking observers draw about their standards and integrity if they (Frontiers) were to support the worthless drivel that Lewandowsky continues to produce:
//
The authors agreed and subsequently proposed a new paper that was substantially similar to the original paper and, crucially, did not deal adequately with the issues raised by Frontiers.
//
Junk is junk.

Apr 4, 2014 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

well argues and cogent...

"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."

also, they say the gave the authors another try in good faith, but it seems that the authors did not understand about ethics.....


"Frontiers informed the authors of the conclusions of our investigation and worked with the authors in good faith, providing them with the opportunity of submitting a new paper for peer review that would address the issues identified and that could be published simultaneously with the retraction notice.

The authors agreed and subsequently proposed a new paper that was substantially similar to the original paper and, crucially, did not deal adequately with the issues raised by Frontiers."

the peer reviewer Elaine seems to have seriously mislead people in her articles...!

Apr 4, 2014 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

So it's like withdrawing a paper on schizophrenia because it identifies certain patients without permission.
Apr 4, 2014 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk


Maybe. But it also revealed a lot more about the psychology of the author who started from the standpoint of complete contempt for the individuals he claimed to be researching, and thus also his subject and his peers.

Lewandowsky certainly doesn't require my permission to make a fool of himself in front of the world.

Apr 4, 2014 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Once again skeptics are proven right: Lewandowsky and Cook are sleaze.

Apr 4, 2014 at 6:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

This was dragged out of them. No victory here.

I might change my mind if the Guardian covered this turn of events. Honestly.

Apr 4, 2014 at 7:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

And as Foxgoose points out - let us not forget - the Great Man is A Wolfson Award holding Professor:
//
Professor Stephan Lewandowsky – University of Bristol

The (mis)information revolution: Information seeking and knowledge transmission

http://royalsociety.org/news/2013/new-wolfson-research-merit-awards/
//

Standards, standards, standards...

Apr 4, 2014 at 7:04 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Now it is (long past) time for University of Western Australia, University of Bristol, Royal Society, and all relevant individuals and institutions to run, run, run away from Lewandowsky and co.

No reputable academic or scientific entity should wish to be associated with those charlatans.

Apr 4, 2014 at 7:24 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

So the claim that the paper was retracted due to threats was just...a conspiracy theory? Beautiful.

Apr 4, 2014 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill

Bill: Yes, there's a beautiful symmetry in the world sometimes. :)

Apr 4, 2014 at 7:29 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Someday this is all going to make a truly interesting study. That qualified and well positioned people would hate sceptics so much that they'd throw their ethics so eagerly into the fire, is amazing. Credit to Frontiers for taking a step away from the madness, even if the only thing they'll admit is the faux pas of naming those you are categorising as bonkers.

The hatred is irrational and undeserved because even a short study of the situation would conclude that sceptics haven't got that much to do with inertia on acting on CO2. Me, I'm getting to appreciate the hatred. It leads warmists into such inexcusable mistakes.

Apr 4, 2014 at 7:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I'm sure I am a victim of hindsight bias here but this does seem so inevitable now. The way Lewandowsky and friends just kept piling on the victim spin, always tacitly inviting vilification on Frontiers.

I had to laugh today when I saw Lewandowsky latest post on STW which was basically a vanity scrap book page, with all the supportive articles written by friends and colleagues in the media lovingly listed and quoted. I just shook my head in amusement at the clueless of the man. He really seems to think these media snippets help bolster his postion.

Then a weird thing happened immediately after looking at Lewandowskys' post. I had a browser tab open showing Frontiers twitter feed and I looked at its latest tweet showing some mundane news of a paper release and thought to myself, 'Come on guys, how long are you going to put up with this?', then hit refresh and then laughed out loud at the one extra tweet that appeared with the words "Frontiers | Retraction of Recursive Fury: A Statement".

I knew exactly what it was going to say before clicking. ;)

Apr 4, 2014 at 7:58 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Lewandowsky freely admits that the end justifies the means here: http://theconversation.com/the-morality-of-unmasking-heartland-5494

In doing so, he also admits that his papers are not to be trusted; with his moral code, he is free to lie in them as long as he holds his end in sight.

