I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Citations of blogs in courts and law journals

I have learned that citation of blogs in law journal articles is now routine and that citation of blogs in court opinions is significant and growing. Why in the hell should a blog be authoritatively cited if the blogger practices arbitrary censorship of comments and commenters? For example, Panda's Thumb, whose bloggers' practice of arbitrary censorship even includes the disreputable and irresponsible practice of IP address blocking, was cited by Jay Wexler in a law journal article (as well as being listed in a scholarly scientific database). By "arbitrary censorship," I mean censorship of a comment or commenter merely because the blogger disagrees with the opinions and/or arguments of that comment or commenter. Blogs where there is arbitrary censorship are not reliable sources because the bloggers on those blogs have shown an intention to present just one side of controversial issues. Ironically, highly persuasive opposing comments are among the kinds of comments most likely to be censored. Where is people's sense of outrage?

A fairly old post (Aug. 6, 2006) on the Law Blog Metrics blog reported 32 citations of "legal" (or "law") blogs from 27 different court opinions (blogs that are not "law" blogs can also be cited -- for example, Panda's Thumb is not primarily a law blog but was cited by Jay Wexler in a law journal article as noted above), and two more such citations were added in another post on the same day. Most of the opinions are federal court opinions. Nineteen of these citations are from just one blog, the "Sentencing Law and Policy" blog. All of the listed court opinions are dated 2004 or later, showing just how new this practice of citing blogs in court opinions really is. Many comments in the comment sections of the blogs were cited, so the issue of arbitrary censorship of blog comments and commenters is an especially important issue.

Another fairly old (Aug. 16, 2006) Law Blog Metrics post lists 489 law review citations of "legal" blogs, and the comment section that follows showed that over 50 citations had been omitted from the list. The two legal blogs with the highest numbers of citations had 78 and 62 citations.

Anyone can call oneself an expert on law or science and set up a "law" or "science" blog and then arbitrarily censor comments that (s)he disagrees with -- there is no quality control of blogs. Fatheaded Ed Brayton (Dispatches from the Culture Wars) fancies himself to be both a "law" blogger and a "science" blogger because many of his posts discuss court cases and scientific issues. He probably has no formal advanced training or practical experience in either law or science. He also practices arbitrary censorship of the grossest form -- he kicked me off his blog permanently because he disagreed with my literal interpretation of a federal court rule. My interpretation happened to disagree with his pre-conceived notion of the purpose of the rule.

The jerks who see nothing wrong with authoritative citations of blogs whose bloggers arbitrarily censor comments must be the same jerks who have made a fetish of "peer review" of journal articles.

The Law Blog Metrics blog lists many subjects concerning legal citations of blogs but I was astonished that none of these subjects concerned arbitrary censorship of comments and commenters on blogs. It is either very naive or very dishonest to pretend that arbitrary censorship on blogs does not exist. This issue of arbitrary censorship on blogs needs to be squarely faced right now rather than when some crucial citation of a blog is discredited as a result of arbitrary censorship on that blog. If this issue of arbitrary censorship on blogs is ignored now, it is likely to come back to haunt us later.

To me, it is a no-brainer that a blog where there is arbitrary censorship of comments should not be quoted, cited or listed for authoritative purposes.
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5 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> Ironically, highly persuasive opposing comments are among the kinds of comments most likely to be censored. Where is people's sense of outrage? <

Although I am sure that they are out there, where is a blog that censors "highly persuasive opposing comments"? (present company excepted)

Please don't let your jealousy blind you to the fact that Panda's Thumb is a great blog with a great deal of useful information.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 5:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Kansas Gang of Four said...

What a farce. In fact, I predict the day when blogs will count as "peer reviewed" articles...which will help the likes of PZ Myers make up for his dearth of actual scientific publications.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 6:41:00 PM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

>>>This issue of arbitrary censorship on blogs needs to be squarely faced right now rather than when some crucial citation of a blog is discredited as a result of arbitrary censorship on that blog.<<<

Rest easy, Larry: no citation will be discredited due to "arbitrary" censorship.

