0978: "Citogenesis"

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Gauteamus
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Gauteamus » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:14 pm UTC

Wow, I did not know you americans had a Secretary of State specificallly in charge of Future Energy! Obama must really have brought the administration up to date in this important field.

tho5is
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby tho5is » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:31 pm UTC

thearbiter wrote:This is hardly a problem that Wikipedia are unaware of. All Randall's done is flag a problem that we knew about anyway and fail to propose a solution. I know he is a comic writer and not a journalist but for some reason that irks me even more. ...


Wow. It's as if someone boiled down all the wikiangst contained in, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Log/2011_November_15 , and posted it in a forum. About an online comic.

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tomandlu
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby tomandlu » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:34 pm UTC

userxp wrote:I believe it would be wrong to assume that this phenomenon started with Wikipedia. I'm pretty sure it can still happen with just books. At most, Wikipedia might act like a catalizer.


Sort-of - but a book doesn't get to update itself to cite a source that didn't exist at the time the assertion was made. Take a look at this citation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Melly#cite_ref-7, think about it, and laugh... an article pointing out how uncited facts in wikipedia get treated as gospel by mainstream media becomes the citation... you couldn't make it up...
How can I think my way out of the problem when the problem is the way I think?

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BAReFOOt
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Re: It’s what I always said.

Postby BAReFOOt » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:35 pm UTC

ijuin wrote:As Philip K. Dick said, "Reality is whatever refuses to go away when I stop believing in it". In other words, anything that can be said not to change even if the perceptions of all of the people in the world changed.

Nice that you mention that, as I like that statement quite a lot myself. The problem is, that you are confusing perceptions with beliefs. Beliefs are hypotheses held in ignorance of perceptions. So while it is true for beliefs, it is not true that “Reality is whatever refuses to go away when you stop perceiving it”. :)

ijuin wrote:Would the Sun stop being powered by nuclear fusion if everyone on Earth believed that it was powered by combustion?

This is my point: Would the world stop to exist if we all closed our eyes? Well if we closed all our senses, we by definition couldn’t tell anyway. So the question would become as pointless as asking what’s north of the north pole. It might exist, it might not. God might exist, he might not. But if it has no measurable influence, how does it, for the individual, differ from not existing? :)

ijuin wrote:What you seem to be claiming is that there is no existence outside of our perceptions, and that anything that we are unable to detect can be regarded as nonexistent.

Sorry, you misunderstood me there. I did not say that there is no existence outside our perceptions. Or that there is existence outside of our perceptions.
I said that the question was as pointless as asking what was before there was time and what’s north of north pole. :)
See, just because one can ask it, and we humans have such concepts, doesn’t mean it makes sense and nature knows those concepts. ^^

ijuin wrote:Did protons and neutrons spring into existence only after we learned to split apart atoms? Or were they always there, waiting to be noticed?

That is actually a smarter question than it looks like. If they actually had an influence on us, which they probably did… ;)
…then obviously we did “observe” them in the physics sense, and hence they existed to us. Even when we didn’t know that consciously.
But apparently we did also consciously know about them, since our research was spurred by observations that didn’t make sense with out current models of reality. It’s just that before, we tried to explain it with some proto-religious concepts (until those were found to make no sense) or were simply ignorant about them because they were observed so rarely, and we didn’t realize how useful they would be.

But e.g. those protons and neutrons outside of our event horizon… that’s a different thing, as mentioned above.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby chrth » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:37 pm UTC

thearbiter wrote:This is hardly a problem that Wikipedia are unaware of. All Randall's done is flag a problem that we knew about anyway and fail to propose a solution. I know he is a comic writer and not a journalist but for some reason that irks me even more. The issue is actually less common than you'd imagine and only ever occurs with pretty obscure articles.


So unless a solution is proposed, it's not a worthwhile endeavor? So Randall has created OccupyWikipedia?

No decent writer is going to reference a fact which is tagged as needing a citation and a decent Wikipedian is going to add a citation with a date preceding the initial edit.


I'm not sure you're serious here. If you are, I'd recommend reading the New York Times corrections on a daily basis.

Oh and Randall almost certainly has no book in mind whatsoever but incredibly he's made himself look knowledgeable about some unknown topic! xkcd is just a lot of hot air these days.


