Bias In the Peer Review Process: A Cautionary And Personal Account

by Dr. Roger Pielke Senior

There is an informative article by Ross McKittrick

McKitrick, Ross R. (2011) “Bias in the Peer Review Process: A Cautionary and Personal Account” in Climate Coup, Patrick J. Michaels ed., Cato Inst. Washington DC.

This article appears in the book

Michaels, Patrick J., 2011: Climate Coup: Global Warming’s Invasion of Our Government and Our Lives. Cato Institute. ISBN: 978-1-935308447

with the summary of its content

“A first-rate team of experts offers compelling documentation on the pervasive influence global warming alarmism now has on almost every aspect of our society-from national defense, law, trade, and politics to health, education, and international development.”

With respect to Ross’s chapter,  Pat Michaels writes

“The second chapter in this volume goes to the core of what we consider to be the canon of science, which is the peer-reviewed, refereed scientific literature. McKitrick’s and my trials and tribulations over journal publication are similar to those experienced by many other colleagues. Unfortunately, the Climategate e-mails revealed that indeed there has been systematic pressure on journal editors to reject manuscripts not toeing the line about disastrous climate change. Even more unfortunate, my experience and that of others are that the post-Climategate environment has made this situation worse, not better. It is now virtually impossible to publish anything against the alarmist grain. The piles of unpublished manuscripts sitting on active scientists’desks are growing into gargantuan proportions…..”

Pat is correct that the peer reviews process and, also, the funding of research, has become very politicized and biased.

Ross starts his article with the text [highlight added]

“Showing that the IPCC claim is also false took some mundane statistical work, but the results were clear. Once the numbers were crunched and the paper was written, I began sending it to science journals. Having published several against-the-flow papers in climatology journals, I did not expect a smooth ride, but the process eventually became surreal. In the end, the paper was accepted for publication, but not in a climatology journal. Fortunately for me, I am an economist, not a climatologist, and my career doesn’t depend on getting published in climatology journals. If I were a young climatologist, I would have learned that my career prospects would be much better if I never wrote papers that question the IPCC. The skewing of the literature (and careers) can only be bad for society, which depends on scientists and the scientific literature for trustworthy advice for wise policy decisions.”

His conclusion has the text

“Some people might be tempted to defend climatology by saying that normal scientific procedures have broken down due to the intense policy fights and political interference. But in my opinion that confuses cause and effect. The policy community has aggressively intervened in climate science because of all the breaches of normal scientific procedures. The public has lost confidence in the ability of the major institutions of climatology, including the IPCC and the leading journals, to deal impartially with the evidence. It doesn’t have to be this way. My own field of economics constantly deals with policy-relevant topics with major public consequences. Of course, differences of opinion exist and vigorous disputes play out among opposing camps. But what is happening in climate science is very different, or at least is on a much more intense scale. I know of no parallels in modern economics. It appears to be a profession-wide decision that, due to the conjectured threat of global warming, the ethic of scientific objectivity has had an asterisk added to it: there is now the additional condition that objectivity cannot compromise the imperative of supporting one particular point of view.

This strategy is backfiring badly: rather than creating the appearance of genuine scientific progress, the situation appears more like a chokehold of indoctrination and intellectual corruption. I do not know what the solution is, since I have yet to see a case in which an institution or a segment of society, having once been contaminated or knocked off balance by the global warming issue, is subsequently able to right itself. But perhaps, as time progresses, climate science will find a way to do so. Now that would be progress.”

Both Pat and Ross are correct that a prejudice exists in the climate science community with respect to publication and in funding. My experiences have been similar to theirs.

I have posted on this subject in my posts. Several examples are

My Comments For The InterAcademy Council Review of the IPCC

Is The NSF Funding Process Working Correctly?

Invited Letter Now Rejected By Nature Magazine

Comments On The Peer-Review Journal Publication Process And Recommendations For Improvement

It is important that policymakers become aware of the inappropriate control on the peer review process and in the funding of research by the NSF and other agencies.  I have summarized this for policymakers most recently in my testimony

Pielke Sr., R.A. 2011: Climate Science and EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulation.  Testimony to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power

where I wrote with respect to the CCSP assessment process [which is one of the source of information for the 2007 IPCC]

“The process for completing the CCSP Report excluded valid scientific perspectives under the charge of the Committee. The Editor of the Report [Tom Karl] systematically excluded a range of views on the issue of understanding and reconciling lower atmospheric temperature trends.

The Executive Summary of the CCSP Report ignores critical scientific issues and makes unbalanced conclusions concerning our current understanding of temperature trends.”

Ross’s article and Pat’s experiences document further that the exclusion of research papers in a number of major journals and research funding by the NSF and other agencies is a systematic and serious problem that has compromised  objective scientific inquiry into climate science.

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61 Responses to Bias In the Peer Review Process: A Cautionary And Personal Account

  1. Smokey says:

    A.W. Montford exposes the corruption in the climate peer review system in his excellent book The Hockey Stick Illusion [available on the right sidebar].

    For a taste of Montford’s writing, see:

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2008/8/11/caspar-and-the-jesus-paper.html

    And for a funny account of the type of problems encountered by skeptics of AGW alarmism, read Prof Trebino’s account here.

