Michael Peterson

This conversation is closed.

Is there Academic Integrity on the internet?

Has the Internet reduced conversation to dueling sophistry? Should patently stupid ideas be allowed as though they have some merit? Does Creationism really warrent the same respect as evolutionary biology? Is there anyroom for religiouis or political ideas in scientific debate? In standard academic debate evidence is required, why is that not the standard on the net?

  • thumb
    Apr 30 2013: Open internet discussions are typically social rather than academic, so the conventions and development in internet conversation look more like offline social conversations than academic discussion. Conversations on the internet do not follow the form or standards of academic conversation, unless you are actually reading on the net transcriptions of academic conversations.

    This is one reason that students cannot cite internet discussions as sources in research for school.

    But the deviation between internet standards and academic standards goes beyond conversations: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/08/health/for-scientists-an-exploding-world-of-pseudo-academia.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
    • May 1 2013: For the vast majority that's probably true, but not for all. Some of us are looking to learn new things all the time. Unfortunately, most are social because they don't have anything new to offer or defend. Most of academia offers nothing new, its just copy and paste, you know, like you. I'm not saying that's bad, because we all need cubicle smarts. Humans need more,they're always looking for change, just listen to political debates, its all about change, when there is no change. Listen to a set of guys, its about different women and the same for women, speaking of different guys.

      There is no social, its a meat factory, if you but listen. Yes, there are the few that live for each other, but the majority are taught conflict from the start, just like the stupidity of dems vs repubs. Both act like Complete idiots.

      If you think you can defend, have at it, I'm here to learn and psychology is my favorite.
    • thumb
      May 1 2013: The link left me speechless. I hadn't considers criminal motivation.
      • thumb
        May 1 2013: A friend who teaches at a major university sent me that link, because he knows I have a professional interest in tools and environments people use for self-directed, life-long learning. He and his colleagues are continuously approached by these journals to lend their credibility to them..
        • thumb
          May 3 2013: So money has a corruptive effect on academic integrity?
      • thumb
        May 3 2013: The journals in question are not associated with academia, but just copy the form! Actual academics, as you can see from the NYT article, steer clear of the scam.

        By analogy, people who pretend to be surgeons and manage to waltz into a clinic and practice surgery without a license are not appropriately used as evidence that money corrupts doctors.
        • thumb
          May 3 2013: I think we can use academic in it's broadest sense.
          perhaps I should have used the word intellectual. as an aside I would argue that the entire practice of medicine on a fee for service basis is corrupt , amounting to little better than extortion.
      • thumb
        May 3 2013: It is indeed a good idea when a term has multiple different common uses to indicate which one is using. Unfortunately claims often get separated from the definitions people intended.
  • thumb
    May 29 2013: Yes, there is academic integrity on the internet. But you have to know where to find it.
  • May 1 2013: I had a fellow classmate a while back who was both a creationist and an evolutionist...if that makes sense. He believe in a world that was created by a supernatural being (God) in order to have the capability for evolution to occur. He was a bio-chemistry major and a Christian. A very unique case, I know, but one that I thought of when reading this. And as much credibility that can be found in scientific debates, I strongly believe that the application (or understanding) of scientific ideas and theories in a real world situation is vital. The failure of something to function properly within context is important, whether that context is physical or social. Much like how Rachel Carson wrote of the failure of people to understand the effects of pesticides in a real world setting, outside of the lab.

    To be honest, I may be attempting to argue for the other side in an attempt to get some lively debate. Hopefully you are finding this as enjoyable as I am.
  • thumb
    May 1 2013: Who is to judge whether an idea is patently stupid? There was a time not so long ago when the idea of a "round world" was regarded as absurd. Lack of scientific evidence should NEVER prevent a creative idea to be discussed.

    “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
    • thumb
      May 3 2013: Then it's fine with you if they were to teach that there is a possibility that the world is flat. And I guess kicking around the notion that the moon is made of green cheese is a useful exercise. So one idea no matter how many times is been disproven is as valuable as the next. And of course;"Who is to judge weather an idea is 'creative'?
  • May 1 2013: I think the beauty and the short-fall of internet discussions and information is the lack of evidence backed debates. It's beautiful because it allows for an individual, despite what their academic background may be, to get involved in discussions, voice opinions, get knocked down, and learn from it. It is a much more dynamic and fluid way to learn from your mistakes through a good discussion. As long as someone is willing to be wrong. On the other hand, lack of evidence backing an argument when someone refuses to keep an open mind can be very frustrating. With a lack of requirement that you prove your statements true, people can argue just because they want to, and it can deteriorate a good debate into "I'm right, you're wrong" and finger pointing.

