Re: [asa] Trees don't lie

From: <>
Date: Fri Mar 20 2009 - 19:12:37 EDT

Thanks, Glenn for this data-packed and well-written rebuttal-rebuttal. I learn
a lot about GR issues reading from those of you who take the time to do such
research (whether professionally or personally).

Regarding your low appraisal of the value of peer-review, I have a not-so-data
packed response ---or question, rather.

Before writing off peer-review as 'the perpetuation of scientific noise', I
would want to know what percentage of Nobel-meriting papers are mistakenly
filtered out. If the nebulous 'review process' managed to recognize and
publish, say 95% of all Nobel-level papers with revolutionary work and at the
same time filtered out, say 75% of all the quackery "true noise" that distracts
from real progress, then I would conclude that the peer process is quite
beneficial towards getting attention focused where it needs to be. To write the
process off for the 5% missed (just a made-up figure) is akin to castigating the
FBI or CIA for not having picked out the one phone tip out of the millions they
received that turned out to be the real terrorist threat. The public with
hind-sight happily dog-piles them with blame for not acting to prevent the
threat which after all was "known" because the info. had been in the pile on
their desk. Peer reviewers probably wish they had a crystal ball just as much
as the law-enforcement agencies also wish for one.

On the other hand, if the peer review process has historically only netted, say
50% of all retroactively recognized papers of merit, and 80% of what they let
through is spurious, then I would be more inclined to agree with your low
estimate of that process. But without some handle on this "data", the anecdotal
cases you raise probably shouldn't be thought of as very conclusive. And, no, I
haven't researched this --and I'm not asking anybody else to either; I don't
even know if such "data" can be easily tracked or compiled without historical
bias rendering it useless.

I'll be looking forward to see if anyone responds to your challenges.


Quoting Glenn Morton <>:

> There is a reply to Rich's criticism at the bottom of this post on my blog

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Received on Fri Mar 20 19:13:17 2009

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