Field of Science

WebmedCentral and Ginger Pee

Can you imagine what would happen in the creationist community if creationists could get their papers published in a scientific journal without peer-review? I can. There would be much rejoicing, I think the correct term is. And now they can, in WebmedCentral.

WebmedCentral is post publication peer review: the papers are first published and then reviewed online as readers can add their comments. I am not kidding.

The harm? The harm is that there is now nothing stopping creationists of all stripes from publishing shoddy papers concluding that evolution is wrong and creationism is correct. Even if someone knowledgeable takes the time to write a review to destroy the paper, it is still published, and that fact is guaranteed to be touted to no end. The ensuing dismal reviews will be relegated to an admission that there is a controversy, but that would not be news in the slightest, and therefore not really significant for creationists.

It's a very, very bad idea. Even if it is aimed at biomedical research, creationists can still publish in the fields of zoology and bacteriology, for example.

Here's a research article in the subject of Chinese Medicine: Analysis of volatile components in rhizome zingibers, zingiber officinale roscoe and ginger pee by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and chemometric resolution.

Note that this title is copied and pasted as is on WebmedCentral. Yes, it says ginger pee in the title! (It should be 'ginger peel'). Here's Ginger Pee:

Grace with background Ginger Pee.

Is there any way that I could be wrong, and this enterprise will not turn out badly for serious science? Please do tell.

Update 9/23: Never mind. Seems like PLoS ONE is doing it already.


  1. Actually, I like that idea. Too many good ideas in the past have had tremendous difficulty making it through because of rotten peer review politics. I say publish everything, and leave it up to the reader to learn proper filtering techniques. There's plenty of crap that makes it past peer review anyway, so one has to exercise extreme skepticism in all literature anyway. If one can't figure out whether a theory is worth considering based on the evidence presented and the way it's written, then they're too stupid or inexperienced to do science (or anything else demanding a critical evaluation of data).

    Creationists in particular don't bother me at all. Somehow, I've learned to ignore them, just like I ignore people who believe the planet is secretly ruled by an underground reptilian race of aliens. Conversely, I'm also skeptical of some popular mainstream ideas of science, such as eubacterial monophyly. Hypotheses assuming eubacterial paraphyly tend to be ignored in the scientific community, and not because of the data but because the alternative view just happened to become accepted and learned by everyone. I think the latter is more dangerous than a bunch of creotards having another platform to scream from.

  2. PS: As for shoddy editing, I've seen stupid mistakes and typos like that in high profile peer reviewed journals as well. And I'm not talking about arcane species names either (those have happened in Nature, etc as well), things like nobody bothering to fix MS Word's default autocorrection of "protist" to "protest". I've seen SEVERAL "high-level" papers going on and on about eukaryotic diversity and protests...

  3. You may be good at ignoring the creationists, but the problem is that if they start appearing to have merit, then more people in school boards and courtrooms will start taking them seriously.

    As for peer review in general, it is a stamp of approval, and those stamps seem important to me.

  4. Is there some mechanism by which they can officially de-publish something that fails the "post-publication peer review"?

    I mean, if it stays published, then it's not peer review. Right?

  5. I don't know, but I guess it is not possible to routinely de-publish/retract. Seems like that would be a huger hassle than having regular peer-review.

    And yes, I would agree that it perhaps doesn't make sense to even talk about 'post publication peer-review' in the first place.

  6. While personally I might weigh SLIGHTLY the 'stamp of approval' to decide whether something is worth my time, in the initial filtration process, so many things with that 'stamp of approval' are utter crap, and so many good papers have trouble seeing the light of day because dumbfuck editors have warped notions of what is 'important' and what isn't, I think it's better overall to pay less attention to those stamps.

    Disclaimer: I work in a low "impact factor" field. Some people imply we're useless because we don't publish shiny cancer papers or whatever. I say they can fuck right off. Microbial diversity (for example) is useful and important to anyone with half a brain. The other biologists are just too dumb to see it. Unfortunately, they too decide what gets published, and worse yet, what gets funded.

    The scientific infrastructure itself is too prone to positive feedback loops where ideas become accepted just because they become familiar to people. Lots of science is good and becomes accepted by virtue of good data and strong support. Some of it is not. This is why I really hate the idea of relying on the establishment to decide what's true and what's not. If every scientist suddenly became comfortable with the idea of creationism tomorrow, and accepted it, I sure as hell ain't gonna care unless I am -personally- convinced. Same thing for eubacterial monophyly ;-)

    Of course, outside my field, I am a lot less skeptical, just because I can't evaluate everything. But crackpot ideas are still bloody obvious, regardless of what textbooks or schoolboards say...

    [/rant] >.>

  7. But crackpot ideas are still bloody obvious, regardless of what textbooks or schoolboards say...

    The problem is, they aren't, because the typical American is a moron. Case in point - the Texas State Board of Education.

    I agree with Bjorn - bad idea. This is part of their "Wedge Strategy" - do absolutely anything necessary to get creationism acknowledged, in the collective public mind, as a plausible alternative theory. Next stop, theocracy.

    (And I, for one, welcome our new reptilian overlords!)

  8. Although, I must say, I don't think analyzing Chinese herbs to see whether or not they have any beneficial components is a bad idea (unless Ginger pees on them before you ingest them).

  9. I see this post-publication peer review option as a place for people to dump their substandard work. If you can't get it published elsewhere, put it out for post-publication peer review.
    Looking at this site, it doesn't look like there are many peer reviewers paying attention anyway.
    So I guess it serves as its own filter, a so-called "stamp of unapproval"!

  10. Bottom line is, if you are confused enough to judge a book by it's cover, as you are suggesting that we should do, then you are not really in a position to criticise creationists. After all, their problem is that they accept authority of a book, rather than evidence.

    We should be moving away from the idea of publishers as gatekeepers -- after all there are examples of scientific publishers producing advertising for drugs companies masquerading as a scientific journal.

    Of course, there are going to be problems, but rapid, cheap and adaptable publication has to be the way of the future, compared to the current system which is designed to take good content, squeeze most of the scientific value out of it, then dump the 1% that remains as a PDF on the web.


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