Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Mon Mar 18 23:55:10 EST 1996

On 18 Mar 1996, Michael S. Straka wrote:
> I think you are exactly right in proposing that "experts" in one 
> area should be responsible for recommendations in another, NOT their
> own area.  You are correct in stating that the view from within one's 
> own discipline often gets skewed by prevailing lines of thought, based
> on the reputation of certain people, or for some other reason.  

> I wonder why this approach hasn't been adopted by the present 
> scientific hierarchy? 

Precisely for this reason, Mike. Any hierarchy has only one
key interest in mind - to keep the power of control with whatever
means it has. Scientific hierarchy is not exception. And the
ONLY real weapon it has is its (truly impressive, I admit)
ability to impose complex of inferiority on (essentially all)
other members of society, i.e. on all who are not scientists
themselves. This is a power of shamanism - to make most
things as ununderstandabe as possible. There is no more sure
way to ruin your reputation in science than to write in an
understanable, expanatory way. [ goog reading: Freeeman
Dyson, 'Infinite in both direction' ]. Most modern science
(with possible exception of some engineering disciplines)
is based on deliberate cabblistics, to keep uninitiated
trembling (and they do).

So, those people who aspire to make a difference should not
waste time re-educating scientific elite. It is as futile
as lecturing on the monarchy abolition starting at the Buckingham 
Palace. Instead, the explanatory efforts (King has no pants) 
should be directed to those who actually control the purse.   
If someone will succeed in expalining what is 'anonymous
peer review' to Gingrich & team, this may not be a that bad 
start. At least they may start questioning NIH myth.

Alex Berezin

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