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« Tim Osborn responds to the Yamal furore | Main | Talkfest podcast »

Gatekeeping continues

Hans von Storch interviews Reiner Grundmann about his recent Climategate paper. It looks as though gatekeeping of inconvenient climate papers extends to some of the social science journals too:

One editor responsible for handling my manuscript was apologetic about the negative verdict, pointing out that the topic was too hot to handle for some referees in the field. He thought it was very difficult in the current situation to get such material published. I took this as a strong indication that the politicization of climate change had had an effect in STS scholarship, something which is not thematized sufficiently in the community.

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Reader Comments (15)

This is telling:

It is true that there is a different approach in the social and physical sciences with regard to climate change. Epistemologically, the physical scientists study the climate system but make observations about society as well. Social scientists either repeat what the physicists have to say or stay calm. They understand that no trespassing is allowed. So what they are limited to is an observation of science, culture, and society, what we social scientists call ‘the discourse’.

But the physical scientists do not respect the NO TRESPASSING sign. They are dominating the debate and many climate scientists think they have the prerogative to make political suggestions which society at large should take up because scientists always know best. And politicians and the media play along. Even some sociologists think we should suspend our critical faculties and leave our constructivist toolbox closed, and just “follow the climate scientists”. This is most unfortunate.

May 29, 2012 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta

'thematized' yuk

May 29, 2012 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

I don't think for a second that it began with climate science. I suspect that the same gatekeeping for many of the same reasons has been going on to a greater or lesser extent in many scientific fields for a very long time. The particularly egregious example of climate science just gained prominence at the right time to be exposed by widespread access to the internet. Without the net the gatekeeping in climate science would probably have remained entirely hidden. It may have been suspected by a few (many of whom would be rejected authors who could be easily written off as bitter and incompetent) and completely unknown by the rest of us.
I expect there to be many more such scandals - not least in medical fields. Someone once asked what The Bishop, Anthony, Steve, etc would do with themselves if CAGW was ever conclusively demolished. If they wanted to investigate other areas I'm afraid they would find work enough for decades.

May 29, 2012 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

Quite, Art. I recall that I first came here because our host concerned himself with civil liberty issues - I bet few present readers know that - and he could as easily return; in the matter of Liberty, it is definitely Worse Than We Thought.

May 29, 2012 at 8:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Wood

My impression is that many STS scholars feel uncomfortable with the topic of climategate. They did not want to contribute to what they perceived to be a negative chorus of sceptical voices. So they largely refrained from investigating this problem and perhaps climate change more generally. -Grundmann

STS= Science and Technology Studies (journals) ie- direct relevence to the previous thread 'Talkfest podcast'. What is sometimes called the discomfort of cognitive dissonance, and particularly the belief disconfirmation paradigm.

May 29, 2012 at 9:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

The Gatekeeping discussed in this post is the kind that allows insiders to prevent a free market of scientific ideas to occur.

It is another form of the anti-market protectionism that people like Hyack, Smith and von Mises showed must result in widespread destruction of value held by the people of nations who practice such protectionism.

It looks like the IPCC bias (in its charter) toward finding CAGW encourages the practice of Gatekeeping. With that inference, the IPCC encourages protectionism in science.


May 29, 2012 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

"it was very difficult in the current situation to get such material published": a bit like trying to publish Jewish Science in Nazi Germany, or Mendelian genetics in the Stalinist USSR. Only a bit like, but this stuff has to start somewhere.

May 29, 2012 at 10:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

Just about relevant: " ...researcher accused of using falsified data to obtain a government research grant ... set to stand trial...". Blimey!

May 29, 2012 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

Kohn represents the whistle-blower in the case, Kenneth Jones, a former statistician at Massachusetts General Hospital, who filed suit in 2006 c l aiming the defendants violated the act by including false statements in a $15 million grant application to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

dearieme, thanks for the news.

So MGH and Hopkins in an Alzheimer's fraud case?

Incidentally, Marilyn Albert's work is in 'cognitive neuroscience', that black hole of circular reasoning which is very much related to Chris Mooney's political brain diagnostic adventures.

You can see this editorial in Curr Opin Neurobiol

One of the most significant recent trends in cognitive neuroscience is that
the focuses of research have gradually expanded: from the localization of
brain area(s) for a specific function in the adult brain using a single
technology, studies have been diverging in several different directions.
First, interactions between different brain areas have been increasingly
emphasized and clarified for individual functional disciplines, such as
sensation and perception, attention, memory, reward and reinforcement,
decision, action and language, and across different disciplines. Recent
technological developments including multiple-unit recording, diffusion
tensor imaging (DTI), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
and magnetoencephalography (MEG) are among driving factors for this

Anyone with the time and appetite for delicious controversies and mind-altering fallacies of reasoning can google "Vul AND fMRI", for a good starting point into the sticky science of functional MRI.

Again, incidentally, the first sentence in the above paragraph has been shamelessly plagiarised in Wikrapedia.

May 30, 2012 at 3:43 PM | Registered Commentershub

Many readers here may already know, but Watts Up With That had a poll recently with the following question:

"If one existed, would you join a professional organization dedicated to offering an alternate to organizations like the American Meteorological Society, American Physical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, etc if this organization offered a peer reviewed journal, reasonable dues, and a healthy dose of climate skepticism rooted in science?"

The results to date are 71% yes, 21% maybe, 9% no.

I voted yes.

May 30, 2012 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered Commentermfo

Well, if you were a "post modernist," "post normalist" or whatever, you might consider it a "heuristic moment."

This kind of behaviour is endemic in science as a whole and has been since Bacon first formulated his concept of the scientific method and long before. A perusal of minutes at early meetings of the Royal Society will discover many resonant patterns of clique- or prestige-dominated gateways to publication. Polarized antagonisms mark convictions that each side is "righteous." It is antithetical to good science but drearily common among humans.

May 31, 2012 at 12:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterDuster

Who is the Bam character? Anytime someone quotes deep climate (or even real climate) as a source of authority I get the sh1ts. So does anyone know who this Bam character is?



May 31, 2012 at 7:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

@Bam signed off at the foot of a posting from 'Anonymous', so some Real Climate devotee.
I like Stan's reply

stan said...
I'm "shocked, shocked" to find that academics are unwilling to publish a paper that might be seen as supporting the wrong side.

That's game, set, match on the question of academic integrity in general and regarding climate science in particular. It proves there isn't any. And when there is no integrity, there is no value.

When the referees are crooked, the results of the game are meaningless.

May 31, 2012 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Politicized refereeing in STS? My word, that's a turn-up for the books.


Jun 1, 2012 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnon

Hans von Storch with yet more evidence of editor/reviewer rejection/obstruction of papers critiquing/auditing the mainstream climate methodology

Jun 2, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

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