Peer Review

Peer review. It’s not always what you think.

Publisher discovers 50 manuscripts involving fake peer reviewers

Also … check this out.  Fascinating.

Oooh, and I like this, too — added by the guy in the film as a comment.  “Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit”

1.  Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”

2. Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.

3. Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.

4. Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.

5. Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours.  Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will.

6. Quantify. If whatever it is you’re explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you’ll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses.

7.  If there’s a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) — not just most of them.

8. Occam’s Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler.

9. Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Inveterate skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same result.

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About philmon

Part mountain junkie, part decent amateur photographer, part survivalist, part not-so-decent amateur musician, part sysadmin. Husband, step-dad, grandpa, and music freak who digs mechanical clocks, barometers, and Gil Elvgren pinups. Studied Meteorolgy & Computer Science. And the U.S. Constitution.

One thought on “Peer Review

  1. Severian

    Love it!!

    I would add 10) Use clear, easily-explained terms; avoid specialist jargon unless there is absolutely no alternative.

    This would eliminate so many problems in all but the hardest hard sciences. Most people would realize what question-begging farces “gender studies,” “critical race theory,” etc. are if they were forced to speak in normal English. It still won’t eliminate the problem — as we’ve all observed in endless go-rounds with the Cuttlefish, it’s not just Bill Clinton who has seventeen different definitions of “is” — but at some point, most rational people just go “ok, you’ve said five different things in response to a simple yes/no question; you’re full of shit; I’m done listening to you.”

    The IQ level of public discourse would jump 30 points overnight.

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