0978: "Citogenesis"

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BeagleFury
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby BeagleFury » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:12 pm UTC

jpk wrote:
BAReFOOt wrote:
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.


Sorry, but no. Unless you can show that there's some relativistic effect whereby the Eiffel Tower would ...

I'm not a physicist, but I'm pretty sure this is correct. I'm open to corrections, though.


You've missed the point.

Spoiler:
One cannot describe the concept of absolute truth or objective reality except as circular definitions to similar or identical concepts... defined but lacking any real description.

How do you know the statement "The Eiffel Tower is in Paris (France)" is true, in the absolute sense. Do you mean to tell me that it is true for the observational frame of reference 300 million light years away travelling at .999% the speed of light relative to earth? (According to Einstien, such a frame of reference omits the Eiffel Tower from reality as well as the entire human race, since it does not exist... yet.)

From a psychological perspective, claiming an absolute truth or objective reality amounts to denying the (non-zero) probability that there could have been deception, hallucination, 'dream world', high tech, magic, and any other ludicrous and ordinarily deniable explanations... you can be very certain, but can you prove a 0 percent probability? (hint: no)

While statements along the lines of the original.. "The Eiffel Tower is in Paris" is quite understandable and comprehensible by sensible people, claiming they have any bearing on an objective reality or absolute truth almost certainly stem from untestable and subjective beliefs, rather than any kind of intrinsic truth, fact, or reality.

Parrothead
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Parrothead » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:13 pm UTC

As a fan (and believer in the value) of pop science, I just hope it wasn't one of the scientists I particularly enjoy, namely Tyson and Greene. I'll be watching the third episode of Greene's new miniseries tonight, and it would be nice not to have to suspect him of lazy citations.

bharvey
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby bharvey » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:31 pm UTC

OTOH, Niklaus Wirth really did invent the Meta key.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby brenok » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:36 pm UTC

BeagleFury wrote:How do you know the statement "The Eiffel Tower is in Paris (France)" is true, in the absolute sense. Do you mean to tell me that it is true for the observational frame of reference 300 million light years away travelling at .999% the speed of light relative to earth? (According to Einstien, such a frame of reference omits the Eiffel Tower from reality as well as the entire human race, since it does not exist... yet.)


I think you are the one missing the point:

First, write Albert Einstein's name correctly, please.

Second, what the hell are you talking about? According to the Relativity Principle, the referencial is indifferent, no? And .999% of the speed of light is "only" ten million kilometers/hour, what wasn't reached by men, but nobody can confirm that any other species didn't manage to do such spaceship.

I think assuming that a "frame of reference" could "omit from reality" the human race is absolute nonsense, if not completely ridiculous.

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neoliminal
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby neoliminal » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:53 pm UTC

This is why I like simple.wikipedia.com.

Citation is not one of the 500 words you can use.
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Red Hal
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Red Hal » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:54 pm UTC

Three pages on the already well-known and self-acknowledged limitations of Wikipedia, and not one mention of Bagley, Overstock or naked short selling? I'm frankly surprised!
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radtea
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby radtea » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:57 pm UTC

jpk wrote:I'm not a physicist, but I'm pretty sure this is correct. I'm open to corrections, though.


I am a physicist, and you are correct. The people claiming "relativity says the Eiffel Tower might not be in Paris for some observers" don't understand that while geometry is changed by Lorentz transformations, topology is not. Things that are inside other (closed) things for one observer are inside those things for all observers.

Wikipedia might actually be more reliable than many sources of information simply because it is more checkable and correctable. I once traced a reference back to a paper from 1932 that had the opposite of the conclusion it was being used to support in the '90's (via a chain of intermediate references.) That was hard back in the days of dead trees, and impossible to correct.

