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What’s arXiv spelled backwards? A new place to publish

viXra.jpgviXra.org is a new site that wants your papers. All of them. Regardless of quality, quantity or sanity, the organizers promise they will post your paper to their site.

For those not up on the debate, viXra is an answer to arXiv.org, the popular physics pre-print server. For those of you who aren’t physicists, arXiv is a place where many researchers post their work in advance of publication. There is no peer review, and the idea is that physicists can discuss their and improve their work in an open setting.

But there is a form of screening at the arXiv. Researchers must prove an academic affiliation in order to post their papers, and a moderator reviews each paper to see that it is of “refereeable” quality. This policy has created problems on at least one occasion: in 2002 a creationist sued the server over his right to post his series of ten papers on the origin of the Universe. More recently, others have alleged bias. Among other things, they accuses arXiv administrators of putting some of the more (how shall we say it) “out there” papers into the less popular “”http://arxiv.org/list/physics.gen-ph/new">general-physics" category.

viXra is an alternative for researchers who feel that they’ve been “blacklisted” from the arXiv. According to PhysicsWorld.com, it was set up by Philip Gibbs, an independent physicist, who was ticked off with the arXiv system. On viXra’s mission page, it says that the website is something of a parody as well as “an experiment to see what kind of scientific work is being excluded by the arXiv.”

So far, here’s what a sampling of what’s gone up on viXra:

*Is Ratio 3:1 a comprehensive principle of the Universe?

*This Time – What a Strange Turn of Events!

*A Review of Anomalous Redshift Data

Comments

  1. Report this comment

    A Lechowski said:

    It could be a great idea if there wouldn’t be restriction of proving academic affiliation of researches. As moderator decides about value of papers there is no need to impose the above condition.

  2. Report this comment

    Ron L Winger said:

    Is It A Mere Story ?

    Somewhere in a civilization on a faraway planet, and at a certain moment in time, due to secondary, rather pressing and urgent utilitarian reasons, it was decided vastly and quite suddenly to extend the number of individuals involved in scientific research. Moderate funding could be provided at first, in the hope that the proceeds flowing from the vastly increased amount of technological breakthroughs brought about by the massive scientific research may allow more generous funding later.

    Science research, for the moment, was therefore seen as the most promising “Endless Frontier” …

    However, at the time, there could not immediately be found any reliable method for motivating so many young individuals to study hard, and do so for long years, and then keep up a life long research career.

    Also the suddenly emerged vast amount of research output was not easy to evaluate with respect to its quality.

    And then, as it happened, the decision was taken to institute the rather simple and raw “publish or perish” approach, according to which a minimal number of original research publications per unit of time would be the sine-qua-non for every researcher in order to be appointed and then remain, let alone be promoted, in his or her job.

    Also, the respective “peer review” system to guard the gates of the scientific journals in front of what was quickly becoming a flood of submitted research papers was brought down to the level of “dog eats dog”, in which the so called “blind refereeing” method was put to use. And it was “blind” only in one direction : the reviewers knew the authors of the papers submitted for publication, but not the other way round.

    Not to mention that the “dog eats dog” aspect would emerge and entrench itself inevitably since the ever increasing amount of submitted papers could clearly no longer be reviewed by top scientists, thus second, third, and yet lower level ones would anyhow end up doing nearly all of the one way “blind” refereeing …

    And so, on that faraway planet, gone were by then the times when, like on our Planet Earth, a 26 years old completely unknown Einstein would submit in 1905 no less than three or four most revolutionary papers to a topmost physics journal, and that journal would publish all of them in that very same year, and as it happened, most, if not all of them in the very same issue …

    In earlier times, research scientists had been rather few and far in between, and they had embraced that way of life out of a considerable inner motivation, often doing so in the face of serious adversities. And in each more major field, they knew quite well about one another. Those had been the times when only extraordinarily gifted persons had dedicated their life to scientific research, and had done so in response to a long lasting deep and intense inner call. They, therefore, had had all the motivation one would possibly need, and had been extremely careful not to damage their own reputation by going public with ill founded, dubious, let alone, erroneous ideas or results. And certainly, they would never ever think about plain cheating …

    Controversies, major wrong decisions, and even persecutions, would of course occur on occasion, but all of that had been within a circle of truly exceptional scientist …

    Now on the other hand, when so many were required to do scientific research, it was most likely that only a small fraction would – or possibly could – ever match the condition of those of earlier times.

