Global warming: Open letter to Stephen Schneider

Source:  Washington Examiner

Dear Professor Schneider,

I am writing in regards to your recently published paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, titled ‘Expert Credibility in Climate Change.’

I would like to start by asking you if your previously held opinions on global temperatures, which you have since discarded, should be used to disqualify you from current or future work or discussion regarding climate change. If not, why do you libel Roger Pielke Sr. as a skeptic based on his signature to a petition in 1992?

Second, I would like to know how you could associate your name and reputation with a paper with so many errors of data. Are you aware of the mistakes regarding the backgrounds, employment and specializations of the scientists on the lists used for your paper? What quality control measures did you use that could get Willam Happer’s field of specialization wrong? Do you stand by the integrity of the data used in your paper?

Third, I would like to know how you validated your lists as fit for purpose. How were the petitions selected? What quality control checks and validation procedures were used? Surely, assuming you libeled Pielke Sr. unintentionally, you would have realised that his appearance on your list would call into question the list itself and not his character or beliefs.

Fourth, are you aware that this list is already being used to dismiss scientists as unfit for participation in the debate merely because of their presence on this list? How could you have been unaware that this would be a blacklist used to demean those on it and threaten those who might wish to voice an unpopular opinion in the future? Joe Romm wrote today, ?It is time for the media to stop listening to, quoting, and enabling the anti-scientist disinformers.?

Roger Pielke Sr., to continue with the case example, recently wrote on his weblog of how a project he had requested funding for had been denied, despite stellar reviews from referees. How do you think his next project will fare now that he is officially mislabeled (but libeled) as a skeptic, something he has been adamant about denying (I know from personal experience after mistakenly referring to him as one)?

Judith Curry writes, “My first comment about the paper is that I suspect it was not peer reviewed. Since the 4th author Steve Schneider is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a paper submitted by a member is published without review, sort of a ?vanity press? for national academy members.” Can you either confirm or deny that this paper was in fact peer-reviewed?

I am not the only questioning the data selection, methodology and analysis of this paper. Eric Steig says he is appalled by it. Lucia Liljegren writes,

“With respect to this focus on counting papers, there are all sorts of obvious questions one might ask like:

Are some researchers working on large collaborative teams writing papers with over a dozen authors while other write papers with only 1 or 2? If yes, how should a person listed as one of 20 co-authors on 10 papers be weighted against someone listed as one of 2 authors on 10 papers be accounted for when assessing expertise?

Does participating in the IPCC help people make connections and help grease the wheels when submitting papers and going through peer review? Does merely going along to get along help people get papers published? Does signing a letter criticizing the IPCC make it harder to get papers published? If yes, is the number of differences in paper counts due to this effect rather than any true expertise?

As for your reading in the idea that this paper tells us we can?t find two viable camps, let?s first assume that someone proposes there are two viable camps. Did that someone propose that the dividing line separating the camps lies between the groups the authors of the paper call ?CE? and ?UE?. Couldn?t a fault line lie somewhere in the group they called ?CE??

I note no reference in your paper to West and McIlwaine. How do you address their conclusion that there is no correlation between number of citations and expert ratings of quality? Or Callaham et al in their findings that journals were a greater predictor of citations than quality of the research? Where can we find how you allowed for this?

Is this science you are proud of? Does damaging the reputation of some scientists by mistakenly (or vindictively) including them on a blacklist serve science well? Does establishing a climate of fear that will dissuade scientists from expressing their true opinion?


Thomas Fuller