Interesting Questions

Bart Verheggen raises interesting questions about the interesting questions raised by Keith Kloor about the interesting questions raised by Richard Tol about some marginal research discussed Judith Curry. So I thought I’d join in the fray.

As a positive side effect, Tol has apologized for his suggestion that I advocate “re-education camps”. Yet somehow he seems to think it is a matter of concern that I believe that most people’s positions, as informed by most ordinary ethical frameworks, would move toward much more vigorous emissions policy if they properly understood the configuration of the evidence. While Kloor and many journalists seem to think there is something substantively wrong with that position, Tol seems to find it ethically wrong. I am not sure why. But at least he’s not trying to tar me as a Maoist anymore.

But I wonder why all this attention to peer reviewed publications. This is confusing the symbol with the substance. Science is the advancement of knowledge. It is achieved by theory, observation and computation, not by publication. The publication is not the result. Nor is it especially certification of the result. It is simply the announcement  (or, as some say, the advertisement) of the result. Whether the the result enters the canon or not is a social process, not an editorial one. If we want people to understand science, we should stop pretending that publications are central to the process. It will be easier to open up the data and the methods in a paper than it will be to open up the process whereby results are added to the canon, which has really been astonishingly informal.



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