Some of you may have heard of the “journal” Pattern Recognition in Physics. It’s a new journal (only 2 issues), but already many of us have come to regard it as nothing but a mouthpiece for some rather loony climate denier nonsense.

It’s published by Copernicus Publishing, an otherwise reputable outfit. Have they undermined their credibility forever?



72 responses to “Malpractice

  1. Horatio Algeranon

    “Patterns Of Malpractice”
    — by Horatio Algeranon

    Patterns of malpractice
    A cinch to recognize:
    Look for pottus crackticus
    And other sciency lies

  2. Horatio Algeranon

    “Noise Reduction”
    — by Horatio Algeranon

    To get a look at truth
    You average out the noise
    Outliars in the booth
    With mathturbating toys

  3. Rob Honeycutt

    This is true poetry in motion.

    Tallbloke was going on and on a few weeks ago (on Twitter) about how he had a new paper coming out in a “high impact” journal.

    I guess the “high impact” now has something to do with the velocity at which the egg hit his face.

  4. With “The Hum” and the “Planetary Beat” it sounds like we have the Harmony of the Spheres all over again …

  5. Rattus Norvegicus

    Quick, call the auditors!

  6. Seems like a strange name for a scientific journal–to emphasize “patterns” perhaps to the exclusion of theory, mechanisms or hypothesis testing.

    • Steady the Buffs. Pattern Recognition is a legitimate subject of study with its own Pattern Recognition Society complete with journal. The subject does have a wide range of application areas as the Society explains:- “We consider pattern recognition in the broad sense, and we assume that the journal will be read by people with a common interest in pattern recognition but from many diverse backgrounds. These include biometrics, target recognition, biological taxonomy, meteorology, space science, classification methods, character recognition, image processing, industrial applications, neural computing, and many others.”
      However most of it is the likes of computer science, information theory, optical processing techniques rather than interpretation of bog-standard physical systems.

  7. The Hum?
    Hmmm, JSE, my favorite dog astrology jounral, once published The Hum: An Anomalous Sound Heard Around the World, by David Deming, who later wrote Global Warming, the Politicization of Science, and Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, with the infamous “we have to get rid of the MWP” pseudo-quote.
    That article was first actually published on Fred SInger’s SEPP website (3 months before journal publication), but referenced later as totally credible by Richard Lindzen, Steve McIntyre and Andrew Montford (discussion m here.)
    JSE is a dog.

    Good action by Copernicus and those who brought this to their attention.
    Somewhat reminiscent of Michaels, de Freitas and Pal Review, although more like Energy&Environment.

  8. Horatio Algeranon

    “Maximum Impact (on-a) Journal”
    — by Horatio Algeranon

    Mörner is in mörnering
    Shifting on his Axel
    The pattern of his solar fling
    Has led to impact maximal

  9. Took a look at the articles they’ve had so far. Half the content has come from Scafetta and Morner! And the other stuff is no great shakes, either. Damn, to paraphrase Max Weber, were I in the smallest room in my house, the best thing to do with this journal would be to “put it behind me.”

  10. Oh!

    ” the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis, which we regard as malpractice in scientific publishing and not in accordance with our publication ethics we expect to be followed by the editors.”


    • If you go through the papers themselves, you can see who edited and in several cases (some of) the referees. And so we have Mörner acting as edited for Scafetta, but in another paper as reviewer, Mörner being reviewed by Solheim, and Mörner acting as editor for Solheim, and this is just for the names that are indicated. They then write a “conclusion” paper with several of the authors and a few others (which likely includes some of the anonymous reviewers), meaning a co-publication between the author, editor and reviewers.


  11. Thumbs up for the publisher.

  12. The crowd roars
    The gurgling and the groping
    The rest you know
    Ten lovers violating

  13. “Pattern recognition in physics” made me think of Dr Scafetta, and I was delighted to find some papers of his included in this journal. Neat.

    I’m very grateful to Tamino, Skeptical Science and Realclimate for debunking this kind of paper, and for stimulating my interest in statistics at the same time. When I first read one of Scafetta’s articles I had no idea what to make of it. Nowadays, although inevitably much of the maths goes above my head, I marvel at the intricacy of the mathematical models that Scafetta comes up with, but I very much doubt their predictive value.

  14. tamino, the subject of this post is unnecessarily long. It should have just been ‘Mal’.

