Blues hit winning note

Men’s hockey (7-8-0-1) was looking to generate a winning streak this weekend against Carleton on Friday and McGill on Saturday. The Blues, losing five games by one goal and unable to create more than a two-game winning streak, are having a rough year. Still, U of T is only three points out of first in the Mid-East Division.

The Blues beat the Carleton Ravens 5-2 Friday night, led by Brendan Sherrard with three assists and Anthony Pallotta, who continued his strong play with two goals and an assist.

“We’re just taking it one game at a time. We don’t want to think too far ahead and only worry about the next game,” said defenseman Darryl Simich.

“We just have to keep working hard,” added forward Alex Nagribianko. “We are making the plays we are supposed to, but we have to play better defensively in order to prevent odd man rushes.”

Dan Brewer opened the scoring for U of T after a cross crease pass from defenseman Brendan Sherrard. Sherrard outskated the Ravens defender for a loose puck trailing into the corner, and found an open Brewer right in front of the net.

While they outplayed Carleton for most of the first period, the Blues went into the intermission tied 1-1 after a wrist shot by Ravens defenseman Adam Marriner squeaked by goalie Andrew Martin.

The Blues dominated play throughout the second, and put up two in the frame, both on the power play.

“Good puck movement is what allowed our power play to work so well tonight,” Simich said.

Coach Darren Lowe was partially satisfied with the team’s performance. “We are getting most of our production from our first team’s power play unit. Problems are coming from getting the second unit up to the same strength,” he said. “We practice the power play two times a week, mainly focusing on what isn’t working.”

Anthony Pallotta netted his first on the night on the power play, going five-hole from the left circle after the Blues moved the puck well in the Carleton zone. Joe Rand made it 3-1 after he tipped in Sherrard’s point shot top corner glove side.

That was all the Blues needed that night, as Carleton made it 3-2 going into the second, and third-period goals from Pallotta and Mark Heatley added some comfort to the U of T bench. Goaltender Andrew Martin got the win, making 29 saves.

“Martin has played really well being a first-year goalie. He has adjusted better to the game, and we hope his play can continue,” Lowe said.

On Saturday, the Blues continued their strong play, beating McGill 5-2 and extending their winning streak to three. Anthony Pallotta had another two-goal night, netting one on the power play and one shorthanded. Mc- Gill outshot U of T 44-22 in the game, but Rand preserved the victory with two empty net goals in the final two minutes of the game.

The Blues won’t be back in action until the new year, but they’ll return to play four straight games on the road against Ottawa, Waterloo, Western, and Laurier, before heading home on Jan. 17 to play divisional rival Ryerson

The Ron Paul Revolution

The phenomenon that is the “Ron Paul Revolution” is sweeping across America and pundits and voters alike are, to put it mildly, surprised. The sweet, ornery grandfatherly fi gure has captured the imaginations of millions, who for one reason or another have dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to the Texan presidential hopeful’s campaign.

I cannot in good conscience go any further without disclosing to readers that I too have been infected. Like most of his supporters, I had no idea about the man or his politics when Republican candidate race began, but over the course of the year I have developed very strong feelings for him—bordering on a man crush.

While he’s well behind the frontrunners in the polls, his grassroots backers are practically rabid about him. What is it about the man that makes his supporters so passionate? Ron Paul would like us to believe that it’s his libertarian message that compels individuals to rally behind him, but I am not so sure. Are we seriously to believe that students across American university campuses have suddenly developed a burning desire to return to the gold standard and abolish income tax, as Paul is advocating?

Probably not. Still,this hasn’t stopped crowds, upwards of two thousand mostly young individuals, from showering Paul with applause when he gives speeches on their campuses. This rock star treatment appears to be a result of Paul’s baffl ing popularity on the Internet, which is itself a unique phenomena. It’s Paul’s good character, more than any element of the political ideology, that draws such a diverse group into his fl ock.

