Persistent Myths

The Washington Post recently ran an article by Jason Samenow (washingtonpost) that cavalierly dismissed EPA Administrator Pruitt’s call for a Red Team approach to refine what we know about climate science.  While the author accurately summarized the justification offered by Steven Koonin, who was a senior DOE official in the Obama Administration  and a highly regarded physicist, most of the article was an attempt at discrediting the value of a Red Team exercise.  Given the certitude of the climate establishment, they should welcome the opportunity to shame climate skeptics.

The writer uses remarks by David Titley, a climate scientist Penn State, “Science already has a red team: peer review, to make the case that peer review has already settled the argument over climate science. Is it a coincidence that Titley is a colleague of Hockey Stick slick Michael Mann?  Perhaps but don’t bet on it.

Claiming that science is settled because of “peer review” is at best disingenuous.  For peer review to be a credible standard, reviewers should be anonymous to authors and reviewed research should be replicated.  That is rarely the case, and especially not the case for articles on climate change where authors often suggest or pick reviewers.  In 2010, (The Guardian in response to Climategate published an article, Climate change emails between scientists reveal flaws in peer review, that exposed how the peer review process was being manipulated.   Flaws in peer review are not limited to climate science. The  Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine published a broader critique–Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals.  In this article, the point was made that peer review is like “democracy: a system full of problems but the least worst we have”.  The evidence is clear toparaphrase Samuel Johnson, parroting peer review is the last refuge of scoundrels.

The claim that 97% of climate scientists believe that humans are mainly responsible for warming over the past 50 plus years has been shown over and over to be a myth.  But, the climate establishment has kept repeating it until the media and public accept it as fact.  As a result, journalists have gotten lazy and don’t bother to do the hard work that follows from the view, “I’m not convinced”.  If they did, they would easily find that the papers purporting to show that this overwhelming consensus have been thoroughly debunked, not just one or two times but dozens. In 2014, Roy Spencer and Joe Bast published an insightful article in the Wall Street Journal (spencer and bast) that concluded, “There is no basis for the claim that 97% of scientists believe that man-made climate change is a dangerous problem”.  Friends of Science (friends of science ) also published a detailed study titled 97% CONSENSUS? NO! GLOBAL WARMING MATH MYTHS & SOCIAL PROOFS that provided a detailed critique of the consensus meme.

Rather than denigrate the call for a Red Team exercise, Mr. Samenow and the Post should spend some time looking at the evidence that supports Dr. Koonin’s proposal.  As the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan once observed, we are all entitled to our own opinions, just not our own facts.  The Red Team review would go a long way to making clear what is opinion and what is fact.








Founder and president of Solutions Consulting which focuses on public policy issues, strategic planning, and strategic communications.

Leave a Reply