by Thomas Gold
“(Herd Tendency)…..I believe that our present way of conducting science is deeply afflicted by this tendency. The peer review system, which we regard as the only fair way we know of to distribute money (I don’t think it is, but it is generally thought to be) is an absolute disaster. It is a completely unstable method. It is completely prone to this tendency; there is no getting out of it.”
…….”The more reviews you require for a proposal – now the NSF requires seven reviewers for a proposal – the more you require, the more certain it is that you will follow the statistical tendency dictated by this principle. If you had “noise” in the situation, it would be much better.”
…….”That was crack- pot stuff, (the continental drift hypothesis) and had long been thought dead. Wegener, of course, was an absolute crack-pot, and everybody knew that and you wouldn’t have any chance.
Six years later you could not get a paper published that doubted continental drift. The herd had swung around – but it was still a firm and arrogant herd.”
…….”I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth, if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”