|IPCC's standard of peer review|
Here is what the IAC concluded about the IPCC's standard of peer review:
"An analysis of the 14,000 references cited in the Third Assessment Report found that peer-reviewed journal articles comprised 84 per cent of references in Working Group I, but only 59 per cent of references in Working Group II and 36 per cent of references in Working Group III (Bjurström and Polk, 2010)."
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Nearly half the IPCC's science is not peer reviewed; it is grey literature, from interested parties like the WWF and Greenpeace; referencing them is like Clive Hamilton referencing Clive Hamilton.
But it is just not the peer review failure of the IPCC; it is how the IPCC strays from its own criteria for establishing confidence in its [non] peer reviewed evidence. Confidence in scientific terms means what degree of uncertainty predictions about future climate and causes of that future climate have.
For instance one of the IPCC's criteria, which is noted in the IAC report, is that it should "give greater attention to assessing uncertainties and confidence in [key findings]". It should also "Avoid trivializing statements just to increase their confidence [and] Determine the areas in your [the IPCC's] chapter where a range of views may need to be described... to form a collective view on uncertainty or confidence."
What this means is that a true consensus requires "a range of views" on "uncertainty and confidence". Only when you truly know the scientific strengths and weaknesses of your evidence can you claim a consensus, bearing in mind a scientific consensus is only as good as the next scientific paper which may contradict it. The IPCC has actively quashed dissent to achieve its "collective view"; a very Lysenko state of affairs and a non-scientific consensus.
So, instead of being rewarded for research that supports a prior hypothesis, no matter how sloppy it is, those involved in climate studies get published a lot not by testing (which can’t be done in the prospective sense) but by producing dire, horrific results. Because these often appear in prominent journals — which love to feature articles that generate big news stories — the greater the horror, the more likely is promotion, citation and more money.
This then generates more and more of these perverse incentives in a vicious cycle.
All of this is well and good and could be dismissed as just another example of how incentives drive supposedly dispassionate scientists. But in several fields, like climate, the accumulation of horrific literature is often summarized by governments, usually to support some policy. Bad science then justifies bad policy.
It is quite significant that Smaldino and McElreath’s paper was published by the Royal Society. Surely they know the result will be more distrust of the modern scientific enterprise, and, by extension, in the policies supported by it. The fact of its publication is evidence that we have reached a turning point, where the pollution of modern science is now an accepted truth.