There is no doubt that science would be made easier by throwing out the concept of 'peer review.' I am sure many scientists curse from time to time the rigorous questioning of their peers, the need to re-visit completed work and the possibility that years of research may be for naught based on the scrutiny of their colleagues.
That being said, the peer-review process of science plays an extremely important role in ensuring that conclusions drawn by research are in fact sound before being touted in the scientific community. Without peer review, science could easily fall into the category of opinion.
The Friends of Science, a Calgary-based cadre of climate skeptics who we have reported extensively on, delivered a statement today in the National Post via their appointed spokesperson, Albert F. Jacobs. This letter serves as a great example of the fantasy world the FOS promotes when it comes the concepts of science and peer-review.
Jacobs points out in his letter to the editor that “the mandate of the FOS is to compile, review, share and debate available science that relates to the causes of climate change.” He urges readers to visit their website to “… learn about what we really do.”
Such a visit shows that FOS offers up a host of opinion pieces, commentary and a very small number of peer-reviewed papers - all dedicated to the argument that the world's best climatologists are misguided, thick-headed or so lacking in integrity that they would invent an worldwide environmental scare story to help them bulk up their research budgets.
Here is a link to the FOS's list of scientific references, and here is a quick breakdown of some of what you will find there:
A speech by notorious climate change skeptic Sallie Baliunas and her testimony at Sen. Inhofe's Committee on Environment and Public Works.
An opinion piece with graphs and flashing lights by the late John L. Daly.
A couple of pieces by Hansen et al. that were published in the highly regarded Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
(These have been widely misinterpreted to indicate that climate change is not occurring. For example, in one paper, the talk about the success in reducing non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions and conclude this: “Combined with a reduction of black carbon emissionsand plausible success in slowing CO2 emissions, this reductionof non-CO2GHGs could lead to a decline in the rate of globalwarming, reducing the danger of dramatic climate change.” Which is to say, if we act responsibly we may be able to reduce the risk.)
An opinion piece by Richard Lindzen in from the Wall Street Journal, as well as some Senate Committee testimony.
Two opinion pieces by the Hockey-stick obsessed Ross McKitrick, appearing in the right-wing Fraser Institute Forum newsletter.
A dead link to another Fraser Forum piece penned by Willie Soon.
A controversial paper by New Zealand academic Chris de Freitas, published in the Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology at a time when his brother, Talisman Energy geologist Tim de Freitas, was the editor.
All in all, of the 26 FOS “scientific references,” only nine appear in a peer-reviewed journals. And numerous of these do not support the FOS contention that climate change remains unproven.
Mr. Jacobs claims that the “FOS is providing insight into climate change,” but it seems that instead the FOS is providing a window into a fantasy world where scientific proof takes the form of opinion articles, speeches, misrepresentations and familial nudging and winking.