>>>which will help the likes of PZ Myers make up for his dearth of actual scientific publications.<<<

Dearth? From google scholar alone, I see at least 15 peer-reviewed articles by PZ, after eliminating duplicates. Not as high as some people can claim, of course. Of course, some people artificially inflate their record by insisting on being a co-author on everything that their underlings produce...

Lithium perturbation and goosecoid expression identify a dorsal specification pathway in the
SE Stachel, DJ Grunwald, PZ Myers - Development, 1993
Cited by 214

Pathway selection by growth cones of identified motoneurones in live zebra fish embryos
JS Eisen, PZ Myers, M Westerfield - Nature, 1986
Cited by 123

Development and axonal outgrowth of identified motoneurons in the zebrafish
PZ Myers, JS Eisen, M Westerfield - Journal of Neuroscience, 1986 - Soc Neuroscience
Cited by 131

Primary neurons that express the L2/HNK-1 carbohydrate during early development in the zebrafish.
WK Metcalfe, PZ Myers, B Trevarrow, MB Bass, CB … - Development, 1990 -
Cited by 99

Growth cone dynamics during the migration of an identified commissural growth cone
PZ Myers, MJ Bastiani - Journal of Neuroscience, 1993 - Soc Neuroscience
Cited by 57

Spinal motoneurons of the larval zebrafish
PZ Myers - The Journal of Comparative Neurology, 1985 -
Cited by 59

NeuroVideo: a program for capturing and processing time-lapse video.
PZ Myers, MJ Bastiani - Comput Methods Programs Biomed, 1991
Cited by 12

Cell-cell interactions during the migration of an identified commissural growth cone in the …
PZ Myers, MJ Bastiani - Journal of Neuroscience, 1993 - Soc Neuroscience
Cited by 11

CHROMPAC III: an improved package for microcomputer assisted analysis of karyotypes
DM Green, PZ Myers, DL Reyna - Journal of Heredity, 1984 - Am Genetic Assoc
Cited by 5

[CITATION] Morphology and development of motoneurons in the zebrafish spinal cord
PZ Myers - Abstr. SOC. Neurosci, 1983
Cited by 4

Calcium signals monitored from leopard frog optic tectum after the optic nerve has been selectively …
EA Dudkin, PZ Myers, JA Ramirez-Latorre, ER … - Neurosci Lett, 1998
Cited by 4

AUTOMATED ANALYSIS OF SPONTANEOUS MOTOR ACTIVITY IN THE EMBRYONIC ZEBRAFISH, DANIO RERIO
PZ MYERS, BA SIPPLE, T HASAKA, H QUTUB - Journal of computer-assisted microscopy, 1997
Cited by 4

[CITATION] Functional interactions between identified growth cones and muscles in embryonic zebrafish
JS Eisen, PZ Myers, M Westerfield - SOC. Neurosci. Abstr, 1985
Cited by 2

[CITATION] PZ Myers, and M. Westerfield(1984) Segmentally specific growth of motor axons in live zebrafish …
JS Eisen - SOC. Neurosci. Abstr
Cited by 2 - Related Articles - Web Search

[CITATION] Development Wassle, H., Peichl, L., and Boycott, BB (1981). Dendritic territories of cat retinal …
PZ Myers, JS Eisen, M Westerfield - Nature, 1986
Cited by 1

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 7:42:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Wilderness drivels,

>>>>>>> Although I am sure that they are out there, where is a blog that censors "highly persuasive opposing comments"? <<<<<<

Well, if one is trying to present just one side of a controversy, it would make sense to get rid of highly persuasive opposing comments. A good example of a blog that censors such comments is Fatheaded Ed Brayton's blog, "Dispatches from the Culture Wars." I argued on Ed's blog that a literal interpretation of FRCP Rule 12 gives judges the authority to dismiss a case when the plaintiff refuses to accept an out-of-court settlement offer which would provide relief equal to or greater than the maximum relief that could be provided by the court (as if judges need such authorization). Ed kicked me off his blog permanently because that interpretation was not consistent with his pre-conceived notion of the purposes of FRCP Rule 12. People who say that I am wrong here are just full of hot air -- they have had every opportunity to counter my arguments but have not even attempted to do so.

