Re: [asa] Denver RATE Conference (Thousands...Not Billions)_Part 2

From: Steven M Smith <>
Date: Thu Oct 18 2007 - 13:59:18 EDT

"Michael Roberts" wrote on 10/18/2007 04:35:38 AM:
> You have not actually said it, but are you saying that B either
> doesn't know what he is talking about or his whole approach is full
> of what Winston Churchill called terminological inexactitudes.

'Terminological inexactitudes'! I hadn't heard that one before. Churchill
was great with words. I'll have to use that comment on some of the
articles that I peer review!

Although it was not his primary field of research, Baumgardner probably
knows more about radiocarbon than I do. What I find when I hear him talk
or read his articles is that he is an advocate for his point of view
(POV). Thus he emphasizes those facts that support his POV and minimizes,
disregards, or even ignores those facts that do not. This differs from a
good -- or perhaps the ideal -- scientific journal article that
dispassionately lays out a fair summary of previous work and evidence,
adds details of the new study and findings, and then discusses the
conclusions in light of all of the evidence. Since none of us are experts
in every sub-topic for each sub-discipline within the specialty for our
chosen field of science, we depend on the authors (and subsequent
peer-reviewers) to ensure that these articles are inclusive and balanced.
The problem that I have with Baumgardner's approach is that when I apply
the same techniques to his articles that I use when peer-reviewing science
articles submitted for publication, I do not find balance and fair
consideration of opposing evidence and views -- I find one-sided advocacy.

I like the way Kirk responded to Michael's statement ( I don't see willful
deception but simply an invincible hold to a preconceived POV. That which
supports the POV is accepted; that which does not is irrelevant.

I include a bit of doggerel that serves as a warning to all of us.

  We are most easily deceived,
     When answers received,
 Meet with notions preconceived,
   Or doctrine long believed.

  (Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein are my own and are not to be
attributed to my employer ... or anyone else.)
  Steven M. Smith, Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey
  Box 25046, M.S. 973, DFC, Denver, CO 80225
  Office: (303)236-1192, Fax: (303)236-3200
  -USGS Nat'l Geochem. Database NURE HSSR Web Site-

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Received on Thu Oct 18 14:00:10 2007

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