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Old 4th June 2009, 06:47 PM   #8
Tim Thompson
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Lightbulb A comment on sources.

As far as I am concerned, any paper published on this topic in IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science should be ignored. They are not serious papers, for 2 reasons:
  1. They are deliberately published in a venue where they are guaranteed to never be seen or read by anyone who actually does research in galaxy formation or any other field of astrophysics or cosmology.
  2. They are deliberately published in a venue where they are guaranteed to receive sub standard peer review. IEEE Transactions is a journal on industrial plasma science and the peer reviewers are all experts in that field, but have zero knowledge or experience in topics relative to the astrophysics of galaxies.
The point is that Peratt does not want his papers to be considered seriously, which is why he deliberately publishes them where they will not be seen by the community of relevant astrophysicists.

Where you publish is as important as what you publish. That's a fact of life in the real world, whether anyone particularly likes it or not. Professional scientists rarely have a lot of time to explore journals outside their field, and generally hand pick the few in their field that they will pay attention to, time being highly limited. IEEE Transactions is where the plasma cosmology people publish because they know they will not have to defend their work from any criticism. This makes it look like they have lots of papers that nobody has ever refuted, and that becomes a clarion call to the fans of PC. If their papers are so bad, why has nobody ever "refuted" them? Well, the answer is that nobody has ever read them, at least nobody involved seriously in the galaxy business, and that is exactly what Peratt and others intend.

My last position at JPL before retiring was with the Evolution of Galaxies Group. Based on my experience with those astronomers & astrophysicists and their collaborators, I am quite certain that most of them do not even know that the IEEE journal exists at all (I have reviewed papers for the group from astronomy journals that were readily online in our library which they had never heard of, so IEEE is in another universe). Likewise, the European journal Astrophysics and Space Science is generally ignored by American astronomers because it has a peer review system which allows more speculative papers with a weak basis in theory or observation to be published. Papers in that journal are likely to be ignored by most of the American astronomers I know, and many of the foreign collaborators as well.

There are several journal well known to have higher quality peer review, for example ...
  • The Astrophysical Journal
  • The Astronomical Journal
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
The first 2 are American journals and the latter 2 are European. There are a number of other journals that are not as heavily read for various reasons, though they are not inferior; i.e., Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific does not publish much on theoretical topics, but covers instrumentation and data analysis, observational reports and historical perspectives.

in the Zeuzzz list, only Physical Review Letters is a journal likely to be high on the accepted list for astronomers. And one need only look at the paper (Evolution of Colliding Plasmas) to see that it is purely an industrial application paper (there is no mention of galaxies or astronomy or astrophysics or cosmology anywhere in the paper), so why would any astronomer read it anyway?

If Peratt actually intended to seriously introduce a serious plasma model for galaxy formation or morphology, he would never have published them in the venues he chose. He would have published them in a venue where the community of scientists in that field would see them and engage in a real discussion. I think that until he actually does that, then his version of plasma cosmology is nothing going nowhere, and by his own deliberate choice. Lerner has done that (i.e., Scarpa, Falomo & Lerner, 2007), and he is commonly refuted when he does (i.e., Overzier, et al., 2008). Evidently, plasma cosmologists prefer to avoid venues where they might actually be required to defend their ideas against competent colleagues or competent reviewers.
The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it. -- Bertrand Russell
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