Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Bloggers are "Preposterous Pseudo-Authorities"

Recently, a friend forwarded my blog URL to his teacher friend. This is how he responded:
“Despite the fact that I've started a blog for my students to use in their test preparation, I feel that blogging is the beginning of the end for academia- it's as if anybody can now be an authority on anything. It's hard enough for my students to sift through Bob's big biology page and other similarly preposterous pseudo-authorities, without people blogging their lights out with their opinions. Ahhhh! Nevertheless, I'll give it a read.”
So, the ability for anyone to have unbridled freedom to write whatever the hell they want for free is "the beginning of the end for academia"? Hmmm. That says more about academia that it does about blogging ...
I think your buddy's professor is more concerned about the inevitable appearance of blog material in student papers as "authoritative sources." A similar event took place with the advent of teh internets: some students assume that if it's on a website it must be true or at least written by somebody with some credentials.

Like most things, it's a two-edged sword: the internet opened up research possibilities like never before (ejournals, browsing very remote libraries' catalogs, for example), but it also has allowed lazy, bad, or simply dishonest students to try to pass off some book publisher's blurb as expert opinion.
Cuff: I know what you're saying, but if anything the wealth of information on the internet will teach students to view everything they read with a skeptical eye---a trait that every intelligent adult should have.
That statement is bordering on anti-free speech.
LB: I'd like to think so, and I wholeheartedly defend the internet as liberating in a general sense, but the result on student writing and thinking is almost never in that realm. It leads quite often to plagiarism (whole papers lifted off websites and clumsily cut and paste into half-sense), and often with mediocre students equating some other student's gushing blog about their ankle surgery with articles in JAMA.
I heard somewhere that there are actual programs that professors use to ferret out on-line plagiarism and even works when students rewrite some of the material in his or her own words. I think it somehow runs a scan of certain trigger words and their proximity to other trigger words against the contents of THE ENTIRE INTERWEB. I guess it would work as well with blog as with wikipedia, but tell me, who'd be dumb enough to plagiarize a blogger? (Maybe that's a dumb question).

By the way, what's the with the handicapped parking near the word verification?
what's the URL for Bob's Big Biology page?

I bet Bob's a real boner.

Wow, I didn't really think that it was such a problem. When you grade papers, is it always evident who the internet plagerizers are and who are not? Also, can't you just google sentences they've written to see what comes up?

In the end, plagerizing will haunt those students later in life ... somehow. Won't it?
Lonnie, it is a huge problem, but you can generally figure out the most blatant cheaters because their styles change abruptly. A good example is that in the middle of one student's paper all of a sudden I came upon a few sentences that sounded exactly like a book blurb -- the stuff written on the back of a book to entice you to buy it -- and I googled it, as you say, and sure enough there it was: the marketing copy for the book. Pretty sad.

Of course, all the students who get caught blame it on a mistake while "cutting and pasting."
It is not like the old days, Plagarism was easy,
"pre-internet", I remember an aquaintance of ours who made up at least half of his book reports some were down right funny, One was based on a movie we wathced: "The Lair of the white worm" starring Hugh Grant, My friend then made up a book report based on the movie, The sad part of it was at the time we did not know it was an actual book! The person who wrote the report made up an author, I believe he called the author Spen Jorgensen, He got a B!, There was no google to help out the professor! I was also guilty in my grade school years, I wrote many a report on "Choose you own adventure" Books. Some of them were rather short.
Blogging has raised by an order of magnitude the probability of finding arrant nonsense on the internet on any given subject. Sure it's a good thing that people can freely express a variety of political opinions. But now it's spreading to "hard" topics such as science, news and history.

In the long run I think it will introduce a healthy skepticism about the reliability of sources. In the short term we are still dealing with idiots who think that just because it's been said 50 times on the internet (all plagiarised from one super-idiot) it must be true.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Web Counter
Web Counters