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Monday, February 15, 2016

Words are magic

A minor dialogue on Twitter cracked me up today. To put it in context, some scientists and science fetishists on Twitter were in an uproar over my assertion that SCIENTIFIC PEER REVIEW was not only unreliable, but was nothing more than glorified proofreading. They argued that SCIENTIFIC PEER REVIEW was all about replicating experiments and testing conclusions, not merely reading over the material in order to make sure the author wasn't smoking crack.

One guy even demanded to know if I knew what "peer" meant. Because, you know, that totally changes the process.

Finally, I asked a scientist how many peer reviews he had done. Between 10 and 30 was the answer. Fair enough. Then I asked him how many experiments he had replicated as part of those SCIENTIFIC PEER REVIEWS.

None. Or to put in scientific mathematical terms, zero. Also known as "the null set".

And what did he actually do in scientifically peer-reviewing these papers? Well, he read them and occasionally made some suggestions for improving them.

[INSERT FACE PALM OF YOUR CHOICE HERE]

That is why I am strongly considering changing my title from Lead Editor of Castalia House to Lead Scientific Peer Reviewer. Because then, you see, we won't merely be publishing fiction, we'll be publishing PEER REVIEWED SCIENCE.


UPDATE: This was Real Live Scientist with More than TEN Proofreads Peer Reviews David Whitcombe's response to finding out that scientists with considerably more experience agreed with me.
David Whitcombe ‏@hauxton
Ooh
You wrote a blog.
Still misunderstanding peer review.
Over your head in guess
 
David Whitcombe ‏@hauxton
Laughable Dunning Kruger
Thereby supporting my hypothesis that SJWs always double down.

Labels: ,

135 Comments:

Blogger BunE22 February 15, 2016 4:04 PM  

Anyone that has closely followed the climate change hoax knows this. The peer review process has become another echo chamber. Try submitting a paper that questions or is the least bit skeptical about man made climate change, not going to happen without great difficulty. Even then, the author will be attacked verbally and not scientifically.

Blogger weka February 15, 2016 4:05 PM  

VD, it is literally impossible to replicate experiments in the fields where I do them: psychopharmacology and therapy trials. (Yes, doing ppharm trial now and my PhD student is fininshing a therapy trial). They take about two years from start to finish and tens to millions of dollars.

You review the paper as given. You make comments. And that is it. Physics... well there is only one large hadron collider :P

Anonymous Stephen J. February 15, 2016 4:12 PM  

To be fair, reading over a paper to make sure the author isn't smoking crack does sound like a useful service. I'm just not sure that even that gets done as often as it should.

Anonymous Jemison Thorsby February 15, 2016 4:12 PM  

That's Vox's point... Peer review is sold as more than it is.

Anonymous Man of the Atom February 15, 2016 4:13 PM  

weka

While there is more to physics than the large hadron collider experiments, you are spot on. One of my team members had a paper in peer review for over a year. The reviewers at the journal are overwhelmed with papers. Just one in the pile that builds daily. The review team is supposed to be familiar with the area of study, but even that is not a firm requirement.

To think that "peer review of journal articles" has any linkage to "replication of experiments" is to out oneself a true science fetishist and one of Vox's "midwits", at best.

Anonymous ben February 15, 2016 4:15 PM  

SPR is a talisman, don't you know that?

Anonymous PhillipGeorge©2016 February 15, 2016 4:21 PM  

good post. Scientism is a religion. Materialism is a set of unprovable/ apriori assumptions made from a philosophical predisposition.

ie. Your conclusions will follow. As the punk teenage girl with the t-shirt on the bus understands, "If you've got them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow."

So if you want a career in academia you better be prepared to lick balls. Remember NOAA data "adjustments" are for the planet saving good.
The philosophy trumps the evidence every time.

Anonymous Man of the Atom February 15, 2016 4:23 PM  

Areas of science are becoming specialized, and corresponding specialty journals are appearing to support publishing authors' papers. Some specialties have a dozen or fewer practitioners worldwide. Peer review sometimes cannot support critical review of results in these sub-specialties to the same level that papers in more common areas of the STEM fields are critiqued.

As an example, in a tiny field of study, the same dozen people doing the research may be doing a large chunk of the reviews.

This is a perfect place for things like climate change to take root and flourish. These *are* the "experts" after all.

Blogger Rusty Fife February 15, 2016 4:31 PM  

Aaaaaaand there is a study that says women are more competent coders:

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/600812/female-coders-are-more-competent-than-males-according-to-a-new-study/

My quick guess is that the girls are handling all the trivial clean-up and their code gets accepted more often.

Anonymous Faceless February 15, 2016 4:32 PM  

You are a second year grad student. You have had one paper published at a conference and you are on the list of reviewers for a journal with the word "international" in the title.

You have been asked to peer review a paper.

This paper was written by a group that wrote a simulator, and their simulator confirmed their pre-existing biases and prejudices.

There is perhaps one other group that has access to the same hardware and could write this simulator. This is not you. Both groups hate each other but say they are all so very busy with their own work to review the other's work.

You smell a wumpus. There is a slight draft.

What do you do?
a. Approve it immediately.
b. Scan for typos and try to contribute back some sort of grammar change to prove you read it.
c. Spend thirty minutes reading it then approve it.
d. Hide from the editor and refuse to answer his emails. When you see him in person, vow that you'll say, 'Oh, the department just added a new spam filter.'

Anonymous Rolf February 15, 2016 4:33 PM  

Weka - did you have a serious review by a mathematician to approve the methodology of the trial *before* you ran it, to ensure that the initial design was right? Did you have any knowledgeable disinterested outsider verify your data collection and sampling techniques to verify that the pre-approved methods were being performed properly? Has anyone with a competing product and relevant knowledge been given sufficient access to verify or undermine any part of the process or results? is it being published with a full list of ALL other relevant trials done, not simply the "successful" ones, so that a proper meta-analysis can be performed? Big Pharma only publishes a small portion of their research, so transparency is an issue.

And that is the problem with "you can't reasonably replicate;" enough bogus science gets done that we cannot blindly trust most "scientists."

Blogger Rusty Fife February 15, 2016 4:36 PM  

Faceless wrote:You are a second year grad student. You have had one paper published at a conference and you are on the list of reviewers for a journal with the word "international" in the title.

You have been asked to peer review a paper.

This paper was written by a group that wrote a simulator, and their simulator confirmed their pre-existing biases and prejudices.

There is perhaps one other group that has access to the same hardware and could write this simulator. This is not you. Both groups hate each other but say they are all so very busy with their own work to review the other's work.

You smell a wumpus. There is a slight draft.

What do you do?

a. Approve it immediately.

b. Scan for typos and try to contribute back some sort of grammar change to prove you read it.

c. Spend thirty minutes reading it then approve it.

d. Hide from the editor and refuse to answer his emails. When you see him in person, vow that you'll say, 'Oh, the department just added a new spam filter.'


E. Quit jerking around in a kiss up job and switch to engineering.

Anonymous Faceless February 15, 2016 4:37 PM  

@12

E! E's what I did!

Blogger praetorian February 15, 2016 4:38 PM  

This is the funniest thing I have read so far in 2016.

I *fucking love* scientism!

Blogger Rusty Fife February 15, 2016 4:39 PM  

@13 Faceless

Boo Ya!

Anonymous Man of the Atom February 15, 2016 4:40 PM  

I do peer review almost daily. I have never replicated an experiment as part of "scientific peer review". My function as a peer reviewer is primarily that of a grammar nazi.

If I find an equation that is incorrectly written, or units missing, or the dimensional analysis of a relationship comes out skewed, then I've come about as close to the actual experiment as I'm going to get. I have background in the areas I review, and other reviewers closer to the lab bench hack on the journal article before me, but they are little different than me in their duties.

If there is any "testing" or "validation" of results, it is via a separate experiment conducted by that researcher or research team, or it is done by a collaborating (or competing team) of researchers. We do a fair bit of that, but it sure as shooting isn't what we do for each and every aspect of a complex experiment.

Like weka, there are some aspects of the research you get one, maybe two shots, because some involves human testing. Some aspects are too damn expensive (time and/or money) to do over and over.

Verification and validation is commonly reserved for a scientific result that finds its way into engineering phases of manufacture or software test and evaluation. If the science is junk, then it shows up here pretty fast.

Damn the Science Fetishists! Send 'em all back to Art Camp!

Blogger Michael Maier February 15, 2016 4:42 PM  

Damn the Science Fetishists!

That is what is so freaky about these Science Fetishist tards:

They are terrified of true objective review of the data and the experiments.

If I made an amazing discovery, I'd invite everyone to examine it and try to poke holes in my work.

