Most Useless Phrase in the Political Lexicon: “Peer Reviewed”

Last week, while I was waiting for my sandwich at the deli downstairs, I was applying about 10% of my consciousness to CNN running on the TV behind the counter.  I saw some woman, presumably in the Obama team, defending some action of the administration as being based on “peer reviewed” science.

This may be a legacy of the climate debate.  One of the rhetorical tools climate alarmists have latched onto is to inflate the meaning of peer review.  Often, folks, like the person I saw on TV yesterday, use “peer review” as a synonym for “proven correct and generally accepted in its findings by all right-thinking people who are not anti-scientific wackos.”  Sort of the scientific equivalent of “USDA certified.”

Here is a great example of that, from the DailyKos via Tom Nelson:

Contact NBC4 and urge them to send weatherman Jym Ganahl to some climate change conferences with peer-reviewed climatologists. Let NBC4 know that they have a responsibility to have expert climatologists on-air to debunk Ganahl’s misinformation and the climate change deniers don’t deserve an opportunity to spread their propaganda:

NBC 4 phone # 614-263-4444

NBC 4 VP/GM Rick Rogala email: rrogala(ATSIGN)wcmh.com

By the way, is this an over-the-top attack on heresy or what?  Let’s all deluge a TV station with complaints because their weatherman has the temerity to have a different scientific opinion than ours?  Seriously guys, its a freaking local TV weatherman in central Ohio, and the fate of mankind depends on burning this guy at the stake?  I sometimes get confused about what leftists really think about free speech, but this sure sounds more like a bunch of good Oklahoma Baptists reacting to finding out their TV minister is pro-abortion.   But it is we skeptics who are anti-science?

Anyway, back to peer review, you can see in this example again the use of “peer review” as some kind of impremateur of correctness and shield against criticism.   The author treats it as if it were a sacrament, like baptism or ordination.   This certification seems to be so strong in their mind that just having been published in a peer-reviewed journal seems to be sufficient to complete the sacrament — the peer review does not necessarily seem to even have to be on the particular topic being discussed.

But in fact peer review has a much narrower function, and certainly is not, either in intent or practice,  any real check or confirmation of the study in question.  The main goals of peer review are:

  • Establish that the article is worthy of publication and consistent with the scope of the publication in question.  They are looking to see if the results are non-trivial, if they are new (ie not duplicative of findings already well-understood), and in some way important.  If you think of peer-reviewers as an ad hoc editorial board for the publication, you get closest to intent
  • Reviewers will check, to the extent they can, to see if the methodology  and its presentation is logical and clear — not necessarily right, but logical and clear.  Their most frequent comments are for clarification of certain areas of the work or questions that they don’t think the authors answered.  They do not check all the sources, but if they are familiar with one of the sources references, may point out that this source is not referenced correctly, or that some other source with which they are familiar might be referenced as well.  History has proven time and again that gross and seemingly obvious math and statistical errors can easily clear peer review.
  • Peer review is not in any way shape or form a proof that a study is correct, or even likely to be correct.  Enormous numbers of incorrect conclusions have been published in peer-reviewed journals over time.  This is demonstrably true.  For example, at any one time in medicine, for every peer-reviewed study I can usually find another peer-reviewed study with opposite or wildly different findings.  The fraud in the “peer reviewed” Lancet on MMR vaccines and autism by Andrew Wakefield is a good example.
  • Studies are only accepted as likely correct a over time after the community has tried as hard as it can to poke holes in the findings.  Future studies will try to replicate the findings, or disprove them.  As a result of criticism of the methodology, groups will test the findings in new ways that respond to methodological criticisms.  It is the accretion of this work over time that solidifies confidence  (Ironically, this is exactly the process that climate alarmists want to short-circuit, and even more ironically, they call climate skeptics “anti-scientific” for wanting to follow this typical scientific dispute and replication process).
So, typical peer review comments might be:
  • I think Smith, 1992 covered most of this same ground.  I am not sure what is new here
  • Jones, 1996 is fairly well accepted and came up with opposite conclusions.  The authors need to explain why they think they got different results from Jones.
A typical peer review comment would not be:
  • The results here looked suspicious so I organized a major effort here at my university and we spent 6 months trying to replicate their work and cuold not duplicate their findings.

That latter is a follow-up article, not a peer review comment.

