Try as I might to be totally balanced, this is just my representation of scientific news stories and peer-reviewed work.
I suppose what I'm saying is that my blog, like all other blogs, is not a replacement for peer-reviewed literature and the blogosphere is not an alternative to peer-reviewed scientific journals.
As a scientist, I recognise that the peer-review system works. Of course, there are problems with it and a few high-profile cases where it seems to have failed us, but overall it has stood the test of time. The British Government has recently announced a review of peer-review, but I would be confident that it will be shown to be the best method at our disposal to verify scientific findings.
Unfortunately, it would seem that some commentators feel that peer-review is definitely old hat and that a new system is needed. Of course, I'm talking about James Delingpole.
In a recent interview with Paul Nurse, for the BBC programme Horizon, Delingpole argued for the use of what he called 'peer-to-peer' review.
As you'll see from the video clip of the interview below, Nurse first made an analogy between accepting the consensus scientific viewpoint on the treatment of cancer and accepting the consensus scientific view of climate change. Writing in The Telegraph, Delingpole, a well known climate change sceptic, subsequently described this analogy as "shabby, dishonest and patently false".
"The consensus on climate change; and the consensus on medical care", says Delingpole, "bear no similarity whatsoever". You can judge for yourself whether the analogy makes sense or not.
Having been flummoxed by Nurse's astute line of reasoning, he was subsequently asked about his use (or not) of peer-reviewed climate change literature.
"What I believe in now...is a process called peer-to-peer review. The internet is changing everything. What it means is that ideas which were previously only able to be circultated in the seats of academe, in papers read by a few people can now be instantly read on the internet and assessed by thousands and thousands of other scientists; people of scientific backgrounds and people like me who haven't got scientific backgrounds but are interested."
What he's talking about of course is the blogosphere. Now, as keen as I am on this whole blogging lark, I do not believe that the ability to switch on a computer and type entitles anyone (including myself) to begin to interpret scientific data for which we are wholly unqualified. Sure, we can have opinions and ideas about the findings but, as the old adage goes,"we are not entitled to our own facts".
Delingpole however seems to have no time to even begin to interpret the data correctly:
"It is not my job to sit down and read peer-reviewed papers because I simply haven't got the time, I haven't the scientific expertise. What I rely on is people who have got the time and the expertise to do it and write about it and interpret it. I am an interpreter of interpretations."
All well and good, and it's to his credit I suppose, that he admits that his opinions are not based on the real, original data. However, if he is to interpret the data (or the interpretations of the data... you know what I mean) then he must interpret all of the data and that means the overwhelming volume of research that points to a global warming phenomenon caused by human interventions.
I may blog, but blogs are not real science. You can trust me on that!