FPR: Interpreter Peer Review falls short, as does Gee’s rvw

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Lemmie
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FPR: Interpreter Peer Review falls short, as does Gee’s rvw

Post by Lemmie »

A Faith Promoting Rumor blog entry by SmallAxe, dated August 30, 2019, entitled The Interpreter Stumbles over the JSPP starts with this description of Interpreter publications:

Since it’s inception (at Olive Garden ;>) in 2012 the Interpreter has published an article or book review every Friday. That’s over 300 pieces of “scholarship”! Among the publications are a number of high quality pieces. The vast majority of things they publish though, are mediocre at best; and far too many of their publications are just downright embarrassing for Latter-day Saints.

http://faithpromotingrumor.com/2019/08/ ... -the-jspp/

The entry continues with a strongly worded critique of Gee’s latest review, including this:

Their latest attempt to poison the well is to discredit the Joseph Smith Papers Project....Now the Interpreter has removed all original comments on [Gee’s] review and has added a number of significant edits to the review. See if you can guess which of these two sentences is a new addition:

“It is regrettable that although The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints counts several faithful Egyptologists among its membership, the editors deliberately chose not to involve them in any serious way. It is true that two of that number were given a month to peer review the volume and some of their suggestions were accepted, but no photographs were included in what was reviewed, nor did the Egyptologists see the appendix on the Egyptian characters.”

To my knowledge this is the first time the Interpreter has made substantive edits to a published paper. I suspect that there are authorities in either Salt Lake City or BYU that have pressured them to do this.

[bolding added]

What I found most interesting however, was the discussion of the supposed “peer review” taking place at the Interpreter:
Articles at the Interpreter are supposedly peer reviewed, meaning that other scholars vet the quality of the work. This is usually done by removing the names of the authors so that scholars will judge the work on its merits. The names of reviewers are also usually withheld. The Interpreter, however, does not remove the names of the authors. This facilitates a system where people that are a part of the in-group have an easier time publishing their work.

You can tell a lot about a journal by who they ask to do the peer review. For the Interpreter this is mostly a small group of the same folks, many of which do not have the proper training to vet quality scholarship. Imagine spending decades of your life to master a discipline, and then after submitting your work to a journal, a person who’s been interested in it as hobby (or perhaps is still a young undergraduate) peer reviews it.

This would never happen at a respectable journal, but this kind of thing does happen at the Interpreter (and this is one reason why those with proper training for the most part do not submit their work there).


None of this is surprising given that the founder of the Interpreter has barely published any peer-reviewed work in his field over his 40+ year career (I can’t find more than six articles and one book). This would not meet the standards at any institution that BYU sees as a peer; and it is an embarrassment for many at BYU.

As I’ve said in a previous post, the truth of the matter is that the Interpreter is to scholarship what McDonalds is to fine dining. Both create fast and tasty items for consumption, and if consumed in moderation both have a few decent things to offer. But anyone expecting quality scholarship from the Interpreter is more likely to see a Mc Filet Mignon in a drive through near them.

Not even at BYU, where professors must publish research to be promoted (and gain BYU’s version of tenure), does publishing with the Interpreter count toward their research requirements. And even the College of Religious Education’s new Continuing Faculty Status guidelines rule out places like the Interpreter as an academic publishing outlet.

The Interpreter might be run by faithful men (where are the women?) who on occasion publish decent scholarship, but “scholarship” such as Boyce’s (and Gee’s) serve as a reminder why the Interpreter is not considered scholarship by the larger community of scholars.

(The part bolded by me certainly explains the fiasco of the recent paper that so badly botched the use of Bayesian analysis. )

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Re: FPR: Interpreter Peer Review falls short, as does Gee’s

Post by Philo Sofee »

Excellent. I have also found many discussions in the r/Mormon/Reddit quite valuable on these items. Not the exmormon subreddit where the kids get to scream in anger for the most part, but the Mormon reddit where actual discussion without the silly repercussions of being banned happen. That happens in the Latter Day Saint Reddit sub and the "Faithful" Mormon Reddit sub. The Faithful are terrified and have no faith in their claims, which is why they edit and ban and control with such iron handedness. It's amusing to be sure.

