(17 December 2011)
As a coauthor of the paper PNAS: 2011-20808 (Spurious switching processes in financial markets) that you just rejected, I cannot remain silent and have to express my concern with how science is handled in general in journals such as PNAS. You are not alone as Science and Nature have in general the same reactions. I know that you will not change your mind in this instance, but I do hope that, little by little, the whole editorial community may become a bit wiser over time.
In a nutshell, your policy stating "it would have to go beyond a simple refutation of the earlier work and significantly add to the field", implies
1) a fundamental error can remain published as "truth" in PNAS without the normal debate that should be the domain of real science. In my opinion, this is especially harmful to Science, given that this specific spurious claim for discovery has been highly publicized in different journals, in the media and many conferences.
2) a paper that does the solid work to demonstrate that the spurious claim is unsupported will most likely be considered as "not adding significantly to the field". In other words, we can add "shit" to the field but we cannot correct and remove "shit" from the field, and in so doing teach how to develop better statistical tests. Or said differently, our work which shows how to develop better statistical tests to identify the so-called "switching processes" will not be recognized as valuable.
I hope that any editor could realize the moral hazard and wrong incentives permeating more and more the sociology of science encouraged by editors such as you (no personal attack, I know that you are just following "orders" of a general stance dictated by editorial boards of journals), in a way analogous to a graft from the scandalous behaviors observed in the financial industry.
Excuse my strong colorful words, but I consider that they convey my shock and repulsion to what I consider a violation of good scientific endeavor.
Prof. D. Sornette
Spurious switching points in traded stock dynamics (vol. 43 No. 5)
V. Filimonov and D. Sornette, Spurious trend switching phenomena in financial markets, Eur. Phys. J.B 85, 155, 1-5 (2012)
was found to be of "particular scientific importance and of high timely relevance" and was featured in Europhysics News, 43/5 issue.
See also: R-bloggers: Discovering power laws and removing "shit"
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