In another case, the first five references in a fundamental paper (on double-focusing spectrometers) have errors in them, something that was endlessly frustrating as I looked up the wrong issue or page of the wrong journal in the wrong year, going through a process of guesswork to figure out that correct ones. The Web actually makes tracing and correcting references easier, and mistakes more obvious, and I count that as a win.
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby rhomboidal » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:18 am UTC

I can just see Steven Chu's updated CV, listing in increasing order of importance: Secretary of Energy, Nobel Prize winner in Physics, and Existence Cited in an xkcd Strip.

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ConMan
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby ConMan » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:53 am UTC

xkcd that mentions a Wikipedia article? Let's see how quickly the article was edited ... 9am on the dot, and 1 minute later on the Scroll lock article as well. Actually the vandalism on Stephen Chu's article was pretty light, and they waited until 6pm to semi-protect it. The vandalism was a bit heavier on the Scroll lock article, which then got semi'd at about the same time.

Still, compared to the vandalism his article was getting before, at least it was clean.
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:12 am UTC

radtea wrote:
jpk wrote:I'm not a physicist, but I'm pretty sure this is correct. I'm open to corrections, though.


I am a physicist, and you are correct. The people claiming "relativity says the Eiffel Tower might not be in Paris for some observers" don't understand that while geometry is changed by Lorentz transformations, topology is not. Things that are inside other (closed) things for one observer are inside those things for all observers.


Thanks for the confirmation, and especially for the underlined bit. I took almost those same words out of my post in the interests of brevity, so it's nice to know I was right for the right reasons.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby reebs » Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:15 am UTC

Well, i'm quite interested in the topic of the non-objectiveness of human knowledge that is being aroused here. Sorry the english, btw.

I'm supportive to the idea that there's no objective knowledge capable of unveiling something that we might call "true" or "reality". But trying to explain these kind of things with physical concepts will not do any good, as it would be trying to cut a knife with itself, as any scientific knowledge is bypassed by objective thinking - it can't escape it. It's in the very core of Science that it must believe in some kind of objective truth. I see things a little different. The world of humans it's not made of particles, atoms or any kind of concept created to explain or illustrate the world around us, although the knowledge of these concepts have great implications on our daily life, but the world of all humans(excluding some psychosis diseases, for reasons i will try to explain) is made of words, connected thought a net of symbolic relationships.

So, all we do is completely dependent of our capacity to use language - may it be spoken, written or signed. But the very nature of language is not suited for objectivism: it is all about multi-sided concepts. I shall keep this short, but exemplifying what i'm saying here is, words that seem very objective (as "chair") has many more capable meanings than that we socially accept as it's true meaning. Even the world chair in my language ("cadeira") have the meaning of "hips", in given phrases. This, expanded to the whole language system, have the effect, among many other consequences, of questioning whatever we may create objective knowledge - as knowledge is, in it's principle, words. Concepts we create to illustrate the world, forever slaved to this impossibility to mean one and only one thing, which is the ultimate goal of science: a concept (word) that would explain (would be capable of defining), with great clarity and accordingly to the observations regarding a matter (with great exactness), a single fact (a single meaning).

Of course, there is much more to this matter than i'm writing here, but that will suffice for now. Oh, psychotics would be out of this "world of words" because their psychic apparatus was not build to deal with the symbolic net of relationships (let's not enter in details now). So, they're not incapable of saying words (many, by the way, are very capable of doing so), but they are incapable entering in this socially created net of meanings and symbols that we call "reality". That's why, when trying to talk to a person that suffers from, let's say, schizophrenia, you will very rapidly discover that you both are not in the same place, nor in the same time. the information "the Eiffel Tower is in France" would be meaningless to him/her. Even if you say that IT IS THERE, all the particles are there, again, that is "true" (that "have this meaning") only to us, that share the "same" net. And even so, there would be differences and problems with thinking that this is true to everyone. that would enter the field of "who told you this?". For the most that never been to France, accepting the truth of this fact is to trust an authority, that of a photo, of a history book, of a collective of people which believes in that, etc...

