Claim: Academic research groups increasingly beholden to interests of corporate publishing groups

Marin B

Active Member
Not sure if I'm going about this right as this is my first attempt at creating a new thread, and a debunking one no less (please correct me if needed!)...

My CT-believing mother recently read an article to me titled "Academic Oligarchy: Majority of Science Publishing is Controlled by Just Six Companies" from a website called "Global Research" (http://www.globalresearch.ca/academ...g-is-controlled-by-just-six-companies/5463289)

Her bringing this article to my attention was probably in response to my informing her of journal articles published by the American Meteorological Society dating back to the early 70's that describe persistent contrails/cirrus cloud formation by commercial aircraft (she believes commercial aircraft don't make persistent contrails, or if they do they are being made remotely by the government (somehow??)).

The article in Global Research references a study by researchers at the University of Montreal and states that scientific researchers are "beholden to the interests" of the major scientific publishers, and suggests that the whole system of published research is corrupt. (A bit ironic that the article relies on a published research paper to support the proposition that scientific publications are corrupt...) I found the original research paper by the Montreal researchers (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4465327/) and it's about the economics of scientific publishing by just a handful of publishers (e.g. Elsevier, et al), and doesn't at all suggest that the publishers have any control over the content of the publications (as suggested by the Global Research article). In fact, to the contrary, the original article states that "most journals rely on publishers’ systems to handle and review the manuscripts; however, while these systems facilitate the process, it is the researchers as part of the scientific community who perform peer review. Hence, this essential step of quality control is not a value added by the publishers but by the scientific community itself."

 
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MikeG

Senior Member.
Not sure if I'm going about this right as this is my first attempt at creating a new thread, and a debunking one no less (please correct me if needed!)...

My CT-believing mother recently read an article to me titled "Academic Oligarchy: Majority of Science Publishing is Controlled by Just Six Companies" from a website called "Global Research" (http://www.globalresearch.ca/academ...g-is-controlled-by-just-six-companies/5463289)

Her bringing this article to my attention was probably in response to my informing her of journal articles published by the American Meteorological Society dating back to the early 70's that describe persistent contrails/cirrus cloud formation by commercial aircraft (she believes commercial aircraft don't make persistent contrails, or if they do they are being made remotely by the government (somehow??)).

The article in Global Research references a study by researchers at the University of Montreal and states that scientific researchers are "beholden to the interests" of the major scientific publishers, and suggests that the whole system of published research is corrupt. (A bit ironic that the article relies on a published research paper to support the proposition that scientific publications are corrupt...) I found the original research paper by the Montreal researchers (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4465327/) and it's about the economics of scientific publishing by just a handful of publishers (e.g. Elsevier, et al), and doesn't at all suggest that the publishers have any control over the content of the publications (as suggested by the Global Research article). In fact, to the contrary, the original article states that "most journals rely on publishers’ systems to handle and review the manuscripts; however, while these systems facilitate the process, it is the researchers as part of the scientific community who perform peer review. Hence, this essential step of quality control is not a value added by the publishers but by the scientific community itself."


Global Research engages what is generally defined as “cherry picking” in its articles.

In this case, it seems that the author simply decided to claim some type of dark system was at work in the academic publishing world. This type of "control" is apparently what has hidden the real truth behind geoengineering or other topics

Assumptions and inferences like this rarely withstand scrutiny. I read the article and my impression was that the main problem cited by the Montreal researchers was commercialization and not editorial control of content.


They also mention that the academic community has fought back against commercialization.

The main issue here is cost, not censorship.

I have published articles through Wiley-Blackwell and Taylor Francis. They maintain the same peer review standards that have been in place for years. To put it another way, academic integrity is important not just as a principle but to the academic community and universities who purchase these journals. These are mutually inclusive features that help maintain quality and commercial viability.

