Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Been There, Done That

Maybe I should have been a reporter. It certainly seems to take a long time before other people can jump to conclusions. I can jump to a conclusion faster than anyone I know (except my brothers), and I usually tend to be right.
For Science's Gatekeepers, a Credibility Gap - New York Times: "The system is based on journals inviting independent experts to critique submitted manuscripts. The stated aim is to weed out sloppy and bad research, ensuring the integrity of the what it has published.

Because findings published in peer-reviewed journals affect patient care, public policy and the authors' academic promotions, journal editors contend that new scientific information should be published in a peer-reviewed journal before it is presented to doctors and the public.

That message, however, has created a widespread misimpression that passing peer review is the scientific equivalent of the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

Virtually every major scientific and medical journal has been humbled recently by publishing findings that are later discredited. The flurry of episodes has led many people to ask why authors, editors and independent expert reviewers all failed to detect the problems before publication.

The publication process is complex. Many factors can allow error, even fraud, to slip through. They include economic pressures for journals to avoid investigating suspected errors; the desire to avoid displeasing the authors and the experts who review manuscripts; and the fear that angry scientists will withhold the manuscripts that are the lifeline of the journals, putting them out of business.By promoting the sanctity of peer review and using it to justify a number of their actions in recent years, journals have added to their enormous power."
What's next? The Iraq war is a debacle? Plame was outed from a critical position within the CIA? Nobody likes Bush The Second anymore?

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