American Journal of Physics and peer-review

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by raimo lonka, Jan 3, 2010.

  1. raimo lonka Registered Member

    At the beginning of November 2009 I submitted an article titled "On the relation of entropy and evolution" to the American Journal of Physics (AJP).
    My article included criticism against two other articles ("Entropy and evolution" by Daniel F. Styer and "Evolution and the second law of thermodynamics" by Emory F. Bunn) published earlier in the AJP. I was surprised because I received only one referee report. Usually there are two (or three) reports. The referee had found several errors in my article and did not recommend publication. AJP Editor told me that they do not want a new revision of my article. Later I sent my article (corrected some typos) directly to Daniel F. Styer and Emory F. Bunn and I asked for a comment. Prof. Bunn did not want to comment but prof. Styer did send me his comments. Again it
    was time to be surprised. Prof. Styer's comments included exactly the same phrases as the referee report I received from the AJP! The only conclusion I could make was that the referee had been Styer himself. We are told that the peer-review is impartial, fair and free of bias. Nice words indeed!

    Here's my correspondence with prof. Daniel F. Styer and AJP Editor Jan Tobochnik:

    Lonka vs. Styer:

    Referring to your article published in the AJP I'm enclosing my article which includes criticism about the claims/speculations presented in your article. Please feel free to comment. I think that the entropy&evolution topic is very relevant in the origins debate and I'm planning to set up a web site devoted to this topic. I would like to include also your article in the site. I'd like
    the site to be a kind of "open source" including all, or a good deal of material related to this topic so that any interested 3rd party would have access to all arguments (including your possible comments) presented. Please let me know whether you are able/willing to give such permission.
    AJP editor Jan Tobochnik biefly said to me that he can not give the permission.

    P.S. I'm specially interested how do you see the apparent conflict between your (&Bunn's) paper and the papers of Annila et al. about the effect of evolution on entropy (neg vs. pos).

    Comments concerning "On the relation of entropy and evolution"
    by Raimo Lonka (version of 30 November 2009) Comments by Dan Styer
    copyright (c) 4 December 2009

    I just took a skim at this paper and found multiple errors in the first...

    "[E]nergy is converted into heat." No. Heat is a form of energy transfer, not a form of energy. But if heat were a form of energy, then energy would be converted from one form to another, not from "energy" into


    Thank you very much for your comments. What is most interesting is that you write exactly the same way (using exactly the same phrases) as the anonymous referee, who evaluated my article for AJP. So I can conclude that you must be the referee! Congratulations! (I would also like to be
    a referee for articles critical to my article! =D. What a perfect position to defend yourself!!) Well, I'm only an honest amateur and I really thought that the peer-review process would be more open and impartial.
    But anyway this is very interesting material for a web site!
    An excerpt from your mail commenting my article:

    "[E]nergy is converted into heat." No. Heat is a form of energy transfer, not a form of energy. But if heat were a form of energy, then energy would be converted from one form to another, not from "energy" into "heat".

    An excerpt from Referee's report on AJP manuscript 23081:

    "energy is converted into heat." No. Heat is a form of energy transfer, not a form of energy. But if heat were a form of energy, then energy would be converted from one form to another, not from "energy" into "heat".

    What a coincidence, like a spontaneous emergence of life!


    If you have substantive things to say, I'll try to discuss them with you. If you wish to discuss social issues rather than science, or if you wish to chatter about which of dozens of definitions of "heat" is the one most appropriate to thermodynamics, I'll not discuss them because there's no reason to.

    The substantive things are in my article and currently I'm quite satisfied with your comments so far. In my opinion the peer-review process is not a social issue and I expect it to be a process that is impartial, fair and conducted in a manner free of bias. In my case these fundamental principles have been violated. I'll be preparing (later) a web site, which will include all arguments presented and your comments & referee report and my response to them. I will also include the details of the "peer-review" process in my case, which is a good example of "self-defending" science making. Your further comments are welcome and will be added to the site.

    My remarks to you on 4 December was copyrighted and you may not legally post it on any web site. I remain open to questions about science.

    Oh, don't worry, I will not break the law. I need only some citations and you can be sure that I will not forget to mention the source...
    Lonka vs. Tobochnik

    Have you send the referee report on AJP manuscript 23081 to anyone else than me?
    If you have, please list all those who have received the report.

    I send the reviews to reviewers.

