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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Philip Gibbs: on 6/27/14 at 16:54pm UTC, wrote Gene, Yes, it is very difficult to get people to comment on a paper. That...

Gene Barbee: on 6/27/14 at 3:14am UTC, wrote Philip, Thanks again for starting viXra. It enabled me to archive some of...

Kevin O'Malley: on 6/14/14 at 5:06am UTC, wrote No I have not checked my methodology against previous contests. I've only...

Wilhelmus de Wilde: on 6/13/14 at 15:15pm UTC, wrote dear Philip, Congratulations with the high score and admission in the...

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FQXi FORUM
May 25, 2019

CATEGORY: How Should Humanity Steer the Future? Essay Contest (2014) [back]
TOPIC: Open Peer Review to Save the World by Philip Gibbs [refresh]
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Author Philip Gibbs wrote on Apr. 23, 2014 @ 13:02 GMT
Essay Abstract

Humanity faces many dangers from climate change and wars to asteroid impacts that could harm our future. Often logical reasoning does not seem to play a strong part in discussions on such subjects and even peer-review is flawed. I contend that the solution is a better system of open peer-review.

Author Bio

Philip Gibbs has a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Glasgow. He has published papers in physics and mathematics as an independent scientist for over 20 years and is the founder of the viXra.org e-print archive.

Download Essay PDF File

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on Apr. 23, 2014 @ 17:56 GMT
Philip,

I think we first have to recognize the very act of forming a thought introduces bias. Like a lens, it focuses the information from a larger context to a specific frame of perception.

I certainly agree with your argument otherwise, just that we have to deal with the patterns of conceptual framing building up and breaking down as a regular feature of the process of...

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Gordon Watson replied on Apr. 23, 2014 @ 18:30 GMT
Dear Philip,

On first reading: I support your important essay 100%.

At the moment: I can see no reason to change that preliminary assessment; so I'll be most interested to see/learn what objections might be raised.

With best regards; Gordon

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 14:17 GMT
John, thanks for your comments. I agree that all thoughts introduce bias, but there is an underlying unbiased truth that we must get to. It is peer-review that gets us there when it is done openly so that anyone can examine the reasoning.

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Hasmukh K. Tank wrote on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 08:22 GMT
Dear Dr. Philip,

Your suggestion of open peer-review, is the only hope, for progress of science.

If there were no viXra, then my following manscripts have remained uncommunicated with the world. As long as the problem of 'wave-particle-duality' was not solved, for more than nine decades, there used to be a lot of discussion and debate among thousands of scientists; still the physicists had to rmain satisfied with 'mutual-exclusiveness' of waves and particles; and their 'complimentarity'. And now, when the problem has ultimately been solvd, most of the editors told, "The explanation is very simple, so not suitable for publication in our journal". Actually, the editors, and the physicists are feeling shy, why they could not think of such a simple explanation! But GOD had his own plan, so He selected a very simple person, to resolve the puzzle of 'wave-particle-duality'. The explanation is described in the following papers:

http://www.vixra.org/pdf/1402.0153v3.pdf

http://www.vi
xra.org/pdf/1403.0947v1.pdf

http://www.vixra.org/pdf/1403.026
6v2.pdf

With my best regards,

Hasmukh K. Tank

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 12:52 GMT
Thank you for your comments and I am glad you are finding viXra useful. I look forward to reading your essay soon.

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Wilhelmus de Wilde de Wilde wrote on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 15:22 GMT
Dear Philip,

I wondered already when your essay was coming, but here you are in full form.

Indeed one of the important tools in steering the future of humanity is trying to influence the scientific world that gives humanity not only knowledge but also tools for nourishment and/or destruction.

You gave science already a new impulse through VIXRA, that is a great tool for the OPENNESS of the results from scientific research and even philosophical approach, bravo for that, and I also thank you for the possibility that is given this way.

It is indeed as you say very important that people can react on on peer reviews, this is of great importance for the authors.

As I indicated already my contribution is of a more philosophical side, but I hope that you will find some spare time to read it and maybe leave a post on my thread. If you like to give it a rating in accordance with your appreciation I would be very obliged.

Best regards Phil and good luck

Wilhelmus

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 14:20 GMT
Thanks for your support. I will be reading your essay later and look forward to it.

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Member Tommaso Bolognesi wrote on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 15:45 GMT
Dear Philip,

what I like in your essay is the smooth flow of the reasoning and the narrative, and the several pieces of concrete information (data, references, examples) that you provide in support to your claims.

One aspect that I personally see as a potential weakness in your analysis is the great optimism that you put into the `solutions` that should be found in papers from the...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 14:13 GMT
Tommaso, thanks for your comments and questions.

I dont think I am very optimistic that we will improve our rationalism towards peer-review. It is a hard problem. However I am optimistic that if we find away it will greatly help humanities future. Decision making (Especially at the political level) seems to be increasingly influenced by bias. At least we have taken the first steps towards...

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George Gantz wrote on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 01:17 GMT
Phillip - A thoughtful indictment and proposed solution for a significant problem in scientific publication. The FQXi process seems to incorporate some of what you suggest - publication of all essays, open and visible (but publicly confidential) community review. There will still be weaknesses of course - increasing specialization (few qualified reviewers), control over funding decisions, and the continuing incentives for being novel and being first. (I cite these in my essay: The Tip of the Spear.)

Have you thought about ways to apply this model to other institutions outside of science? Wouldn't it be great if our political process were subject to open peer/community review?

Thanks - George

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 21:26 GMT
George, thanks for the comment and questions

I think systems of government are hard to change for the simple reason that the people who get into power like the way the system worked, because it got them into power.

What we can hope to do in a democracy is influence public opinion which then indirectly influences government. This is something that is beginning to happen on the internet where public debate on important issues is fast and powerful. The need then is to ensure that systems of public debate emphasise logic and rational thinking over more biased illogical ideals. This does not always happen.

I like that when people comment on some news reports people can vote comments up and down. This really shows where opinion lies. I'd like to see a little more complexity in such systems to help the rational side. There is also a danger that some news media bias the results by deleting comments that are against their political views so I'd like to see independent commenting systems that cant be cheated. As an example of what I like try out http://rbutr.com/

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 01:44 GMT
Before I comment..

I want you to know, Phil, that I am horribly biased, or at least I think I must be. I am firmly convinced that I know nothing at all, but people keep telling me I am wrong. Can open peer review help someone like myself?

Other than doubting my own veracity; I think your essay was excellent. There were a few spelling errors to point out (the meteorite article author's name was likely Hans), but otherwise the paper was well thought out, well-written, and should be well-received. I think if the truth about arXiv was more broadly known, for example, people would be up in arms over its unfair or abusive practices - at least if those same people were not afraid to have their own papers blackballed by the arXiv moderators, with no hope of redress.

So obviously there is a need for a way to validate or clear academic papers, without having so many academically sound papers get panned because the author lacks the right affiliation, the right endorser, a degree from a well-respected institution - or other qualifications that do not influence the quality of the work. For the record; I've seen my share of poorly written papers by well-respected scholars, and excellent papers both in content and writing quality - from people who are relative unknowns. So good qualifications do not assure quality of workmanship.

Good Luck!

Jonathan

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 20:21 GMT
Jonathan, Hi,

I think the attitude of professional academics to independent researchers is very variable. Many of them are well aware of the way arXiv filters its papers and they regard that as acceptable. happily there are others who are much more open. FQXi would not be so open to outsiders if that was not the case.

Its good to see you in the contest again with another strong contribution.

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 07:33 GMT
Dear founder of viXra,

Open peer review would certainly be valuable. However, would it save the world?

Eckard

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 12:34 GMT
Yes It is my strongly held opinion that open peer-review is essential to help steer humanity away from disasters.

Many of the large scale disasters that could happen can be understood using science but the closed system of peer-review we currently use is failing to give the right answers. It is not just the review of scientific papers but also the reviews of funding and the ensuing public debate that matter here.

For example nuclear fusion is a possible new energy source that could replace our reliance on fossil fuels. The Joint European Torus is very close to providing a net gain in power and ITER is expected to succeed, yet funding for the project is very limited and there is very little public debate about it. The main problem it has is the word "nuclear" which triggers a whole cascade of biases, yet it is very different from existing nuclear power.

Peer review of climate change is also a mess with scandals over the hiding of data and methods used. The waste of money on tamiflu is another example of how easily faulty peer-review can cause problems.

As technology progresses the potential for this kind of problem is only going to increase. We desperately need good quality open peer-review so that the right policy decisions can be made based on academic research rather than the biases of public opinion.

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Anonymous replied on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 07:21 GMT
Being not even a public reviewer of the claim that something will save the world, I feel somewhat amused by titles like Bee's that remind me of a self-ironic song in German "Nur mal kurz die Welt retten" (My translation: I will just save the world in a few minutes).

