Publishing Unpopular Research

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jewish_scientist
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Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby jewish_scientist » Sat Dec 30, 2017 9:37 am UTC

It is 4:20 AM. I have been laying in bed for about an hour thinking about this. I already know how the people here will respond. The only reason I am posting this is because I am seriously hoping that I can actually fall asleep afterwards.

Below is a hypothetical I am using to set up my point. What I am really asking about is the general question underlining this problem.

It is generally accepted that humanity could not be descended from 2 people because 2 people do not have enough genetic diversity. The Null Hypothesis of this is that 2 people can have enough genetic diversity to result in 7.5 billion people. HYPOTHETICALLY, lets say that I ran the numbers and calculated that 2 people can be genetically diverse enough to the result in 7.5 billion people. Therefor, I have provided evidence in favor of the Null Hypothesis*. This means that the scientific community has failed to disprove the Null Hypothesis. However, I feel confident that no reputable journal will publish this conclusion.

Why will journal not publish my research and how am I to make my results known?


* The Null Hypothesis of the statement, "All humans are descended from 2 people." is "All humans are not descended from 2 people." In this hypothetical, I have not proven this Null Hypothesis wrong.
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Ginger
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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby Ginger » Sat Dec 30, 2017 9:51 am UTC

Political and religious implications. Adam and Eve would totally come out of the Bible and get mad that we think humans are more diverse than two parents could conceive of! Unpopular research makes the public uncomfortable. They don't like thinking too much about what they think in general. And a lot of people hold contradictory ideas, religious fragments forcing them to act irrationally or political biases that inhibit them from ever thinking critically about a published unpopular bit of research. Conversation Over! Ginger is the winner girl.
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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:51 am UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:Why will journal not publish my research and how am I to make my results known?

A journal of your choice might refuse to publish1, but I guarantee that there'd be a journal (or 'journal') that would publish virtually anything. In your hypothetical, there's already a well-founded group of Biblical Literalist fronts that would take that piece. If all else fails, go full-on Timecube in self-publicising and start your very own disorthodoxy.

And this applies to things that should be acknowledged (maybe one actually has the Therory Of Everything down pat, but it doesn't look enough like current cosmology or even String Theory to be accepted by the current 'experts') not just ones you are likely setting up for a retrospective fail.

The biggest take-away is, I think, that sufficient rewrites/reformatting probably solve the basic problem of publishing. Which is less to do with scientific rigour than it should be, causing problems for publication to genius and kook alike. In fact, quite possibly:
The rain it raineth on the Just,
and also on the Unjust fella;
But chiefly on the Just, because
The Unjust hath the Just's umbrella.

…which might, or might not, be relevent.

1 For reasons, good or bad, unrelated to how far you push any orthodoxy. Science that overturns past science is welcomed with open arms, but 'science' is at the very least responded to by "go away, kid, and do it better, then maybe"…

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby doogly » Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:09 pm UTC

The problem isn't the amount of genetic diversity, the problem is that it is a complete non starter. Species just do not work in such a way that two members will be born fully out of fertile compatability with the rest of their species, and now a new one begins. Your premise only makes sense in the context of deep religious nonsense.
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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby ucim » Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:13 pm UTC

You are begging the question (assuming the consequent).

If you in fact have "run the numbers", and your reasoning is in fact sound (or at least convincing), then you will find a reputable journal that will publish your results. However, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and tumbling a pillar of science (which is a pillar in the first place because of lots of accumulated evidence) is going to require a very clear and compelling experimental result. It will require more than just "evidence" in favor of... it requires clear and compelling evidence in favor of...

Submitting mere "evidence of" does not mean that the scientific community has "failed to disprove (the converse)". It just means "Hmmm... I wonder if that happens every time" and a grant application for more research.

So, the answer to your (hypothetical) question is that journals refuse to publish because you don't have a very clear and compelling experimental result, even though you think you do. But this contradicts the setup, showing the question is poorly asked.

As to the example you are using, it is also poorly chosen. There is evidence that we are all descended from one man and from one woman, but there's no reason to believe they were a couple. Humanity has passed through times where there were very few of us, and of the progeny, all branches died out save one. This probably happened several times, and could have happened for male and female at different times. That's perhaps one way to have sufficient genetic diversity while still having a single ancestor of each sex. You didn't indicate this as a possibility, further indication that your hypothetical experimental success would have been flawed.

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby elasto » Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:56 pm UTC

To back up what ucim says, here's a quote from a random article:

Bustamante and his colleagues assembled a much bigger piece of the puzzle by sequencing the entire genome of the Y chromosome for 69 men from seven global populations, from African San Bushmen to the Yakut of Siberia.

