The UnAustralian

Monday, May 10, 2004
Scientific Authority

Hans Erren has objected (posted into the comments below) to my post below by stating:

The complete scientific community has already read what Spencer has written, even before the Nature paper was published.

My note: That's news. The complete scientific community... Methinks Hans doesn't know what he's talking about.

You may want to read about the peer pressure or bandwaggon fallacy here:

Description of Bandwagon
The Bandwagon is a fallacy in which a threat of rejection by one's peers (or peer pressure) is substituted for evidence in an "argument." This line of "reasoning" has the following form:

Person P is pressured by his/her peers or threatened with rejection.
Therefore person P's claim X is false.

Needless to say, I have a very different view to Hans on this subject. My first forays into debating science on the internet, didn't concern global warming, but rather creationism and evolution. From this, I developed a strong respect for the peer review process. When I moved onto global warming, it didn't take long for me to realise that

The EvoWiki entry on peer review includes the following quote:

If a scientist submits an article to such a journal, the editor will pick other scientists knowledgeable with regard to that subject and send the article to them to decide whether it's fit to be published.

Peer review prevents really bad articles from being published in the journals in question. To find really bad science in written form, you need to look for it either in books or in non-peer-reviewed journals - or, of course, the internet.

And that is exactly what peer review is. It's a hurdle which all scientific papers must pass. It isn't a particular high hurdle, but it's a hurdle which is a pretty big killer for peusdoscientists. If global warming skeptics want to be taken seriously by the scientific community, they should start trying to publish in scientific journals and quit whining about peer review as censorship.

A good example of how peer review would help a global warming skeptic, is this article by John Daly. It contains this sentence fragment:

Using tree rings as a basis for assessing past temperature changes back to the year 1,000 AD, supplemented by other proxies from more recent centuries...

which is complete rubbish. The other proxies listed in the paper which Daly is attacking go back past 1000 AD. Peer review should catch mistakes like this (incidentally, when I emailed Daly about this (and other) errors he, for all intents and purposes, ignored my criticisms - so much for his "open review").

So, how does peer review cope with unexpected results which overturn accepted dogma? This post, on Panda's Thumb, gives an example. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't censored. More relevant to global warming, Spencer and Christy original paper which claimed that the troposphere was cooling, wasn't censored either.

PS. And just for fun, while searching for some links for this, I came across this unrelated post and loved it so much, I just had to throw it in; Uh-oh. Evolutionists discover two more gaps in the fossil record!.
| 6:40 PM