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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

To S Fred Singer, thanks for the name-calling, but with regret...

Sou | 11:57 PM Go to the first of 27 comments. Add a comment

Science deniers sometimes complain that there are gatekeepers to peer reviewed publications. Yes indeed. They are called editors and scientific peers. Their job is to try to make sure that published papers meet certain minimum standards - like being accurate, being supported by evidence, and meeting accepted standards of professional decorum. In the case of S Fred Singer one would have to say he is without peers. Earlier this month, in an article at that strange website called most inappropriately "American Thinker" (archived here), Fred posted three reviews he said an article of his received from a quality journal, Eos. What is surprising is that the editor sent Fred's article out to review. What is even more surprising is that Fred seems unashamed by the scathing reviews. So much so that he shared them with the world at large (or the narrow segment that reads articles at American Thinker).

Dear Dr. Singer:

Thank you again for submitting to Eos your Opinion manuscript entitled "Geo-engineering - stopping ice ages."
Based on the recommendation of the 3 reviewers, I am not able to accept it for publication at this time. I have attached the reviewer reports for your reference.

Thank you for the opportunity to examine this work.
[redacted by Sou]

Reviewer #1 (Comments for Author):

This paper should be rejected. It contains unsupported claims and name-calling. And the reference list is missing. I attach the manuscript with annotations of all the problems, but the main problems are two-fold:
**The author claims an ice age is imminent, but has no evidence to back up this claim. What do climate model projections say? As I understand the science, massive global warming is imminent in the next century with business as usual, long before any astronomical forcing takes hold.
**The scheme of spraying soot onto ice will have to be repeated each time it snows again. The paper claims it will be cheap, but has no data or calculations to support this claim. Furthermore, I can think of many risks and negative impacts of such a scheme, but these are not discussed.

Reviewer #2 (Comments for Author):
Comments on "Geo-Engineering-- stopping ice ages" by F. Singer

Singer argues that humanity's urgent climate business is to prevent another ice age. To do this, he suggests a geo-engineering experiment involving the melting of ice fields by spraying them with soot, thereby decreasing the albedo and warming the planet. Unfortunately, there is already a global scale geo-engineering experiment that has been quite effective at increasing the temperatures and melting polar sea ice: the increase of CO2 via the burning of fossil fuels.
It is therefore hard to see this paper as anything less than a provocation to the scientific community (a bad joke). It should not be published.
Reviewer #3 (Comments for Author):

This letter to Eos by S. Fred Singer responds to a recent report on geo-engineering from the National Research Council, which evaluates the feasibility and potential consequences of efforts to counteract anthropogenic greenhouse warming. He claims that geo-engineering efforts should instead focus on avoiding the next ice age, the transition to which would occur over millennial timescales.

This was an interesting letter to read, primarily because it provides a glimpse into the mind of someone who views the issue of climate change from a truly delusional and twisted perspective. It is undeniable that over the last several decades the extent of Arctic sea ice has rapidly declined while melting of the Greenland ice sheet has accelerated. In Mr. Singer's view, what should we do? In his opinion, we should sprinkle soot on snow fields, hastening their melting and adding to the observed sea level rise, all in the name of fending off an ice age that may be thousands of years away. It is difficult to determine if this letter is intended as a joke or if it's meant to be a "deliverable" for some cause, because it is so devoid of reason.
I could almost support the publication of this letter because it exposes the warped mindset of those who view anthropogenic greenhouse warming as the product of some UN-based conspiracy. However, the internet has no shortage of posts such as this. Eos owes it to its readership to save them the effort of filtering through nonsense to get to serious information.

For your bemusement - h/t Jan Paul van Soest who in turn tipped his hat to Andrew Dessler and Bart Verheggen. (Twitter is terrific!)

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  1. For comparison there is another scientist reporting on the rejection of his paper and the negative reviews it gathered on submission to several journals before acceptance.

    For extra irony the post, and the paper, deal with learning from mistakes...

