Recall the Lewandowsky Hypothesis
In a similar inversion of normal practice, most climate deniers avoid scrutiny by sidestepping the peer-review process that is fundamental to science, instead posting their material in the internet or writing books.
Errors and mistaken assumptions cannot persist because publication of a peer-reviewed paper is only a first stage of peer review: The subsequent, even more rigorous stage of peer-review occurs after a paper’s publication and involves the scrutiny of scientific work by the entire field.
Paul Krugman – economics Nobel winner – has a different view on that.
… in the good old days you had to publish in the journals, which meant getting through the refereeing process.
My take is that the system never worked like that — or at least not in my professional lifetime.
Krugman then explains how the system does work.
First of all, policy-oriented research was never as centered on refereed journals as we liked to imagine. A lot of the discussion always took place via Federal Reserve and IMF working papers, and even reports from the research departments of investment banks. The rise and fall of Fed policy via targeting of aggregates, for example, was not a debate played out in the pages of the JPE and the QJE.
Second, even for more academic research, the journals ceased being a means of communication a long time ago – more than 20 years ago for sure. New research would be unveiled in seminars, circulated as NBER Working Papers, long before anything showed up in a journal. Whole literatures could flourish, mature, and grow decadent before the first article got properly published – this happened to me with target zones back in the late 1980s, where my original 1988 working paper had spawned a large derivative literature by the time it actually got published. The journals have long served as tombstones, certifications for tenure committees, rather than a forum in which ideas get argued.
So Krugman is suggesting the scrutiny Lewandowsky speaks of occurs before the peer-review process and ‘tombstone’ publication. He goes to argue the value of blogs.
Since there’s some kind of conservation principle here, the fact that it’s easier for people with less formal credentials to get heard means that people who have those credentials are less guaranteed of respectful treatment. So yes, we’ve seen some famous names run into firestorms of criticism — *justified* criticism – even as some “nobodies” become players. That’s a good thing! Famous economists have been saying foolish things forever; now they get called on it.