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Yet another weird SF fan
 

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

If You're Fed up with Academic Science

If you're one of the people PRISM is hoping to recruit (discussed here), you should support open access. Please remember that everything you're suspicious about, from the Lancet study of casualties in Iraq to the “hockey-stick” graph, were published under the old system. They would still be published in an open-access system but in an open-access system, you can be sure of getting contrary data out.

For example, according to an editorial page article in The Wall Street Journal on global warming:

But that faith is tested when leading climate scientists won't share the data they use to estimate temperatures past and present and thus construct all-important trend lines. This was true of climatologist Michael Mann, who refused to disclose the algorithm behind his massively influential "hockey stick" graph, which purported to demonstrate a sharp uptick in global temperatures over the past century. (The accuracy of the graph was seriously discredited by Mr. McIntyre and his colleague Ross McKitrick.) This was true also of Phil Jones of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, who reportedly turned down one request for information with the remark, "Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?"
If a mole is able to obtain the data, he could publish it in an open-access system. When copyright laws become too strong, it might be possible to use them to shut off access.

This is not a straw-man argument. It really happened in the case of the Church of Scientology's attempt to keep secrets. We must also recall that Mark Kurlansky was extremely offended by the thought of conservatives reading his books.

Addendum: It's been done. We reactionaries have started using open access.

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