By assuming a mutation rate anchored to archaeological events (such as the migration of people across the Bering Strait), the team concluded that all males in their global sample shared a single male ancestor in Africa roughly 125,000 to 156,000 years ago.

In addition, mitochondrial DNA from the men, as well as similar samples from 24 women, revealed that all women on the planet trace back to a mitochondrial Eve, who lived in Africa between 99,000 and 148,000 years ago — almost the same time period during which the Y-chromosome Adam lived.

So, yes, everyone alive is (probably) descended from a single man and a single woman (who were probably alive thousands of years apart), and there is evidence for the tight population bottlenecks ucim talks of - and maybe you're even right that two people could theoretically have had the genetic diversity to repopulate the planet without horrific inbreeding issues - but that still wouldn't make any difference to the science/religion debate because under the scientific model this 'Adam' and 'Eve' would have had parents who were every bit as human as they were (and under the religious model they wouldn't...)

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby quantropy » Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:23 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:It is generally accepted that humanity could not be descended from 2 people because 2 people do not have enough genetic diversity.

[Citation needed]

You're claiming to be able to overturn an accepted result, but you're too vague about what it is. You seem to be saying 'I'm assuming that this is what people think and it might not be true." To have a chance of being taken seriously you need to find a specific paper to challenge, and that means you need to have read up on the subject.

Of course you might still be ignored.

In the past maybe it wasn't so bad:

In 1901 Paul Drude was Editor in Chief of the prestigious Annalen der Physik (AdP) journal, and heard from a young man who claimed to have found an error in Drude's work. I can't help thinking that many people in Drude's position would have ignored the 22 year old, who had no academic position because of his uneven performance at university. Drude was convinced he was in the right, but was willing to enter into a discussion, and didn't object to his opponent's arguments and other work being published in the AdP

I rather doubt that many journal editors would be willing to do that today.

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby jewish_scientist » Sun Dec 31, 2017 5:03 am UTC

Soupspoon wrote:A journal of your choice might refuse to publish1, but I guarantee that there'd be a journal (or 'journal') that would publish virtually anything. In your hypothetical, there's already a well-founded group of Biblical Literalist fronts that would take that piece.

I would rather be a person in the middle than on the edges of this diagram

ucim wrote:However, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and tumbling a pillar of science (which is a pillar in the first place because of lots of accumulated evidence) is going to require a very clear and compelling experimental result. It will require more than just "evidence" in favor of... it requires clear and compelling evidence in favor of...


You are correct. This is a single piece of evidence, which is not nearly enough to destroy a 'pillar of science'.


quantropy wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote:It is generally accepted that humanity could not be descended from 2 people because 2 people do not have enough genetic diversity.

[Citation needed]

That is a fair point.
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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby Eebster the Great » Sun Dec 31, 2017 5:16 am UTC

doogly wrote:The problem isn't the amount of genetic diversity, the problem is that it is a complete non starter. Species just do not work in such a way that two members will be born fully out of fertile compatability with the rest of their species, and now a new one begins. Your premise only makes sense in the context of deep religious nonsense.

I know that is true, but for this reason, I've always wondered how saltational evolution is supposed to work.

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Dec 31, 2017 5:41 am UTC

Y-Adam and m-Eve are just a particular pair of common ancestors that are interesting because they correspond to a completely patrilineal and matrilineal line, respectively.

We absolutely 100% for sure are all descended from common ancestors, and if you want to pick a mated pair, pick a random common ancestor and consider that person's biological parents. There's a man and a woman from whom every living human is descended. We're just not descended from *only* that pair.
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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby elasto » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:30 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:We absolutely 100% for sure are all descended from common ancestors, and if you want to pick a mated pair, pick a random common ancestor and consider that person's biological parents. There's a man and a woman from whom every living human is descended.

(It's true that we have to all be descended from a common ancestor eventually, but there's no particular reason that ancestor would have to be human.

Y-Adam and m-Eve are well within the 300k timeframe for homo sapiens though, which is moderately interesting, and also adds credence to the bottleneck hypotheses.)

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby Zamfir » Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:21 pm UTC

I know that is true, but for this reason, I've always wondered how saltational evolution is supposed to work.

Doesn't have to be two individuals in 1 generation. Can be, say, a subpopulation of a 100 individuals, that stays isolated from the original population for a 100 generations. ( Don;t quote me on the exact numbers though). Given the spotty record that we have of the past, it is likely that such a small groups leaves no evidence at all. On evolutionary scales, that's an almost-immediate jump even if in human terms it would be ages upon ages.

That can be enough for a few mutations to become fixed in the subpopulation. Could be beneficial changes, but in a small population it can just be random drift of neutral changes. If those changes influence breeding behaviour, it's now a separate species even if the geographical isolation ends.

