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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The "science" of consensus

An inconvenient Lenin Day interview:

Lopez: What Denier fact could be characterized as most inconvenient for Al Gore?

Solomon: The claim that there is a consensus on climate change. This claim is based on the media’s often repeated claim that the 2000 to 2500 scientists associated with the UN’s panel endorsed the U.N.’s report. In fact, as the Secretariat of the UN panel told me, those 2500 scientists are merely reviewers of some of the hundreds of input studies that went into the mix. They endorsed nothing. There is no consensus and there never has been.


Lopez: But still, the U.N.’s work was peer reviewed, even if some of the peer reviewers disagreed.

Solomon: No, the science in the U.N. reports was not peer reviewed, as it is usually understood. As some of my deniers point out in proper scientific peer reviews the identities of the peer reviewers are kept secret, so that they can be free to make critical comments about the science without fear of recrimination. In the U.N.’s peer review, the reviewers must identify themselves to the scientists they are critiquing, discouraging many from expressing themselves frankly. It gets worse than that, though.

In a normal peer-review process, the critiques from the reviewers are public. If a scientist decides to reject a critique, he must justify his refusal. In the U.N. peer-review process, the system is turned on its head. The scientists don’t need to explain themselves. They can ignore the criticisms and no one will be able to assess if the criticism was rejected for a valid reason. The U.N.’s version of peer review does not meet the standard of professional science.

Now, I'm skeptical enough about the utility of peer review, which in many cases is little more than editing. But this fake peer review of the UN's process makes the claims of an overwhelming "scientific consensus" in favor of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis even more laughable.

Here's an interesting thought experiment. Just how bad would the ongoing global recession be if the Kyoto Treaty had actually been globally implemented as the greens were demanding?

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