Peer reviews considered rude

Regarding Daishi88′s April 6 letter, “Woman ‘thrown under the bus’ ” [about the negative press that Dr. Haruko Obokata has received since her method for producing pluripotent cells came under suspicion]: The fact is the world doesn’t care; China and Russia make bigger headlines. A mix of U.S. strategic interests, atom bomb guilt, and love of manga/anime sees to it that anything negative about Japan is barely noticed.

Scandals such as the routine dysfunction of Japanese science and academia, the rampant corruption that makes Tohoku relief money disappear, and the strident revisionism of this country’s leaders and their appointees to public broadcasting barely cause a blip on the radar in the West.

When it comes to education, all the ridiculous easy-to-cheat global surveys that consistently put Japan’s and other rote-learning education systems near the top have a lot to answer for. Having worked in high schools here, I nearly died laughing upon reading last week that Japanese high schoolers are among the best in the world at problem-solving.

This is a ritualized society with a deep hostility to the “Western” idea of problem-solving. The cultivation of xenophobic chauvinism is the primary purpose of the school system here. Such a system is bound to result in unethical university attitudes toward science, especially when peer review is avoided because critical thinking is considered rude to one’s superiors.

jim makin
chiba

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.