New Article Titled “Bias In the Peer Review Process: A Cautionary And Personal Account” By Ross McKittrick

There is an informative article by Ross McKittrick

McKitrick, Ross R. (2011) “Bias in the Peer Review Process: A Cautionary and Personal Account” in Climate Coup, Patrick J. Michaels ed., Cato Inst. Washington DC. 

This article appears in the book

Michaels, Patrick J., 2011: Climate Coup: Global Warming’s Invasion of Our Government and Our Lives. Cato Institute. ISBN: 978-1-935308447

with the summary of its content

“A first-rate team of experts offers compelling documentation on the pervasive influence global warming alarmism now has on almost every aspect of our society-from national defense, law, trade, and politics to health, education, and international development.”

With respect to Ross’s chapter,  Pat Michaels writes

“The second chapter in this volume goes to the core of what we consider to be the canon of science, which is the peer-reviewed, refereed scientific literature. McKitrick’s and my trials and tribulations over journal publication are similar to those experienced by many other colleagues. Unfortunately, the Climategate e-mails revealed that indeed there has been systematic pressure on journal editors to reject manuscripts not toeing the line about disastrous climate change. Even more unfortunate, my experience and that of others are that the post-Climategate environment has made this situation worse, not better. It is now virtually impossible to publish anything against the alarmist grain. The piles of unpublished manuscripts sitting on active scientists’desks are growing into gargantuan proportions…..”

Pat is correct that the peer reviews process and, also, the funding of research, has become very politicized and biased. 

Ross starts his article with the text [highlight added]

“Showing that the IPCC claim is also false took some mundane statistical work, but the results were clear. Once the numbers were crunched and the paper was written, I began sending it to science journals. Having published several against-the-flow papers in climatology journals, I did not expect a smooth ride, but the process eventually became surreal. In the end, the paper was accepted for publication, but not in a climatology journal. Fortunately for me, I am an economist, not a climatologist, and my career doesn’t depend on getting published in climatology journals. If I were a young climatologist, I would have learned that my career prospects would be much better if I never wrote papers that question the IPCC. The skewing of the literature (and careers) can only be bad for society, which depends on scientists and the scientific literature for trustworthy advice for wise policy decisions.”

His conclusion has the text

“Some people might be tempted to defend climatology by saying that normal scientific procedures have broken down due to the intense policy fights and political interference. But in my opinion that confuses cause and effect. The policy community has aggressively intervened in climate science because of all the breaches of normal scientific procedures. The public has lost confidence in the ability of the major institutions of climatology, including the IPCC and the leading journals, to deal impartially with the evidence. It doesn’t have to be this way. My own field of economics constantly deals with policy-relevant topics with major public consequences. Of course, differences of opinion exist and vigorous disputes play out among opposing camps. But what is happening in climate science is very different, or at least is on a much more intense scale. I know of no parallels in modern economics. It appears to be a profession-wide decision that, due to the conjectured threat of global warming, the ethic of scientific objectivity has had an asterisk added to it: there is now the additional condition that objectivity cannot compromise the imperative of supporting one particular point of view.

This strategy is backfiring badly: rather than creating the appearance of genuine scientific progress, the situation appears more like a chokehold of indoctrination and intellectual corruption. I do not know what the solution is, since I have yet to see a case in which an institution or a segment of society, having once been contaminated or knocked off balance by the global warming issue, is subsequently able to right itself. But perhaps, as time progresses, climate science will find a way to do so. Now that would be progress.”

Both Pat and Ross are correct that a prejudice exists in the climate science community with respect to publication and in funding. My experiences have been similar to theirs.

I have posted on this subject in my posts. Several examples are

My Comments For The InterAcademy Council Review of the IPCC

Is The NSF Funding Process Working Correctly?

Invited Letter Now Rejected By Nature Magazine

Comments On The Peer-Review Journal Publication Process And Recommendations For Improvement

It is important that policymakers become aware of the inappropriate control on the peer review process and in the funding of research by the NSF and other agencies.  I have summarized this for policymakers most recently in my testimony

Pielke Sr., R.A. 2011: Climate Science and EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulation.  Testimony to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power

where I wrote with respect to the CCSP assessment process [which is one of the source of information for the 2007 IPCC]

“The process for completing the CCSP Report excluded valid scientific perspectives under the charge of the Committee. The Editor of the Report [Tom Karl] systematically excluded a range of views on the issue of understanding and reconciling lower atmospheric temperature trends.

The Executive Summary of the CCSP Report ignores critical scientific issues and makes unbalanced conclusions concerning our current understanding of temperature trends.”

Ross’s article and Pat’s experiences document further that the exclusion of research papers in a number of major journals and research funding by the NSF and other agencies is a systematic and serious problem that has compromised  objective scientific inquiry into climate science.

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