Further, the quality and sharpness of peer review depends a lot on the reviewers chosen.  For example, a peer review of Rush Limbaugh by the folks at LGF, Free Republic, and Powerline might not be as compelling as a peer review by Kos or Kevin Drum.

But instead of this, peer review is used by folks, particularly in political settings, as a shield against criticism, usually for something they don’t understand and probably haven’t even read themselves.  Here is an example dialog:

Politician or Activist:  “Mann’s hockey stick proves humans are warming the planet”

Critic:  “But what about Mann’s cherry-picking of proxy groups; or the divergence problem  in the data; or the fact that he routinely uses proxy’s as a positive correlation in one period and different, even negative, correlation in another; or the fact that the results are most driven by proxys that have been manually altered; or the fact that trees really make bad proxies, as they seldom actually display the assumed linear positive relationship between growth and temperature?”

Politician or Activist, who 99% of the time has not even read the study in question and understands nothing of what critic is saying:  “This is peer-reviewed science!  You can’t question that.”

Postscript: I am not trying to offend anyone or make a point about religion per se in the comparisons above.  I am not religious, but I don’t have a problem with those that are.  However, alarmists on the left often portray skepticism as part-and-parcel of what they see as anti-scientific ideas tied to the religious right.  I get this criticism all the time, which is funny since I am not religious and not a political conservative.  But I find parallels between climate alarmist and religion to be interesting, and a particularly effective criticism given some of the left’s foaming-at-the-mouth disdain for religion.

36 thoughts on “Most Useless Phrase in the Political Lexicon: “Peer Reviewed”

  1. Amy Ridenour

    This is a very important point and one that we do not emphasize enough. Most people, including (especially?) journalists, have a totally incorrect idea of what the peer-review process is.

    I had to chuckle at the DailyKos quote you have here, with the “peer-reviewed climatologists” bit. Perhaps they thought the climatologists get reviewed themselves, and forever after, everything they say is guaranteed to be correct! (No doubt some of the folks at RealClimate think this).

    Your point about Wakefield is very well taken, especially in light of the news report in the Los Angeles times that Wakefield may have — their word — lied.

  2. Will Nitschke

    What do scientific studies OF scientific studies tell us about the reliability of peer review?

    This excellent scientific study is very interesting to read:

    http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0020124&ct=1

    Some highlights include:

    “There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false.”

    “Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias.”

    In a similar vein here is an interesting quote I extracted from a poster on statistics website focusing on global warming issues:

    “People outside science have a hopelessly exaggerated idea of the quality of peer review. I am a regular reviewer for physics journals, and I probably spend about three or four hours reviewing a typical manuscript. I check that it is comprehensible, that the authors haven’t made any really glaring errors, and that they give enough references to place the work in its proper context. If I have time, and the paper is very close to my own field, I check a couple of calculations. If the manuscript is for a really top journal I spend a little longer; if it’s from a group I know and trust I’m not so careful. And that’s it. Comparing my reviews with other reviews of the same manuscripts I get the impression that I am at the careful end of reviewing in my field.

    I used to reckon as a handy rule of thumb that 10% of published papers in my field were fraudulent, 30% were erroneous, 30% were technically correct but completely irrelevant, and the remaining 30% were worth bothering with.”

  3. Andrew Pointer

    I agree with everything you say with regard to the false esteem ascribed to the peer review process. However, to cite Dr Wakefield and his Lancet paper as evidence for this is very poor judgement. Wakefield’s original paper only called for more research into possible links between MMR and autism. For daring to question the medical and pharmaceutical industry (which has probably more than any other corrupted peer review science (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2003/dec/07/health.businessofresearch) Wakefield has been subjected to an appalling political witchhunt (see http://www.cryshame.co.uk//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=22&Itemid=94). The current attacks on Wakefield are led by freelance journalist Brian Deer, who has no medical or scientific training or qualifications. I don’t want to go into more detail here but there are two sides to this story, and anyone interested should read http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/3346281/the-witchhunt-against-andrew-wakefield.thtml and http://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/2009/02/11/sunday-times-made-up-wakefield-mmr-data-fixing-allegation/ for a more balanced picture. Even if Wakefield’s hypothesis does prove false, it is only one of many which links childhood vaccines with the exponential rise in autism since the 1990s (see http://www.autismhelpforyou.com/EXPERT%20PAPER%20-%20Thimerosal%20VSD%20study001%20-%20Internet%20File.pdf for a summary of the CDC’s secret Simpsonwood conference on thiomerisol (ethylmercury) in childhood vaccines, and http://www.jdeclanflynn.com/uploads/autismweb/index.html for a summary of a recent conference in Florida). Needless to say there are strong parallels with climate change in the way the mainstream media have bought the official line from the corporate funded scientists, who only conduct easily manipulated paper-based or epidemiological studies (akin to models) rather than actually investigate the damaged children (akin to real world data). It is over 20 years since the onset of the autism epidemic, and yet they have still to commissioned a study into vaccinated verses unvaccinated children. Do they have something to hide? Believe me, AWG is not the only scientific fraud out there.

