Samuel Klein wrote:
Some motivation for a proper WikiCite project.
This blurs the line between episteme and gnosis.
Any article that includes 321 citations must be right. ;-)
I would certainly not be in a position to comment on the medical issues
involved, but it would be difficult to imagine a field of knowledge
where such processes do not prevail.
Wikipedia is not exempt from these processes, and may be even more
vulnerable to them. Our own notion of "reliable sources" can easily
work to reinforce biases. It presumes that we have mechanisms in place
for determining when a source is reliable. If such a "reliable source"
is cited there is very little inclination to dispute it. For
independent researchers the tools needed to investigate citations may
only be available with great difficulty.
In a quest to adapt knowledge to orderliness it is too easy to
underestimate the vastness of available knowledge.
=============== Begin forwarded message ==================
"How citation distortions create unfounded authority: analysis of a
Objective -To understand belief in a specific scientific claim by
studying the pattern of citations among papers stating it.
Design - A complete citation network was constructed from all PubMed
indexed English literature papers addressing the belief that \u03b2
amyloid, a protein accumulated in the brain in Alzheimer\u2019s
disease, is produced by and injures skeletal muscle of patients with
inclusion body myositis. Social network theory and graph theory were
used to analyse this network.
Main outcome measures - Citation bias, amplification, and invention,
and their effects on determining authority.
The network contained 242 papers and 675 citations addressing the
belief, with 220 553 citation paths supporting it. Unfounded authority
was established by citation bias against papers that refuted or
weakened the belief; amplification, the marked expansion of the belief
system by papers presenting no data addressing it; and forms of
invention such as the conversion of hypothesis into fact through
citation alone. Extension of this network into text within grants
funded by the National Institutes of Health
and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed the same
phenomena present and sometimes used to justify requests for funding.
Citation is both an impartial scholarly method and a powerful form of
social communication. Through distortions in its social use that
include bias, amplification, and invention, citation can be used to
information cascades resulting in unfounded authority of claims.
Construction and analysis of a claim specific citation network may
clarify the nature of a published belief system and expose distorted
methods of social citation.