i have been doing some research on the subject of the much vaunted "peer review " in academia and other places - which has been made quite hard as a lot of dissertations on same are only available to those with either the appropriate "access" or the ability to pay
- and like much scientific work with baring on subjects in which i am interested in connection with the paranormal ( for or against ) this has stymied me to a major extent
any ways that aside , we often hear from the skeptics /debunkers and others that their treatise on their standpoint or supposed authoritative "knowledge" has been peer reviewed , this often is an accusation used against we who write anything about the paranormal ,in that our work or thoughts have no merit because they are not "peer reviewed " - which of course is difficult as we have no "experts " in the field in the first place to judge the validity of said work
but even in accepted academia - do the "experts" always agree ?? - seemingly not
Take this assessment of peer review made by Ponsi (2003) as an example.
Despite its wide acceptance, peer review has been subjected to a variety
of criticisms: the evaluation procedures are often inadequately
performed, and in general it can be said that research on the peer
review process does not provide unquestionable evidence of its value.
This time-consuming and resource-intensive process is slow,
expensive, profligate of academic time, highly subjective, prone to bias,
easily abused, poor at detecting gross defects, and almost useless for
Ouch! We wonder what Ponsi really thinks about the process. But wait, there’s more. A
decade earlier, Bornstein (1990) decried the review process as “. . . unreliable,
unconstructive, and biased in a number of ways (e.g., biased against non significant
findings, against replications of previous work, against unknown authors and less
prestigious institutions, and against unpopular or counter intuitive findings)”
(p. 672). ** emphasis added in bold by myself *
ref : http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JCT ... jewski.pdf
so if fellow "experts" are this critical of the concept , (much of which is done anonymously apparently
) - what value has it ??
now to move on to my main thrust of this piece , which is really one of WHY academia /science is SO bios against the whole idea of paranormal phenomena and the roll of the pseudoskeptic in academia
lets take a hypothetical example , say a student does a well researched and credible treatise on the subject , he sites various evidential examples , experiential examples ,and even anecdotal examples - comes up with a perfectly "valid " theory and HAS done his research - also citing counter arguments etc , but has come down on the side ( given the balance of probability ) of there being something worth pursuing , which is then submitted for peer review . and one or more of the "reviewers " are in fact PsKeptics , do any of you think that that piece of work has a cats chance in hell of getting a decent review ?? - noooo - of course it won't as bios has crept in , bios founded of personal belief - not merit of argument
so if this is the case in "academia" the yard stick of "education" - then what hope for ANYTHING the "ley" researcher tries to produce ?? - heck even amongst the paranormal press , it has been evidenced , i and others have written well argued pieces for "paranormal" magazines , only to have them rejected for being quote : "too negative " ( vis not "fluffy bunny " enough ) - when they where constructive ,but hard hitting reviews of the very reasons WHY the subject is not taken seriously other than by its own adherents
but going back to academia - ,i have no doubt that many ground breaking concepts and VALID research in to areas that don't conform to "accepted wisdom " have been stifled by the peer review process ( much like trying to find credible info on subjects on which to base thinking - see my point re pay to read above ) - so when our skeptical friends cite "peer reviewed " works as "evidence " with which to knock our beliefs , can we actually attribute much validity to those works ??
this i feel is a particularly valid question in the area of "psychology" and "brain sciences " , which some skeptics site as the Begin all and end all of our "delusions " -
- however again if ONLY those works that accord with the reviewers own mindset/beliefs reach the publication stage - that's ALL they have to go on to knock us ( mind it helps if the papers say we are all crazy /deluded/mistaken/ paranoid / ya de ,ya de.ya de , as it suits the skeptics purpose ) - however what of any that say - actually there may just be something to what people are reporting ?? - we don't see them !! - because they are suppressed
i suppose at the end of the day the question has to be asked of teaching in its entirety and "academia" in particular - as who teaches the teachers ?? - other "teachers" and if students are not encouraged to research their subjects because "perceived wisdom" stymied them with this whole review process - open to personal abuse by those with a pseudo skeptical disposition - what value has the system ??
Quid custodiet ipsos custodes ( of knowledge ) - methinks
( as usual my apologies for the somewhat inelegant argument - but hopefully you get the general drift )