  4. Jim Owen

    My belief is that GW alarmism is a religion – and thus I have dubbed it the Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming aka The Church of AGW. I have been asked to justify that title several times and have had no problem doing so – to my satisfaction and to the chagrin (and clearly audible wailing and gnashing of teeth) of the questioner.

    If one has to argue, then it should be done with humor that is appreciated by at least one side of the argument. :)

  5. Andrew Pointer

    I agree with everything you say with regard to the false esteem given to the peer review process. However, to cite Dr Wakefield and his Lancet paper as evidence for this is very poor judgement. Wakefield’s original paper only called for more research into possible links between MMR and autism. For daring to question the medical and pharmaceutical industry (which has probably more than any other corrupted peer review science – see http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2003/dec/07/health.businessofresearch) Wakefield has been subjected to an appalling political witchhunt (see http://www.cryshame.co.uk//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=22&Itemid=94). The current attacks on Wakefield are led by freelance journalist Brian Deer, who has no medical or scientific training or qualifications. I don’t want to go into more detail here but there are two sides to this story, and anyone interested should read http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/3346281/the-witchhunt-against-andrew-wakefield.thtml and http://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/2009/02/11/sunday-times-made-up-wakefield-mmr-data-fixing-allegation/ for a more balanced picture. Even if Wakefield’s hypothesis does prove false, it is only one of many which links childhood vaccines with the exponential rise in autism since the 1990s (see http://www.autismhelpforyou.com/EXPERT%20PAPER%20-%20Thimerosal%20VSD%20study001%20-%20Internet%20File.pdf for a summary of the CDC’s secret Simpsonwood conference on thiomerisol (ethylmercury) in childhood vaccines, and http://www.jdeclanflynn.com/uploads/autismweb/index.html for a summary of a recent conference in Florida). Needless to say there are strong parallels with climate change in the way the mainstream media have bought the official line from the corporate-funded scientists, who only conduct easily manipulated paper-based or epidemiological studies (akin to models) rather than actually investigate the damaged children (akin to real world data). It is over 20 years since the onset of the autism epidemic, and yet they have still to commissioned a study into vaccinated verses unvaccinated children. Do they have something to hide? Believe me, AGW is not the only scientific myth out there.

  6. David Thorpe

    Thee is some truth in your argument, and scientists will also, like EVERY OTHER SOCIAL GROUP, including climate change deniers and bankers(!), have a psychological tendency to be loyal to the process by which they work, and the status quo.

    However, this does not imply their conclusions are wrong, and it does not mean any others are right. The process of peer-reviewing, in which a theory is put forward on the basis of evidence, which others then try to disprove, although not necessarily perfect and not leading to facts (because by this absolute definition nothing can be a fact), is the best we have.

    What you are knocking is not the process but the poor understanding of it by journalists and campaigners, which applies to most climate change deniers as much as to some campaigners. The RealClimate people have a better understanding of it than the vast majority.

  7. Andrew Pointer

    Mod – sorry for double post, last night’s attempt did not show up so I posted again this morning. Please delete the first.

  8. dreamin

    Another reason the “peer reviewed” meme has become so popular is that it’s a lot harder to get articles on the skeptic side of things past peer review than articles on the alarmist side of things. So by demanding “peer review,” alarmists get to exclude a lot of decent work which undermines their position.

  9. Hunt Johnsen

    Mr Thorpe,
    You miss the point. Peer review simply is the process by which a piece of research is deemed worthy of publication. It is not the process of verification or testing of the hypothesis or conjecture.
    The fact that a paper has been peer reviewed does nothing to establish its validity.

