Re: Peer review [ was: Re: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....]

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Tue Oct 20 2009 - 10:11:51 EDT

On Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 12:57 PM, Murray Hogg
<> wrote:
Hi all,

One of the things that should not be overlooked in regards to peer
review is that it is a varied, multi-stage and open ended process - in
particular, "passing peer review" ISN'T synonymous with getting an
article published in a journal even if it often is used in that sense.

Much of the value of peer review isn't even in the "passing" part but
the submitting part. Outsiders view peer review as only a gate keeper
pass/fail kind of thing. In reality a peer reviewer suggest the need
for more data, alternative hypotheses, etc. Even if the article never
sees the light of day much has been gained. Another thing a peer
reviewer does is to write so-called review articles which explains the
significance of the paper to a non-specialist. You find these in
Science, Nature, and PNAS for example. Oftentimes you see the
accusation here, you aren't a <fill in the blank> how can you comment
on that scientific specialty? Well, for myself, I read the review
articles in all the journals above. It's a great way to move beyond
your own particular specialization. In fact, the design of all three
of these elite journals is to specifically print papers that have
significance to non-specialists.

The difference between ID and the mainstream science is not between
some arbitrary concept of "passing" and "not passing" peer review.
It's the difference between doing and submitting your work to your
peers and doing neither. The student analogy is where the student
disagrees with the teacher and because of it does not do his paper nor
submits it. Then the student claims victory over the teacher and
claims that the F he got was because of academic persecution. That's
what ID is doing. To continue the analogy if a student does end up
submitting a paper that is no guarantee that it will be a good one.
Peer review is the minimum standard. It does not guarantee quality.
The lack of it pretty much guarantees the lack of quality, though.

Over the years I've heard the complaint that ID proponents have been
shut out and blamed their lack of a research program on that. (Michael
Behe was forced to admit under oath they don't have a research program
so this is not merely my opinion.) I've repeatedly asked for names,
papers, and journals where their research program work have been
rejected. When I was told revealing a name would be detrimental to a
young scientist's careers, I've asked for example of just the
journals. Never -- I repeat never -- has anyone been forthcoming with
specific examples. The one example given was when people complained of
editorial misconduct when Meyer published a paper that was off topic
as Sternberg was already leaving being an editor of the journal.
That's not good enough. The claim is that the process of peer review
is being abused to spike papers. Give examples of that.

Doug Axe was supposed to start a journal where the peer reviewers were
not hostile atheists. We've been waiting since 2005. The journal of
the ASA, PSCF, has published ID proponents and the kind of papers we
publish are not required to remain within the narrow strictures of
highly-demarcated science. You can quote Scripture and appeal to
philosophy. We're so "hostile" to ID that we elected one of the
fathers of ID, Walter Bradley, as our President. If ID proponents
want to show the results of their heretofore non-existent research
program, I'm sure that PSCF and their explicitly Christian reviewers
would be more than happy to consider their papers.

It's not that ID has been tried and found wanting. They have been
found untried and like Queen Gertrude in Hamlet they protesteth too

Rich Blinne
Member ASA

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Received on Tue Oct 20 10:12:13 2009

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