Print

Print


*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****

Um, actually, it wasn't my work. I forwarded the note from Duncan Watts.

Diana Jones wrote:
> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>
> Hi David, I'm really sorry you have had this experience. I'm not in any
> group which is ridiculing your work, and I appreciate you bringing this
> experience to the SOCNET list.  Don't expect to be a better spoort about it.
> Its quite something to have your work ridiculed by a journalist.
>
> She has picked up this is a large and impressive study. It is quite
> extraordinary you and your colleague, along with a number of others, have
> the technology and nouse to study such a large number of people over a long
> period of time.
>
> I wonder if this in the new paradigm you are referring to Barry? I have been
> thinking the new paradigm is being able to map 'invisible' relationships?
> I'm keen to hear your thinking too on what the new paradigm is.
>
> And with any new paradigm, it takes a while for the ideas to be accepted.
>
> There is something we can learn from the perception in the article. How do
> we have our research perceived as positive and relevant? There are
> somethings in SNA which distance us from one another, which I see this
> Journalist has picked up on. How do we bring our theory into practice so it
> is relevant to people in their everyday relationships?  Having a
> psycho-social relationship 'analysed' by algoriths is not going to excite
> the average Jo in the street.
>
> Having people called 'nodes' is impersonal, not so easy to relate to. So
> while this is a research term, it has the affect of de-personalising people.
>
> Friendships, colleagues, and intimate relationships, and the dropping of
> these relationships have significant impacts in people's lives. Algorithms
> aren't going to cut the mustard in everyday conversations on these matters.
>
>
> best wishes, Diana Jones, New Zealand
>
> The Organisation Development Company
> Better relationships - better results
> +64 4 499 5559 www.sociometry.co.nz
>
>
>
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: David Gibson [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: 13 January 2006 6:02 a.m.
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: [Fwd: Nature's fake news]
>
>
> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>
> Socnetters -- this is a truly outrageous situation. In the very least
> beware of Helen Pearson.
>
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: 	Nature's fake news
> Date: 	Thu, 12 Jan 2006 11:02:25 -0500
> From: 	Duncan Watts <[log in to unmask]>
> To: 	Duncan Watts <[log in to unmask]>
>
>
>
> Dear colleagues -- you might be surprised to learn that /Nature News/,
> that bastion of reliable and informed science reporting, is now in
> competition with the Daily Show.
>
> But apparently it is.  Starting this week, /Nature News /has begun
> publishing an online column: "To be blunt: Looking for the point of
> seemingly pointless research," authored by "Sybil", an apparent
> reference to the namesake of multiple-personalty disorders. Like the
> original Sybil story, however, the news, and the reporter who writes it,
> is fake.
>
> The reporter is, in fact, Helen Pearson, a writer for /Nature/ who has
> apparently won awards for science journalism in the past.  Her intent,
> however, is not to understand or explain the research she discusses, but
> to ridicule and belittle it.
>
> I'm embarrassed to say I was Ms. Pearson's first unsuspecting victim.
>
> Last week my graduate student, Gueorgi Kossinets, and I published a
> paper in /Science/, entitled "Empirical analysis of an evolving social
> network".  I won't burden you with the details here (you can find them
> at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/311/5757/88 if you're
> interested), but I'm very proud of the paper, as well as Kossinets'
> herculean efforts in performing the required analysis.
>
> So I was particularly pleased when Ms. Pearson called me last week,
> expressing her interest in writing a story for /Nature's/ online news
> site.  Having read Philip Ball's careful and insightful reports for
> years, I imagined that /Nature News/ would be a great opportunity for us
> to have a substantive but accessible news story written about our work.
> And after speaking with Ms. Pearson for about two hours on the phone,
> over two consecutive days, sending her some additional reading material,
> and recommending (at her request) a number of other social network
> researchers she could talk to, I felt pretty confident that we would
> have exactly that.  She asked lots of questions, seemed intent on
> understanding my responses, and generally acted like a real science
> journalist.
>
> So imagine my surprise when monday morning I saw that our work had been
> characterized as "bizarre" and "pointless" in a derisive fluff piece by
> a fictional columnist.  You can read it, which I recommend you do,
> at  http://www.nature.com/news/2006/060109/full/060109-1.html  (don't
> worry, it won't take long).
>
> I'm not sure what offends me more: the snide, silly, and ignorant nature
> of the column itself; or the weirdly unprofessional manner in which Ms.
> Pearson conducted herself.  If you actually read our paper, it should be
> obvious that Sybil hasn't, nor has she paid attention to anything I said
> or wrote (remember, we spoke for two /hours/, not two minutes). She also
> somehow never got around to soliciting comments from anyone else, or
> perhaps she just ignored them as well; either way, her opinions remain
> uncontaminated by any actual expertise.  That the NSF and the McDonnell
> Foundation funded our work, and that /Science/ saw fit to publish it
> were also both obviously beside the point.
>
> So what was the point?
>
> According to the news editor, Nicola Jones, Sybil's goal is "to peer
> into science that, from its summary, press release or title, appears to
> have arrived at a somewhat obvious conclusion. But, by interviewing the
> authors of these works and delving more deeply into the science, we hope
> to reveal the reasons why such questions are indeed worth investigating."
>
> I don't know what /Science/ said in its press release, because I had
> nothing to do with it.  But if you can find the part where our questions
> are revealed to be worthy, please let me know, because I seem to have
> missed it.  And even overlooking the disingenuous nature of Ms.
> Pearson's enquiries, since when does not reading anything, or soliciting
> third party opinions, qualify as "delving more deeply into the
> science".  Or even satisfy the basic standards of science journalism.
>  In any case, understanding the point of our work was clearly never
> Sybil's intent, seeing as she overlooked or disparaged most of what I
> told her anyway.
>
> So maybe it wasn't meant to be serious, in which case presumably it
> doesn't matter that it's sloppy, slanted, and sarcastic.  Ms. Jones, at
> least, seems to think I'm the one being unreasonable: the real
> intention, she claims, is to "enlighten and amuse" (so much for "delving
> deeply").  Why can't I just be a better sport about it?
>
> Well, if you think that publicly belittling someone's work that you
> haven't even bothered to read, while remaining anonymous yourself, is
> somehow clever, then feel free to have a laugh at my expense.  But
> please spare a thought for my graduate student, whose first big paper
> has now been tarnished by Ms. Pearson's cheap shot.
>
> And if you don't think it's funny, please share your opinion with the
> Editor-in-Chief of Nature, Dr. Philip Campbell <[log in to unmask]
> <mailto:[log in to unmask]>>, who ought to know that while this kind of
> silly nonsense might be OK on the Comedy Channel, it has no place in a
> distinguished journal like /Nature/.
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Duncan Watts
> Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
> 815 IAB
> Columbia University
> New York, NY 10027
>
> (212)854-4343 (phone)
> (212)854-8925 (fax)
> http://cdg.columbia.edu <http://cdg.columbia.edu/>
>
>
>
> --
>
> David Gibson
>
> Assistant Professor
>
> Department of Sociology
>
> University of Pennsylvania
>
> 3718 Locust Walk
>
> Philadelphia, PA 19104-6299
>
>
>
> http://www.soc.upenn.edu/~gibsond/
>
> _____________________________________________________________________
> SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
> network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send
> an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
> UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.
>
> _____________________________________________________________________
> SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
> network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send
> an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
> UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.
>   

-- 

David Gibson

Assistant Professor

Department of Sociology

University of Pennsylvania

3718 Locust Walk

Philadelphia, PA 19104-6299

 

http://www.soc.upenn.edu/~gibsond/

_____________________________________________________________________
SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send
an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.