Friday, March 30, 2007

Why does Peer Review Protect the Literature from Loonies ?

It appears that peer review has indeed succeeded in the minimal accomplishment of excluding total nutcases from the scientific literature.

I wonder why. In peer review the referees are chosen by the editor. The editor makes the final decision. It should be easy for a rich nutcase to set up a peer reviewed nutcase journal in which the peers chosen to referee articles belong to the same deranged sect as the editor and the authors of the articles. What's the problem. Peer review is a process. It's content is based on the choice of the peers. That choice is made, in secret, by editors. I could tell you stories about cronyism leading to a lazy good for nothing getting articles published by editors who are his personal friends, but I don't want to talk dirt on my personal friends.

One famous example of the insanity exclusion, is the fact that all peer reviewed articles on global warming present evidence that supports the claim that human activities are, at least, the major factor in recent warming. I think this happened because the claim is true and said human activities result in such a mass of evidence that any serious honest inquiry reaches that conclusion. Others (cough senator Inhofe cough) might consider this the result of a conspiracy by editors of peer reviewed journals to mislead us.

Another example is abstinence only sex eduction. The claim that it has benefits is not supported by the peer reviewed literature hence

Progressives' focus on scientific legitimacy in their critiques has put abstinence-only advocates, who have long enjoyed their favored status within the Bush administration, on the defensive. They've resorted to citing non-peer-reviewed studies by outfits like the Heritage Foundation to back up the claim that their science is sound and accusing peer-reviewed journals of conspiring to silence them. "What they are saying is that, in order to be medically and scientifically accurate, you must be verified and supported in your research by peer review," Focus on the Family's Linda Klepacki told the Christian Examiner. "Abstinence education cannot get into peer-review journals because the journals are controlled by far-left liberal organizations that do not allow us to publish. That automatically eliminates abstinence-only education, from their standpoint."
But I mean jesus, if Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson can set up their own "universities" why can't they set up a peer reviewed journal ?

I assume this blog is not read by much of anyone and certainly not by rich right wing nut cases, or I wouldn't make the suggestion.

Update from comments
Maxine said...

The peer-reviewed journal owned by the nutcase would have a very low impact factor, so nobody would submit to it. it would have a low impact factor because all it would publish would be articles that passed the secret cabal of "nutcase sympathiser" peer-reviewers, hence nobody would read the journal except the nutcases, and there would not be enough of them for the journal to qualify for an impact factor -- or if it did, the impact factor would be about 0.1 and nobody sane would ever submit to it.

True Maxine, but the cut off appears to be "peer reviewed" not "peer reviewed with an impact factor over 0.1". Also, even though same journal cites are not (always) counted. It would be easy for mr Rich wingnut to set up two wingnut journals which cite each other. Citation analysis can't protect the literature from a group of pointless mutually citing journals as is agreed by almost all economists and sociologists (who tend to disagree about what the group of pointless journals is).

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, you are indeed being carefully monitored.

anne

Anonymous said...

Remember?

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/samson/drama/index.shtml

1671

Samson Agonistes
By John Milton

The Persons.

Samson
Manoa the Father of Samson
Dalila his Wife
Harapha of Gath
Publick Officer
Messenger
Chorus of Danites

The Scene before the Prison in Gaza.

Samson

A Little onward lend thy guiding hand
To these dark steps, a little further on;
For yonder bank hath choice of Sun or shade,
There I am wont to sit, when any chance
Relieves me from my task of servile toyl, [ 5 ]
Daily in the common Prison else enjoyn'd me,
Where I a Prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw
The air imprison'd also, close and damp,
Unwholsom draught: but here I feel amends,
The breath of Heav'n fresh-blowing, pure and sweet, [ 10 ]
With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.

This day a solemn Feast the people hold
To Dagon thir Sea-Idol, and forbid
Laborious works, unwillingly this rest
Thir Superstition yields me; hence with leave [ 15 ]
Retiring from the popular noise, I seek
This unfrequented place to find some ease,
Ease to the body some, none to the mind
From restless thoughts, that like a deadly swarm
Of Hornets arm'd, no sooner found alone, [ 20 ]
But rush upon me thronging, and present
Times past, what once I was, and what am now.

O wherefore was my birth from Heaven foretold
Twice by an Angel, who at last in sight
Of both my Parents all in flames ascended [ 25 ]
From off the Altar, where an Off'ring burn'd,
As in a fiery column charioting
His Godlike presence, and from some great act
Or benefit reveal'd to Abraham's race?

Why was my breeding order'd and prescrib'd [ 30 ]
As of a person separate to God,
Design'd for great exploits; if I must dye
Betray'd, Captiv'd, and both my Eyes put out,
Made of my Enemies the scorn and gaze;
To grind in Brazen Fetters under task [ 35 ]
With this Heav'n-gifted strength? O glorious strength
Put to the labour of a Beast, debas't
Lower then bondslave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;
Ask for this great Deliverer now, and find him [ 40 ]
Eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves,
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke;
Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt
Divine Prediction; what if all foretold
Had been fulfill'd but through mine own default, [ 45 ]
Whom have I to complain of but my self?

Who this high gift of strength committed to me,
In what part lodg'd, how easily bereft me,
Under the Seal of silence could not keep,
But weakly to a woman must reveal it, [ 50 ]
O'recome with importunity and tears.

O impotence of mind, in body strong!

But what is strength without a double share
Of wisdom, vast, unwieldy, burdensom,
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall [ 55 ]
By weakest subtleties, not made to rule,
But to subserve where wisdom bears command.

God, when he gave me strength, to shew withal
How slight the gift was, hung it in my Hair.

But peace, I must not quarrel with the will [ 60 ]
Of highest dispensation, which herein
Happ'ly had ends above my reach to know:
Suffices that to me strength is my bane,
And proves the sourse of all my miseries;
So many, and so huge, that each apart [ 65 ]
Would ask a life to wail, but chief of all,
O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!

Blind among enemies, O worse then chains,
Dungeon, or beggery, or decrepit age!

Light the prime work of God to me is extinct, [ 70 ]
And all her various objects of delight
Annull'd, which might in part my grief have eas'd,
Inferiour to the vilest now become
Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me,
They creep, yet see, I dark in light expos'd [ 75 ]
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse and wrong,
Within doors, or without, still as a fool,
In power of others, never in my own;
Scarce half I seem to live, dead more then half.

O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, [ 80 ]
Irrecoverably dark, total Eclipse
Without all hope of day!

O first created Beam, and thou great Word,
Let there be light, and light was over all;
Why am I thus bereav'd thy prime decree? [ 85 ]

The Sun to me is dark
And silent as the Moon,
When she deserts the night
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.

Since light so necessary is to life, [ 90 ]
And almost life itself, if it be true
That light is in the Soul,
She all in every part; why was the sight
To such a tender ball as th' eye confin'd?

So obvious and so easie to be quench't, [ 95 ]
And not as feeling through all parts diffus'd,
That she might look at will through every pore?

Then had I not been thus exil'd from light;
As in the land of darkness yet in light,
To live a life half dead, a living death, [ 100 ]
And buried; but O yet more miserable!

anne

Maxine said...

The peer-reviewed journal owned by the nutcase would have a very low impact factor, so nobody would submit to it. it would have a low impact factor because all it would publish would be articles that passed the secret cabal of "nutcase sympathiser" peer-reviewers, hence nobody would read the journal except the nutcases, and there would not be enough of them for the journal to qualify for an impact factor -- or if it did, the impact factor would be about 0.1 and nobody sane would ever submit to it.