Religion, Rebel Scientists, And Peer Review: Three Hot Topics

Of some 69 letters from readers that have been published in The Scientist since our format and editorial changes of last May, over 40% deal with just three subjects: the difficulty of reconciling religion and science (prompted by William Provine’s provocative opinion piece published in our September 5 edition, page 10); the issue of whether to accept rebel or “heretic” scientists who espouse minority views; and the inadequacies of peer review. While this tabulation is admitt

Eugene Garfield
Dec 25, 1988

Of some 69 letters from readers that have been published in The Scientist since our format and editorial changes of last May, over 40% deal with just three subjects: the difficulty of reconciling religion and science (prompted by William Provine’s provocative opinion piece published in our September 5 edition, page 10); the issue of whether to accept rebel or “heretic” scientists who espouse minority views; and the inadequacies of peer review.

While this tabulation is admittediy not a precise barometer of our readers’ views and interests, I believe it a fairly useful indicator of issues that provoke sharp responses from scientists. What conclusions, then, can we draw from this mini-survey?

I suspect that the 13 letters we published (and the almost equal number we did not publish) in response to Provine’s article—the greatest number of letters we received on any subject—were in some measure a response to the extreme argument...

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