The Venerdi Podcast – Episode #75

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In this episode of “The Venerdi Podcast,” I ramble about the lack of a podcast last week and Trump sweeping 5 States this past Tuesday. I also tell you my method for navigating websites that have user submitted reviews.

Listen below at the following links:
YouTube
Soundcloud

Music Credits
Intro: “Il Canto degli Italiani” (Goffreddo Mameli/Michele Novaro)
Outro: “Giuseppe” (Antonio Zimmerman)

“But It’s Not From a Peer Reviewed Journal!”

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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.

The Venerdi Podcast – Episode #74

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In this episode of “The Venerdi Podcast,” I rant about the fall of the level of discourse on the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion page.

Listen below at the following links:
YouTube
Soundcloud

Music Credits
Intro: “Il Canto degli Italiani” (Goffreddo Mameli/Michele Novaro)
Outro: “Giuseppe” (Antonio Zimmerman)

They Do Not Want to Fight

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The “True Conservatives” that are the most vocal say that they’re “fighting the Left,” but reality is much different.

Picture yourself in early Renaissance Italy, where you have the major powers in the peninsula vying for control, and also the fear of an invasion by France or Spain. Also imagine that you’re a soldier in a well-stocked, well-armed and impregnable city and fortress. The people adore your Duke and would fight to the death for him.

One day a scout for the Venetian army crests the hill leading up to the walls. You sound the alarm and begin preparations to sally out and for a prolonged siege. Scouts are sent out, reporting back that the Venetian army is on its way. The people are tense, but ready to fight for their Duke.

Enter stage left the late-XV Century version of “True Conservative.” He’s a fairly wealthy man and owes his fortune to trade (with whom, no one knows) and a sizable inheritance from his father. He also sits on the Duke’s Council because of his “influence.” This man, even after seeing the preparations you and you men have made for war, advises the Duke to surrender immediately. Shocked gasps erupt around the Council chamber.

“We’re well supplied and by the scout’s reports, well equipped to repulse the Venetian army,” says the Marshall, “It won’t be easy, but it is not impossible.”

The Podesta adds, “I believe that the people will rebel and still fight the Venetians, even if you ordered them to lay down their arms.”

Your beloved Duke takes all of this under advisement, and dismisses everyone except the “True Conservative.”

The next morning you wake up to find the city and the fortress are occupied by the Venetians, who quietly entered the city and fortress via lowered gates, and that your Duke fled after receiving a guarantee of safe conduct to Ravenna. The people were stunned at the quiet capitulation even with all the meticulous preparations and the fighting will to resist.

Over the next few days, the original Council is rounded up, tried, and executed by the newly appointed Governor of your city: the “True Conservative.”

Before you yourself are hanged, you find out from a fellow prisoner that the new Governor didn’t care one way or the other for the Venetians, but was more concerned with the money he was making off of them in trade.

The “True Conservative” Governor sings the praises of the Venetians, when only months before he sang the praises of your Duke. And the same goes for the modern-day “True Conservatives” in the media where they only care for two things: Money and the love of their Enemies.

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