You might want to suggest that your mother read the article and discuss its main features. I continue to encourage friends who are CT believers to engage the facts rather than speculation.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I'm not sure you can call this "debunked" as it's a subjective interpretation. I've edited the title for now. Global research also said scientists were "increasingly beholden", which is a rather vague claim.

I've also added a chart to the OP to illustrate the statistics.

It's worth noting what "majority" means, i.e. over 50%. This still leaves a vast amount of research that is NOT in the big five. It also varies by discipline, and is skewed by discipline.

The average trend has also been flat or declining since around 2006, so if you were cherry picking, you could reach the exact opposite conclusion.
 
There is a quote attributed to Winston Churchill, that ..“democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others” , and peer review is the worst way to gain knowledge of the natural world except for all the others
 

Spectrar Ghost

Senior Member.
There is a quote attributed to Winston Churchill, that ..“democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others” , and peer review is the worst way to gain knowledge of the natural world except for all the others

I think that's inccurate. Peer review is one of several methods of self-correction rather than a learning tool in itself.

Everyone
gets to grade your paper. Then they go out and repeat your experiment anyway, because who trusts that guy, really? Then you get to grade their paper and the cycle repeats.

And part of the result of this cycle is unless everyone has the same biases they eventually get called out.
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
I've also added a chart to the OP to illustrate the statistics.


It's worth noting what "majority" means, i.e. over 50%. This still leaves a vast amount of research that is NOT in the big five. It also varies by discipline, and is skewed by discipline.

The average trend has also been flat or declining since around 2006, so if you were cherry picking, you could reach the exact opposite conclusion.

It is my anecdotal observation that the rise of 'big five' was due to the advent of electronic publishing in mid-90s. There had been quite a number of merges and takeovers amongst the publishers of journals in my field since. I also think that the trend's plateauing or declining since 2006 could be due to the appearance and steady growth of independent (non-profit) online publishers.
 

Henk001

Senior Member.
It is part of a worrisome trend. If a pseudo-scientific assertion does not match the science, then "the science must be wrong". In stead of walking the royal road of doing your own research and publishing it in a scientific journal -- exposing yourself to peer criticism, pseudo-scientists try to make science suspicious, insinuating it to be part of a conspiracy to conceal the truth. In recent years, I see a growing gap between the public and scientists. People don't (fully) understand what scientist say, how they work, how they (should) correct themselves. Thus it is becoming more and more a matter of trust who you believe. And whether or not the assertion fits in your worldview. Unfortunately for some the standard explanation for almost everything is a conspiracy.
 

MikeG

Senior Member.
I think that's inccurate. Peer review is one of several methods of self-correction rather than a learning tool in itself.

Everyone
gets to grade your paper. Then they go out and repeat your experiment anyway, because who trusts that guy, really? Then you get to grade their paper and the cycle repeats.

And part of the result of this cycle is unless everyone has the same biases they eventually get called out.

The absence of peer review, or even open discussion, on CT websites is the exact opposite of what we are talking about and it is very troubling. Rather than challenge assumptions or evidence, they prefer an echo chamber of like-minded thinkers reinforced by overt censorship.

I would have to think that illustrating the basic flaws in this process might be a reasonable approach to helping a CT believer.

That is until I am denounced as a government disinformation agent.
 

Spectrar Ghost

Senior Member.
The absence of peer review, or even open discussion, on CT websites is the exact opposite of what we are talking about and it is very troubling. Rather than challenge assumptions or evidence, they prefer an echo chamber of like-minded thinkers reinforced by overt censorship.

I would have to think that illustrating the basic flaws in this process might be a reasonable approach to helping a CT believer.

That is until I am denounced as a government disinformation agent.

Agreed. (Did you think I felt differently? Couldn't tell.)
 

MikeG

Senior Member.
Agreed. (Did you think I felt differently? Couldn't tell.)

Not at all. My point, like yours, is that scrutiny is crucial to learning. So is humility, the willingness to have ideas challenged and refined. I learned that early in school and have since from my peers and many editors.