Paul is often criticized by his detractors as out of place as a Republican presidential candidate because he appears to take leftist stances on subjects like the Iraq war and the Patriot Act (he opposed them both). But an objective evaluation clearly makes him out to be the ideal conservative candidate for his party. Paul’s libertarian values run entirely in line with the empty rhetoric espoused by most modern Republican politicians, earning him the distinction of being the only candidate to actually stand by his principles.

Having never voted for a tax increase or an unbalanced budget, he has a uniquely consistent voting record against runaway government spending. As a practicing OBGYN, Paul has delivered more than 4,000 babies during his career and has been married to his wife for 50 years, making him an unwavering advocate of prolife and pro-family values. Paul also served in the military as a fl ight surgeon during the Vietnam War, which is politically relevant because Americans desire a commander-in-chief who’s had military service. How then can anyone question his suitability as a Republican candidate, especially when the current GOP front-runner Rudy Giuliani is a thrice-married man who is pro-choice and has been photographed cross-dressing, when the mood strikes him?

Paul’s perfect conservatism hardly explains why I, a self-professed liberal, would even consider supporting him. Undoubtedly his statements about the Iraq war and his stand against America’s out of control imperialist foreign policy play a part in seducing lefties like me who traditionally support the Democratic Party, but feel that the current lineup is pitifully inadequate.

In the end, my personal support is directed towards the man himself, not his eccentric domestic policies. My generation has only ever known the state as a giant caretaker of its citizens, and as a student only moderately educated in modern political theory, I must confess I don’t quite have a full grasp of what it means to have truly limited government. But it really doesn’t sound like a good idea.

That hardly seems to matter if you’ve got a man like Ron Paul captaining your ship. At the root of it all, it is not the issues that drive his supporters but rather widespread dissatisfaction with the present corrupt American political culture, and his seeming ability to cut through it all. This army of Paul supporters, comprising of true libertarians, religious conservatives, anti-war liberals, pot heads, and anarchists, all conceive of the Texas congressman as their messiah, the last best hope for genuine change. Dare to speak ill of Ron Paul, and you risk unleashing the fury of his foot soldiers, as countless political show hosts have already found out.

However, the curious discrepancy between Paul’s values and that of his supporters is so vast that, as much as I love him, it is at times comforting to know that he is only polling at six per cent. But recently Paul’s campaign has made signifi cant inroads in legitimizing itself with the mainstream media, and more importantly, raising money. More than $4.2 million was raised for Paul’s campaign in a single day on Nov. 5. This unprecedented feat was made even more extraordinary by the fact that this was a spontaneous show of support that commemorated a failed attempt by Guy Fawkes to blow up the British Parliament in 1608. Not exactly the kind of thing any other politician would attach himself to, but this is a revolution after all.

Fitzgerald puts chokehold on wrestling championship

At the provincial open wrestling championships on Dec. 1 and 2, Toronto wrestler Jessica Fitzgerald distinguished herself by winning her first ever provincial championship. “It feels exciting,” Fitzgerald said about her victory. “I felt well prepared going into the tournament but I admit that I was pretty nervous.” En route to triumph, Fitzgerald had to defeat two wrestlers who had previously given her a lot of trouble. With a record of 12–0, she remains the only Toronto wrestler to be undefeated in both university and open competition this year, conquering the top ranked U.S. intercollegiate wrestler at the McMaster Invitational. “Jessica wrestled very well yesterday. The woman she beat in the finals had dominated her all last year, and so beating her now is definitely a tribute to how hard she has trained,” said Coach Mike Quinsey. Jessica is in the first of a four-year graduate pharmaceutical program. The Ontario Open Wrestling Championship is open to wrestlers over the age of 20. The tournament is used to determine carding (provincial funding) points for financial assistance to athletes.