I think I understand and largely support your approach. "Decisions based on academic research rather than the biases of public opinion" sounds prudent.

Nonetheless Alfred Nobel guided me to slightly different conclusions. Is steering really always a question of decision making or did the invention of dynamite per se steer the history?

Experienced WWII caused me to ask for what went wrong. May we blame single decisions or were patriotism, tin soldiers, revenge propaganda, etc. already before WWI among the true reasons?

What about nuclear fusion, I wonder how many participants of the contest supported the hope for cold fusion on the basis of most likely just fabricated experimental results. I heard trustworthy comments that spoke of pathologic science. I will not invest a single Cent into something where the promise is huge for decades while there is obviously no realistic chance of true success. Instead of supporting illusions or risky for nature technologies I would prefer looking for feasible mechanisms of birth control worldwide. This will face fierce resistance by those many who are hoping to benefiting from economic growth, personal, religious, or national power, or who rely on funding.

If groups of cherished theories or idolized experts went wrong and must be abandoned then this will also require more than a public peer-review.

I appreciate FQXi as a forum that allows to put and pursue really foundational questions.

Elsewhere we have some public self-declared peers.

Sincerly,

Eckard Blumschein

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Eckard Blumschein replied on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 08:32 GMT
Philip,

I overlooked in your reply "the biases of public opinion". Well, public opinion tends to be manipulated. That's why I maintain my objection to your claim "saving the world".

Doesn't already your exemplary selection of expected catastrophes reflect the manipulated public opinion?

Does global warming really deserve much more attention than poisoning the environment with radioactive and other waste?

Can we expect the public opinion to abandon in time the logically untenable slogan "Earth has room and food for all"? While this naive belief might be true for now and the near future but not beyond, it protects the interests of those who are irresponsible and could misuse an open peer-review accordingly because they are strongly interested in their profit.

I would rather appreciate if you could point to a list of viXra articles that proved at least as valuable as arXive articles. I agree on the necessity of scientific discussion on high level. To me in science, nothing must be taboo. Read my essays. Agreeing with outsiders like Nobel and Shannon rather than Einstein and Bourbaki, I do not even expect much ercy by open peers.

Eckard

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Kimmo Rouvari wrote on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 10:17 GMT
Hi Philip,

Your essay is pure gold and I really do hope that you'll win this contest. I agree with Eckard ("However, would it save the world?") but never the less, you are showing the right path!

I'll give you 2 in binary format ;-)

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Author Philip Gibbs wrote on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 12:49 GMT
Thank you everyone for your comments which I will try to respond to.

I request that you please do not give me any hints as to how you voted on this essay.

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Kimmo Rouvari replied on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 03:44 GMT
Sorry about that! I just wanted to show a proper scale for your piece. I didn't imply that you should do the same. I know, based on last year's contest, that here is some collusion ongoing but that doesn't do any good for those involved in it.

Pushing poor essays into the final only makes it easier for those actually good pieces to gain top positions!

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Mark Avrum Gubrud wrote on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 10:26 GMT
The great thing about this essay is that it is focused and we can all agree that it is addressing an important practical problem and its potential solution which can contribute to humanity's steering. That said, it does not address the question posed directly.

Supposing you could somehow fix the peer-review process in academia, would that solve the problem of steering the future? Is there...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 07:14 GMT
When Wikipedia first started I thought it was hopelessly ambitious and had no chance of working. I was editor of the Physics FAQ so I knew how difficult it is to get people to write good content for free. The line between success and failure on the interwebs is a fine one but if you get the right formula your project can work.

Wikipedia works because it has the right combination of rules and admin. It is not perfect and has its biases but smart people look at the talk pages as much as the main article if they want a more complete picture. The admin do not always get their way. They tried to delete the viXra article but failed because it fits the rules.

Many systems for open peer-review have already failed. Look at scirate.com for example. It has been around for ages and is well known but it still gets little traction. One day someone will implement the right system, perhaps by luck. More likely they look at what works for Wikipedia, Stackexchange, Reddit etc, and adapt those features to a full-blown pee-review system. Perhaps the formula that works will look nothing like the way we imagine peer-review to work now and it may reach far beyond just academic poapers.

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 13:46 GMT
Bravo Philip your excellent ideas have been solidly backed by your excellent deeds. When arXiv accepted two of my papers because an academic friend had sponsored them, but then rejected my next paper because I submitted it myself, I felt demeaned and cheated . So when I discovered your viXra archive it was a godsend - no anonymous people judging my ideas because I worked independently. So again thank you for that and keep viXra alive!

Open peer review need not be restricted to scientific research. As you suggest it can be made part of the system of governance at many level. The other day I had found that a nice wide green walkway had been decreed off- limits to cyclists. This in a city where mothers often use bicycles to carry children to their many after school cram schools. Or nurseries. Had they asked the populace to decide who uses the walkway things might have been different.

Incidentally this fqxi system of peer rating is not open - we do not know who rated a particular essay and more importantly why....

With best wishes

Vladimir

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Douglas Alexander Singleton wrote on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 01:02 GMT
Dear Dr. Gibbs,

I enjoyed your essay and agreed with many of the points: peer review as currently practiced could be greatly improved; the academic "game" is rigged against those without academic affiliations or with academic affiliations that are not from R1 universities; the idea of open access is good, but the exact way in which it will be funded is still unclear (this I think was the...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 08:43 GMT
Douglas, thank you for these thoughtful comments.

On the subject of Elsevier you may have seen the latest from Timothy Gowers on his blog http://gowers.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/elsevier-journals-som
e-facts/ As well as exposing the high cost of journal subscriptions he makes some comments which suggest that Elsevier is indeed taking the open access charges in addition to the subscription charges. They justify this by pointing out that the total number of non-open access papers in their journals is still increasing.

Of course you are right that peer-review is not the only thing or even the most important thing that needs to be addressed to save humanity. My point is rather that its importance is greatly underestimated compared to other things that people may highlight.

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Peter Jackson wrote on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 19:52 GMT
Phil,

Excellent job.

Probably not a snowballs chance in a Bessemer converter of having any effect, but then a billion snowballs is an avalanche so we must start somewhere. To prove I really mean that I had this published in the 'Skeptical intelligencer' a few years ago;

Subjugation of Skepticism in Science. (I spose I should have logged that into viXra too, whadda'you think?)

Of course there are twofold problems; that one man's genius is another man's crackpot as all think differently, and we already have 'information overload' with the number of papers that DO get through (I have a growing pile of unread journals building up despite reading 20+ papers a week). Overcome those problems and the ruling troglodyte hordes who have it all sewn up may start to worry.

I note 'Nature' has recently be lauded for heading the other way and insisting all references are from only the landed gentry of peers. Only marriages to sisters are allowed! You may be right, the problem may now be starting to be one of mankind's very survival.

I've had Vladimirs problems too. Some papers on arXiv, then suddenly a brick wall. Do they not also have any code of ethics? Unifying QM and SR mean nothing if nobody will publish it! (I hope you'll check out my essay).

I greatly commend your efforts to beat Christian's record as the highest scoring community peer score to be passed over in the judging. Well done and best of luck.

Peter

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 06:40 GMT
I am not the only one throwing snowballs but the avalanche has not yet begun. The traditional peer-review system is very well protected on all sides, but there are some signs that things will change eventually.

I dont know what you are referring to about Nature. Is there a link for that?

Good luck with your essay. I will get to it soon.

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Peter Jackson replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 13:17 GMT
Phil,

An interesting paper here, not only showing a far higher proportion of experiments than we realise are falsely based, but then applauding treating the symptoms not the cause;

"In 2005 John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist from Stanford University, caused a stir with a paper showing why, as a matter of statistical logic, the idea that only one such paper in 20 gives a false-positive result was hugely optimistic. Instead, he argued, “most published research findings are probably false."

As he told the quadrennial International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication, held this September in Chicago, the problem has not gone away."

2013 Economist article.

It also refers to the Nature policy.

Peter

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Neil Bates wrote on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 01:24 GMT
Philip: better peer-review would surely help. I think a key element is expansion of "blind peer review" so reviewers don't know author names. The power of ad-hom prejudice is great. Meanwhile, viXra helps by providing an open forum for challenging ideas.

Heh, clever coincidance, this was my legitimacy test:

Important: In order to combat spam, please select the letter in this menu between 'V' and 'X':

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 06:29 GMT
I agree that it would be a useful ideal if peer-review could be anonymous on the part of the author. In the present journal system papers submitted by independent authors are often rejected by editors who know their contact details.

Perhaps a future open peer-review system could have an option for the authors to remain anonymous until initial reviews have been posted. However, for the most part authors like artists can be recognised by their work even if they dont sign it, so I dont think this ideal can be met in practice.