Of course, you might say that even if we all die, the Eiffel Tower would remain in France, Because there is this objective reality outside us made of something very material. I would say that this matter of "outside reality" is as futile as to try answer the egg/chicken question. I would even go a little far and say that there is a personal (human) necessity in saying that there is a constant and well defined reality outside our senses - a sense that is pretty much non-existent in psychosis cases.

I would be delighted to know your opinions about the matter. =]

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby oasisob1 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:20 am UTC

There is no good way for me to warn you you about Randall's newest experiment without becoming a part of it. If I mention the the experiment explicitly, I contribute to the data. If I don't, I'm dismissed as as a crackpot forum troll. It's possible that that you may guess correctly one part of of the experiment from this post. The other part, well, I won't tell.
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:21 am UTC

coryh wrote:
jpk wrote: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.


Did you just reassess you opinion of a writer based on a few guesses by people who admitted they haven't even read the work?


You can unbunch your panties now. I haven't reassessed Pinker, I was asking people who seemed sure of themselves if they were serious in claiming that he'd cited Wikipedia. I haven't read anything of his since the Language Instinct, but I hear him cited to support all sorts of claims these days, and I have no idea what he's writing anymore. So I asked.

When you hear me say "yes, that Pinker, he's a real wiki-citer, that one" that'll be your clue that I've come to a conclusion on the matter.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:22 am UTC

oasisob1 wrote:There is no good way for me to warn you you about Randall's newest experiment without becoming a part of it. If I mention the the experiment explicitly, I contribute to the data. If I don't, I'm dismissed as as a crackpot forum troll. It's possible that that you may guess correctly one part of of the experiment from this post. The other part, well, I won't tell.


I'm just going to save myself the trouble and dismiss you as a nudnik who only posts to say that he has nothing to say, but that he might have something to say, except if he did have something to say, he wouldn't say it.

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Re: It’s what I always said.

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:37 am UTC

BAReFOOt wrote:There are no “facts”, there is no “objectivity” and most of all, there is no “absolute reality”. It’s unscientific nonsense.
“Facts” is what non-scientists use not only for a theory whose predictions were observed enough to be above their very personal trustworthiness threshold, but also everything they read, hear or see, provided it comes from an “authority”. And we all know that “authority” is just another word for “someone who has not gained our trust on the subject matter, but tells us who to trust on it”. I’m sure this just screams out “circular reasoning“ and “non-sequitur” to everyone.
But even observations about theories don’t mean what people think they mean. Which brings me to the next point:
“Objectivity” is what people call something that shows both sides of the coin with their own personal bias. ^^ And actually, if you ask most people, they don’t give a rat’s ass about showing both sides. All they care about is that it is in harmony with their personal model of reality. That’s what they call “neutral”. And everything that deviates from it, is “biased”.
But the thing is: They have to. They have no choice. Because the “absolute truth/reality” on which their “objectivity/neutrality” is based, just as much does not exist. So the only thing that’s left to compare things with, is their own model of reality / view of the world. (Those who know their neurology, know why this is “neutral” from their p.o.v..)


You're absolutely right about the problems of supposed "authorities", but you've got some of the reasoning backward. There are no authorities because there are objective facts, truth, and reality. Being objective means not being depending upon the claims, beliefs, perceptions, opinions, or other mental states of anybody. That objectivity is why nobody is a true authority: the truth, the facts, reality, are independent of anybody, so nobody can claim them as their own to assert "I am the font of all truth, my claims represent the facts, and reality is as I say it is". If there were no objective reality or truth or facts, then subjective opinion would be all there was, and people could be authorities on that; it is objectivity which undermines authority and lets us retort "that's your opinion, but it doesn't have to be mine".
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Pfhorrest
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:45 am UTC

brenok wrote:
BeagleFury wrote:How do you know the statement "The Eiffel Tower is in Paris (France)" is true, in the absolute sense. Do you mean to tell me that it is true for the observational frame of reference 300 million light years away travelling at .999% the speed of light relative to earth? (According to Einstien, such a frame of reference omits the Eiffel Tower from reality as well as the entire human race, since it does not exist... yet.)


