Left hand, right hand — Elsevier remains ignorant about science
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/06/25
Peer reviewers base their judgment on what they (believe they) know. People are asked to serve as peer reviewers because they have achieved solidly within the framework of the contemporary consensus. Peer review always favors the status quo and rejects the most promising novelties (examples galore in Bernard Barber, Resistance by scientists to scientific discovery, Science, 134  596–602).
David Horrobin founded Medical Hypotheses to publish interesting novelties that could not pass peer review.
Elsevier fired Editor Bruce Charlton for publishing what could not pass “peer” review because those “peers” are dogmatists of HIV/AIDS theory.
Now Elsevier has issued the non-sequitur, oxymoronic announcement that it is going to maintain Horrobin’s vision by instituting peer review at Medical Hypotheses under a new editor.
It would be laughable, were it not so tragic, with tragic consequences for untold numbers of human beings, that so much of what passes for science, medical science, scientific publication, and science punditry is similarly lacking the most fundamental understanding of the character of everything to do with research, publication, and scientific activity in general.
“New editor for Medical Hypotheses
. . .
First, we will retain the ethos, heritage and unique characteristics of the journal as they were proposed at inception, . . . . Second, we will engage a medically qualified editorial board to get members more involved in the review system to help ensure radical new ideas and speculations in medicine are given open-minded consideration while ensuring scientific merit.”
However, “most of the board planned to resign in response to Elsevier’s changes to the journal”: because they understand that “open-minded consideration” and “ensuring scientific merit” constitute an oxymoron when the judgment of scientific merit is to be made by people whose views are based on the prevailing mainstream consensus. And when the judgment is not based on that, then articles will be published like those withdrawn by Elsevier in response to protests from upholders of the mainstream consensus.
The new editor simply cannot do what he pledges to do, no matter how much he may imagine that he can. It’s just another case of imagining that “Saying so, makes it so”.
Not only Elsevier or its new editor don’t understand science, of course. Neither do the editors of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences nor the authors of an article just published in that august periodical. It reports “research” finding that “Those who believe in anthropogenic climate change rank, on average, much higher in the scientific pecking order than do those who take issue with the idea” (“Critics are far less prominent than supporters”, Eli Kintisch, Science 328: 1622).
Aha! How extraordinary! Another of those rare cases of dog bites man; or of the finding that friends are friendlier toward each other than they are toward their opponents.