I see this nonsense more and more as days go by. The “I Fucking Love Science” and the Black Science Man fetishists are especially guilty of this.
The elevation of “Peer Reviewed” journal articles to almost holy writ directly from the mouth of God.
Infallible, dogmatic, and “How dare you question SCIENCE!” narrow-mindedness of those that have neither experienced nor witnessed first-hand the “peer review” process.
While peer review, ideally, is a good thing, in practice it can be abused or “gamed.”
I’ll tell you a story. When I was in Grad School, one of my colleagues wrote up a paper on his chemistry for submission. After the usual back-and-forth between him and the boss (and lots of red ink), they submitted it to a fairly high impact journal.
And they waited.
And waited some more.
Finally, the results came back, the article was rejected for publication in that journal. Guess the reason why.
Was it because there was something wrong with the chemistry? No.
Was it because my colleague tried to handwave his way through his mechanism without hard data? Nope.
Take a moment and think about what merited a rejection. The chemistry was sound and the conclusions were backed up with data.
Think for a second, I’ll wait.
The real reason why his paper was rejected was because one referee had issue with the manuscript because my colleague didn’t include all the “necessary” citations for “prior art” in his introduction. Because of this small, petty thing, the paper was rejected out of hand.
Here’s the kicker: the reason why this referee got so butthurt about the citations not being there was because he was slighted that the “prior art” – meaning his own research – was not mentioned.
Petty and weak isn’t it?
My colleague did eventually publish his paper in another journal, but it goes to show that while peer review is supposed to focus on the validity of the work as a whole, the pettiness of Academics subvert reality.
There have also been some cases where some very poorly written papers skate through the review process, because of the Big Name in the authors list. Even if the chemistry is meh so-so (*coughcough*K.C.Nicolau*coughcough*) or yet another paper where “we increased the yield of this well-known named reaction by 0.5% (99% ee) using a catalyst that takes 10 steps to make (and only works with our “special” bottle of the metal salt starting material).” It doesn’t matter. If you were a referee and declined a Big Name’s paper with a “How is this suitable for [Journal Name]?!?” you most likely end up blacklisted for essentially doing your job.
Good luck publishing your own stuff when the vindictive, petty tyrants that make up Academia deem you persona non grata.
The long and the short of this rant is this: Peer Review is a good thing, but it isn’t the end all be all denoting that a work is either Scientific or Correct.