Science writers eagerly disseminate falsehoods about the peer-review system, for example that critiques are published in the same journal as the criticized article. In truth, critical papers are rejected, whistleblowers blacklisted. “Criticism” in academia is a show-dance that increases the citation count of established players. True criticism is silenced; it may land in some very low impact factor journal, like for example with the takedown of the fake 2008 memristor discovery, because insiders know that nobody reads such journals; they are excess dumps stabilizing the publish-or-perish system.

The article “Promoting Statistics of Distributions in Nanoscience3 is therefore somewhat remarkable. Published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C of the American Chemical Society (ACS), it writes right in its introduction:

“Knowledge of the statistics of random processes can predict resulting statistical distributions. This often reveals unexpected and at times surprisingly large systematic errors ... This important aspect of the scientific method is almost as central to modern medicine and particle physics as their own specific theories, but it must be expected to lack proper status in still relatively novel fields like nanotechnology, which barely went though the pioneering phase. We have previously called attention to this by providing examples in the sub-field of nano clusters.1,2 The present work similarly discovers large systematic errors and advertises the relevance of statistical errors and the shape of statistical distributions, this time in the field of nanowires.”

Readers not used to academic papers may find nothing remarkable here, but this is much more critical than unknown authors are usually allowed to write. Moreover, the two quoted references [1,2] are both articles that were given the usual treatment: Rejection by all journals that publish in the criticized or related fields until the authors gave up and dumped into journals that nobody in the addressed field ever touches, all after having wasted huge amounts of time with revising and arguing with editors and reviewers of up to ten different journals and so on, all this impacting their careers while those who published the criticized nonsense in high impact factor journals go on to be read, cited, funded, celebrated.

Lengths vs. diameters of fragments. The gray line is the usual method’s estimate of Llim as originally published. The range at 450 nm is indicated in blue. The gray line cuts far below the true Llim.

In order to have any chance of appearing anywhere, the actual criticism was again hidden so that no lay person can find it. It looks as if the work improves some important method, so all seems fine in holy science. Only insiders would realize that these papers, including the two citations, are about huge mistakes in nanoscience that are committed routinely, with measurements being often wrong by more than 100% while, as usual, accompanied by claims of high accuracy (see also Nefarious Numbers and Usual Cheating on that issue).

The core is, as so often, trivial, but criticism must be veiled in front of the naked emperor. In this case, when cutting sticks into halves, the shortest fragments are only half as long as the shortest that can still be cut. If the shortest one that you can still cut into two halves is one inch long, its smallest fragments are only half an inch long. Too difficult? I don’t think so. Nevertheless, such trivialities being wrong are easily found all over in science, if you dare and look. However, science as a social construct selects us scientists for looking the other way. Reproducibility is worthless to us and harms careers in some fields.

The criticized work was originally published in “Advanced Materials”, a journal with impact factor 11. That would have been a nice boost for the authors of the criticism, which was, as is the norm, simply thrown away by the editors of "Advanced Materials" without peer review; this is called "peer-review system".


[1] Vongehr, S.; Tang, S.C.; Meng, X.K.: “Collision statistics of clusters: from Poisson model to Poisson mixtures.” Chin. Phys. B 19 (023602), 1−9, (2010)

[2] Vongehr, S.; Tang, S.C.; Meng, X.K.: “On the Apparently Fixed Dispersion of Size Distributions.” J. Comput. Theo. Nanosci. 8, 598−602, (2011)

Internet Article: No Mysterious Symmetry in Ultracold Helium Nanodroplet Science.

[3] Vongehr, S.; Tang, S.C.; Meng, X.K.: “Promoting Statistics of Distributions in Nanoscience: The Case of Improving Yield Strength Estimates from Ultrasound Scission.” Journal of Physical Chemistry C 116, 18533−18537, (2012)