Nah, I'm sure he does. He just nerd-sniped us. Fortunately I've stopped reading because it takes time away from precious WoW.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Smylers » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:42 pm UTC

ekulio wrote:[citation needed]

In all seriousness though, I would like to see some concrete examples of this happening. Not that I don't believe it I just find it quite interesting and wonder how common it actually is.


When TV theme composer Ronnie Hazlehurst died, several news outlets included the fake ‘fact’ that he'd co-written S Club 7's pop song Reach, something which a vandal had added to his Wikipedia page shortly before. The vandalism was of course removed, but well-meaning folk then kept trying to re-add it, citing BBC News, The Times, The Guardian and so on.

Coverage of the media getting this wrong is here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/03/wikipedia_obituary_cut_and_paste/

Evidence of people then using those reports as Wikipedia references can be seen in revisions such as this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ronnie_Hazlehurst&diff=161997463&oldid=161996745

And the article's talk page has discussion of the matter, including comments from people who, even when the above was explained, initially still believed what the papers had said on the grounds that it would be “very odd” for journalists simply to copy from Wikipedia, and somebody pointing out that for inclusion in Wikipedia what matters is “several reliable and verifiable sources, and under Wikipedia rules it makes no difference whether it's true or not”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Ronnie_Hazlehurst#The_SClub_7_Hoax

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby keshat » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:46 pm UTC

Why isn't anyone in here as agitated by the "was was" in panel 1 as me? :-(

thearbiter
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby thearbiter » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:49 pm UTC

tomandlu wrote: What a bizarre post, and full of very odd assertions... he failed to propose a solution, you're more irked by him not being a journalist, and - most comical - 'no decent writer' would do this... err, just as well all journalism comes with 'decent writer'/'not decent writer' tags then... I'm probably being cynical, but you come across as a tad defensive on the subject... as for proposing solutions, what solution have your fellow wikipedians come up with? (the obvious one - no citation source can post-date the original un-cited part of the wikipedia article strikes me as very hard to implement).

... and the final ad hominem is just silly - I don't care whether Randall's being modest or making it up. You admit this happens, so why is it relevant? [Edit to add] And he makes it clear why he's not naming the book...


If a journalist wrote about this and didn't make any suggestions about how to tackle the issue I would call it a bad article. I understand that this is not Randall's job, but this comic does strike me as particularly unoriginal. As I said, this is a phenomenon people are aware of so why is Randall simply reiterating it and not bringing anything new to the table?

Secondly, I really wish internet forum users would once and for all learn what constitutes an ad hominem attack. I was not negating Randall's point by objecting to him personally - I was merely expressing great doubt that he actually has a book in mind.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby tomandlu » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:57 pm UTC

thearbiter wrote:If a journalist wrote about this and didn't make any suggestions about how to tackle the issue I would call it a bad article. I understand that this is not Randall's job, but this comic does strike me as particularly unoriginal. As I said, this is a phenomenon people are aware of so why is Randall simply reiterating it and not bringing anything new to the table?


Err... so you can only write about a problem if you have a solution? Damn... better book myself in to have everything I've ever read about the current economic crisis removed from my head... No, sorry. That's just silly.

[edit to add] Oh, and the papers better stop reporting any missing persons... I mean, if they don't know where the person is... :wink:

Secondly, I really wish internet forum users would once and for all learn what constitutes an ad hominem attack. I was not negating Randall's point by objecting to him personally - I was merely expressing great doubt that he actually has a book in mind.


You suggest that he hasn't got a real book in mind, and that he's just trying to show off. Which part of that isn't AH?
How can I think my way out of the problem when the problem is the way I think?

tho5is
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby tho5is » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:01 pm UTC

thearbiter wrote:Secondly, I really wish internet forum users would once and for all learn what constitutes an ad hominem attack. I was not negating Randall's point by objecting to him personally - I was merely expressing great doubt that he actually has a book in mind.


From your original post:
thearbiter wrote:Oh and Randall almost certainly has no book in mind whatsoever but incredibly he's made himself look knowledgeable about some unknown topic! xkcd is just a lot of hot air these days.


If this has been, instead, "Randall has a point, though I doubt he has an actual book in mind," then perhaps it wouldn't have been ad hominem. As it was - tacked onto a post attacking his pointing out an actual problem - it's not perfectly ad hominem ("Randall's stupid so his argument is false."), but close enough to be dismissed as ad hominem. Or perhaps just whiny. You choose.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Maybe Not » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:07 pm UTC

Interesting how it seems everyone sees this as a flaw in Wikipedia. Isn't the flaw in what's considered "reliable media"?

