The deniers’ guide to convenience and confusion

My favourite denier blogger today sent me my regular email full of facepalming moments and general comic relief and the headline today was “Climate Alarmists wrong AGAIN! A new peer reviewed paper….”  Hang on! A new peer-reviewed paper? Peer reviewed? But I thought peer review was …..now what did he call it? Oh, that’s right. In an entry from February 10, 2011, he referred to peer review as a “you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours system”. What else? He refers to “the futility of peer review”. He then offers these gems, “So, was Newton peer reviewed when an apple fell on his head and he said: It’s gravity? Was Einstein peer reviewed when he said E=MC2?” That’s pure gold there. Anyway, you can read the whole post here. Of course everyone knows that the Newton apple story is a bit of a myth. While Einstein’s 1905 paper wasn’t officially peer-reviewed, there wasn’t a formal peer review system at the time, it was reviewed by the Journal’s editor and co-editor,  Max Planck and Wilhelm Wien, both Nobel prize-winning physicists. But let’s not let accuracy get in the way of a good story. That’s too inconvenient. So, on September 4, 2011 my favourite blogger also said this about peer review, “Peer review: A quasi-sacred process, biased, unjust, unaccountable, incomplete, often insulting, usually ignorant, occasionally foolish, and frequently wrong.”  Wow. Strong words.

So why is it then, that deniers who denigrate peer review when it is says the things that kick their wilfully ignorant streaks into gear, champion it when they think it’s supporting their lunacy? Convenience? Dishonesty? Stupidity? All three? So where does the confusion I have mentioned in the title of this blog entry come in? Well, that is the confusion shown by the deniers in their understanding of not only the peer review system but also whether the papers they are alleging support their position, actually do. In that same post of September 4, my favourite denialist blogger also included a link to the “900+ peer-reviewed papers…blah blah blah” that I wrote a piece about here.

So, to the new peer-reviewed paper that shows “Climate Alarmists wrong AGAIN!” (It’s in CAPS so it must be true). The abstract is here.  A couple of researchers tested (in a lab) the ability of two species of marine algae to cope with low pH and different salinities in simulated seawater. What they found was that they could and noted in the fulltext version that there were some caveats on that but suggested that these two would do well in estuarine environments and shallow coastal areas under lower pH conditions found with ocean acidification. How this is supposed to be showing up we “alarmists” the blogger doesn’t say, probably because it doesn’t. We know that under a changing environment, generalists are going to do well and specialists are going to suffer. In my short list of papers dealing with range shifts, a number of the papers, also peer-reviewed, demonstrate this very fact.  Conceivably, what this new paper that my favourite denialist blogger is championing demonstrates, is that when all the coral bleaches and dies, the algae will be ready and willing to take over. Thanks for the heads up moron.

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