Mittwoch, Februar 27, 2008

And Furthermore...

Following up on the last post, I ran across this at Spiked. Alexander Cockburn is a hoot in the very, very best sense of that term.

This made me laugh...

You can now buy Indulgences to offset your carbon guilt. If you fly, you give an extra 10 quid to British Airways; BA hands it on to some non-profit carbon-offsetting company which sticks the money in its pocket and goes off for lunch. This kind of behaviour is demented.

This is so true on so many levels it's almost not funny.

It gets better:

The marriage of environmental catastrophism and corporate interests is best captured in the figure of Al Gore. As a politician, he came to public light as a shill for two immense power schemes in the state of Tennessee: the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Oak Ridge Nuclear Laboratory. Gore is not, as he claims, a non-partisan green; he is influenced very much by his background. His arguments, many of which are based on grotesque science and shrill predictions, seem to me to be part of a political and corporate outlook.


It is increasingly difficult to challenge the global warming consensus, on either a scientific or a political level. Academies can be incredibly cowardly institutions, and if one of their employees was to question the discussion of climate change he or she would be pulled to one side and told: 'You're threatening our funding and reputation - do you really want to do that?' I don't think we should underestimate the impact that kind of informal pressure can have on people's willingness to think thoroughly and speak openly. One way in which critics are silenced is through the accusation that they are ignoring 'peer-reviewed science'. Yet oftentimes, peer review is a nonsense. As anyone who has ever put his nose inside a university will know, peer review is usually a mode of excluding the unexpected, the unpredictable and the unrespectable, and forming a mutually back-scratching circle.

This has been one of the things that has bothered me as well: what good is peer review if the peers are all in on the deal together? Deal here in the sense of receiving the same funding and supporting the same programs in order to make it in the academic world. Has peer review sunken to this, of being the litmus test of politically appropriate research, denying those that dissent from whatever mainstream may exist a chance of getting the all-important list of published works together?

Scarcely. Peer review still works.

Just not in this field.

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