  2. onion says:

    Economics is just as bad. The Nobel Prize is consistently awarded to economists who follow the Keynesian (or even worse the post-Keynesian) consensus. But then economics isn’t a science

    In fact if some are using climate science to defraud large parts of the World of their wealth, they are only following on from the example set by those abusing economics similarly. Amongst the guilty here, you will find global central bankers, the BIS, the IMF, the World Bank and the large investment banks.

  3. PhilJourdan says:

    The problem goes back to Eisenhower’s departing speech on government and science. Politics is driving the debate, and politicians do not want to be made to look the fools. So they are doubling down and using unethical methods to silence the debate on the subject.

    It is similar to a situation in my state. The government outsourced the IT. It was supposed to save money and make things better. It of course has had the opposite effect, with no “customers” (the individual agencies) happy, and costs soaring through the roof. Yet has the state taken a look at the issue and said “oops”? No. Those who voted for it do not want to look bad, so they are doubling down on it. Even though no independent study has indicated that the project will ever benefit the “customers” or tax payers of the state.

    Same with Climate change. Gore is not the only one who does not want to have egg on his face.

  4. noaaprogrammer says:

    “I do not know what the solution is, since I have yet to see a case in which an institution or a segment of society, having once been contaminated or knocked off balance by the global warming issue, is subsequently able to right itself. But perhaps, as time progresses, climate science will find a way to do so. Now that would be progress.”

    One expensive solution would be to start publishing a rival journal in climatology that is indeed fair and balanced. Over time, if both sides of a debate were fairly presented, one would see the subscriptions surpass that of the journal that is biased.

  5. PhilJourdan says:

    noaaprogrammer says:
    April 20, 2011 at 11:56 am

    The Foxnews solution.

  6. greg2213 says:

    PhilJourdan says:
    April 20, 2011 at 11:59 am

    noaaprogrammer says:
    April 20, 2011 at 11:56 am

    The Foxnews solution.
    ==============

    /seconded

  7. Mike McMillan says:

    I think I’ve discovered the reason for the current cooling – a solar eclipse.
    http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/assets/img/latest/latest_512_4500.jpg or
    http://www.rockyhigh66.org/stuff/latest_512_4500.jpg

  8. rw says:

    I think it’s worth pointing out that if these people genuinely believed that AGW is correct, this sort of thing would not be occurring. As always, behavior tells all.

  9. Mike McMillan says:

    Sorry for the Off Topic. Wrong thread.

  10. Mustafa says:

    The more I read on Global Warming/Climate Change/Climate Disruption reporting, the more I am reminded of Pravda (the official Russian news service), Xinhua (the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China), FARS (Iran’s official news agency), and the news agencies of other dictators around the world. Their job is to ensure that only officially sanctioned news is reported and that any news inconsistent with the official view is modified to comply with the official view. Ironically, the New York Times and other left wing newspapers in the U.S. have been celebrating the role of social media played in getting around the state-controlled media in the current successful rebelions in the Middle East. Yet, these same newspapers do not seem to recognize that web sites such as WUWT are playing a similar role in the U.S. debate on AGW. The official media and “peer” reviewed journals can pretend that the global climate is changing according to model predictions, but they cannot continue to cover up the truth.

  11. Wes M. says:

    I just came from a site in which they were trying to disprove all the papers against AGW by claiming they were funded by, you guessed it, big oil. Popular Technology posted a rebuttal and showed that the scientists held skeptical positions before being involved with any thinktanks. Check this nonsense out: CarbonBrief.org 900 Papers Using Our Paper Is Misleading

    Now they claim some of the authors want their names removed. I’m sure that has nothing to do with being threatened to lose their funding if they promote skeptical arguments.

  12. Jimbo says:

    OT
    “Global Warming On Pluto Caused By The Sun”
    “The change in brightness over the last decade is startling. ”
    http://notrickszone.com/2011/04/20/global-warming-on-pluto-caused-by-the-sun-even-3-billion-miles-away/

  13. Al Gored says:

    It is at least as bad in the pseudoscience called Conservation Biology.

    And the flip side to resistance to anything contradicting the party line is the ease with which anything that supports it gets through.

    And I do mean anything. It is a junk science jamboree and there is a whole herd of newly pumped out ‘PhDs’ that are essentially tunnel vision clones.

  14. Merrick says:

    Too funny! I showed this article to a friend:

    “I wonder how many CFLs you need to use and for how long to offset the carbon footprint of burning a house down?”

  15. onion:
    The Nobel Prize in economics (yeah I know, it’s not a real Nobel Prize) is not reserved for Keynesians. Look at the list. Look at all the Chicago boys: 97, 95 92, 91, 82, 76; Also Buchanan of the public choice school in 86, etc. In the last decade the prize has gone for game theory, econometrics, institutional economics, real business cycle macro, etc. If anything, Keynesians have been dismayed at how often rival schools have won it.

