fnkwp at aurora.alaska.edu
Mon Dec 17 02:03:50 EST 2001
Lomborg is (as I would have expected) taking flak. But Patrick
Foley and Neil Jones are attacking him (one explicitly, one implicitly)
for not having had his chapters reviewed by 'experts' before publishing
> And if Lomborg is writing as a scientist, not as a propagandist, why
> did he not have his chapter on biodiversity reviewed by Robert May,
> E. O. Wilson, Peter Raven or some other scientist who is a published
> scientific authority on the subject?
And Jones reports a number of negative comments by various envir-
onmental experts (some of whom were directly criticized by Lomborg).
To all this I would raise the following points:
1) It is standard practice these days for many journals to ask authors to
_suggest_ reviewers. One reason for this practice is the simple fact that,
when a controversy rages within a field, having authors on one side reviewed
by people on the other side (and vice versa) would result in no papers
relevant to the controversy being approved for publication.
There is no _scientific_ requirement for Lomborg to have his chap-
ters reviewed by those very people he criticizes in his book. The ideal
reviewer is knowledgeable, with no axes to grind. Mnayh of the leading
figures in the environmental literature are knowledgeable--but their
axes are kept very sharp indeed.
2) (Somewhat peripheral) There's a recent, thick, book on North American
butterflies which gives acknowledgement to some reviewers. One of them
informed me that his recommendations were ignored. So even reviewers who
are credited may have had no impact on the work in question. Maybe that
work also is unscientific?
3) There's a fascinating book by Bernd Heinrich: _Mind of the Raven_. I
believe his scientific credentials are excellent--but he explains in the
book that he was unable to get his observations of ravens published in
journals because no reviewer would accept his 'anecdotal' observations.
So he put them in a book. I would not want to say the book is unscientific!
Authors of books, even on scientific topics, do not _have_ to have their
work refereed unless they want to.
As far as the comments that Neil lists, I would be amazed if Lester
Brown had _anything_ good to say about Lomborg's book, considering the
points Lomborg raised about Brown's predictions. The same applies to other
I think Lomborg's book will have to wait for responses from a number
of people from all sides of current controversies. And someone's stating
simply that it's all wrong, or that the author doesn't know what he's
talking about, is not enough to shoot it down. People will have to show
exactly how and why Lomborg went wrong. My guess is that many people will
prefer to ignore the book instead...
fnkwp at uaf.edu
P.S. I am not a pesticide salesman. I am not associated with the 'Wise Use'
movment. Nobody here but us lepidopterists, enjoying field work in some
_really_ wild country... :-)
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