Re: [asa] Trees don't lie

From: George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
Date: Sat Mar 21 2009 - 07:52:09 EDT

I've been involved in peer review both as a reviewer & reviewee, & in both
physics & theology. You can certainly encounter reviewers who either
haven't read the paper carefully or, in a few cases, who aren't sufficiently
familiar with the area of the paper to be reviewing it in the 1st place.
(The latter situation may arise when someone agrees to be a ref without
fully understanding what the topic is going to be & should, when he/she
finds out, return the paper to the editor apologetically.) Unfortunately
refs who are really experts are likely to be very busy people who will give
the paper only a quick read & perhaps miss subtleties. That can work both
ways - either for rejection or for approval of something that looks
superficially OK but isn't.

That much for the negatives. I would have to say from my experience though
that on balance the review process is beneficial for authors. It forces
them to clarify arguments and correct errors that are not fatal to their
argument but that would weaken the overall thrust of the paper. & in some
cases refs can call the authors attention to other papers that they weren't
aware of that are relevant to the topic in question.

Shalom
George
http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm

----- Original Message -----
From: "William Hamilton" <willeugenehamilton@gmail.com>
To: <mrb22667@kansas.net>
Cc: "Glenn Morton" <glennmorton@entouch.net>; "asa" <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Friday, March 20, 2009 7:50 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Trees don't lie

> 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, <mrb22667@kansas.net> 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 <glennmorton@entouch.net>:
>>
>>> There is a reply to Rich's criticism at the bottom of this post on my
>>> blog
>>> http://themigrantmind.blogspot.com/2009/03/noise-in-system-guest-post-with.html
>>>
>>
>>
>>
>> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
>> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
>>
>
>
>
> --
> William E (Bill) Hamilton Jr., Ph.D.
> Member American Scientific Affiliation
> Austin, TX
> 248 821 8156
>
>
> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
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>
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Received on Sat Mar 21 07:52:35 2009

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