  15. To paraphrase PT Barnum, no one ever went broke by underestimating the stupidity of denialists. They had a nice little journal there until they went for broke before even starting.

  16. Horatio Algeranon

    “Copernicus Dissents”
    — by Horatio Algeranon

    Morner claimed
    “The sun’s to blame”
    But “No!” said Nicolaus

    “It’s at the center”
    No dissent there,
    But CO2’s the cause”

  17. I look on most of the denialists like the creationists or maybe the anarchists around the turn of the 19th/20th century. They are so convinced they are right that they think everyone will jump to their side if they can just get their message “out there”. Scafetta’s article in Physics Today wound up being an own goal. They’re kind of like the string theorist who was caught with his girlfriend by his wife. “But, Honey,” he said. “I can explain everything.” The problem is that they can explain everything whether its true or not. Scafetta is a wonderful example of a physicist who doesn’t have the foggiest notion of how science works.

    • The very fact they dived straight into publishing non-science indicates that they are true believers, rather than in it for the con.

      What is interesting is how people like Tol immediately dive in and start prevaricating, indicating just how uninterested in the science he actually is.
      Of course it will also mean some work for the mathematically minded as they show why the denialist nonsense is nonsense and would have been binned by any real scientist if it had been reviewed properly.

      • “The very fact they dived straight into publishing non-science indicates that they are true believers, rather than in it for the con.”


        There is a difference between the vile and the addled.



  18. Until now, I’d thought it couldn’t get any better than this.

  19. Perhaps a paper could be covered here that detailed the whys and wherefors that made the paper in question wrong (not just denialist incorrect).

    Isn’t scorn due to stupidity a better resort than termination of a magazine.


    [Response: Cut the crap. The journal wasn’t axed because it published reprehensible anti-science (although it did). It was axed because 1) the publisher specifically stated they didn’t want it to be used as a firehose dispensing climate “skeptic” viewpoints, the editorial board agreed not to do that, then broke their word; 2) the review process was a bad joke.

    Your comment, however, merits scorn due to its stupidity.]

  20. Sadly it looks like a couple of genuine machine-vision pattern-recognition folks got sucked in and published genuine pattern recognition papers in this sad joke of a journal.

  21. It’s a purely academic (boom-tish) point, but in Australia Pattern Recognition in Physics would not be recognised as a claimable journal for the Higher Education Research Data Collection or for the Excellence in Research for Australia initiative.

    Picking UoS’s site for no particular reason other than it’s clearly formatted to make the point, PRP has no listing on the ARC’s ERA journal list, in Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge Master Journal list, or in Ulrich’s database. Further, it fails the test for independent peer review:

    For the purposes of HERDC, the peer review process must involve assessment or review of the publication:

    – in its entirety – not merely an abstract or extract;
    – before publication and
    – by appropriately independent, qualified experts. Independent in this context means independent of the author.

    In any Australian publication verification process papers from this journal would have been given short shrift had they been claimed for HERDC or ERA.

    It astonishes me (no, not really) that the PRP nepotuers and their allies imagine that this journal somehow had scientific credibility.

    There are none so blind…

  22. For those of great patuence, I offer this.
    There, you can find:
    a) a 76-page PDF of an hour’s talk, which people might flip through.
    See especially p.62 on Rhodes Fairbridge, Landscheidt, and also Wilson (same I./R.G. WIlson as in PRiP.), of:
    Wilson I. R. G., B. D. Carter, and I. A. Waite (2008), Does a spin-orbit coupling between the sun and the jovian planets govern the solar cycle?, Pub. of the Astr. Soc. of Astralia 25, 85-93.
    It’s abstract includes:
    ‘However, we are unable to suggest a plausible underlying physical cause for the coupling.’

    This might hint at tamino’s term mathturbation, or maybe not. Sometimes real patterns are found and the physics comes later, so maybe there’s a solid explanation by now.

  23. The notion of Mozart hiding the decrescendo made me laugh on a very difficult day.

  24. “maybe there’s a solid explanation by now.” and maybe not :-)
    Tallbloke and Nicola Scafetta are running around with the “please read the paper and refute it if you can, and if not it stands” mantra.

    However, outside this narrow field of climastrology is a long queue of papers that need refuting first, such as An Empirical Study of Some Astrological Factors in
    Relation to Dog Behaviour Differences by Statistical Analysis and Compared with Human Characteristics.(2007)
    , as well as many others found at JSE., one of which, by David Deming, was “The Hum: An Anomalous Sound Heard Around the World”, eerily reminiscent of Tallbloke’s “The Hum: log-normal distribution and planetary–solar resonance”.