What I see in the CT community is not just a lack of questioned assumptions, but also perhaps a lack of humility.
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member.
Humans are pattern recognition engines. Connecting the dots is what we do. Without the feedback loops of science conspiracy is the norm.
Its part of the gift / curse of intelligence, as a species we have a need to connect things, see in the abstract. Right from the day one of our proto human ancestors saw an antelope, and a stout stick and linked the later with the hunting of the former we've been connecting the dots. But in order to make sure the dots do infact connect we've had to develop reason and what is called 'the scientific method' - something the CT crowd have forgotten about.
 

Spectrar Ghost

Senior Member.
I should add that I think conspiracy is a defense mechanism, a way to simplify a world whose complexity has grown beyond our 'design specs', if you will.

Certain aspects of religion show it as well; the tendency to simplify everything to us-vs-them, good-vs-evil, and ascribe absolutely everything to one side or the other. Sometimes s**t happens. NWO-type conspiracies often forget that, and assume nefarious motives.
 

Marin B

Active Member
I should add that I think conspiracy is a defense mechanism, a way to simplify a world whose complexity has grown beyond our 'design specs', if you will.

Certain aspects of religion show it as well; the tendency to simplify everything to us-vs-them, good-vs-evil, and ascribe absolutely everything to one side or the other. Sometimes s**t happens. NWO-type conspiracies often forget that, and assume nefarious motives.

I'm starting to believe that there are also aspects of cultism -- if the person delivering the message is charismatic, articulate, good-looking, and seems passionate, there will be followers committed to the cause without much question - at least, that's what I've noticed in my personal case.
 

MikeG

Senior Member.
I agree with the last three posts.

Conspiracy offers a simple construct to understand the world and events.

The penchant toward fashioning scapegoats is a distinct outgrowth of that model, unfortunately.

CT similarities with cults were part of an interesting discussion in another thread.

https://www.metabunk.org/the-psychology-of-the-ct-believers.t841/page-8#post-154402

I am reading Michael Barkun’s A Conspiracy Culture (2013) right now. The first two chapters are fascinating, particularly where he addresses “stigmatized knowledge.” (pp. 26-38)
 

SR1419

Senior Member.
Here is an article that is related to this thread- it seems "reproducibility" of experiments is getting harder for a number of reasons- undermining the credibility of science:

http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2015/0828/An-emerging-challenge-to-science-s-credibility

We see lack of credibility with with regards to science in the chemtrail-sphere all the time- you point out basic scientific facts and get the retort of its "fake science".
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
It is my anecdotal observation that the rise of 'big five' was due to the advent of electronic publishing in mid-90s. There had been quite a number of merges and takeovers amongst the publishers of journals in my field since. I also think that the trend's plateauing or declining since 2006 could be due to the appearance and steady growth of independent (non-profit) online publishers.

Also explains why I am no longer a freelance illustrator for college textbooks.
 

Hevach

Senior Member.
Well, on the one hand, yes, a shrinking number of publishers print a large portion of papers in many fields of research (or at least WAS true - as pointed out in the article, the trend is reversing or at least stagnating in most).

However, the implications are not at all what is claimed, because those publishers don't produce or review the research, and actual research papers are coming from a growing number of sources, not a shrinking number.


Science journals work more like the Letters to the Editor page of a magazine than an actual magazine. The content is produced and quality assured by the audience, not the publication, which only provides the venue and some basic checking for junk research. And I do mean very basic - the process used by publications has allowed all manner of crackpot to spew molten hot crazy over their audiences for decades.
 

scombrid

Senior Member.
The last paper I published was in a journal that is now handled by Taylor and Francis.

Taylor and Francis had no editorial oversight of content. The journal still has its own editorial staff and peer review process. I and my co-author generated all of the content and the editors and peer reviewers that they selected critiqued the content.

Once I got through peer review the final version was sent to T&F. T&F made page proofs which it sent back to me for my approval.
 
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