Does Peer Review = Peer Pressure?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by SetiAlpha6, Mar 12, 2020.

  1. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Most scientists spend their lives looking for new processes, new explanations and new knowledge. They are by training more open to new ideas than your average person.

    However, they also tend to believe in science. So if someone says "I have a theory on stellar formation, and it is supported by these observations" they would tend to be open to it. If someone says "I have a theory on stellar evolution, but it goes against all of existing science, and most of the evidence doesn't support it" they are going to tend to be against it.
    I think you are confusing learning how to use tools (like math) and having new ideas.

    I had a great idea in college on conversion of waste heat to energy. (Specifically a Second Law machine.) It turned out to be wrong. It took me a little while to understand why. I am glad I took the time, though, because that meant that I had learned something. I would still be ignorant if I had said "you are just pushing your outdated ideas on me, and ignoring my great new idea because it doesn't conform to the majority opinion!"
    I haven't seen too much evidence of this. I've seen a few cases where bizarro ideas were accepted too readily to the detriment of science and humanity (google Andrew Wakefield) and a few cases where it took a while to get a good new idea established (like the HPV/cancer link.) But they approximately balance out
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Thread title edited to reflect this.
    sculptor likes this.
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    To which I often reply: don't forget they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
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  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    I think it was Carl Sagan who first said that, but it's a good rejoinder, I agree.
  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Yes, I think it probably it was Sagan. I didn't claim it was my original idea.
  9. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    peer review = peer pressure
    sometimes for the good
    sometimes not
    One could easily find a long list of scientists who were not accepted in their lifetimes, and many who were also ridiculed by their supposed peers.
    One could easily find many instances of "scientific" dogma that, though wrong, persisted in their various disciplines for generations.

    and, then
    Many worthless hypotheses have been eliminated via peer reviews.
    old story/joke
    There was once a grad student who had spent countless hours/days/years working on an hypothesis proposed by one of the great men in his discipline during his youth. One fine day, at a faculty luncheon to which the great man had been invited, the young grad student finally had a chance to meet his hero. Almost breathlessly, the grad student told the great man of his work on the greatman's hypothesis. After listening patiently to the young grad student, the great man responded: "Oh, that silly thing, I gave up on that bad idea a long time ago".
    candy likes this.
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    From the looks of things, just thinking back over what history I have read and experiences had, poorly founded majority opinion and social peer pressure held more power over new ideas before peer review was invented than since. (That's including scientific club and society memberships, salon groups, etc, before which enthusiasts presented their ideas and demonstrations and arguments, as peer reviewers of a kind).

    It's as if having to earn support or provisional recognition from knowledgable people credentialed in advance protects new ideas as much as it threatens them.
  11. mathman Valued Senior Member

    If you want an extreme example of radical new ideas being readily accepted, consider a bunch of 1905 papers by a Swiss patent office clerk (Einstein).
    exchemist likes this.
  12. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Very good example.

    (Though Einstein wasn't a clerk. He was a patent examiner: a fairly intellectual profession for which one needs a science degree.)
  13. candy Valued Senior Member

    History has a number of instances where "popular misconceptions" have retarded new theories. Luckily facts usually win out over time or we would all still think the sun revolved around earth.
  14. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Actually, I'm not sure I can think of that many examples of this.

    For instance I don't think scientific acceptance of the Copernican system was significantly retarded by things like Galileo's house arrest. As I understand it, the slowness in adopting Copernicus's idea was more to do with the absence of a theory of mechanics and gravitation, both of which Newton eventually provided a century later. Astronomers and the other proto- scientists of the time just had trouble with the idea of the Earth "moving".
  15. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    While scientist in general are not perfect, and there has never been any argument with regards to that fact, it is also pbvious that your inferences in the form of questions are faulty and driven by your IDer myth.

    Any new ideas etc by necessity, need to "run the gauntlet" so to speak...that is part and parcel of the scientific methodology, a system as close to perfect and idealism as we can get.
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    They tend to fade in the collective memory.
    Plate tectonics, germ theory of disease, age of the earth, ephemerality or societal dependance of race and caste distinctions between human populations, timeline of the population of the Americas, etc.,

    a more interesting question might be whether likely examples of such peer suppression can be identified in advance - now, say.

    My bets would be on
    1) the wading ape hypothesis for hominid bipedalism
    2) the seriousness of the threat from GMOs in industrial agriculture
    3) the significant role of watercraft in hominid migrations
    4) the role of impact noise and vibration in insect communication (June Bugs banging into things, caterpillars munching and drumming, )
    5) the complementary natures of altruism and psychopathy in human mental modeling of ecological structure
    6) the illusory nature of left hemisphere dominance over human intellectual capabilities

    and so forth.
    exchemist likes this.
  17. SetiAlpha6 Come Let Us Reason Together Valued Senior Member

    Thank You James!!!
  18. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Not quite that readily.

    6Attackers and defenders

    p.s. Einstein did not receive a Nobel prize for GR
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2020
  19. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    I'm curious what SA6's alternative to Peer Review would be.
    Everyone just publish whatever they want without peer analysis? That would certainly benefit non-rational wishful thinking types.

    No one is stopping anyone from simply publishing their own ideas. The question is: will they be taken seriously?

    It seems SA6 wants to eat his cake and eat it too. I suppose he figures he should just be able to publish whatever he wants and other scientists will simply have to take him seriously at his word and carry on his ideas?

    How about it SA6? What's your alternative?
  20. SetiAlpha6 Come Let Us Reason Together Valued Senior Member

    Sure, Great Idea...

    Would you help me think it through a bit?

    Well, perhaps somehow (and I do not know how) we would have to come up with a system that is without...

    All Arrogance
    All Ignorance
    All Philosophical Bias
    All Financial Rewards
    All Financial Penalty
    All Career Promotions
    All Career Demotions
    All Social Status Benefits
    All Social Status Penalty
    All Political Motivations...

    ...and without all Pride and Ego

    Oh, and all Scientists would have to love, respect, financially support, and actively work for the success of all of their Peers, whether or not they agree with them.

    I don’t think this is possible, but that might be a place to start.

    Even if a better system is not yet possible, in the meantime, I don’t think we should present the Peer Review System as anything that is either more or less than it actually is in reality, whatever that is at any given time.

    Perhaps it should be presented as it truly is...
    as a partially flawed and sometimes problematic system but as the best system we are currently capable of.

    Someone else here would certainly be more capable than I am of thinking up a better system than the one we currently have.

    Give it a go if you want to.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2020
  21. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    When that happens, I have no doubt that it will be adopted. Until then, we have no choice but to stick with the best system we know of.
  22. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    All that just because other people don't believe in SetiAlpha6's god.
    BTW, who is to judge when someone is showing '' Arrogance and Ignorance '', you? Or will it be a ''group'' decision? Who selects that group?
    And, I notice you have given up on finding the biblical ''star dust'' quote. Put me on ignore, and that may be interpreted as ''Arrogance and Ignorance '' to over look something you don't like.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2020
  23. SetiAlpha6 Come Let Us Reason Together Valued Senior Member

    I don’t know.

    Certainly not me, I am ignorant myself.

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