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Re: [APD] Baloney Detection
Yeah, nice work if you can get it. But there aren't many
refereed journals dealing with aquatic gardening.
--- Jerry Baker <jerry at bakerweb_biz> wrote:
> I was reading a page about "baloney detection"
> (http://www.physics.smu.edu/%7Epseudo/baloney.html) and
> it struck me
> that some of the points have particular relevance in our
> hobby. With all
> the products out there (most of which are probably
> legit), it helps to
> keep a few of these points in mind:
> 1. How is the claim/discovery announced?
> If a claim or discovery is announced by holding a press
> rather than being published in a scientific journal,
> beware. Such a
> claim may be unverified. Also beware of "discovery"
> announcements that
> ask you to subscribe (pay) to some newsletter.
> 3. Is anecdotal evidence cited?
> Anecdotes, or individual stories, are not scientifically
> useful. Such a
> story suggests only that the individual did so-and-so
> (assuming no
> fakery). Nothing about larger populations can be inferred
> from it. Any
> description of an invention or product which uses large
> numbers of
> anecdotes or testimonials is suspect. You also must
> remember that
> testimonials can be bought; you can pay someone to do it
> for you. Also -
> the Federal Trade Commission will prosecute false claims,
> testimonials are not regulated.
> 7. Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
> It is very important to find out if other investigators
> have tried to
> replicate the work. Toward this end, real scientists will
> complete information about the work, enough for another
> investigator to attempt replication. Others will repeat
> the work and
> publish the results.
> 8. Is this source offering a new explanation for observed
> phenomena, or
> simply attacking the existing explanation?
> As with claims of suppression, this claim does not offer
> any evidence
> that the discovery is valid. Anyone attacking an existing
> had better offer evidence. Absent evidence, all you know
> is that they do
> not like the existing explanation, for whatever reason.
> 12. What does the bulk of evidence point to - the new
> claim or something
> Is the source focusing on one small thing and ignoring a
> huge base of
> accumulated evidence that points to something else? Be
> sure to look at
> the claim in the context of current knowledge.
> 13. What kind of reasoning has been used?
> Beware of "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc" thinking; this
> implies confusion
> about causation. This latin adage translates as "after
> this, therefore
> because of this." If A happened then B happened, then
> obviously A caused
> B. This is a very bad assumption. A claim that A caused B
> must be
> accompanied by credible evidence showing how A caused B.
> To put it
> simply, correlation does not mean causation.
> 16. Is it possible to test the claim?
> Explanations that do not make any testable predictions
> are of no use.
> They do not add to knowledge.
> 20. Is the claim/discovery really spectacular?
> Scientists will tell you that "extraordinary claims
> extraordinary evidence." They mean exactly that. If the
> claim is that
> life has been found on Mars or that someone has found a
> way to eliminate
> aging, really extraordinary evidence will be required to
> demonstrate it.
> A vague observation or a few anecdotes will not do the
> 21. Beware of special pleadings.
> Be especially wary of any claim or excuse that the
> claimed effect cannot
> be measured for some reason. It may be that "the presence
> of a skeptic
> contaminates the effect", or "attempting to measure the
> effect destroys
> it", or "bad vibrations interfered", or something like
> that. ***An
> "effect" that cannot be measured likely does not
> exist.*** (emphasis added).
> Jerry Baker
> Aquatic-Plants mailing list
> Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com
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