“Got your hypothesis peer reviewed yet???” (say it out loud in a sneering, mocking tone of voice)

Reader Paul Jervis, reacting to a news story in American Entrepreneurship about my $5 Million Evolution 2.0 Prize, asked:

“Got your hypothesis peer reviewed yet?”

A peppering of snarky remarks followed.

Giving my cynical subscriber the benefit of the doubt, I replied:

“I was tempted to just ban you from the Facebook page. But it occurred to me that you may be making an honest mistake, because you are simply unaware of how much work has gone into this. This has not made it into peer reviewed publications. It was only announced on August 28.”

My response:

“You seem to have a snarky attitude. That attitude is unwarranted. Go to www.herox.com/evolution2.0 and watch the video of my talk at Arizona State University and familiarize yourself with the members my judging panel. The peer review is the judging panel for the prize. What they are judging is whether anybody has the right to claim the dinero.

I’m not sure you understand the peer review process. Books are not peer reviewed per se so that category does not formally apply.

Now for all practical purposes the book Evolution 2.0 is peer reviewed, as a number of well-credentialed scientists from major universities reviewed the entire manuscript before it went to press.

The paperback has now come out after 2 years in hardcover. I had opportunities to correct errors. I made some minor changes, the largest of which was that I had over-stated the results of the ENCODE project. That mistake was fixed. There were very few other mistakes.

You can scour the web and you will not find much substantial criticism of the book’s actual content.

Evolution 2.0 is endorsed by Denis Noble of Oxford University, Andrew Briggs of Oxford, John Torday of UCLA’s Evolutionary Medicine program, Kwang Jeon from University of Tennessee, Peter Saunders of King’s College London, and many others. Kwang Jeon is the editor of International Review of Cell and Molecular Biology.

Denis Noble is editor of Interface Focus and a Fellow of the British Royal Society which publishes that journal. John Torday is guest editor of the Journal Biology’s Special Issue “Beyond the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis- what have we missed?” as well as a similar forthcoming issue.

So I am endorsed by three editors of peer reviewed science journals.

These are not ordinary editors either. Denis Noble is the guy who figured out the cardiac rhythm, making pacemakers possible. He was the first to model a human organ on a computer (the human heart) – in 1960.

Denis is former President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences. Here you can watch his address to the international congress of physiologists, demolishing Richard Dawkins’ now-obsolete Selifsh Gene theory.

Denis organized the famous 2016 Royal Society Evolution meeting in London, where evolutionary theory came to a crossroads, and where two dozen scientists who sharply dissent from traditional theory presented their findings.

Kwong Jeon conducted successful symbiogenesis experiments, showing that two completely different cells could perform a complete merger-acquisition in 18 months. In other words he demonstrated massive hyper-evolution in real time in the lab.

The renowned physicist Paul Davies invited me to announce the prize at ASU and he’s the director of their BEYOND program.

Look all these guys up. People at Oxford, UCLA etc do not give such endorsements lightly.”

Scientists are a very conservative bunch. Especially given that Evolution 2.0 trashes old-school Darwinian orthodoxy without remorse. Guys who have been practicing science for 30+ years allow their names to appear on book covers only with great caution.

These guys know: Recess is over for Neo-Darwinism. Gig is up. 

In the process of recruiting judges for the prize, I talked to all kinds of top scientists. One Nobel Prize winner declined to participate, but suggested several excellent candidates. (I’m happy to report that when a Nobel Prize winner refers you to somebody, that somebody almost always replies to your email 🙂 )

I ended up with George Church of Harvard and MIT, who is one of the top 5 geneticists of our time, has 400+ publications and 95 patents; Denis Noble of Oxford, who is one of the top 100 scientists in the UK (he has a Commander of the British Empire medal from Queen Elizabeth); and Michael Ruse of Florida State University, who is a somewhat famous atheist philosopher and historian of science.

I chose Michael specifically because 1) he’s an atheist – nobody can accuse me of stacking the deck in favor of Christians; and 2) he’s a friendly and inquiring atheist, in contrast with the arrogant belligerent variety that is so typical.

Skeptics are occasionally tempted to lump Evolution 2.0 with creationist and intelligent design efforts which bring to the table a preconceived notion that Origin of Life is unsolvable. That is a mistake. This problem may or may not be solvable, but we are running with the hypothesis that it is.

Meanwhile, what I won’t tolerate is: people making up stories about warm ponds and lucky lightning strikes and happy chemical accidents – and then claiming to wear the robe of science.

Origin of Information is the most fundamental unanswered question in science that can be precisely defined. And my backers have access to hundreds of millions of dollars of capital; so if commercializing this technology requires large investment, the resources are available to do it.

If this is solved, it will spawn brand new billion-dollar industries.

When I began my quest to recruit judges, I found that typical rank-and-file scientists were skittish. The best ones, however (George Church and Denis Noble for example) were unabashedly enthusiastic. I suspect it’s because, having made stellar achievements in their careers, they enjoy a luxury of independent inquiry that the average scientist does not have.

