In Which I Throw Down   3 comments

Reading a Bad Astronomer post and the associated comment thread, I started to get really grumpy. Then I got more grumpy. Then I got mad. So I commented there, but I’m going to reproduce my comment here at home for any passerby to see, slightly edited.

[ahem]

People, if you are going to debate science, you must remember the absolutely cardinal rule of science, so basic that it’s turned into a joke in the movie “Real Genius”

“Never… no… Always… remember to cite your references”

Please do not tell me that there are peer-reviewed journal articles supporting your position. This is meaningless, it’s the same horrible behavior I see on other “hot button” science issues on various other sites. Someone may have told you this. You might have read it somewhere. Maybe you actually believe it is true.

I believe it not. I believe your organization’s claim that these papers exist also not in the slightest. Unless I *know* that your organization has a well-established history of only referencing peer-reviewed science (and there are a very, very limited number of organizations that fall under this umbrella). Best to cite those too, just to be safe. Although, to be honest, this should be a fantastically easy task as any credible organization that has a real science position on a public policy issue *will provide those references* anyway. Cut n’ paste, people, it’s not so hard.

It’s like failing to put your ingredients list on your pre-packaged food -> you don’t get to sell it to me, I’m not buying it. In fact, from a scientific standpoint, your pre-packaged food gets halted at the distribution center and doesn’t make it into the marketplace, it fails the basic rules.

And in all honesty, the internet would be a better place if people were forced to do basic goddamn research before pretending they had.

[/ahem]

Sorry, I’ve seen too much of this lately and it’s making me grumpy. There is a simple method of providing a reference. There are several different style manuals available. MLA is acceptable. If you cannot provide a reference, please do not include the nebulous possible existence of one as a part of your *scientific argument*.

Homie don’t play that.

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Posted May 13, 2008 by padraic2112 in science, web sites

3 responses to “In Which I Throw Down

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  1. What, you mean Wikipedia doesn’t count?

    Dude, it bugs me too, and I don’t read very many scientific arguments.

  2. Wikipedia counts as a reference. Any old web site counts as a reference. You can cite a conference paper; that’s peer-reviewed, but it’s not a journal paper. You can use someone’s research that hasn’t been published somewhere as a reference. You can use a technical report as a reference. You can use a research study published by a corporation or a working group as a reference.

    BUT YOU HAVE TO SAY THAT’S WHAT THE REFERENCE *IS*. Full disclosure.

    You don’t get to call them “peer-reviewed journal articles”. Peer-reviewed journal papers are a particular class of animal.

  3. Pingback: Follow Up To Vegetable « Pat’s Daily Grind

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