Global Stonewalling

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Through TIA Daily, I have learned of an article concerning the apparent complicity of two major scientific journals -- none other than Science and Nature -- in quashing scientific dissent! As a scientist, I know how sensationalized (and politicized) certain kinds of scientific results can be when reported -- often poorly -- by the popular media. As a result, I have long been skeptical of the various doomsday scenarios being touted by the media and used to panic people into thinking that various aspects of the environmentalist agenda must be enacted now. I have also known that global warming is scientifically controversial for quite some time. Not being a meteorologist, I have not been privy to details of the scientific give-and-take, however.

Apparently, there have not been quite the same amounts of "give" and "take" in this scientific debate.

A British authority on natural catastrophes who disputed whether climatologists really agree that the Earth is getting warmer because of human activity, says his work was rejected by the American publication, Science, on the flimsiest of grounds.

A separate team of climate scientists, which was regularly used by Science and the journal Nature to review papers on the progress of global warming, said it was dropped after attempting to publish its own research which raised doubts over the issue.

And why did Science reject the first gentleman's work? To understand this, we first must consider what Science did choose to publish beforehand.
Dr Naomi Oreskes, of the University of California, analysed almost 1,000 papers on the subject published since the early 1990s, and concluded that 75 per cent of them either explicitly or implicitly backed the consensus view, while none directly dissented from it.

Dr Oreskes's study is now routinely cited by those demanding action on climate change, including the Royal Society and Prof Sir David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser.

Wow! But hold on just a minute!
... Dr Benny Peiser, a senior lecturer in the science faculty at Liverpool John Moores University, ... decided to conduct his own analysis of the same set of 1,000 documents - and concluded that only one third backed the consensus view, while only one per cent did so explicitly.
(One question: If a view is explicitly backed by 1% of all papers and is implicitly backed by a third, how is it a "consensus" view?) So Peiser contests findings published in Science. Fair enough. Science should at least give him a hearing, right? And if he's right, shouldn't these results be published?
Dr [Benny] Peiser submitted his findings to Science in January, and was asked to edit his paper for publication - but has now been told that his results have been rejected on the grounds that the points he make had been "widely dispersed on the internet".
Let's grant that the findings could be described as "widely dispersed on the internet." But the other results have the credibility of publication in a major peer-reviewed scientific journal, while Peiser's can be dismissed as "junk from the internet" until they are subjected to the same rigorous scrutiny. Furthermore, since scientists generally depend upon data vetted by their peers rather than "junk from the internet," rejection of this study on such flimsy grounds is a disservice to those scientists who read the contested article in Science. They will remain under the mistaken impression that Oreskes is correct until Peiser is published.

And Peiser's not just some lone crank. The article also discusses other dissident scientists, including Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, and hurricane expert Chris Landsea, of the United States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, who "resigned from the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], claiming that it was 'motivated by pre-conceived agendas' and was 'scientifically unsound'."

Read it all.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

I tried the link to the Daily Telegraph article, but it just went to their main page...

I would dearly love to see the original source for that comment from the Science editor rejecting Peiser's paper on the grounds that his points are already on the internet.
Bah, on some echo-chambers like Realclimate and Desmogblog, they take the fact that it HASN'T been published as 'proof' that Peiser's paper was invalid.
Oreskes shows her true arrogance when she says she'll only accept criticism of her paper via 'peer-review' whilst her actual study (not the essay summarizing the results) has NEVER been submitted to any real academic scrutiny.

There was a poll released by Texas A&M researchers not long ago - supposedly the more informed one is, the less likely one is to believe the alarmist AGW position. The link runs off the page, but you can google the title: "Personal Efficacy, the Information Environment, and Attitudes toward Global Warming and Climate Change in the US."

Anonymous said...

Found what I had mentioned earlier:
Both a copy of the article, and the correspondence between Peiser & the Science editor with the quote:

Gus Van Horn said...


Thank for finding that before I'd even had a chance to look for it myself!