Science: Heretics as Heroes & Why Peer Review is F*cked Up
The list of scientific heretics who were persecuted for their radical ideas but eventually proved right keeps getting longer. Last month, Daniel Shechtman won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of quasicrystals, having spent much of his career being told he was wrong.
"I was thrown out of my research group. They said I brought shame on them with what I was saying," he recalled, adding that the doyen of chemistry, the late Linus Pauling, had denounced the theory with the words: "There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists."
The Australian medical scientist Barry Marshall, who hypothesized that a bacterial infection causes stomach ulcers, received similar treatment and was taken seriously only when he deliberately infected himself, then cured himself with antibiotics in 1984. Eventually, he too won the Nobel Prize.
Drs. Shechtman and Marshall are on a distinguished list. Galileo, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein all had to run the gauntlet of conventional wisdom in the scientific establishment. For a profession whose very product is new knowledge, science seems strangely resistant to novelty. _MattRidley in GWPF
One of the most useful methods that has evolved to keep the upstart revolutionaries in their places, is the peer-review process in scientific publishing. Judith Curry has collected a number of ways in which peer review keeps the uppity heretics in their place:
...peer review as practiced in the 21st century biomedical research poisons science. It is conservative, cumbersome, capricious and intrusive. It slows down the communication of new ideas and discoveries, while failing to accomplish most of what it purports to do. And, worst of all, the mythical veneer of peer review has created the perception that a handful of journals stand as gatekeepers of success in science, ceding undue power to them, and thereby stifling innovation in scientific communication.Professor Curry goes on to compare various open access processes for publication and review, with the traditional peer-review process as it is practised by Science, Nature, PNAS, and the other guardians of the orthodoxy.
...1) The process takes a really long time....
...2) The system is not very good at what it purports to do....
...Reviewers are biased by personal motives...
... _Much more at_JudithCurry_via_GWPF
Modern science is badly inbred and constipated in areas of funding, review, publishing, tenure, and scientific organisations and conferences. Being an intelligent and scrupulous heretic in today's world is a lesson in institutional corruption in high places.
But that is no reason to give up or sell out. In the world of "new media," there are growing numbers of ways to get one's information out to those who really matter, in the long run. Explore your options and take your best shot.