  16. Frank K. says:

    noaaprogrammer says:
    April 20, 2011 at 11:56 am

    One expensive solution would be to start publishing a rival journal in climatology that is indeed fair and balanced. Over time, if both sides of a debate were fairly presented, one would see the subscriptions surpass that of the journal that is biased.

    The problem here is that the journals in question have a history (been around for many years) and are often associated with major professional societies. As climategate clearly showed, most of the “gatekeepers” on the journal editorial staffs are CAGW true believers, and therefore will make it very difficult for any skeptic paper to get published.

    Compound this with the fact that any professor who wants tenure needs to get published, and not just in any journals, but the “right” ones in their profession. So don’t expect many (or any) skeptic papers from academia. For government and private labs, there is sufficient pressure from the climate elites (many of whom are gatekeepers to government funding) to keep skeptic papers from being published.

    Fortunately, we’re coming to a period in our history where our government is going to have to choose between basic services and wasteful “research” boondoggles that have become the hallmark of climate research (such as the Glory satellite fiasco). Make no mistake, the Climate Ca$h will run dry, and it will be interesting to see who fights over the little money left in the government research budgets…

  17. vigilantfish says:

    Anthony,

    You should have this post tagged as ‘normal science’ or ‘anti-post-normal science’. I would love to see McKitrick and Ravetz go head-to-head. McKitrick provides the experience of the historical contingencies that have warped climate science and which Ravetz prefers to gloss over in his focus on ‘facts uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent’. It seems to me that the foundational difference between normal and post-normal science is ‘values in dispute’ – and we’re not talking about numbers here. That came to mind when reading McKitrick’s observation that: “It appears to be a profession-wide decision that, due to the conjectured threat of global warming, the ethic of scientific objectivity has had an asterisk added to it: there is now the additional condition that objectivity cannot compromise the imperative of supporting one particular point of view.”

    I hope the matter of institutions’ righting themselves after being knocked off-kilter by global warming alarmism is just going to be a matter of time. McKitrick seems pessimistic. If science does not recover, then it’s good-bye to western civilization.

    This book looks like a ‘must read’…

  18. MarkW says:

    Fortunately, we’re coming to a period in our history where our government is going to have to choose between basic services and wasteful “research”

    —-

    If history is any guide, the first thing shed by govt in times of financial crises are basic services.
    This is done primarily to prove to the skeptical public that govt cannot possibly survive on any less money than it is getting now. Thus tax increases are the only possible solution.

    Think about your own state. Everytime there is a budget shortfall, all you hear on the news is about all those policemen, firemen, teachers, that are going to lose their jobs. You never hear about 3rd undersecretaries to the 2nd vice president and his staff losing their jobs.

  19. noaaprogrammer says:

    Frank K. states:
    “The problem here is that the journals in question have a history (been around for many years) and are often associated with major professional societies…”

    It’s a slow process, but it’s their reputation that is being lost.

  20. ScottishSceptic says:

    noaaprogrammer says: April 20, 2011 at 11:56 am

    “One expensive solution would be to start publishing a rival journal in climatology that is indeed fair and balanced.” What is the difference between WUWT and an academic journal? The peer review! And what is it that is at fault with the academic review? The peer review!

    I’ve often thought that if WUWT were to select articles for “publication” based on a suitably academic content and did the normal housekeeping of a journal like insisting on references, abstracts, etc., the this “academic” version of WUWT would be a climate journal for next to no cost and little extra effort.

    Indeed anyone could do it, all they need is permission to republish the articles, in a suitable format for an academic journal, on a new website and ideally a link from WUWT.

    Hey presto … you’ve got a new climate journal!

  21. Orson says:

    This post lends credence to Richard Lindzen’s claim that climate science is a corrupt field.

    What is worrying is the lack of a path back from propaganda to science. Post-Khrushchev, death of Lysenkoism, anyone?

  22. David, UK says:

    Here’s a thought, although I am sure not an original one, but here goes: what does it take to found a new scientific publication? Couldn’t a group of sceptical (i.e. genuine and honest) scientists found their own science journal, with an aim to restore respect to the scientific way and a healthy “f*** you!” attitude to those who oppose this philosophy? Of course the alarmists and everyone in their pocket would shun and continually poo-poo it – but it would be seen by others as a beacon of true science. There must be no shortage of exasperated scientists and editors willing to contribute.

    Why not?

  23. Theo Goodwin says:

    David, UK says:
    April 20, 2011 at 2:01 pm
    “Here’s a thought, although I am sure not an original one, but here goes: what does it take to found a new scientific publication?”

    Depends on what you mean by “scientific publication.” To create a first-rate scientific publication, all you need are money for staff and for an editor who has the time and will to be a leader. Seems to me that the current state of climate science offers an excellent opportunity for creation of such a journal. Some patriotic American with the means should do this; also, they would make money.

    If you mean a “scientific publication” that has the same pedigree as existing publications then that is an entirely different matter. It might be possible. You might get McKitrick in Canada to be the editor and he might get the blessing of his academic department and university. Short of someone like McKitrick as editor, the journal would not have an acceptable pedigree. Even then, the Warmista might kill it through ordinary means. A true leader would be needed as editor.

    Several journals are needed. There is a desperate need for a journal whose topic is government funding for science and related matters, such as Green propaganda.