  10. David Thorpe

    The peer review process encourages authors to meet the accepted standards of their discipline and prevents the dissemination of irrelevant findings, unwarranted claims, unacceptable interpretations, and personal views. The fact that “it’s a lot harder to get articles on the skeptic side of things past peer review than articles on the alarmist side of things” is because climate change is happening, and it is due to human activity, which most skeptics dispute. However, it is right to question models, and conclusions drawn from models, and to try to create better models.

    You also confuse matters with the Wakefield example. Peer review is not considered a failure in cases of deliberate fraud by authors. Wakefield was a fraud. I was working for the UH Dept of Health at the time of the MMR scare. I was the editor of the MMR website. I had to produce material to calm the public panic. We are now suffering a rise in measles cases as a result of his stupidity. We all knew at the time that he was wrong, and we knew because all studies done, all experience of all countries with comparable immunisation regimes, could not find a statistical result which was consistent with his theory. However, the media did not understand the science and preferred to side with the perceived ‘underdog’. They did not trust science and they did not trust the government. Subsequently, it was revealed that he fabricated his work. This demonstrates not that the scientific method is wrong, but that it works, and that, in this case at least, government policy was correct because it relied on evidence-based science. The same is true with climate change, whether you like it or not.

  11. hunter

    David Thorpe doesn’t miss the point at all. The original post does, though, spectacularly. It rightly points out that peer review is a fairly low hurdle, but fails to understand that when people emphasise peer review in the context of climate change, it is not to say that it is unimpeachable, but to contrast with skeptic ‘papers’ which cannot even pass this low hurdle.

  12. hmmmm

    I think there is a general feeling that climate science community pats themselves on the back (peer review). Stuck in a loop. Unless you break the mold and openly doubt their findings, then Hansen is set on them (despite being “muzzled”). LOL

  13. hmmmmm

    David,
    You wrote

    “What you are knocking is not the process but the poor understanding of it by journalists and campaigners, which applies to most climate change deniers as much as to some campaigners.”

    I think that if climate scientists tried harder to reign in the press’ exaggerations these problems would not exist. For starters Jimmy Hansen could come out and tell us why Al Gore shouldn’t have had a hurricane coming out of a smoke stack on his movie cover.

    What we get instead is Al Gore in front of our Senate and treated like he’s a scientist himself. Jimmy’s too busy trying to incite illegal protests of power plants in the UK to even bother I guess? Strange thing for a scientist to do.

    If global warming alarmists could silence these two and the people who mimick them, and those who exaggerate and scare monger for attention, they might get taken much more seriously. The silence is deafening.

    There is an exellent article about this very issue today:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/feb/11/climate-change-science-pope

  14. hmmm

    David,

    “What you are knocking is not the process but the poor understanding of it by journalists and campaigners, which applies to most climate change deniers as much as to some campaigners.”

    I suggest that climate scientists try EXTRA hard not to get misquoted (and to correct sensationalism and focus on the wrong points).

    I also suggest that climate scientists actively come out AGAINST scare mongerers, and that this come from the TOP. This would involve removing Jimmy Hansen from the top.

  15. KuhnKat

    Hunter,

    where is your peer reviewed paper backing your bloviating? 8>)

    There are excellent papers that can’t meet your low hurdle because of the BIAS. I am awaiting your wails of LIES!!!

  16. David Williams

    Some 20 or more years ago, I was a reviewer for one of the Chemistry Society’s publications.I did this work at roughly one paper per month over ten years. I agree with your summary of the nature of peer-reviewing and with the view that the phrase has been hijacked and corrupted by, particularly, green-leaning politicians and by AGW alarmists.

    There are two points that I would add. First, one absolutely key requirement that a reviewer must check is that sufficient information is contained in the publication for others to try to replicate the work. For work that relies upon large amounts of data and upon computer code, normally this would not be given in full in the paper, but be archived by the journal or another appropriate body. Such information must be given promptly upon request to whosoever requires it. The reviewer must satisfy him or herself that such arrangements are in place. In addition, the reviewer ought to inspect such data/code. If the information for archive is not available or if there are not satisfactory arrangements for archiving in place, the paper would be rejected until such time that the ancillary information was made available.