I have found through the years that Faith Promoting Rumor is a good read....
Is Midgely serious? Peterson's blog is a patty-cake, surface only, all too frequently plagiarized bit of ephemeral nonsense. Why would anyone suppose avatars must be real? Midgley has lost his tiny little mind. Maybe he can go over to never-neverland and harass Peter Pan for not really knowing how to fly. -Lemmie-

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Re: FPR: Interpreter Peer Review falls short, as does Gee’s

Post by Dr Exiled »

Ouch.

One would think a "scholarly" publication started at Olive Garden would have a better reputation down at BYU and elsewhere? But don't DCP and Midge travel the world and experience high culture on a daily basis? Perhaps they need a consultant or two to help unlock their obvious dynamism and let it shine forth when publishing the important word similarities to the book of Mormon series that seem to resemble staring at cloud formations?
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Re: FPR: Interpreter Peer Review falls short, as does Gee’s

Post by Physics Guy »

Deciding to publish a paper per week was probably the original sin. Given the number of amateur contributors on Interpreter's topics, a fifty-percept acceptance rate is probably a generous estimate. So fifty papers accepted per year should require at least a hundred papers submitted to peer review. If each paper gets two reviewers and no reviewer does more than one review per year, this needs a pool of two hundred expert peer reviewers. That's a significant academic community. Do the editors of Interpreter have two hundred genuine experts who will respond to their requests to review?

I suspect not. So instead a smaller number of reviewers will do more reviewing, and at some point this is bound to mean careless reviews by reviewers who either didn't know the topics properly or didn't take the time to consider the papers thoroughly.

Six papers a year might have been more realistic, but that level of output is obviously modest. Fifty papers a year looks like a more substantial academic enterprise. But let me just fix my own typo:

Just now I wrote:Fifty papers a year looks like a more substantial academic enterprise.

It's a Potemkin village.

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Re: FPR: Interpreter Peer Review falls short, as does Gee’s

Post by Lemmie »

Deciding to publish a paper per week was probably the original sin.

Good point. The fact that this drive to publish weekly seems to have come mostly out of a response to an anonymous and largely meaningless challenge is even more ironic. (I base this on seeing DCP reference that challenge, apropos of nothing current, at least once a year.) Setting one’s path and ultimately setting oneself up for failure, all to preserve pride in the face of this “challenge” seems immature at best.

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Re: FPR: Interpreter Peer Review falls short, as does Gee’s

Post by Philo Sofee »

If each paper gets two reviewers and no reviewer does more than one review per year, this needs a pool of two hundred expert peer reviewers. That's a significant academic community. Do the editors of Interpreter have two hundred genuine experts who will respond to their requests to review?

Well.......I mean..............its why they go to church........the chapel Mormons can help them out of this quandary just fine, since, it isn't quality, but quantity that impresses Mormons. Surely 66 papers a year in an academic site is vastly superior to a mere 30! They can then say, wow! Look at all this stuff that supports the church! And no one has to read a thing... chapel Mormons would love to help them peer review, that's who its written for, after all....... that way its an all inclusive party of testimony and good will! "We're winning! We're bloody winning! We helped kick out over 60 articles this year on the net!!! They could and probably do even gloat over it all at their ward summer picnic parties...
Is Midgely serious? Peterson's blog is a patty-cake, surface only, all too frequently plagiarized bit of ephemeral nonsense. Why would anyone suppose avatars must be real? Midgley has lost his tiny little mind. Maybe he can go over to never-neverland and harass Peter Pan for not really knowing how to fly. -Lemmie-

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Faith-Promoting Rumor Blasts "Interpreter," Gee, DCP

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Quite a devastating piece on Gee's attack on the JSPP in Mormon Interpreter. Some choice quotes:

Their latest attempt to poison the well is to discredit the Joseph Smith Papers Project. Gee’s review of the latest volume points out hundreds of “errors.” Gee concludes, “Producing it incorrectly is arguably worse than not producing it at all.” While notably different from Boyce’s tactics, Gee is still bombastic, condemning, and aghast in his rhetoric. The problem, though, is that Gee is wrong. The vast majority of the “errors” are interpretational choices that align with the style guide detailed in the front of every volume. Gee neither understands the style guide nor leaves room for alternate readings of documents that he has no training to read. Indeed, while he is a trained Egyptologist, and the volume does deal with the Book of Abraham among other related things, he has no training in 19th century documentary history. I suspect that all of this plays a role as to why even BYU Studies refused to publish Gee’s review. Now the Interpreter has removed all original comments on the review and has added a number of significant edits to the review.

To my knowledge this is the first time the Interpreter has made substantive edits to a published paper. I suspect that there are authorities in either Salt Lake City or BYU that have pressured them to do this.

LOL! Very hard to disagree, imo. No wonder DCP is backpedaling furiously, accepting offers of $10,000 to go completely silent concerning this board.

None of this is surprising given that the founder of the Interpreter has barely published any peer-reviewed work in his field over his 40+ year career (I can’t find more than six articles and one book). This would not meet the standards at any institution that BYU sees as a peer; and it is an embarrassment for many at BYU.

Hence why he's getting exiled to teach in the late afternoon now?

I wonder if this is just the tip of the iceberg? Something big seems to be brewing....
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14

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Re: Faith-Promoting Rumor Blasts "Interpreter," Gee, DCP

Post by Lemmie »

FPR has some pretty harsh things to say about peer review as well...

http://mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/vie ... =1&t=52209

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Re: Faith-Promoting Rumor Blasts "Interpreter," Gee, DCP

Post by Lemmie »

Another comment on FPR, noting how ridiculous the Dales’ Interpreter article was. Wow.

G. P. Robbers

SEPTEMBER 2, 2019 AT 11:40 AM

Joseph Smith: The World’s Greatest Guesser was published May 3 2019. It may be the best example of pseudoscience published this century anywhere, if granting Interpreter to be more than a blog as it claims to be. It was torn to shreds in the Interpreter comment section and elsewhere about the web for weeks after appearing, and then the shreds were each, individually, torn further into smaller shreds until what remained was so fine that it wouldn’t even be fit for mulch to feed a starving plant.

It was the ultimate victory for anyone irritated by the supreme overconfidence of the FARMS crowd and FARMS-style scholarship. But get this, Smallaxe, after 27 days of continuous shredding, the same founder that you mentioned plugged the article in LDSLiving in a moderate-length article.

It appears to me the JSPP seeks to accomplish a goal and has adopted standards already in practice to reach that goal. In my opinion, Interpreter isn’t really out to accomplish anything in particular. To borrow the words of the apologists’ favorite philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn, Interpreter has no “research paradigm”. Do you have a Ph.D.? Check. Are you willing to make a case that Joseph Smith couldn’t have done it? check.

If those two boxes are checked, good luck *stopping* the paper from being published. Allegedly, the Guesser paper had been in review for an entire year. It’s unfathomable. Unless, of course, you see the bigger picture that Interpreter is more like an expanded version of Mormon Scholars Testify. So far, it’s been a bunch of pet projects, no real conversations, nothing that I can see going anywhere (I’m open to correction). With the exception of the aforementioned paper, it’s most popular articles are mudballs thrown at the new MI.

If there’s any tradition behind it, it’s the one that says “Look at all these folks with Phds who believe the Book of Mormon is true”. Again, it’s MST 1.1.

