Mailvox: science is a thing of the past

A mathematician/physicist writes of the negative effect peer review has on science:

I am writing concerning some pieces of yours I’ve seen which appear to be examining the peer review process in science. There can be little doubt that the peer review system presently in place is flawed, to the extent that it is doing science a grave disservice. I have now retired after being a senior lecturer at an English university in mathematics until 2002, before transferring to physics where I remained until retirement in 2008. In that time I have seen the reviewing standards in many of the so-called prestigious physics journals, as well as more general journals such as Nature, slump. I have also noted a difference in attitude from editors. Now they usually refuse to discuss any submission; if a paper is rejected, that is normally the end of the matter.

I catalogued cases in a number of areas of physics in a book “Exploding a Myth: ‘Conventional Wisdom’ or Scientific Truth?” There is little doubt, although I cannot prove it, that those controlling science and scientific funding in the UK would not have wanted this book publicised since, if the general public became aware of what is really going on, they might be less inclined to fund these hugely expensive dubious projects like the Large Hadron Collider and LISA. Incidentally you might be interested in some of the cases I discussed, particularly the one where I and a colleague took Nature to the Press Complaints Authority – and won. It’s worth noting that “Against the Tide” by Martin Corredoira and Carlos Perelman is similarly not as well known as it should be. It too reveals much of what’s going on in science. It should be realised that everything simply supports the status quo; anything that might rock the boat is buried. Hence, truly original science is becoming a thing of the past.

It sounds like a pair of interesting books, well worth checking out. What far too many scienthologists fail to understand is that it is not the critics of science who pose a real and present danger to science, but rather the very scientists whose abuse and misuse of it are being criticized. If the public begins to tire of funding science, which is a probability in the more negative economic scenarios, scientists will have no one to blame but the charlatans and ideologues in their midst.