I have often been wearied by legends in their own lunchroom huffing that science differs from other endeavours because it is “self-correcting.”
To which I reply: Aw come off it, fellas. Any system that does not go extinct is self-correcting – after it collapses on its hind end. This is true of governments, businesses, churches, and not-for-profit organizations. I’ve seen enough of life to know.
Here’s a classic: At The Scientist’s NewsBlog, Bob Grant reveals (May 7, 2009) that
Scientific publishing giant Elsevier put out a total of six publications between 2000 and 2005 that were sponsored by unnamed pharmaceutical companies and looked like peer reviewed medical journals, but did not disclose sponsorship, the company has admitted.
Elsevier is conducting an “internal review” of its publishing practices after allegations came to light that the company produced a pharmaceutical company-funded publication in the early 2000s without disclosing that the “journal” was corporate sponsored
[ … ]
The allegations involve the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, a publication paid for by pharmaceutical company Merck that amounted to a compendium of reprinted scientific articles and one-source reviews, most of which presented data favorable to Merck’s products. The Scientist obtained two 2003 issues of the journal — which bore the imprint of Elsevier’s Excerpta Medica — neither of which carried a statement obviating Merck’s sponsorship of the publication.
The linked related stories and comments are most illuminating, and bear out my critique of “peer review” here. Let’s just say that peer review started out as a good idea, but …
(Note: There is no paywall, but you may need to register to view the story, .)
Also, today at Colliding Universes
Neutrinos: Sudbury Neutrino Observatory does the sun’s bookkeeping
Origin of life: The live cat vs. the dead cat
Cosmology: Wow. It takes guts to wage war with Stephen Hawking … he appeared in Star Trek
Universe: Arguments against flatness (plus exposing sloppy science writing)
Origin of life: Latest scenario gives RNA world a boost
Colliding Universes is my blog on competing theories about our universe.