Re: Looking for a name.

Date: Mon 05 Apr 2004 - 08:41:20 GMT

  • Next message: derek gatherer: "Re: Looking for a name"

    In a message dated 3/18/2004 1:19:52 AM Central Standard Time, writes:

    > Subj: Re: Looking for a name.
    > Date: 3/18/2004 1:19:52 AM Central Standard Time
    > From:
    > Reply-to:
    > To:
    > Sent from the Internet
    > At 05:23 AM 17/03/04 -0500, Aaron wrote:
    > snip

    snip, snip, snip

    Hi Keith.

    Actually, all I was trying to do was offer a counter-example to the idea that 15 months of non-comment indicate that all the non-commentators did not have any disagreements. I could go through and give line by line or paragraph by paragraph commentaries on your whole paper, but I did not agree to write up such a meta-paper for you. Its not something personal, as I also refrain from pointing out the vast majority of objections or counter-arguments I can thing of for all sorts of other writers. I frequently have specific reasons for doubting or disagreeing with ideas flying over the listserver, or coming from journals, etc., but nevertheless let nearly all of this pass without comment. So if something was said in an item I read, and I did not reply, no conclusion can be drawn about whether I agree, disagree, or suspend judgment. All kinds of other people, including yourself, also do not voice all of the disagreements that come to mind. These are good reasons for cultivating a habit of critically appraising our own ideas as well as asking for other people's comments. (Even if illusions favoring bombastic over-confidence propagate more widely.) Ironically, one way to "defend" an article against criticism is to cram it so full of misinformation, fallacy, or gobbledygook no readers want to take up the project of pointing out all the problems, even if they are given enough journal space to do so. Part of the problem is that flawed arguments can be generated with greater ease and abundance, so that it might take 5 times as many words to give a fair and accurate critique of such material as it takes to present the faulty work. Meanwhile, good papers can become an object of frequent attack or needlessly hostile reviews by colleagues who feel more threatened by it. I did give you at least a few brief comments for a 1997 version of your paper that you sent me, and again for a version sent in 2002. In the latter, I recommended looking up the guidelines for citations in Human Nature Review. Apparently, they don't have a submission guidelines page on their web site. So you might try some URL's at the American Psychological Association. Here are some relevant URLs that have materials on standards for publishing in their journals: And One advantage to those kinds of citation practices is that they can make it easier for scientists to give worthwhile feedback, by letting them know more about how you know what you know. (Or why you believe what you believe, from the standpoint of the skeptical reader.) That is because one of the causes of incorrect conclusions is misinformation acquired from source documents. Mass-market science books, even from university presses, typically use less formal standards, as do most mass-market science magazines. (There are various reasons for this, and various effects, but that is a separate topic.)

    On the topic of google page ranks, you also had also expressed wonder last year about why your article appeared near the top of the list for a "sex drugs cults" search. That caused me to look into the communication mechanics behind it, and found various explanations of how it was actually done. But I did not write it up and send it over the listserver, it would be redundant to knowledge already out there among web marketers. However, if I take at face value that you really have no idea how this all happened, then what I recommend is that you do a similar investigation. Investigating this particular case does not require a research budget, just a few minutes of web surfing while paying attention to details. I take it from your paper that you already have some experience investigating how communications are manipulated online. So rather than telling us that you still haven't looked into the matter, why not take a few minutes to investigate specific communications phenomenon and report your findings back to the list. You might come up with some reproducible findings, as well as show the impartiality of the scientific method. It might even help people evaluate the utility of search engines for opinion research or as tools for scholarly research.

    --Aaron Lynch

    Thought Contagion Science Page:

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