12 May 2010

Medical Hypotheses' editor is sacked

So Bruce Charlton's editorship at Medical Hypotheses comes to an end, and I must raise a small cheer. Schadenfreude is an ugly thing, but this journal was a boon to fringe 'scientists' everywhere, giving them the apparent legitimacy of publishing in a 'proper journal' (owned by Elsevier, indexed in PubMed) without the pesky hurdle of peer review. It was no surprise that it favoured kooks, having been set up by David Horrobin, a pusher of evening primose oil.

The final straw was allowing AIDS denialists a platform, and the subsequent outcry from scientists and Charlton's inability to see what he did wrong led Elsevier to pull the plug. Charlton thinks that as an editor he has a perfect right to publish whatever papers he wishes, but unaccountable editorial control is no way to run a journal. Poor editorial decisions should have consequences, and the lack of any peer review or other quality control on Medical Hypotheses (the only criterion being that a paper was 'interesting') always doomed it to be derided by serious scientists and medics.

Will the new (and improved?) Medical Hypotheses see any more gems like too much sex causing RSI, kissing evolving to spread germs, cancer being caused by stopping smoking, masturbation being good for relieving a bunged up nose, or the origin of belly button fluff?

No comments: