[R] Re: Candid comment

John Maindonald john.maindonald at anu.edu.au
Tue Jul 9 01:30:16 CEST 2002

Peter Dalgaard writes:

> Bill.Venables at cmis.csiro.au writes:
> > [WNV]  Now there's an insight!  In fact I think that once you get used to
> > the style you get to appreciate it.  The commercial world substitutes
> > politeness for candour.  True candour can be disconcerting but it does get
> > the message across much quicker.  

> Also, this has less to do with free software than with the Usenet
> (and general academic) traditions of dealing with students. It is
> necessary to avoid actually doing their homework for them, but you
> can supply a hint or two, often in the style of indicating what the
> true purpose of the exercise is and how the student was expected to
> attack it. That's essentially what happened here, and yes, it is
> patronizing, but that sort of lies in the relations from the start.

However, it is the abuse of methodology that we should really go
after, not failure to read or understand the manual!

We could do with a great deal more candour in the academic world.  In
the arena of publications, there is a huge amount of publication of
potboilers (well, this may not matter too much; some have their uses)
and total nonsense, (which does matter), in pursuit of what many seem
to regard as a game.  Some editors and editorial boards are not
interested in doing a lot about cases of blatant nonsense that may be
drawn to their attention.  I entered a correspondence with the editor
and editorial board (the journal did purport to be hard science, but
the use of `economic' in the title might be a giveaway) in one
particularly bad case a couple of years ago; I documented a dozen
statements on statistical matters that were just wrong.  The board
really did not want to know about it - we have hurdles, some baddies
jump them, that is the way it is!

This list seems to me a useful meeting point between user
communities who may have different traditions and different
standards of use of statistical methodology.

John Maindonald                     email : john.maindonald at anu.edu.au
Centre for Bioinformation Science,  phone : (6125)3473        
c/o MSI,                            fax   : (6125)5549 
John Dedman Mathematical Sciences Building (Building 27)
Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200
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