By the way, is it possible to set up kill lists on this forum? I find jpk rather tedious thus far. Perhaps I should give them more of a chance. Hm.
Last edited by Maybe Not on Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:15 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:07 pm UTC

thearbiter wrote:If a journalist wrote about this and didn't make any suggestions about how to tackle the issue I would call it a bad article.


Say what? Where did you get the idea that it's a journalist's job to "make suggestions about how to tackle the problem"? Have you ever read a newspaper?
Wait, back up a moment. Say what? You thought Randall was a journalist?

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby thearbiter » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:12 pm UTC

tomandlu wrote: Err... so you can only write about a problem if you have a solution? Damn... better book myself in to have everything I've ever read about the current economic crisis removed from my head... No, sorry. That's just silly.


Please stop being sarcastic and try to understand what I'm trying to say. I don't pretend to assert what people can and can't write about. I am merely expressing doubt about the merits of rehashing an already well-documented, understood problem and not adding anything. If the reason is only because R knows he has a huge readership and so writing about it will increase awareness then that's fine (albeit neither original nor funny) but I would suggest a blog.

tomandlu wrote: You suggest that he hasn't got a real book in mind, and that he's just trying to show off. Which part of that isn't AH?


I'll explain. An ad hom argument attempts to invalidate a point someone is making by criticising the author himself and not the argument being used. I am not invalidating Randall's point about the problem (in fact as I have already made clear I agree with it!) I do however think he is showing off by feigning knowledge about some unknown topic. And cleverly he's avoided all challenges about his views as to the validity of this book by failing to name it! Anyway, please bear in mind that there is a great difference between criticism of an author and an ad hom attack.
Last edited by thearbiter on Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:13 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:12 pm UTC

Maybe Not wrote:Interesting how everyone sees this as a flaw in Wikipedia. Isn't the flaw in what's considered "reliable media"?


I suppose so. If your idea of "reliable media" includes anything that relies on Wikipedia, it's a flawed idea.
And since Wikipedia allows using such material as source, Wikipedia is unreliable.
We should note that this is quite different from the claim that Wikipedia is unreliable because "anyone can edit it".

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby tomandlu » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:14 pm UTC

Maybe Not wrote:Interesting how it seems everyone sees this as a flaw in Wikipedia. Isn't the flaw in what's considered "reliable media"?


It's both, but adding self-generated citations is a problem for wikipedia alone (well, until someone invents a time-machine).
How can I think my way out of the problem when the problem is the way I think?

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:17 pm UTC

thearbiter wrote:
I'll explain. An ad hom argument claims attempts to invalidate a point someone is making by criticising the author himself and not the argument being used. I am not invalidating Randall's point about the problem (in fact as I have already made clear I agree with it!) I do however think he is showing off by feigning knowledge about some unknown topic .


So your claim is that this isn't an ad hominem attack because "ad hominem" means "attacking the point by attacking the man", and you're not attacking the point, you're just attacking the man?

There's a meme for this, something about subscribing to your newsletter, but I think you get the idea.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby dtobias » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:18 pm UTC

My guess would be The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker, simply because it's a recently-released book that fits the stated criteria (pop-science by a fairly respected author). I haven't actually read it yet, beyond the excerpts visible in Amazon, so I don't know if it has a chapter that's cited or lifted from Wikipedia.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby tomandlu » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:20 pm UTC

jpk wrote:So your claim is that this isn't an ad hominem attack because "ad hominem" means "attacking the point by attacking the man", and you're not attacking the point, you're just attacking the man?


Does anyone know where the 'like' button is?
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby EpicanicusStrikes » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:22 pm UTC

jpk wrote:
thearbiter wrote:If a journalist wrote about this and didn't make any suggestions about how to tackle the issue I would call it a bad article.


Say what? Where did you get the idea that it's a journalist's job to "make suggestions about how to tackle the problem"? Have you ever read a newspaper?
Wait, back up a moment. Say what? You thought Randall was a journalist?


Schools used to train journalists to never place themselves within the story. The idea was to maintain impartiality, but that no longer holds true. The expected method is to make every story more identifiable by adding a personal element -- either through identifying an individual subject directly associated with the story and exploiting their experience, or by allowing the journalist to relate the story directly to their own perceptions.

References to the self was severly frowned upon outside of a strict set of conditions, such as cementing the identity of the reporter and little else.