  24. Keith G says:

    Prof. McKitrick,

    Your attempts to get published in climatological journals are so reminiscent of Don Quixote! I can’t imagine the time and mental energy it takes to maintain your composure while you keep answering all the questions, the parsing, the re-phrasing, whatever.

    Do you see parallels between current climatology with the court-sponsored science of the Renaissance? It wasn’t a great system; it all depended on the power of the purse. There were some free-wheeling patrons like Lorenzo de’ Medici, who had quite a collection of open-minded artists, humanists (and astrologers/mystics). Some were less tolerant, like Maffeo Barberini (Pope Urban VIII), who finally came down on Galileo about his silly little heliocentric ideas.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole AGW research gravy train is derailed semi-permanently before long. Between a worldwide fiscal crisis and a seas that stubbornly refuse to boil, taxpayer tolerance for continued research has got to dry up.

    In the meanwhile, please keep working on getting published. There is a whole scare industry that tries to keep the public in a ferment and even targets little children. They make easy marks, with their trust and open-mindedness, and the fact that they have to sit in school and listen to teacher. Your work goes a long way in putting sanity back in the discussion.

  25. Olen says:

    The corruption in peer review would be a good place for the congress to look in determining the validity of all claims. An audit of the review process would show for one thing who is favored for review and who are not and why.

    They could also determine if tax dollars are involved in any way.

  26. DesertYote says:

    #
    Al Gored
    April 20, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    It is at least as bad in the pseudoscience called Conservation Biology.
    ###

    You just ruined my day(just kidding), but in truth I get sad when I think about this. I had wanted to get a degree in Ichthyology or wildlife science, but because I could not handle the insistent deluge of Marxist propaganda that students in those fields are subjected to, I decided not to.

  27. Excellent post, one of many on the subject.

    What seems to be necessary is to create an online resource of such stories, f.ex:

    The biases of peer review:
    - Steig vs O’Donnel ea.
    - McKitrick vs
    - McIntyre vs..

    etc, etc..there must be hundreds of such stories from both students and renowned professors.

    This database of warmist political failures could be expanded to chapters on the workings (and failures) of the IPCC, the proven (but never admitted) wrongdoings of “official” climate science, the disproved predictions, the hilarious and fantastical future predictions, etc, etc.

    An easy reference site for debunking warmist propanda.

    And what better place than the Watts Up Climate Fail Files for a reference of the collected wrongdoings of climate science?

    At the moment it is scattered all over the internet.

    Let’s get organized!

  28. Jeff Carlson says:

    the current state of climate study on the whole is no longer science, again on the whole … yes, there are plenty of individuals but at the top of the field and in the journals they are no longer acting as scientists … they are propagandists …

  29. I recommend f.ex the interview with former IPCC Expert Reviewer Madhav Khandekar, as an example of evidence of IPCC bias:

    Part 1: (NB: 4 parts)

  30. Next 3 parts of the Khandekar interview:

  31. I’m surprised that no one has quoted Richard Horton, editor of the respected British medical journal The Lancet, who wrote a profound indictment of peer review:

    “The mistake, of course, is to have thought that peer review was any more than a crude means of discovering the acceptability — not the validity — of a new finding.”

    “Editors and scientists alike insist on the pivotal importance of peer review. We portray peer review to the public as a quasi-sacred process that helps to make science our most objective truth teller. But we know that the system of peer review is biased, unjust, unaccountable, incomplete, easily fixed, often insulting, usually ignorant, occasionally foolish, and frequently wrong.”

    “http://tinyurl.com/y816zh6″

    Here, Here!

  32. Beesaman says:

    It seems we are seeing a Cardinal Bellarmine effect here, in as much as he ordered Galileo not to “hold or defend” the idea that the Earth moved around the Sun. I guess that’s what happens when ideas are based on dogma instead of science. It looks like many young scientists are being finacially forced to “abjure, curse and detest” any scientific ideas that challenge AGW.
    You’d think it was the 1600′s not the 21st Century.

  33. Feet2theFire says:

    Without at all meaning to widen the discussion into being off-topic, climatology is not the only science in which the paradigm defenders exist.

    It is my clear and fairly well-informed opinion that it also exists in physics, archeology, paleontology, geology, just to name a few. Anybody ever heard of uniformitarianism?

    Kuhn’s mention of anomalies is extremely cogent. Anomalies are simply ignored/swept under the carpet as if they don’t exist.

    Fortunately for climate science there are serious skeptics who are yelling loud and long. All the sciences should have such vocal skeptics. Keep it up, Ross, Steve M, Anthony, John Christy, Pat Michaels and Richard Lindzen, to name a few. Science needs paradigm busters in all its disciplines. The skeptic haters are the ones who, decades or centuries later, are the ones who are laughed at, for trying to keep a lid on knowledge. “Skeptic” really means “non-b.s.ers” or “straight shooters” – otherwise known as true scientists, those who play the cards as they are dealt, not those who play liars poker.

  34. Theo Goodwin says: April 20, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Depends on what you mean by “scientific publication.” To create a first-rate scientific publication, all you need are money for staff and for an editor who has the time and will to be a leader.

