Archive for November 30th, 2009


Ha Ha. Ha.

November 30, 2009

Gordon Crovitz (never heard of him) has a column on the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal. It’s terrible. As with many terrible things — ungh, these socks are rank…here, have a whiff — it’s maybe worth a read. Among the many terrible things he does is to concoct his own context for the e-mails, saying that they were merely “published online” and “released by an apparent whistle-blower,” thereby disregarding the privateness and collegiality of the discussions as well as the touchy subject of their purloining.

Here are some other particularly asinine quotes:

The panel, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, now faces the inconvenient truth that it relied on scientists who violated scientific process.

Yes, and what “scientific process” might that be? Do tell.

The emails showed how the global-warming group stifled dissent. They controlled the peer-review process, keeping opposing views unpublished, then cited “peer review” as evidence of their “consensus.”

I still haven’t seen how they stifled dissent. They had discussions about where to publish, where not to publish, what journal has been publishing bullshit, and what journals are not publishing bullshit. It’s obviously perfectly legitimate to spread the word that a given article is terrible, even if it makes it through peer review. That’s what I’m doing right now, even though this article would never have made it through peer review. It is entirely unclear how this could amount to “controlling the peer-review process.” I’m not sure what it would even mean to control the peer-review process.

This unseemly business reveals another flaw. Why are scholars who review papers allowed to remain anonymous?

Because if they don’t remain anonymous, the papers they reject could come back to haunt them. The hope is that they’ll be more honest this way.

But here’s the real doozy:

How many of the anonymous reviewers who spiked skeptical scientific papers over the years are the people who wrote these emails detailing how they abused peer review to block contrary evidence?

Yeah. That’s a good one. As if an orientation against skeptical scientific research is an entrenched and immovable position and not something one arrives at after learning the science; as if there might also be no reason that a given skeptical scientific paper might be disregarded on the scientific merits.

It’s true that the medical establishment also routinely rejects anti-vaccination papers…probably because those papers are garbage. Sure, one can make the case that a propensity to reject anti-vaccination papers is an institutional bias built into the powers that be, but that case cannot be made by deference to discussions among members of the medical establishment. To make that case, you need to point to other things, like a particular orientation toward truth, or a particular conception of reasoning, that eclipses otherwise good scientific research as irrelevant or ill-founded.

There’s actually quite a bit more stupidity in Crovitz’s essay, but I don’t have the time to take him down line-by-line. Basically, every statement is dripping in spin. Enjoy!


Tank Steak

November 30, 2009

Looks like scientists are moving forward on the laboratory grown sausage. It’s an idea that’s been getting traction for over a decade now. Here’s a short, somewhat popular piece I wrote a few years back on the ethics of lab grown meet.