Am I A Peer Review Hypocrite?

Neuroskeptic iconNeuroskepticBy NeuroskepticAug 24, 2015 7:53 PM


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Am I a hypocrite about peer review?

I was thinking about this today. Here's why I might be one. On the one hand, I regularly criticize peer-reviewed research papers for being unsound. I've also expressed doubts about the reliability of the peer review process itself. And I do all this on my blog, which is not peer reviewed. So it seems that I don't respect peer review as a guarantee of scientific truth. However, I also criticize things for not being peer reviewed. For instance, I roll my eyes at journalists who dare to write about research before it's been published in a peer reviewed journal. So what's going on? Do I believe in peer review or not? Am I being inconsistent? Or, worse, am I a hypocrite, who thinks that other people should respect peer review, but who doesn't feel bound to respect it himself? Well. In my defence, I'm not alone in having a seemingly ambivalent attitude on this topic. A great many science bloggers are open to the same charge. We say that only peer reviewed research deserves to be called science, but we also write non-peer-reviewed criticisms of peer reviewed papers. So are we all being inconsistent? In a follow-up post, I will try to answer this question, but for now I'm just going to pose it.

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