I think you are the one missing the point:

First, write Albert Einstein's name correctly, please.

Second, what the hell are you talking about? According to the Relativity Principle, the referencial is indifferent, no? And .999% of the speed of light is "only" ten million kilometers/hour, what wasn't reached by men, but nobody can confirm that any other species didn't manage to do such spaceship.

I think assuming that a "frame of reference" could "omit from reality" the human race is absolute nonsense, if not completely ridiculous.


I think BeagleFury is referencing the relativity of simultaneity: from different reference frames, things in different places happen in different order and over different time scales. So there could be a reference frame, somewhere far away and moving very fast relative to us, from which events on Earth such as the evolution of humans, the settlement of France, and the construction of the Eiffel Tower have not occurred yet. He's not talking about high-speed travel not having occurred yet, but about the possibility of there being someone travelling at a high speed somewhere from whose reference frame we haven't occurred yet.
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:21 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
brenok wrote:
BeagleFury wrote:How do you know the statement "The Eiffel Tower is in Paris (France)" is true, in the absolute sense. Do you mean to tell me that it is true for the observational frame of reference 300 million light years away travelling at .999% the speed of light relative to earth? (According to Einstien, such a frame of reference omits the Eiffel Tower from reality as well as the entire human race, since it does not exist... yet.)


I think you are the one missing the point:

First, write Albert Einstein's name correctly, please.

Second, what the hell are you talking about? According to the Relativity Principle, the referencial is indifferent, no? And .999% of the speed of light is "only" ten million kilometers/hour, what wasn't reached by men, but nobody can confirm that any other species didn't manage to do such spaceship.

I think assuming that a "frame of reference" could "omit from reality" the human race is absolute nonsense, if not completely ridiculous.


I think BeagleFury is referencing the relativity of simultaneity: from different reference frames, things in different places happen in different order and over different time scales. So there could be a reference frame, somewhere far away and moving very fast relative to us, from which events on Earth such as the evolution of humans, the settlement of France, and the construction of the Eiffel Tower have not occurred yet. He's not talking about high-speed travel not having occurred yet, but about the possibility of there being someone travelling at a high speed somewhere from whose reference frame we haven't occurred yet.


Yes, I picked up on that. But that's as trivially stupid as claiming that the Eiffel Tower isn't in Paris for Napoleon, because it hasn't been built yet.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Turing Machine » Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:27 am UTC

I hope it's not Pinker, although Steve Sailer's criticism of that latest book worries me.

Gladwell is not a science writer, so.

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Idetuxs
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Idetuxs » Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:57 am UTC

may be off topic
EpicanicusStrikes wrote:This is precisely why Wikipedia's "List of Common Misconceptions" will be responsible for spreading errant thought for generations to come.


That article is amazing, i still cant understand how can they mention as a "myth" that hair that you shave growths thicker, blacker or coarser. Come on! every guy has empirical proofs that is not a misconception.

That made me think about references on Wikipedia, it shows four for that section but if you look into them they can be made up as well. I don't know if Cosmo magazine (trying to sell a product by the way :? ) is a reliable source.
And so to believe the rest of that entry i should check every source.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Randomness » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:01 am UTC

WhiteAvenger wrote:This happened with the German minister for economics, who was announced in 2009. His full name is Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg.
Someone had, the night before he was announced, decided to add an extra name. The next morning, all the German newspapers printed his full name - including the extra one. (Lazy journalists not checking facts.)
When someone on Wikipedia flagged this and asked for quotes to prove he really had the extra name, everyone pointed to the newspaper articles...


