Discussions with Michael Cremo and correspondents

June 7, 2004
Hi - it's ..... here, thanks again for your replies to my questions in the past.

I love the new book...

....Has any of your work been peer reviewed? Any web sites I could go to about peer reviewed work?
The reason I ask for this is because when I chat with people from the scientific community they always
talk about peer reviews!

Michael: Yes, they do talk about peer review. Basically, they think that the only valid scientific work is work
that has been published in some scientific journal where the editor submits the work to some number of
anonymous scientists who review the work before it is published. But if we look at the matter carefully, we will
see that it is not such a good idea to put too much faith in peer review.

1. Peer review has been going on for a long time, and scientific ideas have changed quite a bit over the years.
For example, at one time, all the peer reviewed articles in the science of geology were rejecting the continental
drift idea from the 1920s to the 1970s. So then later they changed their minds, and then all the peer reviewed
articles were accepting the continental drift idea. The same thing happens in all science fields. Ideas change.
So that means all the previous peer reviewed articles are no longer correct. And in a few years, maybe all the
peer reviewed articles that are being printed now will also be seen as incorrect. So the fact that an article has
been peer reviewed is not a guarantee that it is in the long run good science, or objectively true.

2. Scientists and those who study how science works know that peer review can be biased. I once read an
article by the editor of American Anthropologist, who said that every editor of every science journal knows
that by choosing the appropriate scientists to do "peer review" on a particular article, he can get the article
accepted or rejected as he likes. If he doesn't want to see it printed, then he will give it to scientists he knows
will not approve the article. And if he wants to see it printed, he will give it for peer review to scientists he
knows will approve it.

So this whole idea of peer review is very controversial. This is not to say that it has no value whatsoever, but
those who have blind faith in it and use it as some kind of absolutely authoritative way of judging what is
scientific and what is not are not being very critical in their thinking.

If you look on the web, you can find lots of sites that talk about the defects and shortcomings of the peer
review process.

But to answer your question,  yes, I do have some peer reviewed publications:

Cremo, M A. (1994) Puranic Time and the Archeological Record. Presented at World Archaeological
Congress 3, New Delhi, India, December 4-11.  Published as chapter 3 in Time and Archaeology, edited by
Tim Murray, Routledge, London (1999).

Cremo, M. A. (1997) The Later Discoveries of Boucher de Perthes at Moulin Quignon and Their Impact on
the Moulin Quignon Jaw Controversy. XXth International Congress for History of Science, Liege, Belgium,
July 19-26. Published in Goulven Laurent ed. (2002), Proceedings of the XXth International Congress of
History of Science (Liege, 20-26 July 1997), Volume X, Earth Sciences, Geography and Cartography, pp.
39-56. De Diversis Artibus. Collection of Studies from the International Academy of the History of Science,
Emmanuel Poulle and Robert Halleux, eds. Tome 53 (N.S. 16). Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers.

We have to keep in mind that peer review can also take place after publication. Scientists sometimes publish
books and then submit them for review in various academic journals. The responses of scientists to the work
constitute a kind of peer review. That is what Darwin did with Origin of Species. It is also what I did with
Forbidden Archeology. That book was reviewed in about a dozen professional scientific publications. The
reviews the book drew are a kind of peer review. Some of the reviews were positive, some negative, some
mixed, as was to be expected....

...There is yet another kind of peer review. When  I send proposals to present papers at scientific conferences,
they have to undergo a process of peer review before being accepted for presentation. So even though the
papers are not all published, they did undergo peer review for presentation at the conferences, which are
major intenational conferences....

....So if we want to talk about peer review, and level of acceptance, yes, there is some. This is not to say that
everyone who invites me or hears me agrees with me. But they do regard my presentations as being at a level
they can take seriously as being part of the discussion of human origins on a scientific level.

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