[Coral-List] Peer Reviews and Political Arguments

RainbowWarriorsInternational southern_caribbean at yahoo.com
Fri May 23 14:48:34 EDT 2014

The practice of science is not objective, because aside from belief systems and an assumed system of trust in the peer reviewer system, the hallmark of any scientist is his body of published work.

The competition to publish and the selection by publishers of peer reviewers make objectivity difficult.

It is high time that blind reviews of the reviewer systems of scientific publications become a serious topic of investigation.

Because some scientific disciplines produce bodies of work that are more sensitive politically than other, the hypothesis is that the more politically sensitive, the less objective, and to compensate the scientists in mentioned politically sensitive disciplines tend to try to compensate by politically correct themselves and in the effort damage the principle of seeking out the scientific truth how controversial this may be.

This will then be passed on to the peer reviewer system and in scientific publications.

The problem is that scientists let politicians and religious leaders dictate to much.

Point in case the results of the survey:
THE AP-GfK POLL March, 2014
Conducted by GfK Public Affairs & Corporate Communications
A survey of the American general population (ages 18+)
the following questions were asked with the affirmative percentages showing an alarming trend.
The universe is so complex, there must be a supreme being guiding its creation 54% yes
The average temperature of the world is rising, mostly because of man-made heat-trapping greenhouse gases 33% yes
Life on Earth, including human beings, evolved through a process of natural selection 31% yes
The Earth is 4.5 billion years old 27% yes
The universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang 21% yes

It seems that the political and religious belief systems dictate the scientific scene in the USA and the media are their prophets.

Milton Ponson, President
Rainbow Warriors Core Foundation
(Rainbow Warriors International)
Tel. +297 568 5908
PO Box 1154, Oranjestad 
Aruba, Dutch Caribbean 
Email: southern_caribbean at yahoo.com

To unite humanity in a global society dedicated to a sustainable way of life

On Thursday, May 22, 2014 6:18 AM, David Fisk <davefisk at gmail.com> wrote:

Having read the politics-on-Coral List discussion, the point about peer
reviews seemed to be the key issue. Peer reviews are a touchy subject, and
as Gregor once pointed out, they are 'the currency of science'. The
questionable bit is when that currency is used to legitimise claims that a
method or a paper's conclusions, having been 'peer reviewed' supports
concepts which were probably never intended by the authors of the peer
reviewed method or paper. A team of peer reviewers are brought together
with a clear frame of reference for their assessments, but the choice of
reviewer can be difficult to assess as to their 'legitimacy', as a basic
requirement is that they are anonymous. The greatest trust that is required
in the peer review system therefore lies in the
 choice of reviewer by
editors and grant managers. So it is would be wise to always question the
choice of reviewer, as well as the frames of reference peer reviewers are
working under. Not always easy I know.....

Its no wonder there are 'robust arguments' as that is the nature of
scientific discourse and it can't be any other way. That is, unless a new
system of checks and balances are employed in the peer review process so a
reader can determine for themselves the legitimacy of the choice of
reviewers and the frames of reference used, so as to assess the level of
applicability or usefulness of a scientific finding.

I found this interesting extract on Wiki regarding RA Fisher (he of the
F-test fame). 'An inveterate pipe-smoker, Fisher was opposed to the
conclusions .... that smoking causes lung cancer. He compared the
correlations in their papers to a correlation between the import of apples
and the rise of divorce in order to show that correlation does not imply
causation. To quote his biographers, Yates and Mather, "It has been
suggested that the fact that Fisher was employed as consultant by the
tobacco firms in this controversy casts doubt on the value of his
arguments. This is to misjudge the man. He was not above accepting
financial reward for his labours, but the reason for his interest was
undoubtedly his dislike and mistrust of puritanical tendencies of all
kinds; and perhaps also the personal solace he had
 always found in
tobacco." You could ask why he didn't use his F-test to look at the link,
but data for that came later I assume.

Here lies the truth, we are all humans with belief systems, and one has to
admit it's a constant battle to maintain objectivity in scientific
research.  For this reason I support the call to maintain healthy
scepticism on all matters and to support any means to be able to express
alternative viewpoints on all things scientific (eg, Coral List). But maybe
the biggest battle is a personal one in keeping ideology out of it. I
suspect this what Doug was alluding to in his recent post on Coral List and
political arguments.

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