  2. Replies
    1. This targeted paper by Benestad et al is long-overdue. Not because it was necessary to disprove the crackpot theories as a matter of course - that has essentially occurred in the process of the conduct of other research - but because pseudoscience has too long had a grip on the public's understanding of climatology.

      Sadly there will be recursive claims that Benestad et al is wrong, that it's a conspiracy, ad nauseum... It's probably a good thing that Stephan Lewandowsky a co-author, because he'll no doubt gather data for future papers on the denialist mind...

    2. I just posted this comment at the Guardian

      Dana that would have been a desperately dreary task but highly useful in answering the question that's been bothering the science community for some time: What will it take to make Katherine Hayhoe frown?

  3. Kudos to Reviewer #3. Harsh, but given Singer's history of producing c**p science and talking points for lobbying monies or perhaps ideology (on acid rain, CFCs, second hand smoke, and climate) they are right on target.

  4. Someone with a few idle moments and the software could photoshop the logo of American Thinker (sic) to replace the stump with a toilet...

    1. Or one could check the internet to see if it's been done already...

    2. I could give it a go tomorrow, late here after a hectic moving day. I have PS and good vector graphic software (Xara) that takes much clip-art I have on file.

    3. Have a look at this quicky draft will improve if interest.

  5. I think he missed a trick in pointing out the origins of 'soot', which come mainly from deposition from burning coal. Also missing is any real examination of what happens when you dilute sulphur dioxide in any quantities. Those would be the first two things out of my head IF I accepted the premise that the solar maximum was about to give us an ice age.

    1. Clearly Dr Singer is unaware of Jason Box's 'Dark Snow' project. I guess that is all a part of being emeritus, stopped researching.

      This is not a cause for celebration - far from it.

  6. "Eos owes it to its readership to save them the effort of filtering through nonsense to get to serious information."

    There are a few other journals that could take this advice to heart...

  7. Perhaps Fred should have sent his manuscript to the Onion?

    1. And then watch how the Onion is described as a 'distinguished peer-reviewed journal' at WUWT...

    2. Of course it is a distinguished peer-reviewed journal. The editors review everything to make sure it provokes laughter!

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. While it is easy now to mock Singer, it is important to remember that he was instrumental in creating and sustaining the policy paralysis that has gripped since the 1980s. His work is now done.

    I would like to wish Dr Singer a pleasant dotage but I cannot quite bring myself to it.

    1. Don't forget the blood he already has on his hands from stalling regulation of tobacco, acid rain, HTC, and other substances. He makes Robert Kehoe look like a petty shoplifter by comparison. If there is a hell, he has built himself a very long chain during his long life.

    2. Damned autocorrect. ..HFCs.

    3. Hate to admit it, Let him Rot in H...
      is closer to what emanates from my heart. :(

      Dr.Singer the god-father of malicious slander as a tool of scientific deception and a truly despicable person, who's conscience died long, long before he ever will.

  9. I note that the comments start:
    "Reviewer #2 (Comments for Author):"

    Does that mean the reviewer knew they were going to be seen by the author, ie Singer?

    1. Most journals allow comments to the author because they serve to help the author make necessary changes before publication or re-submission. Many also allow comments to the editor, they are for the editor only; those are the ones I'd like to see for this!

      Singer should grow up. Everyone has papers that are rejected from one or more journals. Its just part of the process of doing sceience.

    2. Not that many will be told they are delusional.

      Granted, I have written a few reviews telling the authors to educate themselves in the field of their paper (serious textbook errors don't fall well with me), but delusional has not yet featured in any review I have written or received.

    3. Singer should grow up.

      And soon. He's 91.

  10. Short of the reviewers explicitly calling Singer a senile crackpot, I can't imagine more hostile, dismissive reviews than the ones from Eos.

    I'd guess that the peer review process is working just fine, but has Singer posted the manuscript in question anywhere? I'd hate to embarrass myself by jumping to a conclusion about this uncut gem before having a look at it.

  11. "The author claims an ice age is imminent"

    This claim is from the author of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years? I saw the book rotting in a used book store and almost bought it, maybe I should've to compare to the manuscript when it's released on a blog somewhere.


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