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    May the force be with you, too

    Three takeaways that give new meaning to peer-review literature

     

    Key takeaways

    What is the significance of this experiment for us ophthalmologists as we read the various publications that come across our desks?

    First, my belief is that it behooves us to be our own peer-reviewers and read articles critically. Before I make a substantive change in my clinical practice suggested by a journal article with some exciting new claims, for example, I expect to see confirmation of this key observation in other articles, by colleagues, in a limited subset of my own patients, etc. We should not be cynical when it comes to the medical literature, but definitely skeptical, considering that a majority of exciting observations in reputable journals are not subsequently confirmed when other scientists try to repeat the experiments.2

    Second, repeated testing has proven to me that this midichlorian, Jedi mind-control is a bunch of hooey. In the first “Star Wars” movie, the Jedi (Obi-Wan Kenobi) is surrounded by armed evil storm troopers. Obi-Wan waves his hand at the head trooper and says: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. You can go about your business.” The storm trooper repeats the sentences and allows the good guys to escape. I can attest to having tried this trick literally dozens of times, on my children and in faculty meetings, and it hasn’t worked once.

    Third, I can disclose here that I always submit my editorials to a confidante prior to forwarding them to the brilliant editorial staff of this periodical that we all enjoy reading so much. For reasons unbeknown to me, this individual feels free to criticize and on occasion to censor me—90% of the drafts survive, albeit frequently after some revision, so maybe there is something to this mind-control trick.

    The other 10% are relegated to the digital garbage heap that is the trash bin on my computer desktop. This is the 10% that I typically consider to be the most entertaining, but you, dear reader, probably will never realize the debt of gratitude you owe the censor. 

    References

    1. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2017/07/22/predatory-journals-star-wars-sting/#more-8981
    2. http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39054778

    Peter J. McDonnell, MD
    He is director of The Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and chief medical editor of ...

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