George Herbert wrote:
On 12/28/06, Ray Saintonge <saintonge(a)telus.net>
George Herbert wrote:
Is there any agreement for there being a manner in
which to demonstrate to
the community's consensus satisfaction that a claimed source has been added
fraudulently and either does not really exist or does not really say what
the citation claims it does?
No. The burden of proving that a source has been fraudulently added is
on the person making the claim of fraud. Whether a source that is not
directly quoted says what is claimed is often a matter of interpretation.
What I seem to have been seeing here is that
there's an unreasonable
tendency to assume that a citation is legitimate.
Why is that unreasonable? Such a presumption (rather than assumption)
is consistent with assuming good faith on the part of the writer.
We consistently see situations where obviously, someone involved in a
dispute is not acting in good faith.
What makes them obvious?
The ability of subtle vandals to, for example, edit
includes putting fake sources in, or making claims regarding sources which
are difficult to verify (find a book in Library of Congress or Amazon, but
which you can't locate in any convenient normal library catalogs, and then
claim that it says so-and-so; simply fabricate a book name/ISBN).
Fake sources and ones that are difficult to track down are two different
things. Finding the book in the Library of Congress catalog or on
Amazon sounds like good enough proof that the book exists. Abebooks
would also be a good source. How much more convenient would you want
it? No bibliography for a written book mormally lists the libraries
containing those books. Why should we pose such an extraordinary
demand? I have a copy of Jeremy Collier's "Historical Dictionary"
printed in 1701, and I would be quite willing to cite in the right
circumstances. I would have no obligation to track down other copies.
It's easy to defend the first - someone can find a
reference to the
existence of the book with a little effort, but is unlikely to be able to
find any copies to see what's really in it.
If you have satisfied yourself that the book exists there must be some
hint of where the book is located. If it's not convenient for you, but
is nevertheless important because of strong suspicions that the entry is
fraudulent get somebody else to check it out.
It's a little harder to defend the second if we
have reasonable standards,
such as "A reliable book source has to have some sort of verifyable
bibliographic entry SOMEWHERE". If the burden of proof is on the disprover,
however, it's nearly impossible to ever meet that burden.
The first burden of proof that the information in an article is accurate
is indeed with the persdon submitting the material; there is no
obligation to disprove there. That burden of proof is shifted when
there is a positive claim of fraud; such a claim introduces a dimension
beyond merely disproving the claims made by the writer.
I would prefer
were a healthy degree of skepticism associated
with citations - any citation
that does not contain enough information for a reasonable researcher to
locate the original source, or at least verify the existence of the original
source, should be challengable in a reasonable manner.
If you doubt the citation you can always check it out. There should
undoubtedly be standards for what a citation includes. In the unusual
circumstances where you think you have a bogus citation you should start
by asking the contributor about it.
Right, so I see citation X, saying so-and-so, and the contributor says "Oh,
well, that's what it says." I can't find any evidence that the reference
book actually even exists. "Please tell me where to find a copy of the
book", I ask the contributor, who then either says nothing in return, or
claims it's in the University of So-and-So library, where the University of
So-and-So has plans to put its catalog online sometime in 2011 due to budget
I too would be suspicious of an apparently evasive answer. If the
library does not have an online catalog it shoudl still have a card
catalog, or a catalog on microfiche which you can look up.when you go there.