Why free speech ain’t free

When Liisa Schofield heard from the Campus Community Police about a public lecture her humanitarian organization was planning, she knew a steep bill was coming. The hundreds of dollars in charges stemmed from the simple fact that the university considered the lecture controversial and demanded police monitoring, at a high cost.

For Schofield’s organization, the Ontario Public Interest Research Group, bills for such mandatory security have significantly outstripped all other event costs combined. The incident has raised the question of exactly who, on a campus of 70,000, decides which issues are controversial.

The lecture in question happened on Nov. 15. Salim Vally, a former South African anti-Apartheid activist now teaching at York University, gave a talk entitled “Apartheid: From South Africa to Palestine” in the Sanford Fleming building near Convocation Hall.

Campus police assessed the need for two officers to police the event. The duo showed up in plainclothes, according to Schofield. “I didn’t actually know that they were officers until we got the invoice,” she said.

That invoice came four days later, billing OPIRG $440 for the service of two officers, at $55 per hour each, for four hours. By contrast, OPIRG paid about $100 for all other costs of the event, mostly for A/V equipment. They do not normally pay booking fees on campus. U of T’s Office of Space Management notified OPIRG that, unless they pay the bill, they will be barred from booking campus space in the future.

“That’s the entire annual budget for an action group,” Schofield said of the bill.

Last October, OPIRG hosted activist Tariq Ali for a talk called “Imperial Blues: Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine.” According to Schofield, police called to notify her of the security presence at the last minute, at a time when OPIRG’s offices are normally closed. OPIRG was billed for security, refused to pay, and contacted Student Affairs. Jim Delaney, the assistant director of Student Affairs, took some of the pressure off OPIRG’s payment and assured Schofield he would arrange a meeting between OPIRG and the campus police to discuss fees and the risk assessment process for events. That meeting has not yet happened.

Schofield was highly critical of the decision that Vally’s talk posed a security risk.

“The only two events we’ve had police are Tariq Ali and Salim Vally, two Arab-Muslim-sounding names speaking about Middle-Eastern politics.” She remarked that more politically radical guests, such as those who spoke at the Latin Solidarity Collective’s “Mayan Struggle in Guatemala” event, drew no security attention.

When The Varsity called to ask about event security procedures, Campus Community Police operations manager Sam D’Angelo declined to comment and immediately hung up. At press time, staff sergeant Mike Munroe, the top-ranking officer in the unit tasked with event security, had not returned phone calls and could not be reached by email.

Andy Allen, the manager of the OSM, said the police scan his office’s records of upcoming events and choose some for risk assessment. Neither Delaney, Allen, nor the university communications office to which campus police refer media inquiries knew how assessments were conducted.

According to Allen, if police determine the event requires security, they tell the OSM how many officers should police the event. The OSM then informs the event holders, who, according to Allen, are always expected to pay the associated cost. If they do not, the event is canceled.

University policy documents available online at the OSM website and through Governing Council, however, say recognized campus groups do not it requires opening a normally closed building. Allen said the policy on the OSM website, dated 1995, was obsolete.

Delaney confirmed that a version of that same policy, put into effect in 1988 and available on Governing Council’s website, was still in effect with the nopay clause for recognized groups. He stressed that the 19-year-old policy was dated by U of T standards and that under to normal expectations, practices would not always conform to policy guidelines.

Delaney added that OPIRG does not have status as a recognized campus group this year. Student Affairs grants such status to eligible student groups on an annual basis, and while OPIRG was recognized last year, Delaney was unaware of them reapplying this year.

OPIRG has nine action groups, semiindependent teams of students promoting specific social justice agendas. The Nov. 15 event was organized by Students Against Israeli Apartheid. Other action groups include the Critical Area Studies Collective, a No One Is Illegal immigrantrights group, and the equity gardeners who maintain a public food garden on St. George campus.

OPIRG staffers like Schofield, who volunteered for OPIRG at York before he was hired full-time downtown, give guidance and coordination, and fund each group with $400 to $550 per year.