The hope is that if peer-review is more open then any prejudices would be more obvious and counterbalanced.

The letter between V and X is i :-)

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Member Flavio Mercati replied on May. 29, 2014 @ 21:14 GMT
Dear Peter,

I'm doubtful that one could effectively make an author anonymous to the referees: I'm afraid that in the vast majority of the cases the identity of most authors would be completely apparent to the referees from what they write. However, young or first-time authors would be guaranteed fair treatment by such a system, and also it would guarantee that, if the editors decides to reject your paper before sending it through peer-review, they had to read the paper (or at least the abstract!) and couldn't reject a paper just on the basis of the author's reputation. What do you think?

best,

Flavio

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Gene H Barbee wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 01:38 GMT
Philip,

I would like to see your essay win this year. I am among the many independent researchers, like yourself, that experienced many years of bias. Your essay explained why for 30 years I either received curt rejections from an editorial staff or worse no response from my many attempts to contribute or even dialog. I spent a very enjoyable day reviewing your copious contributions to viXra. Thank you for starting the website. I put some thought into how to set up a peer review process and started to appreciate the difficulties. My motivation has been developing a consistent view of nature and I am concerned about where our valuable future mental resources will be spent. My grandkids will probably love the challenge of understanding as much as I did but I don’t want them exposed to processes that limit their potential. We have a lot of challenges ahead and we need a world that stops fighting and wasting resources over trivial differences. I am struck by statements from authors saying that only a small fraction of people even believe in evolution of other basic science. Your statements that a good peer review process might change the future are right on.

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Ajay Bhatla wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 03:55 GMT
Philip,

Wonderful to read your views on the need for Open Peer Review. I have felt this way for a very long time.

We are on the same page.

While you are opening up the world to grow its knowledge, I am working to make this knowledge available to the global public.

I eagerly await your reaction to my essay.

Thank you for your essay

-Ajay

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 04:18 GMT
Philip,

"Humanity faces many dangers from climate change and wars to asteroid impacts that could harm our future. Often logical reasoning does not seem to play a strong part in discussions on such subjects and even peer-review is flawed. I contend that the solution is a better system of open peer-review."

Certainly "open peer-review" is a step in the right direction in giving hearings to outside-the-moneyed-box ideas, but currently the problem seems to be money, power and access controls who is heard and who is not heard, and this is becoming global, not just a US characteristic. Without celebrity, power and access and without support by a corporate media, without representation by leaders, it is very difficult to be heard.

Climate change and wars too often fulfill agendas of the most powerful in our world. Their focus is not asteroid dangers, though open discussion in an open-peer-review forum would help. We do need to have the best ideas heard, but they are often drowned out by the oligarchy.

A repository like arXiv can be one part of change but the other part is a common effort by the growing legions of the oppressed whose clarion call need to drown out the monolithic establishment that a relentless conservative effort has already brought about. An equally relentless effort can make reason be heard and reasonable ideas applied.

Unfortunately money and power now rule not ideas or their practical application.

Repositories put me in mind of an academic setting which is becoming more influenced by the privatization movement, too often rendering some academicians compromised as well.

Good ideas and good points but I wonder what catastrophe must befall us before rationality can return. The Great Recession didn't do it. In some ways Wall Street is worse -- We needed WWII and the Depression in the 20th Century to bring the upsurge of the middle class.

What do you think, Phil?

Jim

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James Lee Hoover replied on May. 31, 2014 @ 17:51 GMT
Philip,

Having had rating problems with my Firefox browser and with some 5 days remaining, I am revisiting essays I've read to see if rated. I find that I rated yours on 4/30.

Glad to see your essay is doing well. Given time, I would like to see your thoughts on my essay: http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/2008

Jim

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Domenico Oricchio wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 13:38 GMT
I read your good article.

I am thinking a new h-index for an article; for example if you ask to some great scientists to give a vote to viXra.org articles (something as "I like" of facebook) in some different field (expert in quantum mechanics, relativity, etc), and there is the possibility to search for good articles in some fields, then the contents of the article is important for some great scientists, or for some expert readers; it is not necessary that the expert work on a new research to vote it, whereas now the citation is made by the same research field.

There may be a new statistical vote (index) that give the quality of the article, with a weighted average from the academic value, and the quality of the publication of the voters.

An acceleration of the diffusion of ideas, in the academic world, can change the world faster.

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Joe Fisher wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 14:35 GMT
Dear Dr. Gibbs,

I found reading your essay truly fascinating. I hope you do not mind me making a comment about it.

As you will see if you read my essay REALITY, ONCE, I proved that although Bertrand Russell’s perfect abstract proof of 1+1=2 is perfectly abstractly correct, it is a pragmatic impossible actual construct because identical states cannot exist. Everything real and imagined in the real Universe is unique, once. If you read my Theory of Inert Light that I have posted in the Comments section of some of the other essayists at this site, you will note that I have comprehensively refuted Einstein’s perfect abstract Special and General Theory of Relativity.

I have submitted papers and book proposals on these two subjects to Science Journals and Science Book Publishers. I have either received no answer, or I have received a snotty answer that that particular Science Journal or Science Book Publisher does not deal in the sort of science my paper or book proposal was supposedly about.

It is only by the grace of The Foundational Questions Institute that my essay has ever been published at all. It is now being pre-judged fair and square by my peers,

Regards,

Joe Fisher

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 20:08 GMT
Dear Philip,

You are right on the spot with this essay. I must agree probably with everything you said, about how the peer review is done, and how should it be done, and how this can make the difference in the fate of humanity. I think I understand better the reasons why you are investing so much care in supporting open publishing and open peer review, when you could comfortably have a more "mainstream" trajectory, and ignore the struggling independent researchers. In relation to open peer review, you may be interested in this blog, from a very involved mathematician I know. I also like the thorough classification of various types of bias. I think your essay is a very down-to-earth example of applied critical thinking and freedom, about which I merely theorize in my essay.

Best regards,

Cristi

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Chidi Idika wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 23:08 GMT
Dear Dr Gibbs,

Interesting essay.

You say: “The hardest part of open peer-review will be to design a system of unbiased evaluation.”

Given your list of biases it does follow that the best test of non-bias is when ALL THOSE to whom ultimately a communication is addressed judge it to be non-biased. Such judgement must be ever a work in progress. But it is in human nature that once it finds you DO NEED its endorsement to survive then naturally it wants to dissent (even as a lobby group) simply to assert influence. And then you (the gate keeper) are in danger of seeking to placate in other to remain relevant.

So then your question remains THE question:

“How do you let anyone have their say while still maintaining an orderly process and arriving at an unbiased conclusion?” and more importantly, I say, how do you manage not to enthrone some form of mediocrity.

It seems to me the success of Wikipedia is a very good example of the relevance of your argument. Personally, I still wonder how come Wikipedia works so well. It is probably because it tries to MAKE NO ASSUMPTIONS but leaves its OWN positions as ever a work-in-progress; same tenet the scientific method is aimed to be. That said, it still is important to study why or how Wikipedia actually comes to work.

Given the significance of science presently in steering humanity your angle of essay is a most crucial and practical one. By extension if we can find a way of “wiki-editing” our influence/votes on governance then we have a new improved form of democracy! This is how constructive revolution should happen; one practice at a time!

Meanwhile, how about some open peer-review here . Strictly a review; no being nice!

Thanks again for this essay.

Bests,

Chidi

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on May. 1, 2014 @ 14:15 GMT
Chidi, I am glad you are thinking about these things and that we agree about Wikipedia. I think part of the answer for why Wikipedia succeeds is it "No Original Research" rule. It is much easier to keep a check on articles that have to be summaries from reliable sources rather than articles that develop their own new ideas. This is why open peer-review is harder, even of some of the same principles will apply.

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Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 1, 2014 @ 14:28 GMT
My personal experience is that Wikipedia does not work for the leading edge research to which peer review applies.bbThe editors are founder are too easily manipulated by facile appeals to authority.

Anyway, Phil -- your essay is excellent and thoroughly engaging. We have a lot to learn about the dynamics of self-organization and how to assure that the outcome is kept free and objective.

Great job! I came to it expecting a polemic and instead found a rational argument very hard to refute.

Best,

Tom

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Georgina Woodward wrote on May. 1, 2014 @ 00:51 GMT
Hi Philip,

your essay seems to be very popular. It is well written and a pleasure to read and I think you are supporting a good cause.I can't help thinking, since you raise the issue of bias, that being founder of the viXra.org e-print archive has greatly influenced your interpretation of the essay question. As you point out though Daniel Kahnman reminds us that we are all prone to many different kinds of bias. Allan Savory:How to green the worlds deserts and reverse climate change This guy is someone already attempting to steer the future, having learned from his own mistake. I'm sorry'in my book' there are bigger issues than peer review. Good essay nontheless. Good luck, Georgina

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on May. 1, 2014 @ 06:40 GMT
Georgina, yes, there are many big issues that concern the future of humanity. Climate change, overpopulation, energy, epidemics etc. The point is that all of these things require research and funding to steer the right course, and that requires good peer-review.

