Mark Steyn explains what Climategate teaches us about peer-review

The article is here in the National Review. (H/T Secondhand Smoke via ECM)

First, he argues that Climategate shows that the peer-review process can be corrupted:

Here’s what Phil Jones of the CRU and his colleague Michael Mann of Penn State mean by “peer review.” When Climate Research published a paper dissenting from the Jones-Mann “consensus,” Jones demanded that the journal “rid itself of this troublesome editor,” and Mann advised that “we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers.”

So much for Climate Research. When Geophysical Research Letters also showed signs of wandering off the “consensus” reservation, Dr. Tom Wigley (“one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change”) suggested they get the goods on its editor, Jim Saiers, and go to his bosses at the American Geophysical Union to “get him ousted.” When another pair of troublesome dissenters emerge, Dr. Jones assured Dr. Mann, “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

Second, he writes that the mainstream media is far too biased to report the facts:

And gullible types like… Andrew Revkin of the New York Times fell for it hook, line, and tree-ring. The e-mails of “Andy” (as his CRU chums fondly know him) are especially pitiful. Confronted by serious questions from Stephen McIntyre, the dogged Ontario retiree whose Climate Audit website exposed the fraud of Dr. Mann’s global-warming “hockey stick” graph), “Andy” writes to Dr. Mann to say not to worry, he’s going to “cover” the story from a more oblique angle:

I’m going to blog on this as it relates to the value of the peer review process and not on the merits of the mcintyre et al attacks.

peer review, for all its imperfections, is where the herky-jerky process of knowledge building happens, would you agree?

And, amazingly, Dr. Mann does! “Re, your point at the end — you’ve taken the words out of my mouth.”

And that’s what Andrew Revkin did, week in, week out: He took the words out of Michael Mann’s mouth and served them up to impressionable readers of the New York Times and opportunist politicians around the world champing at the bit to inaugurate a vast global regulatory body to confiscate trillions of dollars of your hard-earned wealth in the cause of “saving the planet” from an imaginary crisis concocted by a few dozen thuggish ideologues. If you fall for this after the revelations of the last week, you’re as big a dupe as Begley or Revkin.

I think we need to be skeptical of having science hijacked to prove things that the secular left wants it to prove. They want to “prove” evolution so that they can undermine traditional morality, which they view as an unnecessary restraint on their pursuit of happiness in this life. They want to “prove” global warming so that they can undermine the free market and gain control of the production and consumption of individuals. And they often discriminate against skeptics in the peer-review process (and in hiring/promotion decisions) in order to manufacture a false consensus.

5 thoughts on “Mark Steyn explains what Climategate teaches us about peer-review”

  1. I’ve dealt with this “peer reviewed” nonsense some time ago in discussions with a liberal blogger of the Begley variety. To him, peer review was the deal breaker and if you had no reviews with which to counter, then you were an ignorant right-wing no-nothing. Already suspicious of this lauded process of the condescending, I did a little research regarding peer review, and, using the vaunted Wikipedia, no friend to the conservative cause, found info citing peer review as a very untrustworthy arrow for one’s quiver in debating the worthiness of a theory. It stated that one can be reviewed by the originator of a theory in direct conflict with that which is to be reviewed. One has no input as to who does the reviewing or how many reviewers there might be. The process is often political and often used to support one position over others as funding can be withdrawn if a new position is shown to be more credible than the current belief. Since then, I have come to see the “peer review” gambit as equal to “shut up” when my questions annoy my opponents.


  2. “First, he argues that Climategate shows that the peer-review process can be corrupted…”

    I think there is a second problem here: true Result “A” does not get funding while politically correct Result “B” get’s tons of funding from governments and universities. I think that this can influence the results and interpretations of the data in a big way. I think there is a large incentive for a less than perfectly honest scientist to strike out some data as being “anomalous” if it means a huge funding grant, an easily published paper, and a high standing at a university.


    1. Government funds research that requires government to get bigger and more powerful. So, government funds research from global warming myth-makers because the research produced by the myth-makers allows them to trick the public into giving them powers to tax and regulate businesses and individuals. Follow the money.


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