“We don’t have that kind of operating budget [to pay] for every event we do that is termed ‘controversial.’ These costs will be prohibitive for organizations that want to hold political events, and that’s essentially shutting down those events,” said Schofield.

At an unrelated event last Thursday, CEPAL, the Canadian-Palestinian Educational Exchange, hosted a lecture by Norman Finkelstein at OISE. Four campus cops and two city police officers for 53 division, OISE’s district, patrolled the talk.

Shannon Dow, CEPAL’s president, declined to give exact figures, but if CEPAL was charged the same rates as OPIRG for policing, the bill for their five-hour event would come to about $1,650. Booking fees for the event space would not have exceeded $400 under the OSM’s highest hourly rate.

“The [security] costs are high, you could put it that way. And it’s not very fair to humanitarian organizations like CEPAL, and I’ve expressed this to security here,” said Dow after the lecture. “It’s a bit outrageous that it should cost so much for security on an event like this,” she added.

Staff Sgt. Al Hastings was among the campus police at the event. He was not in uniform, though the other officers were.

According to Hastings, the scale of police presence depends on such factors as whether the event was sanctioned by U of T, the features of the venue, whether it concerns a controversial issue, and whether the group holding the event has what Hastings called “a history.”

“We’ve got to create an environment that’s safe and that allows for free speech,” Hastings said.

He noted that around 15 protesters showed up. They were allowed inside but had to leave placards behind because they could be used as weapons.

Delaney said he was concerned about the issue raised by OPIRG, and that he did not know why it has not yet been resolved. Schofield and others have called the mandatory charges a selective barrier to freedom of expression.

“It can become a part of censoring students […] if they are then given a bill running into hundreds of dollars, which would obviously make people think twice before having an event,” said Vally.

Arts and Science Students’ Union president Ryan Hayes voiced expressed similar views. “No one has money on campus to organize events and pay $500 for security, so effectively that’s just saying ‘don’t hold those events, don’t question these topics.’”

OPIRG has demanded to meet with Student Affairs and campus police, and that the university foot their bill. The University of Toronto Students’ Union, ASSU, and the Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students have signed a letter of support.

With files from Naushad Ali Husein

The Last Word.

TTC increases fares

It already costs far too much to wait 45 minutes for a bus only to end up surrounded by strangers who don’t use deodorant. People won’t use public transit if they have to pay a premium for bare-minimum service, and the little improvements that came our way (polite Canadian announcers make an appearance on the Queen and Spadina streetcars!) aren’t worth the hike.

UTSU Referendum

Students balked at an election that was held without notice, was rife with sneaky voting strategies, and saw UTSU crush all opposition in pursuit of a utopic centre with no architectural plans. Democracy at its best!

Provincial Election

As John Tory shot himself in the foot over religious schools (so much that he remained seatless), Howard Hampton did the best he could in a post-Rae Ontario. Frank de Jong just wanted people to notice him. They mostly didn’t. Dalton McGuinty is some kind of robot and apparently that’s good enough for us. Another muddled referendum (this time about proportional representation) left us with the status quo. Sadly, in the end nothing really changed.

Muslim Students Union doesn’t like halal food at UTSC

In a story that sparked controversy in the National Post and the Toronto Star, The Varsity learned that religious accommodation can only go so far. Tolerance is key in a campus with over 60,000—we can’t give everything to everybody, but little concessions are okay every now and then.

The city implements landmark new taxes

If Toronto ever wants to play with the international big boys, we have to fi nd new sources of income—property taxes simply aren’t enough. The city is constantly on the verge of bankruptcy. And as David Miller pursues one cent of the GST, our two cents is that these taxes are an investment in a more progressive society.

Varsity Blues just can’t win

We can’t help but smile at our football team’s inability to win a single game. Having already set one record for futility (take that York!), the Blues are on their way to setting another. The Varsity hopes they can keep up the streak and at least be known for something. If not, drinks on us when (if?) we fi nally light up the scoreboards.

