Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Today is the first day of school in my part of the world. Summer (an unusually hot and drought-stricken one in our area) is waning and it’s time to get serious again.
I’ve been working on a number of projects, some of which should see the light of day soon. In the meantime, Australian writer Don Aitkin has a marvelous commentary on a newly published paper by geophysicist Michael Mann.
Mann is the Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University and a professor of meteorology. Apparently, taxpayers pay his salary so that he can write political treatises that get published via psychology journals. This one, titled Science and the Public: Debate, Denial, and Skepticism invokes the word ‘denial’ 33 times and the word ‘political’ 23 times. It also contains an appendix advising the public that we need to play by certain rules where science is concerned, dontcha know:
One of those rules is that scientific arguments are conducted in the scientific peer-reviewed literature.
Ah, yes, that old canard. If you haven’t been published in a peer-reviewed academic journal, so goes Mann’s argument, “your ideas may not be quite as brilliant as you first thought.”
Except that the peer-reviewed literature is littered with muck. A large proportion of what gets published is, in fact, highly dubious. Academics like Mann desperately insist that peer-reviewed research is sound and that everything else is inferior. But this isn’t the case. Explore any one of the three articles below to find out why in depressing detail. Better yet, read all of them and then try to take Mann’s latest paper seriously:
Most of all, don’t miss Don Aitkin’s critique of Mann’s paper here.