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Georgina Woodward replied on May. 1, 2014 @ 09:08 GMT
It is also true that there has been a lot of research giving solutions to problems but the solutions are not implemented. For example, there is pandemic vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D deficiency is linked to some internal cancers and osteoporosis. "Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences". Michael F Holick and Tai C Chen, Am J Clin Nutr vol. 87 no. 4 , April 2008 Ironically probably in part exacerbated by the pushing of "sun safe practices" to avoid skin cancer. Night time light exposure is also linked to increased risk of some internal cancers."Blue light has a dark side', Harvard Health Publications, May 2012

Further research and peer review will not prevent cancers from those causes but public information broadcasts, or other kinds of outreach, on the increased risk of night time blue light exposure and vitamin D deficiency from lack of sufficient sun exposure would help people make lifestyle choices that reduce their cancer risk. Why don't we all have lights that change wavelength output through out the day? Why aren't we all informed that working late under fluorescent lighting in front of a bright computer screen is increasing cancer risk?

I'm not disagreeing with you, a good peer review system that helps researchers is desirable but it is not the be all and end all.

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Mohammed M. Khalil wrote on May. 1, 2014 @ 14:10 GMT
Hi Philip,

Great essay! I agree with you, open peer review is essential for science, and science is our guide to a better future. However I don't think peer review is the only problem with science. In my essay Improving Science for a Better Future, I try to identify those aspects of science that need improvement and discuss possible solutions; peer review is one of those aspects.

Best regards,

Mohammed

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on May. 1, 2014 @ 21:04 GMT
Hi Philip,

You have made a compelling case for open peer review, and I especially like your list of biases. I believe if it is not already the case, these, along with a list of logical fallacies and other errors of reasoning, should be required learning before one graduates from high school.

Despite your convincing presentation of the importance of open peer review, I agree with several other commenters that it does not make an entirely convincing case that this is the most pressing problem facing humanity. I think the way to do make your argument would be to show that, analogous to the saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, in the chain from the identification of a pressing problem facing humanity to its ultimate resolution, a weakness in the peer review process can "break" the entire process. I think you implied it, but it could have been developed more explicitly.

I am glad that your essay is attracting a lot of attention and wish you all the best,

Armin

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Ross Cevenst wrote on May. 2, 2014 @ 09:14 GMT
Hi Phillip,

Thanks for a brilliant essay. Your idea would undoubtably be an immense asset to humanity if we could move to a good system of open peer review. I'll be sure to check out your own site viXra! Perhaps the future will hold a better.

Several issues occured to me as I read your excellent paper:

-While we are now luckily aware of many biases, do you think we are making progress in actually reducing them? Peer-review doesn't seem to be sufficient if others in a field suffer the same bias.

-It seems that very few people, even in academia, spend considerable time reducing their own bias (for example by studying bias). Generally they seem most concerned with reducing the bias of others. Do we need 'bias enforcers'? Or is there a peer-to-peer way to motivate bias reduction or filter out the biases?

-In open peer-review, politically awkward topics might attract a flood of biased opinions that result in the weight of peer-review rejecting unpopular but technically correct opinions/papers. Is there a way to reduce this?

-Could open-peer review be vulnerable to manipulation by interest groups? (of course, sometimes traditional methods are)

Lastly I'd like to ask:

-Are you aware of any initiatives with the goal of reducing human bias, not just identifying them? For example an effort to create a 'anti-bias training program'.

Like many others I thoroughly enjoyed reading your paper. Thanks! If you get a chance feel free to check out and rate my own paper:

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/2050

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on May. 2, 2014 @ 19:18 GMT
Thank you Ross, these are extremely good and important questions. I don't pretend to have all the answers.

However, I think the antidote to bias is openness. If bias reasoning remains hidden then nothing can be done about it. If people are forced to put their reasoning in the open they will need to be more rational or they can expect to have the bias pointed out.

You ask if interest groups can manipulate an open system. It depends on how judgments are made. If it is based on simple majority voting then it will not work at all. The system somehow has to identify the unbiased reasoning and go with that. I dont know how to do it but I know it has to be done and I know that being open is the first and perhaps the biggest step.

Note that being open does not necessarily mean you can't be anonymous. That is a different matter.

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on May. 3, 2014 @ 22:30 GMT
Dear Philip Gibbs,

I tend to agree with Tomasso's comment above: "I am a bit more skeptical about a totally rationalistic approach, and on the possibility to govern a complex system whose emergent phenomena seem to happen above our heads, out of reach of our hands or individual brains..."

But what I DO see is the possibility of paradigm shift that will be immensely beneficial for humanity. Such a shift, almost by definition, will be resisted and suppressed in the orthodox world. Here viXra can play a key role.

As do so many others, I thank you for establishing viXra.

It is not specific technical answers provided on viXra so much as a basis for a paradigm shift that will be almost forbidden by the establishment (the academic oligarchy).

One possibility is the suggestion I make at the end of my essay about a shift from having to pay for education toward being paid to learn, with funds and lessons provided by private as well as government sources. There was not space in nine pages to flesh out this suggestion.

The academic oligarchy differs little in character from the wealth oligarchy. Both work hard to maintain their status through control of the rest of us. Those who've climbed the mountain often throw rocks on climbers who might displace them. As you say "the traditional peer review system is very well protected on all sides."

I'm happy to see you in first place and I hope you stay there.

I invite you to read and comment on my essay,

With best regards,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Anonymous wrote on May. 5, 2014 @ 15:40 GMT
Open Peer Review

https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!groupsettings/
open-peer-review/information


Steering the future of Humanity as related to physics, based upon open peer review. This is already being done in many forums. I think what you are instead asking is that a group qualified to do peer review, use their skills to peer review publications that in their educational experience are flawed.

I'm speaking from a non-mainstream point of view.

I published a few things on VIXRA, and I do NOT expect the information to be critically considered for contradictions with accepted physics. I believed the relationships I published were significant and that it would inspire others studying related areas.

To ask a mainstream physics person to consider anything outside of mainstream physics is outside of their scope of practice.

A person skilled only in particle physics should not be reviewing quantum physics publications. A chemist should not be reviewing molecular biology. A mainstream physicist should not be reviewing non-mainstream publications.

Open Peer Review across the broad fields of potential peer review is available through public forums like this one.

Open Peer Review

https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!groupsettings/
open-peer-review/information


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Author Philip Gibbs replied on May. 5, 2014 @ 15:55 GMT
For pure science the kind of review you mean is fine. I am talking about science that will affect the future of humanity on the time scale of the next few decades. This means climate science, medical research, economics and many other things of that sort.

In these areas there are often biases driven by financial self interest or political interference. Of course the experts in the field are the main ones to assess the work, but it is essential that they should do so openly. An intelligent person who is not an expert in the field can see when biases are playing a part so they need to be able to make points which the experts may or may not be able to answer.

I think the pure sciences would also benefit from a more open peer-review system, but that is not the main focus.

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James Dunn replied on May. 5, 2014 @ 16:07 GMT
I'm attempting to walk on eggs here, so if I say something that sounds confrontational it is not intended.

Since trade secrets are a fundamental part businesses ensuring their continued profits so they can continue to support their employees, what incentive is there for businesses to expose themselves to risks related to open information?

Especially since small businesses cannot afford to take other companies to court for IP infringement. A strategic business plan if public can be used to orchestrate a takeover of the company.

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James Dunn replied on May. 5, 2014 @ 16:21 GMT
If you track accessible market for a set of products, and the availability of those products, there is a leading/lagging relationship as availability attempts to ramp up to meet demand. This is where profit lives to cover the cost of research and development. Because not too long thereafter competition will produce more for less and occupy the market and drive the small company out of business, or they will be bought out.

To make open the plans of development shortens significantly the time available to ramp up availability to deliver product to market before competition strips away the opportunity for reasonable profit.

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James Dunn wrote on May. 5, 2014 @ 16:02 GMT
Login to Google at http://www.google.com

https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#
!forum/open-peer-review

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KoGuan Leo wrote on May. 6, 2014 @ 11:21 GMT
Hi Phillip,

You practiced what you preached. That is enough for me to rate your essay a ten (10).

Best wishes,

Leo KoGuan

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on May. 6, 2014 @ 22:38 GMT
Dear Philip Gibbs

A very practical solution and updates for future .

Science in general and physics in particular has been and will pay the price for bureaucratic work that way, of course, with the magazine functioning as " the Literature on Physics style " as well so too .

