Saturday, September 20, 2008

The pseudonymous ‘quant bloggers’

While writing the previous post, this article in the October 2008 issue of the Journal of Medical Hypotheses caught my eye:


Figureheads, ghost-writers and pseudonymous quant bloggers: The recent evolution of authorship in science publishing

Bruce G. Charlton, Editor-in-Chief–Medical Hypotheses


Traditionally, science has been published only under the proper names and postal addresses of the scientists who did the work. This is no longer the case, and over recent decades science authorship has fundamentally changed its character. At one extreme, prestigious scientists writing from high status institutions are used as mere figureheads to publish research that has been performed, analyzed and ‘ghost-written’ by commercial organizations. At the other extreme ‘quant bloggers’ are publishing real science with their personal identity shielded by pseudonyms and writing from internet addresses that give no indication of their location or professional affiliation. Yet the paradox is that while named high status scientists from famous institutions are operating with suspect integrity (e.g. covertly acting as figureheads) and minimal accountability (i.e. failing to respond to substantive criticism); pseudonymous bloggers – of mostly unknown identity, unknown education or training, and unknown address – are publishing interesting work and interacting with their critics on the internet. And at the same time as ‘official’ and professional science is increasingly timid careerist and dull; the self-organized, amateur realm of science blogs displays curiosity, scientific motivation, accountability, responsibility – and often considerable flair and skill. Quant bloggers and other internet scientists are, however, usually dependent on professional scientists to generate databases. But professional science has become highly constrained by non-scientific influences: increasingly sluggish, rigid, bureaucratic, managerial, and enmeshed with issues of pseudo-ethics, political correctness, public relations, politics and marketing. So it seems that professional science needs the quant bloggers. One possible scenario is that professional scientists may in future continue to be paid to do the plodding business of generating raw data (dull work that no one would do unless they were paid); but these same professional scientists (functioning essentially as either project managers or technicians) may be found to lack the boldness, flair, sheer ‘smarts’ or genuine interest in the subject to make sense of what they have discovered. Some branches of future science may then come to depend on a swarm of gifted ‘amateurs’ somewhat like the current quant bloggers; for analysis and integration of their data, for understanding its implications, and for speculating freely about the potential applications.

The Neurocritic is not a pseudonymous quant blogger, but here's Charlton's list:
Steve Sailer’s iSteve Blog

Gene expression


Half Sigma

The Audacious Epigone

Engram. Back Talk

La Griffe du Lion

Climate Audit
All you pseudonymous ‘quant bloggers’ out there -- How do you feel about being on this list? The author makes some interesting points, but the editorial appears in his journal of Ejaculation and Nasal Decongestion...

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At October 02, 2008 1:00 PM, Blogger HumanProject said...

Very intriguing. I was trying to figure out what "quant blogger" is suppose to mean: people who blog about quantitative issues?

I googled around and found this helpful post, in case any of Neurocritic's readers would like to know more on this topic.

Poll time: is Neurocritic a quant blogger? This blogger operates outside of the umbrella of a high status institution, writes with flare and originality; scientific authority of the writing speaks for itself, etc.

At March 21, 2009 9:22 AM, Blogger AmiyaMax said...

The picture looked like mammillary bodies to me.


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