Nuit Blanche

This year’s all-night “contemporary art” thing was inspiring, unorganized, and a little underwhelming. While its debut was better, there’s potential for better next year.

U of T invests your money in military companies

While the cynic in us realizes every university is part corporation, is it so hard not to make money off war? We already divested our tobacco stocks last year—investments in military contractors aren’t that much better.

Ethical stem cells

The barriers between scientifi c innovation and religious fundamentalism were fi nally broken with the development of “ethical stem cells.” Finally George Bush can get off his high horse and realize the possibilities of saving lives that don’t even exist yet.

Men’s basketball bounces into the holidays

Playing their last two games before the December break, the Varsity Blues men’s basketball team went out on a winning note with a 92-79 victory over the Windsor Lancers. Toronto will head into the break with a record of 6-2, placing third in the OUA East, just behind the Ottawa Gee-Gees (7-1) and the Carleton Ravens (8-0). The Blues began the weekend with a disappointing 86-77 loss to the Western Mustangs. Toronto had a 47-35 lead after the first two quarters, but a disastrous second-half collapse led to the team’s second loss of the season.

The Blues offence was beset by poor shooting and fouls throughout Friday’s contest, as Toronto shot a miserable 43.2 per cent from the field. In comparison, the Mustangs made the most of their scoring opportunities, shooting an efficient 54.4 from the field, sent to the free-throw line 30 times compared to the home side’s ten. While Bluesman Rob Paris had 25 points and made five three-pointers on six attempts, it wasn’t nearly enough in this game.

Toronto fared much better against the Windsor Lancers, who came into the game with a 5-2 record. It was a harder battle than the 92-79 final score indicated, especially against the sixth-ranked team in the country. Windsor got off to a good start, jumping to an early four-point lead in the first quarter. The Blues finally netted their first basket at the 7:40 mark of the first quarter as Paul Seragutis drained a couple of free throws. Later in the first quarter, a Paris threepointer would give U of T its first lead. The game stayed tight throughout the first quarter, with neither team taking control early on. The Blues were hampered by back-to-back fouls, trying to get rebounds in the offensive end, which kept them from fi nishing the fi rst quarter with the lead.

When the second quarter rolled around, Lancers forward Greg Surmacz began to hurt the Blues’ chances with his strong play in the paint. The big forward, dominant at times against the Blues interior defence, would contribute 26 points and six rebounds to the Windsor cause. Ryan Steer was also a handful, as he had a game high 27 points and eight rebounds.

Sensing a shift in momentum, Blues head coach Mike Katz threw in big man Andrew Wasik to give the team a spark. The strategy led to positive results, as Wasik scored a basket right before the shot clock expired, and followed up with a couple of offensive rebounds to give Toronto a 27-21 lead. The Lancers battled back with a fl urry of baskets to close out the half, with forward Greg Allin hitting a diffi cult shot despite Blues defenders all over him—Toronto would enter the half trailing by a single point.

In the third quarter, the Blues discovered their shooting touch, which had been inconsistent through the fi rst two frames. Starting forward Ahmed Nazmi, who registered 22 points in the game, showed both range and consistency with his shots, an effi cient 75 per cent from behind the three-point line. Nazmi would go on to capture player of the game honours.

Buoyed by an enthusiastic home crowd at the Athletic Centre, Toronto would fi nally take control of the game in the second half. Fifth-year point guard Michael Degiorgio fi nished the game with 13 points, 12 assists, and was one rebound shy of the rare triple double. Forward Nick Snow and thirdyear guard Nick Magalas also contributed to the victory with 14 and 13 points respectively. Overall, Windsor held a slight edge in rebounds, 32-28. Toronto’s superior perimeter shooting, however, put the game out of Windsor’s reach. In the fi nal two quarters the Blues shot 67 per cent (10-15) from three-point range to the Lancers 25 per cent (3-12).

