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LionKimbro -- Fri Oct 15 21:05:03 2010

I just saw this article: [Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science,] on the failings of Peer Review. It cites Nature, reading:

Nature, the grande dame of science journals, stated in a 2006 editorial, “Scientists understand that peer review per se provides only a minimal assurance of quality, and that the public conception of peer review as a stamp of authentication is far from the truth.”

The lesson of the article, (that I take away, at least,) is that: It's not enough to have peer review. You have to actually be making a concerted effort, to find out: "Is this thing true? Is this thing not true?"

It reminds me of the ease of saying, "Oh, the wiki will just clean everything up," that comes up so often in situations involving reworking. No, the wiki won't just clean everything up -- if a clean wiki is what is wanted, then we have to actually arrange for that. Similarly, I suspect that in Science, we can't go, "Oh, Peer Review will just sort it out." No, peer review will not just sort it out. You need to actually be very explicit about: We are searching for the truth of things, and we are organizing our search. What I speculate is that we may actually need a scientific program, with actual buy-in "this is important," in order to find out these kinds of truths.

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