Thursday, July 14, 2011

Climate Change Deniers Lack Peer-Reviewed Results (Article)

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From the article:

So the number of peer-reviewed papers that adequately expose the ideas of Carter and co-authors (Climate Change Deniers) to the scientific peer-review system on the climate change issue is 0, 0, 0 and 0.

Comment on the article:

Bart Laws · Top Commenter · Assistant Professor at Brown University

Unfortunately, you already know what their response is -- peer review is itself a closed system of belief, the reason they don't have peer reviewed publications is because reviewers are intolerant of dissent from orthodoxy, yadda yadda yadda.

The essential problem, I think, is that many people distrust the culture of science. They think of scientists as a kind of priesthood, that controls arcane knowledge as a source of power. So we see vicious vituperation, and even death threats, not only against climate scientists but also against biomedical investigators and physicians who contest the faith some people have in various forms of quackery or non-standard etiological theories of disease. They're all in it for the money, and for power, the enraged villagers proclaim.

I think the response has to be, not so much to circle the wagons and insist that peer review is dispositive, but rather to try to democratize science. You seem to be saying, "We know more than anybody else so just shut up." I don't think that's going to persuade many people. Academic culture, quite frankly, strongly discourages public and community engagement -- it can actually damage careers to write for a lay audience or show up all the time on TV. At the same time, the academy is exclusive, and does very little outreach to the surrounding community.

I say, invite the people in, show them how we work, spend real effort sharing educational opportunities widely, not just with the lucky few who survive our selection processes. Make the science accessible and, when there are dissenting cranks, learn how to talk back and unmask them. Just claiming that people should ignore them because they don't have the right credentials is feckless, indeed counterproductive. It makes you look like you're actually afraid of them.

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