Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Getting It Wrong - Anonymously

It must be fun, publishing content anonymously. There are many advantages. One is being able to publish cruel vilification without facing any type of accountability. Another is the freedom of consistent wrongness - without the risk of tainting one's reputation. 

An example of this is the righteous and defamatory anonymous blog 'Stop these things'. 
A few months ago, I was featured on their 'These people don't [get it]' page. 

I try to re-use this picture wherever I can. 

Recently, Simon Chapman, professor of public health at Sydney University wrote on The Conversation about a piece of research in pre-print that shows the prevalence of health complaints is not always related to the presence of wind turbines - rather, the interjection of anti-wind campaigners serves as a better predictor of these complaints.

Recently, Anonymous claimed that:

"The former editor of the academic journal which received a study by Simon Chapman denying wind turbine syndrome has questioned the quality of his research
Dr Jeanne Daly told a fiery public meeting to discuss a proposed community wind farm at Baringhup in Victoria that “at best” Chapman’s evidence was “equivocal”."
Is Anonymous referring to Chapman's paper on the distribution of health complaints? The commenters certainly seem convinced. In fact, there's nothing in the post to suggest otherwise. 

Daly was the editor of the Australia and New Zealand Journal of Public Health (ANZJPH). It seems odd that the ex-editor of a journal would publicly criticise research that is still under review by that journal. I contacted Simon Chapman, and he brought to my attention this email - sent to Daly:

"I'm not sure whether you have been faithfully reported (a transcript is being prepared) but if so, it seems that you are confused about my work.
The paper that ANZJPH is publishing soon is this one: 'How the factoid of wind turbines causing “vibroacoustic disease” came to be “irrefutably demonstrated”'. "
"Another paper of mine (see pre-print here is under review with an international journal. It has never been sent to you."

According to Chapman, Jeanne Daly was referring to a completely different paper. Not an insignificant error. But hang on, doesn't that mean Chapman's paper on 'Vibroacoustic disease (VAD)' is shoddy? 

Nope. Chapman points out in his email that the VAD paper has been accepted for publication by the ANZJPH. 
One impassioned commenter writes:

Ask, and ye shall receive. 

Update 06/05/2013: The page has been wordlessly removed from their blog, with no acknowledgement of error. Don't worry, though - it's stored permanently on WebCite

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