This email, dated Sept. 29, 2009, is from Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University to New York Times warm(sic-global warming?) correspondent Andrew Revkin. The crucial exchange begins with this question from Revkin (quoting verbatim):
I'm going to blog on this as it relates to the value of the peer review process and not on the merits of the mcintyre (Steve Mcintyre of Climate Audit -ed)et al attacks.
peer review, for all its imperfections, is where the herky-jerky process of knowledge building happens, would you agree?
And here is Mann's response:
Re, your point at the end--you've taken the words out of my mouth. Skepticism is essential for the functioning of science. It yields an erratic path towards eventual truth. But legitimate scientific skepticism is exercised through formal scientific circles, in particular the peer review process. A necessary though not in general sufficient condition for taking a scientific criticism seriously is that it has passed through the legitimate scientific peer review process. those such as McIntyre who operate almost entirely outside of this system are not to be trusted.
In principle, Revkin and Mann are quite right. But as we noted Monday, one of the most damning findings in the archives concerns the corruption of the peer-review process.
In one email, under the subject line "HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL," Phil Jones of East Anglia writes to Mann: "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow--even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"
In another, Mann--discussing a journal that has published a paper by skeptical scientists, puts forward a plan for such a redefinition:
This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the "peer-reviewed literature". Obviously, they found a solution to that--take over a journal! So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering "Climate Research" as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board...
The scare quotes around "peer-reviewed literature" are Mann's. And it hardly needs to be said that peer review is a sham if papers that present alternative hypotheses are not even allowed into the process.
So how does Revkin, who two months ago took the words out of Mann's mouth, deal with this problem? Barely at all. In a Sunday amendment to a Friday blog post, he mentions it and quickly changes the subject:
[UPDATE, 11/22: Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post explores some email exchanges criticizing certain peer-reviewed papers and journals and focused on excluding the papers from inclusion in the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change report. I'm running down tips and assertions related to the theft and hackings. It remains interesting that before they were placed on an ftp site and dispersed across the Internet, someone tried to plant them on Realclimate.org and publish a mock post linking to them. Needless to say, if anyone has information or ideas, feel free to email dotearth AT nytimes.com.]
Yesterday, he had another post, titled "Report Aims to Clarify Climate Risk for Diplomats." Here's how it begins:
A team of climate scientists, seeking to remind the negotiators who will hammer out a new climate treaty of what is at stake, has produced The Copenhagen Diagnosis, a summary of the latest peer-reviewed science on the anticipated impacts of human-driven global warming.
Revkin reports that the "latest peer-reviewed science" shows that "the case for climate change as a serious risk to human affairs" is "clear, despite recent firestorms over some data sets and scientists' actions."
What we now know about the "peer review" process in this field indicates that this is a predetermined conclusion. Revkin misleads his readers by describing it as if it were a real finding.
Remember this when some MSM hack screams about a new study that says that the end of the world is happening faster than thought.