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Isn’t cheating in science journals just part of survival of the fittest?


The way David Coppedge puts it at Creation-Evolution Headlines, that’s a reasonable question.

Predatory publishers’ latest scam: bootlegged and rebranded papers (Nature). We’ve mentioned the problem of predatory journals before (13 Feb 20212 Aug 2018). Now, they are evolving (by malicious intelligent design) to get around efforts to stop them. Why write bogus science when you can steal and rebrand other scientists’ work? It has already passed peer review, so cheaters can dodge efforts to root out fake science. The materialist pro-Darwin rag Nature is flustered about this trend, but what can it do? Isn’t this an example of survival of the fittest or evolutionary game theory in action? Maybe it’s just an evolutionary arms race. Nature believes that evolutionary arms races emerge from time to time, like bees against wasps, butterflies against birds, or moths against bats. Those symbioses are not right or wrong. They just are. Why are not predatory journals examples of the same phenomenon?

David F. Coppedge, “Character Flaws Give Big Science Woes” at Creation-Evolution Headlines (November 13, 2021)

If it’s only wrong when we do it, that must be because we are not just animals.

You may also wish to read: Neil deGrasse Tyson vs. SteakUmm on the philosophy of science The thing is, the saucy social media team at Steak-Umm has a point: What does it mean to say that science is “true”? Was all the contradictory nonsense barked at us during the COVID pandemic “true”? That isn’t even possible. Yet all the barkers will insist that whatever stuff they said was “science” and we will, it seems have to believe them on that one. But with what outcome… we shall see.


Springer Nature retracts 44 “utter nonsense” papers. As we’ve noted earlier, it’s getting to the point where “Trust the science!” is sounding more ridiculous all the time. It’s like saying “Trust the mountains” or “Trust milk.” It’s not a rational response to a lot of what we face just now.

In a later blog post, Coppedge asks this very insightful question: "If integrity evolved, couldn't it also devolve?" Likewise, we could ask here: "If honesty evolved, couldn't it devolve as well so that dishonesty becomes more desirable and useful than honesty?" If everything including "truth" evolved, then basically nothing has meaning. One day it can be in vogue and the next day, evolution could head in a new direction and evolve a different value/moral. This kind of takes away the possibility of ever really knowing anything. It certainly means that no one can honestly say that "cheating" is wrong! After all, it evolved, like everything else so there can really be no right or wrong in such a world. And even if evolution tells us that today cheating is wrong, perhaps at some point, our world will evolve into a world where cheating is beneficial and good. Isn't atheism wonderful? It frees us from having to be honest, true, just, loving, etc. Anything goes. Nothing is truly wrong in an objective sense. Lie to get ahead if you have to. Cheat on your wife if you can get away with it. Live your life however you want to. Free yourself from all man-made moral restraints and just enjoy your life. What could go wrong with that? tjguy
First off - I'm not claiming that there aren't predatory journals - there certainly are. However, I worry that the phrase "predatory journal" is being used as a means to solidify monopolies in scientific publishing. If you look at publication charges at standard journals (often $2,000 per article, even for short articles), and note that these journals have themselves made some huge errors in judgement, including allowing TOTAL NONSENSE to be published, what exactly is the line between predatory and non-predatory publishers? Journal: "Don't publish with predatory journals who take your money but don't perform quality control." Author: "Why? What might happen?" Journal: "Your work might be published along with total jibberish." Author: "You mean, like in your own journals where you haven't bothered to make sure that even the titles make basic sense, much less the rest of the paper?" Add to that the fact that journals have been openly engaging in partisan hackery (by their own admission). So, you don't have quality control, but you do have partisan hackery, but we want to be sure that you don't go to some *other* journal and give your money to *them*. Gotcha. johnnyb
Predatory journals are a problem. From experience, they prey on people from outside the traditional science community who have published one or two papers in legitimate journals. Even though the original publications have merit, these predators tweak the egos of people who aren’t regular authors on scientific papers. Joe Schooner
There's a missed step in this argument. Nature certainly does throw out a huge overabundance of seeds and eggs, and lets conditions and predators reduce them to the most survivable. But millions of unnecessary journal articles don't have an AUTOMATIC selector. The few good ones will not automatically germinate and sprout innovations. They passively depend on readers, who are simply turned off by the quantity and no longer trying to select the best. polistra

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