[extropy-chat] Education monopolies [was: Education in 2030]

Anders Sandberg asa at nada.kth.se
Sun Jan 28 02:19:41 UTC 2007

My esteem for a paper that I am reading tends to drop if I find that it
cites Wikipedia, Encyclopedia britannica or any other encyclopedia. They
are great information sources but not the primary information, quite often
not even the secondary. Citing them shows that the author is very new to
the field. The same goes to a lesser degree when I see cites of textbooks;
that screams "I'm not really an expert, but..." - not necessarily a sign
of a bad paper, but a sign that the author is trying to bridge their main
area with some area they know less well.

A lot of the citation rules are unwritten, local to different fields,
biased and only learned through academic imitation. Some are good, some
are silly, and some hurt independent thinking. As I often joke, in
medicine you write "The brain [1], is an organ [2] commonly found in the
head [3,4] thought to be important in thinking [5-10, but see 11]" - and
so on, anything less than three pages of references is too thin. In
computer science you have five citations for the whole paper: one to Alan
Turing or von Neumann, one to another paper and three to your own previous
papers and tech reports describing how earlier versions work.

Now I'm going off to bed to read Freita's _Kinematic Self-Replicating
Machines_. He is a guy who knows to cite in bulk! Yum yum!

Anders Sandberg,
Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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