On Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 1:55 PM, Platonist Guitar Cowboy
<multiplecit...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> On Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 11:53 PM, Telmo Menezes <te...@telmomenezes.com>
> wrote:
>>
>> Hi John,
>>
>> > as a former ed-in-chief of a science magazine (Ion Exchange and
>> > Membranes) I
>> > know the difficulties one can run into if trying to get peer-review
>> > approval
>> > on "NEW" ideas that do not fit into the conventional scientific fabric
>> > of
>> > college courses. I was a risk-taker and provided space for several new
>> > ideas
>> > that made sens - to me. ('Let the readership decide and debate').
>>
>> It's interesting to read this. I agree that the current model of
>> peer-review leads to too much conservatism, and "me-too" papers are
>> much more likely to get approved than the ones with novel ideas. On
>> the other hand, there's only so much time to keep up with the
>> literature, so some amount of filtering is required.
>
>
> I see 2 problems: everybody wants to publish + the peer groups that control
> certain domains and their journals are too often specialized cowards, that
> have to make bread, and fear "losing face" for publishing something crackpot
> style, like those nonsense articles that get through the peer process into
> publication from time to time. But the only way for journals to become more
> robust and earn scientific merit beyond popularity contests is to allow the
> wrong to be read, expose to criticism, and to right the wrongs or point
> towards the open problems that were formulated.
>
> Everybody is expected to learn... But not scientific journals. And everybody
> smells the irony. This strangles debate and promotes much more dependency
> "journal x said blah, so that must be right". The focus shifts from the
> questions, the work on them, towards results. Reactions to novelty become
> "crackpot" by default, instead of sharpening scientific attitude of
> wrestling what somebody new might have to say.

I agree. Here I tend to think like an economist: people react to
incentives. If the system is behaving in a way that is not desirable,
it is maybe a good idea the take a look at the incentive system that's
in place.

You would assume that the goal of a journal is to become as relevant
as possible. The problem is that fighting for relevancy is risky. You
have to expose yourself to ridicule. If you don't, you will never be
relevant because you will only consider the safest, most decaffeinated
ideas. The problem is that this highly conservative strategy is great
to get tenure and grants. So the system encourage mediocrity, in a
way. Importantly, this is an anti-scientific stance, because it
introduces a specific bias. Honest scientists should thrive to be as
free from bias as possible (while realising that it is impossible to
be free from bias).

Another problem is premature specialisation. In some fields, like
medicine and experimental physics, specialisation makes a lot of
sense. Most of science does not involve the stakes of health care nor
the instrumentation complexities of a particle accelerator. But all
fields want to copy this tried-and-true path to respectability. It's a
cargo cult. And it doesn't work either.

I think science is like art: the best stuff is not done for money and
recognition. These things are purely by-products. We need to get rid
of the job mentality. There is incredible technological progress that
could be used to free humanity from labour, but this never seems to
happen. If people are free from labour, then they can pursue their
true interests: science, art, dog training, whatever... Unfortunately,
I think humanity is currently following the wrong path in many senses.
Instead of progress being made in releasing humanity from labour, the
void in work to be done created by new technology is filled with
bullshit jobs, and science is being contaminated with bullshit jobs
too.

Happy new year man (and everyone!)
Telmo.

>>
>>
>> Maybe the internet will eventually allow for better models, but then I
>> fear that it will turn into another form of a popularity contest.
>> Collective moderation tends to reward sensationalism and form over
>> substance....
>
>
> Yeah, but I don't see a route out of this ossifying aspect of the journal
> landscape, as brilliant as many of the articles are that I see every month,
> with all these historic weights in its current form. I'll just work blogwise
> for now, and bet that time will filter the popularity contest and
> sensationalism. PGC
>
>>
>>
>> > Sometimes new ideas (versions?) do not fit into the 'reductionistic'
>> > conventional stuff of the Rosenesque MODEL content, limited to the
>> > already
>> > known inventory of science etc.
>>
>> I love to read the negative reviews that famous computer science
>> papers received:
>> http://www.fang.ece.ufl.edu/reject.html
>>
>> Since we've been talking about Turing:
>> "On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungs
>> Problem." This is a bizarre paper. It begins by defining a computing
>> device absolutely unlike anything I have seen, then proceeds to show—I
>> haven't quite followed the needlessly complicated formalism—that there
>> are numbers that it can't compute. As I see it, there are two
>> alternatives that apply to any machine that will ever be built: Either
>> these numbers are too big to be represented in the machine, in which
>> case the conclusion is obvious, or they are not; in that case, a
>> machine that can't compute them is simply broken!
>> Any tabulating machine worth its rent can compute all the values in
>> the range it represents, and any number computable by a function—that
>> is, by applying the four operations a number of times—can be computed
>> by any modern tabulating machine since these machines—unlike the one
>> proposed here with its bizarre mechanism——have the four operations
>> hardwired. It seems that the "improvement" proposed by Turing is not
>> an improvement over current technology at all, and I strongly suspect
>> the machine is too simple to be of any use.
>> If the article is accepted, Turing should remember that the language
>> of this journal is English and change the title accordingly."
>>
>> I'm sure there are equivalents in every field.
>>
>> > While it does not support the 'new' ideas, it does not prove them wrong
>> > by
>> > itself, either.
>> >
>> > I submitted a paper once with some 'mild' novelty (J. of Consciousness
>> > Sci)
>> > and an irate (conservative) reviewer called me a
>> > "homespun fireside philosopher" - an ornamental epitheton I value highly
>> > ever since.
>>
>> Would you share that paper with us?
>>
>> Cheers
>> Telmo.
>>
>> > John Mikes
>> >
>> >
>> > On Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 3:35 PM, LizR <lizj...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> Edgar,
>> >>
>> >> Have you written any peer-reviewed papers on your ideas? Most
>> >> scientific
>> >> popularisations are written to explain a theory that has been worked
>> >> out
>> >> mathematically (like David Deutsch's "Fabric Of Reality") or which are
>> >> the
>> >> product of long (and intense) discussions amongst scientists and
>> >> philosophers working in the relevant fields(s), which have often
>> >> involved
>> >> substantial modification to the original ideas (like, I imagine,
>> >> Russell
>> >> Standish's "Theory Of Nothing"). Or most likely both, in a lot of
>> >> cases.
>> >>
>> >> Only fictional works tend to be written entirely from the author's
>> >> imagination, without much in the way of feedback (I say "much" because
>> >> having done this myself I know that it's very hard not to solicit
>> >> feedback,
>> >> and not to act on it to some extent. But I always try to bear in mind
>> >> this
>> >> advice from Neil Gaiman: "Remember: when people tell you something's
>> >> wrong
>> >> or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell
>> >> you
>> >> exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost
>> >> always
>> >> wrong.").
>> >>
>> >> I hesitate to guess which of the above categories your magnum opus
>> >> might
>> >> fall into.
>> >>
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