Modern tradition is to manufacture expertise in order to artificially validate a story. If an expert cannot be crafted, then the reporter is left to claim some degree of personal expertise. This has evolved into the journalist being expected to suggest potential solutions above the simple reporting of facts. It's just a natural progression of an expanding field.

Of course, you're correct in that this has nothing to do with Randall's webcomic. It's entertaining regardless of the facts behind each entry.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Maybe Not » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:22 pm UTC

jpk wrote:
Maybe Not wrote:Interesting how everyone sees this as a flaw in Wikipedia. Isn't the flaw in what's considered "reliable media"?


I suppose so. If your idea of "reliable media" includes anything that relies on Wikipedia, it's a flawed idea.
And since Wikipedia allows using such material as source, Wikipedia is unreliable.

It's not my idea. It's Wikipedia's. Further, how would you distinguish such media? Even if you could, I'd suggest it's symptomatic of a larger problem with the processes of a publication (in the most general sense of publication).

We should note that this is quite different from the claim that Wikipedia is unreliable because "anyone can edit it".

Certainly.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:25 pm UTC

Maybe Not wrote:
jpk wrote:I suppose so. If your idea of "reliable media" includes anything that relies on Wikipedia, it's a flawed idea.
And since Wikipedia allows using such material as source, Wikipedia is unreliable.

It's not my idea. It's Wikipedia's. Further, how would you distinguish such media? Even if you could, I'd suggest it's symptomatic of a larger problem with the processes of a publication (in the most general sense of publication).



Sorry, try this:

s/your/one's/

Better?

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby thearbiter » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:25 pm UTC

jpk wrote: So your claim is that this isn't an ad hominem attack because "ad hominem" means "attacking the point by attacking the man", and you're not attacking the point, you're just attacking the man?


That's right! Here, I am criticising the author and his approach. Is that somehow unreasonable? The unapologetic, staunch defence for R in these forums is remarkable. He can't seem to put a foot wrong and the moment someone criticises his style or methods they are lambasted.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jc » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:28 pm UTC

JohanJ wrote:Speaking as a Wikipedian: oh yes, this is a phenomenon we're painfully aware of.

Indeed; there have been some good discussions of the topic "behind the scenes" as wikipedia.

It would probably help if similar discussions could be triggered in a lot of other subject areas. Thus, I've read a number of "media" reports of medical topics, in which the author described searching through the medical literature looking for the original research, and coming up empty-handed. The medical literature on many conditions turns out to be a graph of cross-linked articles referencing each other as sources, without any actual research reports anywhere that the med librarians can find. This phenomenon is part of what's behind the occasional "revisions" in medical advice, often triggered by actual research showing that some treatment wasn't as effective as believed. It's also part of what's behind the recent push for "evidence-based" medicine.

This isn't just a medical problem; a similar phenomenon turns up in all sorts of subject areas. I ran across a similar report recently in an article on traffic problems. In most areas, mentioning this problem tends to elicit no discussion at all. It's probably a good sign that the wikipedians have discussed the problem openly.

Maybe we can get "citogenesis" accepted as another new word. Pushing for a study of "citology" might help. The inevitable confusion with "cyto-" could be part of the fun. If you google "citogenesis", you'll see what I mean. Half the hits are in Spanish, and guess what they're about ....

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby tomandlu » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:33 pm UTC

thearbiter wrote:
jpk wrote: So your claim is that this isn't an ad hominem attack because "ad hominem" means "attacking the point by attacking the man", and you're not attacking the point, you're just attacking the man?


That's right! Here, I am criticising the author and his approach. Is that somehow unreasonable? The unapologetic, staunch defence for R in these forums is remarkable. He can't seem to put a foot wrong and the moment someone criticises his style or methods they are lambasted.


A bit rich coming from someone who admits that wikipedia has a problem with self-cites but then rubbishes someone else for saying so using a bunch of arguments that really don't stand up to inspection. Question - why, if the problem exists, do you assume (or make the assertion) that R made it up and is showing off?

Sorry, but you come across as a wiki-fanatic...
How can I think my way out of the problem when the problem is the way I think?

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby MrRubix » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:36 pm UTC

If I had to guess: Gladwell, Pinker, or Kaku.

