Re: [asa] Trees don't lie

From: William Hamilton <>
Date: Fri Mar 20 2009 - 19:50:48 EDT

For those of us who have faced reviewers, peer review is probably a
mixed blessing. It's difficult to deal with the objections of a
reviewer who obviously didn't read the paper carefully. OTOH perhaps
it points to where more emphasis is needed to get the reviewer (and
future readers) on the right track. At its best peer review will
eliminate many crackpot papers. At its worst it will ensure that only
what conforms to the prevailing "party line" will get published. But
can you suggest an alternative?

On Fri, Mar 20, 2009 at 6:12 PM, <> wrote:
> 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.
> --Merv
> Quoting Glenn Morton <>:
>> There is a reply to Rich's criticism at the bottom of this post on my blog
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William E (Bill) Hamilton Jr., Ph.D.
Member American Scientific Affiliation
Austin, TX
248 821 8156
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Received on Fri Mar 20 19:51:18 2009

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