Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Great Peer-Review Fairy Tale

No Frakking Consensus
In June 2007 Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), gave an interview to an Indian publication that appeared in five parts. In the section titled “The science is absolutely first rate,” Pachauri declared: “The IPCC doesn’t do any research itself. We only develop our assessments on the basis of peer-reviewed literature.”

A year later, in June 2008, during a visit to New Zealand, Pachauri told a journalist: “People can have confidence in the IPCC’s conclusions…Given that it is all on the basis of peer-reviewed literature.”
A few weeks afterward, in San Francisco, he again told an audience that IPCC reports are “based on peer-reviewed literature.” On that occasion, he mocked the idea that his organization might “pick up a newspaper article and, based on that, come up with our findings.” IPCC reports rely, he insisted, “on very rigorous research which has stood the test of scrutiny through peer reviews.” [hear a sound clip here] [see the video here – these remarks begin at 1 min, 15 seconds]
The more one examines IPCC publications, however, the more evident it becomes that we’ve all been told a fairy tale. Andreas Bjurström of Sweden’s Göteborgs Universitet, had a guest post on Roger Peilke Jr.’s blog yesterday regarding the previous IPCC report. Among his startling findings: only 62 percent (less than two-thirds) of the sources cited by the IPCC back in 2001 were peer-reviewed. Read more.

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