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:04 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:We absolutely 100% for sure are all descended from common ancestors, and if you want to pick a mated pair, pick a random common ancestor and consider that person's biological parents. There's a man and a woman from whom every living human is descended.

(It's true that we have to all be descended from a common ancestor eventually, but there's no particular reason that ancestor would have to be human.

Y-Adam and m-Eve are well within the 300k timeframe for homo sapiens though, which is moderately interesting, and also adds credence to the bottleneck hypotheses.)
Y-Adam and m-Eve lived tens of thousands of years before our most recent common ancestors (and indeed likely thousands of years before even the identical ancestors point, before which all humans were either common ancestors of everyone living today, or no one living today).

And if the most recent common ancestor of all humans wasn't a human, that would be shocking, as it would imply humans had evolved from progenitor species independently more than once, and that there were currently subpopulations of humans descended separately from these independent evolutions who had never interbred since then, but are still somehow members of the same species.
---
Edit: to illustrate the difference between a common ancestor and, say, Mitochondrial Eve, consider me and one of my first cousins from my dad's brother's family. Our most recent common ancestors are our paternal grandparents (and our most recent Y-chromosomal ancestor was my paternal grandfather), but our most recent mitochondrial ancestor lived much earlier than that, because she had to be a (matrilineal) ancestor of my mother and of my uncle's wife, who were not from the same family. The MRCA of our branch of the family was born less than a century ago, but our "m-Eve" might very well have lived in the Middle Ages or earlier.
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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby elasto » Sun Dec 31, 2017 4:59 pm UTC

Gotcha. So common ancestors are actually quite, er, common (and actually somewhat meaningless).

I now appreciate the caveat I cut off from your quote:

if you want to pick a mated pair, pick a random common ancestor and consider that person's biological parents. There's a man and a woman from whom every living human is descended. We're just not descended from *only* that pair.


So common ancestors are meaningful in the sense that if you travelled back in time and killed one of them the entirety of the population of earth today would be different (even excluding the butterfly effect) - but there are actually so many of them that you wouldn't have to travel back in time very far to find that anyone you killed would either replace everyone living today or noone (the 'identical ancestor point').

If jewish_scientist's calculations are correct, then it could be that only two of the identical ancestor population were our ancestors, but there's no other evidence to suggest that to be the case, so it's still pretty academic - and I'm still not entirely sure what his fears were when creating this thread, or whether we posted how he predicted we would...

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby ucim » Sun Dec 31, 2017 5:59 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:You are correct. This is a single piece of evidence, which is not nearly enough to destroy a 'pillar of science'.
Now, if you did have enough to destroy a pillar of science, you'd be published for sure. The paper would lead to lots of controversy, and many would try to poke holes in your argument, because there's a huge amount of evidence to support the previous thinking. You would prevail (by hypothesis) but pillars of science don't go down easily. That is the way it should be.

OTOH, if you have a single piece of weak evidence, there's a much greater chance that you've misinterpreted something, misapplied something, misunderstood something, or simply gotten an unusual (though not impossible) data set. The overwhelming evidence would be against you, and it would be up to you to show that you've considered all of this and still this result of yours holds up. If you manage to do all of this, then you'll probably find a journal to publish, and readers would go "hmmm".

For examples of this, just look at flat earth videos. If you eliminate the totally crazy religious nut-jobs, there are still a few which appear to be sincere people doing actual experiments whose results are suggestive that the generally accepted globe view may not quite be correct... so long as you don't look too closely. It's the job of research journals to "look closely", so that their readers don't have to wade through lots of bogosity.

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby elasto » Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:54 pm UTC

I'm still not sure what this 'pillar of science' we're supposed to be 'destroying' could be. Various published studies already purport to show the human race dropping to tens of thousands, thousands and even, more controversially, tens of people.

Science doesn't seem to be disturbed by these claims in the least little bit. It wouldn't affect, to pick an example totally at random, the Theory of Evolution one little bit if any of these studies were thoroughly corroborated.

Even if a study came out with solid proof the earth's population dropped to two all it would do is give a reason why so many religions have an origin myth for humanity.

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby ucim » Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:09 pm UTC

The Adam and Eve example was just a hypothetical, perhaps poorly chosen by the OP. The general question was "why won't they publish my results?", given that the results go against generally accepted theories.

Flat earth would be an alternate example (which is disturbingly appearing to gain traction). Another would be superluminal travel (hinted at by a gamma ray(?) burst a few years ago, later chalked up to noise). Those could both be used as hypotheticals for the same general question. Either of these would give some insight into the metaquestion being asked.

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby elasto » Sun Dec 31, 2017 9:11 pm UTC

I see. I guess I was confused by how specific his question was - to the extent of spelling out in detail the Null Hypothesis in a footnote...

