14 August 2015

War going on (in academia)

Thank you, Telegraph, for alerting us that we should be avoiding Oxford, England. Because apparently it is a war zone.

Oxford academics at war over dangers of the internet

This sounds serious! What prompted this?

An academic wrote an editorial in a peer-reviewed journal asking another academic for evidence supporting her claims.


Here’s a sampling of the brutality you can find in the editorial:

(W)e are concerned that Greenfield’s claims are not based on a fair scientific appraisal of the evidence, often confuse correlation for causation, give undue weight to anecdote and poor quality studies, and are misleading to parents and the public at large.


The person at the end of this “stinging attack” has reacted to this incredible assault by... saying she’s too busy to respond.


If that’s war, then that is the kind of war I can get behind. I wish all wars were fought on these terms. “We will launch our devastating salvo and subdue our enemy with shock and awe... if we can get it past reviewer number two.”

Look, academia is boring, and “Let’s have you and her fight” is a time-honoured way to inject some human interest and drama into otherwise dry proceedings. But to hype the language of scientific disagreement between a few scientists to the level of armed conflict between large groups of people using guns and drones and tanks and bombs is silly.

Asking someone to support their claims is not the same as pulling a gun on them.

External links

The debate over digital technology and young people
Oxford academics at war over dangers of the internet 
Digital tech, the BMJ, and The Baroness
Jon Stewart “eviscerates” 16-plus years of hyperbolic “Daily Show” headlines and it is literally the greatest thing you will ever see in your life

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