Apr 4, 2014 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterOrson Presence

So anyone who says that we shouldn’t act on climate change because of uncertainty is really inviting you to ride towards a brick wall at 80 km/h because it might not hurt.

Are you feeling lucky?

-Stephan Lewandowsky

Apr 4, 2014 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

"The many months between publication and retraction should highlight the thoroughness and seriousness of the entire process".

What happened to the thoroughness and seriousness prior to publishing?

Apr 4, 2014 at 8:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

So all those who suggested that Frontiers caved in to pressure from sceptics, were they guilty of conspiracy ideation?

Apr 4, 2014 at 8:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

so it is as if it were that "The Economist" were also subject to "conspiracy ideation", then ?

That should make some Champagne Leftists' heads explode

Apr 4, 2014 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

"This clarification, taken together with the Economist article on the WG2 mentioned below, means its been a bad week for the warmists. At last it seems reality has intruded on their extremism."

Good comment and sarcastic with it - John B.

Like it, I do.

Apr 4, 2014 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

There is a God, after all.
It's name is common sense.

Apr 4, 2014 at 9:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Steve, you are spot on: "So it's like withdrawing a paper on schizophrenia because it identifies certain patients without permission.."

That's how I read it too. Now we'll never see the raw data, it would be abuse of us poor deniers, who really are sick people. Wait for it.

Apr 4, 2014 at 9:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterNiels

I'd have a lot more respect for Elaine McKewon if she had the guts to post here or at WUWT in support of her idol, Lew, considering how she sees herself as such an important Peer-Reviewer of his piece in question that has been retracted. But then, as much as many sceptics take the snippy road to alarmist blogs, an alarmist cannot make it to here (where I bet she wouldn't be snipped).

Apr 4, 2014 at 9:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Oh, so the sanctimonious narcissists turned out to be lying. Again.

Apr 4, 2014 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

Surprisingly coherent communique from a journal that let Lew choose his (unqualified) pals are reviewers.

Apr 4, 2014 at 11:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

On 24th March Dana Nuccitelli published a piece in the Grauniad with the headline "
Contrarians bully journal into retracting a climate psychology paper -
After threats of frivolous libel and defamation lawsuits, a journal will retract an academically sound paper"

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/mar/21/contrarians-bully-climate-change-journal-retraction

Today's statement from the journal itself shows his piece to have material or rather, fatal errors. But does *he* have the integrity to correct or withdraw the story with the same degree of prominence? The Graun should pull the plug on him if he doesn't.

Don't hold your breath though...

Apr 5, 2014 at 12:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

Well that's only one piece of Lew paper gone, just check Google Scholar with 'Stephan Lewandowsky climate' in the search and see what you get -
http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Stephan+Lewandowsky+climate&btnG=Submit&hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5

Still it's now Bristol University's problem now.

Apr 5, 2014 at 1:43 AM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

Looks like Rolf Harris, doesn't he?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBOt7ecarc0

Apr 5, 2014 at 2:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

We remind the community that the retracted paper does not claim to be about climate science...

Recursive Fury was the exciting sequel to Moon Hoax. Can we now infer that Moon Hoax, apart from being a crock, is also not about "Climate Science"?

Apr 5, 2014 at 3:24 AM | Registered CommenterGrantB

It was never about climate science. It was always about Stephen Lewandowsky (and his personal vendettas). As was the follow-up paper.

Apr 5, 2014 at 5:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterkcom

FarleyR his actual plugging the latest 'Lew paper' for all his worth on CIF right now , and the moderates are 'very busy' ensuring what happened to 'Recursive Fury' remains a unsacred fact.

The place long ago handing its self over body and sole to 'the cause ' its simply no longer does 'journalism' in this area and has become a mutual 'stroking' club for the AGW faithful . Fun as it may be to poke the nest, the best thing people can do is to leave them to themselves for they can do far more damage in their rantings for 'the cause ' on CIF, then sceptics can do with extremely limited and heavenly moderate access.