I guess I am also too used to reading "I have a hypothetical question..." as "I have a 'hypothetical question' *wink* *wink*" rather along the lines of "my friend is worried his penis is too small - can anyone advise...?"

So is his real question simply 'why do journals not publish everything everyone sends them?'

The answer is that some happily will - if you pay them enough! And others will if you make a good enough case.

Walled-garden journals are on the road to obsolescence anyhow. Going forwards most studies could be published in a Wikipedia-style collaborative fashion with some paid admins, a whole bunch of peer-reviewers working for free, with a dash of AI doing basic fact-checking such as red flagging bad practices like failing to have a control group or failing to double-blind.

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby ucim » Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:06 pm UTC

Yeah, I think there's a bit of a wink wink in there. I'll let the OP provide further clarification, but I read:
jewish_scientist wrote:...HYPOTHETICALLY, lets say that I ran the numbers and calculated [...] However, I feel confident that no reputable journal will publish this
to mean "I'm alone in believing <foo>, should I even bother trying to prove it?"

My answer is "Sure, but you'd better not be sloppy about it, because it's probably wrong, and if you're sloppy you'll convince nobody. If you're rigorous and the result still holds up, more power to you, and if you're rigorous and the result doesn't hold up (and you're willing to admit it), you'll learn something."

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby morriswalters » Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:26 am UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:Why will journal not publish my research and how am I to make my results known?
Self publish. In your hypothetical, did your two just pop out of the ether?

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:21 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:It is 4:20 AM. I have been laying in bed for about an hour thinking about this. I already know how the people here will respond. The only reason I am posting this is because I am seriously hoping that I can actually fall asleep afterwards.

Below is a hypothetical I am using to set up my point. What I am really asking about is the general question underlining this problem.

It is generally accepted that humanity could not be descended from 2 people because 2 people do not have enough genetic diversity. The Null Hypothesis of this is that 2 people can have enough genetic diversity to result in 7.5 billion people. HYPOTHETICALLY, lets say that I ran the numbers and calculated that 2 people can be genetically diverse enough to the result in 7.5 billion people. Therefor, I have provided evidence in favor of the Null Hypothesis*. This means that the scientific community has failed to disprove the Null Hypothesis. However, I feel confident that no reputable journal will publish this conclusion.

Why will journal not publish my research and how am I to make my results known?


* The Null Hypothesis of the statement, "All humans are descended from 2 people." is "All humans are not descended from 2 people." In this hypothetical, I have not proven this Null Hypothesis wrong.


Well, in 2011, there was an experiment at CERN that appeared to detect neutrinos moving faster than light. The authors reported their observations and were duly published to much controversy. It was eventually established that there were experimental errors that accounted for the result, but the initial measurements were robust enough to be worth publishing.

So. Yes, it is possible to publish something that is controversial, as long as your results are robust. I do feel that there is likely going to be a bit of a selection bias though... a reputable journal is probably going to be more likely to give your paper a seriously look if you have the letters "PhD" after your name, and are part of an established research group. A sole-author paper from a random layman without any research pedigree claiming to overturn a key scientific finding is probably going to be treated as a crank paper.

There's a couple things here that are further worth pointing out though. First, even if two people hypothetically have enough genetic diversity to support an entire population (I don't believe this is true, but be that as it may), that does not mean there is any reason that, therefore, two people must have been the progenitors of said population. This latter point is not terribly consistent with speciation events that we have seen in the past, and would therefore require considerable evidence to prove... not simply "Well, it's mathematically possible it could happen this way". So the conclusion is wrong anyway, even if the data is correct.

Second, I think writing a paper that says "Everyone is wrong except me" is always going to look like a crank paper. But you could easily take this same data and reframe it in a way that is actually both scientifically valid and publishable... calculate something like "What is the maximum number of unique, viable individuals that could be produced from the genetic material of a single breeding pair of humans?" Assuming nobody has done this calculation before, this is might be publishable in a respectable computational biology journal.

If you aren't sure, you may want to run your results through this.

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Re: Publishing Unpopular Research

Postby ObsessoMom » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:34 pm UTC

Faith is faith and science is science. They serve different needs. They don't have to be compatible. If you want to believe that certain things are literally, factually true, based on no authority other than a religious text, you certainly don't need science's permission or approval to do that. Go right ahead.

I think the real issue here is probably that you don't like it when science-y people sneer at your religious beliefs, and you hope that being able to point to a scientific paper (in a widely-respected venue) that says there's a chance you might be right on one particular point will shut them up.

Unfortunately, people who are inclined to sneer and feel superior are always going to find something to sneer and feel superior about. [And the sneering is a two-way street in many cases, e.g. King David's "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1).] So I think you'll just have to grin and bear it.


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