The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has utilized a non-expert to write an analysis entitled “Expert credibility in climate change
.” This analysis judges the climate science credentials of scientists who have taken a position in the climate change debate, and disqualifies those who are not expert enough in climate science for its choosing.
The non-expert writer of this analysis of credibility, James W. Prall at Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, is not only not an expert in the field of climate change, he is also not an expert in electrical and computer engineering, at least not in the sense that some might assume from his University of Toronto affiliation. Mr. Prall is an administrator
who looks after computers at the university, not a scientist or even a lowly researcher in the field. If it strikes you as odd that an editor at the National Academy of Sciences would accept someone with a life-long service and programming career in the computer field to judge the academic credentials of scientists, it gets odder.
Prall’s methodology in determining who is credible as a scientist involves the use of Google Scholar which, he explained last fall to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, “studies just the scientific literature. They look at peer-reviewed journals.” Prall uses Google Scholar to determine how often people publish and how often they are cited. Based on the number of hits that Google Scholar produces – not on any analysis of the actual content of climate studies – Prall determines scientific merit. It’s an easy and straightforward process, he explained, that anyone can perform.
Does Google Scholar really limit itself to scholars? No. Search “Al Gore” on Google Scholar and you will find some 33,200 Scholar hits, almost 10 times as many as obtained by searching “James Hansen,” a true scientist and easily the best known of those endorsed by Prall as a bona fide believer. Neither does Google Scholar limit itself to “just the scientific literature.” Google Scholar finds articles in newspapers and magazines around the world: 113,000 in the New York Times, 22,000 in Economist, 21,000 in Le Monde, 16,000 in The Guardian.