    I agree about the editor, but I don’t agree about the money or staff. I’m sure many journals have been set up with just one enthusiastic person who has volunteered to be the editor and a few (unwilling) colleagues to help out.

    Come on this is hardly rocket science. Say e.g. you estimate you will be publishing 4-6 papers a quarter, this is well within the workload of one editor. Obviously there some up front work like e.g. you have to set a journal “standard” both in terms of content and style (e.g. consistent references). You need to correspond with potential writers and reviewers. No doubt when journals start, the reviewers are usually the editor and some others in their department whose arm can be twisted.

    These days, you don’t even have to engage a publisher because it can all be done online. Now obviously such a journal isn’t going to compete with the well known journals, but so long as it has an ISBN number, a title and some basic academic standards, then it becomes a potential reference journal for academic work.

    Technically there is nothing stopping another climate journal. But what is currently stopping it, is the lack of interest from academics – academics who will complain about the unfairness of the other journals, but who effectively support the status quo, because they won’t provide the support a new journal.

  35. Al Gored says:

    Breaking news!!!

    Not sure if this tweet has been peer reviewed yet so to follow SOP of the AGW media let’s call it a ‘preliminary finding’ or ‘soon to be published’ in the prestigious Journal of Celebrity Tweets.

    “Cameron: Global warming overtakes ‘Skynet’ as threat
    By Ben Geman – 04/20/11 09:53 AM ET

    Director James Cameron is warning that global warning is a far greater threat to humans than the Terminator.

    In a post on Twitter, Cameron said people should be much more worried about the effects of global warming than of machines taking over the earth.”

    http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/156969-james-cameron-global-warming-overtakes-skynet-as-threat-to-humans

    Well, The King of the World has spoken. Debate’s over. AGW is more of a threat than a science fiction plot.

    Or is it? Let’s try one day without any action on AGW and compare that to one day without computers.

  36. sky says:

    When the science is, at best, a weak fledgling and the politics is a powerful behemoth, the classical idea of peer review seems beyond reach. We have only peers in ignorance and hubris. The remaining open venue for presenting honest professional research is the technical report or monograph. The journals have been captured by the same mushy mind-bend that invaded academia in the late 1960′s.

  37. jackie says:

    As a journal editor we require that all correspondence pertaining to the submission, review reports, corrections. etc of accepted papers are posted online. I have no doubt that in the near future all serious journals will require this. Also I believe that in the near future papers may be interactive in that any qualified person may challenge findings.

  38. GregO says:

    The new book Climate Coup looks good – I just ordered my copy.

    Smokey – that link to Professor Trebino was priceless – Thanks! I got a good laugh, but it is actually a sad story and an indictment of our current peer-review process. How far we have fallen.

  39. jackie says:

    A real good summary of “climate”
    http://www.nolanchart.com/article8572.html

  40. eo says:

    Economics is a science, SOCIAL science. The decision making paradigm shifts from pure NATURAL science where consensus means nothing, to need of some form of consensus in applied NATURAL science or engineering in terms of design standards and criteria, to consensus as the basis in experimental SOCIAL science such as economics to consensus is everything in political science and law as pure SOCIAL science. The problem with the AGW debate is a free for all. Every person puts his own decision making paradigm on the table without any consideration that the other branches of science operates on another point of view. When some scientist puts their cases on the “science is settled their is a consensus” I always checked the background of the person making the statement. In almost all cases the person is either a social scientists like Ravetz or a natural scientist losing debate. I have no objection with Post normal science as a political decision maker but what I found uncomfortable with the AGW debate is the lack of HEDGING. If the politicians have decided to support in their policies, plans and programs the AGW then almost all the research budget should go to the skeptical sides so that if the decision made under uncertainty is wrong then decisions made under uncertainty could be reversed at the earliest time and before much damage is made of the wrong decision. On the other hand if the research invested for the other side of the debate proves the decision made under uncertainty is correct, then the politicians have a stronger basis to move forward with the decisions made under uncertainty. But as mention earlier in this blogs, politicians have very big egos and they would only like to see their decisions proven correct and their also natural scientists who are willing to carry out the will of their political masters and hide behind the social science decision making paradigm.

  41. Dave says:

    Creating a new scientific journal would be easy and relatively inexpensive. Establishing a following for that journal is quite another matter as its success would depend greatly on citation of published articles by articles published in other scientific media. Success economically would likely require a large subscriber base to establish a multi-year commercial viability to sustain operations long enough to generate a body of cross over references in books, newspapers, popular press magazines and particularly other scientific journals.

  42. racookpe1978 says:

    jackie says:
    April 20, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    As a journal editor we require that all correspondence pertaining to the submission, review reports, corrections. etc of accepted papers are posted online. I have no doubt that in the near future all serious journals will require this. Also I believe that in the near future papers may be interactive in that any qualified person may challenge findings.

    So go a few more steps: Acclaim (and recognize publicly, actually honor) those who do reviews for a journal with as much credit as those who write for the journal.

