I don't know how seriously I can take all this, given the background of the atrociously bad editorial practices I suspect most journals really engage in... So the Synthese editors engaged in what seems to be bad editorial behavior. But until I have reason to believe they alone among top journals behave in this way, why shame them?One thing the Synthese editors did, it seems, is publish Beckwith's 23 page reponse without peer review. This is based on the fact that it was received and accepted on the same day, Feb 7. This is Synthese's editorial policy:
Synthese follows a double−blind reviewing procedure. Authors are therefore requested not to include their name or affiliation in their submitted papers. Self−identifying citations and references in the article text should be avoided. Authors should thus make sure that their names and/or affiliations are NOT mentioned on any of the manuscript pages. If authors do include their names on submitted papers, anonymous reviewing cannot be guaranteed.Obviously, Beckwith's response could not be double-blinded, since he refers to himself continuously throughout the essay. And there are fully two pages of references in which he cites his own work. And he put his own name in the keywords. But that the diatribe could not be blind-reviewed does not mean it should not be subject to peer review at all... or does it? He also in places dismissively refers to Barbara Forrest as "Ms. Forrest" rather than Dr. or Professor Forrest. And he writes this:
My task of responding is made more difficult by the fact that Forrest’s 49-page article is at many points nearly incomprehensible. She cites, quotes from, and misrepresents works of mine published over a 23 year period, from when I was 24 years-old until the age of 47 (I am presently 50); she compares and contrasts works, composed sometimes decades apart, that are dealing with different issues in different disciplines at different levels of abstraction and written for diverse audiences, including professional philosophers, theologians, legal scholars, Christian lay persons, etc.; and she often writes longish paragraphs that include a lot of controversial assertions that she presents as uncontested truths, and quotes from assorted writers whose work she often misunderstands or misrepresents, but with no actual arguments (or at least none that one can immediately recognize).Which is to say, to remedy the allegedly problematic "tone" of Forrest's paper, Synthese published, without peer review, a piece that is essentially a dismissive ad hominem. (Which makes me suspect more and more that there is more at play here than just the ID controversy. There is also really and truly sexism.)
There really is no easy way to remedy this problem, though it is, happily, not my problem. It is Forrest’s. I have no obligation to provide clarity, rigor, and coherence to an article that lacks all three and that I did not author.
So it strikes me that the editors of Synthese are guilty of all kinds of editorial malfeasance here.
But to return to Anonymous's comment. Is this just par for the course? Are all journals this "atrociously" bad? This strikes me as unlikely, because if it happened all the time, we would either be hearing about it more often, or the Synthese thing wouldn't have turned into such a big deal and we could all go back to chewing our cud in peace and quiet.
Open discussion: Is this normal? What kinds of editorial misconduct have you encountered personally (or know about from a reliable source)?