But it seems far too generalized XD

Almost all pop-science books, ultimately, trace back to esoteric sources.
Last edited by MrRubix on Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:36 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:36 pm UTC

EpicanicusStrikes wrote:Schools used to train journalists to never place themselves within the story. The idea was to maintain impartiality, but that no longer holds true. The expected method is to make every story more identifiable by adding a personal element -- either through identifying an individual subject directly associated with the story and exploiting their experience, or by allowing the journalist to relate the story directly to their own perceptions.


I'll ask again - do you read a newspaper? Have you ever read a newspaper? Try it some time, you might find that it's a refreshing change from the blogs you've been living on.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Maybe Not » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:38 pm UTC

EpicanicusStrikes wrote:
Schools used to train journalists to never place themselves within the story. The idea was to maintain impartiality, but that no longer holds true. The expected method is to make every story more identifiable by adding a personal element -- either through identifying an individual subject directly associated with the story and exploiting their experience, or by allowing the journalist to relate the story directly to their own perceptions.

This is something of a myth. Consider "Down and Out in Paris and London", "The Road to Wigan Pier", etc. "The View from Nowhere" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/View_from_Nowhere http://pressthink.org/2011/04/what-i-th ... ournalism/ ) is a relatively recent concoction.

jpk: no.
---
Read a newspaper instead of a blog? Newspapers mostly are blogging. The Guardian get that, I think ( http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/lis ... 51411.html )

That's right! Here, I am criticising the author and his approach. Is that somehow unreasonable?

You seem to have confused criticism with gratuitous insult and pedantry with wit.
Last edited by Maybe Not on Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:49 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:41 pm UTC

MrRubix wrote:If I had to guess: Gladwell, Pinker, or Kaku.

But it seems far too generalized XD


Has Pinker fallen so low? I remember when he was a serious linguist. Gladwell, of course, is a making-shit-up machine, and for some reason people love to cite anything he mentions as gospel.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:46 pm UTC

Maybe Not wrote:It's not my idea. It's Wikipedia's. Further, how would you distinguish such media?


Here's one method: examine the section of the work which identifies the sources cited. Carefully examine each entry. If "wikipedia" appears among the entries, discard the work as a possible source for citation in a wikipedia article.

If this is too much work, the easier solution (adopted by most sensible people long ago) is to simply discard wikipedia as a possible source for citation.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby AvatarIII » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:51 pm UTC

the solution is clearly that journalists must provide references and citations when writing articles, and such references should only be accepted by wikipedia as fact if the citation trail doesn't ever lead back to wikipedia.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby thearbiter » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:54 pm UTC

tomandlu wrote: Question - why, if the problem exists, do you assume (or make the assertion) that R made it up and is showing off?


Yes, I am aware of the issue. However, I do not think that it is a very widespread one. To answer your question I am very sceptical that the problem should have escalated so much as to affect a pop-science book, especially as the "citogenesis" problem is as far as I'm aware only really prevalent in the less popular articles (not that this fact makes it any less of a problem.) I'll assume that by "it" you mean this "book" that R refers to though it's a little unclear from your syntax. But yes, I imagine that the real reason R does not name the book is that no such book exists.

tomandlu wrote:Sorry, but you come across as a wiki-fanatic...


Don't be sorry. I guess I am a wikipedia-fanatic of sorts. Sure, there are countless problems which are bound to arise when allowing the whole population to edit a popular base of information. However, I am of the opinion that it is on the whole an excellent thing.

I fear I am being led into repeating myself, so I'll leave it here. The one good thing that I will say for this comic is that as fas as I'm aware, the term "citogenesis" is an original xkcd term, and I rather like it for describing the problem. (However, for linguistic reasons I would prefer it be spelt 'citagenesis')

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby leifbk » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:56 pm UTC

Robyn Slinger wrote:One may wonder to what extent these things happened before Wikipedia (or, indeed, before the internet). Probably it was more rare, but fact invention and lazy reporting are hardly something new.
It is beautifully explained in today's strip though.


At least in genealogy it has been a well-known phenomenon since long before the Interweb. For instance, here in Norway, there are a lot of unsubstantiated lineage claims back to the old Viking kings, and a lot of «sources» just citing each other.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby dp2 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:00 pm UTC

Until further info is available, I'm forced to assume it was Malcolm Gladwell.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Maybe Not » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:00 pm UTC

jpk wrote:
Maybe Not wrote:It's not my idea. It's Wikipedia's. Further, how would you distinguish such media?


