OUP have finally replied to my complaint about the Uscinski Douglas Lewandowsky article at the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science as follows:
Dear Mr. Chambers,
I’m writing in regard to your request that Oxford University Press withdraw the article “Climate Change Conspiracy Theories” from the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. Thank you for your interest in the publication. We take claims of defamation and academic and ethical misconduct seriously. The article in question was reviewed by an external peer reviewer and approved for publication by the ORE of Climate Science Editorial Board, and we are confident that it meets OUP’s high standards for scholarly publication.
Having revisited the article, we identified a small number of minor typographical and coding errors that we’d like to correct, including mismatches between in-text citations and their linked bibliographic items in the References list. Those corrections will be made in our next monthly site update.
I am replying as follows:
Thank you for your reply. You say that OUP takes claims of defamation and academic and ethical misconduct seriously. I assume that this means that you have read carefully my long letter explaining how the article is based entirely on material which is defamatory and which contains numerous examples of grave academic and ethical misconduct. Since you say that you take such claims seriously, I would be grateful if you could explain which of my claims you have examined and have found to be without foundation, and which you accept. Your reply will determine my decision as to how to proceed.
For the benefit of any of your colleagues or members of the Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Climate Science Editorial Board who do not have the time to read my long letter, I will summarise my grounds of complaint as briefly as possible here:
The article is based entirely on the findings of three papers by third author Stephan Lewandowsky, of which: one bases its headline claim on the opinions of four out of over a thousand anonymous responses to an on-line survey; one (since retracted) makes defamatory accusations about the psychological state of four named persons, including me; and the third (which is, according to your article, simply the second article retitled and republished) repeats the findings of the second, minus the names of the people quoted, and with the quotes, which constitute the sole data for the article, reworded by the author in order to make them unrecognisable.
Of the other two authors of your article, Professor Uscinski’s contribution is limited to quotes from his own work, the sole relevant one being a supposed conspiratorial remark (copied, and inexplicably altered, from a paper by Professor Lewandowsky) by one Donald Duck, while Dr Douglas’s contribution is a claim from a paper she co-authored based on a non-existent correlation based on a sample of zero.
I note that you have identified a small number of minor typographical and coding errors that you will be correcting. I would be grateful if you could tell me what they are, to save me the bother of checking every word of the article. If they consist of changing every reference to the paper “Recursive Fury” (the paper which accused me of being a crazed paranoiac) to a reference to the same paper retitled “Recurrent Fury” then I would advise you that this will not get you out of the shit you are in.
I would appreciate it if you could reply with in a reasonable delay, otherwise I shall forward this correspondence to Professor Hans van Storch and Professor Matthew Nisbet.
This letter, and my comments on our correspondence is on-line at
I invite you to read the below-the-line comments and to reply, when appropriate
PS There was a serious error in my original letter for which I apologise. At 1.3 I said that “Recursive Fury” was on the article’s recommended reading list. This should have read “Recurrent Fury.”
This brush off from the OUP has inspired me to take this further. For those who haven’t been following this story with my own obsessive interest, the Oxford University Climate Encyclopaedia published an absurd article about climate change conspiracy theories, and I replied with a detailed rebuttal, emphasising the fact that the article depended heavily on a retracted article (the Lewandowsky Cook et al. “Recursive Fury.”)
Lewandowsky’s response to the retraction of his article was to lie about it, claiming that the retraction was in response to threats of legal action. The editors denied that they had received any threats, thus implying that their retracted author had not simply failed to respect the rights of subjects of his paper, but had lied about them.
I’m inclined to continue with my implied threat of legal action. (Note that Lewandowsky was lying when he claimed that the use of the word “defamatory” in letters by Steve McIntyre and me constituted threats of legal action. But that doesn’t preclude me from threatening legal action now.)
The letter comes from OUP New York, so we’re talking about US law. The defamatory material is in the retracted paper “Recursive Fury.” As I suggest in my letter to OUP above, their probable fallback position will be to suppress all references to the defamatory “Recursive Fury” and replace them with references to “Recurrent Fury” which is not defamatory, since it eliminates any references to statements made by beings in the known universe, and replaces them with quotes invented by Lewandowsky himself. Lewandowsky’s defence in a US court would then come down to saying: “I am not currently accusing G Chambers (or A Watts or S McIntyre or J Nova) of suffering from paranoia or being incapable of reasoning, because I eliminated their names (from what the OUP claims to be the same article under another name) in the article “Recurrent Fury” and altered the wording of the quotes so that they couldn’t be traced back to the authors. My article is entirely based on material which emanates from my own mind.”
It seems to me that Lewandowsky is trapped in a logical fork here. Either he disguised his sources so well that they no longer correspond to anything said by anyone in the real world, in which case “Recurrent Fury” is the first article in the history of peer-reviewed science to be based entirely on data entirely made up by the author (and OUP is found to be defending an article based almost entirely on evidence which one of the article’s authors admits to have invented himself) or he didn’t (which I demonstrated in five minutes with the aid of Google) at
in which case, sorry Stephan, but uncertainty is not your friend here either. You really are the lying arsehole we always said you were.
This is not exactly the legal argument I would like to present before a US court. From what we’ve seen so far, I take the claim by OUP that “We take claims of defamation and academic and ethical misconduct seriously” to be a lie. Until they remove all references to Recursive Fury from their website, they are clearly defaming me and Anthony Watts, Jo Nova, Steve McIntyre and probably a hundred other people cited in the article or the supplemental material, any one of whom might suddenly get angry and cause ructions. Once they adjust the article, things are not so clear.
The current version of the Oxford University Press article is a lie, and defamatory. If, as I expect, they intend to replace explicit references to quotes from named individuals in ”Recursive Fury” by mangled pseudo-quotes in “Recurrent Fury” they must face the question: “what the fuck are you doing basing your article on a paper supported entirely by data invented by the author? This is the question I shall be putting to Editor Hans von Storch: “Are you happy being editor of an Encyclopaedia which publishes articles where the authors, having had their articles retracted, simply rewrite the data from their retracted article, in the hope that no-one will recognise it, while boasting that they have simply republished the same article under a different title in a different journal?”
One way or another, Oxford University Press will be hearing from me. But what’s the best way to put the shits up a New York based publisher? Their article is based on false data from beginning to end, that’s clear. Lying is not illegal, though it might be considered a bit of a drawback by the likes of the Oxford University Press. Are there any lawyers out there who can advise me?