Peer Pressure

Let’s talk about the importance of peer review.

Particularly in light of the recent announcement by NASA scientist Richard B. Hoover in the Journal of Cosmology, that fossil evidence of bacterial life has been found in meteorites.  That we are not alone out there, and that life on alien worlds may actually be more similar to life on our dear planet than we had expected.

A photograph taken through a scanning electron microscope of a CI1 meteorite (right) is similar in size and overall structure to the giant bacterium Titanospirillum velox (left), an organism found here on planet Earth, a NASA scientist said.

“I interpret it as indicating that life is more broadly distributed than restricted strictly to the planet earth,” Hoover told FoxNews.com. “This field of study has just barely been touched — because quite frankly, a great many scientist would say that this is impossible.”

Before we get all excited about our extraterrestrial cousins making contact, it is important to realize claims of this type have been made before, and they have been discovered to be false. PZ Myers of the University of Minnesota has something to say about this…

However, given the controversial nature of this paper. Dr Rudy Schild, the editor-in-chief of the journal has invited 100 experts and issued a general invitation to over 5,000 scientists from the scientific community to review the paper and to offer their critical analysis. He says “No other paper in the history of science has undergone such a thorough vetting, and never before in the history of science has the scientific community been given the opportunity to critically analyze an important research paper before it is published”.

So, peer pressure indeed. Are we to believe that if the paper gets through the nano-fine tooth comb of 5000 critical scientists, the research is reliable? Does that settle the question once and for all?

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