Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I figure we should write some kind of response for their comments section. How about something like this:


A few pointers on netiquette

The internet as a media platform is distinct in several ways from the more traditional print media, to such an extent that stylistic choices that are valid on one platform should not necessarily be carried over to another. Hence, the evolution of a number of rules of thumb regarding online publishing which have been summarised as 'netiquette.' There are, in particular, three aspects of netiquette that seem pertinent to this column:

  1. If you write something about someone - doubly so if said something can be construed as disparaging - it is considered polite to furnish the reader with a link to the subject of your writings, so said reader can judge for himself whether you present the subject's position fairly. The relevant links in this case are http://www.stopblair.eu and http://www.eurotrib.com

  2. If you claim that a paper from the peer-reviewed literature has been refuted, it is considered a strike against your credibility when you fail to furnish the reader with a reference to the paper in question and a reference (preferably a direct link) to a few of the more convincing rebuttals available. Unfortunately, I cannot furnish the reader with such a link myself, as I have yet to see a convincing rebuttal of the [i]Lancet[/i] study.

  3. When commenting on a multitude of distinct subject who express similar but not identical views, it is commonly considered ethically questionable to fail to distinguish between such subjects. Furthermore, to first paraphrase one identified subject and then move on to disparage the views of some amorphous group of unidentified people who are alleged to hold similar but not quite identical views, raises some concern that the inattentive reader might mistake the latter for the former, thus ascribing to people views that they do not, in fact, favour.

It is not, of course, reasonable to hold up violations of netiquette by established print media as evidence of duplicity or lack of ethics. After all, in the world of print media, hyperlinks and urls are both impractical and distracting, and traditionally print media has concerned itself mostly with public figures from whom clarifications on ambiguities are easily obtained.

However, the online branches of said established print media would, in my considered opinion, be wise to concern themselves with netiquette so that casual readers who know them chiefly or solely for their online work do not mistake the stylistic foibles of print media for duplicity and thus erroneously come to the conclusion that the publishing house in question hews to dubious ethical standards in its craft.

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that I am associated with both the European Tribune and the StopBlair project, although I have financial involvement in neither.


I tried to strike a tone of 'caustically polite' and I like to think I've succeeded pretty well :-P

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 8th, 2008 at 03:54:46 PM EST
to Number 2 I'd add thatthey seem to have missed the Ministry of defences chief scientific advisors comments

BBC NEWS | Politics | Iraqi deaths survey 'was robust'

The British government was advised against publicly criticising a report estimating that 655,000 Iraqis had died due to the war, the BBC has learnt.

Iraqi Health Ministry figures put the toll at less than 10% of the total in the survey, published in the Lancet.

But the Ministry of Defence's chief scientific adviser said the survey's methods were "close to best practice" and the study design was "robust".

Another expert agreed the method was "tried and tested".

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Feb 8th, 2008 at 08:19:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Close to best practise is also what I gathered from the blogosphere.

But I'm not trying to make the case for the Lancet's report. I'd be trying to make the cranks make a case against it, because, frankly, I see no need to spend time finding thoughtful arguments against an unsupported assertion. If you go down that road, the cranks can engage in a Gish Gallop, making shit up as they go along, and you'll be left trying to refute every little detail - ceding control of the direction of the conversation.

The cranks made a claim about the state and nature of the peer-reviewed literature, and I say that if we engage them over it, we refuse to treat them as mature adults until they have backed it up. They have no claim on our time and effort as long as they're making shit up as they go along.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 02:51:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a historical anecdote about a conversation between Kurchatov (father of Russian atomic program) and Lavrenti Beria (last chief of Stalin's secret police, who was personally responsible for the bomb project). When Beria tried to teach Kurchatov how do deal with some program, he got an answer: "We didn't read each other's scientific papers, but, I am afraid, for different reasons".
by Sargon on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 10:15:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series