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← Scientific Journal publishes Koranic paper

Sonic's Avatar Jump to comment 89 by Sonic

@ Tanweer (and iain399 and Roedy who don’t see the fuss) -- a historical review is a legitimate subject for a journal paper in principle. For example, I would be happy to read a review paper about the history of the “luminiferous aether” (the hypothetical medium to bear waves of light) or “caloric” (a hypothetical substance to transmit heat). The history of ideas can be a legitimate topic in a journal, even if those ideas are known to be wrong today. My criticism is that a journal published such a blatantly uncritical paper -- not that it discussed the Qur’an and Hadeeth per se.

To elaborate, in a journal paper, the introduction presents some background, then the introduction ends by stating some claim of what the rest of the paper will show that will be novel or valuable to the community. In this paper, the claim is

“the purpose of this review is to accurately present the anatomical and medical contributions of the Qur’an and Hadeedth, with specific focus on the cardiovascular system.” [emphasis mine]

The paper fails to deliver its claim. About accurately, the paper is uniformly positive about the Qur’an and Hadeeth, so we can see it was cherry-picked even before reading counter-examples against the accuracy of the Qur’an and Hadeeth. About contributions to anatomy and medicine, the paper does not tell a story of knowledge before the Qur’an and Hadeeth, and/or account for a a story of how anatomy and medicine dealt with the ideas that were wrong afterwards. History is a discipline, not a collection of citations.

If I had been a reviewer of the paper (as if this paper was reviewed!), my review would have said, “You only have a journal paper if you have agreement between the claim and the rest of the paper.” I judge any paper by this rule, not just this paper. Then I would offer two ways the authors might resolve the claim with the body of the paper: 1) To rewrite the body of the paper to include examples of what the Qur’an and Hadeeth got wrong, or: 2) To rewrite the claim to say the purpose of the review paper is to present cherry-picked examples. Now consider those options, 1) and 2)... seriously, take your time to consider each of those two options 1) and 2), I’ll wait... OK, now you realize the authors would have no interest in publishing a paper fixed by either of those two options, right? Good, now you’re realizing: A) The authors had no interest in a legitimate paper, so B) The paper is propaganda. And I write “propaganda” feeling no emotional heat. I’m not mad at them for trying. Heck, I can imagine the authors thought they were doing a good thing.

What disturbs me deeply is this analogy -- suppose a scientific journal gave a drug company a pass to publish papers of cherry-picked results. Then the scientific journal would give up its reputation of impartiality to be a marketing tool for the drug company. That would be a corruption, or a poisoning of a social institution (of all scientific journals, a reputation built over decades) -- therefore, we agree to define such a corruption to be a gross violation of ethics. Well, the same thing happened here, with a religion taking the place of a drug company. So that’s what this fuss is about -- a scientific journal pissing away its reputation, and undermining the social institution of scientific journals in general.

LOL @ Qur’an and Hadeeth -- You’re so vain, I bet you think this song is about you.

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 06:13:19 UTC | #542936