The important question:
When reading the articles did this dude notice the extra name or did someone have to point it out to him?

hamjudo
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby hamjudo » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:11 am UTC

Some classes of errors on Wikipedia take more work to fix, and keep fixed, than other classes of errors.

Randomness
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Randomness » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:40 am UTC

Rklawton wrote:
And if you're looking for a wee bit of fun - see if you can definitively find out the late Michael Jackson's middle name: "Joe" or "Joseph". Both version appear on legal documents...

Well as I understand* it Joe is a common abbreviation for Joseph I would guess Joseph is the full middle name. Interestingly enough my middle name is on my SScard but not my birth certificate. Would that exclude me from running from public office... since my birth certificate is obviously not mine? :wink:


*footnote edited in- understood by having a relative named Joseph and called Joe. Such a massive collection of data points.

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Re: It’s what I always said.

Postby SeaBeecb » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:07 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:You're absolutely right about the problems of supposed "authorities", but you've got some of the reasoning backward. There are no authorities because there are objective facts, truth, and reality. Being objective means not being depending upon the claims, beliefs, perceptions, opinions, or other mental states of anybody. That objectivity is why nobody is a true authority: the truth, the facts, reality, are independent of anybody, so nobody can claim them as their own to assert "I am the font of all truth, my claims represent the facts, and reality is as I say it is". If there were no objective reality or truth or facts, then subjective opinion would be all there was, and people could be authorities on that; it is objectivity which undermines authority and lets us retort "that's your opinion, but it doesn't have to be mine".


Who defines the standards for objectivity? I know just within the field I focus on, the of cognitive neuroscience, we don't have one answer. Can computer models of cognition really be objective if they are set up by the person running the experiment? I don't know enough about computer models to answer that. I do feel comfortable enough, with other methods, like say fMRI and eeg, to come up with answers like, "yes, probably, sometimes, if x, y, and z, are taken into consideration, in the experiment design, x, y, and z are done during data collection and analysis and they claim they are making is phrased considering x, y, and z limitations of these methods." However, I'm still learning and actually there is a paper that just came out, on fMRI, which I need to read and may change how I approach those questions.

The point being, sometimes, it takes extensive time and study to be able to address certain questions and sort out what BS even looks like, in a given field. This doesn't mean you should take every expert as gospel. In fact, given that experts disagree so frequently, it's always a good idea to consult several (IMHO). However, it does mean that, there are more qualified sources of information than others. In general, I think there are different levels of objectivity, with different ranges of verifiability, and claims that acknowledge this can be considered trustworthy, even if we may not know weather or not they are factual.

However, most sources aimed at the general public, phrase things in terms of "facts" and when you are not an expert in a discipline it can be hard to understand things in other terms. This is why, whenever I edit wikipedia, I look for government, university web pages, peer-reviewed sources and widely syndicated news articles. None of these are perfect, but they all have some standards of verifiability, which is better than no standards. :P

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby k1w1 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:54 am UTC

Who did invent scroll lock? Those web pages with a scrollable section inside scrollable pages are really hard to use on Android and iPad. I want to scroll lock the page to scroll and expand the section. Perhaps he could invent a scroll lock for touch screens and the facts would match the story.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Cal Engime » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:32 am 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.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathtub_hoax

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby herbys » Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:19 am UTC

One way to reduce the incidence of this sort of thing would be to mandate that cited sources NEED to be of a later date than the original edit for the piece of text referencing it.
It looks to me like something difficult to automate though. But at least if there was a rule for citations that required that post order, it could be a reason to revert edits based on unreliable (self-referencing) sources.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Yu_p » Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:30 am UTC

rmsgrey wrote:Even chronology wouldn't protect against cyclic citations - from time to time, one academic will cite preliminary results from another ("to be published at a future date") - by the time that future paper actually gets published, there can be papers citing papers which cite the original paper, allowing the person who came up with the original preliminary results to cite seemingly independent papers as support for his otherwise dubious result...