This is a worthwhile problem and it deserves the attention of the world’s finest minds. May the best man or woman win.

8 Responses

  1. EXCELLENT article, Perry! Thanks for posting!

  2. Doug Munro says:

    I have not at this point read your book but plan to. I appreciate your comments on the 2 scientists selected being independent because of their established reputations. This is the problem with most peer review–a circle of like-minded approving each other. Let skeptics look at the data.

    • The peer review system works great for refining existing models which are essentially already correct.

      It does not work very well for breaking out of existing paradigms when they are wrong. When existing paradigms are wrong, you have to step back and do a survey of verifiable established facts.

      One can easily find peer reviewed papers asserting that life emerged from self-replicating RNA molecules. Many scientists think that’s how it happened. So the peer review gives that theory a free pass. But there’s not proof of that AT ALL and it leaves LOTS of gaping holes and unanswered questions. It’s just an untested hypothesis. And some would say, very unsuccessful. Even the simple self replicating RNA strands stop replicating if you stop holding the entire experiment at absolutely ideal conditions.

      Anyone can verify, with some care and attention, that 1) nobody has solved Origin of Information and 2) it is a vitally important, central question in biology.

      Thus the Evolution 2.0 prize is perfectly valid and I’ve never had anyone make a credible case that it’s not.

      My own version of peer review was giving my talk “If you can read this I can prove God exists” in 2005 (see the “origin of life video” link at the top of this site for something very similar) and then inviting hundreds of thousands of people to pound on it during the years since. Including my 7 year infidels debate (search the site for “infidels”).

      When I came to eventually discussing these issues with some of the world’s leading scientists more recently, the issues and questions were no different than with the most informed and educated lay people and books I had already been reading. There was just less BS and disagreement about what we still do not know.

      PS enjoy the book.

      • Hi Perry,

        It is great to connect with you and your work. I am the author of a book which essentially dethrones most of the Out of Africa Theory for recent human origination. We have a lot in common.

        “Got your hypothesis peer reviewed yet???” (say it out loud in a sneering, mocking tone of voice)

        Let me say that it is nice to know I am not alone. I have had that a number of times, it is now assumed that if you are not providing your argument in a peer-reviewed paper for Nature you are a liar, moron or fraud. It is used as an excuse for not reading books that upset the current consensus, why should we read your rubbish if it is not even peer reviewed!

        As you explain above pop-science books are not peer-reviewed, it is simply not how it works. Your other comment on this is excellent:

        “The peer review system works great for refining existing models which are essentially already correct.”

        This is so true and yet when the material represents a new paradigm the peer review system is near useless. A panel of people that are in a fixed paradigm, likely with careers based on that paradigm, are supposed to objectively review new material they do not know at all and is directly threatening them on a personal level. I’m sure that process will work well right?

        The other problem I face is that most scientists will not publicly engage with my work (even to argue against it) because they would then be giving validity to my argument and lowering themselves by debating an IT professional with no relevant PhD – one of the unwashed masses beyond their insular community. God forbid!

        The public do not really understand how these thinsg work and there is also an assumption that if a maverick theory had validity t would be well accepted by mainstream scientists, therefore the fact they do not talk about it (and the media avoid it) means it must be false. In reality, scientists are human, they are not robots, they can’t be programmed to be 100% objective and fair, and they also can be simply not inclined to bother reading new work (or lack time).

        Anyway, thanks for your post!

        All the best

        Bruce – The Forgotten Exodus The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution

        • Bruce,

          At the end of the day, if you have a subversive or controversial idea, the fact of the matter is that the edifice of science as actually practiced in the establishment is not going to help you. And there is a LONG list of people who spent decades pounding their demonstrably valid ideas until they finally got acceptance. it only took 30 years for the obviousness of the pangea continent theory to become “obvious.”

          This sneering thing about “is your thing peer reviewed” is really just a retort by lazy people. The guy at the top of my article being a prime example.

          The real problem with peer review is the degree to which it can be monopolized and self-reinforcing. It becomes a game of political incumbents. This has been hugely the case with traditional Neo-Darwinism. However the Berlin wall IS cracking at the moment and alternate voices are being heard.

          I have made a substantial amount of headway in my own efforts by bringing to bear everything I have (business, marketing, engineering expertise) and not playing by everybody else’s existing rules. It is working. And I’m finding that some of the very best scientists like and appreciate what I’m doing.

          PS great book about a similar quest:


        • Bruce, I bought your book, have read a chapter or two so far. Pretty interesting.

          • That is very much appreciated, I lack your ability with marketing so do not reach a huge audience – every reader is a blessing and one of your intellectual standing, doubly so. I must admit I have used your Amazon page as the inspiration for my own, as you probably noticed!

            I must say you have a great way of making your writing style public friendly, I need to think about that as my writing style has frozen out some of the readers below university level education. My intention was to allow everybody easy access to my findings, maybe I need to write a second book which is a bit more readily accessible.

            Will be looking forward to any thoughts and feedback you have.

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