Among the things that make science unique is the fact that scientists agree on what they say. There can be disagreement, but it is always understood as a temporary state, because either someone will be proven wrong, or new information will eventually reconcile everyone. Agreement is enforced in many ways, but pre-publication peer review is currently the dominant process, and it has been for over a century.
It is surprising that so little information is available about the efficiency of the peer review process. For instance, there is barely any justification as to why it is by default anonymous. Even more surprising is that people who express their opinion in this regard do not back it up with empirical evidence, because there is essentially no data. Let me clarify something: I do not have any data to show. But I have been signing my reviews for over seven years and I am happy to share this experience with those who wonder what happens when you do this.
How did it start?
I was first contacted by editors to review manuscripts at the time Stack Overflow eclipsed nearly all the forums on the Internet. The forums were supposed...
Scientific models are more of an art than a science. It is much easier to recognize a good scientific model than to make one of our own. Like for an art, the best way to learn is to look at the work from the masters and take inspiration from them. One of the crown jewels of modern science is undoubtedly Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. I recently realized that I had no idea how Darwin stood against creationism and how he defended his view in regard of the doxa of his time. Digging into this topic turned out to be one the most important lessons I learned about the scientific method... and the lack of it.
Darwin touches vividly upon creationism at the end of “On the Origin of Species”. In his own words, he claims that
It is so easy to hide our ignorance under such expressions as the ‘plan of creation’, ‘unity of design’, etc, and to think that we give an explanation when we only restate a fact.
What strikes me here is that he does not accuse the ‘plan of creation’ and the ‘unity of design’ of not being proper scientific concepts. The real...