FX/JAMA/Peer Review

Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Sun Dec 10 11:44:21 EST 1995

On Sat, 9 Dec 1995 U27111 at UICVM.CC.UIC.EDU wrote:

> ckrepel at post.its.mcw.edu (Candace Krepel) wrote on 8 Dec 1995
> 08:41:52 -0600:
> >As I am sure you know, the scientific method requires that the
> >investigator control for all factors other than the one being
> >tested.

> And I'm sure you know just how much garbage does get published
> under the guise that the scientific method was followed!

Garbage in science (all disciplines) gets published in 
astronomical quantities BECAUSE of peer review and 
resulting from it paper counting mentality (it is
"prestigeous" to publish "peer reviewed" paper in
"prestigeous" journal - no matter the content or "who
reads it ?").

"The more the better" is the prime principle in modern science
(after it became an industry), and I've heard things like  
"... he must be a dead wood because he publishers ONLY two
papers per year ..." 
(Copernicus had one in a whole life).  

Quality and originality are largely periferal. Furtheremore,
for the most part they are liability rather than an asset. 
Conformism and fashion tailing is what really brings a premium 
bonus. For more on the production driven research culture see,
e.g. John Ziman, "Promepheus Bound", Cambridge University 
Press, 1994.

Only the scrapping of anonymous peer review system and its 
replacemet by a system of open commenting to all published 
(electronically and/or paper-bound) papers will relieve 
science from publish-perish trap and release the creative 
energy of scientists towards solving REAL problems instead 
spending their lives to fight pseudo-problems of prestige, 
grantsmanship, "competition" and other crap.   

Alexander A. Berezin, PhD
Department of Engineering Physics
McMaster University, Hamilton,
Ontario, Canada, L8S 4L7
tel. (905) 525-9140 ext. 24546

> I've worked in labs where people don't bother running controls...
> or better yet, made up their control reagents separate from test
> reagents (ie., they found the controls worked better if they made
> them with double distilled water; but made up the test reagents in
> just plain in house DI water).
> Or do cell counts using a dirty hemacytometer... but as long as it
> was consistently dirty... that was ok.
> Or they represent data obtained from a certain cell line as being
> valid... completely ignoring that fact that this particular cell
> line use to be a suspension culture... but that some how
> miraculously spontaneously mutated into a monolayer culture while
> they were working with it [genetic drift... you know :-) ]
> And all this stuff gets published... leaving out these little
> details of course.
> You know, things like that.
> >I don't believe the JAMA study (even without reading it, because
> >of the aforementioned personal experience), but if FX, or anyone
> >else, wishes to refute the findings of the author(s) of the JAMA
> >article, their science needs to be much more rigorous than that
> >reported by the poster.
> I don't know... in total and complete honesty... I found the FX
> experiment more rigorous then those performed by some I've worked
> with in past labs (who've gotten published and received monies).
> But I will agree with you that it wasn't as rigorous or complete as
> truly using the scientific method would be.  But quit frankly, very
> few in our business actually use it properly... most people abuse
> it.
> And as for using it to 'refute' a JAMA publication... I think by
> the fact most parents who raise their own children would disagree
> with this JAMA's study alone should question exactly what
> scientific method did these people use in the first place to report
> such a thing?
> Or is it because it was reported in JAMA and thus it shouldn't be
> questioned at all... and thus 'much more' would be need to refute
> it?
> Personally, I think this just goes to show JAMA is no better or
> worst then every other medical journal out there which reports
> garbage... just because they are JAMA doesn't mean they are any
> better at reporting scientific truths.

> -Kathy

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