    That is, in the title block and summary of the paper list the reviewers as well as the co-authors. During the review process itself – until the paper is accepted, keep the reviewer hidden. Thereafter, acknowledge the effort of the reviewer.

    This does several things – all good. First, the time and effort spent reviewing another author’s work is recognized – by department heads, by other readers, by other members of the reviewer’s faculty. And let’s face it: peer acclaim is the way most “scientists” get their rewards. (Money first ? Not really – it just pays the bills.)

    Second it keeps the viewers – and editors – honest. Incestuous self-reviewed papers written by the same core that reviews other incestuous writers will become exposed. Prejudices are shown. Maybe not removed, but at least the closed loop incestuous process can begin to be shown.

    Can one reviewer veto a paper? No. Let that “reject” statement stand on its own “merits” – the reviewer who rejects a paper (or a part of a paper) has his/her record visible. The rest of us get to read the heresy that being being rejected by the hide-bound cleric of old ideas!
    —…—
    Now – to one more point. How many “journals” do the “clerics” claim as their “climate” theocracy? 4? 6? We have been deluged with reports that 77 writers (out of the original 3196 surveyed for their views on CAGW) represent 97% of the climate papers being published nowdays.

    So, how many different journals (different editors-as-inquisitors) do those 77 writers represent?

  43. batheswithwhales says:

    eo:

    You have a naive understanding of realpolitik. Politicians most of all want to be reelected. Least of all to be criticised, or give the oppositions any free points. They want to be able to say they are necessary to save the world.

    And of course the opposition will destroy the world as we know it.

    So politicians tend to fund scientists who say that the opposition will mean the end of the world.

    As payment for their treachery, institutions are erected with Lead scientists, becoming Media Figures, Enormous Salaries are distributed, the most selfish and egotistical persons flown to the tropics on diverse conferences to save a world which needs no saving.

    A match made in hell: politicians pay to get scientific support for their policies, and science obeys like a snake, charmed by the flute of money, attention, importance and position.

  44. Smokey says:

    The leftist rot goes throughout academia. Anyone who believes this result wasn’t planned decades ago is naive. The corruption of peer review parallels the corruption of school textbooks.

  45. JRR Canada says:

    I think WUWT is the answer to peer review and the perversion of science it highlights.
    Open source, open review, identify editors and reviewers.The truth or the nearest thing to it are much easier to see.If an expert truly understands their own work, they should be capable of explaining it to an nonexpert.

  46. Brian H says:

    “The public has lost confidence in the ability willingness of the major institutions of climatology, including the IPCC and the leading journals, to deal impartially with the evidence.”

    There. Now matches the evidence and the rest of the text.

  47. Brian H says:

    John Droz, jr. says:
    April 20, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I’m surprised that no one has quoted Richard Horton, editor of the respected British medical journal The Lancet, who wrote a profound indictment of peer review:

    “The mistake, of course, is to have thought that peer review was any more than a crude means of discovering the acceptability — not the validity — of a new finding.”

    “http://tinyurl.com/y816zh6″

    Here, Here!

    John;
    If you read British, you should know that it’s “Hear! Hear!”, from the UK Parliament; short for “Hear the man!”

  48. wayne says:

    “the public has lost confidence in the ability of the major institutions of climatology, including the IPCC and the leading journals, to deal impartially with the evidence. ”

    Exactly! (without reading the rest of this post)

  49. matt says:

    “the public has lost confidence in the ability of the major institutions of climatology, including the IPCC and the leading journals, to deal impartially with the evidence. ”

    When this happens a revoloution follows where the people take action aginst those institutions.

    Science has dabased itself, it is now no better than partisan, than a religion. It deserves to be treated with the disdain it has earned.

  50. Louis Hissink says:

    This happens to any science that is disconnected from physical reality and whose hypotheses can’t be verified by physical experiment, for various, perfectly valid reasons. It’s happened to Astronomy, astrophysics, geology and archaeology to some extent. These discplines deal with either the far, far away or the long, long time ago.

    These disciplines rely on artful rhetoric to settle disputes or to maintain the litany, especially those that use mathematics and computer modeling. All of the above disciplines resort to proving their hypotheses rather than falsifying them.

  51. kolnai says:

    Am I being hysterical when I say the danger to our freedom is much greater than I see here? When Ross tells us ‘But perhaps, as time progresses, climate science
    will find a way to (right itself)’, why am I unconvinced?

    Yes, ‘leftism’, or ‘progressives’ dominate(s) intellectual life. Yes, it is unusual for a ruling paradigm to go without a fight. But the parallels with Lysenkoism (and the Deutsche Physik argument with Einstein) are much too close for comfort. Since WW2 we have been building up the State to be our lord above all others, taking ‘care’ of us from the cradle to the grave. (The ‘march of God’ according to Hegel). In order to do this, it needs to claim an authority based on absolute truth, and as such employs ‘perverted science’ in Churchill’s graphic words.

    So far, it is mainly the social scences which have been used in this way, and the pitiful results are everywhere – failing education, junk economies, high crime etc. Natural science has made progress, albeit entirely within the ruling paradigm (it refuses, for example, to examine Chinese medicine or discuss weaknesses in evolution – see Dawkin’s collected works).

