An “academic” paper by Stephan Lewandowsky (and co-authors) has been retracted from publication. Mind you the open access online journal seems to be a bit slow in updating its own website. The official retraction notice is here.
Frontiers carried out a detailed investigation of the academic, ethical and legal aspects of the work. This investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study. It did, however, determine that the legal context is insufficiently clear and therefore Frontiers wishes to retract the published article.
So its possible to have an article cleared of all academic, ethical and legal problems but still have a “legal context is insufficiently clear”? Why is anyone surprised after the ClimateGate investigations cleared scientists of wrong-doing when “hiding the decline”? Quite plainly Frontiers lawyers worked out that there would be a very different outcome from previous “investigations”.
Okay, so the official story is that the journal, Frontiers in Psychology, believes that the paper represents a litigation risk:
In its investigation, the journal found no academic or ethical problems with Recursive Fury. However, the fear of being sued by contrarians for libel remained. The University of Western Australia (UWA: Lewandowsky’s university when Recursive Fury was published – he later moved to the University of Bristol) also investigated the matter and found no academic, ethical, or legal problems with the paper. In fact, UWA is so confident in the validity of the paper that they’re hosting it on their own servers.
Indeed they are – with a HUGE legal notice.
I think the UWA is indicating that the journal can’t be sued from outside the US and that a US case would fail. But read the UWA legal notice again. The University of Western Australia “reaffirms its commitment to academic freedom”.
I don’t think so.
Here is the UWA vice chancellor committing to academic freedom:
Vice-Chancellor Alan Robson said he was amazed to learn from a newspaper advertisement today that the volatile British Lord would be the guest speaker at private function booked at one of the university’s venues.
Professor Robson said UWA, which claims to have some of the world’s most respected climate change scientists on its staff, had not invited Lord Monckton to speak at the university and did not condone his views.
Lord Monckton argues that climate change is not as big a threat as many Governments, scientists and institutions claim, and he opines that mitigation efforts will be very expensive but do little to slow global warming.
“I reject the position put by Lord Monckton and find his anti-science stance and related comments offensive,” Professor Robson said.
“His views denigrate the values of universities such as ours where the quality of evidence-based and peer-reviewed science is paramount.
“However, in any one year, hundreds of non-university activities are booked by groups or individuals who are looking to hire a venue for their events. This is a service the university provides to the community and in no way does it mean that any of these events are endorsed by the university.
As I recall Monckton was eventually denied the use of a UWA venue and had to relocate. UWA is not promoting academic freedom so much as engaging in still more partisanship.
(HT: Grant B)