International Journal of Inactivism (now supplanted by Decoding SwiftHack)


Web 2.0 → Web 2.1 → Galileo 3.0

cite as: F. Bi. 2008. Web 2.0 → Web 2.1 → Galileo 3.0. Intl. J. Inact., 1:150–152

Yeah, I know the debate between Obama the Muslimist and McCain the Maverist just ended. But I’m not going to talk about that, because I just read something from Anthony Watts the, um, Galileist:

As readers of this blog and others such as Climate Audit know, reviewing new ideas, essays, and papers can often progress very quickly with the help of a widely varied readership. But we still wait for traditional methods somethimes, and for the fast pace of venues like this, it can be excruciatingly slow.

[…] That 8 weeks [of waiting for a scientific paper regarding AIRS] was long by electronic media standards, but pretty quick by traditional science journal standards. But that may be about to change. […]

From the Economist, September 20th, 2008 (h/t to Dave Stealy)

[…] Peer-review possesses other merits, the foremost being the ability to filter out dross. But alacrity is not its strong suit. With luck a paper will be published several months after being submitted; many languish for over a year because of bans on multiple submissions. This hampers scientific progress, […]

Now change is afoot. Earlier this month Seed Media Group, a firm based in New York, launched the latest version of Research Blogging, a website which acts as a hub for scientists to discuss peer-reviewed science. […]

[…] According to Adam Bly, Seed’s founder, internet-aided interdisciplinarity and globalisation, coupled with a generational shift, portend a great revolution. His optimism stems in large part from the fact that the new technologies are no mere newfangled gimmicks, but spring from a desire for timely peer review.

Well, this is what the Research Blogging front page looks like:

Notice the citations after each blog entry? Yes, Research Blogging is a service allowing scientists to blog about papers which were peer-reviewed the ‘traditional’ way. It’s not a way to publish new findings which haven’t appeared elsewhere. It doesn’t supplant the traditional process, it supplements it.

So, what The Economist — and Dr. Bly — did was to look at sites such as Research Blogging, and talk them up as if they’re portents of a “revolution” which will “overhaul” the existing system, oh noes! Of course, Watts was all too happy to play along with this, and now his audience is fantasizing about being the next persecuted Galileo:

garron: I think there may be resistance. This good change will come but it may take while. Lots of money and jobs tied to the status quo.

Richard111: Good site. Index works well. I think it will be a hit. Current peer review has lost it’s authority. Sign of the times.

Duh. Sorry, but peer review’s still doing fine. And even if Dr. Bly’s “Science 2.0” thang comes to fruition, whatever it is, it certainly won’t be what you guys think it should be.



  1. It’s a rather fascinating notion, isn’t it – that the ‘persecuted’ climate change skeptic should be likened to Galileo?

    I regularly peruse ScienceBlogs, usually reading blogs dealing with a wide variety of fields. Then, I check out climate change blogs, and I’m simply disappointed. It’s not necessarily that the topics being covered within each sphere is disjoint, but rather the intellectual rigor and motive honesty. Climate change blogs, unlike legit science blogs, tend to be thinly veiled political activism. There are, of course, excellent exceptions: Lucia’s “Blackboard” and “Climate Audit” are two good ones whose main posts are intellectually thorough and stimulating to read (although some of the comments at CA are quite frustrating).

    Blogging will not replace formal, peer-reviewed analysis in the near future because the “blogging peers” typically lack the ability and desire to rigorously dissect the material in question. The simple fact that the climate-skeptical denizens of Web 2.0 get hung up on the political pre-texts of speeches and ad campaigns rather than on the nuances of journal articles suggests that blogging has a long way to go before it can be considered a rival of the traditional process.

    Comment by counters — 2008/10/09 @ 17:44 | Reply

  2. counters:

    Nothing wrong with activism per se — face it, politics affects everyone’s lives, and turning science into policy is necessary and hard, and it’s a fact that some politicians are more compatible with science than others. (I mean, James “God’s still up there” Inhofe doesn’t like climate science? That’s his problem, not Hansen’s…)

    As for Lucia Liljegren and Climate Audit, I’ll say they’re “intellectually” “stimulating” in the sense that they confuse the hell out of you with sciencey-looking equations and graphs. Lucia likes to throw up random statistical tests with zero understanding of them from first principles (which you can easily grasp with a good high-school textbook). And Climate Audit is just catty.

    In contrast, while RealClimate does go into ‘political’ mode every now and then, it’s quite solid (as far as I can see) when it gets down to the science.

    the “blogging peers” typically lack the ability and desire to rigorously dissect the material in question.

    That’s true as things stand, but I’ll say that the current ‘who makes the most noise wins’ blogging model isn’t the only possible way. One alternative approach is to perhaps use the Internet as a way to scale up the traditional peer review model to more reviewers (among those who do have the knowledge and desire to rigorously review papers). This may or may not be what Dr. Bly has in mind…

    Comment by frankbi — 2008/10/09 @ 18:46 | Reply

  3. I’d also like to submit Atmoz’ dissection of a ClimateAudit post to illustrate how it may look intellectually stimulating but really just plays off of anti-science rhetoric and its audience’s lack of familiarity with the basic science.

    Comment by Brian D — 2008/10/09 @ 19:31 | Reply

  4. I definitely agree with what you’re saying. But let me clarify “intellectually thorough and stimulating:” that really applies to the effect on an astute reader, not necessarily the contents of the post. I read Lucia’s various “such-and-such IPCC Hypothesis rejected based on X analysis” and often think, “what does this have to do anything?” I’ve commented there a few times in the past on how certain assumptions necessary for some of her statistical applications are ridiculous to make in the case of climate data and model projections. At least her blog isn’t the typical cess-pool of “Warming ended in 1998” or “The hockey stick is debunked” posts.

    Brian, I remember reading that thread at Atmoz; I remember it very well. CA bugs me for two reasons: first, as was already pointed out, most of the commentors there have less than a basic grasp of atmospheric science (and sometimes science and the scientific method altogether). My pet-interest is modeling, and let’s just say it embarrasses me to read some of the rants there from posters who know nothing about climate models. The second reason is that it seems to me that McIntyre has one distinct goal: bring down Mann, whatever it takes. Now, I’ve met Mann in real life (he gave a presentation at my university, and I went up to talk with him afterwards); he’s a nice guy. I can’t believe someone would have a vendetta against him, but that’s what the average CA post of late looks like – a salvo of inconsequential “findings” related to Mann’s latest paper, spewed forth in an attempt to cause god-only-knows what.

    Comment by counters — 2008/10/09 @ 20:09 | Reply

  5. counters:

    Actually from what I see, astute or not, reading nonsense tends to have the effect of making people more stupid (unless they wash off the stupidity by taking a shower). Sometimes it’s a necessary evil though.

    Comment by frankbi — 2008/10/10 @ 05:41 | Reply

  6. counters, Mann was just a target of convenience. McI is after the whole of climate science. Note the constant floating of little trial balloons.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 2008/10/10 @ 08:07 | Reply

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