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Re: Faith-Promoting Rumor Blasts "Interpreter," Gee, DCP

Post by Philo Sofee »

H.O.L.Y. C.O.W. Utter wipeout

I mused top leadership were telling Sic et Non and Interpreter to knock it off man, you are way, way out of line. Glad to know I wasn't alone. Of course, Dr. Scratch with his chess like impeccable ability to see through the smoke-n-bluff also was on top of this like nobody's business. As are so many around here. This is close to the straw that broke the camel's back. It has to be. Just how much worse is going to be allowed?!

Interpreter is almost close to mocking what actual scholarship is supposed to be. With so many voices out on the internet the brethren simply cannot be ignorant of it all. Their minions who scour the net simply have to be reporting back and saying "Uh......seriously brethren, all is not well in the Zion-internet. We have literally become the laughing stock of the entire world. That's not symbolic, the internet is literally worldwide!"
Is Midgely serious? Peterson's blog is a patty-cake, surface only, all too frequently plagiarized bit of ephemeral nonsense. Why would anyone suppose avatars must be real? Midgley has lost his tiny little mind. Maybe he can go over to never-neverland and harass Peter Pan for not really knowing how to fly. -Lemmie-

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Re: Faith-Promoting Rumor Blasts "Interpreter," Gee, DCP

Post by Dr Moore »

A whole year reviewing the Guesser article and it still came out so riddled with problems? Yikes.

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Re: Faith-Promoting Rumor Blasts "Interpreter," Gee, DCP

Post by Philo Sofee »

Dr Moore wrote:A whole year reviewing the Guesser article and it still came out so riddled with problems? Yikes.


Well, they didn't do the scholarly thing and use the suggestions to improve it, they did the apologetic thing, dug in their heels, and just murdered their credibility. Yes there was a lot of heat, but there were also very many heart felt suggestions on how and what to do to attempt to save it and make it decent. Alas, they took it all personal, and thus, just, simply, blew it.

The cool thing is, they actually did finally learn what peer review actually is! Now if they could just use it to their advantage instead of scoffing at it all as if nothing they said was incorrect. The pride was just far too high for them to see the help offered to them for free.
Is Midgely serious? Peterson's blog is a patty-cake, surface only, all too frequently plagiarized bit of ephemeral nonsense. Why would anyone suppose avatars must be real? Midgley has lost his tiny little mind. Maybe he can go over to never-neverland and harass Peter Pan for not really knowing how to fly. -Lemmie-

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Re: Faith-Promoting Rumor Blasts "Interpreter," Gee, DCP

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Lemmie wrote:FPR has some pretty harsh things to say about peer review as well...

http://mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/vie ... =1&t=52209

My goodness, Lemmie: I must be getting dumber or lazier in my senescence because I did not even notice your excellent thread prior to posting this. When I logged in, I saw that I had some private messages, one of which instructed me to take a look at FPR, and I went directly to posting. I am very much against double-posting on topics (unless the focus is notably different): if Dr. Shades would be so kind as to merge the threads, that might be a good solution/idea (with your permission, of course). In any event, my apologies for my dunder-headedness!
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14

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Re: Faith-Promoting Rumor Blasts "Interpreter," Gee, DCP

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Lemmie wrote:Another comment on FPR, noting how ridiculous the Dales’ Interpreter article was. Wow.

G. P. Robbers

SEPTEMBER 2, 2019 AT 11:40 AM

Joseph Smith: The World’s Greatest Guesser was published May 3 2019. It may be the best example of pseudoscience published this century anywhere, if granting Interpreter to be more than a blog as it claims to be. It was torn to shreds in the Interpreter comment section and elsewhere about the web for weeks after appearing, and then the shreds were each, individually, torn further into smaller shreds until what remained was so fine that it wouldn’t even be fit for mulch to feed a starving plant.

It was the ultimate victory for anyone irritated by the supreme overconfidence of the FARMS crowd and FARMS-style scholarship. But get this, Smallaxe, after 27 days of continuous shredding, the same founder that you mentioned plugged the article in LDSLiving in a moderate-length article.