Well, the theory here would be, that every researcher has to follow citations back to the original source and judge its reliability and whether it conforms with the citing paper -- otherwise the citation isn't usable. I just don't see a way to do this reliably without losing any hope of every publishing something yourself. I have to admit though, I'm just about my master thesis, so I might just lack insights here.

Rklawton wrote:Today's strip really does happen, but we fix it when we catch on. We do this by citing one of our fundamental tenets: Wikipedia is NOT a reliable source. Therefore, an outside article containing a useful fact that cites Wikipedia is automatically not reliable and can be removed on sight. This breaks the chain illustrated in today's strip. Of course, this assumes that the journalist was ethical and cited his our her sources.
Is that anything close to realistic? I mean, it seems sane enough to be detectable, if the source in question directly cites wikipedia, but what if it cites something that cites something that cites wikipedia and one of this steps doesn't list all its references (maybe therefore looking like an original source, as close as one may get).

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby stevesong » Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:38 am UTC

It's Steven Johnson and his book "Where Good Ideas Come From". The clue is in the title of the strip i.e. "Where Citations Come From". Now as to the actual wikipedia reference, that is a little harder as the book is crammed with historical anecdote. If I had to guess, I would say it was the story of Gutenberg in the chapter on Exaptation but that is a stab in the dark.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby Kronf » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:36 am UTC

Sorry, but this time xkcd is really outdated. As others said, this happened several times for real, and even that circle has been pictured: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Beziehung_zwischen_Wikipedia_und_der_Presse.svg

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby tomandlu » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:44 am UTC

herbys wrote:One way to reduce the incidence of this sort of thing would be to mandate that cited sources NEED to be of a later date than the original edit for the piece of text referencing it.
It looks to me like something difficult to automate though. But at least if there was a rule for citations that required that post order, it could be a reason to revert edits based on unreliable (self-referencing) sources.


Even that gets complicated. For instance, I wrote an article that pointed out this problem in relation to a specific entry on wikipedia, but also confirmed that the uncited information was accurate and, in doing so, my article ended up being the citation for the information. On one level, that's absurd, but on another, my article was a good choice since it clarified that the citation was a post-citation (by this point there were several other articles that had repeated the 'fact' from wikipedia but without attribution).

I should add that I suspect that the citation issue is a big one where autobiographical articles are concerned - it's an area where journalists are particularly lazy IMHO...
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:44 pm UTC

herbys wrote:One way to reduce the incidence of this sort of thing would be to mandate that cited sources NEED to be of a later date than the original edit for the piece of text referencing it.
It looks to me like something difficult to automate though. But at least if there was a rule for citations that required that post order, it could be a reason to revert edits based on unreliable (self-referencing) sources.


That would be good, but you'd get false positives. Papers get distributed in draft form, and cite other papers also circulating in draft form, so you'll often see drafts citing works "in preparation". If those references are resolved by the time of actual publication, you can easily get a paper published in 1999 citing a paper published in 2000, and nothing odd has happened.

See the introduction to Steele and White's paper on representing floating-point numbers accurately (kurtstephens.com/files/p372-steele.pdf) for an example: the paper was widely distributed in draft form, and cited in one of Knuth's volumes well before it was actually published. I don't know if Knuth's citation mentions the actual date of publication for the floating-point paper, or how it's cited, but he is in fact citing a paper published in 1990, in a book published in about 1970, and it's entirely legitimate.
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby BeagleFury » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:59 pm UTC

jpk wrote:Yes, I picked up on that. But that's as trivially stupid as claiming that the Eiffel Tower isn't in Paris for Napoleon, because it hasn't been built yet.


