To: Tim Osborn <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Update on response to Douglass et al.
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 13:00:28 -0800
Cc: "'Philip D. Jones'" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thanks very much for your email. I greatly appreciate the additional
information that you've given me. I am a bit conflicted about what we
IJC published a paper with egregious statistical errors. Douglass et al.
was essentially a commentary on work by myself and colleagues - work
that had been previously published in Science in 2005 and in Chapter 5
of the first U.S. CCSP Report in 2006. To my knowledge, none of the
authors or co-authors of the Santer et al. Science paper or of CCSP 1.1
Chapter 5 were used as reviewers of Douglass et al. I am assuming that,
when he submitted his paper to IJC, Douglass specifically requested that
certain scientists should be excluded from the review process. Such an
approach is not defensible for a paper which is largely a comment on
It would be fair and reasonable to give IJC the opportunity to "set the
record straight", and correct the harm they have done by publication of
Douglass et al. I use the word "harm" advisedly. The author and
coauthors of the Douglass et al. IJC paper are using this paper to argue
that "Nature, not CO2, rules the climate", and that the findings of
Douglass et al. invalidate the "discernible human influence" conclusions
of previous national and international scientific assessments.
Quick publication of a response to Douglass et al. in IJC would go some
way towards setting the record straight. I am troubled, however, by the
very real possibility that Douglass et al. will have the last word on
this subject. In my opinion (based on many years of interaction with
these guys), neither Douglass, Christy or Singer are capable of
admitting that their paper contained serious scientific errors. Their
"last word" will be an attempt to obfuscate rather than illuminate. They
are not interested in improving our scientific understanding of the
nature and causes of recent changes in atmospheric temperature. They are
solely interested in advancing their own agendas. It is telling and
troubling that Douglass et al. ignored radiosonde data showing
substantial warming of the tropical troposphere - data that were in
accord with model results - even though such data were in their
possession. Such behaviour constitutes intellectual dishonesty. I
strongly believe that leaving these guys the last word is inherently unfair.
If IJC are interested in publishing our contribution, I believe it's
fair to ask for the following:
1) Our paper should be regarded as an independent contribution, not as a
comment on Douglass et al. This seems reasonable given i) The
substantial amount of new work that we have done; and ii) The fact that
the Douglass et al. paper was not regarded as a comment on Santer et al.
(2005), or on Chapter 5 of the 2006 CCSP Report - even though Douglass
et al. clearly WAS a comment on these two publications.
2) If IJC agrees to 1), then Douglass et al. should have the opportunity
to respond to our contribution, and we should be given the chance to
reply. Any response and reply should be published side-by-side, in the
same issue of IJC.
I'd be grateful if you and Phil could provide me with some guidance on
1) and 2), and on whether you think we should submit to IJC. Feel free
to forward my email to Glenn McGregor.
With best regards,
Tim Osborn wrote:
> At 03:52 10/01/2008, Ben Santer wrote:
>> ...Much as I would like to see a high-profile rebuttal of Douglass et
>> al. in a journal like Science or Nature, it's unlikely that either
>> journal will publish such a rebuttal.
>> So what are our options? Personally, I'd vote for GRL. I think that it
>> is important to publish an expeditious response to the statistical
>> flaws in Douglass et al. In theory, GRL should be able to give us the
>> desired fast turnaround time...
>> Why not go for publication of a response in IJC? According to Phil,
>> this option would probably take too long. I'd be interested to hear
>> any other thoughts you might have on publication options.
> Hi Ben and Phil,
> as you may know (Phil certainly knows), I'm on the editorial board of
> IJC. Phil is right that it can be rather slow (though faster than
> certain other climate journals!). Nevertheless, IJC really is the
> preferred place to publish (though a downside is that Douglass et al.
> may have the opportunity to have a response considered to accompany any
> I just contacted the editor, Glenn McGregor, to see what he can do. He
> promises to do everything he can to achieve a quick turn-around time (he
> didn't quantify this) and he will also "ask (the publishers) for
> priority in terms of getting the paper online asap after the authors
> have received proofs". He genuinely seems keen to correct the
> scientific record as quickly as possible.
> He also said (and please treat this in confidence, which is why I
> emailed to you and Phil only) that he may be able to hold back the
> hardcopy (i.e. the print/paper version) appearance of Douglass et al.,
> possibly so that any accepted Santer et al. comment could appear
> alongside it. Presumably depends on speed of the review process.
> If this does persuade you to go with IJC, Glenn suggested that I could
> help (because he is in Kathmandu at present) with achieving the quick
> turn-around time by identifying in advance reviewers who are both
> suitable and available. Obviously one reviewer could be someone who is
> already familiar with this discussion, because that would enable a fast
> review - i.e., someone on the email list you've been using - though I
> don't know which of these people you will be asking to be co-authors and
> hence which won't be available as possible reviewers. For objectivity
> the other reviewer would need to be independent, but you could still
> suggest suitable names.
> Well, that's my thoughts... let me know what you decide.
> Dr Timothy J Osborn, Academic Fellow
> Climatic Research Unit
> School of Environmental Sciences
> University of East Anglia
> Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
> e-mail: email@example.com
> phone: +44 1603 592089
> fax: +44 1603 507784
> web: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/~timo/
> sunclock: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/~timo/sunclock.htm
Benjamin D. Santer
Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
P.O. Box 808, Mail Stop L-103
Livermore, CA 94550, U.S.A.
Tel: (925) 422-2486
FAX: (925) 422-7675