But the Truth has always existed, so mankind will surely fed up and turned his back on the scientific work was "composed and produced" as style of literature which - now begining to appear increasingly many manifestations .

" Going against the wind as quickly then will as soon met the storm "

Best regards - Hải.CaoHoàng

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Janko Kokosar wrote on May. 10, 2014 @ 15:07 GMT
Dear Phil

It is fine, that you wrote this essay and gave some useful examples like meteoroid, tamiflu, etc. There it is an analysis of our publication system and a lot of arguments for your claims.

You gave also good comments, for instance: ''It is much easier to keep a check on articles that have to be summaries from reliable sources rather than articles that develop their own...

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James Dunn wrote on May. 11, 2014 @ 15:22 GMT
What you propose will destroy all physics support and development; unless there is a means to eliminate all corruption.

The FDA and a variety of other groups already watch developments like Tamiflu, but biased research (similar to particle physics research) provides a means of circumventing the intents of ethical oversight.

A startup company at present does not have the funds...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on May. 11, 2014 @ 15:56 GMT
As I have already tried to explain to you, my proposal is not about revealing trade secrets and has nothing to do with the issues you raise. My proposal is that where research is currently published or funding through peer-review, that this should be done by a more open process.

This is mostly about publicly funded research and only applies to commercial research that is already published,...

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James Dunn wrote on May. 12, 2014 @ 14:59 GMT
Author's Quote:

"An example I gave in the essay was the drug Tamiflu on which the UK and US governments have spent a fortune to build a stockpile in case of a deadly flu epedemic. We now learn that according to some the research was flawed and the data was hidden. Should we allow them to keep it hidden to preserve their trade secrets? I think not."

Third-Party Research is not made public unless the organization paying for related research authorizes disclosure.

An individual researcher selectively chooses the studies to be considered relevant for publication. So how does "hidden" research become available for review if the researcher chooses before-hand to avoid certain investigations that would otherwise reveal weaknesses to proposals or undesirable consequences?

Publicly accessible research that would require-by-law openly accessible support reveals trade secrets; unless a trusted organization that protects such trade secrets reviews supporting evidence (FDA).

What you seem to be inferring is that the FDA is not a trusted organization and is internally biased, or worse, corrupt.

Without an agency that has the facilities and authority to monitor everything (National Security Agency) the selective access provided by any other means may be biased by the funding entity.

Open access to the fundamental supporting information can be part of the trade secrets protected by business protocols.

The focus instead needs to be on better developing the trusted monitoring agencies to be sure they are performing without negligence.

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Anonymous replied on May. 12, 2014 @ 16:02 GMT
I took the time to create a real-world application where you can implement your concept, so I am in support of your concepts, but ONLY if real-world respected oversight (FDA, NSA ...) provides protections of trade secrets.

Login to Google at http://www.google.com

https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#
!forum/open-peer-review

I think your essay is good but idealistic,...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on May. 13, 2014 @ 08:55 GMT
In the case of any drug like Tamilfu we are talking about big pharmaceuticals so it is not a good example for small companies. Any small business that wants to release a new product for human consumption that includes new drugs is going to have to spend a lot of money to show it is safe. Open peer-review is just a way to ensure that there is no cheating. IP is protected by patents and that is...

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on May. 13, 2014 @ 13:30 GMT
Dear Philip,

Many thanks for the actual essay, the deep analysis of the Science at the beginning of the Information age, relevant ideas, best offers and Open VixRa. Open Society and Open Science - a reliable way to the future of Humanity.

Let's keep The Peace, save The World and The Earth together! New Generation says all inhabitants spacecraft named "Earth": Time to start the path.

Thank FQXi that brings together people for "brainstorming" on very important topics of modern Humanity and modern Science!

I invite you to comment on and appreciate my ideas.

High regard,

Vladimir

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Neil Bates wrote on May. 13, 2014 @ 17:14 GMT
Philip,

This was a good and needed essay. Clearly it tapped into much and well-warranted frustration in our community, lifting it to the top of the ratings. I agree with your well-structured, basic critique of the existing system. For example, the bias against independent researchers impedes their expression and careers and prevents others from benefiting from their work (even if some smaller portion of it would be valuable, compared to that of traditional academics. If ...) ViXra has commendably helped fill a gap in access.

However, I don't think that traditional peer review needs to be so radically overhauled. There is a place for it. I think one good way to at least reduce the power of bias is to promote and enlarge blind peer review, where the name and the affiliation of the author is hidden from the reviewers. (Well, maybe "peer" isn't the best word since the contributor may not really be a "peer", but this is the context we normally refer to.) Sure, reviewers have some clues to guess with, but at least they will not be sure and can more easily direct to the merits of the piece (writers will of course need subtle ways to avoid implying identity and background.) Yes, reviewers will still perhaps have some bias against the very act of having submitted as BPR. Yes, the Editor/s will still know, and so on. Yet I think this is helpful. Some journals already offer BPR, and I'd like to see more of it. Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks again for a great essay, with an impact enhanced by your own unfortunate experiences tilting against academic windmills. If enough of us ride together with purpose and direction, the result will not be quixotic.

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Neil Bates replied on May. 21, 2014 @ 13:40 GMT
Oh, I inadvertently repeated myself - and thanks for answering my original statement of the same issues (more elaborately here, but no big deal.) Keep up the good work.

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Andrej Rehak wrote on May. 13, 2014 @ 17:53 GMT
Dear Phillip

Your clear and distinctive proposition addressed one of the key problems and pointed to the simple solution of the self-similar matrix of the age of problems... But as you may witness, in order to justify and preserve themselves, non-living systems - institutions - are not about solving but rather maintaining and creating problems... Small patches are sometime accepted,...

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Gbenga Michael Ogungbuyi wrote on May. 15, 2014 @ 05:18 GMT
Dear Gibbs,

I found your essay much absorbing. It held my interest through out.

I have attempted to rate you accordingly to keep the pace of your leadership but the system has not justified that. I am contacting the FQXI to resolve.

I want you to read my article STRIKING A BALANCE BETWEEN TECHNOLOGY AND ECOSYSTEM on this link http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/2020

I have a model that is similar with your ideology. I expect your comment and rating at the end.

Wishing you the very best in this competition.

Regards

Gbenga

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James Dunn wrote on May. 15, 2014 @ 18:25 GMT
Philip,

Open Peer Review with Business Incubator

I support your essay strongly, with the additional requirement of "qualified" peer reviewers in diverse fields of expertise.

I have written to an NSF program called Synergy and provided a whitepaper to test their interest in funding a cloud based tool. The social networking tool would be available to everyone to create broad enterprise based upon individual concepts being developed in a public forum.

"If you are going to listen, do something." ~Thomas Dunn

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Don Limuti wrote on May. 19, 2014 @ 03:19 GMT
Hi Philip,

At first I though, is this really that important for steering the future.

On second thought ... Yes it is very important. Open peer review can help with the problem of being locked into what we know for certain (peer reviewed) that just isn't so.

I am reminded of the recent Nobel Prize speech in physics where the recipient encouraged that physicists should publicly agree on string theory when in private they are not sure about string theory. This strikes me as an unethical way to enhance the public image of physics and physicists and enhances the propagation of what isn't so.

Thanks for your essay.

Don Limuti

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Laurence Hitterdale wrote on May. 19, 2014 @ 16:22 GMT
Hi Philip,

Your position is clearly stated, and you argue for it in detail. One concern, however, is

whether implementation of knowledge isn’t a bigger problem than defects in the process of acquisition of new knowledge. At the end of the third paragraph, you state, “We have the intellectual capacity to figure these things out and steer the right course, yet we fail.” Very true. But isn’t the greater problem at the stage of steering rather than at the stage of figuring things out? Georgina Parry suggests this in the exchange with you on May 1. I think Sabine Hossenfelder in her essay especially emphasizes that deficiencies in implementation are at the present time more serious than problems with the acquisition of knowledge. Surely you have identified an important problem, but there might be even more serious problems at other places in the many processes of acquiring, distributing, and utilizing knowledge.

Laurence Hitterdale

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on May. 20, 2014 @ 12:12 GMT
Laurence. I think the key to the implementation is getting the peer-review right. Peer-review is not part of the stage of "figuring things out" It is the stage between figuring things out and implementing the right solutions. If the peer-review is done right and is clear and open enough to convince people that it is right, then the implementation will follow. Of course none of the stages are easy and all could do with some attention, but my point is that the peer-review is the one that is being done most wrong and is the one in most need of a rethink.

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James Dunn replied on May. 20, 2014 @ 19:37 GMT
@Laurence

"...defects in the process of acquisition of new knowledge" "ephasizes that deficiencies in implementation are at the present time more serious than problems with the acquisition of knowledge"

So perhaps broad development in skills related to Common Sense coupled with an Open Peer Review forum with related Business Incubation may be a stronger solution.

