To be clear I am not referring to out of scope, incorrect formatting or language quality rejections which are mostly detected by junior editing staff and a reasonable explanation is usually supplied in the rejection letter. I am referring to desk rejections by the editor in chief after a paper has passed all quality checks. These are performed under the sole discretion of the editor in chief who may reject any paper providing a conclusion s/he does not like. It culminates with a standard form letter which provides no valid information to the author as to how they might improve their work.
This is a clear and obvious bias loophole (unconscious or otherwise). It is extremely unfair towards the author who has spent many hours developing an argument which is simply overlooked and a burden on the progress of science because it poses a severe disability to any paper with a controversial conclusion. Controversy is the breeding ground of scientific progress.
This practise is censorship by prejudice. i.e., Really bad science.
My understanding is that a paper was published which proved that desk rejections saved time and since then, they have been generally accepted and implemented throughout scientific publishing.
One of the main purposes of peer review is quality control aimed at overcoming bias.
It does not take a genius to figure out that circumventing quality controls is a sure fire method of saving time.
In all forms of endeavour, this has been the cause of many disasters. People have lost their lives from this type of behaviour. Whenever it is exposed, we view the perpetrators with deserved contempt.
I would be surprised if there were no academic suicide deaths which could be attributed directly to this behaviour of journal editors in chief.
It should be stopped.