Friday, July 2, 2010

Peer Review is No Panacea

Thanks, Megan McArdle (and congratulations on your recent marriage).

This is not to say that the peer review system is worthless. But it's limited. Peer review doesn't prove that a paper is right; it doesn't even prove that the paper is any good (and it may serve as a gatekeeper that shuts out good, correct papers that don't sit well with the field's current establishment for one reason or another). All it proves is that the paper has passed the most basic hurdles required to get published--that it be potentially interesting, and not obviously false. This may commend it to our attention--but not to our instant belief.

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