Common Sense = Self-esteem (shared social group skills) + logic + predicting consequences

The skills of predicting consequences within the complexities of skills shared by a social group (physicists for instance) seems to be an act of developing new relationships to support new applications.

Open Peer Review with Business Incubation has the potential of creating new sustainable outcomes.

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Tihamer T. Toth-Fejel wrote on May. 20, 2014 @ 03:48 GMT
Dear Philip,

Thanks for submitting your well-written, and well-thought-out essay. I especially appreciated your list of biases. Have you ever considered coding any of these biases or other logical fallacies into RDF/OWL? My hope is that such a system would detect articles with excessive bias and logical error (and save me the trouble of reading them). The Semantic Web will help enhance...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on May. 25, 2014 @ 15:57 GMT
I have not thought about coding biases into RDF/OWL. It is an intriguing idea.

People studying the effect of cognitive bias in finance have looked at why it happens and when it can be an advantage. the answers are complicated and I am no expert, but in part it is just simpler to think that way. It may have evolved before we had the ability to perform more logical thinking. Sometimes it does work out OK, but often it does not. A lot of money has been lost by banks due to bad bias and the effect on the impact of science is liekly to be similar.

I disagree that academics matter less than businessmen. Businesses have short term goals to make money. Academic research aims to solve longterm problems for the common good. Big pharam do not do much research into new antibiotics because it is not cost effective. Finding cures for rare diseases does not make money. More money is made by finding tablets that alleviate hay fever and dandruff and they make even more money if they just treat the symptoms temporarily rather than curing it. Businesses are good at improving technology once the basic principles are known. Academics are needed to make the important breakthroughs.

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Robert de Neufville wrote on May. 21, 2014 @ 05:48 GMT
I completely agree that the time has come for open peer review, Philip. The system we have is ridiculous and counterproductive. I do wonder whether some expert curation is important to make sure the best papers emerge from the general noise, but I largely agree with everything you say.

While I think open peer review is an excellent idea, I'm not sure it's enough to save the world. It would certainly help, for example, if we understood the global climate better than we do. But I don't think better science will convince climate change deniers that we need to take more action. I'm afraid that our hardest problems may not be scientific, but political; that they may be driven by conflict over ends and interests that scientific research alone cannot resolve.

Best,

Rober de Neufville

Robert de Neufville

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on May. 25, 2014 @ 15:34 GMT
I think the best way to favour expertise in the reviews is to weight peoples opinions according to how well they themselves score in their own work on similar subjects. It should be a bit like the Google ranking system. Making that work well is difficult but picking experts by hand introduces unwanted bias into the system and should be avoided.

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James Dunn wrote on May. 21, 2014 @ 12:20 GMT
@Tihamer @Robert @Philip

Would you like to collaborate on implementing an Actual system, and not just engage in mental exercise? These essay submissions are unimportant unless acted upon.

From my perspective, you each are talking about different parts of the same system.

1) broad and diverse open forum limited to unrestricted research

2) software automation to make...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on May. 24, 2014 @ 07:58 GMT
James, I'm glad you are thinking about how to implement this. One reason why I have not tried to do anything like this myself is that to succeed any project needs the backing of academics. Otherwise you will not get the right people to do the peer-review for the reasons I mentioned in the essay. Everyone's opinion should count but most research is still done withing the professional academic world and they need to be behind it. I dont want to invest my time and effort in something unless I know there is good backing.

Things are slow. http://episciences.org/ looked good a year ago and still could work but I don't know why progress on that has been so slow. There is also open peer-review opening up at http://www.researchgate.net/ but I think they will be vulnerable to take over like Mendeley was. http://www.philica.com/ was a nice try but they were not open to outsiders and did not have the backing from the insiders.

The new one that I like a lot now is http://www.openscholar.org.uk/ That is the one to get behind right now. They have all the right ideas and attitudes.

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Aaron M. Feeney wrote on May. 25, 2014 @ 00:30 GMT
Hi Philip,

I love your article and gave it the "10" it deserves. You've brought a lot of vital concepts to the fore, and I hope that you win the contest because of it. I hope that open peer review becomes standard practice someday, for so many reasons, and because it really could save the world. All the best!

Warmly,

Aaron

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Israel Perez wrote on May. 25, 2014 @ 13:45 GMT
Dear Philip

Your essay is well written and organized. Your topic is well developed and controversial. Overall, I agree with some of parts of your essay, I just would like to express a couple of disagreements.

First, I do not think changing the peer-review process is an important factor that will steer the future. High quality research will always prevail over bad quality research no...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on May. 25, 2014 @ 16:17 GMT
High quality research will always prevail in the longterm, but sometimes it takes longer to form the concensus that it should. For issues affecting our future time is critical. This is why the peer-review system has to be more efficient and reliable. It is no good discovering that a drug does not work after it has been sold to millions of people. Peer-review in medicine is particularly bad. Bias...

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Israel Perez replied on May. 26, 2014 @ 04:05 GMT
Dear Philip

Thanks for your reply. In my view, your repository has created itself a deplorable reputation over the years thanks to its policies specially those related to the quality of the material published there. As I said, low and high quality research can be identified only by experts no matter the judging process. To me it is bias to say that vixra has been suppressed when, in fact, publications in vixra don't meet the minimum quality standards.

If you would like vixra to be cited and accepted by research institutions and reputable journals, you would have to solve the quality issue. In order to do this, you would have to implement filters similar to arxiv. But since vixra was created for EVERYONE (expert or not), I don't see how vixra will achieve this.

You: This is why the peer-review system has to be more efficient and reliable.

Current peer-review is ok despite its cons. For the reasons given in my previous post, I do not think your proposal will help to improve it.

You: It is no good discovering that a drug does not work after it has been sold to millions of people.

I think it is not wise to blame a reviewer or journal, and therefore, the peer-review system, for a drug that does not work.

You: I think you have missed the point about how viXra works and the principles it uses.

I know vixra very well.

You: The point is that anyone should be able to have a say.

No, not anyone but only qualified and recognized people, experts in a given field. If "anyone" would like to have a say, anyone would have to meet the minimum quality requirements. That's why there are institutions and research centers where people acquire the minimum requirements to have a say.

Good luck in the contest!

Best Regards

Israel

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Anonymous replied on May. 26, 2014 @ 13:27 GMT
Israel, there are a lot of people who say the same things as you but it is because they have failed to see how the now paradigm for publications works. Anyone can publish now, on a blog or an e-book or whatever. It is not possible to filter out low quality material as journals used to do in the past. I see this as a good thing because in the past a lot of good papers were delayed or hidden by the old system. It does not do harm that bad papers can be read by the public. The harm comes when people wrongly judge a good paper to be bad or a bad paper to be good. That is the business for peer-review to sort out.

viXra does not try to build a reputation for quality. It never has and it never will. This is written on the web site in several places and I have lost count of the number of times I have said it in response to this kind of criticism. You cannot judge any paper on viXra merely by the fact that that is where it is, because viXra is open to anything (except documents that are off-topic and where legal issues intervene) People are gradually starting to understand this and the quantity of papers we receive is rising at about 40% per year. I do not monitor quality but my general impression is that the ratio of useful science to junk on viXra is also increasing. People still sometimes try to mock us by pointing to low quality papers they find there but that is because they are behind the wave and have not yet got the idea of how to surf it.

viXra works on the principle that publication is completely separate from peer-review. The traditional system says otherwise but that is the old dogma and the new publication paradigm usurps it. Some people will never get the new way but more are waking up to it. viXra is just one small part of the change that is happening. The bigger picture is open peer-review which is now following on the tail of open access publication.

It is difficult to gauge how many people are coming over to the new concept but there are signs that lots of people are. Your old idea that people need to have qualifications to have a say is a dying one. The UK government has offered a £10 million prize to anyone who can make progress on a problem that threatens humanity (climate change, resistant bugs etc) They have asked the public to decide what issue to tackle and are encouraging anyone to compete for the prize, whether academic, corporation or just independent scientist/inventor, it does not matter. Some people say that this is the wrong approach but they are doing it because other public prizes have already worked and they want to see how far the idea can be taken.

Of course expertise and qualifications will always be important for research but you also have to count the paths that do not follow the classical route, as in Douglas Singleton's path integral metaphor.

