Friday, April 27, 2012

(Houses of) PEER REVIEW

   The House of Lords is a chamber of sober second thoughts, where men and women (Peers) (aged in visage and grey in hair) review proposed new ideas, from the vantage point of honored expertise and authority.
   This sounds a lot like the National Academy of Science (America's NAS)
which is a perpetually self-appointing/self-anointing body of aged scientists, much honored for their expertise and authority, pronouncing upon the gravest scientific questions facing the nation.
   Britain's Royal Society does much the same and most of the world's prominent scientific nations employ a similar model.
   "Peer" is such an ambiguous word.
   One is judged by a jury of one's peers, for example : bog-ordinary citizens like yourself, with no occupational or professional interest in crime or justice.
   But the aristocracy are Peers, peers with a capital "P" , and they are presumed to be anything but ordinary, in fact the very antithesis of ordinary.
   A scientist's proposed journal article, grant request or application for tenure is judged by "peer-review".
   In theory, it is via a jury of people very much like the scientist. In practice the jury is often made up of Peers - scientists much superior in ranking to the supplicant scientist.
   Top scientists, and the world's top professionals, are not just the aristocracy of their world.
   They are the aristocracy of our world : the aristocracy of the world's successful response to the trauma of the 1832 Reform Act and similar legislation.
    And to the rise of the Romantic Era, with its threat of the untutored,un-peer-reviewed, Genius and un-peer-reviewed self-made entrepreneur/celebrity....

No comments:

Post a Comment