I happened upon Kerry McKenzie’s review of my book Basic Structures of Reality recently and was struck anew by her final paragraph: “For me, then, the one pertinent question this work raises is why all of this went unrecognized [the badness of the book]: this book, after all, issues not from one of the many spurious publishing houses currently trolling graduate students, but Oxford University Press—a press whose stated aim is to ‘publish works that further Oxford University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education’. So why did they publish this? I can hazard no other explanation than that Colin McGinn is a ‘big name’, and if that is sufficient for getting work this farcical in print with OUP then shame on our field as a whole. As such, McGinn’s foray into philosophy of physics may in the end provoke a worthwhile discussion, if sadly one focused on concerns rather different from those he himself had in mind.”
This is an extraordinary passage if you think about it. McKenzie is implying that OUP, one of the foremost university presses in the world, published a book by someone that was clearly “farcical” simply because he is a “big name”. What exactly is she thinking? Is it that the editors there simply accepted the book without any expert review because of the “bigness” of my name? Surely she cannot mean that; and I can assure her that it is not true. Does she then believe that referees were consulted but that they recommended the book for publication despite knowing it was “farcical”? Or was it that they were so incompetent that they couldn’t see how terrible the book was? So they are either corrupt or incompetent. In fact, of course, they were experts in the field, and also anonymous. It is obviously inconceivable to McKenzie that they were neither corrupt nor incompetent but that they saw merits in the book that she cannot see. The fact that a prestigious press published the book after appropriate expert review is inconsistent with her highly negative assessment, so she makes reckless allegations against the integrity of the editors and referees. Did she not wonder whether perhaps she was missing something?
In addition, other reviewers, such as Stephen Leeds, had nothing like her negative reaction (which is not to say they were full of unmitigated praise): does McKenzie believe that they too are either corrupt or incompetent? Does she believe that the publication of my book by any press, and any favorable reaction to any part of it by anyone, should be reasons for shame (her word)? That does appear to be her stated position.
I wonder too what she thinks of the rest of my work: is it all this “farcical” or was this book an aberration? It seems unlikely that she could think all my work is as bad as she finds this book (I may be wrong), but then isn’t it a bit strange that an author with my experience and reputation should produce a book so woefully bad? Why that book and not others? Again, shouldn’t this reflection make her wonder whether she is giving the book a fair review? Evidently not.
But what is truly breathtaking is her self-confidence in condemning OUP and its referees for knowingly publishing a book this “farcical” just because the author is a “big name” (she should know that OUP has rejected other books of mine, so it can hardly be that they just automatically accept whatever twaddle I write). In fact, the referees made a number of suggestions for improvements that I followed (none of them anything like McKenzie’s criticisms). Does she really believe I could send OUP any old piece of junk and they would publish it knowing full well that it was junk? To me her accusations against OUP and its referees verge on the slanderous. They are certainly very poorly judged.
 I am quoting here from McKenzie’s website because I don’t have access to Mind, but my recollection is that this paragraph survived intact in the final published version.