Sociologist Michael J. Mahoney of Pennsylvania State University was one of
the first to examine how well the [peer review] process works in
evaluating scientific papers. In a landmark study, he sent copies of one
paper to 75 reviewers but doctored the results so that in some cases the
research appeared to support mainstream theories, while in others it ran
"When the results ran contrary to the reviewer's theoretical beliefs,"
Mahoney reported, "the procedures were berated and the manuscript was
rejected. When the results 'confirmed' the reviewers beliefs, the same
procedures were lauded and the manuscript was recommended for
Mahoney's findings struck a nerve. Within three months after he presented
his results last year at a meeting of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, he said, he "received probably 200 to 300 letters
and phone calls from scientists who felt they had been victims of that
kind of discrimination."
Daniel Koshland, editor of Science, the nation's leading scientific
journal, strongly defended the peer review process but added, "I think
it's fair to say that a new idea, something that confronts existing dogma,
has an uphill road - but not an impossible road."
Koshland cited as an example bichochemist Edwin G. Krebs' initial work on
the "Krebs cycle," a fundamental series of enzyme reactions in living
organisms, "which got him the Nobel Prize later. It was initially
rejected. And you can find other examples like that. There certainly is
no question that there is a prejudice in favor of the existing dogma"
In 1970, biologist Margulis was not only denied funding but subjected to
intense scorn by reviewers at the [National Science] Foundation. The
theory for which she was denied funding then - that cells evolved through
a symbiotic union of primitive organisms - has now become accepted dogma,
cited as fact in recent textbooks.
"I was flatly turned down," Margulis said, and the grants officers added
"that I should never apply again."
Quotes from Dr. Thomas Gold:
"It's like religion. Heresy (in science) is thought of as a bad thing,
whereas it should be just the opposite."
"If you don't want anything new, don't do science. Sell antiques or