- Accuracy in Media - https://www.aim.org -

Blogs: The New Peer-Review Process

Climate scientists who believe man is warming the globe have a love-hate relationship with the blogosphere. They love their own blogs but hate that critics also use blogs to bypass the “peer review” process in order to question the science behind global warming theory.

The conflicting attitudes toward new media emerge in e-mails made public last week [1] as the result of a computer hacking [2] at a climate research unit in England.

Global warming advocates appreciated the potential power of blogs enough in late 2004 to launch the group blog RealClimate [3]. Inspired by their “frustration with the current state of media reporting on the climate change issue,” they saw the blog as a way “to be a little bit more pro-active [4]” in responding to critics.

Far too often we see agenda-driven “commentary” on the Internet and in the opinion columns of newspapers crowding out careful analysis. Many of us work hard on educating the public and journalists through lectures, interviews and letters to the editor, but this is often a thankless task. …

The idea [of the blog] is that we working climate scientists should have a place where we can mount a rapid response to supposedly “bombshell” papers that are doing the rounds and give more context to climate-related stories or events.

RealClimate is now a key player in the debate over global warming.

But scientists who see global warming as a serious threat hate the fact that blogs like Climate Audit [5] let Stephen McIntyre and other “skeptics” bypass the peer-review process that has been used to quash criticism of global warming for years. Critics have used their blogs to push major stories — like the hacked e-mails — into the mainstream media.

Fox News commentator Glenn Beck called attention to climate scientists’ hatred of blogs yesterday. He quoted a recent e-mail (Sept. 29) from Pennsylvania State University professor Michael Mann to New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin [6].

“I’m sure you are aware that McIntyre and his ilk realize they no longer need to get their crap published in legitimate journals,” Mann wrote. “All they have to do is put it up on their blog, and the contrarian noise machine kicks into gear. Pretty soon Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and their ilk … are parroting the claims.”

Such blog hatred surfaces periodically in other e-mails. Here is a sampling:

It is amusing yet sad that climate scientists on the one hand appreciate the power of blogs to influence public debate yet on the other hand bash them and bemoan the fact that they can no longer control the global warming message by using the peer-review process to silence critics.

Their honest opinions about blogs expose the dishonest nature of their work.