Abstract, blur, bokeh background, defocusing - image for the background. The problems of global warming climate.
Abstract, blur, bokeh background, defocusing - image for the background. The problems of global warming climate.

Why We Can’t Trust the Science Journals

Crossposted at Humanize

The science and medical journals have become highly ideological on many of the most important and contentious societal issues of the day, ranging from global warming to gender ideology, to critical race theory, to virtually everything woke.

Severing the discourse from true scientific objectivity could mean that legitimate research will be stifled, properly sourced articles that do not follow the preferred ideological narrative refused publication by politicized editors, or perhaps, that scientists could self-censor their own work so as to ensure their studies make it into a prestigious journal with all the career rewards that offers.

And now, a climate scientist has written that he pulled his punches in a climate-change article in order to be published by the prestigious journal Nature. From, “I Left Out the Full Truth to Get My Climate Change Paper Published,” by Patrick T. Brown:

The paper I just published—“Climate warming increases extreme daily wildfire growth risk in California”—focuses exclusively on how climate change has affected extreme wildfire behavior. I knew not to try to quantify key aspects other than climate change in my research because it would dilute the story that prestigious journals like Nature and its rival, Science, want to tell.

This matters because it is critically important for scientists to be published in high-profile journals; in many ways, they are the gatekeepers for career success in academia. And the editors of these journals have made it abundantly clear, both by what they publish and what they reject, that they want climate papers that support certain preapproved narratives—even when those narratives come at the expense of broader knowledge for society.

In other words, if Brown provided a thorough and nuanced study, it would never have passed the ideological blockade he knew controls the scientific discourse on this important topic.

Brown explains why we see such an anti-science paradigm:

In theory, scientific research should prize curiosity, dispassionate objectivity, and a commitment to uncovering the truth. Surely those are the qualities that editors of scientific journals should value.

In reality, though, the biases of the editors (and the reviewers they call upon to evaluate submissions) exert a major influence on the collective output of entire fields. They select what gets published from a large pool of entries, and in doing so, they also shape how research is conducted more broadly. Savvy researchers tailor their studies to maximize the likelihood that their work is accepted. I know this because I am one of them.

Brown left academia so he could engage in better science. And, that allowed him to write this article.

He concludes:

Climate scientists shouldn’t have to exile themselves from academia to publish the most useful versions of their research. We need a culture change across academia and elite media that allows for a much broader conversation on societal resilience to climate.

The media, for instance, should stop accepting these papers at face value and do some digging on what’s been left out. The editors of the prominent journals need to expand beyond a narrow focus that pushes the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. And the researchers themselves need to start standing up to editors, or find other places to publish.

What really should matter isn’t citations for the journals, clicks for the media, or career status for the academics—but research that actually helps society.

Brown has done a true service in illustrating how science has been distorted by nonscientific agendas at the highest level of “expert” discourse — aided and abetted by the media. Until and unless that changes, public trust in the scientific and medical sectors will continue to bleed out. Once exsanguinated, it will never recover.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.