[R] Re: Candid comment

Michael_Nielsen/Syd/Synergy.SYNERGY@synergy.com.au Michael_Nielsen/Syd/Synergy.SYNERGY at synergy.com.au
Tue Jul 9 03:35:30 CEST 2002


While I agree with John about abuse of methodology, I can't subscribe to
the "failure to read the manual" proposition.

I don't mean to lecture, but it would seem to me that people who, like me,
will probably gain far more from this list than we will be able to
contribute (at least in the near term) owe it to those who will likely
contribute far more than they will actually gain to do our homework before
asking the list.  The risk of enduring a withering (and public) "Ripley"
for being apparently unprepared (whether valid or not), is probably a small
price to pay for the number of "how do I use R to compute the mean"
questions that are likely filtered out as a consequence.  On the other
hand, big contributors are surely entitled (but not, I suppose, obliged) to
say what they like.

Enjoying the benefits of free software and associated resources carries
with it the duty of appropriate diligence in problem solving and




                    John Maindonald                                                                                                                   
                    <john.maindonald at anu        To:     r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch                                                                      
                    .edu.au>                    cc:                                                                                                   
                    Sent by:                    Subject:     [R] Re: Candid comment                                                                   
                    owner-r-help at stat.ma                                                                                                              
                    09/07/2002 09:30 AM                                                                                                               

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
> > the style you get to appreciate it.  The commercial world substitutes
> > politeness for candour.  True candour can be disconcerting but it does
> > 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
r-help mailing list -- Read http://www.ci.tuwien.ac.at/~hornik/R/R-FAQ.html
Send "info", "help", or "[un]subscribe"
(in the "body", not the subject !)  To: r-help-request at stat.math.ethz.ch

r-help mailing list -- Read http://www.ci.tuwien.ac.at/~hornik/R/R-FAQ.html
Send "info", "help", or "[un]subscribe"
(in the "body", not the subject !)  To: r-help-request at stat.math.ethz.ch

More information about the R-help mailing list