PEER REVIEW & SCIENCE GARBAGE (was: Is cannabis addictive ??? was Re: Poitical abuses...

Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Fri Nov 8 09:55:27 EST 1996

On Fri, 8 Nov 1996, Ursula Keuper-Bennett wrote:

> In article <328270BF.60AE at>,
>    Nigel Foden <n.foden at> wrote:
> >Dr E. Buxbaum wrote:
> >Scientific work is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. 
>    Nigel Foden <n.foden at> wrote:
> >Also remember that sometimes, a paper may be biased in its outlook to 
> >reflect the political mood of the time.
> As a layperson, I found the above statements interesting.  Dr. Buxbaum 
> appears to be voicing how the best research is done and the best papers 
> written ("best" meaning recognized by others in the field as work that 
> demonstrates strong science principles and integrity.)
> But I don't think there is much doubt that what Mr. Foden says is also 
> true.  That papers can be biased and reflect the political mood.  
> Both these statements got me thinking.  Here it is.  I figure if 
> scientific work is "90% perspiration and 10% inspiration" then it can't 
> be  biased in its outlook and reflect the political mood of the time, 
> right?
> I mean to some extent a researcher is affected by his time (if nothing 
> else limited to the present knowledge of his discipline) no matter what 
> --but the best try and be aware of it.
> So here is my question.  A paper that is "biased" and/or "reflects the 
> political mood of the time" must have been written by a researcher who 
> was doing more inspirating than perspirating.
> Ignoring the poor grammar, is that a decent conclusion?


Your (often quoted) '90 % prespiration, 10 % inspiration'
is remarkably similar to numerous reflections that about
90 % of all published ('peer reviewed') science is trivial, 
unnecessary, redundant and published just to foster the 
career record (or satisfy graphamania), not to advance 
knowledge in real terms. (a lot of published actually
blocks the new developments).

There is no way to understand the most significant aspects 
of the working of modern science unless you carefully look
at the crux of the problem. That is THE MYTH OF EXPERT PEER
REVIEW ('we, experts, know better'). Anonymous Peer Review 
is the main source of tons of pulp mediocrity, bias(es), 
publsih-persish syndrom, etc. Much of the abuse of the 
research funds ('grantsmanship') is covered up under the 
pretext of the 'peer review objectivity' (the latter never 
was, never will be, as it is impossibility).

Untill and unless we (scientists) find the wisdom/guts/
courage (etc) to scrap the system of secretive peer review 
and replace a system of open (signed) added commenting, our
whole trade is bound to move more and more to the area
of public disdain, neglect and marginalization. And
deservingly so, as the problem is _us_ (not 'they'). 

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

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