Are you referring to peer review (of scientific papers) or particularly to anonymous peer review? Surely peer review itself was in place before the 1930's in the shape of journal editors. I think the editor-as-king system was more open to abuse than the modern system of having editors seek expert opinions on manuscripts which they must then pay attention to.
How does the anonymity of a peer reviewer enforce conformity, enable plagiarism, etc.? You have lost me there. I agree that these are problems in science I just don't understand how they are produced by the anonymity of reviewers in the publishing process as you seem to be saying
"Hubble Wars" is a wonderful book that I have on my shelves. I don't recall anything in it about the subjects you mention though. I do recall that secrecy and the desire of managers to avoid embarrassment caused lots of problems. Avoiding secrecy and promoting transparency and frankness is a reason for anonymous review.
I think you are wrong in your views here and it seems to me that some of your mistaken views arise from unfamiliarity with the process. I know it from all sides (author, editor, reviewer) and so believe I have a more informed opinion. I would be interested, however, if you know of a more scholarly treatment of this whole question that would get us beyond mere competing personal views.
P.S. I wonder if there is a more suitable thread for this conversation
Thanks for your explanation. The one part i agree with from the previous comment that was elaborated further by yours is the seeking of expert opinion that they must pay attention to. If your research is in a field that combines aspects of others, is relatively new and fringe to the mainstream experts, their opinion of your paper will be heavily skewed against open-minded consideration of facts irregardless of apparent contradictions with their own professional cornerstones.