    After all, how many truly top talent in any specific field, including science, could any given generation produce ?

    Mass education may be necessary, but certainly is not sufficient for producing exceptional talent …

    It is quite easy to set up a pizza parlour or hamburger joint at each street corner. But how many genuine “cordon bleu” chefs can one ever find ?

    And then, soon, the situation reached a certain new balance.

    The vast majority of those who would enter and remain in scientific research would somehow pass the minimum requirements of “publish or perish”, and would for evermore keep straining to stay above that rather low mark.

    However, being the vast majority, they, with their mediocre ways, would create an unprecedented situation in scientific research. More often than not, they would set the standards, they would decide about the future directions, they would manage the scientific venture, and altogether, they would judge everybody and everybody’s ideas in science, thus they would have both the proverbial bread and knife in their hands with respect to the careers of younger scientists. And needless to say, they would reject everybody who was not like them, and would do so either from sheer inability to understand those better than themselves, or due to mere resentment …

    In particular, they would reject those who – continuing the old tradition of the few exceptional research scientists – were so much better than that newly emerged vast majority.

    And then, not much later, a strange phenomenon started to manifest itself. And it was subterranean, and hardly at all known in wider circles. Yet it got stronger and stronger as the time went by.

    The few truly exceptional research scientists, those who in all times would alone be the ones to come up with the genuinely revolutionary and deeply consequential new ideas and results, were now delaying for evermore the publication of their very best ideas and results. And in fact, often, they simply would not make them known in public in any way, not even by the slightest occasional hint.

    And they could easily do so.

    Indeed, for them it would be quite easy to satisfy the requirements of “publish or perish” on the prevailing mediocre levels. And in the rest of their time, they would turn to their own truly great ideas, and keep working on them mostly in a solitary manner, the manner which anyhow is quite naturally and inevitably imposed on great minds.

    And there would even be some sort of universal or natural justice in this newly emerged situation.

    After all, the social, material, or for that matter, official professional position of these few exceptional research scientist would mostly be determined by people outside of science, or at best, by one or another so called “peer” from the vast mediocre majority of research scientists …

    Therefore, these few exceptional research scientists would clearly realize that, on the level of society as a whole, science was not done scientifically.

    And most likely, it could not be done so for a long long time to come, if ever …

    And then, protecting and developing true science could only be done mostly outside of the social enterprise.

    And the few truly exceptional research scientists would be ready, willing, and able to do so …

    In older times, some of the few exceptional research scientists were persons of individual material means. And for them the pursuit of scientific research was in no way a means to earn a living.

    Such times had, however, passed. And now, research scientists depended on a job and a salary, just like nearly everybody else.

    Yet those few among them who were exceptional managed to a certain extent to reproduce the very best of the old times when real science had been done …

    In that civilization on that faraway planet, however, the amusing mentality happened to prevail according to which whatever was socially important was supposed to be fully known and under control.

    But then, no doubt, such an arrogantly ignorant, or rather, ignorantly arrogant view was bound to be mistaken …

    And amusingly again, there was hardly anything the celebrated and rather universally implemented managerial approaches could possibly do about the subterranean parallel development which emerged in that civilization, a development in which the very best of research scientists would in secret work, each on his or her own, on certain fundamental projects, and would not make public their respective very best ideas and results.

    First, it took quite some time until science managers got sufficiently convinced about the very existence of such a subterranean parallel development. Indeed, their arrogantly ignorant, or rather, ignorantly arrogant ways made those managers firmly believe that absolutely all science researchers had been placed in a breakneck competition with one another, and also with themselves, a competition for the various meagre perks science managers would be ready to offer. And then, it appeared simply inconceivable that science researchers would spend time on secret projects, projects for which they would never be able to get any sort of public recognition and reward.

