As promised, I'll now comment on the second issue: to what extent does IPCC rely on peer-reviewed publications. In doing so, I'll first raise the issue of freedom of speech and its role in helping us reach the truth. Then I'll discuss the IPCC issue.
1. The truth doesn't need peer review
The truth must be COMPLETE and compelling. 100 per cent true. In all similar circumstances. No qualifications. While peer review is nice to have (and I fully support it), it is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for arriving at the truth. A variety of issues need to be considered:
- Much useful work has been assembled through books (which, of course, are never peer reviewed). Darwin's Origin of Species was not peer reviewed. True, I wish Keynes's General Theory had been peer reviewed by Hayek. If that had happened, that book, a blight on mankind, would have (rightly) never seen the light of day, being replete with unjustified assertions and basic errors of economic analysis. Marx's work would also have been rejected. But, overall, just because something is published as a book (or even a blog!) doesn't mean it must be cast aside in our search for the truth.
- The courts do not use peer-reviewed work as the standard of truth. Eye-witness, corroboration, dying declarations and other such tools of direct evidence are used – even on life and death matters. The truth doesn't need the crutch of peer-reviewed work.
- My own observations or judgements can help me discriminate between the truth of two different (peer-reviewed) economics articles. I don't need to rely on a third party (peer-reviewer) to tell me what is true. Peer review is, in any event, only as good as the peer who is reviewing. And peer reviewed articles have at times been found to be incorrect, or even deliberately falsified.
It therefore doesn't matter whether truth emerges through peer-reviewed literature or through a blog, or through ANY other method. Indeed, the blogsphere, populated by professionally trained scientists and mathematicians who do not necessarily work full time in the field of climate science, but who demand rigorous proof, often interrogate data underlying published articles more diligently than its peer-reviewers. Such bloggers have provided a check on bad science, of which there is bound to be some.
There is much merit in having OPEN public debates on climate science. The scientific method DOES NOT require peer review as a necessary step. But it does require 100 per cent replicability of conclusions. Public debate can often help evaluate climate science better than peer review by demanding that all conditions of good science be met.
Heraclitus noted: ‘That which opposes produces a benefit’. OPPOSITION and QUESTIONING is the way of science. Let there be freedom of speech, and a commitment to public discourse.
We must be ENTIRELY convinced before we accord the status of truth to something. Ultimately I (and only I) determine what is the truth – for we can never substitute the exercise of our own brain, our own critical thinking faculty.
Just because someone says so doesn't make a thing true. As I've grown older I've grown more sceptical about "experts". I have had three extremely painful health conditions over the past few years on which neither peer reviewed literature nor any expert was of any value. It was only by exploring as widely as possible, including reading intensively and talking to a wide range of people – and most importantly, thinking deeply myself – that I found the solutions. Experts often don't understand complex issues. They have tunnel vision.
2. How much peer review does IPCC use?
Noting once again that I'm not fussed about the use of non-peer-reviewed literature (although I'd expect the IPCC to use it), only 70 per cent of IPCC literature is peer reviewed. Donna Laframboise has apparently:
described a collaborative project involving a worldwide team of helpers who checked all the cited references in the 44 chapters of the 2007 report, counting how many were peer-reviewed and how many came from the “gray” literature. Her suspicions were aroused by reports from IPCC expert reviewers (not insiders to the writing) that some items were being submitted which did not have scientific status. These even included some press releases, however their concerns were dismissed and the reports were listed as input to the final report (p46).
The final score for 18,531 references in the 2007 report was 5,587 (one third) not peer reviewed. In 21 of the 44 chapters the score for peer reviewed references did not reach 60%. This would not be so bad if it was admitted up front and in public, also if there were clearly defined and properly policed rules for vetting the grey matter (not peer-reviewed) for use by the inner circle of authors.
Among the sources used to support IPCC recommendations were newspapers and magazine articles, unpublished theses, Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund documents, and yes, press releases. While Chairman Pachauri had declared an Indian government discussion paper fit only for the rubbish bin, we found that the Climate Bible cites dozens of discussion papers. In one case the decument relied on by the IPCC was clearly labelled as ‘version one’ of a draft. (p 48). [Source]
I trust this discussion is enough for now. Let's move on to important things: the truth, not about how much IPCC uses peer reviewed literature.
Back to the issue I raised with you: that you can't multiply an annual reduction in temperature due to reduction in carbon dioxide emissions – assuming that you are using a valid estimate for one year – by 100, to get its cumulative impact over 100 years.
I simply don't understand how you arrive at this method. You'll have to prove your assertion. I need to understand ALL the steps. All your assumptions. No citations from/to IPCC, please. I need the full details of why this is so. The precise scientific assumptions. And also why 100 times, not 99 or 101? (In my view it must be much lower, but since you use 100, the onus is on you to prove it.)
Science is about precision, and proof.
Note that your figure 100 has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. So no one should use it. But I'm not bothered about it not being peer reviewed, so long as you can explain clearly how you arrived at this figure. I need to understand the physical process of why CO2 will remain unchanged in the atmosphere for 100 years.
The complete discussion
- I'm sorry Australia has such a disappointing person on its Climate Change Authority
- Strip Al Gore and IPCC of their Nobel Prize and give it to these people
- If Kevin Rudd continues to abuse those who ask questions, then Australia should bid goodbye to science
- It is not Donna Laframboise but Rajendra Pachauri who is a HUGE liar
- Now John Quiggin says that the world's top scientists are stupid! This is getting absurd.
- John Quiggin, IPCC's peer review process is riddled with holes. I now expect a detailed correction on your blog.
- John, thanks for withdrawing your allegation against Donna's integrity. Here's other stuff you and I should know.
- The total mess that is IPCC. This is very serious stuff. Please do read.
- John (Quiggin), Donna's methodology is totally transparent. Please PROVE she is a liar.
- Now John Quiggin says that Donna Laframboise is lying. I'll ask her about it.
- Second point for John Quiggin: to what extent does IPCC use peer reviewed literature?
- Response to John Quiggin re: longevity of "man-made" CO2 in the atmosphere
- Very important new study that rebuts IPCC generated panic
- Inviting input from readers re: climate change facts, to conduct a debate with John Quiggin
- John Quiggin, I suggest you review your estimate of the impact of Australian CO2 reductions
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