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If peer review were a drug, would it get on the market?


Here, we’ve written a fair bit about peer review, but so have lots of sources. Here’s E. Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance (climate Armageddon skeptics),

It now arises that the failures occur not just in climate science but across the board, as the article “Classical Peer Review: An Empty Gun” (published in a peer-reviewed journal!), summarized and commented on here, reveals. Writes Richard Smith in his study of peer review published in Breast Cancer Review:… almost no scientists know anything about the evidence on peer review. It is a process that is central to science – deciding which grant proposals will be funded, which papers will be published, who will be promoted, and who will receive a Nobel prize. We might thus expect that scientists, people who are trained to believe nothing until presented with evidence, would want to know all the evidence available on this important process. Yet not only do scientists know little about the evidence on peer review but most continue to believe in peer review, thinking it essential for the progress of science. Ironically, a faith based rather than an evidence based process lies at the heart of science.

Smith quotes Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of the Journal Of the American Medical Association and intellectual father of the international congresses of peer review that have been held every four years since 1989, as saying, “If peer review was a drug it would never be allowed onto the market,” and goes on to say, “Peer review would not get onto the market because we have no convincing evidence of its benefits but a lot of evidence of its flaws.”

Note: UD News staff, whose combined age is 61 yrs, have been through any number of Armageddishes (pl. of Armageddon?) predicted by peer reviewed publications. They happen, but who predicts them?

So far as I can tell, peer review is just another way of saying, "We disagree with your thesis." No one actually has a problem with the process per se but there is plenty of dispute about who should sit at the editor's desk.Jeffrey Helix
June 20, 2011
02:54 PM

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