    This blindness of science managers further contributed to the strengthening of that subterranean parallel development. But the three main reasons such a development could take place at all were the following :

    – due to the mediocre level of the vast majority of science researchers, the standards were quite low, and had to be kept low, lest much of that majority would have to be thrown out of science, a situation inconceivable in view of the utilitarian pressures,

    – consequently, the few exceptional science researchers had plenty of time left, after they had fulfilled those low level standards,

    – and those few exceptional science researchers had all the reasons not to declare publicly their very best ideas and results, namely :

    – such contributions would most likely not be understood or appreciated

    by the vast mediocre majority of scientists, consequently, there would be

    a serious risk coming from the respective negative mass reaction,

    – even in the highly unlikely case that such contributions would be

    appreciated, the mediocre rewards would be totally inappropriate.

    And so it came to pass that, by the time science managers really woke up to the existence of that subterranean parallel development, there was preciously little they could do about it …

    How did the things developed from that point on ?

    Well, we may perhaps have to wait for some further reports on that strange civilization …

    Comment 1

    Keeping major, and indeed, revolutionary scientific discoveries secret is not a completely unknown phenomenon.

    Copernicus did that, in view of his more than justified fear of Inquisition.

    Yet facing a far less formidable threat, Gauss, one of the two or three greatest mathematicians of all time, appears to have kept secret his discovery of non-Euclidean

    Geometry which, soon after, was rediscovered by Bolyai and Lobachevski.

    In the case of Gauss his reluctance in making known his respective discovery appears to have been caused by his mostly correct assumption that the mathematicians of his time would have a massively negative reaction to it, thus he would seriously endanger his own considerable reputation.

    Bolyai and Lobachevski, on the other hand, did not have to be concerned about such an eventuality, being at the time two quite obscure personalities among mathematicians.

    Comment 2

    Poor managers, and their surprising … fellow travellers … like Marx and his many ever more devoted Marxists …

    Yes indeed, poor managers, and among them, the modern science managers …

    In their theory of “surplus value” as the root of “capitalist or any other sort of profit, exploitation, and so on”, the Marxists could never ever imagine the times when the fruits of production would extend so much beyond the physically measurable realms, as to become quite impossible to notice, let alone evaluate or estimate, by any of the available managerial approaches …

    And on that faraway planet that was precisely happening now with those ever few genuine science researchers …

    After all :

    – there was an ongoing need for large numbers of science researchers,

    – consequently, it was inevitable that only very few of them would be truly exceptional,

    – and then, the standards had to be set at rather low levels, in order not to have to exclude too many of the science researchers, a situation not acceptable due to utilitarian pressures,

    – this created the opportunity for the few exceptional science researchers to have plenty of spare time, after having satisfied those low standards,

    – and in their spare time, such exceptional science researchers would work on their own truly great ideas,

    – and they would do so in secret and keep to themselves the respective results, in view of the high likelihood of not being understood, let alone appreciated by the vast majority of mediocre science researchers, not to mention the typically incompetent science management.

    Yes, a new, a completely new era of “surplus value” was emerging …

    And it would for a long long time to come be indeed “surplus” to what society at large would know about, or for that matter, could benefit from …

    After all, some planets can be populated by rather strange creatures, can’t they ?

  3. Report this comment

    Ron L Winger said:

    But of course, the present rules and practices at arXiv are not perfect. But as with all rules, regulations, laws, etc., the top issue is the “intention of the legislator”. And the respective rules, regulations, laws, etc., are mere specific expressions of that “intention of the legislator” which alone has the supreme importance. Therefore, if one is not happy with the rules, regulations, laws, etc., and their respective practices, one has first to look at the “intention of the legislator” to see what is really wrong. In our case, the “intention” at the arXiv is to avoid a total mess in what is allowed to be published. And this intention is indeed necessary in general, otherwise the viXra itself will rather sooner than later degenerate into a state which will make it lose the interest of by far most of serious people. Consequently, viXra has to do FAR MORE than simply go to the opposite extreme of arXiv when it comes to rules, regulations, laws, etc. And then the question is : HOW DOES VIXRA INTEND DO BE MORE THAN A MERE EXTREME NEGATION OF ARXIV ?

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