Indeed. About as trivially stupid as claiming that an objective reality must necessarily exist outside the bounds of our subjective perceptions. It is a tenuous and religious position. Not saying that one should reject all personal religious beliefs -- only that as 'absolute truth', there is nothing one can do to prove or disprove it (scientificially nor mathematically) -- there simply exists no test or measure that can verify or falsify the claim. And it's not so much 'stupid' so much as it is 'meaningless' -- it adds nothing to the discussion. From the scientific point of view, our models and theories appear mind bogglingly accurate and have unprecidented power to create technology, cure disease, create wars, etc.; they have this power, without resorting to claims of them being omniscient, objective, or absolute in all time and space (I.E, we assume these things.. we don't know them.)

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby EpicanicusStrikes » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:10 pm UTC

Maybe Not wrote: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-think-i-know-about-journalism/ ) is a relatively recent concoction.


Interesting. Not exactly what I was talking about, but still interesting. From View_From_Nowhere:


"The View From Nowhere is a phrase used to describe a complex, widespread, particular kind of conflict in media ethics"

Well... no. The View From Nowhere is actually a phrase used to project a shorthand concept rather than the actual considerations behind the journalistic techniques. A Trope, if you will, and no more weighty than any other modern misuse of the term.


"A journalist who strives for objectivity may fail to exclude popular and/or widespread untrue claims and beliefs from the set of true facts."

This is why it used to be so very vital to check the veracity of a fact before reporting. That's a task which has fallen into decay, partly due to the need for instant response from new services and also by the addition of a myriad set of untrained observers being given their own global stage.


As for Rosen's contribution? He's failing to impress me. Particularly withnin this:

"There’s a reason why the word narrative has been on the rise in journalism, almost to the point of cliche. It’s become obvious to people that good information alone cannot inform us. News stories pushed at us can be defeated by narratives with greater pull. Under conditions of abundance, the arc of attention matters more than the availability of information."

What, exactly, is a narrative? Is it the factual reconstruction of a story's background, or is it the attempt to provoke an emotional response by adding superfluous discriptives in order to inflate less relevant details? Many sources which may have otherwise been trustworty have become so obsessed with market shares that they no longer care. Stories are often written as if they were novelizations of a story simply to maintain their audience's dwindling attention span.

Regardless, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm referring to the reporter standing in the middle of a raging surf discussing how he just lost his hat due to hurrcane force winds, or perhaps wading through an isolated section of floodwater while describing how wet his nipples have become.

That's bad journalism. So is the over use of self references like "I have never before seen...", or "My own mind was blown..." That misuse of identity naturally leads to "I'll tell you what I think..."

We shouldn't need to know what the reporter thinks. We should need to know what accredited experts think. We also shouldn't have to be exposed to an image of a woman crying over a cat lost in an earthquake before we understand how devestating the event was. That doesn't stop reporters from selecting a single individual in an attempt to drive home the emotion of a story under the assumption that we can only understand something as individuals, ourselves.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby tomandlu » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:22 pm UTC

EpicanicusStrikes wrote:
Maybe Not wrote: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.


Interesting. Not exactly what I was talking about, but still interesting. From View_From_Nowhere:


... and don't forget Gonzo Journalism.

Gonzo journalism is a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative. The word "gonzo" is believed to be first used in 1970 to describe an article by Hunter S. Thompson, who later popularized the style. The term has since been applied to other subjective artistic endeavors.
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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby vectro » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:25 pm UTC

Dawkins. Has to be Dawkins.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby EpicanicusStrikes » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:37 pm UTC

tomandlu wrote:... and don't forget http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonzo_journalism]Gonzo Journalism.


Good for widespread readership, bad for informed readership.

So I guess it depends on what you want out of your information. Do you want to be entertained or do you want to be informed? I could, I suppose, view Dan Simmons' novel "Carrion Comfort" as both a scientific exploration of psychic phenomena and a documentary of the human psyche when freed of normal social constraints. But then, that'd be insane.

Expecting a journalist to even accurately portray his own emotions and personal experiences would be equally insane. A "Gonzo" reporter could well be inventing their supposed reactions and opinions on the spur of the moment much like any other entertainer will in order to retain an audience.

