You’re quite wrong, NASA

NASA slammed Rosie Redfield’s assessment (or review) on the new form of life that was found:

When NASA spokesman Dwayne Brown was asked about public criticisms of the paper in the blogosphere, he noted that the article was peer-reviewed and published in one of the most prestigious scientific journals. He added that Wolfe-Simon will not be responding to individual criticisms, as the agency doesn’t feel it is appropriate to debate the science using the media and bloggers. Instead, it believes that should be done in scientific publications.

To say the least, it’s hypocritical to call a press-release to tout about your new discovery and then say that the debate shouldn’t be in the media. Peer review is wrong, bad and broken, and without a 180 degree fast turn it will die a slow death, being surpassed by what NASA calls “the media”. Being published on Science is not a badge of quality; nowadays it’s a badge of connections (most of the time), a badge of who do you know and who knows you. The worst papers I read in my life were published in Science and Nature, and they were not high impact papers either to the public or the field.

If NASA didn’t want to bring the discussion to the public realm, let Science (not the journal) take its due course and correct the paper. Maybe Science (the journal) is losing ground and relevance to Nature, maybe there were no peer-review of this paper, who knows, and they needed the exposure (NASA is losing budget too). But if it’s a bad paper and there’s no PR, scientists will try, check, re-analyse data, write more papers about the issue and then, maybe in five, ten years, we will have a final answer. “The media” always existed: scientists wrote letters when there were no emails. There were always been conferences, meetings, where things were discussed, checked and re-checked. Were there mistakes? Obviously, but time took its course, and things were slower and sometimes quite wrong, sometimes really right.

That’s the problem of the Generation Mendeley®: they want things now, in this exact minute. There’s always a final and definite instantaneous answer. They have the social sites on their side, but don’t accept when the same hand that feeds them, bites them. Software with major bugs is the next saviour of citation. New life form is proof that aliens are out there. And I will have sushi for lunch. PR, PR, PR, always the now, the now, this exact second. No wonder that so many people come to Science now in order to “cure cancer ASAP”.

BTW, without googling it, what were the names of the cold fusion guys?

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/12/the-wrong-stuff-nasa-dismisses-arsenic-critique-because-critical-priest-not-standing-on-altar/


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