Head coach Mike Katz was ecstatic at the way his team played, and was quick to point out that beating the defending OUA champions was a reason to celebrate.

But is it art?

You’ve probably already heard of Thorarinn Jonsson. The 24-year-old Icelandic OCAD student attracted international media attention last Wednesday when he planted a fake bomb outside the ROM. Police called in a bomb squad to secure the area and defuse the bomb, only to discover that it was a “sculpture.” The scare disrupted traffic for hours, and forced the cancellation of a major charity gala for CANFAR, an AIDS research foundation.

The object, made to resemble a pipe bomb, was part of a project for one of Jonsson’s art classes, though OCAD claims it had no prior knowledge of the stunt. A note attached to the suspicious package read “This is not a bomb.”

After leaving it at the entrance to the ROM, Jonsson called the museum and dialed a random extension. He informed the woman who answered that there was no bomb outside. He uploaded an accompanying video on YouTube, entitled “The Fake Bombing at the ROM.” These actions, he hoped, would keep him safe from legal action.

Today, the incident is at the centre of a debate about what is and isn’t art, and what the ethical limits of art should be. Though many see Jonsson’s project as a publicity stunt or a terrorist threat, others view it as the artist had intended it: a piece of art.

Ariel Shepherd, a close friend of Jonsson’s, called the bomb an example of “the dichotomy between art imitating life and life imitating art.” She went on to say that regardless of whether people agree that Jonsson’s piece was “good art,” they still admit that his project attracted a lot of attention and raised interesting discussions. If people found his art worth talking about, said Shepherd, Jonsson must have done something right.

Jonsson’s roommate, Peter Mohideen, said he does not automatically assume Jonsson innocent of any wrongdoing, and commended the justice system for their handling of the situation. “Saying that something is art does not mean that it is not also a crime,” Mohideen added.

He went on to say the “morbid outrage” in the public reaction to the incident was highly objectionable. “Everyone says it was irresponsible to do it in our post-9/11 world,” he said. “It’s because of this post-9/11 world that we have come to accept, for instance, casual taser use, and we only even bother to look up when an innocent man dies.”

A post on Facebook expressed similar sentiments: “As much as I disagree with his motives and actions[…]I can’t help but to feel reminded of the climate of fear we have come to live in.”

Following the initial media coverage of the event, Thorarinn Jonsson turned himself in to police on Thursday night. He was charged, at a Friday morning bail hearing, with mischief and public nuisance, and could serve up to years behind bars. Jonsson’s $33,000 bail was posted by prominent members of Toronto’ Icelandic community. Under the conditions of his bail, Jonsson must surrender his passport, may not possess any explosives, and must stay away from the ROM. About 20 of his friends attended the bail hearing to show support. One attendee commented that Jonsson looked visibly relieved at the sight of his allies. Jonsson’s next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 13.

News outlets and blogs around the world have taken up the incident, analyzing Jonsson’s actions from countless directions. U.S. conservative pundit Michelle Malkin nominated him for “Jerk of the Year” on her website. In the Facebook group “Thorarinn Jonsson Owes CANFAR A Proper Apology,” members offered a variety of perspectives on Jonsson’s project. Some decried him as a terrorist who should be immediately deported, while one characterized him as naive, lost in a “little art world.” Still others blamed OCAD, demanding the school reimburse CANFAR for the cancellation of Wednesday night’s benefit. Aside from a press release last week condemning Jonsson’s actions and announcing an internal investigation, OCAD administration has given no comment.

Jonsson’s friends have contended that the media’s focus on the money CANFAR lost is being used to vilify him. In a CityTV interview last week, Jonsson said he was unaware of the fundraiser, and that he regretted disrupting it. One of Jonsson’s friends claimed that the wealthy patrons who had paid for the gala were unlikely to demand a refund, and that public sympathy for the foundation could earn them even more donations.

