(Another) Editor in Chief resigned over the Harrit et al. nanothermite paper
(Can we PLEASE test the Ground Zero dust for high explosive residues now? For two years now, I have been writing that Steven Jones has been running a distraction campaign paid for by neoconservative BYU. Now it seems someone has not only reviewed the Harrit/Jones “nanothermite” paper and found it wanting, but apparently, yet another Editor in Chief over at Bentham publishing has resigned over being associated with the paper. This guy apparently debated Harrit on the subject and wrote a scholarly paper critical of their work. It seems the wheels are coming off Jones’ 5 year distraction project. No wonder they want us to focus on the “fly over” theory.)
by Denis G. Rancourt, Activist Teacher
I was asked by 911 Truth movement researcher and radio host Kevin Barrett to debate Niels Harrit about nanothermite in WTC dust. I agreed and a two-hour live debate was held on November 9th, HERE.
In preparation I read the 2009 paper of Harrit et al. (Open Chemical Physics Journal, 2, 2009, 7-31). I found many scientific errors and concluded that the editorial and/or peer review had been done very poorly. I tried to address some of my concerns with Harrit during the radio interview. Those concerns which I had time to express were mostly confirmed rather than alleviated.
Many members of the 911 Truth movement use an “appeal to authority” argument in advancing Harrit’s paper as “peer reviewed” and Harrit himself as a scientific authority with relevant expertise. Anyone using “appeal to authority” arguments must expect that the authority in question can be questioned.
Even more boldly, some 911 Truthers, including Kevin Barrett, advance that since the Harrit paper has not formally been contested in any peer reviewed scientific article then its methods and conclusions must be valid. I don’t know the name for this particular sophistry but I know that many papers on important topics are wrong, believed to be wrong, and are never contested. This relates more to the social careerism of science than anything else.
I accept that the 911 Truth movement is an important societal movement and for that reason I decided to help clean up some of this crap.
I wrote an expert critical peer review of the Harrit paper HERE.
Harrit was immediately informed and has not yet provided any substantive response.
There are a lot of very bad peer reviewed articles out there but it is so unusual for an editor of a peer review scientific journal to allow tenuous and extreme claims and elaborate suggestions that do not follow from the data that I decide next to contact the Editor in Chief of the journal.
Here is what I sent the Editor in Chief on November 10th:
Professor Lucio Frydman
Department of Chemical Physics,
The Weizmann Institute of Sciences
Editor in Chief,
Open Chemical Physics Journal
Re: Peer review concerns, Harrit et al., OCPJ 2, 2009, 7-31, “nanothermite in WTC dust”
Dear Editor Frydman,
As an expert in the relevant areas, I have written a criticism of the above-cited paper that was printed in your journal.
I have posted my report publicly on the web here:
My report is also critical of your journal in this matter.
On the face of it, it appears that the peer review process for this article was significantly flawed, to the point of professional irresponsibility or worse. This, in a matter of vital public and political interest.
Please clarify your journal’s peer review of this article, the number of reviewers, their relevant expertizes, whether any changes were requested, etc. You will understand that the article is of such substandard quality as to give rise to serious questions about its review. What was your own involvement in accepting this article it its final form?
Please indicate when you will be able to respond.
Denis G. Rancourt
Former professor, University of Ottawa
This was the former editor’s immediate response:
From: Lucio Frydman
Date: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 12:46 AM
Subject: Editorial concern, Open Chemical Physics Journal, possible fraudulent peer review
To: Denis Rancourt
Cc: The Open Chemical Physics Journal , Shehzad , Editorial
Dear Prof. Rancourt
What you describe is indeed very worrisome indeed. To be frank, however, I should clarify to you two points that will probably derive this discussion through alternative channels
1) I was not editor of the journal at the time the manuscript you refer to was received and processed. I was not involved in its handling, and in no way do i agree with its conclusions. In fact i do not even know how the paper’s peer reviewing was handled – or if it was reviewed at all. The journal never wanted to disclosed this matter to me
2) What may be even worse – noone seems to be at the helm of this Journal. Months ago -simply after becoming acquainted with the article you mention, its possible misshandling, etc- i submitted my immediate resignation as editor to the open chemical physics journal. As you can see from the email below, my letter of resignation was received and acknowledged. However, i still appear as the journal’s editor – in fact i’m still receiving manuscripts to handle (which i naturally ignore).
To be frank, noone seems to be at the helm of this floundering ship…
I am hereby using the opportunity to copy the journal managers and publishers both of your concerns, as well as my renewed request that they officially and finally relieve me from any duties and/or relationship in connection to this journal
I hope this clarifies your concerns – at least in what they relate to my role in this sad story
Dear Dr. Frydman,
Thank you for your email. Your resignation will be forwarded to the higher management for consideration.
Maryam L. Shaikh
Ms. Maryam Legasto Shaikh
Asst. Manager Publication
The Open Chemical Physics Journal
Email: [email protected]
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