Here's one method: examine the section of the work which identifies the sources cited. Carefully examine each entry. If "wikipedia" appears among the entries, discard the work as a possible source for citation in a wikipedia article.

If this is too much work, the easier solution (adopted by most sensible people long ago) is to simply discard wikipedia as a possible source for citation.


You assume works will cite Wikipedia when it's used. A poor filter.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby adeadhead » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:03 pm UTC

So, ah, who's up for writing a paper or three in which the word malamanteau is used?
Spoiler:
Image
Also, just fucking google it.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby BAReFOOt » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:08 pm UTC

@userxp: Sorry, I have to disagree here. I’ll keep it inside the spoiler tag.
Spoiler:
userxp wrote:No.
"Facts", or more appropriately "truth" is information that corresponds with the universe*. For example, "The Eiffel tower is in Paris": this means that the particular collection of subatomic particles** that form what we call the Eiffel tower is located within the bounds of the spatial region we call Paris. Defining exactly what particles form the Eiffel tower and what spatial region forms Paris is much more difficult (and very arbitrary), but once we've done it then the truth is well-defined: either the entire Eiffel tower is in Paris or not.

It seems you didn’t even make an attempt at trying to understand the deeper philosophical implication of what I mentioned. Your comment shows quite a lot of simplistic views on the world, that show that you haven’t understood quantum physics, relativity theory or the basic concepts of perception in neurology.
Oh well, that’s not a shame. I wasn’t born with that knowledge either. :) And yes, it’s irrelevant to the argument. I don’t want to come off as just making ad-hominem fallacies.
It’s just so tedious to over and over again have to explain all that to people. Can’t they just read up on that themselves?

I’ll try to explain this… again:
userxp wrote:either the entire Eiffel tower is in Paris or not.

That’s the thing: It’s not a global either-or. First of all, because of relativity theory, The Eiffel tower and Paris are at a slightly different spot in space time for everyone of us. And it’s also changing size and shape over time. So e.g. if I drive my car while you stand still, while the Eiffel tower suddenly vanishes, then there will be a tiny moment in time, where it still exists for one of us, but is already gone for the other. This is basic knowledge that every schoolchild knows. (OT: I think it’s awesome that we have come that far.)
Secondly, our definitions of what is the Eiffel tower and what is Paris might differ quite a lot. For example, Google Maps know five places in the USA alone with that name. And Las Vegas has its own Eiffel tower, while I keep mine (small replica) in a box in the basement. Now for most people, the Paris, and the Eiffel tower are in France. But that’s a thing of personal experience and has nothing to do with basic physical laws of nature.
That’s what I mean.

userxp wrote:Of course, obtaining truth is an entirely different issue. It is completely impossible to observe the universe directly, so any being has to rely on indirect observations and reasoning to assign a probability to "truth".

Yes, I nearly completely agree with the first part. But while the gist of the second part is right, it is wrong is some fundamental key parts of how you approach and think about things:
userxp wrote:A rational intelligence would watch the movement of the planets, do some calculations, and then say "I believe with probability = 98.3% that the mass of Jupiter is higher than 10^27 kg". This is essentially what science tries to do.

Then why use the word “truth” at all? And even worse: “belief”. That’s not rational and not scientific.
A rational scientist would say “My observations lead me to hypothesize that the mass of Jupiter is higher than 1027 kg to fit with my current model of reality.” Then he would make predictions about Jupiter (e.g. its inner density and temperature) that could be tested. And only after enough predictions were matched by further observations would it gain any trust. But this would only have a right to be valid in the first place, because it can be observed, and hence by definition has an influence. (So no observation (in the physics sense) and no observable predictions … no valid hypothesis. Hence god not being a valid hypothesis. ^^)
So there is no point in using words like “truth”, much less “absolute truth”. And never ever “believe”.
Maybe “hypothesis”, “theory” and “observation” should be shorter words. Because they already cover that in the proper way. :)

And yet, all this does not have any relationship to the concept that it’s all still relative and biased, and hence is no argument against it. :)

userxp wrote:And then there's the particular case of humans. Humans are not rational superintelligences optimized for collecting evidence and finding truth. We rely on approximations and arbitrary rules that have evolved over time (like believing things that we like more than things we dislike). For example, if someone says that "X is true", I will not think "I perceive what I identify as a person saying that X is true. I will now try to fit this new observation into my existing model of the universe and recalculate the probability of X". Instead I might think "X? I like this idea! And this person looks like an intelligent person. Yes, I think X must definitely be true".