If it cannot withstand the harshest scrutiny, what good is it?

Blogger The Kurgan February 15, 2016 4:43 PM  

As you have already peer reviewed some of my work I expect the millions in funding to begin flowing soon. Is there a form I need to fill in?

Anonymous PhillipGeorge©2016 February 15, 2016 4:43 PM  

Quoting an abstract:
Abstract

Summary

There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false. The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field. In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance. Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias. In this essay, I discuss the implications of these problems for the conduct and interpretation of research.


there's a big picture context. Science started out with empiricists, Francis Bacon etc. who didn't care what the results were. The limits of Horatio's philosophy was already know.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
- Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio


Science needs a Shakespeare and Francis Bacon.

Anonymous vfm #5589 February 15, 2016 4:44 PM  

Yes, You title needs updating.

Anonymous vfm #5589 February 15, 2016 4:49 PM  

Hey physics geeks! I hear there are several large hard-on colliders out in the SF Bay area that can be had for cheap.

Blogger Elocutioner February 15, 2016 4:50 PM  

praetorian wrote:This is the funniest thing I have read so far in 2016.

I *fucking love* scientism!


9/10, would repost.

Anonymous Man of the Atom February 15, 2016 4:55 PM  

vfm #5589 wrote:Hey physics geeks! I hear there are several large hard-on colliders out in the SF Bay area that can be had for cheap.

Too much damping in the system. Do not want.

Anonymous Kevin February 15, 2016 4:57 PM  

The process is a worth having, partly to separate wheat from chaff. But it does not catch fraud. Actually replication is a different part of the scientific process and based on work in psychology on validating results (actual replication projects) psychology has about 30% (might be remembering wrong) that can be replicated. Harder sciences though, are replicated as part of the normal advance of science. Its mostly social sciences that are gibberish. But your criticisms of peer review and its limitations are spot on.

Anonymous Ain February 15, 2016 4:59 PM  

@3 "To be fair, reading over a paper to make sure the author isn't smoking crack does sound like a useful service. I'm just not sure that even that gets done as often as it should."

Their idea of "smoking crack" means questioning any of their dogma. It's not as good as it sounds.

Blogger synp February 15, 2016 5:05 PM  

Rusty Fife wrote:Aaaaaaand there is a study that says women are more competent coders:

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/600812/female-coders-are-more-competent-than-males-according-to-a-new-study/

My quick guess is that the girls are handling all the trivial clean-up and their code gets accepted more often.


My guess is that computer scientists are doing a sociology study and botching it like the newbs that they are. Computer scientists studying interactions on github is akin to cheetahs studying interaction in the savannah.

They identified the gender of 35% of participants. How? What makes those 35% special. How does selecting them (and none of the other 65%) bias the findings? This is what social scientists call selection bias.

Women who indicated their gender on their profile were treated differently than women who didn't. First, there is no field for gender in a github profile. By "indicated" they mean something else. Regardless, calling attention to their gender makes this group of women different from the other group of women. Perhaps this explains the difference rather than the attitudes of male github users.

Totally not impressed with the study.

Anonymous No February 15, 2016 5:07 PM  

Proofreading is science. So can I get a patent on it?

Oh, it isn't applied science?

Interesting. Peer review: writing workshops for English Department dropouts.

Blogger Arvind February 15, 2016 5:16 PM  

off topic. appears stephen fry permanently quit twitter.made a bad bag lady joke, and got kicked for it.
i feel sorry for the guy. he has a semi autobiographical book, called the liar, which is mostly his teenage angst and cleverness. it seemed good at first sight but is actually a very immature peter pan exercise. poor man.

Blogger SteelPalm February 15, 2016 5:18 PM  

As a professional scientist, I tend to agree with Vox.

Scientific peer review is beneficial, but by no means fool-proof.

One of the worst, most infamous scandals in science was the dry-labbing incident involving David Baltimore (a Nobel Laureate) in the late 80s to early 90s.

When MIT grad student Margot O'Toole noticed that the results of a paper Baltimore was a co-author on (primarily done by his grad student, but since Baltimore attached his name, it stood to reason he approved and confirmed the results) couldn't be replicated, Baltimore and a gaggle of his friends (including several other Nobel laureates) went on a smear campaign to destroy O'Toole and anyone else that supported here.

When I read about this story as a young scientist at a worldwide top 10 university, it shattered any illusions I had in the ethics of the "scientific establishment" and peer review.

Here is an excellent article on the subject by the outstanding mathematician (now deceased) Serge Lang of Yale;

http://www.gatewaycoalition.org/files/gateway_project_moshe_kam/resource/dbcre/serge.html

Anonymous BGKB February 15, 2016 5:18 PM  

I asked a scientist how many peer reviews he had done...him how many experiments he had replicated...None

I gazed upon the document as a peer, on a pier in the moonlit sea the Hugo award winning tale of scientific review.

To be fair, reading over a paper to make sure the author isn't smoking crack does sound like a useful service.

A urine test would work faster.

Aaaaaaand there is a study that says women are more competent coders

My quick guess is the most competent white men are busy fixing non Asian minorities mistakes.

Actually from the article shows really bad possess: "but the researchers were able to use other information and what they call a “novel gender-linking technique” to identify the gender of just over 35 percent of those users, or around 1.4 million"
What if all the best coders are males who like little ponies that didn't spend time dating?

I almost forgot about retraction watch. Recent story of a Scientist who had 8 papers retracted
http://retractionwatch.com/2016/02/15/8th-retraction-appears-for-researcher-who-faked-patient-records/

Blogger Cataline Sergius February 15, 2016 5:21 PM  

Peer Review is like Ronda Rousey. It's getting by on it's reputation.

And. A. Lot. Of. Noise.

But yes at this point a Peer Reviewer is really nothing but another editor.

Actual peer review gets done by people trying to make a name for themselves by shooting down your paper.

Which was the Peer Reviewer's actual job.

Blogger White Devil February 15, 2016 5:22 PM  

Rusty Fife
E. Quit jerking around in a kiss up job and switch to engineering.
Where beyond the bottom line and ambitious ladder climbers, you'll soon have the social justice people telling you your job, like they're already educating your draftsman and tradesmen.

... Huh. I think I'm triggered.

Anonymous Man of the Atom February 15, 2016 5:25 PM  

synp wrote:Rusty Fife wrote:Aaaaaaand there is a study that says women are more competent coders:

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/600812/female-coders-are-more-competent-than-males-according-to-a-new-study/

My quick guess is that the girls are handling all the trivial clean-up and their code gets accepted more often.


My guess is that computer scientists are doing a sociology study and botching it like the newbs that they are. Computer scientists studying interactions on github is akin to cheetahs studying interaction in the savannah.
. . .

Totally not impressed with the study.


And NOT run through SCIENTIFIC PEER REVIEW! AUTO DISQUALIFY!

Who commissioned the study? Who paid for the study? What types of changes are men making versus women? Are apple changes compared to orange changes?

Make sure to read the qualifiers near the end of the PDF.

Anonymous Cheddarman of Christendom February 15, 2016 5:26 PM  

I reviewed about 90 -100 journal articles. It as you have already observed. No one repeats anything unless it is a very significant finding. It costs too much in terms of human and fiscal capital.

Blogger JACIII February 15, 2016 5:27 PM  

you'll soon have the social justice people telling you your job, like they're already educating your draftsman and tradesmen.

Bah! We knuckle-draggers are immune to HR bullshit. If you don't believe me, just ask the HR lady who ran of with the mechanics working in the same facility!

Blogger Rusty Fife February 15, 2016 5:31 PM  

JACIII wrote:you'll soon have the social justice people telling you your job, like they're already educating your draftsman and tradesmen.

Bah! We knuckle-draggers are immune to HR bullshit. If you don't believe me, just ask the HR lady who ran of with the mechanics working in the same facility!


Ohhh yeah. The HR ladies know who all the tattooed tradesmen with criminal records are; and they're keeping a sharp eye on them.

Anonymous Man of the Atom February 15, 2016 5:31 PM  

SteelPalm wrote:As a professional scientist, I tend to agree with Vox.

Scientific peer review is beneficial, but by no means fool-proof.

http://www.gatewaycoalition.org/files/gateway_project_moshe_kam/resource/dbcre/serge.html

I also number myself as a scientist.

Scientists can be some of the most nasty, money-grubbing, backstabbing, careerist, whiny little bitches on the planet. For example, Galileo Galilei (happy birthday, Big G) was an asshole. Being an asshole was the primary reason he was excommunicated. You made the RIGHT CALL, Roman Catholic Church!

