Public Review

public reviewPeer review was the most respected form of acceptance in the scientific community. In some cases this seems to have deteriorated to sycophant review. It no longer is a reliable pilar of quality. But we have something new: Public review!

I borrow here from a concept depicted by one of my favorite science fiction authors: We are a selforganising growing network of distributed intelligence. Sure, most of us don’t have the scientific background for indepth analysis. But even a layman can verify specific errors pointed out and explained by someone more knowledgeable. So we tend to “flock” to people who have already shown their competence. And we tend to dismiss sources that have repeatedly proven irrelevant or incompetent. We share what we deem interesting and ad our comments. It’s a dynamic process. Connections are rewired constantly. And it’s usually bidirectional. Not just a single authority dispersing wisdom, at most accepting feedback from a selected circle. Here the interaction and reactions are part of the process. No dedicated central organisation.

Single brilliant individuals might miss an error. But with hundreds of average people, chances are, one will notice. That’s new. That’s not how it used to be. Let go of desperate conspiracy theories. Skip that “astroturf” nonsense. There may be a few people who really are paid just to spread propaganda. So what? If they really have some relevant point it will be picked up and promoted. But usually it’s just irrelevant static. Properly ignored. At most short lived and soon forgotten. It’s a social and scientific (r)evolution. Embrace it and prosper.

That is the idea behind this blog. I want to throw some thoughts into the net and hope there is something that get’s picked up and refined. Or just promoted by my “peers” as something to think about. Feedback is welcome of course.

Since it would be better to fix the problems before they become a wasteful burden, try Public Preview


There already exists a site:

Oh, and a little side note to the ANTZ: I’ve read that some of you have noticed the many positive youtube videos about vaping. But you obviously didn’t care to listen. Instead you plan on astroturfing propaganda videos. — Save the money. You may even get clicks. But only the way especially stupid stunts get them. Just like the professionally made ads from PigTobacco might get clicks for their artistic value, not for their dismissible content.

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Posted in Community, Concept, Public Preview, Public Review, Studies & Surveys
3 comments on “Public Review
  1. Marty Galyean says:

    Until members of the public value logic and reason more than personal, cultural, and political narrative I don’t see a public review process being any less flawed than what we have now. The number of logical fallacies rampant in public discourse is alarming and the idea of turning over the review process to the the pseudo-debate of the masses is disturbing and would subject science to all the same forces that shape what appears on the cover of National Enquirer. I could see a public process for raising questions with research but until other researchers step in to replicate or refute then what is the point? Why is it when we look starry-eyed at “social 2.0” and all things “crowd” we forget all the negatives that history shows us of what happens when mostly-rational individuals melt into a lowest-common-denominator mobthink? The conundrum is that the value of a particular study is not in how many supporters it has except to the degree that those supporters value the facts, understand the facts, and have access to the facts. But it is science itself that is supposed to give us access to the facts, explain the facts, and provide the very reason inherent in a scientific society that we are to value the facts. So we end up with a chicken/egg dilemma. Until all participating members of the public of such a process were as educated in science as necessary to understand at minimum the methodology involved, the statistics required, and had access to the raw data, I just don’t see it working out well. Measuring bad research by whether it was retracted assumes that differing realms of research are equally open to the retraction process. Political clout, public sentiment, and large amounts of money can make an entire area and direction of research incredibly resistant to a call for retraction thus maintaining a fiction that science supports that area and direction. I’m still waiting for NOAA’s retraction of historical climate data they admittedly altered in a politically biased manner to actually lead to any retractions of climate research based upon that imaginative data. It would also be nice to see someone at NOAA get fired too. I’m not holding my breath.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. There is bound to be a lot of static and irrelevant noise. Also a lot of ideological bias, subjective shortsightedness, and “mob mind”.

      It’s just a fantasy how an ideal process of “Public Review” might work. Not that I have much hope to see it this way in reality. What I hope for is scientists to open the windows of their ivory towers and start to listen to ordinary people outside and not just dismiss all of us as irrelevant.


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