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Polar-Bear-Gate deepens

The story of the Harvey et al smear paper (previous posts here and here and here) continues to grow rapidly. It’s hard to keep up.

The latest news is from a new blog post by Susan Crockford that includes two points of considerable interest – her letter of complaint to the journal, and a release of emails (Polar-Bear-Gate?) between polar bear scientists. Here I’ll discuss these two issues separately.

“Grab your popcorn”, Susan says. This brand might be appropriate.



Crockford’s complaint letter

Susan Crockford’s letter was sent to Scott Collins and James Verdier, editor in chief and senior editor of the journal Bioscience. The journal is published by Oxford Academic, which is part of OUP. They have an ethics policy here, which states that

“Whilst striving to promote freedom of expression wherever possible, OUP aims to avoid publishing anything that harms the reputation of an individual, business, group, or organization unless it can be proven to be true. We take all possible measures to ensure that published work is free of any text that is, or may be considered to be libellous, slanderous, or defamatory.”

It will be interesting to see whether Collins and Verdier adhere to this policy.

The letter is quite detailed and carefully written. It deals with the false and misleading claims of her lack of expertise in the paper, and some specific lies in the paper, such as the unsubstantiated claim that “Crockford vigorously criticizes, without supporting evidence, the findings of several leading researchers who have studied polar bears in the field for decades”. She points to her preprint paper, which is full of evidence. Look at her other posts, for example this recent one, and you can see there is plenty of supporting evidence. She gives several other examples where her criticism is backed up by detailed evidence.

The letter ends with

These allegations are untrue, defamatory and malicious, but in addition, the failure to mention my Ph.D. and my recent scientific critique constitute a falsification of my expertise and work output. In addition, the purported scientific analysis is shoddy and the language used is reprehensible.

I formally request that you retract this paper.


The Polar-Bear-Gate emails

In her letter, Crockford discusses a set of emails from 2012 and 2014 between polar bear scientists. These were acquired via a FOIA request (submitted by someone else, and then passed on to her). The emails have been transcribed and the email addresses removed.

A key point in the emails is that they show another lie in the Harvey et al story. We’ve already established that the claim of a bunch of AGW denier blogs is a lie. But the emails show that the other side of the picture, of a happy family of scientists all in agreement, is also a lie.

Some of the emails involve Dr. Resit Akçakaya, one of the scientists responsible for the IUCN Red List of endangered species. Other participants include polar bear researcher Øystein Wiig.  Steven Amstrup (“Steve”) is the polar bear academic who is regularly criticised by Crawford and who lied about her in a recent press interview. Kristin Laidre works on polar bears and other arctic mammals and has worked with Wiig. “BN” models are Bayesian Network models, if that helps. SPSC is a committee within IUCN.