Anonymous roughcoat February 15, 2016 5:32 PM  

@9

I read the paper the other day and did a bit more digging on it. There are so many holes in their methods, and such ignorance in their assumptions, that it's completely worthless.

This wasn't the worst mistake, but it amused me: they used the fact that women make marginally larger changes in their pull requests (27 lines of code for women vs 25-26 for men, IIRC) as evidence that the women are more competent. Because every programmer knows that more lines of code == better, yes?

Blogger Alexandros February 15, 2016 5:34 PM  

@3 To be fair, reading over a paper to make sure the author isn't smoking crack does sound like a useful service. I'm just not sure that even that gets done as often as it should.

You would think they would do at least that, but it turns out they don't even actually read the things.

http://www.theskepticsguide.org/cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs-accepted-by-17-medical-journals

The pull quote:

It is not a Saturday Night Live skit. It is not an article by the satirical website The Onion. It is not a trick or a mistake. An article titled “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs? The surgical and neoplastic role of cacao extract in breakfast cereals.” has been accepted by not one, not two, but 17 medical journals. The article was authored by Pinkerton A. LeBrain and Orson Welles. And still it was accepted.

In other words, modern peer review is completely pointless and, indeed, damaging to society.

Blogger Pseudotsuga February 15, 2016 5:46 PM  

The problem also lies one step back: the publish or perish frenzy. Thus, "peer reviewers" get snowballed by a blizzard of "important" research by people desperate to get the publishing credit to keep their jobs.
Ain't nobody got time to peer review all the minutiae that gets published! and that's just in the sciences -- let's not go to the Humanities building...

Blogger Aziz P. February 15, 2016 5:52 PM  

I don't know who these scientists you were talking to were, but they are mistaken to assert that peer review has anything to do with either experiment replication or testing conclusions. This is because no one ever shares the raw data. What peer review allows is other qualified scientists (peers, literally) to read your methodology first and foremost, and assess whether your experiment actually tests your hypothesis. If theres some raw data included then the peer reviewer can also try to duplicate some of your analysis, but in a limited way. Barring a public dump of raw data and the MATLAB or C code (or whatever) that was used to analyze, theres nothing else you can do.

I've only peer-reviewed a handful of papers. Of those I rejected all but one, mostly because either the hypothesis was weak, the methodology was insufficient, or the conclusions were being spun to unsupportable extremes. And thats what peer review is supposed to do.

the variance in this by field and even by journal within field is immense. But the fact that there are weaker journals doesnt invalidate the rigor of the good ones. I've had a half dozen papers of my own published and each one required substantial changes from the reviewers that 1. felt really unfair and were annoying and 2. unequivocally did improve the paper. its ok to feel insulted by the reviewers who Just Dont Get It. But you have to accept that its the way the system works and youre not a special snowflake whose papers sail through without going through the gauntlet.

Any scientist who argues peer review is "broken" is probably one who has a poor record of publication, and more likely is trying to introduce ideas or hypothesis that simply arent well supported. Not that such ideas are wrong - but you dont get to wave your hands and then cry about censorship in science. If your ideas have merit, then do the due dilgence, design a good experiment, test the freaking hypothesis, and submit to peer review. Or go home.

tl;dr the scientists you spoke to are mistaken. argument by authory: i'm a scientist. or i was, anyway.

Anonymous Steve February 15, 2016 5:52 PM  

reading over a paper to make sure the author isn't smoking crack does sound like a useful service.

It is. But it's at best an imperfect way of weeding out obviously crap science. At worst an ideological razorwire protecting groupthink.

Your peers aren't always right. Take Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis. In the 1840's he came up with the novel idea that physicians should wash their hands with chlorinated lime solution before operating.

Despite offering documented evidence that clean hands vastly decreased patient mortality, his peers refused to believe him. Many were offended at the implications of his suggestion.

He died, miserable and discredited, raving in his straitjacket in an insane asylum.

Are our scientists smarter than 19th century physicians? Not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact they're probably dumber on average due to the idiocratisation of higher education.

Anonymous PhillipGeorge©2016 February 15, 2016 5:54 PM  

The process and methods of discovery are more important than the results arrived at.
Science, mathematics and engineering are various departments in the school of philosophy.
Philosophy is one department in Theology.

if the university doesn't have this hung over the entrance to their foyer or emblazoned on the floor, the court that follows is full of anti personnel mines, bruised, bleeding and broken egos, shattered dreams and futile expectations.

400 year thumbnail history of Western Academia.


Blogger Aziz P. February 15, 2016 5:56 PM  

@16, @17 and other professional scientists upthread who are skeptical of peer review's value: maybe it does suck in your field. It doesnt suck in all fields. Im a solid defender of the validity and necessity of peer review. Peer review is a necessary, but not sufficient, part of science.

Blogger Eraser February 15, 2016 6:03 PM  

Peer review doesn't replicate experiments and it can't detect fraud.

Not that it really matters, in most cases. 95% of published papers are boring and unimportant, the kind of stuff that only interests a few hundred people in the world who work in the same narrow sub-area. The few papers that are actually important will be tested one way or the other.

About integrity in academia: Academic politics are not vicious because the stakes are small, as the saying goes. Academic politics are vicious because academia atracts narcissists.

Blogger synp February 15, 2016 6:06 PM  

Man of the Atom wrote:And NOT run through SCIENTIFIC PEER REVIEW! AUTO DISQUALIFY!

Who commissioned the study? Who paid for the study? What types of changes are men making versus women? Are apple changes compared to orange changes?

Make sure to read the qualifiers near the end of the PDF.

I did read it. What struck me is that all instances of the word "bias" in the PDF (and there's lots of them) were about gender bias. Any proper sociology article, indeed any proper humanities article, has a thorough, in-depth discussion of possible biases within that article, and steps that were taken to account for such bias: bias in selecting the subjects, bias in sampling, confounding variables.

In fact the important part of peer reviewing any article in the humanities is making sure the authors accounted for all possible biases. The authors of this article accounted for none.

Anonymous Mr. Rational February 15, 2016 6:14 PM  

@0 That is why I am strongly considering changing my title from Lead Editor of Castalia House to Lead Scientific Peer Reviewer.

Not that a huge amount of "science fiction" published today doesn't badly need review of the science (Aaron Johnston and Tor, I'm looking at you), but you can make a laughingstock of yourself with such pretenses.

@4 Compared to fields which don't review claims and methods for errors before publishing them, science has been remarkably successful even if it isn't perfect.

@38 I once worked with a female coder who used the maximally screen-sucking formatting she could, because she was rewarded based on line count.  I'd come out very poorly under such a metric, because I like to be able to see as much of an algorithm as I can in one view.  Some of the requirements of certain coding standards tick me off because they waste screen space and make it harder to understand the code.

Blogger Noah B February 15, 2016 6:14 PM  

Classic and awesome. Can't wait to read the Finnish Global Journal of Psychology, Psychobabble & Mind Altering Drug Experiments On Unsuspecting Populations, a division of Castalia House.

Blogger Eraser February 15, 2016 6:14 PM  

Just found out that the saying "academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small" is known as Sayre's Law.

Anonymous Man of the Atom February 15, 2016 6:16 PM  

Aziz P. wrote:@16, @17 and other professional scientists upthread who are skeptical of peer review's value: maybe it does suck in your field. It doesnt suck in all fields. Im a solid defender of the validity and necessity of peer review. Peer review is a necessary, but not sufficient, part of science.

My reviews are internal to our facility before the work hits journal review. We want to make sure that the papers are as top-notch as we can before they go to peer review by others. While I believe the peer review is adequate to very good across the journals where my staff publishes (I've reviewed comments that come back to the researchers), the peer review process is not a validation and verification process, which the science fetishist seem to think.

"Scientific Peer Review" has become the holy of holies that cannot be criticized. If it can't stand up to harsh review (to criticism), then science is in a whole mess o' trouble. It's our job to be skeptics first about results of research. But that includes being skeptics about performance and motivations of those in the field, and what the field itself does and what it upholds.

There are areas of science where peer review has gone into the toilet, such as the climate change/global warming BS. If we don't hold these scientists' behavior to account, then we have no reason to carp when others doubt our results. We will have tarred ourselves with that brush.

The fetishists are too ignorant to know better, but keep repeating the mantra of their dead little worship of Holy Science. That's where you're seeing the anger originating.

Anonymous Matt February 15, 2016 6:19 PM  

I'm a scientist. Non-scientists appealing to "peer-review" as though it were some sort of talisman of Official Science always irked me. Peer review is basically a device to try to weed out obvious errors, though it doesn't always even do that. As Vox says, it's a sort of proofreading. I have never once in my career seen it involve explicitly re-creating an experiment.

