One issue about the infamous Spencer and Braswell (incidentally, who is Braswell? Everyone is ignoring him, is he a nonentity? ) is, of course, who were the referees? The suspicion voiced in various places is that Spencer managed to wangle skeptics in as his referees; indeed, Wagner in his resignation letter says “The managing editor of Remote Sensing selected three senior scientists from
renowned US universities… the editorial team unintentionally selected three reviewers who probably share some climate sceptic notions of the authors” (note the slight contradiction in there: first off, it was the managing editor; then it was the editorial team). Now it is not possible to believe that you could, given the pool of climatologists, “unintentionally” select three skeptics: there are just too few of them. It could only be deliberate: either by choice of the managing editor, at Spencer’s private urging, or because Spencer supplied a list of suggested referees (this is commonplace) and the editor just used those.
So one question is: did Spencer provide a list of suggested referees? And if so, who were they? If Spencer has answered this fairly obvious question, I haven’t seen it. Let me know if you know better. I see in the comments on his blog that he was asked this question directly, but evaded.
Another question is, does Spencer know who the referees are? This is where it gets fun, because of course Spencer wants to say “oh yeah my reviewers were great” in order to give credibility to his tattered paper. But then again, reviewers are generally anonymous, no?
Obscurity seems to have detected Woy trying to have it both ways, or (put another way) telling porkies:
“Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says: September 2, 2011 at 1:03 PM… re Q1: Almost every journal requires a list of suggested reviewers, and except for one reviewer, the identities of the reviewers chosen was unknown to us”:
“Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says: September 2, 2011 at 5:29 PM Excuse me, but the peer reviewers were all researchers who have actually published on the subject of climate sensitivity. “
Did Woy perhaps learn something new about the reviewers in the 4 1/2 hours between those two entries? It seems rather unlikely. It is also very unlikely that you could find 3 experts in climate sensitivity who are skeptics (although looking closer Woy doesn’t say they are experts, only people who have published on the subject. Woy himself is clearly clueless, but published).
Or, can Spencer Jesuit out of this by the tense, in “the identities of the reviewers chosen was unknown to us”. Will he try to claim that at some point in the past, he didn’t know who they were, but does now? Perhaps he’ll reference the “was” to “the exact point in time when the referees were chosen? It is just possible, but not very plausible.
While I’m here: I was going to do a whole post about this, but there is no news at the moment so I’ll relegate it: why did the editor resign, rather than get the paper retracted? This has shades of von S, who resigned *because* he couldn’t get in a retraction, or a dissociation. Presumably (this is mere speculation on my part) Wagner asked the journal to retract it, and they refused (NS has a nice comment at flopsie’s pointing out how untenable Wagner’s position can look, in certain lights. Also izen a little lower down). Does Wagner’s resignation restore the reputation of the journal? No. It restores his personal reputation, but if anything diminishes that of the journal further.