Peer review is dead; Long live the free Inter-Networks!

Ah, forget about peer review. All those arguments against it, and then you throw it all away by simply saying that peer review is good, we just need good peer *reviewers*.

But having peer reviewers are exactly what is wrong with this thing. It’s a moral hazard, a massive temptation for enforcing conformity.

The greatest advancements in science history have been made against the resistance of the cabal of the majority of those who make a living based on the ideas they believe in, or have vested interest in.

Joao Mageijo, British Royal Fellowship recipient, wrote of his wrestling match with peer reviewers trying to get his paper published on his theory of the variable speed of light.

The article mentions the Krebs Cycle. Consider a recent episode in which a solution to the problem of “P versus NP” was proposed on the Internet directly, no “publishing”, no peer review, straight to the Web. It only took one day for dozens, maybe hundreds, to prove that the “proof” was wrong.

The Internet has already killed any lingering relevance peer review may have had. The Internet, or rather the penetration of interconnected electronic communications networks (doesn’t have to be “the” Internet) involves media that are basic and ubiquitous change to culture and the body politic, that it promises historical upheavals comparable to the discovery of the printing press.

So “peer review” today as a gatekeeper for the scarce resources of paper publication, is defunct. Its defenders are those who have already entrenched themselves in positions of power and authority in their respective disciplines, and wish to protect their emotional and career investments. Or call it “feeling threatened” by the wild free-for-all of the Internet.

Crazy ideas about and are quickly also shot down in the wider context of the Internet, and relegated to the dunce corner. Giving them wide coverage quickly exposes their flaws.

You can now tell which ideas are on shaky ground by how much they depend on peer review today for their continued circulation, in fact. Climate-gate exposed one of those. Creationist scientists’ papers are shut out when the science is sound, because the authoritarians in power “cannot allow a divine foot in the door”. That’s a quote from one of them, in his “explanation” for why scientists hold ideas that make no sense.

It’s like Gamaliel at the council of the Sanhedrin discussing the apostles in the book of Acts. “But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” Acts 5:39.



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