The genuine metric of good science, from the perspective of scientists, is when the work has been built upon to get new results. Say I develop some new frequency stabilization method for laser physics - my paper passing peer review and being published is not worth much in the eyes of my colleagues until others have actually replicated it for their own work (not for peer review), used it, and built upon it.

In other words, science is reliable and trustworthy once it more or less becomes engineering. Sure, in some cases the "engineering" may be very esoteric and not useful for much more than pure science, but engineering nonetheless. I think Vox actually said something along those lines some time ago.

Anonymous map February 15, 2016 6:20 PM  

The sad truth is that science does not even have a discipline where scientists check other scientist's work.

You know...like audits...the thing accountants do.

Blogger David of One February 15, 2016 6:23 PM  

In the name of "Science" ... "Open" related stuff, well kinda -

"Science with open hardware: A new way to restrict participation

Open access movement could change relationship between science and industry"


http://arstechnica.com/staff/2016/02/open-instruments-and-tools-nice-idea-tough-to-implement/

I didn't read the above in thorough detail as it appeared there are more than a few nuances as to application/implementation, meaning and results of "Open" science, data, papers and industry.

Blogger SteelPalm February 15, 2016 6:25 PM  

@41

Aziz, I specifically noted that yes, peer review is beneficial. The journal one is submitting it to and the referees/peers looking can differ greatly in quality.

However, by no means is it fool-proof. Reputation plays a big role, as in the Baltimore scandal I linked to.

And even going beyond malfeasance, as someone who has read through countless hundreds of scientific papers in my field, (which rarely even involve experiments, so dry-labbing isn't even a concern), there are many published in good journals that are utter garbage. Not all; some are decent and a few are excellent.

But clearly, peer review didn't succeed in getting rid of the garbage.

Blogger Neanderserk February 15, 2016 6:34 PM  

It appears this post qualifies as peer review. You peered at his tweets, then wrote a review.

Anonymous Jack Amok February 15, 2016 6:36 PM  

I've only peer-reviewed a handful of papers. Of those I rejected all but one, mostly because either the hypothesis was weak, the methodology was insufficient, or the conclusions were being spun to unsupportable extremes. And thats what peer review is supposed to do.

No, you're wrong. I don't mean you're wrong about how the average pretend-scientist does it these days, but you're wrong about how it's supposed to be done.

First, what you are doing isn't really peer review, it's editorial review, the goal of which should primarily be to determine if a) the data as presented supports the conclusion, and b) if the experiment is described well enough for a "peer" to attempt to replicate it.

Real peer review is then one of those peers attempting to replicate it and reporting on the results.

Yes, yes, how very naive of me to think that might be done today. It's all very hard, I know, with such specialization and so few peers in the field and equipment is hard to come by and no one wants to share their data...

Well, tough. Either your doing science, or your doing philosophy with equations thrown in.

Anonymous Gecko February 15, 2016 6:51 PM  

Actual peer review: The intrinsic unreliability of science

Blogger Eraser February 15, 2016 7:11 PM  

One thing a lot of people outside of academia don't know: Traditional academic publishing is a money-making racket.

1. Scientists pay to publish papers. Page charges cost hundreds of dollars per page and are usually paid from grant money.
2. The publisher spends almost nothing on review and editing. In fact peer review is done by unpaid volunteers (often recent Ph.D. graduates) and most journals expect the author to provide print-ready files.
3. Universities pay again for expensive journal subscriptions to get access to research results. With thousands of relevant journals across all fields, the costs add up.

Blogger Geir Balderson February 15, 2016 7:22 PM  

Soon, science will be reading tealeaves, throwing a handful of knuckle bones onto the sand or studying the entrails of a still steaming goat carcass. It really has come to this, yes?

Oh, and those methods are probably just as reliable! Aren't all cultures equal?

Anonymous Bz February 15, 2016 7:23 PM  

In my experience, the great power of the referee is to rate the paper for significance or acceptability. You get to rate the paper in some categories, including that. You can suggest corrections. You can also ask questions and ask for revisions, including making more satisfactory experiments and analysis. The reports are then handed to the editor or program committee or whatever, and they make the decision on how to proceed (reject, accept with revisions, etc). This can be iterated several times; I think the usual fate is at least one round of revisions before publication.

If you've written a stupid or unreasonable report, it's up to the editor to discipline you. Referee reports can be foolish, and are often quietly farmed out to grad students. I know my advisor once wrote a pretty hotly worded email to the program committee after getting particularly partisan feedback, which I suppose was embarrassing and might have led to quietly raising standards. At the end of the day, it might be that the editor just considers you unreliable or a fool and leaves you out of consideration for the next job, which means you are out in the cold and will have to do your social climbing some other way.

So the ultimate power rests with the editor, and I'd say it's not unknown that there can be a party line in what is accepted at certain journals. There are many social failure modes in science, just recall all the eminent scientists in all fields who have later been 'rehabilitated', up to and including Nobel prizes. "Science progresses a funeral at a time."

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY February 15, 2016 7:45 PM  

"[INSERT FACE PALM OF YOUR CHOICE HERE]" - Vox.
Heh. YOU KNOW DAT THEY ARE GONNA REFUSE YO TEH SECKS FO DIS.

Blogger Sage Klubb February 15, 2016 7:51 PM  

"Over your head in guess"

In guess? Somebody needs their tweets peer reviewed.

Anonymous Man of the Atom February 15, 2016 7:51 PM  

"UPDATE: This was Real Live Scientist with More than TEN Proofreads Peer Reviews David Whitcombe's response to finding out that scientists with considerably more experience agreed with me.

David Whitcombe ‏@hauxton
Ooh
You wrote a blog.
Still misunderstanding peer review.
Over your head in guess

David Whitcombe ‏@hauxton
Laughable Dunning Kruger"


What a 'tard. I say that as a scientist with over 100 reviews under my belt.

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY February 15, 2016 7:54 PM  

"Scientists can be some of the most nasty, money-grubbing, backstabbing, careerist, whiny little bitches on the planet."
some ? just some ? Tell it like is, sir ; Damn near all of 'em.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash February 15, 2016 7:58 PM  

What annoyed me was his inability to see the distinction between the need for peer review (admitted) and the fact that peer review does not in any way lend authority to an argument or study.

Dismissing an argument because someone's facts are not published in a peer reviewed journal is pure appeal to authority. He literally could not understand that.

Blogger Ahazuerus February 15, 2016 8:12 PM  

If you want a hint of the state of modern science research then check out this info graphic and related report from ithenticate; http://www.ithenticate.com/resources/infographics/research-misconduct

Modern science publishing is the only industry that has been forced by the sheer weight of moral outrage from their funders, to invent an entirely novel class of software in order to police their own employees output.

This is what peer review has wrought.

Anyone wielding peer review as some talisman of reliability is an ignorant savage, a charlatan, or both.

Anonymous Heh February 15, 2016 8:23 PM  

As a postdoc, I did some "peer review", and I found the pay scale illuminating:

1. If you recommend the paper for publication, you get $300.

2. If you do not recommend the paper for publication, you get $0.

Hmmmmm... let me think... what should I recommend...

Blogger Doom February 15, 2016 8:24 PM  

Glorified proofreading? I don't see how it is glorified. Simple proofreading and we have a dead. Deal?

Anonymous Soga February 15, 2016 8:29 PM  

@26 synp nails it on the head.

Who makes a big deal out of self-identifying one's gender, and especially on GitHub, which has fallen victim to convergence?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm........ something stinks like lesbians and doritos.

Blogger Charlie Martel 7359 February 15, 2016 8:34 PM  

@3 @25 @30 @39 @42 What's up with that? You'll cowards don't even smoke crack.

Blogger Rusty Fife February 15, 2016 9:29 PM  

Soga wrote:@26 synp nails it on the head.

Who makes a big deal out of self-identifying one's gender, and especially on GitHub, which has fallen victim to convergence?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm........ something stinks like lesbians and doritos.


Wait. There is a rule about girls on the internet...TITS or GTFO for self identified female githubbers?

Blogger Doc Rampage February 15, 2016 9:30 PM  

In the old days before Google there was always a huge risk of a researching missing relevant related work. A big purpose of peer review is that if two or three other researcher familiar with your field review your paper, they may know about this research you missed and clue you in. The problem is a lot smaller today but it can still occur.

I don't think most scientists really understand what peer review is for. It's not for checking results, and it's not for editing, it's for helping to ensure that research maintains forward progress rather than repeating work already done, or going off on a tangent that has already been shown to be fruitless.

Anonymous Dalten February 15, 2016 9:42 PM  

For all you Gamer Gaters, if there's anything that shows how cliquey work casts doubt on peer review it's DIGRA getting hijacked by feminists. Youtuber Sargon of Akkad talked about this.

