The Politicization of Peer Review

Among other things, the release of e-mails and documents from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit has laid bare the efforts of a handful of climate scientists to manipulate how the peer review process handled research that could undermine claims of a climate science “consensus.”  As climate scientists David Douglass and John Christy detail here, the CRU e-mails reveal a concerted effort to sandbag one of their publications, both in the peer-reviewed scientific literature as well as on the purportedly neutral climate science blog RealClimatePatrick Michaels and Roger Pielke Jr. have more.

What these and other episodes reveal was that there was a concerted effort to stage-manage the appearance of an ironclad consensus at the expense of the scientific process.  Rather than make an open and honest argument that, despite persistent uncertainties, there is substantial theoretical and empirical evidence to support the hypothesis that human activity is contributing to a gradual warming of the atmosphere, they focused on squelching dissenting scientific views, corrupting science in the process.  As I’ve noted many times on this blog, I believe there is sufficient evidence of human contributions to climate change to justify a meaningful policy response, including measures to accelerate energy sector innovation and a revenue-neutral carbon tax.  But such policies should be advanced on the merits, not scientific subterfuge of the sort engaged in by those at CRU.

[Note: I originally wrote “laid bear” instead of “laid bare,” much to the amusement of some commenters below.]