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:43 pm UTC

vectro wrote:Dawkins. Has to be Dawkins.


Really? Why?

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Re: 0978: "Citogenesis"

Postby jpk » Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:52 pm UTC

tomandlu wrote:
... and don't forget Gonzo Journalism.


Hunter S. Thompson was a brilliant writer on his good days, and you can learn a lot from reading him, but nobody ever accused him of reportage.

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Re: It’s what I always said.

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:23 pm UTC

SeaBeecb wrote:Who defines the standards for objectivity?

Nobody defines them - that's what makes them objective. We can argue for the use of some standard or another and hopefully come to a consensus on one, but if we're all being rational then it's the strength of that argument on its own, not anything about the fact that we are putting it forth, which supports that consensus. The scientific community has long since settled on repeatable observation as the standard of objectivity, and it's reasonable to use that to mediate our disagreements because observations are from something independent of any of us (the whole "reality is what doesn't go away when you stop believing in it" bit), and if they are repeatable then they are accessible to any of us (we don't have to take each other's words for it), so we can mutually appeal to them to give an answer which is applicable to all of us, but unbiased toward any of us, and is thus objective.

The problem is that observations really only directly tell us when we're wrong; at best they shrug and gesture vaguely in some direction when we ask what's right then. Beyond simply falsifying a theory, actually developing a theory and building support for it is educated guesswork, looking for patterns and making inductive, and therefore uncertain, inferences; and then asking further observations whether there's anything wrong with those inferences, again only getting a solid response if the answer is "yes, here's a problem". Otherwise, all we can say are variably tentative degrees of "maybe not, yet" (that is, maybe there's not a problem, that we've found yet; or conversely, maybe the theory is correct, as far as we can tell thus far).

Since the strongest objective answer we can ever get as to the truth of a proposition is a very confident "maybe", nobody ever has objective authority to say "this is the way it is, kid" (though we can frequently say with good authority that "that's just not the way things are").

However...

The point being, sometimes, it takes extensive time and study to be able to address certain questions and sort out what BS even looks like, in a given field. This doesn't mean you should take every expert as gospel. In fact, given that experts disagree so frequently, it's always a good idea to consult several (IMHO). However, it does mean that, there are more qualified sources of information than others. In general, I think there are different levels of objectivity, with different ranges of verifiability, and claims that acknowledge this can be considered trustworthy, even if we may not know weather or not they are factual.


This is a very good, but different, point. We are by necessity lazy in testing our beliefs; nobody has the time and resources to personally verify the entire chain of evidence supporting every detail of every theory they work with, especially with complex and subtle subjects like yours. We have to delegate some of that work to other people who have already done it, and I agree that their declared methods are the best way of choosing who to delegate to: we can say "look, I can't double-check all of your work, but I can see that you're going about things the right way so I'll take your word on it". We can also delegate checking our delegate's work to others, and give more trust to those whose work has been double-checked by many others who likewise adhere to methods we trust.

In this way people can develop a different sense of authority, and a more valid one. There may be no authority in the sense of "this is so, and you should believe it is so, because I say it is so, and who are you to question me", but there is definitely authority in the sense of "I say this is so, and you can check that for yourself in this way; but I have a strong history of being right for the right reasons, so if you don't have time to check it yourself, you're pretty safe taking my word for it." It's the difference between "you have to take my word for it" and "you don't have to, but you're pretty safe doing so."

But even then, all there is to take their word on or not is the strength of their "maybe". If they're saying "this is so" absolutely, then you can tell right away that that claim is unjustified; although "this is very probably so" may be justified, and you could perhaps trust them on that.
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Re: It’s what I always said.

Postby jpk » Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:08 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
SeaBeecb wrote:Who defines the standards for objectivity?

Nobody defines them - that's what makes them objective.


I can't find the "stand up and cheer" button.


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