Blogger Robert What? February 15, 2016 10:00 PM  

Vox, I peer reviewed this article and approved it. Anyway doesn't Peer Review require someone in the House of Lords?

Anonymous BGKB February 15, 2016 10:00 PM  

OT guess who got embalmed less than 24 hours after he died. A liquor store robber in Ferguson gets 5 autopsies because the guys on video robbing the liquor store said he was shot in the back with every autopsy disagreeing. Embalming ruins the chemistry.

Anonymous Man of the Atom February 15, 2016 10:00 PM  

Doc Rampage wrote:In the old days before Google there was always a huge risk of a researching missing relevant related work. A big purpose of peer review is that if two or three other researcher familiar with your field review your paper, they may know about this research you missed and clue you in. The problem is a lot smaller today but it can still occur.

I don't think most scientists really understand what peer review is for. It's not for checking results, and it's not for editing, it's for helping to ensure that research maintains forward progress rather than repeating work already done, or going off on a tangent that has already been shown to be fruitless.


We mandate literature searches prior to the beginning of any research work, and the PI files the search results in the working folders for the project. Again, not perfect, but these searches are dramatically easier today with Internet resources as an aid.

Anonymous BGKB February 15, 2016 10:01 PM  

Sorry thought I linked it
http://www.thedailysheeple.com/justice-scalia-already-embalmed-obama-gets-a-third-supreme-court-nominee_022016

Anonymous MendoScot February 15, 2016 10:14 PM  

Peer review has always been unreliable and always will be. The men who created modern science knew this and were opposed to anonymous reviewing. And publish or perish. The corruption was inherent in the proposal that a private whisper could outbalance a public claim. The old scientific societies required that your paper be presented in public, criticized in public and accepted or rejected in a public vote.

Your ass on the line, the Christian way of science.

OpenID theasdgamer February 15, 2016 10:20 PM  

To be fair, experiments in fact are often duplicated...by not usually by the peer reviewer.

OpenID theasdgamer February 15, 2016 10:38 PM  

@76

Long ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth (1983), I published leading edge research as part of my Master's Thesis. A couple of years later, a research team published a paper on the same topic and the publisher afterwards asked me if I wanted the article pulled. Well, at least my research was confirmed, lol.

Blogger praetorian February 15, 2016 10:42 PM  

OT: I found some footage of the last few minutes of Antonin Scalia's life:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMG8SVrqstg

As my youngest son says: "That's too bad."

Anonymous zen0 the Ephemeral February 15, 2016 10:42 PM  

@75

I am sure all those investigative journalists with the inviolable integrity will get on it tuit suite.

Blogger weka February 15, 2016 10:47 PM  

@11: Rolf -- I won't say who I am, but the protocols of all the trials I do are in clinical trials databases, I always run the methodology through a statistician (despite having a MPH in epidemiology) and all projects require internal review of scientific methods before being submitted for ethical approval in NZ.

So... yes. Issues relating to power, for what it is worth, make me anxious. Particularly as most trials done by Pharma are underpowered, which is why half of my work is doing meta analyses to see if we need trials in the first place.

Anonymous Mr. Rational February 15, 2016 10:52 PM  

@52 science does not even have a discipline where scientists check other scientist's work.

Every time a scientist or engineer attempts to build on a previously announced discovery, the claims in that discovery are being tested and checked implicitly.

Mere errors in those things are uncovered at that point when things do not work as expected; fraud has no chance.  The problem with pseudo-sciences like psychology is that there are few or no applications which put claims to the test.

This is why I'm so certain that this echo chamber is totally wrong about anthropogenic climate change.  If the climate scientists weren't right about thermal IR transmission in the atmosphere, massive numbers of real physical things (like infrared-guided air-to-air missiles) simply wouldn't work as designed.

Blogger Big Griz Reno February 15, 2016 11:04 PM  

Off track. VD. Judith Curry has a really interesting post on Asymmetry and the power of 3%. I believe the topic relates to entryism
Your thoughts?

https://judithcurry.com/2016/02/14/asymmetry-and-the-power-of-the-3/#more-20968

Blogger intuitivereason February 15, 2016 11:07 PM  

Mr. Rational wrote:This is why I'm so certain that this echo chamber is totally wrong about anthropogenic climate change.  If the climate scientists weren't right about thermal IR transmission in the atmosphere, massive numbers of real physical things (like infrared-guided air-to-air missiles) simply wouldn't work as designed.

A pile of bricks, steel, glass, pipes, and cables does not a house make, no matter how well they are individually constructed.

It merely makes it possible.

It also doesn't take too many problems with those constituent components for a house made to be unliveable.

Climate science and Economics. Long term predictions, no accountability, providing a political fulcrum. Inherently corrupt in a democracy.


Anonymous jOHN MOSBY February 15, 2016 11:33 PM  

"I found some footage of the last few minutes of Antonin Scalia's life:"- praetorian
I'm fixin' to give it a look-see.
#85-
Materials without labor to build= nothing gets built. Your possible crap is just that, crap. Are you saying we need gubmint to make sure us hicks get it right ?
Is it ?

Blogger LP9 Rin Integra S.I.G. Burnin' UpGold, Coolin in snow February 15, 2016 11:33 PM  

Wow a superintel living in our time*** is told a topic is toooooo over his head, MPAI via twittter comedy gold. Who was covering the climategate scam from day one? The person who said that to Vox didn't read the blog or research it.

Yep, make the change: "That is why I am strongly considering changing my title from Lead Editor of Castalia House to Lead Scientific Peer Reviewer. Because then, you see, we won't merely be publishing fiction, we'll be publishing PEER REVIEWED SCIENCE."

Anonymous Soga February 15, 2016 11:33 PM  

Mr. Rational wrote:This is why I'm so certain that this echo chamber is totally wrong about anthropogenic climate change.  If the climate scientists weren't right about thermal IR transmission in the atmosphere, massive numbers of real physical things (like infrared-guided air-to-air missiles) simply wouldn't work as designed.

Nonsequitur. The impact that thermal IR transmission would have on atmospheric temperature is a vastly different matter than that of infrared-guided air-to-air missiles. Detecting heat and turning the missile toward a certain heat signature has very little scientific relationship to atmospheric temperatures as a function of IR transmission in the atmosphere.

That's like saying that the science behind a pot of water heats up on a stove is why theories on how the ocean gets warm are correct. That's just unsubstantial nonsense. You're saying nothing meaningful.

Blogger LP9 Rin Integra S.I.G. Burnin' UpGold, Coolin in snow February 15, 2016 11:35 PM  

Twitter sjwhatevers could never grasp V's game dev or econ classes/discussions. Where are they on the free trade debate?!

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY February 15, 2016 11:47 PM  

#89-
what is this free trade you speak of? i've been around damn near sixty year and i don't know if I remember anything that resembles it.

Blogger Were-Puppy February 15, 2016 11:54 PM  

@47 Mr. Rational

@38 I once worked with a female coder who used the maximally screen-sucking formatting she could, because she was rewarded based on line count. I'd come out very poorly under such a metric, because I like to be able to see as much of an algorithm as I can in one view. Some of the requirements of certain coding standards tick me off because they waste screen space and make it harder to understand the code.
---

Do you remember the old C Obfuscation contests?

Anonymous Jack Amok February 16, 2016 12:01 AM  

That's like saying that the science behind a pot of water heats up on a stove is why theories on how the ocean gets warm are correct. That's just unsubstantial nonsense. You're saying nothing meaningful.

But he's supporting the official narrative, that's the important thing, even if his conclusions are nonsense. Which means he's doing modern science!

Blogger tim February 16, 2016 12:12 AM  

I haven't jacked a post in years, so I will now.

What about the Scalia hit?

Seriously, no weigh in?

What up?

Anonymous Wyrd February 16, 2016 12:20 AM  

I haven't jacked a post in years, so I will now.

What about the Scalia hit?

Seriously, no weigh in?

What up?


No one wants to say anything because the pillow on the face means Angel-Eyes assassinated Scalia.

Blogger Student in Blue February 16, 2016 12:40 AM  

Charlie Martel 7359 wrote:@3 @25 @30 @39 @42 What's up with that? You'll cowards don't even smoke crack.

Quit it. Quit leaking that side of the Internet all over everything.

Some things are best left despoiled of Viper and Lil B.

Blogger Anthony February 16, 2016 12:51 AM  

So peer review mostly checks that a paper's authors weren't smoking crack. But most paper's go through at least one round of revisions, and many are rejected. So it *is*performing a useful function, even if it's not a guarantee of correctness.

