North On Peer Review

North on: The Power Elite and Academia

[My comments in brackets]

Every civilization and every society within a particular civilization rests on a series of presuppositions. These presuppositions are considered sacrosanct by most members of the society. They are considered self-attesting, self-reinforcing, and self-evident. In other words, they take on the characteristics of a religion. That is because they are deeply religious.

These presuppositions are considered so sacrosanct that anyone who publicly challenges them, let alone refers to them as self-interested, risks becoming the target of a systematic program of reprisals: shunning, loss of employment, and ridicule. A person who challenges the fundamental presuppositions of a society is comparable to a person in Saudi Arabia who hands out gospel tracts for Jesus. He is not going to get away with it at no cost.

What I have said here regarding societies is equally true of every special-interest organization. Above all, it is true of a special-interest organization that seeks tax funding from the broader society.

[People get religious when it comes to their right to be paid by your taxes. This is especially true when it comes to academic atheists who enjoy a fine living on the back of Christian salaries.]

THE MYTH OF NEUTRALITY

This myth was used in Prussia to justify the independence of the faculty members in universities funded by the Prussian state. This began in the early 19th century.

It was used in the late 19th century by faculty members in American colleges to escape screening by the denominations that funded the colleges. The colleges often filled their faculties with retired pastors. Younger men wanted out from under this control.

The myth of neutrality undergirds the doctrine of academic freedom. Both doctrines have the same practical goal: to provide safe, secure employment for faculty members who do not share the worldview of the people paying their salaries. These faculty members want to convert the thinking of the next generation of financial supporters.

[So, all that lying cant about objectivity and neutrality DOES have a practical purpose!]

Tax funding of higher education increases the stakes. Anyone who seeks tax funding for his particular educational organization must do so in the United States in terms of the myth of neutrality. This myth undergirds modern American politics, so it also undergirds modern tax-funded education.

[Most definitely including the public schools: no Lord but the State, no Law but the will of secularist Lawyers – on and off the bench!

The duty of American Christians is to ditch that myth of neutrality, created specifically to Shut Them Up.]

The fact of the matter is this: every system of truth rests on a denial of one or another presupposition of a rival approach to truth. The more widespread the doctrine of intellectual neutrality, the more intensely the purveyors of highly un-neutral worldviews will insist that their worldview rests on universal principles of truth that cannot successfully be challenged by purveyors of rival worldviews.

[Expect all that verbiage of ‘universal truth’, freedom and liberty and free speech from the universities to be suddenly dumped in the early 2030s, replaced by the sheer thirst of power of the Right Sort… which is useless unless it is used to grind their heels into the faces of the Wrong Sort.

The Wrong Sort being YOU, Christian.

“For what is the use of power, if it isn’t to humiliate your enemies, and crush them underneath your heel?”

Every Muslim and Secularist understands this: it’s part of the air they breathe.

I wonder when Christians will learn the importance of insuring the supremacy of God and His Law-Word, over and above His lying, murderous and oppressive enemies.

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. – Psalm 110:1]

PEER REVIEW

In the field of higher education, the myth of neutrality is reinforced by a subordinate myth, the myth of peer review.

Every academic discipline has dozens of professional journals in every large nation. In those universities that pay the highest salaries, in order to gain tenure, an assistant professor must publish articles in a small handful of these peer-reviewed academic journals: the top dozen or so.

These journals are edited by individuals who represent the majority outlook of the members of a particular academic discipline. It is a sub-guild within the guild of higher education.

Every academic journal has an unofficial series of presuppositions and rules governing the publication of articles in the journal. These rules are never put on paper.

[Hmmm… I wonder why…]

The editor of the journal selects readers who hold doctorates in the field, and who have specialized in a particular area, to review submitted articles. The editor makes certain that each of the members of the reviewing committee understands the unofficial rules of the game. There is an acceptable range of discourse within the profession that must be respected. Any article that promotes a view of the topic under discussion that raises questions about the range of discourse in the guild will be rejected.

The legitimacy of peer review is also upheld. It is not upheld as simply a way for a special-interest group to screen those who provide information to the members. It is upheld as part of the prevailing myth of academic neutrality. Therefore, anyone who violates the game by denying the myth of neutrality is regarded in much the same way that a heretic was regarded in Spain in 1492.

[This is going to change… as the power of peer review is undercut and eroded away.]

There is nothing inherently wrong with peer review, but we should not be misled as to the nature and function of peer review. In today’s academic world, its primary function is to justify access to tax money. It is the justification for the academic welfare state.

DELIVERANCE!

The good news is that the World Wide Web is undermining the guild system.

[The World Wide Web is undermining A LOT of power-n-control structures!]

The main barrier to entry in creating a new academic journal used to be the cost of printing in developing a mailing list. There had to be paid subscribers in order for a journal to become respectable within the guild. Today, however, the cost of starting a journal is much lower. There are no printing or mailing costs. As economics teaches, when the cost falls, more will be supplied.

[More and more academic journals will be created. Over 90% of them will be worthless… but 10% of them will have bite.

It’s well past time that Christians who are weary of the laughter of their Masters start setting up their own journals. Not just one or two… more like a thousand or ten thousand,

Naturally, most of these will fail and die in a few years. But the hundred(s) that survive would be EASILY able to rip down those ivory towers!

And of the hundreds that survive, there will be a few dozen that would revolutionize the field, enough to put magazines like Nature (created specifically to push Darwinism) into the shade… and, over the decades, into the garbage bin of history. Not because of better access to State subsidies, but because of superior scholarship and genuine fidelity to the truth: a truth that provides deliverable results in the here and now, as well as the hereafter.]

So, we are seeing the destruction of academic guilds. We are seeing something like open entry in the field of ideas because of the Web. This is hated by members of the guilds. They scream, “Unclean! Unclean!” They dismiss an innovative article for not having been published in a peer-reviewed forum. But the logic of the system in the natural sciences — of early bird gets the worm — undermines all such criticisms. It also enables outsider groups to call attention to the non-self-evident nature of the presuppositions of the existing guilds.

[And who is more of an outsider of todays (crumbling) power-structures than Christians?]

We are seeing the undermining of the legitimacy of the self-interested guilds who have their hands in the public till. The myth of neutrality is losing adherents. This process is going to accelerate.

CONCLUSION

Guilds fear one thing above all else: open entry. The main barrier to entry has been economic: the cost of printing, the cost of gaining accreditation, and the cost of gaining tax support. On all fronts, the academic guilds are under assault. This is going to increase over time. The cost of launching an assault is getting ever lower, and at lower cost, there will be increased demand to join one or another assault team.

[I do like Uncommon Descent myself: but I want to see more such blogs, and better too! About twenty or fifty should be sufficient for my tastes, but perhaps not enough for God, who intends to see ALL things discipled to His Word.]

The academic guilds are not used to open entry. They are not used to public criticism from non-guild members. If the public ever figures out that it can escape the clutches of higher education in the United States, which absorbs about a third of a trillion dollars a year, the game will end. The guilds will have to compete in a free market. They are not used to this. They will resent it. But they are going to have to learn to live with it.

Long live the Web.

[The Laughing Masters rule now, as they are deeply tied to State Power and State Revenue. But the State will increasingly prove to be a poor substitute for God, as it’s power withers and its money turns to dross.

Christians are to get ready for the fall of the idols, and the collapse of the New World Order.]

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