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Peer Review and the Scientific Process

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The sad thing is it isn't the scientific process or peer review that's the problem. It's the subversion and perversion of them that's causing the huge amount of recent public distrust in things "scientific." And whenever there's doubt, there's always someone ready and willing to step in and twist it to their own advantage.

Be it politics, economics, religion, or science - once the practitioners of a given discipline abandon their high road, a mounting wave of public distrust soon follows. And surfing that wave are all the self-nominated pundits and opportunists. Each with an agenda.

To my mind, that's the real tragedy - and danger - in all of this.

^ As you've pointed out many times in other contexts... "It's a people problem."  :Thmbsup:

Anyone ready for a real lovely little mindf**k? Get out the intellectual KY jelly and lube your mind. It's going to get a bit rough! ;)

To save time, start here:

That's the 10 minute mark.

He points out how some scientific constants fluctuate, and specifically the speed of light and the universal gravitation constant. More in the video.

If he's right, "peer review" has had a seriously massive cluster-f**k of a disaster of cosmic proportions. Beyond that, the implications of the incompetence of those involved is simply astounding.

I'm not surprised it wasn't aired. I watched it twice and still think it's pretty lame.

Here's Mr. Sheldrake's write-up in Wikipedia:

Rupert Sheldrake

Alfred Rupert Sheldrake is an English scientist,[3][4] author,[3] public speaker,[5] and researcher in the field of parapsychology,[6] known for his "morphic resonance" concept.[7] He worked as a biochemist and cell biologist at Cambridge University from 1967 to 1973[3] and as principal plant physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics until 1978.[8]

Conceived during Sheldrake's time at Cambridge, morphic resonance posits that "memory is inherent in nature"[3][9] and "natural systems, such as termite colonies, or pigeons, or orchid plants, or insulin molecules, inherit a collective memory from all previous things of their kind".[9] Sheldrake proposes that it is also responsible for "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms".[4] His advocacy of the idea encompasses paranormal subjects such as precognition, telepathy and the psychic staring effect[10][11] as well as unconventional explanations of standard subjects in biology such as development, inheritance, and memory.[12]

Morphic resonance is not accepted by the scientific community as a real phenomenon and Sheldrake's proposals relating to it have been characterized as pseudoscience. Critics cite a lack of evidence for morphic resonance and an inconsistency of the idea with data from genetics and embryology, and also express concern that popular attention from Sheldrake's books and public appearances undermines the public's understanding of science.[a]

Despite the negative reception Sheldrake's ideas have received from the scientific community, they have found support in the New Age movement,[26] such as from Deepak Chopra.[27][28] Sheldrake argues that science should incorporate alternative medicine, psychic phenomena, and a greater focus on holistic thinking...
--- End quote ---

In short, a whole lotta New Age magical and wishful thinking being peddled.

Just because something would be really cool if it existed (or worked a certain way), it's still a very far cry from establishing that it's real. Science says if there's no concrete and verifiable evidence to support a hypothesis, it remains an unproven hypothesis - at best. New Age says: the absence of verifiable evidence is immaterial because that invariably means you're looking in the wrong place - or at it in the wrong way. In short, you lack the "gift," or the "awareness," or are not "sufficiently evolved" to see things the way they do.

I personally heard nothing new in what he's saying. I'm a child of the 60/70s and I've heard almost all of this talk in one form or another before. Those 60/70s were fun times. Anything was possible! And the incontrovertible proof and validation of all those marvellous and mystical "alternate realities" were (supposedly) just around the corner. They'd all "eventually" (that favorite word of dreamers) become established fact and "western so-called science" would finally get its well-deserved comeuppance! Yup! Any day "real soon now."

And just a short forty years later I'm pleased to report...uh...we're still waiting??? WTF?  :huh:

When he opened up with the usual shop-worn New Age straw man attacks on science (which does not make the claims he says it does), my eyes already started to glaze over. A fun thing to watch perhaps. But hardly "an idea worth sharing." Unless maybe you're into the whole post-modern/deconstructionist way of 'thinking.'

Also, the characterization that his talk was "banned" and "censored" is not accurate. That was the characterization made by the person (revolutioneevolve) who posted the video under their own YT account. TED had merely decided the presentation did not measure up to their standards for inclusion in the TED Talks and removed it from their own TED channel. They have not issued DMCA notices to have it taken down from anybody else's channel. So I hardly see where there's some vast conspiracy to suppress and silence (another favorite New Age accusation trotted out whenever anyone disagrees with a favorite New Age guru) Mr. Sheldrake. And they have a whole page on the Open for Discussion blog at TED that explains the whys and wherefores of their action - along with counter arguments and objections by Robert Sheldrake himself. So he's hardly being censored - not that TED actually has the authority or clout to do something like that to begin with. They're not a government or church. So how could they possibly "censor" anything?

When you get past his (and his supporters') hyperbole, I think it's clear that the people who bring us TED were not impressed with Mr. Sheldrake's talk and decided they'd rather not host it on their main channel as a result. And it might possibly also be worth remembering that deciding what TED wants their name associated with is something that is well within their rights considering how TED is a private organization rather than a public institution. I can't see many here disputing that right. At least not in good faith considering we're (mostly) the good liberal/libertarian/anarcho-leaning (pick a flavor!) thinkers we are. Right?

This is where the people at TED explain their position and decision on Mr. Shendrake's talk in greater depth. It hardly sounds like the Spanish Inquisition to me.
 ;) 8)

Never mind the New Age movement, astrology, or ectoplasmic production, peer review of alchemy gets you no further, even if Sir Isaac Newton is doing the review. Peer review of Isaac Newton’s physics was rather hard as he was, and remains, peerless in that field.


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