Physics, Earth & Space Icon Physics, Earth & Space

Commenter Nails the Central Issue in ClimateGate: the Rigging of Peer-Review

Michael Egnor

The pro-global warming blog Climate Change Denial is spinning like a top. Devastated by the revelation of pervasive fraud in climate science, the warmists are clearly dazed and grasping at any tactics that might salvage their ideological hijacking of science, now laid bare. In their latest post, “Swiftboating the Climate Scientists”, they ignore the transparent scientific misconduct and fraud revealed in the highest eschalons of climate science, and accuse the skeptics of attacking climate science for base ideological motives. The term “swiftboating” alone is risible and actually revealing; warmists are nearly all leftists, still simmering over the implosion of the Kerry/Edwards candidacy. It’s ironic that these “objective” scientists and activists use a left-wing political slur to attack skeptics who demand honest science.
A commenter (Starchild, # 20) summed up the scope of scientific fraud revealed in ClimateGate quite nicely:

(1) Peer-review process is one of cornerstones of modern science. Actions described in e-mails are WAY out of normal review process I know. Actually they usually are explicitly prohibited by journal policies and ethics codes. Tampering with peer-review process, expecially to exclude opponents, are second most serious scientific crime after outright research fabrication. E-mails are clear enough and no amount of “context” could change interpretation. In any other research field I know, perpetuators would be expected to resign immediately on peer-review “games” alone.
(2) “I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone” stance by Phil Jones is quite damning one, especially IN CONTEXT of repeated information requests. Again in branches of science, natural assumption would be that paper or papers in question are fraudulent. This could be cleared, but only afer serious explanation by author and INDEPENDENT and COMPETENT verification of research in question.
This is major scandal concerning Ethics of Science. “Damage control” of yours could deal with public opinion, but I believe scientific community would not allow it just go away.

The most pervasive manifestation of this fraud is the perversion of the peer-review process; it renders all of the ‘consensus science’ that has accrued under that process essentially worthless. Peer review is to science as jury deliberations are to criminal justice. It is sacrosanct. If it is tampered with, the verdict — scientific or judicial — is worthless, and must be thrown out.
The peer-review process in evolutionary biology is at least as compromised as the peer-review process in climate science. There is no “consensus” when the deliberations are rigged. No scientific conclusion is valid unless the raw data on which it is based is available to all for inspection and replication, and no scientific conclusion is valid unless the peer-review process is free of coersion and of ideological bias. Is there ideological bias in evolutionary biology, as there obviously is in climate science? Perhaps we should ask the 98.7% of evolutionary biologists who don’t believe in a personal God that question.
It’s easy to get a ‘consensus’ when one side controls the jury. That’s a ‘show trial’, which is a succinct description of the peer review process in evolutionary biology as applied to intelligent design.

Michael Egnor

Senior Fellow, Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence
Michael R. Egnor, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, has served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and award-winning brain surgeon. He was named one of New York’s best doctors by the New York Magazine in 2005. He received his medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His research on hydrocephalus has been published in journals including Journal of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Cerebrospinal Fluid Research. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Hydrocephalus Association in the United States and has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.