Yes, really. If a scientist discovers something, then he reports it in a peer-reviewed journal. This is supposed to help separate good and important information from useless garbage. However, it doesn’t really do that. According to a number of studies, peer-review is not any more effective than picking information by using a pair of dice.

My interest is not on these studies themselves, but what they show about science and the university. We know that scientists are human and suffer from the same sort of moral problems that the rest of us do. We also know that scientists don’t know everything. What this fact does show is that the same problems that appear in our lives appear in the work that scientists do. Such things as jealousy, envy, lying and negligence do not happen just to us, but also in the work of scientists. Some scientists publish a paper because they agree with the ideas in it, the person who wrote it is famous or they have monetary reasons. It is no different than any other publishing area.

Not only do scientist’s moral failings affect their work, but these are not minor problems. If a historian makes a mistake, then someone will have false beliefs. If a medical researcher makes a mistake, people die. But as these studies point out, negative studies are published late if they are published at all. That means that no may tell you that a particular drug is dangerous because the study showing that it caused heart attacks was rejected by a science publisher. Maybe science journals should be treated the same way as news journals with a degree of healthy skepticism.

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