The "female programmers" study? Scott Alexander already has a post saying that the paper doesn't say what the articles about it say it says. http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/02/12/before-you-get-too-excited-about-that-github-study/

Because science journalism doesn't even have the peer review that science publishing does, so lots of the reporters *are* smoking crack.

Blogger guest February 16, 2016 1:06 AM  

This article certainly shocked me in regards to scientific exploration:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/science/honesty-isnt-that-big-a-deal-in-science/
Honesty isn’t that big a deal in science?
February 15, 2016 Posted by News under Science, Peer review, News

Blogger Groot February 16, 2016 1:31 AM  

If the Federal Government is paying for it, it isn't science, it's a jobs program. The last thing "scientists" working on a cure for cancer want is an actual cure for cancer. That right there is the most useful heuristic for evaluating cancer research you'll ever find. The social "sciences"? My dumb dog peer reviews the research of other dogs on our nightly walks. She has no forehead.

Blogger rho February 16, 2016 2:01 AM  

The old scientific societies required that your paper be presented in public, criticized in public and accepted or rejected in a public vote.

Your ass on the line, the Christian way of science.


"Peer review" is exactly what it says on the tin. It doesn't say, for example, "peer replication." It's dismissive to call it glorified proofreading, but it's also not entirely wrong.

Every person working where scientific publishing matters knows this. If you are a top blurgologist, you'll be spending most of your time doing groundbreaking blurg research. If you deign to review a paper for Blurg Quarterly, you're not gonna burn a lot of calories to reproduce somebody else's blurg experiment.

If you're a middling blurgologist, you'll probably do a fair amount of review. You've probably found yourself a nice tenured professorship, teaching Blurgology 401 to the graduate students who TA your Critical Race Blurgometrics 101 classes. Reviewing papers gives you something to moan about when you're on break or sabbatical.

If you're a bottom shelf blurgologist, reviewing papers is the best way into finding work in your field that doesn't involve paper hats or Herbalife.

If the scientific community wanted to put some grunt back into peer review, make the reviewers attach their name and reputation to a published paper. They may bask in reflected glory if the paper turns out to be groundbreaking, and likewise be hung on the gibbet if the paper turns out to be shit-awful. Sure, it might discourage a lot of published work, but that's a feature, not a bug.

Mr. Rational: This is why I'm so certain that this echo chamber is totally wrong about anthropogenic climate change. If the climate scientists weren't right about thermal IR transmission in the atmosphere, massive numbers of real physical things (like infrared-guided air-to-air missiles) simply wouldn't work as designed.

It doesn't follow, as Soga pointed out.

Climate science is pretty important science. The more we learn about the Earth's climate, the better. Climate scientists HATE the comparison of climate to weather, but even people with average intelligence can recognize hand-waving when we're expected to swallow 50% accurate 10-day forecasts and 100% accurate 100-year predictions.

Put another way, the global warming ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H climate change scientists have great ideas with terrible PR. They should find common ground with Republicans based on that, but sadly they differ on the autocracy.

Anonymous Littlest Hellhound February 16, 2016 2:46 AM  

@63 Some of the argument did seem to be about creationism so it's understandable why the scientist got pissed off. Trouble was, his emotional response to arguing evolution was "Well, 42% of Americans are sub-human and dumb as fire hydrants and thus I will MAKE AN APPEAL TO MY SCIENTISTY AUTHORITY." Vox trolled him, he got annoyed, it all went downhill very fast.

Anonymous Jack Amok February 16, 2016 2:48 AM  

Saying "peer review isn't peer replication" reminds me of an old Mitch Hedberg joke. He said he once accidentally drove twenty blocks with the emergency brake on, which meant it shouldn't be called an emergency brake. It should be called an emergency lever that makes the car smell funny.

Whether peer review is or isn't replication isn't the point. The point is that editorial review doesn't validate the science - replication does. And if your science hasn't been validated, it's just speculation, no matter how nicely edited.

Blogger rho February 16, 2016 3:21 AM  

Whether peer review is or isn't replication isn't the point. The point is that editorial review doesn't validate the science - replication does. And if your science hasn't been validated, it's just speculation, no matter how nicely edited.

*high five*

Now we're buds. Say, I need to move a piano next week. You available?

Anonymous Mr. Rational February 16, 2016 6:55 AM  

@99 A few tens of thousands of years ago, the place where I'm sitting right now was beneath a mile of ice; ocean levels were low enough that humans walked from Indonesia to Australia.  Nice, predictable forcings like the Milankovic cycles are too small to explain the massive changes observed.  Climate scientists are doing the grunt work of explaining how the rest of the system goes together, and a lot of it involves greenhouse gases.  We also have some very powerful economic interests whose fortunes are threatened by anything that might limit emissions of same.  If you think vaccines are the product of a corrupt and corrupting industry, but don't think coal, oil and gas are too, you are not thinking.  You are only re-arranging your prejudices.

@91 Oh, yeah.  I did a lot of head-shaking at those.  My brain isn't twisted enough to come up with stuff like that.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan February 16, 2016 7:10 AM  

You can't debate these people, they have to be cross examined like a trial.

Anonymous Quartermaster February 16, 2016 8:54 AM  

There aren't enough palms to go the face for this one. Review means review, not replication.

One reason to publish is so that others can try to replicate what you have done. It's in the replication that one researcher's science is legit and you aren't just pumping out bilge (e.g. global warming).

Anonymous Satan's Hamster February 16, 2016 9:14 AM  

"Climate science is pretty important science."

With rare exceptions, 'Climate Science' is where the third-raters who can't get a job doing real science end up. This is why not one of their computer models successfully predicted the temperatures of the last twenty years. Every single one predicts that more CO2 leads to more warming, yet CO2 has been going up and the temperature... hasn't. At least, not outside the 'adjusted' temperature record where they add warming that never happened to try to make it match the models.

It's the modern equivalent of people in 1900 worrying that, if the number of horses kept increasing, we'd be neck-deep in horse crap by the year 2000.

Anonymous Instasetting February 16, 2016 9:44 AM  

Peer Review: 1. A gathering of nobles discussing an event. As in 'Lord Dunsany, that story was excellent, said the Duke of Earl.'
2. To carefully examine the inside of a room from an exterior window; see Peeping Tom.
3. The process by which new scientific discoveries are buried by the Old Guard.
4. A statement, such as 'fascist' by a progressive having no factual content; treat as equivalent to 'uh'.

Anonymous szIlk February 16, 2016 10:26 AM  

SJW now means Science Justice Warrior...?!?

Blogger szopen February 16, 2016 11:25 AM  

ad 106. Temperature has gone up and the rise is within the predicted range(though it's within lower range, i.e. the optimistic scenario). you really should go and read something else than "climate hoax" sites.

Blogger szopen February 16, 2016 11:26 AM  

I was doing peer review and in my experience it serves as (a) barrier to low quality papers (b) pointing out the errors to authors. I was not ever replicating results, but I shot down a lot of papers who had basic errors, have not did their homework properly and so on.

Anonymous Jack Amok February 16, 2016 11:37 AM  

A few tens of thousands of years ago, the place where I'm sitting right now was beneath a mile of ice; ocean levels were low enough that humans walked from Indonesia to Australia. Nice, predictable forcings like the Milankovic cycles are too small to explain the massive changes observed.

Since you're so big on historical climate data, you would clearly know that ice core samples show that over the last half-million years there have been five separate interglacial periods, occurring at regular intervals and producing peak temperatures on par with todays (in fact, two of the past interglacials, the one 120kya and the one 320kya, had higher peak temperatures that our current one).

CO2 concentration has followed this same pattern, most likely as an effect of the temperature increase rather than a cause of it, because it turns out that CO2 is far too weak a greenhouse gas to be responsible for the regular increases. But regardless of what its relationship, the temperature warmed and cooled in a highly regular pattern regardless.

Those previous interglacial periods were a long time before we started burning oil. Whatever the cause - Milankovic cycles or something else - it's something that warms and cools the earth without us. Climate scientists don't know shit about the causes, the mechanisms, or the future, but they want the rest of us to rearrange (and degrade) our lives based entirely on their ignorance.

The current ice age (it didn't end, we're just in the intermission) is just one of five major ice ages the earth has gone through. The earth has been far, far warmer than it is now, and it's been far, far colder too.

The place where I live was under a mile of ice too. I live in a valley carved by glaciers. I worry way more about the temperature getting colder than it getting warmer. Warmer would be kind of nice - colder would mean lots and lots of dead people.

OpenID denektenorsk February 16, 2016 11:38 AM  

And here I thought "scientific" skepticism was a good thing. Silly me.

