This posting is not about the content. It is about blogs. The main point being, that regardless of what I said, it no longer matters. The ‘idea’ is ‘out there, to be chopped, diced, and used at whim. And it is ‘out there’ already. (see http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/5/31/dennis-bray-on-global-warming-and-stalin.html) where to my surprise I have been promoted to ‘an Emeritus professor at Cambridge’. Sorry, wrong Bray. Anyway, you can read the blog if you want.
The initial post was getting out of hand - emotions were flying, tempers rising, etc. etc. I was getting pats on the back on one side and smacks in the face on the other- a real mixture. It is very easy to create such a situation - just add controversy to content. Eventually the post was closed by the blog administrator. Good thing to - next it might have been death threats (said with tongue in cheek).
Blogs are used for many thing by different people. Often, more often than is healthy, they are simply a cyber soap box for shouting some point of view or another, regardless of the point of view. But like I said, the idea goes forth regardless. Blogs are easy that way. And more often than not readers of blogs are often simply seeking confirmation to pre existing beliefs. (I could name some prime example but I won’t and they are nothing to do with global warming anyway). When the reader finds contradictions on a blog that was not supposed to purport that point of view, all hell breaks loose. No need for further examples here.
Sometimes blogs are actually used for scientific exchange. I think many of Edu’s postings on this blog fall into this category and this form of exchange should be encouraged. I am a social scientist, and for me, blogs can also be a source of data or a platform for investigation. Which brings me to a question: Is this how evolving ‘extended peer review’ will look? It seems to me this is more like junior school playground behavior. Yes there are some ‘good’ blogs: http://climateaudit.org/; http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/; http://www.realclimate.org/ But they too, all seem to support only a singular point of view. Why not combine them? As is, anything posted to one of the blogs that is contrary to the customary will likely produce similar (but perhaps more subdued) results as the Stalin post. So where is the objective peer review. It seems to me, the original idea of such blogs was to promote science, not sustain political viewpoints.
Blogs can and do give a sense of authority to rubbish - it is the ‘printed word’. It is not only ‘scientists’ that access them, or only scientists that contribute to them. And when ‘scientists’ do read them - well, look at the emotions over the last couple of days. I am not trying to make anyone feel small here, but some behaviors were less than rational. Is there hope for a semblance of objectivity and rational response in ‘review by blog’? I don't know. Do we need a blog ‘rating’ if they are to be part of an extended review? Maybe. When the paper ‘in review’ differs from the expected, will that be cause to reduce the rating? Will unfavorable reviews simply be a list of insults and name calling? Let's hope not. If so, we should forget about science and focus on politics.