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Parliamentary links day

The House of Commons is having a "links day" in which MPs will get together with scientists to discuss the issue of trust in science. Mark Walport and Paul Nurse will be speaking. I've been following the tweets on the #linksday2014 hashtag and they are a mixed bunch so far.

For example, we learn that Nicola Gulley, the editorial director of the Institute of Physics opined that:

...peer review key to maintaining trust in science. No crisis but a lack of understanding of this process. 

You can see why someone working in the peer-reviewed journal sector might be keen on peer reviewed science, but for many readers at BH and many others uninvolved with the climate debate, peer review - its ineffectiveness, the superficial aura of "correctness" it gives, and the problem of gatekeeping - are the source of mistrust in science not a solution to it.

On the other hand Mark Walport has apparently been emphasising that science is only one input into the policy process, which is undoubtedly true and a rebuke to the scientivists and activists who constantly criticise politicians for "ignoring" scientists.

When you think about it, there's a link between these two themes. As we know, the peer reviewed evidence demonstrates conclusively that peer review is virtually useless at finding error and fraud (see discussion in The Hockey Stick Illusion). Clearly then, those advocating use of peer reviewed science in the policymaking process must be incorporating non-peer-reviewed elements into their thinking in order to overcome the peer-reviewed evidence that peer-reviewed evidence is no better than non-peer-reviewed evidence.

I'm not sure what conclusions we should draw from this though.

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Reader Comments (8)

Isn't it a case of open (or extended) peer review rather than 'non-peer reviewed'?

Jun 24, 2014 at 11:47 AM | Registered Commenter@warrenpearce

No crisis but a lack of understanding of this process.

Actual if the public where more aware of the limitations of peer-review you may get the opposite effect . For to the public it is sold as a definitive method to short out the good form the bad and the right from the wrong. In practice people working in science know it does not such thing and plenty which is both bad and wrong gets through it. And that is before we talk about ‘pal-review’

Be careful what you wish for , as you may get it .

Jun 24, 2014 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

Here's a relevant and well put together video for our parliamentarians:

A Peer Reviewed Deception

Jun 24, 2014 at 12:26 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Nobody appears to ask the broader questions. A particular subject area will be covered by hundreds of peer reviewed articles. These will vary in relevence, quality and slant on a particular issue. In economics there are specialist journals (e.g. The Journal of Economic Literature) that specialize in comparing and constrasting these different viewpoints. It is a function that should be performed in climate science by the UNIPCC, but unfortunately it is committed to a particular narrative.
The solution is always in the promotion of pluralism. Competition in ideas, scientific method, quality of peer review and research programmes help science progress. Holding a particular set of ideas as beyond questioning achieves the opposite.

Jun 24, 2014 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

All the usual suspects - Nurse, Walport, Fiona Fox, Wilsdon... yawn.

Jun 24, 2014 at 1:15 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

"Figureheads" like Nurse and Walport are chosen because they never challenge the establishment. The puppetmasters don't want them doing anything without the right string being pulled from above.

Jun 24, 2014 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterColonel Shotover

Nurse yeah he needs one badly!

"Parliamentarians, journalists & scientists need to work better together; will increase public trust in science."

Hmm sounds familiar? Like in USSR DDR and North Korea

Jun 25, 2014 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSlabadang

Parliamentarians, journalists & scientists need to work better together; will increase public trust in science.

They don't mitigate each other's mistrust levels. They multiply it.

Jun 26, 2014 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

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