You’ve got to give Kevin Hennessey writing in today’s Courier Mail an award for climate change chutzpah.
Without the peer-review system, publication of research findings would be arbitrary, and possibly influenced by personal, social or political agendas.
The hack of the HadCru computers demonstrates just how much peer-review has been hijacked by “personal, social and political agendas”, but we didn’t need Climategate to tell us this. The Wegman Committee of Inquiry which put the last rites on the “Hockey Stick” graph pointed out that the peer review system, at least in so far as it touched paleo-climate reconstructions, was a case of mates reviewing mates, and that the mates didn’t actually know much.
In this day of Web 2.0 and open information architectures, the idea of “peer review” is as quaint as a gentleman’s club. It’s about time that the science community embraced transparency and allowed a proper debate on ideas, not one limited by “chaps” who determine who may or may not be “clubbable”.
Many of the great scientific ideas that govern our age were not subject to peer review. No-one demanded that Newton submit his ideas to peer review, or Galileo. They didn’t really have such a thing either when Darwin published his first paper on evolution.
The idea that only “scientists” defined as someone with a science degree rather than someone with relative intelligence or expertise, have the right to discuss scientific ideas is anti-science, as is the idea that only ideas that are peer reviewed have relevance.
The only people who advance these arguments are those who are being not scientific, but political. Which should lead us to ask what is Mr Hennessey’s “political agenda”.