OpenID theasdgamer February 16, 2016 12:10 PM  

"If the climate scientists weren't right about thermal IR transmission in the atmosphere, massive numbers of real physical things (like infrared-guided air-to-air missiles) simply wouldn't work as designed."

Well, since I have done some actual research using IR, let me weigh in on this. The key element in all this is the complex index of refraction for the various IR wavelengths. Which, in the case of the atmosphere, is a dynamic thing, varying with the earth's distance from the sun and the sun's angle wrt the earth's rotational axis. Think of seasonal winds and how they cause the seasons.

Then there's heat input from the earth's mantle, which may or may not be constant. A lot of that feeds into the ocean. Deep-sea temperatures would need to be measured. The earth radiates IR as well. There would need to be lots of IR detectors for various frequencies on satellites orbiting the earth to determine how much is radiated away from the earth.

IR transmission in the atmosphere occurs. Its significance is in question. Is there a net increase in earth temperatures? Are we collecting useful data? Is man's contribution to earth's total heat significant, compared with forest fires and heat input from the mantle?

We have seen lots of data-hiding by the climate-change fanatics, er, scientists. We have good reason to suspect them of bad faith.

Also, IR transmission isn't important for missiles. They need IR reflection to operate/target.

Anonymous VFM #6306 February 16, 2016 12:36 PM  

You can't debate these people, they have to be cross examined like a trial.

"No other of the arts draws opposite conclusions: dialectic and rhetoric alone do this. Both these arts draw opposite conclusions impartially. Nevertheless, the underlying facts do not lend themselves equally well to the contrary views." - Aristotle

A debate, to the logical, has its ends. A cross-examination, however, is important when addressing the criminal minded.

A debate with Jeffrey Dahmer over the merits of murder might be fascinating and informative. But only a cross examination will afford him the liberty of a confession and just sentence.

Free the SJW...with conviction, and, if necessary, a brick to the head.

The only way we are ever going to save the scientist is if we burn him first.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan February 16, 2016 1:16 PM  

6306 cucks get first bricks

Blogger dc.sunsets February 16, 2016 1:40 PM  

Master Scientist: "This upstart wants me to peer-approve funding his investigation that, if proven, will destroy the entire basis for my position and prestige. Should I approve it and risk having to resign my chair and become his bottle-washer?"

"Scientific honesty demands I take the chance that he's right, I'm wrong and an important paradigm shift in our field may occur."


LMAO.

Blogger Groot February 16, 2016 2:09 PM  

@110. szopen:
"I was doing peer review ... pointing out the errors... have not did their homework properly"

That there's credibility, folks.

Anonymous Mr. Rational February 16, 2016 2:36 PM  

theasdgamer wrote:The key element in all this is the complex index of refraction for the various IR wavelengths.

Wrong.  It's opacity/scattering.

Then there's heat input from the earth's mantle, which may or may not be constant.

This is measured in milliwatts per square meter.

There would need to be lots of IR detectors for various frequencies on satellites orbiting the earth to determine how much is radiated away from the earth.

Done quite a few years ago.  Here's one flying specifically to look at CO2.

Also, IR transmission isn't important for missiles. They need IR reflection to operate/target.

The Sidewinder and other heat-seekers home in on thermal radiation from engines.

Now it's time to get back on the short bus and go home.

Blogger szopen February 16, 2016 3:23 PM  

ad 117 (@Groot) I am not sure what you are aiming at. "Not doing their homework" means the authors have not read the known articles about similar things, ignored well-known findings and so on. Nothing nefarious here.

Blogger szopen February 16, 2016 3:43 PM  

re 111) @ Jack Amok
You seem to not understood the theory you criticise. Now, I am no expert, and I do not understood everything either, but I have enough knowledge to point you out an obvious error in your thinking.

There is no question of whether changes in the global temperatures where initiated by CO2, because they weren't. However, the initial causes of the changes are not enough to explain those changes. The theories of warming gases _were created exactly_ to explain how a small initial cause created such a large change. The theory postulated that external cause (e.g. change in amount of solar energy) caused initial temperature change, which in turn caused a change in CO2 levels, which triggered a feedback mechanism (creating further, but smaller temperature change, which caused changes in CO2 level, which caused even smaller temperature change etc). IF a theory abotu CO2 influence is wrong, THEN you have created a puzzle why the changes were so big (and i stress that the puzzle was NOT why the changes happened)

In other words, a theory EXPECTS that in the past, CO2 levels should be changing after the temperature (usually). The fact that you don't know that, means solely that you have never ever read a proper introduction to this theory and you know it only from eco-idiots or from "sceptics" - and both kinds know shit about real theory.

I was a "sceptic" few years ago, until I started a discussion with a real climatologist (in Polish). I stress again that I am an amateur here, but I can recognise but science and good science, bad arguments and good arguments. After a week of exchanges, a lot of reading I came to a conclusion that the theory behind the attributing recent temperature rise IN PART to changes in CO2 levels is solid.

That does not mean, mind you, that all the propaganda leftist eco-idiots are pouring on us is real, because they exxaggerate a lot. Also, this not mean that the solutions proposed are real.

What it really means, however, that the change is irrevokable and we will see the effects within our lifetime (at least mine; i intend to live at least 50 to 60 years more). Without geoengineering, we cannot prevent the change. Right now we can only hope that from all scenarios presented by climatologists, the most optimistic scenarios will be fulfilled. Fortunately, we have a reason to be slightly optimistic, because indeed it seems like we are going according to most optimistic scenario from those presented 20 years ago by climatologists.

And I know that some of you will bring some ultra harsh winter somewhere, or blizzard in other place. So what: in my home town in Poland we have right now the warmest February of my life. The winter lasted about two weeks at most. The temperatures reaches 12 degrees celsius mid-effing-February. This is not an argument for GW, it's just to show that saying "It's ultra cold here, so GW is not happening" can always be paired with other counter examples, and what counts is an average: and in the average, the fact is that 2015 seems to be the warmest, or the second warmest year within last 100 years or something, and IIRC 9 out of 10 most warm years of last 100 years happened after 2000.

And right now there is no alternative explanation why this is happening. Sure, you can say "yeah, you have a theory explaining it, but climate is a complicated thing so I think something else is causing it, though I don't know what" but I hate this kind of thinking.

Anonymous No Comment February 16, 2016 4:24 PM  

Wasn't there some fake peer review scandal last year with a bunch of stuff being retracted because of it? (Or something like that)

Anonymous roughcoat February 16, 2016 6:53 PM  

@120

If you can recognize good and bad science, how is it that you don't see all the problems with the data collection and modeling methodology the climate "scientists" use? Are you ignoring the fact that many of the leading AGW proponents were caught colluding to falsely change their data, or did you just not know about that?

I'm a scientist. A geologist, as it happens. No, I'm not a climatologist, but I know a little bit more about the earth and its history than your typical layman. I've been following the global warming business for awhile, and here's my set of conclusions: maybe the earth is warming slightly but we're not sure, maybe humans are causing it but we're not sure, if we are it will not be a runaway process and it is certainly not an irrevocable change (that's absurd, to put it mildly), and there's no proof whatsoever that if the temperature DOES rise a degree or two that it will actually be a bad thing.

We certainly do not know enough to base massive changes to the worldwide economy on so-called climate science.

Geoengineering? Talk about arrogance. Humans can't predict the weather three days out with 100% accuracy. How do you imagine we have any capacity AT ALL to do any "geoengineering" on the planet?

The climate change crowd desires one thing: power. That's why they use fear and alarmism. I don't know how old you are, but I've lived through half a dozen of these sky-is-falling scares and you know what? Not a single one is talked about today. The hole in the ozone layer, killer bees, etc. The communication ethics of the climate change scientists alone is enough to make me view them with extreme skepticism.

OpenID theasdgamer February 16, 2016 7:09 PM  

Mr. Rationalist wrote @118

"This is measured in milliwatts per square meter."

The mere use of units don't imply measuring. And watts are a unit of power, not energy; heat is energy. Try again.

"Wrong. It's opacity/scattering."

Missile: http://machinedesign.com/archive/coated-reflectors-keep-antitank-missiles-target

For active-IR-targeting missiles, index of refraction in the IR is key. Opacity and scattering are also concerns in active-IR-targeting applications, but you better get the index of refraction right for the wavelengths you care about.

Opacity/scattering are irrelevant for your Sidewinder application, which is passive-IR-targeting.

For sure, get on your bus and go home, Gamma Golightly. Heh.

OpenID theasdgamer February 16, 2016 7:20 PM  

Actually, opacity is accounted for in the index of refraction. Scattering is the only variable and that can be handled with a parabolic collector.

