Panda's Thumb receives another undeserved web award
Nearly 50 years after Dr. Eugene Garfield began collecting and indexing scholarly research data, Thomson Scientific continues his emphasis on quality and relevance – carefully selecting and indexing the core literature published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, books, and proceedings.
Built upon a well-established selection process, the multidisciplinary Thomson Scientific database is the foundation of every ISI Web of Knowledge resource. Editors selecting content for these resources rely on various indicators, including citation analysis, journal publishing standards, and the confirmation of the application of peer review. With these tools, Thomson Scientific can assess the scholarly merit of the journals being evaluated for coverage.
The explosion of the Internet during the latter part of the 1990’s, however, radically altered the way people find and share information. Although scholarly journals still remain the vehicle of choice for conveying research results, the Internet has become an important research tool. Through searching the Internet, researchers and scholars can find relevant ancillary materials that would not normally appear in journals or books. . . . . .
The Internet also enables researchers from all around the world to participate in common projects and contribute to (or search) shared, interactive databases. Bulletin boards and discussion forums allow people to communicate freely and effectively with others in their research community (emphasis added) . . . . .
Sounds a little like what I've been saying, doesn't it?
The website continues,
Because of the power and popularity of the Internet, Thomson Scientific made the decision several years ago to complement the extensive bibliographic information we already provide our customers by developing a collection of scholarly Web sites – Current Web Contents (CWC). To do this, the Web Content Editors in the Editorial Development Department identify Web sites and evaluate them by determining how the Web site adheres to a number of selection criteria. These criteria include authority, accuracy, currency, navigation and design, applicability and content, scope, audience level, and quality of writing. (emphasis added)
Despite the point about people supposedly being allowed to "communicate freely and effectively with others in their research community," Thomson Scientific's selection criteria do not include freedom from arbitrary censorship of comments and commenters.
Thomson Scientific's website continues,
Objective, correct, referenced, or professionally sponsored information is a mark of accuracy. An indication of bias, however, could be a mark of inaccuracy. Bias is possible with for-profit sponsorship of research or with sponsorship by advocacy groups. For example, a conflict of interest may arise when a for-profit pharmaceutical firm hosts a pharmaceutical society page or when a nuclear engineering trade association sponsors a site on nuclear energy.
Arbitrary censorship of comments and commenters is also an indication of bias, but the above statement implies that bias occurs only with for-profit sponsorship of research or sponsorship by advocacy groups, and that is simply not true. I guess that Panda's Thumb's group of bloggers could conceivably be classified as an "advocacy group," but arbitrary censorship is practiced by a lot of individual bloggers too.
Thomson Scientific is treating arbitrary Internet censorship as though it doesn't exist.
The folks at Panda's Thumb will hocus-pocus that I was banned there because I used multiple names, but I was banned there before I started using multiple names. And Wesley Elsberry, who I am told is the official owner of Panda's Thumb, has personally deleted reasonable comments on both Panda's Thumb and his personal blog, Austringer.
The practice of arbitrary censorship by an officially recognized scientific website is particularly bad because that censorship impairs that website's integrity, reliability and credibility as a scientific reference. These are not just websites about underwater basketweaving. I think that when a website is considered to be important enough to be listed in a scientific database, it is not too much to expect the operators of that website to behave in a responsible manner.
A lot of organizations regard this blog as an insignificant little blog that they can safely ignore, and being a holocaust revisionist certainly does not add to my overall influence. But while it is true that my daily-visitor statistics are fairly low, in the range of only 30-60 visits per day, my pageview-per-visit and time-per-visit statistics are probably breaking all records. Visits of over 10 page views and/or over 1 hour are rare on other blogs, but I estimate that between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 of this blog's visits are in these categories (to see these statistics, click on the Site Meter icon at the bottom of the sidebar, then click on "By details"). A lot of people who visit this blog come here for serious business. And no, ViW, they don't come here and spend all that time just for the laughs. I am just not that funny.
Protests of Thomson Scientific's listing of Panda's Thumb may be made by means of the contact information listed here. Several Thomson Scientific offices have toll-free 1-800 numbers -- the toll-free number for the headquarters office for the Americas is 1 800 336 4474. Contact information for the ISI (Information Sciences Institute) is here.
I have also objected to Jay Wexler's citations of Panda's Thumb in a paper, "Intelligent Design and the First Amendment: A Response", that was published in a law journal. Protests may be sent to Jay Wexler at
Boston University - School of Law
765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston , MA 02215
Jay Wexler actually wants you to send him an email -- he says, "Won't You Please Send Me An Email at email@example.com ?" I for one will be more than happy to oblige him.
The law journal that will publish his paper may be contacted at --
Washington University Law Quarterly
Contact: Editor in Chief
Postal: Washington University School of Law
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130 USA
As a saying goes, "if you always do what you always do, you will always get what you've always got." I like to tell a story about a dissident engineer, Irwin Feerst, who was trying to get an invitation to testify before a Senate committee and was getting nowhere. Then just 50 of his supporters from around the country sent in a form letter from one of his newsletters and he was invited immediately.
Labels: Internet censorship (1 of 2)