It appears to me the JSPP seeks to accomplish a goal and has adopted standards already in practice to reach that goal. In my opinion, Interpreter isn’t really out to accomplish anything in particular. To borrow the words of the apologists’ favorite philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn, Interpreter has no “research paradigm”. Do you have a Ph.D.? Check. Are you willing to make a case that Joseph Smith couldn’t have done it? check.

If those two boxes are checked, good luck *stopping* the paper from being published. Allegedly, the Guesser paper had been in review for an entire year. It’s unfathomable. Unless, of course, you see the bigger picture that Interpreter is more like an expanded version of Mormon Scholars Testify. So far, it’s been a bunch of pet projects, no real conversations, nothing that I can see going anywhere (I’m open to correction). With the exception of the aforementioned paper, it’s most popular articles are mudballs thrown at the new MI.

If there’s any tradition behind it, it’s the one that says “Look at all these folks with Phds who believe the Book of Mormon is true”. Again, it’s MST 1.1.

Well said, as always, Dr. Robbers. It may very well be that the Brethren have had enough of Mormon Interpreter. Isn't it odd how, comparatively speaking, you see way, way less controversies of this kind from FAIR Mormon? It may be that the power within Mopologetics/apologetics is beginning to shift. Nowadays, I am almost beginning to wonder if the term "Mopologetic" still fully applies to FAIR Mormon (I know, I'm being rash). There are still a lot of rotten apples in that organization, but like I said, you seldom see them stirring up controversy to this degree (or with this frequency).
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14

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Re: Faith-Promoting Rumor Blasts "Interpreter," Gee, DCP

Post by I have a question »

Doctor Scratch wrote:Well said, as always, Dr. Robbers. It may very well be that the Brethren have had enough of Mormon Interpreter. Isn't it odd how, comparatively speaking, you see way, way less controversies of this kind from FAIR Mormon? It may be that the power within Mopologetics/apologetics is beginning to shift. Nowadays, I am almost beginning to wonder if the term "Mopologetic" still fully applies to FAIR Mormon (I know, I'm being rash). There are still a lot of rotten apples in that organization, but like I said, you seldom see them stirring up controversy to this degree (or with this frequency).

I don't know how relevant this might be, but on the recent propaganda/fund raising tour of South America, Mr Nelsons plural wife made the following comment about how the Lord wants His members to behave...

Comparing contention to Utah’s safe driving slogan “Zero Fatalities,” Sister Nelson spoke about having “zero contention.”

“The doctrine of the Savior is zero contention, zero,” she said.

I would suggest that Gee's intention was the opposite of seeking to reduce contention to zero. Maybe someone should ask Midgely what he thinks of Mrs Nelsons admonition...
“When we are confronted with evidence that challenges our deeply held beliefs we are more likely to reframe the evidence than we are to alter our beliefs. We simply invent new reasons, new justifications, new explanations. Sometimes we ignore the evidence altogether.” (Mathew Syed 'Black Box Thinking')

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Re: Faith-Promoting Rumor Blasts "Interpreter," Gee, DCP

Post by Lemmie »

Doctor Scratch wrote:
Lemmie wrote:FPR has some pretty harsh things to say about peer review as well...

http://mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/vie ... =1&t=52209

My goodness, Lemmie: I must be getting dumber or lazier in my senescence because I did not even notice your excellent thread prior to posting this. When I logged in, I saw that I had some private messages, one of which instructed me to take a look at FPR, and I went directly to posting. I am very much against double-posting on topics (unless the focus is notably different): if Dr. Shades would be so kind as to merge the threads, that might be a good solution/idea (with your permission, of course). In any event, my apologies for my dunder-headedness!

No apologies necessary! And yes, merging would be fine with me.

(I’m hoping peer review at the Interpreter makes your year end list, but with all the stellar entries contributed by midgley this year, even the honorable mention list is going to be quite lengthy, I'm sure.)

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Re: FPR: Interpreter Peer Review falls short, as does Gee’s

Post by Lemmie »

An ex-interpreter editor?

