Climategate and Hausergate: Different routes to the faking of science

Clearly academia can only reflect surrounding society. Scientists are not saints and political motives, financial greed and fame-seeking will be just as prevalent within academia as in the surroundings. Frauds and fakers will inevitably exist. Nevertheless it is peer review – by colleagues within the organisation and within the peer-review process – which is supposed to maintain the quality of scientific work but perhaps it must now be expanded to protect and maintain the integrity of scientific work as well. Reviewers cannot continue to use the independence of the review process as an excuse to remain cocooned within their comfort zones of anonymity. They do need to stand up and be counted.

In recent months two very different scandals in the scientific world but both relying on fake science have surfaced. In one peer-review has been lax and in the other it has been perverted to a cause.

In the case of Climategate (and the IPCC), the peer-review process was perverted to falsify scientific conclusions and suppress dissent in support of a particular political (and financial) agenda.

In the case of Hausergate predetermined conclusions were supported by falsified data which were then endorsed by the peer-review process to make non-science seem to be science. The financial motive is probably only secondary to the primary motive of seeking acclaim and reputation.

http://www.stochasticgeometry.ie/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/snakeoil.jpg?w=257

In both cases the normal sequence of the scientific method of

Question > research >hypothesis > experiment /test > analysis > conclusion

has been distorted.

In the case of Climategate a small clique of academics perverted the peer-review process to control and prevent the publication of opposing views. The IPCC (where the authors were often the same academics with a few charlatans, railway engineers, thrill seekers, politicians and financiers thrown in for good measure) not only prevented the consideration of alternate views but went further by including non-peer-reviewed advocacy reports, newspaper articles and the like when they were favourable to their cause. Of course the IPCC is a political institution so perhaps it is asking too much to expect it to be a force to maintain scientific integrity.

“Since the IPCC gives Lead Authors the sole right to determine content and accept or dismiss comments, it is more like a weblog than an academic report.”

See “Fix the IPCC process” by Ross McKitrick at http://opinion.financialpost.com/2010/08/27/fix-the-ipcc-process/

An alarmist agenda was used to satisfy the greed associated with the Carbon Offset and Trading scams. Some data manipulation is also evident from the Climategate e-mails but the control of peer-review was the main tool used.

In the case of Marc Hauser he simply fabricated data to fit the conclusions he had already come to (and it is irrelevant that his theories or conclusions may or may not be correct). It is stated that he was publishing at the rate of a paper – each one peer-reviewed – every month for 4 years. Obviously not too difficult to do or too time-consuming  if data only had to be fabricated whenever needed. What were the peers and reviewers doing? Had his colleagues and reviewers no suspicions or doubts?

What is not clear is why Hauser felt it was advantageous to fake the science instead of doing the science. Clearly he could not have been as prolific if he had to actually do the science and perhaps account for data which did not support his  theories. It would seem therefore to be connected with the gaining of an academic reputation quickly and perhaps also with the financial benefits flowing from that.

But the message coming through is that peers and peer-review must be transparent and very much more rigorous. They cannot restrict themselves to quality control alone – which itself is not applied uniformly – and not take a position on the integrity of the work. Reviewers are effectively servants of the Journals they serve and the Journals too cannot escape responsibility for what they publish and what they choose not to.

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3 Responses to “Climategate and Hausergate: Different routes to the faking of science”

  1. Peer-review evolves « The k2p blog Says:

    […] or misuse and hide behind the cloak of anonymity and are not required to be accountable then Hausergate and Climategate become […]

  2. Michael Mann and Marc Hauser « The k2p blog Says:

    […] and the University of Virginia) of Climategate are strictly comparable since the two gates follow different routes in the faking of […]

  3. Researchers show that peer review is easily corrupted « The k2p blog Says:

    […] or misuse and hide behind the cloak of anonymity and are not required to be accountable then Hausergate and Climategate become […]

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