NRSP: More Pseudo-Science Goofiness

The industry front group the Natural Resources Stewardship Project (NRSP) announced yesterday that it is establishing a “Science Audit Centre” - clearly a second line of attack against potential Canadian climate change legislation.

The Centre, to be led by the NRSP's all-purpose “science expert,” Dr. Tim Ball, is being presented as a “public accountability” exercise, but the NRSP's news release positions it as another front in the campaign to limit any government action limiting CO2:

While NRSP will tackle a variety of topics as part of the Science Audit Centre campaign, it is particularly concerned that government strategies designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are not being subject to appropriate review by leading experts.”

If the NRSP were ever to actually employ a “leading expert” to do anything other than conduct public relations exercises, this initiative might actually make the organization look credible.

We think the risk of that happening is incredibly low.


It might be related to this 2005 paper from Fraser Institute fellow R. McKitrick. He indicated that the peer-reviewed process is imperfect and biased, possibly offering this article below as a case in point.

Science and Environmental Policy-Making: Bias-Proofing the Assessment Process
Ross McKitrick

2005. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics 53: 275–290

McKitrick abstract: “Scientific assessment panels are playing increasingly influential roles in national and international policy formation. Although they typically appeal to the standard of journal peer review as their quality control criterion, there seems to be confusion about what peer review actually does. It is, at best, a necessary condition of reliability, but not a sufficient condition. There is also the problem that assessment panels may be biased in favor of one side or another when evaluating areas in which the science is unclear. In this paper I argue that additional checks and balances are needed on the information going into scientific assessment reports when it will be used to justify major policy investments. I propose two new mechanisms to bias-proof the outcome: an Audit Panel and a Counterweight Panel. The need for such mechanisms is discussed with reference to “the hockey” debate in climate change.”

My observation of the climate change debates over the past few years has convinced me that there is a mismatch between what journal peer review actually does and what users of scientific research think it does.

full article