The Amusing Pendulum Swinging Thing Called ‘Scholarship’

Duane Smith is put out. He’s not very happy that the revelation of the Qeiyafa materials were announced (how dare they) before the proper plodding peer review process! He writes

It means that I think a sensationalized presentation of potentially important evidence for anything is inappropriate prior to scholarly publication in a peer review environment. It tends to poison the well of honest inquiry

Which forces me to observe: how amusing this pendulum swing. A generation ago scholars were whining that it was taking too long to publish the dead sea scrolls- they wanted to see them for themselves. But now scholars want everything kept quiet until the mystical ‘peer review’ process has plodded along at its snail pace…

No matter how much things change, they just really remain the same: no one is ever satisfied and they long for the ‘good old days’ (of total control).

In scholarship one day scholars want things produced so they can be examined (when it suits them) and the next they want things kept secret until their friends can confirm for them their preconceptions (that’s what peer review is, by the way).

Fear not, though, once scholars figure out that their treasured ‘peer review’ process is actually strangling scholarship rather than promoting it, they will hop on the swinging pendulum and swing towards openness – until the pendulum gets too far and they grow frightened that they’ve lost control.  And back they’ll go to their former position… forever back and forth in their indecisiveness.

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2 thoughts on “The Amusing Pendulum Swinging Thing Called ‘Scholarship’

  1. Duane Smith 8 May 2012 at 5:40 pm

    First, I said, “peer review environment” not “peer reviewed journal or book.” Second, I didn’t say it should take 50 years to get around to publishing it.


    • Jim 8 May 2012 at 6:05 pm

      what exactly would a ‘peer review environment’ be? is there oxygen in it or is it a bubble?


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