JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Science is not done by peer or pal review, but by evidence and reason

The termination of the Pattern Recognition journal ought to be PR gold for skeptics. Nothing like this happens to unskeptical scientists, ever. It’s a telling spectacle.

A major science publisher gasped in horror that one amongst its scores of journals had “doubted the IPCC”, so the journal had to be axed forever. Oh the Crime! The over-the-top dummy-spit exposes the religious zeal in a supposedly scientific process. So much for the hallowed “Peer Review”. Fans of establishment science want us to believe it’s a gospel part of the scientific method, but it is neither intrinsic nor essential, and skeptics should not be fooled into thinking it is.

Peer reviewed papers may be gems or  junk but we won’t know which by discussing who reviewed them.

Let’s follow due process in science, but that is not by review whether peer-or-pal, it’s by prediction, test, observation, and repeat.

Some people seem to have lost sight of this, and think that skeptics ought to be trying to play the Peer Review Game according to the fine print of arbitrary rules dictated by unscientists who hate skeptics and who don’t even play by the rules themselves.  The game belongs to them –  they set, [...]

Science paper doubts IPCC, so whole journal gets terminated!

In extraordinary news, the scientific journal Pattern Recognition in Physics has been unexpectedly terminated, a “drastic decision” taken just ten months after it started.

The publisher appears to be shocked that in a recent special issue the scientists expressed doubt about the accelerated warming predicted by the IPCC. For the crime of not bowing before the sacred tabernacle, apparently the publishers suddenly felt the need to distance themselves, and in the most over-the-top way. The reasons they gave had nothing to do with the data, the logic, and they cite no errors. There can be no mistake, this is about enforcing a permitted line of thought.

I must say, it’s a brilliant (if a tad expensive) way to draw attention to a scientific paper. It’s the Barbara-Streisland moment in science. Forget “withdrawn”, forget “retracted”, the new line in the sand is to write a paper so hot they have to terminate the whole journal! Skeptics could hardly come up with a more electric publicity campaign.

Naturally, as with all good Barbara-Streisland-moves intended to suppress information, as soon as I heard, the first thing I did was to seek out and download copies of all the papers. Right now, people [...]

Nobel Winner boycotts journals Nature, Science, and Cell for damage to science

The pursuit of knowledge does not fit well into human institutions, the 9 – 5 regime, career plans, nor the profit motive. Cracks are everywhere. The message grows that science is being exploited and distorted.

Randy Schekman received his Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine yesterday. At the same time he has declared that his lab will not be sending papers to the top-tier journals Nature, Science and Cell because they are damaging science. He calls for more open access papers saying “science must break the tyranny of the luxury journals”

Randy Schekman in the Guardian

“I am a scientist. Mine is a professional world that achieves great things for humanity. But it is disfigured by inappropriate incentives. The prevailing structures of personal reputation and career advancement mean the biggest rewards often follow the flashiest work, not the best. Those of us who follow these incentives are being entirely rational – I have followed them myself – but we do not always best serve our profession’s interests, let alone those of humanity and society.

Chiefly, he points out that the “luxury” journals manage themselves as brand-names, and choose papers for reasons other than their scientific advances. The journals seek [...]

Peer Review failure: Science and Nature journals reject papers because they “have to be wrong”

The peer review system has decayed to the point where the culture of the two “top” science journals virtually  guarantees they will reject the most important research done today. It is the exact opposite of what we need to further human knowledge the fastest. Science and Nature are prestigious journals, yet they are now so conservative about ideas that challenge dominant assumptions, that they reject ground-breaking papers because those papers challenge the dominant meme, not because the evidence or the reasoning is suspect or weak.

Watts Up drew my attention to an extraordinary paper showing that billions of dollars of medical research may have been wasted because researchers assumed mice were the same as men. Dr Ronald W. Davis from Stanford comments: ““They are so ingrained in trying to cure mice that they forget we are trying to cure humans.” He found that 150 drugs were tested that in hindsight, were guaranteed to fail in humans. People didn’t understand that mice have a very different response to sepsis (which is any overwhelming blood-borne bacterial infection). Sepsis kills around 200,000 people in the US each year and costs an estimated $17 billion a year. Mice are already resistant to huge numbers [...]

