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Peer review: Gold standard or gold in them thar hills?

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Here is a piece I just put up elsewhere, in five parts, on peer review.


Part One: If peer review always worked before, why doesn’t it work now?

Part Two: How bad can it get? Pretty bad.

Part Three: How the system is slowly becoming more open and dynamic, whether anyone wants it to or not

Part Four:How will we know if a more open system works better?

Gil, got it, thanks! Tribune7... Darn fundamentalist... and I thought they were "running" the future, now I see they done gone and already "runned" the present and past! I knew it! When DollyWorld was built! I knew this nation would never survive the mountains of fundamentalism being forced upon our poor, unable to think for themselves society! Sigh, I weep, I cry.... we are doomed, doooooomed! Wait, I call on the forces of righteous humanist and atheist! You know! The ones who feed the millions in Africa, Asia and South America! Heed the call! ACLU! NCSE! Sound the mighty voice of reason, clarity and balance from the streets of San Francisco! From now on I insist, all school children must read Dawkins's Delusional Tyrade, I mean, Dawkins is Delusional, I mean... We are all evolutionary delusionalist with little gods in our heads, we are a happy accident, and evolutionary psychology proves it by clearly reductive reasoning. All expert scientist agree... God is Dead, Darwinism Liveeees I telllll you, Heeee livvveeessssss.... aaaaaaaaaaahahararrrrggggggh! Hey, where am I? Is this Iowa? Michaels7
Generally, a peer-reviewer can only review a paper's general approach. In just a few hours or a few days, a peer-reviewer generally cannot verify such things as computer calculations or involved mathematical derivations, let alone the results of long experiments. Often even the co-author of a paper has not verified results from other co-authors. Darwinists have made a fetish of peer review. Peer review is often used to enforce orthodoxy. The terms "peer review," "peer reviewed," and "peer-reviewed" appear 21 times in Judge Jones' Kitzmiller v. Dover opinion. It is noteworthy that neither this opinion nor any other decision in the case was peer-reviewed prior to release. An appeal might be considered to be a form of peer review, but there was no appeal in Kitzmiller. Larry Fafarman
On a quasi-related topic, this illustrates the problems caused by letting religious fanatics teach science.
A least half of eighth graders tested in science failed to demonstrate even a basic understanding of the subject in 9 of 10 major cities, and fourth graders, the only other group tested, fared little better, according to results released here Wednesday. The outcome of those tests, part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the nation’s report card, showed that student performance in urban public schools was not only poor but also far short of science scores in the nation as a whole. Half or a little more of the eighth-grade students in Charlotte, San Diego and Boston lacked a basic grasp of science. In six of the other cities — New York, Houston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Atlanta — the share of eighth graders without that knowledge was even higher, ranging from about three-fifths in New York to about four-fifths in Atlanta. By comparison, the corresponding share for the nation as a whole was 43 percent.
I mean fundamentalist religious-right types are running our inner city schools, right? Right?? tribune7
Michaels7: "Imagine experiments carried out online..." See my comment on Stardust@home here. GilDodgen
Enjoyed the article Denyse. You're right there will be some garbage at first. But as these new Sci-Net Dynamic Pub services unfold, they'll develop mechanisms to prevent frauds and still allow a fresh look into to new proposals. They all must go this route eventually because as you say, competition demands it as information increases at an exponential rate. Plus we should remember fraud still occurs thru Peer-Review anyway. South Korea proved that with cloning. SciAm's Amateur Scientist model could be opened up and included in these new adventures for both students and enthusiast to participate at their own pace, levels and possible competition, which would help more people learn and participate in scientific pursuits. Those who complain about the publics ignorance of science are themselves guilty of keeping them ignorant and "susceptable." People learn by doing. The internet opens a whole new way for scientific hobbyist to participate on a level previously untouched with interactive feedback with new online softwar networking models. Think of Games being transitioned into working groups onine in the future with full 3D functionality and access to robotic labs. Imagine experiments carried out online, much like any other teaching mechanism today with variable choices and outcomes and a follow up review in Chemistry Lab classes without the messes or mistakes before doing the physical lab work. Because this is where labs are going anyway in the real world. Just like training in medical procedures. Science can only benefit from this in the end. Doctors guide and assiste in operations around the world. Scientific labwork will be done the same way on larger scales. And people will be able to learn with a new onhands approach to such skillsets, much like the vocational programs, yet with a souped up computer reality kit. I particularly enjoyed this quote by Tipler, "Today, Einstein’s papers would be sent to some total nonentity at Podunk U, who, being completely incapable of understanding important new ideas, would reject the papers for publication. "Peer" review is very unlikely to be peer review for the Einsteins of the world. We have a scientific social system in which intellectual pygmies are standing in judgment of giants." And I had not realized the Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman from St. Petersburg had submitted to arXiv! I knew he was unconventional in his acceptance and turning down the limelight, but was not aware he sidestepped traditional submissions. It is exactly these type of people Einstein would love today :) Break the mold. Michaels7
Although peer review is always good, the decision to publish is often made on the basis of the referee's reports. I myself tend to write articles that give a different point of view on evolution and are therefore per definition controversial. So, if three reviewers are used, one can be certain that at least one of them doesn't like the manuscript (because it is controversial in nature). That will make it difficult to publish controversial papers. It makes it also difficult to publish anything out of the mainstream, since the reviewers often wish that, in order to be publishable, you have to make revisions to the controversial parts. Only after you have established yourself as a respected mainstream scientist, you are free to publish whatever just-so stories you can think of. AdR

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