Apr 5, 2014 at 8:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

I don't see the statement "Frontiers came to the conclusion that it could not continue to carry the paper, which does not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects. Specifically, the article categorizes the behaviour of identifiable individuals within the context of psychopathological characteristics." as meaning anything about the paper being redacted because "[...] it's like withdrawing a paper on schizophrenia because it identifies certain patients without permission".

What the statement says is that because the authors of the paper didn't follow the legal, ethical & moral rules for proper psychological research the whole paper was tainted. As such it was not fit and proper to be published. Yes, a technicality, but if one side insists that the other side should follow rules, they should themselves. Assuming that the ends justify the means as Lew has done by ignoring the rules means he is a hypocrite.

Though the statement will have been written by committee and passed by legal bods, you can read between the lines that this is a damning statement on Lewandowsky. Words like "valid research" is a way of saying that Lew's work is not.

Apr 5, 2014 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterSadButMadLad

Steve McIntyre discloses his complaints to UWA and Frontiers at Climate Audit.

http://climateaudit.org/2014/04/04/frontiers-issues-statement-on-lewandowsky/

Apr 5, 2014 at 9:31 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

My complaint about, UWA LOG12 NASA Moon Hoax' paper here (I will publish Fury complaints later)
http://unsettledclimate.org/2014/04/05/i-requested-data-from-the-university-of-western-australia/

Apr 5, 2014 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

No, Lwandosky, it is not like running to a brick wall. In that case, we can be 99,9999% sure about the outcome, because we have witnessed the results many times, we have evidence and the science is compelling enough.

But GIGO models are not evidence, the science is not compelling and AGW is only a conjecture, not even a hypothesis. Only calamitologysts believe in such religion.

Apr 5, 2014 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterHeber Rizzo

- If you want to keep credibilty then you own up & correct your mistakes damm quickly.
..Where arethe corrections from the alarmist partisan journals, Guardian, Sci-am, TheConversation

...well they don't have any credibility to keep do they ?

Apr 5, 2014 at 12:12 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

There's a joke about Mr Spock's ears. How many of them does he have? The usual response is two but the punch line is three; a left one, a right one and a final front ear. In Lew's case, you just have to substitute rear for ear, and it still somehow works in terms of reputation.

Pointman

Apr 5, 2014 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

Andrew and all, you may be amused to know that Dana N. has publicly affirmed that the journal has thrown Lewandowsky et al. "under the bus"..... (see link I posted in new thread).

Interesting times, when the Lewspew crowd needs to go on the attack against a previously supportive journal to try to salvage Lewandowsky, Cook, and friends.

Apr 5, 2014 at 5:33 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Brandon Shollenberger Apr 4, 2014 at 5:43 PM
Right. I too received a polite brush off. But I too would like to congratulate Frontiers for coming to a scientifically defensible conclusion to an embarrassing situation. The statement above:

Specifically, the article categorizes the behaviour of identifiable individuals within the context of psychopathological characteristics.
deals precisely with the point I made in my complaint. Many thanks to Frontiers for acknowledging that I was right, and Lewandowsky, Oberauer, Cook and Marriott were wrong.
The key part or their response for me was this:
Frontiers informed the authors of the conclusions of our investigation and worked with the authors in good faith, providing them with the opportunity of submitting a new paper for peer review that would address the issues identified and that could be published simultaneously with the retraction notice. The authors agreed and subsequently proposed a new paper that was substantially similar to the original paper and, crucially, did not deal adequately with the issues raised by Frontiers.
Now the authors could have dealt with the issue of defamation by simply removing the names of McIntyre Nova, Watts ROM and myself from their Table 3, substituting references to blogs and dates, and suppressing the supplementary material with quotes from named individuals. They would still have had a pseudo-psychological analysis of a load of anonymous blog commenters identified as paranoid nutters, and the likes of Ed Davey and Lord Deben would have continued to feel justified in labelling anyone who criticised their policies as conspiracy theorists. Why didn't they take that easy way out in their revised paper? We shall probably never know.

Apr 7, 2014 at 8:15 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

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