Some new experiments in publication do try to restrict their input to academics. I think those are the systems that will ultimately fail, not the open repositories like viXra. Philica is already sinking because it tried to set a minimum quality standard for submission and failed. I think arXiv will ultimately find that its filter is its biggest limitation. Microsoft's Academic search also failed miserably because they restricted its scope too much. Google scholar does better because they accept papers from almost anywhere. They bowed to pressure from academics to filter out viXra but as our scope grows they will either have to change that or they will suffer for the omission. Figshare has no filter and is doing very well. viXra is boomimg despite actively setting itself up as the place for arXiv rejects and encouraging anyone to submit. A filter is not a prerequisite for success. Journals used to be open to anyone but now they are quietly starting to filter out submissions from academic outsiders without even reading the papers. They are part of the old paradigm and if they cant find a new business model based on the new one they will die. Open access, Open publication and Open peer review are the future.

I wish you good luck in the contest too.

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Anonymous wrote on May. 25, 2014 @ 17:58 GMT
Philip,

It seems a lot of these entries are about method. Peer review, voting, enhancing education, frame of mind, framing the question etc. A lot also take a very science oriented and futuristic perspective. My problem with all this is that it doesn't necessarily deal directly with the actual issues involved, for the very basic reason that the real problems facing us do elicit a great...

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John Brodix Merryman replied on May. 25, 2014 @ 17:59 GMT
As usual, I'm logged out by the time I post.

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James Dunn wrote on May. 26, 2014 @ 01:52 GMT
Causally, everything is a set of interconnected systems of perspectives that are formed from interrelated relationships. So nothing is an isolated perspective, they tend to bleed together and overlap. Especially when "choosing" to isolate some usually non-dominant influences to make the perspective easier to monitor and manipulate.

I do not believe Phil's cited relationships will guide humanity into the future solely on their own merits. But I think they are important as part of a larger effort.

For all of the essays here, none of them are sufficient on their own to guide the future of humanity. However, "collectively" I see where many of the concepts can be fit together to form a larger actionable effort that indeed could guide the future of humanity relative to broad technological developments.

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James Dunn wrote on May. 26, 2014 @ 02:03 GMT
Do you really want to Steer the Future of Humanity and take action today?

Force the NSA to be managed ethically.

Maximize Freedoms and at the same time Maximize Security, do not give up one to have the other. Corruption uses the shifting of Security policies to unethically and illegally allocate resources and/or opportunities.

I know a little about the NSA and there is a lot of internal turmoil right now and a great deal of pressure from Representatives; some of which is promoting the release of information to Corporate controlled entities for what THOSE Representatives consider ethical oversight; i.e. promoting Corruption and acting in the interests of Treason.

This will hinder broad economic development because dominant corporations will further dominate significant opportunities. This translates to a suffering research budget.

Treason defined as "intentional weakening of security" for the unethical/illegal allocation of resources/opportunities

.

.

.

retweet: Part of Civil Rights is that Representation is free of Rep/Dem Treason http://tinyurl.com/lpqsur5

.

.

.

Write Reps & NSA, rare opportunity right now to force NSA to monitor and publicly report all acts of corruption/treason

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Member Marc Séguin wrote on May. 27, 2014 @ 01:39 GMT
Philip,

Thank you for a very interesting essay. I found your list of biases particularly to the point, because I agree with you that finding ways to minimize the effect of biases (by improving peer review and by other means) is crucial if we want humanity to optimally steer the future. Being aware of biases and actively fighting them is certainly one of the main goals that education should aim at, especially in the futurocentric perspective that I propose in my essay.

Good luck in the contest!

Marc

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Charles Gregory St Pierre wrote on May. 28, 2014 @ 05:48 GMT
Dear Phillip,

You discuss the topic of open peer review thoroughly, and while important, I do not think it is enough. This is because many policy makers suffer from one or more of your listed (and other) biases, and they make the decisions that steer humanity, for better or worse. Unless you address their biases, merely creating a pool of 'objectively true' information is of limited use. Consider the matter of climate change.

I suggest three further biases to be important: Attention bias: There is just so much data to attend to that critical information is often overlooked. We tend to attend to things we attend to. Deciding what to attend to, deciding what is important, is often the most difficult decision. Policy makers often attend to the concerns of their supporters, rather than the objective demands of reality, yet which is more important, and critical?



This suggests another bias: Investment bias: You tend to believe what you are paid to believe.

And a third is locality bias: You tend to believe what is near and immediate is more important than what is distant in space and/or time. This bias must be overcome if we are to develop truly global solutions.

Hmm: Checking the WEB shows a more complete list of biases to be quite long: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_biases_in_judgment_and_
decision_making

but this merely emphasizes your main point.

In a democracy, we are supposedly all peers, but a democratic system of review has its own failings. Some sort of filtration and transformation of data and information is necessary. Imperfections in the evaluation system should be sought out and corrected, and complaints addressed. And we should all do our part to help.

A very readable and coherent essay, though.

Good luck in the contest.

Sincerely,

Charles

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on May. 28, 2014 @ 07:19 GMT
Charles, thanks for your interesting points.

I agree that a traditional democracy is not the solution for open peer-review. I do think that the process has to be open to comments from all-comers, but that does not mean the truth is decided by a democratic vote. Some kind of up-down voting system may be part of the solution but it has to be applied to individual points and comments so that a collective logic can be formed. I think that if someone points out a biased argument or provides a more logical alternative then some people recognize that. The system needs to find the experts who are best at judging in a particular field and give them more power in that field. I dont know the best way to make it work. I think it requires some experiment.

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Alex Hoekstra wrote on May. 28, 2014 @ 20:18 GMT
Hi Philip,

I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for the consideration you put into your work. I, too, am an advocate for transparency in the sciences (whether institutional or otherwise), as anything else is obstructive to the sort of progress humanity may need, in order to evade the many existential threats you were attentive enough to mention. Thank you for that, and for an otherwise very well-written, and well-thought-out discussion (both in your essay and throughout the comments that followed it).

Wishing you well in the competition, and hoping to hear from you soon.

Best regards.

=)

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on May. 28, 2014 @ 22:00 GMT
Dear Philip,

I've commented on your fine essay above, but as you were favorably inclined to Douglas Singleton's application of a physics metaphor to the problem, I'd like to again invite you to read my essay, which also applies physics ideas to the topic.

Congratulations for continuing to stay near the top of the rankings.

Best,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Ray Luechtefeld wrote on May. 29, 2014 @ 17:34 GMT
Hi Philip,

Thanks for your essay. I agree that bias is a persistent and important problem, and, as an academic author myself, have seen how it plays out.

I think you might find some connections with my essay on computationally intelligent personal dialogic agents. I developed a prototype with a grant from the National Science Foundation as part of research on approaches to team training. One of the goals of the dialogic system is to reduce bias, and I have shown some positive results in terms of group outcomes in problem solving.

I'd appreciate a rating, if you can do that, since I am a bit short on ratings.

Thanks,

Ray

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Michael Allan wrote on May. 31, 2014 @ 10:53 GMT
Hello Philip, May I post a short, but sincere critique of your essay? I'd ask you to return the favour. Here's my policy on that. - Mike

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Anonymous wrote on May. 31, 2014 @ 19:10 GMT
Hello Dr. Gibbs,

Thank you for your essay proposal based on open peer review. I concur with you that the human mind is fraught with biases which cloud our judgement. While the wisdom of the crowd can sometimes be shown to be equivalent in predictive power to an expert, I am not sure how well it can be applied to the scientific endeavor. Even if we had a broader scientific consensus than we do currently, I'm not sure we will ever achieve a complete consensus, nor does it imply that a correct course of action would be chosen in regards to that consensus. I would like to believe otherwise, but I don't have that much faith in the rationality of my fellow humans.

Regardless of my criticisms, though, I do believe that the academic and scientific endeavors require updates to their operational mechanisms, especially where elimination of bias is concerned and verification and accuracy can be improved. These improvements certainly wouldn't hurt any future I would choose for our species.

Thanks,

Mark

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Anonymous wrote on Jun. 1, 2014 @ 18:26 GMT
Mark,

I believe open peer review is an important part of business incubation. Much more than just on-subject discussion results, leading to moments of inspiration being produced in other diverse subject areas. Types of inspirations resulting might involve: diverse related products to develop, marketing insights, ethical concerns, synergy with other research ...

Open peer review is...

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Peter Jackson wrote on Jun. 2, 2014 @ 14:41 GMT
Philip,

I hope the new deadline allows you to get to mine. I do understand if QM turns you off, it would do anybody, but unification is important enough to our future to peek at a logical version. I've condensed the solution in the last few posts of my blog. The experiment (end notes) allowed comprehension by all ages down to 11!

As you're aware I feel both our essays should be a bit higher, but as we also know, the judges take no account of peer score places. I'm interested in all viewpoints in any case and would respect yours.

Best of luck in the final judging anyway.

Peter

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James Dunn wrote on Jun. 3, 2014 @ 12:14 GMT
Mark,

Vladimir,

I believe open peer review is an important part of business incubation. Much more than just on-subject discussion results, leading to moments of inspiration being produced in other diverse subject areas. Types of inspirations resulting might involve: diverse related products to develop, marketing insights, ethical concerns, synergy with other research ...

