Can't Spell "Evil" Without "Elsevier"

John Baez (via Zoran Škoda) points to the case of M.S. El Naschie. El Naschie is apparently the answer to the question “how do you publish over three hundred papers of craziness in an Elsevier journal?” Simple: just become the editor and chief of the journal!
Tell me again the argument about scientific publishers rendering a valuable service with their stellar editing?

6 Replies to “Can't Spell "Evil" Without "Elsevier"”

  1. Haven’t there been other instances where peer review failed, where consensus was worth about a buck and a half??? If a lot of white papers are shot over and no one really cares, what good is the review? I realize this isn’t the same thing.
    It may also be that non-scientific publishers do far more harm, even to science. I have seen more garbage on MSNBC and ABCNEWS that was actually contributed by so and so from such and such university that really went a long way before someone blew the whistle. Yikes.

  2. Oddly enough, the journal page you linked to doesn’t list any kind of affiliation for Mr. El Naschie, just the following address: PO Box 272, Cobham, KT11 2FQ, United Kingdom. Google Maps tells me that Cobham is in the southwestern suburbs of London, in the county of Surrey, just inside the M25 beltway. Presumably he has retired, though I can’t rule out his being forced out of his last job for reasons unrelated to his age. I don’t know enough about greater London to know whether this is a likely place for an allegedly respected scientist (even a supposedly retired one) to live.
    Most of the other editors associated with the journal list some kind of academic affiliation (the exception is the Econometrics and Statistics editor, whose address is a post office box in Denmark with a postcode but no town listed). It’s clear that there is something unusual going on here, but I don’t know enough to say more.

  3. And now Baez’ post has been overrun by sockpuppets. I hope you at least have some way of seeing IP addresses of commenters here, to guard against the same sort of infestation.

  4. “Back in ’73 I had the extreme pleasure of traveling with Isaac Asimov to
    an [ solar ]eclipse. He was a lot of fun to talk with and quite intelligent.
    Although just a teenager at the time (a tall, skinny one), he spent a
    lot of his time with me after I explained that I too wanted to be a
    writer of science and science-fiction. Although he was encouraging,
    there was one statement he made in a story he related about the
    Foundation series and its publication that bothered me then, as it does
    today. He said: “Publishers are scum.”. This was an interesting phrase
    coming from someone who talked just like he wrote. I think he even held
    back a bit. And this was when he was a famous and wealthy writer. I
    can add only that after six books published, and 16 years of writing for
    magazines, that he was quite correct in his assessment. There are
    layers in the industry. The writers tend to be pretty cool. The
    editors tolerable. The copywriters and layout people pretty docile.
    And the publishers who authorize things are scum.

    — Bill K./engineer, private communication
    El Naschie has MONEY, so he was able to buy his own journal. Elsevier simply got “paid off”.
    “If you can’t beat’em [ peer-review competition ], BUY’EM”
    Playing the Game
    As illustrated by IPAC/Caltech:
    Chas Beichman Roast [ by Tom Chester, Kip Thorne’s PhD student ]

    IRAS taught [ Chas Beichmann, IPAC head ] many lessons, which he applied throughout the rest of his ipac career:
    1) The golden rule: he who has the gold rules.
    2) There are difficult people in the world that you have to learn how to deal with.
    3) Schmoozing and Salesmanship are important.

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