I've been apprised that the 15 seconds of Internet fame alloted to this blog has arrived, in the form of a link from John West's blog entry over at Evolution News and Views. As welcome (in the 'just spell my name right' way) as that may be, it seems that John and/or lawyer Pete Lepiscopo are confused about the issues.
Here's the text of my letter to Dr Rodin, the editor at AML.
I am appalled to see a preprint, apparently from Applied Mathematical Letters, of the often repeated and often refuted nonsense of Granville Sewell on an anti-science web site.
Dr Sewell, whose expertise lies in partial differential equations, has writen several times on the relevance of the Second Law of Thermodynamics to the topic of evolution. Each time he makes poor arguments that do not show any understanding of the physics or chemistry involved, clearly contradicting the philosophy of your journal.
A concise refutation is
The reputation of AML will be harmed by publishing this article by Sewell.
David vun Kannon
You might notice that I don't make any request of Dr Rodin, specifically, I don't ask him to not publish. Nor do I base my argument on my own reputation in the field of evolution or thermodynamic studies (fields where my reputation is at least equal to Dr Sewell's). Rather, I supply Dr Rodin with a link to an article published in 2008.
American Journal of Physics -- November 2008 -- Volume 76, Issue 11, pp. 1031
Entropy and evolution
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio 44074
Quantitative estimates of the entropy involved in biological evolution demonstrate that there is no conflict between evolution and the second law of thermodynamics. The calculations are elementary and could be used to enliven the thermodynamics portion of a high school or introductory college physics course.
© 2008 American Association of Physics Teachers
The above article is far more persuasive than a letter referencing it. While Sewell's lawyer might think an e-mail from a nobody blogger can move an editor to extraordinary actions, I think the credit fairly belongs with the scientific literature that was cited.
West then follows lawyer Lepiscopo into an odd series of quotes and links. For example, West states:
According to the journal's editorial policies, acceptance of an article cannot be rescinded once an author has been notified of its acceptance, and accepted articles are supposed to be withdrawn only "under exceptional circumstances" such as fraud, errors, ethics violations, and the like.Um, yeah. Follow that "cannot be rescinded" link and you arrive at a page describing the Elsevier editorial process, which is not relevant to the situation after acceptance. Even so, the page states:
Editors with the appropriate EES permission* can rescind (undo) a decision before or after the Author has been notified, or after the final disposition has been set to Reject.Notice the "can rescind" verb? West and lawyer Lepiscopo appear to have read that as "cannot rescind" for some reason, perhaps a reason favoring their position.
West and lawyer Lepiscopo continue by noting that errors are a valid reason for withdrawing a paper. Well, that is really the point, isn't it? While people familiar with Sewell's Johnny-one-note attack on evolution know he has been singing the same song for years (as Weseley Elsberry showed), more to the point for AML is that this version of the paper does not address the literature, specifically the 2008 paper cited above.
I am not privy to any agreement, certainly less so than John West seems to be. If Elsevier has made a pragmatic choice to buy off a nuisance lawsuit, I understand it from a business perspective. I hope it might make them review the business process that led to this fiasco, a 'rapid review' editorial workflow. I'm glad to hear that Dr Sewell is welcome to submit future articles to AML. This is a privilege that is shared by most of the population, including myself, John West, and lawyer Lepiscopo.
And what of the paper itself? According to West, it can join several of it's kin on Dr Sewell's web site. It might even say 'accepted by AML' on it. But it remains comatose. If John West wants to see how Dr Sewell and I discuss his ideas, he can look at my comments (under the pen name Nakashima) on the various threads on Uncommon Descent where the same thoughts have been floated in the past.