Friday, August 06, 2010

A censorious dynamic ...

... We’ll only listen to you if you’ve been peer-reviewed.

One of Pickett and Wilkinson’s severest critics – the non-peer-reviewed Christopher Snowdon, author of The Spirit Level Delusion – is taken aback. ‘This displays an eagerness to close down debate and hide behind the supposed gatekeepers of knowledge’, he tells spiked. ‘Some people who don’t understand what peer review is seem determined to present it as some arbiter of truth’, he continues. ‘But it just means a study is fit for publication or is not obviously fabricated.

Well, that's what happens if your aim is consensus ("group solidarity in sentiment and belief") rather than a sound understanding of a problem.


  1. Peer-reviewed publications seek to ensure readers that the contents are in compliance with the scholarly rigors of the discipline; instead, in some cases, peer-review is used for subjective editorial objectives. Authors and readers, however, have choices: seek out the best, most objective journals; avoid the journals in which the deck has already been stacked. BTW: Every researcher or writer worth his or her salt already knows this long established fact of life; this is not news.

  2. Simon Ash10:01 AM

    The Spirit Level actually discusses facts whereas the Spiked piece is all conjecture.
    Blaming the increases in depression and other mental health problems on the Oprah Winfrey style culture is akin to blaming the rise in obesity on the proliferation of diet books.

  3. Drawing a connection between affluence and anxiety is pretty speculative, too, I'd say. I remember when some conservatives used to attribute the suicide rate in Sweden to that's country's socialism. Like the late Spike Milligan, I would love the chance to prove that great wealth wouldn't corrupt me.