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Busting academics

As I crawl through the social science literature — a very painful endeavour, believe me — it fills me with disgust to see how much bullshit is being spread as authors randomly insert citations into their text to back up some claim they need to argue their case.

Often, the claim is something in which I am interested, so I go out and seek the reference they cite only to find that the referenced authors say nothing even remotely related to the claim for which they were cited. It is happening all over the place, and even in articles that appeared in "renowned" journals.

If we ever get to the point where all academic articles are properly interlinked so that references can be automatically checked — and I don't mean just checked for correctness of the reference data, but for actual correctness of the reference — then the population of academics will probably shrink to single-digit percentages, at least for the social sciences; I don't recall it being much different when I was researching artificial intelligence a few years ago though.

Until then, I am compiling a list. Whether I'll publish it and point journal editors at, or just send it to the journals depends on my mood at the time.

NP: Guns 'n' Roses: Appetite for Destruction