    One further question:
    Does the reviewer have legitimate right to send the referee report to any 3rd party or is it a confidential issue between AJP and the reviewer?

    It should not be sent to a 3rd party. You may discuss it with individuals to help you understand it. But if it ever appeared in public we would consider it a breach of professional ethic.

    You did not seem to understand my question, so I try to make it more simple:
    Is this the complete scenario what happened when I submitted my article "On the relation of entropy and evolution":

    1) You sent my submission to the reviewer
    2) Reviewer wrote the referee report and sent it only you and not to any 3rd party
    3) You sent the referee report to me with the decision about publication
    Please add if there were any other steps or procedures or any other correspondence with any parties not mentioned here.

    As I believe I already explained, I do send the review of reviewer r1 to r2 and vice versa. Otherwise what you write below is correct.

    So there should be two reviewers r1 and r2.
    Why I received only one report?
    Please tell me also how do you guarantee that the review process is impartial and free of bias?

    The other reviewer simply wrote comments to me, saying the same thing as the first reviewer. Thus, I didn't send you the comments directed to me. I have had enough of your questions. I will not respond to any further emails from you.
    Here's a concise guide to aid a newbie in submitting an article to the American Journal of Physics (AJP).

    1) When you receive the manuscript id, which means that your submission has been accepted for
    a peer-review remember to ask the number of reviewers and remember to demand that all referee reports must be sent to you, OK.

    2) If you need to make any questions to the AJP Editor you should remember
    2a) to formulate your questions so that you can expect to recieve understandable and informative answers
    2b) to make straight and simple questions so that you can expect to recieve uninterpretable and clear answers
    2c) to minimize the number of your questions, so that you can expect to receive an answer to all of your questions

    Please remember that following these guidelines does not guarantee that your article will receive an impartial, fair and unbiased peer-review in the American Journal of Physics (AJP), but it may help you to deal with the situation. Good luck! ;-)

    Science is our best means of gaining information about the world we are living in. However it will perform only as well as the weakest point of it. Unfortunately science is not a restless and incorruptible robot just producing new data. There is also a human factor involved. Scientist, scholars, students and scientifcally oriented individuals should work together to demand for a truly impartial, fair and unbiased peer-review process, which is an essential part of the scientific scrutiny. I think that we all deserve it.
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  3. AlphaNumeric Fully ionized Registered Senior Member

    So submit it to another journal. You seem to be throwing a hissy fit. The best people to understand a critique of a particular work are the authors of that work since they know the ins and outs and all the ideas and information which they thought about but did not say in their paper. Yes, they should not be the only reviewer but if they are already involved in the journal then having them as one of the reviewers is actually a plus. When you submit to a journal like JHEP they ask you to categorise your research so it can be sent to the most relevant people. There's no one more relevant for a paper which contradicts a work than the authors of that work.

    Whining on a forum and making a website to complain sounds like sour grapes to me.
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  5. D H Some other guy Valued Senior Member

    What a load of tripe (post #1, that is. The only tripe in post #2 is that Alpha was being overly nice.)

    raimo lonka, you should read the journal's editorial policy at
    Disciplined significant controversy has a proper place in the Journal; extended, diffuse argumentation does not. To encourage the former and discourage the latter, the editors will forward to authors any communications received that are critical of their published work. Authors and critics are then asked to correspond directly with one another. If after this correspondence, a significant conclusion has been reached, they are encouraged to prepare a brief joint note. If such an agreement should prove impossible, two separate notes might be published. When such notes are judged to be useful to the readers, they will be published in the Notes section of the Journal. A response will be published only if it makes a significant addition to the discussion.​

    And read the editorial procedures on the information for contributors page,,
    The Editor will perform a cursory review to determine whether or not
    • the topic, level, and intended audience of the manuscript are reasonably aligned with AJP's Editorial Policy,
    • the writing is sufficiently clear 1) so that reviewers will not needlessly expend their own valuable time trying to interpret the author's intent and 2) so that a fair review may be obtained,
    • the introduction and references therein suggest that a thorough literature search has been performed, and
    • the format of the manuscript reasonably observes the instructions in this document.
    If the manuscript is found not to meet these most fundamental requirements it may be summarily rejected.​

    A submission that is a critique of a previously published article will be sent to the author of the original paper. This is standard treatment in almost any journal. A contributor to a journal is not guaranteed two or three reviews. A submission first has to pass initial screening. The editor of a journal will reject some submissions out of hand. Editors can also recruit someone to perform this initial screening on their behalf. In the case of a critique, this will often be done by the original author. Because of the potential for bias, the editor will look at the response. In this case the response identified utter nonsense in your submission. The editor agreed. Your paper did not pass the initial screening.

