Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Failings Of Peer Review

Peer review is a good thing.

My main complaint with it is the people. Read on for my complaints.

They always say that peer review is fine, and if anything goes wrong, then it is the person. Well that is just great. To me, that says that they are no more reliable than psychics.

I could imagine, that 1 day, the scientific community will say that such and such a person is not a scientist, and that his work is not scientific. They will make this claim, because his experiments do not pass peer review. In the future, they could change their minds, and say that the skeptics were not scientists, and that their skeptical criticisms were not proper review, and that the first fellow was a scientist after all.

Well, I am happy that they changed their minds for the better, but that does not help in situations where a person's reputation is badly damaged due to illogical criticisms.

You would think that this blog entry is a complaint against only the scientific community, and I did start off with that in mind. However, bear in mind that Christians make that mistake, too. How often do we just sit around in Bible studies, sharing our own experiences and interpretations of the Bible? Do you see problems with that?

In both cases, we have a limited understanding. The only way out of it, from the earthly perspective, is through more research that will establish ideas. Of course, we need to maintain the Biblical perspective, as well. We need both perspectives.

What most sinners fail to realize is that the weakest point of peer review is the peer pressure from sinners. There is nothing guaranteeing that information will float to the top.

The Bible is clear that we cannot succeed on our own. If anything positive happens, then it is truly a blessing from God. If anything bad happens, whether we earned it or not, then we can call it a curse. As Job shared with us, God gives good and evil things. No matter what, God uses it all for our benefit.

He promises to use all things for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose.

If that is what God does, then what are we supposed to do? We are to praise him and thank him for everything, and also we are to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt us in due time: casting all our cares upon him; for he cares for us.

How does this relate to peer review? Well, for starters, Christians could realize that blessings come from God, but we should try our best to sort through the information as thoroughly as possible. After all, peer review is good. Non-Christians should consider how unreliable peer review is. The whole point of it is to save us a lot of time, so that not everybody would have to sort through the data, the physical evidence, and to help build consensus on what is true.

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