    (Deming of course, is famed for the “have to get rid of MWP” pseudo-quote in from another JSE article, repeated often by McIntyre, Lindzen, Montford and many others.

  25. John, bearing in mind you’re a hero of mine, I also love your occasional typos, and your indifference to them in the casual social media.

    However, I think you coined a great new term just now for the experience of reading/watching some of Scafetta- patuence-

    The patience needed to deal with continued flatulence.

    Maybe it will be sticky.

    WUWT- great patuence needed!

  26. Hans Jelbring who wrote two papers is an old PhD student of Mörner, one of the earlier “dragonslayers” who think the entire greenhouse effect is a myth and the warming being just due to atmospheric pressure.

    • Thomas: do you have a link for that?
      It certainly makes sense, given that Jelbring got his PhD via Morner’s entity @ Stockholm.:

      • John, no I’m afraid I don’t have any online reference. The library entry for his thesis only states the opponent, not the advisor. I studied for a while at Stockholm University where Jelbring graduated and even read his thesis (which fortunately didn’t take long). He even boasted “It reminds me of how the University of Stockholm wanted to disqualify my thesis 2 months after my desertation” on the climatesceptics mail list.

      • Lars Karlsson

        Here is the paper for those interested:
        Jelbring, Hans, The Greenhouse Effect as a Function of Atmospheric Mass, Energy & Environment, Vol. 14, 2003

  27. Hi I am writing to you on behalf on the Scottish Climate & Energy Forum, we are conducting a survey of those interesting in the climate debate which should be of interest to all involved.

    The main focus is on the education and work experience of participants, but it will also assess employment and social factors for their relationship with views on climate.

    We would be very grateful if you would take the time to complete the survey. The responses are confidential.

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    Mike Haseler

  28. Remember, Wegman’s expertise: data mining.
    Special issue of statistical analysis and data mining
    Edward J. Wegman Special Issue Editor
    Article first published online: 24 MAY 2012
    DOI: 10.1002/sam.11151

    Wanta bet he’s helping the national security apparatus find what they expect to find in all that phone data they’ve collected about everyone?

  29. Horatio Algeranon

    “Finding Nemo”
    — by Horatio Algeranon

    The CO2 from smokestack?
    That’s hard, because it’s tiny
    But needle in a haystack?
    A cinch because its shiny

    Any questions?

  30. realfacepalm:
    Yes, and in that tread, we hear from Tallbloke that Lord Monckton has offered assistance.

    As usual, parananoia gets generated:
    ‘Gail Combs says:
    January 21, 2014 at 2:00 am
    I wonder if the whole thing was a set-up, a trap? (comment from my husband)’

    Copernicus had to be really tricky to set this up to trap Morner and friends.

    Dave123: thanks for kind words, sometimes the fingers have life of their own.

    • When driving in the DC area, I find that my middle finger in particular appears to operate of its own volition.

    • Horatio Algeranon

      “Copernicus had to be really tricky to set this up to trap Morner and friends.”

      Yes, well that may be, but I wouldn’t misunderestimate Copernicus.

      He did set a trap that caught even Galileo, after all.

  31. Thomas, I did find more supporting evidence later on of close association, thanks for the hint.

    See comment @ ATTP, which matches what you recall..
    As best as I can tell, Jelbring got PhD ~1999 in Morner’s lab @ the university, which was shut down ~2005 when Morner retired, but recreated ~2010 as an independent research entity, whose membership includes Jelbring and lists PhDs under Education. I think this is a picture of this entity, a lovely office in the woods near Swedish shore not too far North of Copenhagen, which at least looks more pleasant than the barnlike building that houses OISM.

    • dikranmarsupial

      From the text at JMs third link:

      “After the closing-down of the unit at Stockholm University Prof- Emeritus Nils-Axel Mörner has opened an independent research institution on Palegeophysics and Geodynamics, in Torekov in South Sweden (see building on photo). It was inaugurated in the summer 2010. Work goes on as before but now with zero founding.”

      rather unfortunate spelling mistake at the end there! ;o)

  32. “Maximum Impact (on-a) Journal”….
    – by Horatio Algeranon…

    Mörner is in mörnering...Shifting on his Axel....The pattern of his solar fling….
    Has led to impact maxima…