Peer Review VS. Public Review


How is scientific research evaluated? Usually through peer-review. Other researchers versed in the subject look through the work and check for errors or ways it can be improved.

That’s all good and well, one or more people look over your work and validate it. But what if the general public possessed the knowledge to do essentially the same thing?

Currently we do not live in a world where this is the case. However, public review does take place right now.

The media will report on a subject, if they feel it worth reporting on. Step one of the current approval process. A journalist then tries to summarize the research as best as he/she understands it. Then the public decides what they think of said report.

This is where issues usually arise. Many science journalists are very well versed in the subjects they write about, of course not all. But when it comes to the general public interpreting the reports opinion matters more than facts.

Does the research agree with my preconceived views? Yes? Then it’s good science.

Unfortunately that’s not how the real world works.

If however the general public knew enough about science to make a rough (not an expert) review of the research they are presented, things would look very differently.

Fake science or pseudoscience would have a much tougher time gaining foothold. What would be the direct result of that alone?

A more informed public, able to make evidence based decisions in life as well as when voting. But also fewer fatalities due to bad science superceding the real deal. We would literally save lives if the general population was more informed about science. And this is but one example.

Safe to say the world would be a very different place if people where scientifically literate.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments!

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