When top scientists take 2 years to publish, it’s time to give up on old “Peer” review

Ladies and Gentlemen this is the front line trench of modern science. If climate science is so important, and there is no time to waste, why does the system try so hard to discourage dissent (because they don’t want to find the truth, only the “correct” answer)?

This paper by Lindzen and Choi was submitted and rejected by GRL in 2009, then rejected twice more by PNAS. (And in part because it needed to meet impossible standards. In the end, it was supposed to include “the kitchen sink” but fit into a sandwich bag — see below). The paper could have been out for discussion in 2009, and while it has improved upon revision, was it worth the two year wait? Those gains could have been made in two months (or two weeks) online.

Even the reviewers understand how significant these results would be if they are right. One admits the new paper shows the models don’t match the observations.

Science needs free and open criticism, and competing theories. If Lindzen’s analysis is revolutionary, but potential wrong, is it so bad to publish those results? He is one of the most eminent researchers in the [...]

Can Peer Review be fixed?

The peer review system, so important to the bolstering the voice of the climate establishment and suppressing dissent, is broken. Not that it was perfect and somehow got wrecked, but that it was never stringent or transparent in the first place. As the force of money, power, and reputations was ramped up,  it was an eminently corruptible system, and thus it has become. Seriously, what other profession would call unpublished comments by two unpaid anonymous colleagues “rigorous”?

Dear IRS officer, my tax return was audited by two accounting friends I won’t name, and they say it’s right. OK?

Nigel Calder (a former editor of New Scientist) recently discussed the merits and failings of peer review and pointed at a couple of interesting articles in The Scientist. Not surprisingly, it’s not just climate science where peer review is up-the-creek. Other branches of science are subject to the same petty personality squabbles in a system where no one really gets much benefit from doing a proper honest analysis of their competitor (or compatriots) work.

I Hate Your Paper

Source: The Scientist. The story of how some journals are trying to fix peer review.

Suggestions include ways of allowing authors [...]

900 peer reviewed papers to deny

UPDATE: It’s now 900 peer reviewed papers. See PopTech for the additions and answers to all the common criticisms.

Counting papers is not science, but it’s a hell of a way to show just how counterfeit the line is that “deniers” deny the evidence.

The PopularTechnology list of peer reviewed papers is still growing and is up to 900 now.  After thousands of sneering believers have ridiculed skeptics because “what-ever-you-say hasn’t been peer reviewed“, when they are given a list of hundreds of peer reviewed references, do they suddenly appear gracious, discover polite conversation and show an interest in the evidence? Not so. Instead, the sneer shifts gear, and attack the list of 800 papers because some of the papers are only a correction, an erratum, a submission (unpublished), a comment, an addendum, or a reply. And that’s a bluff too. Because if they had actually counted the list they’d know that there are a more items on the list than 800. The guys at PopularTech keep those not-peer-reviewed-but-valuable parts of the scientific conversation in the list, they just don’t count them. So this list is really 800 peer reviewed references plus other supporting material.

Naomi Oreskes claimed that [...]

The IPCC: 5,600 small white lies

It’s a case of Big-Spin and Bluster. It’s what they do: aggressively push a simple message, a theme, a piece of marketing, and like all the rest of their audacious PR, it’s at best a half-truth, and in this case, a lie.

Rajendra Pachauri states:

IPCC studies only peer-review science. Let someone publish the data in a decent credible publication. I am sure IPCC would then accept it, otherwise we can just throw it into the dustbin.

As usual, it’s honest volunteers who have conscientiously tested the IPCC by going through 18,500 references. And the final total? Fully 5,600, or 30% of their references are not peer reviewed. Donna LaFramboise at NoConsensus has coordinated the dedicated team (that is a lot of references to go through).

How many times do we need to show they are incompetent and dishonest?

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