Peer Review Reviewed

I quote her with care, as she derails easily, but it’s a well-stated opinion:

“If there is any one way to confess one’s own mediocrity, it is the willingness to place one’s work in the absolute power of a group, particularly a group of one’s professional colleagues. Of any form of tyranny, this is the worst; it is directed against a single human attribute: the mind–and against a single enemy: the innovator.

The innovator, by definition, is the man who challenges the established practices of his profession. To grant a professional monopoly to any group, is to sacrifice human ability and abolish progress; to advocate such  a monopoly, is to confess that one has nothing to sacrifice.”

– Ayn Rand, “The Return of the Primitive”

Take that, peer review

On that note, and after years of observing it, I can agree that the value of peer review truly seems to be to repress movement. “Reproducibility” should be the measure of success in any venture, and reproducibility can be seen by any 3rd grader…



  1. Yes, I recommend a panel of third graders to review AIDS “science.” It wouldn’t survive a couple of hours in there: “What do you mean, African monkeys? Didn’t you just say Asian monkeys? And didn’t they never die of AIDS? And how do people have sex with animals that can tear someone’s face off? Are you making this stuff up, Mister? Can I have my candy bar now?”

  2. It’s not just AIDS science that is screwed up by the current peer review system. It’s all of them.

    In the Geo-physical sciences, you hear the assumptive nature of peer reviewed, standard theory in the words “Well, most Geologists agree that______”. You can fill in that blank any way you like. And the resulting sentence will still belong in the same category with, “Most high priests, and scribes agree that the world is a flat disk, carried through time on the back of a big turtle, while the sun, moon, and stars dance merrily across the heavens above”.

    And the peer reviewed system has never been about verification of empirical truth. It’s always been about getting ‘support’ for an idea. Unsupported ideas don’t bring paychecks. Whether, or not it’s truth, or fact, has nothing to do with it.

    In the current system it is ok to question any proven fact with another test. And the pockets that pay for additional testing are deep. But the older an unquestioned assumption is, the more sacred it is. And old assumptions seem to take on a lifeforce of their own, until even the most empirical of facts that discount them are not allowed to be considered. And are vigorously opposed.

    As a baby boomer, it’s a little said to note that in an era we had grown up believing that mankind would be venturing to the stars, 21st century Uniformitarian Geology, and many other sciences as well, have become fossilized into an impenetrable, cross-webulated, tangle work of untestable, unquestioned, 19th century, mutual-inter-assumptive confabulation.

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