    Second, peer-reviewing is said to be an anonymous process. The writers would not normally know who the reviewers were, although the reviewers may know the writers. There is a corollary to this rule. If a reviewer has personal knowledge of the work, prior to being sent a paper to review, or has close contact with the authors in the field of the work, then the reviewer must declare an interest and should normally return the publication so that it can be reviewed by a disinterested party. This is essential to the integrity of the peer-review process. Let me illustrate this point. I receive a paper to review by Joe Bloggs (sorry Joe!) and it is, at least partly, within
    my field of expertise. If I do not know Joe, I have no problem in accepting to review the paper. I may know Joe by repute (good or bad!), again I have no problem. I may have met Joe a month previously at a conference where we discussed work in general; again no problem. However, Joe may be a good friend. Therefore, I cannot review his work because I may not be disinterested. Joe may not be a good friend, but he did discuss the work with me at that conference. Again, I should not be the reviewer.

    Having read countless blogs, stories and opinions on both sides of the AGW debate, as well as many original papers, I have to say that the reviewers of pro-AGW papers often do not appear to subscribe to the two points that I have discussed.

  17. dreamin

    “The fact that ‘it’s a lot harder to get articles on the skeptic side of things past peer review than articles on the alarmist side of things’ is because climate change is happening, and it is due to human activity, which most skeptics dispute”

    So you concede that the reviewer’s perception of the validity of the paper’s claims influences the process?

  18. Reed Coray

    Thanks to the Church of AGW (to use Jim Owen’s term above, Feb 11, 2009, 9:06 pm) the phrase “peer reviewed” is morphing into “cabal reviewed”. They’ve already made a mockery of the phrase “the science is settled” and now they’re working on “peer reviewed”. What’s next: “Global warming causes global cooling”? Oh wait, that’s already been said.

  19. Lee Smith

    Hi;

    Lumpy Water;

    I’m struggling with this idea that we can have flooding ( caused by global warming, of course) in let’s say Bangladesh ( rie fields etc.) and none in Hackensack New Jersey. We might allow for a little swelling of the oceans at the equator due to centrifigul force at the equator and twice a day swelling caused by tides. But shouldn’t there be a general average gain in water’s altitude everywhere by now? Observable by you, me, everybody at some familiar points.

    Keep it up

    Lee

  20. Neo

    Hey .. Al Gore dropped out of Divinity School .. the left’s foaming-at-the-mouth disdain for religion not of their choice .. that “choice” thing again.

    Otherwise .. Amen

  21. Barney

    Vicky Pope apparently wasted her time writing to The Guardian in her attempt to moderate the fanatics. The Guardian has continued to pile on the paranoia and blame the Australian wildfires on climate change. Meanwhile Australians are angered that greens had actively prevented the use of traditional controlled burns and creation of firebreaks to prevent wildfires from spreading. In some cases, rich hippies bought land to prevent controlled burns from bring done.

    The Guardian and the rest of the alarmist mainstream media does not want to give the Australian public a voice on this. Their experiences with eco-fanatics are not being published.

  22. Lance Winslow

    Indeed, very good article, we discuss this often at the Online Think Tank, it is unacceptable the way PR pieces, popular for the public science magazines, politicians, lobbyists and so-called non-profit/non-partisan groups (wink, wink) play this. I agree. I also liked Choler’s comment above, Yes, no kidding, good point Choler.

  23. BobbyHobby

    Peer review or not to peer review, but referring to Dr. Wakefield paper as example of fraud and faulted PeRe process is so wrong!
    Both Times and this journalist are not beacons of truth. It’s being widely discussed in the blogosphere. See, for example,
    http://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/2009/02/15/sunday-times-mmr-journalist-denials-challenged/

    Out of curiosity, find out how many peer review papers CDC has produced (or refers to) to counter Wakefield’s suggestion relative to autism.
    http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/faq_vaccines.htm#whatresearch
    http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/documents/vaccine_studies.pdf
    In this pdf, I counted 4 published. Autism epidemic since early 90′s, and only few PeRe studies????? 15 years later??? Starting from 2002???? They won’t move until you kick them! I personally find half of those studies irrelevant. What can you say about a study that compares vaccination ages of kids with and without autism. It’s the same, duh! They all follow the same childhood immunization schedule. How about a study of autism in Denmark (which btw has significantly lower autism rates than US)! It is akin to “I lost it there, but I will look for it here, because it is lighter here.”

    I would like to note that Dr. Wakefield, in fact, is doing similar thing as you, i.e. challenging particular dogma that is currently enjoying political support, but which is also blatantly incorrect, incomplete and biased!

    Thank you for your blog!

