Monday, May 27, 2013

Peer Reviewed Articles are the Gold Standard of Scientific Discovery

The following comment appeared in an article on global warming on the NewsBusters site, a conservative blog.

The concept of "peer review" has been debunked even more than CAGW has. Those in the know now refer to it as "pal review."”

This comment is categorically false.

The NewsBusters article cited many climate skeptics giving interpretations of data they had collected. Criticizing peer reviewed articles is best performed by writing peer reviewed articles. But if you can't do that, at least don't criticize the entire scientific community and the ways they have discovered to transmit their findings that have build the extraordinary technologies we now possess.

Every scientist on the planet uses peer review as the gold standard of scientific proof. Energy companies do, too. Energy companies rely on the scientific expertise of their multitude of paid scientists  to find fossil fuel deposits, extract the contents, and create products from them. Without scientists, there would be no energy companies. Energy company scientists make decisions based on peer reviewed papers and repeatable experiments. The energy companies have complete faith in the scientists they employ.

But when other scientists (who are not paid by the energy companies) publish papers which the energy companies find detrimental to their interests, the energy companies (or front organizations they fund) attack those other scientists as conspirators and their peer reviewed articles as frauds. If the articles agree with energy company policies, the energy companies believe them. If the energy companies don't like the results of the articles, the companies attack the scientists who write them and, with them, the whole scientific world.

Climate change deniers can't have it both ways. They can't claim that peer reviews work for every other kind of science but have somehow inexplicably failed for climate science. If the climate change deniers have proof that can stand up to professional scrutiny, they should publish it in peer reviewed journals. But there is no such proof and there have been no such publications.

Peer reviewed articles are published so that anyone can refute their findings with new studies or with new interpretations of the same data. The energy companies have been unable to refute the findings of climatologists, although they have plenty of money to do so and have certainly tried.

The opinions listed in the NewsBusters article are not refutations of peer reviewed articles. They are ad hominem attacks on professional scientists. Such attacks could not be published in scientific journals, which demand proof, not innuendo or baseless rhetoric.

Global warming is real and it is harming us every day.

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