‘In God we trust. All others bring data.’

Richard Smith has spent 25 years working for the British Medical Journal and is now the chief executive of the United Health Group’s operations in Europe. At a benefit event on November 21 for the newly launched Open Medicine Journal, an open access peer-reviewed medical journal, Smith sat down with John Hoey, former editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, to offer an insider’s view on medical journals.

A qualified medical practitioner in Edinburgh, Smith became editor of the BMJ publishing group in 1991. He decided to investigate the topic of medical error after reading several compelling studies on American healthcare and identifying many similarities with the United Kingdom’s publicly-funded National Health Service. Smith then wrote an editorial, voicing concerns about patients mishandled by the British medical system and calling for action. The swift reply from the president of the Royal College of Physicians in London brusquely rejected the notion: “How dare you suggest people in the NHS are being damaged by medical care?” According to Smith, this issue illustrates one of the most fundamental roles of medical journals—to point out to uncomfortable truths the public would prefer to ignore.

In 1997, BMJ was the first major journal to put its entire catalogue on the Internet. The incentive of attaining a much wider audience outweighed the concern of less revenue from lost subscriptions. This move led to a reader shift.

“It would take three to four weeks for the journal to be received in Australia. Now we would have it all embargoed until midnight London time, which of course was morning in Sydney. They were now the first to engage with the journal. So now we suddenly had a huge number of electronic letters coming in from all around the globe,” said Smith.

The journal had roughly 115,000 copies circling the globe, with 100,000 going to the British Medical Association.

“Absolutely none of their money that they paid in subscriptions came to us. Instead all that money went on big dinners, lobbying, robes, and all that stuff,” said Smith.

The traditional model of publishing had scientists submitting their research for free while journals charged fees for access to the information. This newer model is markedly different: the institution pays for the peer-review process—which can be compromised by personal vendettas and is mostly useless, according to Smith—and the costs of putting it all up on the web. Since research is being funded, Smith said, to add on a comparatively small amount of money for all-access use is only logical. Potentially, this could become a self-sustaining business model in the future.

“You’ve written it, commissioned it, shaped it. There is an argument to be made that it is not unreasonable to charge for that because the better you do it, the more income you’ll get and you can reinvest it,” said Smith.

Since 90 per cent of the articles submitted to journals are ultimately rejected, it seems reasonable to charge a submission fee. This would lessen the economic burden on the research that is published and would be an incentive to submit high quality articles.

So what is the single most important factor for comparing the productivity of different journals and research groups? In the world of publishing, it is the impact factor, the number of times a journal is cited for each article published based on a three-year period.

“People crave the impact factor. We had an example in London of someone who had a 3-star rating in his restaurant and lost one and jumped out of the window. I think that is what is going to happen with impact factors, some editor is going to kill himself or herself if it goes down by 0.02 or something,” said Smith.

But it’s difficult to differentiate a high-quality journal from one whose impact factor is bolstered by a large number of papers. This also discriminates against subjects with a slower publication pattern, such as archaeology, as opposed to quick-moving fields like molecular biology.

With the ongoing technological revolution, perhaps journals as we know them will soon cease to exist.

“I met a young doctor in London last week, and he is in the last stages of producing a sort of Facebook for doctors. To try and think what is going to be the role of the CMAJ or Open Medicine in the age of Facebook is quite challenging. And just maybe this whole community thing will happen through this technology rather than sending out what some perceive to be the holy words of medicine in these journals,” said Smith.

But for the present: can we trust medical journals? The answer seems to be a definite “no.” The take home message from Dr. Smith was clear:

“More transparency will create more trust. But transparency won’t substitute for trust. There will always come a point when you will have to trust. I think you have to be very canny- not take everything at face value. Science is about provisional truths. It’s quite likely that we know that there is evidence pointing in one direction, but quite soon it will be pointing in another. In God we trust. All others bring data.”