    As for the other half of your question, I think that Creationism, religion, and political ideas should be welcomed into a scientific debate. Though it can be frustrating for an Evolutionist to argue with a Creationist, I believe, and have seen, individuals who believe in Creationism, and deeply religious and political, who argue intellectually their stance, and provide interesting and though-provoking talking points to be considered. Within any scientific, political, or religious mind set, there can be many different ways to see an issue, and it is important, I think, for scientists to understand how their theories and discussions function in other debates when they reach outside of the scientific community.
    • thumb
      May 1 2013: I couldn't agree with you less. I like to talk to my dogs. I line them up and ask them weather a dog can be a buddha. No matter how much they try they can't answer the question. They are dogs. While I think that all people should be treated with respect and dignity they all don't have the same to contribute. Jerry Lewis may have been a Genius but He would have no business Telling Einstein about physics. What about Creationism has any scientific merit? It's wrong on all the facts. It's as silly as believing that the earth is flat Or the sun revolves around the earth.Or should we teach that the earth is flat? Why not one if not the other? Are some arguements better than others? Or are they all the same so that facts don't matter?
      • May 1 2013: I'm not saying that all Creationists should have a voice - there are plenty of people out there who have unfounded beliefs which make no sense. But if the top 5% of well-versed and academically studied individuals who still believe what they believe want to have a say in a conversation, I think they should. I have seen cross-discipline discussions/debates reveal deep insights into issues, due to the ability to understand multiple sides to a problem. Though they aren't as polarizing as evolution vs. creationism, I'd like to believe that a multifaceted perspective on an issue would be powerful and interesting.

        A good example would be alternative energy. We could get a room full of engineers to discuss the issue, and only get so far, due to the fact that once alternative energy ideas/theories enter the real world, you hit conflict from various stakeholders that reach far beyond anything that you can usually imagine within an enclosed setting. Suddenly, you are wrestling with politics, economics, business incentives, finances, environmentalists, social concerns, and so on and so forth. So i would like to believe that the sooner multiple perspectives are taken into account, the better.

        I'm not saying Jerry Lewis should tell Einstein about physics, but when a specific issue presents itself where there is some serious level of overlap, there would be good reason for them to discuss with each other.
        • thumb
          May 1 2013: I would argue that if there are 'sids' the conversation is about religion. There are facts and then there are competing agendas. BTW there is no such thing as a well-versed creationist as it is a denial of physical facts. Nietzsche said “I mistrust all systematizers and avoid them. the will to a system is a lack of integrity." Science requires that positions taken are shed in light of fact, Religion does not, how can you argue with someone that has an immutable position? And there is certainly no credible position that can be taken to denigns global climate change. I mean who cares what stakeholders think? Maybe I've asked the wrong question?
  • May 1 2013: There are different sites. Why would integrity be missing where it belongs?
    • thumb
      May 1 2013: I agree with your underlying point, George, that the standards, culture, or rules are different in different places. Specifically, they are more flexible in settings that have a priority of including people with widely different interests and tastes.

      A site like Edge.org, for example, expects academic standards of discourse and is open to anyone to read but participation is offered only to prominent public intellectuals.

      Many people whose tastes run very much to academic-type discourse spend part or most of their time in settings, often offline, where that is very much the norm, but may also enjoy interacting in other settings that are not entirely rigorous or even rigorous at all, in part to share ideas with a wider range of people than their professional, or typical, communities normally afford them. Similarly, many people may read a combination of scholarly material (which meets academic standards) and lighter fare.

      I notice that the huge discussion forums for the MOOC courses also have a combination of discourse with an academic flavor and discourse more typical of internet forums, with both accepted within the format.

      On the other hand, at universities offering for credit courses online, the discussion forums are moderated so that academic discourse is separated in a moderated forum and a "cafe" with at most light moderation is set up for more typical internet-style conversation.