Open...

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Anonymous wrote on Jun. 3, 2014 @ 16:54 GMT
Hi,

I've enjoyed your very interesting essay.

While I agree that current closed-peer review has a lot of issues (my pet peeve is single blind refereeing), I am not sure open peer-review -- at least the way you suggested it to be -- is the solution. You cited BICEP2 "open peer review", and being a participant of the whole social-media dissection of the paper, the whole process was...

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Anonymous wrote on Jun. 4, 2014 @ 04:20 GMT
Dear Philip,

With respect to your question, "Could a deadly virus sweep round the world in days wiping out billions of people?", I would like share some of my perspectives:

Virus always depends on the genome of living cells for their replications and causal for Horizontal gene transfer that effects the propagation of tagged radioactive isotopes through gene transfer.

As per ECSU paradigm, intrinsic ionising radiation by radioactive isotopes is causal for the modifications in the genomes.

This implies that the increase of radioactive isotopes in the food web by Humanity is causal for the massive alterations in the genomes of the biosphere, causing degradation and collapse of the bio-systems; if not regulated.

Thus 'Open Peer Review' is to be with more on healthcare rather than with other disciplines of science, that is already existing and mounding; as healthcare is the core of Humanity.

With best wishes,

Jayakar

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Jayakar Johnson Joseph replied on Jun. 4, 2014 @ 04:33 GMT
This is posted by me only, regretting for the technical error.

Jayakar

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Christian Corda wrote on Jun. 4, 2014 @ 09:11 GMT
Hi Phil,

Congrats for this fantastic Essay which discusses a issue that I think to be fundamental. Here are my comments/questions:

1) The problem of the peer review process is serious and it is directly connected with the issue of freedom in science. This is a controversial issue. Although I work essentially within mainstream physics, I criticize some points of the same mainstream...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jun. 4, 2014 @ 20:59 GMT
Christian, I agree almost entirely with all your points. Only real exception is 4), because I do find the evidence for the Higgs discovery convincing.

Also, regarding 10) and 1), it is important to understand that viXra does not endorse any of the submissions it accepts and "publication" on viXra is not a publication in the traditional academic sense, since that requires peer-review.

viXra is a repository and nothing more so I see no problem with the varied quality of its contents. Saying that it is a problem of viXra "to see published crackpot papers together with good ones." is like saying the same problem exists for Twitter or facebook or any other website that acceppts content of mixed quality. It is only because people mistakenly compare repositories with journals that they think there is a problem.

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Christian Corda replied on Jun. 5, 2014 @ 08:37 GMT
Dear Phil,

Thanks for clarifying your point concerning viXra. I completely understand your point of view and I also agree with it. On the other hand, I was not attacking vixra (I told you that I appreciate it). My using of the word "problem" could generate misunderstanding. Yes, the mistake was mine. Sorry.

Cheers,

Ch.

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Chidi Idika wrote on Jun. 5, 2014 @ 21:16 GMT
Hi Phil,

Am wondering might you still have the chance to read, rate and coment on my perhaps unconventional thesis. I always appreciate your FRANK input.

Regards,

Chidi

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Chidi Idika replied on Jun. 5, 2014 @ 21:23 GMT
The link above didn't work so I repeat hoping: here the correct link

chidi

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Jeffrey Michael Schmitz wrote on Jun. 7, 2014 @ 00:15 GMT
Phil,

Open peer review is a good idea, but it will not save the world. I know that there has been and will be situations that are unfair, careers sadly ended and work wrongly credited. That is pain on the level of the individual, but good science in the long view of history will win. If we are talking about the future of humanity, science as a slow process is what is important.

My name was one of several authors on a paper in experimental physics written about 20 years ago. That was my only experience with a peer review process.

Now, I teach mostly at community colleges to mostly non-science majors and I see my job as a tour guide to the world of science and not part of the process of science. Teachers are at the tail end of the process of science (the old dusty textbook part). Teachers decide if Tycho Brahe was a rich, nose-less, fool or a careful researcher who followed the best data he had to a conclusion that proved to be wrong with better data.

All the Best,

Jeff

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Anonymous replied on Jun. 7, 2014 @ 15:33 GMT
Jeffrey,

In my opinion, teachers train the minds of their students to identify shortcomings in relating information to outcomes, and then efficiently teach themselves the relationships and information they need to know to predictably manipulate their desired outcomes.

All of this is implicit to problem solving.

However, related to Open Peer Review and being a steerable pathway...

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Kevin O'Malley wrote on Jun. 13, 2014 @ 03:04 GMT
I played around with Excel last night and came up with a way to predict the contest winner. Basically, by downloading all the data pertinent to this contest such as the title of the essay, how many posts, the community rating, the public rating, how many community ratings and how many public ratings, and one more column for a combination of all the ratings and how the essay judges are likely to weight all the columns with respect to eachother, it spits out an answer.

With all those numbers, I sorted on each column and changed the color of the top 10 essays in each column. Then when it was all done I just looked for the "most colorful essay".

And the winner (will likely be)...

Open Peer Review to Save the World by Philip Gibbs

#2: Recognizing the Value of Play by Jonathan J. Dickau

#3: Bohr-like model for black holes: the route for quantum gravity by Christian Corda

#3 wins the slot because the contest judges will want to be science-minded. That's why Corda will likely win out over the Honorable Mention

How to save the world by Sabine Hossenfelder

because #3 is very science-y and #4 is a bit more of a preachy title without as much of a hint towards what the essay is about.

Well, there's my prediction. It was enjoyable to participate in this contest. By my own criteria, my essay wasn't "colorful" at all. Maybe the judges will score highly on ease of understanding and practicality? Nahh, the guys who are at the top of this list still do very well in such categories.

Good luck to you all.

Kevin O

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jun. 13, 2014 @ 06:37 GMT
Very nice, but have you checked your methodology against previous contests?

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Kevin O'Malley replied on Jun. 14, 2014 @ 05:06 GMT
No I have not checked my methodology against previous contests. I've only been involved in this one and my interest rapidly wanes from that point backward. But it is an open and straightforward methodology that can easily be tested against prior results.

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Wilhelmus de Wilde de Wilde wrote on Jun. 13, 2014 @ 15:15 GMT
dear Philip,

Congratulations with the high score and admission in the finalists pool.

Now that the dust has fallen down I hope that you can find some time to read my entrance "STEERING THE FUTURE OF CONSCIOUSNESS" and maybe leave a comment.

I wish you all the best with the final judgement

best regards

Wilhelmus

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Gene H Barbee wrote on Jun. 27, 2014 @ 03:14 GMT
Philip,

Thanks again for starting viXra. It enabled me to archive some of my papers for reference in a book I recently published on Amazon. I also recently re-published a couple of papers on academia.edu. It is interesting that the viXra papers and academia.edu papers get a lot of downloads and NO ONE comments. Do you know who these people are?

The essay format solicits some feedback. Your essay received a lot of positive feedback and some pushback from people I thought might have been “the establishment” showing some of the bias you describe. Once the essay voting was finished the dialog on FQXi subsided quickly. This makes me think that the reason the essay format works is that everyone wants to politic for votes. I know that our mental plasticity declines with age and experience but are we so closed to anything new that dialog can’t generate new interest and thought without a carrot attached? Blogs and videos on more popular subjects can “go viral” on u-tube and other social media but appear to be short lived and shallow (my bias).

The more I thought about the need for open peer review the more I realized how important it is. What if some of the past autocrats, dictators and politicians had really listened to and acted on the best ideas and solutions available? History and civilization would be quite different. We can excuse some past behavior on lack of information and knowledge but this is not a good excuse in our information age. Theoretically it allows everyone to act globally rather than sub-optimizing.

Anyway, good luck. I think your essay will bring some attention to the difficult subject.

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jun. 27, 2014 @ 16:54 GMT
Gene, Yes, it is very difficult to get people to comment on a paper. That is one of the good things about the FQXi contest. Even if they do it to draw attention to their own work in the contest it is still a good thing that it generates some discussion.

It is also one of the reasons why it is very hard to get new peer review systems to work. As I explained in the essay, people do peer review to impress the editors who are likely to be future employers. If you want to implement a new system you must not lose that incentive.

It is not that people are not interested in other people's work. They just tend to read it and take it in, but it is much harder to form a critique. Most papers are skimmed quickly for the main facts. If you want to review it you need to spend much more time and there are a lot of papers to read.

Another way people get some feedback is by giving talks at conferences, but any comments are hard-won. Open peer review would go a little way towards helping but people need to be realistic about the feedback they can expect. No response does not mean that they work is not being read or that it is not liked. You just have to keep adding to your work and make sure it is archived for future reference.

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