If this is how you gain “knowledge”, then I’m sad for you. As this is exactly what Stephen Colbert meant with the concept of “truthiness”.
I know quite my share of psychology and neurology, and the first example is actually exactly what a human brain does. But just like you don’t solve third order differentials in your head when throwing a ball, you don’t "calculate" it.
Instead, it’s an artifact of how neurons work and how our brain works. Things have to fit with each other to be processed. As what’s stored is not the perception of things but the relation between perceptions/troughts. The difference. Aka. associations. Aka. the bias. So if you can’t put them in any relationship to anything, you’re just stuck. Try it yourself. But be careful. Because that’s what delusions and mental illnesses can come from.
The thing is just, that the ”liking” in your second example is the “fits into my model” of the first example. :) Same thing.
And the “looks like an intelligent person” part is the “trust” part.
So if that trust is false, which it is if it’s just based on “looks like an intelligent person”, then “Yes, I think X must definitely be true” is a fallacy and will harm the person, compared to others who didn’t fall for it, in the long run.
And if the trust was right, then “Yes, I think X must definitely be true” is still stupid, since all you can say is “Yes, I think I can trust that person and hence assume X to true, until something better comes along.“. Which is good enough for daily life, and has to be good enough for most of our “knowledge” too, as we do not ever have enough time to check it all for ourselves and still live our lives.

userxp wrote:That doesn't mean "facts" and "objective reality" doesn't exist. It's just that we are very bad at finding them. That's why we have one field for "how knowledge should be obtained and treated" (epistemology) and one for "how people obtain and treat knowledge" (cognitive science). I hope I managed to clear up some things.

No, it does mean that even discussing if “facts” or objective reality” exist or not, is nonsense. Since both choices are nonsense. Like asking if “north of north pole” exists or not. It shows a fundamental lack of understanding and thinking outside of that “either-or” box.
Also, you yourself stated above, that “It is completely impossible to observe the universe directly,” So we’re not just “very bad” at it. It’s, again, impossible. There is, again, no point in even discussing it. It’s, again, nonsense.

So stop pushing me in the corner opposite of yours. I’m not taking any of both corners. I’m not validating the question in the first place. Those corners, like that place north of north pole, only “exist” in the loony bin. ^^
And I’m not going to play your game until I trip up trying to defend myself against you spewing nonsense. You are the one who has to defend his nonsense and straw-man arguments. And sorry, that just won’t work. So I’ll stop this discussion now. ^^


Oh no! Somebody was wrong, on the Internet! ;)

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jonadab
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jonadab » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:13 pm UTC

This phenomenon is not new. Wikipedia (and the internet in general) allow it to happen somewhat faster than before, but the circularity of vacuous expertise and the citation of sources that trace back ultimately to nothing is at least as old as the alphabet, probably older.

jpk
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:15 pm UTC

Maybe Not wrote:
jpk wrote:
Maybe Not wrote:It's not my idea. It's Wikipedia's. Further, how would you distinguish such media?


Here's one method: examine the section of the work which identifies the sources cited. Carefully examine each entry. If "wikipedia" appears among the entries, discard the work as a possible source for citation in a wikipedia article.

If this is too much work, the easier solution (adopted by most sensible people long ago) is to simply discard wikipedia as a possible source for citation.


You assume works will cite Wikipedia when it's used. A poor filter.


True. So you can at least break the chain by discarding wikipedia as a source, right? Since it relies on unreliable sources, and we have no way of detemining which of its sources are reliable, it must itself be assumed to be unreliable. That is, in order to believe any fact you get from wikipedia, you have to do as much work to verify it as you would have to do to learn it fresh from reliable sources.

mattnworb
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby mattnworb » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:43 pm UTC

If there is an error found in a popular book which readers might otherwise be inclined to believe (and repeat to others, and continue a cycle similar to citogenesis) I feel that there is an obligation on those who find the error to disclose it to the larger community.

musicgeek
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby musicgeek » Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:10 pm UTC

Non-Wikipedia example: Did you know that James Lipton (the smarmy host of "Inside the Actors' Studio") penned the theme music for the original "Thundercats" cartoon? Seriously, look it up... :P

(This may or may not have started with cracked.com, but the Cracked article no doubt played a big part in promoting the idea. Pretty sure it made it to Wikipedia at least for a while before being vetted and removed.)


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