    P.S. Anyone familiar with the story of Dr. Arpad Puzstai on the subject of GMO’s! It was also called “faulted” for a while (Times participated), it cost him his job and career! But he was proven right after all!

  24. Ian Ross

    Certainly peer review is not expected to refute or comprehensively check the veracity and authenticity of everything in a paper – there just isn’t time BUT peer review on controversial topics such as this is performed with considerable care just because of the likelihood that obvious errors will be paraded around. And I can assure you that peer review for Science and Nature is not a sloppy process at all, but is rather painful!

    The point is, that (Nature and Science aside) if it is so easy to get sloppy science past peer review, where are all the articles from climate change skeptics in the peer review system? If the science from the climate change advocates is so bad there should be lots of refuting articles (even bad ones!) that get past peer review. I don’t see too many. So you then have to fall back on the tired old conspiracy theories that somehow all climatologists are in the pay of the System and are trying to protect their Jobs. Sigh.

    I urge you climate change skeptics – don’t just write about it on blogs – publish your analyses in the journals! Sloppy peer review will then be working for you, not against you. I guarantee that it will be good for the soul! When you get them published you can post the reprints with that lovely stamp of authority.

  25. hunter

    Ian Ross,
    The point is that the sloppiness is due to bias- the peer system is accepting any paper showing AGW as a grave apocalyptic peril, and ignoring papers and work that refutes that.
    History shows it does not take a grand conspiracy to enforce poor thinking habits. We are in an economic and financial catastrophe becasue a lot of people simply went with consensus, and dismissed serious warnings. Unless you think a conspiracy theory best explains our shattered economy?
    Frankly I think you should have known that this is the crux of the problem. It is almost as if you are going through the motions of propping up such an obvious red herring to simply convince yourself to dismiss the lack of evidence for AGW.

  26. mikatollah

    This is an extraordinary topic for any blog that claims to seek the truth. Conducting any science without peer review is like trying to play a football game with no refs. By that I mean regardless of how lopsided the game becomes, the results will always be in question.

    This must be the next step for deniers who haven’t succeeded in questioning the science or motives. If you are going to spout nonsense and still want to be taken seriously, the first thing you must do is abolish any accepted standards, so peer review has got to go.

  27. yonason

    @mikatollah:

    “Conducting any science without peer review is like trying to play a football game with no refs.”

    That is just not the historical reality.
    Please read the link I posted above. February 15, 2009, 11:37 pm.

  28. John Patton

    I have served as a peer for many scientific publications including, Analytical Chemistry, Journal of the AOAC, The Journal of Physical Chemistry and others. All peer review is intended to do is to remind presenters of papers that someone has recommendations about their paper. The recommendations can range from politely saying, “This garbage is worthless” to recommending that further work be done and additional statistics provided or additional cases be studied.

    The editors of the journals have complete discretion as to whether or not to forward comments from reviewers to authors. The better journals do so. The authors are then expected to reply to specific statements made by reviewers. It is sad to say that authors are not required to respond to specific objections of peers by many prestigious journals. This is why I only rarely review an article or paper. Many “prestigious” journals are shams.

    Under these circumstances, peer review means exactly nothing. The only thing a real scientist will accept is evidence via replication of the experiment by another experimenter in another location following exactly the same protocol as the author proposed.

    Better yet is a collaborative study performed by several researchers working independently to validate or invalidate the protocols of the author. Only when such a protocol has been validated by experiment by independent scientists working in similar but separate laboratories or clinical settings can a protocol whether in medicine,chemistry or any other discipline be accepted by me as being true.

    Any scientist worth his/her salt is a skeptic not only of others’ work but their own.

  29. For the Author

    I find your site to be exceptional in many respects.
    As far as your references to ‘the left’…
    that is the only flaw I’ve found over every article that I’ve read.

    You shed light on actual problems (as opposed to ‘spinning’ insofar as I have been well informed on what I’ve read). Are capable of informing others.
    When such references are used, you gamble with that potential.

    I think what you do on your site is exceptionally valuable for the general public.
    My comment is meant merely as a passing constructive bit of criticism:
    You may lose readers that identify with any position that’s thrown under the bus.
    Even if it’s just in passing…and the connotations are understood by most of your readers.

    This is a tragedy…but only if they were going to be able to learn something.
    (And my assumption is that they could.)

    [Sorry for posting here...had a problem with the contact link]

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