Blogger V February 16, 2016 8:31 PM  

Did some reviewing of a few submissions to a Chemistry journal years ago. Beyond checking the numbers for theoretical yield and making sure the actual yield was plausible, it was just proofreading.

No one I know of in chemistry is actually reproducing synthesis of a proposed article as part of the review process. It would be utterly unworkable.

Blogger LP999 Rin Integra S.I.G. Burnin' Up Gold, soaking in Dune February 16, 2016 9:10 PM  

89 Understood. I am referring to the entire topic of econ and what our host calls...scientody.

social justice science warrior freaks are surreal. we've seen countless examples of trying to reason with them, its 'complex yet vapid.'

Blogger Anthony February 16, 2016 11:17 PM  

@125 - industrial chemists try to reproduce interesting results from academia all the time. And fail, a lot. Derek Lowe's blog (In the Pipeline) has discussions about this all the time.

Anonymous Jack Amok February 16, 2016 11:26 PM  

However, the initial causes of the changes are not enough to explain those changes.

You can't say that because you don't know what the initial changes were. Nobody knows what drives these cycles. There are theories, but none of them work according to what we can measure. So, you start your rebuttal of my point by making a telling bloomer - you assume you know things you don't.

The theories of warming gases _were created exactly_ to explain how a small initial cause created such a large change.

I'm quite familiar with the theory developed by the guy who helped found my alma mater.

The fact that you don't know that, means solely that you have never ever read a proper introduction to this theory and you know it only from eco-idiots or from "sceptics" - and both kinds know shit about real theory.

Okay smart guy, who created this theory you think you know so much about and I don't? I'll give you a hint - he's not Polish.

What it really means, however, that the change is irrevokable and we will see the effects within our lifetime (at least mine; i intend to live at least 50 to 60 years more). Without geoengineering, we cannot prevent the change.

Really? Irrevokable? Why? What evidence do you have these changes are irrevocable? Do you even know what the average temperature of the earth was between ice ages? Not between glaciations, but between ice ages (or do you even know the difference?).

And right now there is no alternative explanation why this is happening.

Bullshit, yes there is. Look at that chart I posted a link to (from Wikipedia no less, a heavily pro-AGW site if there is one). The theory is - these things happen independent of any human activity, because they've been happening long before humans were numerous enough to make an impact.



Anonymous Hoss February 17, 2016 12:11 AM  

Peer review is just a giant circle-jerk. Nothing more.

Anonymous Mr. Rational February 17, 2016 1:25 AM  

@123 The mere use of units don't imply measuring. And watts are a unit of power, not energy; heat is energy. Try again.
Watts are power, which is energy/time; many highly significant units of the universe are other than mere joules.  If you're too dim to understand this, you are too short for this ride.  GFY and have a lousy day.

Anonymous Mr. Rational February 17, 2016 1:28 AM  

@122 The climate change crowd desires one thing: power. That's why they use fear and alarmism.
The climate scientists currently out as representatives went into the field long before there was any cachet to it.  Nobody goes to work as a NOAA or NASA scientist to get power.  Researchers like Guy Callendar who started in the 1930's had neither NOAA nor NASA to work for; there certainly wasn't any power or even fame in it.

Or look at James Hansen.  He's promoting nuclear energy as the best scalable solution to the issue.  That puts him on the outs with practically every Green organization there is, which are pushing natural gas with a greenwash of wind and solar over it.  Is that seeking after power, or acting on principle?

The "crowd" in this case is analogous to the GOPe.  It is a front for the billionaire donors who provide the financing.  It uses a variety of names:  Greenpeace, Sierra Club, NRDC, Fairewinds, Union of Concerned Scientists, Rocky Mountain Institute.  They have all the organized messaging in the mass media and astroturf.  The actual climate scientists have little to do with them, and are denigrated when they contradict the party line.

Do not confuse the crowd with the experts.  The experts are telling you the truth, and that truth is that we must DO SOMETHING, NOW.  It should give you a hint that the SOMETHING is radically different from what RMI, Greenpeace and Mark Z. Jacobson are pushing.
The hole in the ozone layer, killer bees, etc.
It may surprise you, but the polar ozone holes still exist.  They are not the massive issue they used to be because the Montreal Protocol worked, and the reduction in halocarbon emissions has led to the problem peaking and beginning to decline.

I hope that the problem with comment numbering is fixed soon, this is getting VERY annoying.

Anonymous roughcoat February 17, 2016 2:37 AM  

Well, Mr. Rational, it's clear you're a true believer.

I'm not going to explain to you why, when there is vast political pressure, the "experts" might... you know... not be telling the whole truth, or might be making out they know more than they do. Figure it out. Or are you one of those people who thinks scientists are noble, incorruptible knowledge warriors?

The only substantive thing I agree with in your whole post is that we absolutely should be developing nuclear power. And I also know we're not going to anytime soon, because the public perception of nuclear power was poisoned by... guess who... the same breed of alarmists who are pushing doomsday AGW right now. If those "experts" hadn't flown off the handle, maybe we'd all have 50MW self-contained nuclear reactors in our subdivisions right now. Instead it is so expensive and financially risky to build a new nuclear reactor (thanks to the regulatory environment) that exactly one has been built in the last 20 years. And that was a single reactor at an existing plant, not a whole new power plant.

Hey, remember how we were going to have an ice age like 20-25 years ago? Then it was global warming, and now it's climate change because the warming isn't exactly happening the way they predicted. It's almost like the climate scientists have no fucking idea what they're doing. Must be nice to have that kind of error tolerance in the field. When I was working in mining, if I made those kinds of errors--analogous to mistaking pyrite for gold--I would've been fired within hours.

Blogger Aeoli Pera February 17, 2016 4:26 AM  

Or to put in scientific mathematical terms, zero. Also known as "the null set".

I'm gonna be a dick and point out that this is not true.

Anonymous Mr. Rational February 17, 2016 11:25 AM  

roughcoat wrote:it's clear you're a true believer.
When all you do is bleat about conspiracies while the issue is physics, you are doing a very poor job of convincing me.  You're down on the chemtrails level of scientific credibility.  You can only snow people without science chops.

I'm not going to explain to you why, when there is vast political pressure, the "experts" might... you know... not be telling the whole truth, or might be making out they know more than they do.

I have already explained to you why, how and by whom the issue is being spun.  I have shown you who is being logically and scientifically consistent.  You choose to stick with your conspiracy theory, because you're a sheep and to break ranks would get you kicked out of your herd.

Notice anything about James Hansen, Gwyneth Cravens, Patrick Moore and Stewart Brand?  They've been kicked out of the "Green" herd, because they are a threat to the interests paying for it all.  What's the threat?  Nuclear power.  Who are the interests?  Oil companies (which are now natural gas companies).  Frankly, it astounds me that a forum which has accepted that both the Democrats and the Republican establishment are captives of the same interests cannot grasp that the same is true in other arenas as well.  All you'd have to do to unlock the mystery is to ask "cui bono?", but you're too stuck in herd-think to do that and the herd's dogma comes from propaganda.

are you one of those people who thinks scientists are noble, incorruptible knowledge warriors?

Of course not.  I can point to a badly-corrupted figure in this issue:  Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org.  He sold out on actually achieving his avowed goals in favor of not challenging the dogma of his followers and thus losing half of them.  Now, why do you believe that people who spend their 20's getting PhD's in poorly-paid research fields are motivated by money and fame, and why can't you see that such obvious nonsense has a hidden agenda behind it?

The only substantive thing I agree with in your whole post is that we absolutely should be developing nuclear power. And I also know we're not going to anytime soon, because the public perception of nuclear power was poisoned by... guess who... the same breed of alarmists who are pushing doomsday AGW right now.

Trace that back.  How'd that alarmism get started?  It came from the "no safe dose" model created by Hermann Muller, whose actual data didn't come close to covering the combinations of doses and dose rates seen in real life.  Who financed Muller's work, and also the BEIR I committee which helped to enshrine it as policy?  The Rockefeller Foundation... oil money.

Oil money is all over this.  You've no doubt seen the latest crap from Mark Z. Jacobson of Stanford, claiming that the USA can be run on black rectangles and breezes if we'll just Believe?  A lot of his financing comes from the Precourt Institute, established by Jay Precourt... former board member of Halliburton.  Friends of the Earth?  Seed money came from an ex-prez of Arco.  Big Green is controlled opposition.  You can and should ignore it.

Hey, remember how we were going to have an ice age like 20-25 years ago?

It sold a lot of glossy magazines (I was there).  However, if you actually read the paper you'll see that the predictions of re-glaciation were for thousands of years down the road, and that there were no signs of it happening currently.

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