    However, the AGW case represents a huge shift – away from the of dissent within the ruling paradigm, towards its elimination. To the best of my recollection, this is the first time this has happened in natural science in the West – all the other scientific frauds have been remarkably small-scale and ill-funded by comparison.

    For me, science is primary. It has given us the age of the individual, beaten the priests at their own game (‘truth’) and led to prosperity. In the natural sciences, it possessed the self-correcting mechanism of criticism. If AGW succeeds, it will be the end of this. So my question is: How can we stop this ever happening again?

  52. Phil says:

    Solution? Tricky one as it’s a cosy circular argument. Scientists push climate-change research because that’s where the Government money is. Government puts money into climate change because “that’s what the science says” and because it gives them an excuse for taxation (and for people to make fortunes in carbon trading). And both say “la-la-la we’re not listening” to anyone who questions this cosy situation.

  53. Allanj says:

    There is a fundamental problem. I refer to Newtons comment about “standing on the shoulders of giants”. Science advances by building on a foundation of prior work. The problem is to determine which prior work consists of the “shoulders of giants” and which prior work consists of the sands of the Nile. Peer review and “respected” journals are supposed to help sort that out.

    Others have pointed out that the current problems of peer review are not limited to Climate Science. My limited understanding of history suggests that there have always been periods where orthodoxy has grabbed science by the throat and strangled it.

    In any field there will be crackpots and fools that need to be weeded out. The challenge is to provide a vehicle that will foster reasonable alternatives to orthodoxy without drowning in a sea of nonsense.

    Economics may provide some insight. There are clearly defined alternative schools of economics. Keynesian and Chicago are two that exist in contrast but with respectful dialogue. For example see “Monetary vs. Fiscal Policy: A Dialogue, Milton Friedman and Walter W. Heller, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.: New York (1969)”.

    There are enough respected scientists concerned with the current state of climate science to form an alternative “school” Perhaps WUWT could establish a thread restricted to those academics who would like to publish there, using others of the same group as online peer reviewers. It would greatly increase the respectability of such a thread if you would keep crackpots like me off of it.

  54. pwl says:

    ‎”Now, do you want to work in a place full of insanely clever people who are also insanely cynical and determined to do everything to get on top of you? If so, you can do top level science.

    t’s not all, of course. Top level science requires also an absolutely mind-boggling determination and, overall, confidence in yourself. To properly do science you must be absolutely sure that, whatever you have in mind, you will do it, no matter what, and that you’re doing it right, to the point of almost self-delusion. This is so important that who wins in science is regularly not the most brilliant but the most determined (I’ve seen Nobel prizes speaking and half of the times they didn’t look much more brilliant than your average professor. Most of them were just lucky, and overall were incredibly, monolithically determined). Combined with the above, this means working 24/7, basically leaving behind everything in your life, without any doubt on your skills and abilities and most importantly on your project, while fencing off a competition of equally tough, confident and skilled guys.

    You can imagine yourself what does it mean also for research in general: Nobody takes risks anymore. Nobody young jumps and tries totally new things, because it’s almost surely a noble way to suicide your career.” – Massimo Sandal, Cambridge, England
    http://blog.devicerandom.org/2011/02/18/getting-a-life/

  55. Craig Loehle says:

    1) Federal grants are framed as seeking proposals to study the negative impacts of climate change, never the positive. Even the names of many of the RFPs show this.
    2) Over my career, I have had hundreds of reviews of my 127 papers. The only times I have gotten angry and nasty reviews is on the climate change topic. It is interesting that in the 1990s I published 2 papers in GRL that would today encounter angry reviews, but the emotional level then was not so high and they sailed right through review.

  56. Jeremy says:

    I do not know what the solution is, since I have yet to see a case in which an institution or a segment of society, having once been contaminated or knocked off balance by the global warming issue, is subsequently able to right itself. But perhaps, as time progresses, climate science will find a way to do so. Now that would be progress.

    —> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worldwide_Church_of_God#Death_of_Armstrong_and_doctrinal_reform

    This is not an AGW example, but it can and does happen. I can’t speak for how common/rare it is. That said, the truth is yes, sometimes large groups of humans actually do regain true curiosity and shed faith. It does not happen overnight, and in that one example I linked to above, it required the death of a founder and lots and lots of group-splitting.

  57. PhilJourdan says:

    kolnai says:
    April 21, 2011 at 12:50 am

    So my question is: How can we stop this ever happening again?

    You cannot stop it from happening again. As long as society can advance to a stage where there are pure takers, there will be and they will take. That is what is happening. The takers will take as long as they are able, and justify it with slovenly work. Eventually society reaches a breaking point where there is nothing to take (they have killed the golden goose), and the takers will die out due to starvation. But the cycle will repeat itself as the society rebuilds and creates excess wealth (defined as that above the need for subsistence).

  58. David says:

    And then you see posts like these over at SS from another peer review drone, today,

    Provide a link to your peer reviewed assessements. Since it takes about a year for work to be peer reviewed I am interested in your sources for events that only happened 9 months ago. James Hansen has a long record of being right.

