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February 3, 2012
How the Andrulis Paper Got Published
The editor of the journal Life has published an attempt at detailing how the notorious Andrulis paper managed to make its way into print. See how convincing you find it. In the course of explaining that it can be hard to find reviewers for interdisciplinary topics, and how the journal tries to find reputable people in each field (and carefully checks author suggestions for reviewers), we have this:
Life is a new journal that deals with new and sometime difficult interdisciplinary matters. Consequently, the journal will occasionally be presented with submitted articles that are controversial and/or outside conventional scientific views. Some papers recently accepted for publication in Life have attracted significant attention. Moreover, members of the Editorial Board have objected to these papers; some have resigned, and others have questioned the scientific validity of the contributions. . .
. . .In the case of the Dr. Andrulis’s long paper, the two reviewers were both faculty members of reputable universities different than the author’s and both went to considerable trouble presenting lengthy review reports. Dr. Andrulis revised his manuscript as requested, and the paper was subsequently published.
Really? Is that how it really went? I know what I would have said if they'd sent the paper to me: that it was a perfect example of what happens when an active, learned mind begins to slip loose from its moorings, and that while the paper appeared to have no scientific merit at all, it was quite useful as a diagnostic sign of oncoming psychosis.
If you only read the Life editor's remarks without reading any of the original paper, you might find them reasonable. But that's because you haven't been exposed to a theory that purports to explain the abiotic origins of life, the underlying principles of biochemistry, the formation of the solar system, the expansion of the universe, global weather patterns, the structure of cellular membranes, the distributions of comets and asteroids, the origins of riboviruses, the protein folding problem, the nature of biological aging, and the unification of quantum mechanics with general relativity. I have not made any of that up, it's all in the paper, and I would very much like to see a reviewer who could let all that go past. "Publish with revisions", sure.
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