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Will blogs facilitate "extended peer review" as proposed by Ravetz?

[Excuse me, English speakers, this blog is designed for Japanese speakers. If you followed a link I made in other blogs, would you continue discussion there as long as it is appropriate?]

[Note on 2010-02-15: I am afraid this article is not yet well composed. It was quickly conceived as a response to blog articles at two sites. I consider revising it extensively to make my message clear. Please do not expect that the present text will be preserved indefinitely. I will keep major elements, but the order of presentation of the elements is likely to be changed.]

I rarely access such blogs as "Climate Audit" (CA) and "Watts Up With That" (WUWT) which are run by so-called "global warming skeptics". (I postpone discussions about this controvertial concept.) I learn what are discussed there mainly from the blogs of their adversaries. But I have also read books by Kellow (a political scientist) and by Rapp (an engineer-scientist) and found many common elements. With circumstantial evidence, I suspect that these elements are shared by participants of Climate Audit (Note: I do not say all participants there). I tentatively call them "CA-group".

Please see two previous articles of mine [A Popper-Kuhn hybrid theory of scientific knowledge] and [Rethinking expertise, following Collins and Evans] for concepts I am going to employ here.

CA-group did not share tacit knowledge, or lexicon, with the disciplinary community of paleoclimatology or climate diagnostics [Note 1]. They read original literature, and they demanded more original materials. Then perhaps they built their lexicon, which is incompatible (maybe called "incommensurable") with that of the disciplinary scientists. So the discussions between CA-group and disciplinary scientists went futile.

CA-group accuses scientists who engage in reconstruction of millennial history of global climate as forming a tightly-knit circle, or a club. But it seems to me that CA-group is a closed circle. Why didn't Kellow, for example, apply the analysis of social networks reflexively to their group? It may be technically true that blogs are open to everyone who has Internet access. But, often (though not always), they tend to repel those who disagree and to attract those who agree. Even when multiple blogs are involved, often the contents are copies of other blogs. Then the networks of blogs which copy the contents of one another form a tightly-knit circle.

Ravetz (2010) suggests that blogs may be the way to realize the process of what he calls "extended peer review". I partially agree, but on the other hand, I regret very much that Ravetz thinks CA and WUWT are successful examples.

[Added 2010-02-26: I would like to characterize what CA and WUWT contribute to climate science as disjoint peer review, rather than extended one.]

I think that explicit activities of sharing disciplinary lexicons beyond the boundary of disciplines need to accompany in order to extend the club of peers.


  • [Added 2010-02-17] Surely CA-group would say that professional groups refused to give them such pieces of knowledge if they realize the existence of them. Professional groups, on the other hand, would perhaps feel that transmittance of that kind of knowledge would require full schooling.


  • Aynsley Kellow, 2007: Science and Public Policy -- The Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Environmental Science. Cheltenham UK: Edward Elgar, 218 pp. ISBN 978-1-84720-470-7. [My note about the book in Japanese]
  • Donald Rapp, 2008: Assessing Climate Change: Temperatures, Solar Radiation, and Heat Balance. Springer-Praxis, 374 pp. [My note about the book in Japanese]
  • Jerome Ravetz, (on-line 2010): Climategate: Plausibility and the blogosphere in the post-normal age. WattsUpWithThat. Re-posted as "Reposting: Ravetz on Climategate" by Hans von Storch at KlimaZwiebel on 2010-02-11.