    Stop whining.
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  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Why not post your paper here so we can judge for ourselves?
  8. Goriller Registered Member

    As a creationist I’m glad you brought up Prof. Dan Styer’s paper.

    Confusing thermodynamic and information entropy is a growing problem and that confusion is the subject of a high profile debate over Prof. Styer's paper that attracted comments from Prof. Styer himself at

    Styer wrote, "Bob Enyart speaks long and hard about the difference between "heat entropy" and "information entropy". It is quite clear from context that by entropy I mean 'thermodynamic/statistical mechanical entropy.'"

    Evolutionists incorrectly think the American Journal of Physics equations resolve evolution's problems with information entropy questions. They can be shown Prof. Styer's clarification. We creationists appreciate Prof. Styer clarifying this issue, enhancing the creationist view.
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    What are the supposed problems with information entropy and evolution?
  10. Goriller Registered Member

    From the debate:
    I actually posted the wrong link. To interact directly with prof. Styer and/or his opponent go to
  11. Nasor Valued Senior Member

    Haha. So he's and engineer with a BS in physics AND patents?!?! Wow, I'm so impressed...

    Seriously, what specifically is supposed to be the problem? So far as I know, there is no concept of "information entropy" in thermodynamics (hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong)."Informational entropy" is a statistical concept that has to do with the uncertainly of values (such as bits) that encode information in a message.
  12. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    I don't know anything about AJP but yeah, the "peer review" system as they call it, is certainly bizarre. In my own experience, I have seen how it is used by some as a means of controlling who gets funding because often those who are on review boards are also on grant review boards. The other thing about peer review and grant review is that your "competitors" who are in the ole boys club and hence closer to the grant moolah, will get a preview of your research goals and all your ideas.

    The point about sending papers to be reviewed [and often rejected] to the same person whose ideas or research you are questioning, is also odd, especially when they also happen to be on the editorial board of the journals with a higher impact factor and can simply reject you [or anyone who reviews their friends] consigning you to low impact factor journals where your opinion will be given the due consideration that after years of attempting to get published, its appearance in a lower journal will warrant. Anyone who believes the "scientific method" is an objective, honest method of enquiry that is ethically pursued by a scientific establishment with integrity, well, there is a bridge I have to sell in Brooklyn for you.
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I don't care how lofty this guy's credentials are, he's a moron! And his credentials aren't really all that lofty anyway. Doesn't anybody find it a bit odd that after thirty years in his discipline, if he's as good as he thinks he is, he still hasn't bothered to get a PhD? That he's learned everything there is to learn in the postgraduate physics program by being an INVENTOR? I'm sorry, but engineers are NOT scientists, and this is a perfect example of why not.

    Heat entropy has EVERYTHING to do information entropy. Entropy is disorganization and any form of organization is a local reversal of entropy.

    To be more charitable, lets just say that Stout was completely blind-sided by the Information Age, the Post-Industrial Revolution, or whatever you want to call it. He doesn't recognize information as one of the ways both nature and human activity create local reversals of entropy.

    And because of this, he misses the key point that the energy value of information is extremely low. That's the whole problem with a traditional analysis of an information-based economy. The energy cost of producing, storing and duplicating information is tiny. We can't figure out how our descendants are going to price information, because we're locked into the supply-and-demand paradigm of the Industrial Era economy.

    The same is true of the information stored in a DNA paradigm. Sure, it's a local reversal of entropy, but the energy represented by this organization of chemicals is almost too small to measure.

    Just as one tiny speck of matter can be converted into enough energy to destroy a small town, one tiny speck of energy can be converted into enough information to run the town efficiently.

    Think of it as the next iteration of Relativity Theory.

    There's a reason some people don't have PhDs!
  14. noodler Banned Banned

    Information is an arbitrarily applied function of energy. All information has to have energy or it can't "inform".

    Compare the information storage capacity of today's memory chips and the energy required to store say, 1Mb. Decades ago the energy cost of doing this was much higher, but 1Mb is still 1Mb.

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