    In the modern age there’s no reason why hardcopy journals must rule the peer review scene. In fact the online world offers an ideal forum for peer scrutiny, but it would be necessary to create a rigid framework and limit participation.

  59. don penman says:

    I think Keynes had the same problem with the ideology of his day,everyone was told that governments could do nothing about economic recessions and they believed this,we are told that humans are responsible for global warming and must be stopped and we are expected to believe this.I see similarities between people like Dr Roy Spencer and Keynes.In the UK between the wars we had a socialist government led by Ramsay McDonald who did not attempt to interfere with the economy because of the dogma of the day.

  60. C Brown says:

    noaaprogrammer says:
    April 20, 2011 at 11:56 am

    “One expensive solution would be to start publishing a rival journal in climatology that is indeed fair and balanced.”

    The founding of a new journal has already happened in another academic field that had become hopelessly suffused and mal-laden with tendentious academic bullies that were controlling what views and subjects would see the light of day. Charlotte Allen in the WSJ wrote an article about scholars rising out of the fetid swamp that Middle East Studies has become:

    *******************

    http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/_wsj_bernard_lewis_takes_on_political_correctness.htm

    “What to do if you are a college professor and the academic society that represents your field has been overrun by political correctness? One answer is: Form your own organization.

    That is how, six months ago, the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (Asmea) came into being. Now claiming 500 members and gearing up to publish its own scholarly journal, Asmea is meant to be a corrective to the 2,600-member Middle East Studies Association, the premier professional society for scholars of the Middle East. That organization is now regarded by many as stiflingly politicized. Institutionally, it engages in nonstop Israel-bashing and seems to blame America for every economic and geopolitical wrong on the planet.

    Interestingly, both the Middle East Studies Association and the new Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa were founded by the same person: Bernard Lewis. Now 91, Mr. Lewis is the eminence grise of scholars of Islam. His 60-year scholarly career encompasses more than two-dozen books and decades of teaching, first at the University of London and then at Princeton, where he is now a professor emeritus. He gave up on MESA to found Asmea last fall because he wanted there to be “a truly open academic society.”

    ********************

    Princeton Professor Emeritus Bernard Lewis, founder of both Middle East journals, desires “a truly open academic society.” What a quaint, primitive, has-been notion by a very elderly man! Professors Lewis, McKitrick, and Pielke are way behind the times: Bronze Age Nestorian artifacts lying amongst bygone ruins, foolishly longing for the hopelessly outdated nobility of the Golden Age when censorship and cooking the books were actually grounds for academic censure. These misguided primitives are resistant to the ways in which scholarship, science, and peer review have progressed.

    Seriously, the similarities between climate science/Middle East Studies are manifest. Both disciplines suffer/suffered from serious censorship, and peer review that encourages/encouraged and allows/allowed sloppy, tendentious, book-cooking scholarship with the “Correct” message to populate the pages of journals. In both cases, the Message Thugs emanate from exactly the same Orwellian far left sources that think that they have carte blanche to suspend Golden Rule-based fair play if such fair play gets in the way of their agenda to change the world. Sadly, in recent decades it has been the most politically febrile academics that have maneuvered assiduously to get themselves into positions to exercise censorship and control of the Message. It is not lost on the most politically-oriented, amoral academics that a Right and Just Orwellian oligarchy that controls the Right and Just Message will also have a good chance of implementing Right and Just public policies.

    The Internet came along at a very opportune time to thwart the oligarchic Message Thugs of the academy. Now that their Machiavellian machinations can be publicly exposed to a wide audience, the stench is simply overwhelming to fair minded people, regardless of political affiliation. Lewis, Watts, McIntyre, McKitrick, Pielke and all the seekers of the truth too many to mention are to be highly commended. The academic process of peer review and publication should be performed to lead to the best approximation of the truth. It should never be performed to lead to a politically motivated outcome. Science and scholarship should be about using the scientific method and fair play in academic scholarship to find the truth simply for the sake of the truth.

  61. phlogiston says:

    To repeat a post from Alexander Feht a year or so ago:

    I wonder if we would ever hear Beethoven’s symphonies if they were subject to the peer-review process? Some Salieri would opine that “from both a musicological standpoint, and the very marginal “harmony” involved in Beethoven’s scores…they are pure crap.” His peers would applaud, because, you see, they couldn’t hope to be Beethoven’s peers, could they?

    I suspect that Mozart was peer-reviewed by Salieri and his peers. It is known that a second-rate composer Hasse remarked that “if Mozart is to live another 10 years, we all shall end up penniless.”

    Franz Schubert was also peer-reviewed to oblivion during his life. He always submitted his compositions to all kinds of competitions, and never won. Anybody remembers the winners, by any chance? His namesake, professor Franz Schubert from Berlin, even threatened to sue him for the insult of attributing “that crap” to his noble, peer-reviewed name.

    Wonderful thing, this peer-review process! It eradicates talent and daring thought in embryo, and perpetually protects the well-being of the well-connected mediocrity. You want to kill something — science, music, art, culture, education, anything? Institutionalize it, make it dependent on government subsidies, and make any publication subject to peer review.

    Et voila! It’s dead.

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