watching the end of an eccentric’s journal

March 9, 2011 — Leave a comment

You know, it’s a shame that the Journal of Cosmology is going out of business, even though it’s going out of business in style, with a press release portraying itself as a victim of a conspiracy by bigger journals, and a now infamous paper alleging the discovery of alien bacteria in meteorites based solely on eyeballing a few shapes and calling it science. There not much I can add to the criticism already compiled by others except noting that in this day and age, the media should be familiar enough with the journal pecking order and know to at least sit on the story for a few hours before rushing a press release out into publication when the editors see that the source for a profound claim doesn’t come from a top tier journal but a vanity project of a, shall we say, eccentric cosmologist who tried to run his pet journal for a year. I’ve come across the JoC before and the encounter left a bad impression on me since it was a sloppy statistical analysis of the age of our universe which tried to push back the date of the Big Bang by more than 140 billion years based on a few straight-line projections of galactic motion. Yes, the topic was cosmology, but it lacked anything even remotely resembling relativistic physics, and its only qualification to be published seemed to be paying the submission fee.

Considering that a number of other JoC entries have also been problematic and riddled with major mistakes, or were highly speculative proposals about space exploration which read like blog posts, Rudolf Schild’s big talk about vast panels of international experts vetting the papers his project publishes seems rather hollow. I also can’t understand why he trash talks so much about strictly academic matters. It’s one thing when you get snarky or expressive in a blog post or an op-ed, but in the scientific world, trash talk doesn’t substitute for an academically sound proposal. Same goes for his crank-tastic proclamations that no one is able to put up any serious criticism of the alien fossil paper and that it must mean that scientists around the world just wet their pants in horror when they realized that he just published the definitive proof that we are not alone and there’s an alien civilization somewhere out there. The man seems to be a legend in his own mind and I am certainly not shocked that his personal journal of random proposals and wishful thinking went belly up. Neither Nature or Science needed to conspire to kill it. Projects like that have a very limited shelf life all of their own. Though I can’t help but think of all the SIWOTI posts that the JoC would’ve provided science bloggers if it stuck around for a while longer and carried on Schild’s crusades with ever more zeal…

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