VaffanculoMormonismo• 1d

I used to be an editor at Interpreter but I left after discovering that 1) their donors, admin-owners, editors, authors, and peer review board are pretty much all the same people and 2) because of #1, any time I took umbrage with something in one of their articles, they could simply overrule me and push through their articles because there was no reliable system in place for ensuring accuracy

https://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/comme ... New Testament/eytlqj7

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Re: FPR: Interpreter Peer Review falls short, as does Gee’s

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Lemmie wrote:An ex-interpreter editor?

VaffanculoMormonismo• 1d

I used to be an editor at Interpreter but I left after discovering that 1) their donors, admin-owners, editors, authors, and peer review board are pretty much all the same people and 2) because of #1, any time I took umbrage with something in one of their articles, they could simply overrule me and push through their articles because there was no reliable system in place for ensuring accuracy

https://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/comme ... New Testament/eytlqj7


Indeed! See here.
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14

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Re: FPR: Interpreter Peer Review falls short, as does Gee’s

Post by Philo Sofee »

Lemmie wrote:An ex-interpreter editor?

VaffanculoMormonismo• 1d

I used to be an editor at Interpreter but I left after discovering that 1) their donors, admin-owners, editors, authors, and peer review board are pretty much all the same people and 2) because of #1, any time I took umbrage with something in one of their articles, they could simply overrule me and push through their articles because there was no reliable system in place for ensuring accuracy

https://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/comme ... New Testament/eytlqj7


This is just HUGE........THIS is the idea that we have been asking about their peer review. Is it valid or is it not? If that post is legitimate, then it's over for Interpreter. I mean flat out, done, finished.
Is Midgely serious? Peterson's blog is a patty-cake, surface only, all too frequently plagiarized bit of ephemeral nonsense. Why would anyone suppose avatars must be real? Midgley has lost his tiny little mind. Maybe he can go over to never-neverland and harass Peter Pan for not really knowing how to fly. -Lemmie-

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Re: FPR: Interpreter Peer Review falls short, as does Gee’s

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Philo Sofee wrote:
VaffanculoMormonismo• 1d

I used to be an editor at Interpreter but I left after discovering that 1) their donors, admin-owners, editors, authors, and peer review board are pretty much all the same people and 2) because of #1, any time I took umbrage with something in one of their articles, they could simply overrule me and push through their articles because there was no reliable system in place for ensuring accuracy

https://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/comme ... New Testament/eytlqj7


This is just HUGE........THIS is the idea that we have been asking about their peer review. Is it valid or is it not? If that post is legitimate, then it's over for Interpreter. I mean flat out, done, finished.


I always enjoy your excitement, Philo. That said, the truth is that we've known for a long time that the Mopologists' peer review is nonsense: an in part, we have *you* to thank for that. I'll always be grateful for the details you shared about the process when you went through it. It's a total and complete sham, and we have direct testimony from multiple people about how corrupt it is. (One of my favorites remains Blair Hodges's discussion about the way that Midgley edited his essay in order to make it "meaner" and more strident.) Jenny T. is yet another welcome voice in terms of explaining the truth about Interpreter and the Mopologists' scholarly integrity (or lack thereof).
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14

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Re: FPR: Interpreter Peer Review falls short, as does Gee’s

Post by Lemmie »

Based on the evidence documented here in just the last year, this is an insupportable quote by Peterson:
Peer review is a method editors use in an effort to avoid obvious and embarrassing mistakes — which is, for example, why Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship uses standard academic peer review procedures — but it’s not magic. Its presence doesn’t guarantee correctness in a manuscript and its absence doesn’t guarantee error.

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeters ... anets.html
”standard” procedures do not include insisting that reviewers first must not be “hostile” to your religion’s non-scientific and unprovable truth claims, which leads to allowance of the use of inappropriate, non-academic starting assumptions, as well as an apparent dearth of reviewers with adequate skill in the necessary academic field. See the recent Bayesian disaster for current evidence.

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