>>>>> Please don't let your jealousy blind you to the fact that Panda's Thumb is a great blog with a great deal of useful information. <<<<<<

When did I say that I am jealous? As usual, you are putting words in my mouth.

Containing a lot of useful information does not excuse arbitrary censorship.

Kansas Gang of Four said...
>>>>>> What a farce. In fact, I predict the day when blogs will count as "peer reviewed" articles...which will help the likes of PZ Myers make up for his dearth of actual scientific publications. <<<<<

PZ Myers is beyond help -- his arbitrary censorship and rudeness are too blatant. For example, he has what he calls a "killfile dungeon" where he lists banned commenters -- I am at the top of his list. He calls this blog "a bottomless pit of stupidity."

>>>>>> Rest easy, Larry: no citation will be discredited due to "arbitrary" censorship. <<<<<<

Kevin, damn you, you are a big part of the problem -- you go around asking other bloggers to delete comments that you think are mine. You have a nerve posting here under your own name -- if I did not have a no-censorship policy, I would ban you here.

The practice of citing blogs could come to be frowned upon generally. An Ohio Supreme Court judge said in an interview,

The legal blog depends upon the integrity of the author rather than an institution -- no one is vetting accuracy of blog citations, for example. Editorial oversight over law reviews can bland articles down, or worse, fail to expose pedantic jargon. On the other hand, without peer review, blogs can publish anything and suppress anything –- so caveat emptor. (emphasis added)

Nonetheless, she cited a blog herself.

Blogs should not be authoritatively cited unless they follow the same rule as the comment periods for proposed administrative rulings -- no arbitrary censorship of comments.

One idea of mine is that judges, rather than immediately issuing judgments in controversial court cases, should first issue tentative opinions and then allow a comment period during which anyone can submit comments about the opinion. The judges can then decide, on the basis of the comments, whether to change the decision and/or rewrite the opinion. I think this is an especially good idea for the Supreme Court because SC decisions cannot be appealed. Petitions for rehearing of Supreme Court decisions are allowed, but I believe that such a petition has virtually never been granted.

>>>>>> Of course, some people artificially inflate their record by insisting on being a co-author on everything that their underlings produce... <<<<<<

People should make a significant contribution to a paper before adding their names.

BTW, do you have to clutter up this blog with such trash as a list of PZ's publications?

Thursday, April 05, 2007 6:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

Larry bleated:

> if one is trying to present just one side of a controversy, it would make sense to get rid of highly persuasive opposing comments. <

This is a hypothetical case. You have shown no example of such.

> I argued on Ed's blog ... <

Quite irrelevant. We were talking about "higly persuasive opposing comments".

> Ed kicked me off his blog permanently because that interpretation was not consistent with his pre-conceived notion of the purposes of FRCP Rule 12. <

We all know why Ed kicked you off his blog. Continuing to lie about it just further reduces your credibility.

Why do you lie about it?

> they have had every opportunity to counter my arguments <

And have done so quite conclusively.

> When did I say that I am jealous? <

When did I say that you said you were jealous? As usual, you are putting words in my mouth.

What I did do is make the obvious observation that you are jealous.

> He calls this blog "a bottomless pit of stupidity."<

Which it is, but at least he could give you credit for the great entertainment value.

> BTW, do you have to clutter up this blog with such trash as a list of PZ's publications? <

Kevin's list was an obvious response to the Kansas Clown's "dearth of actual scientific publications" misstatement.

Thursday, April 05, 2007 8:33:00 AM  

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