Friday, May 23, 2008


An email from an Australian academic poses a question regarding Quiggin and Lambert's Prospect article:
I wonder if they have actually breached their respective universities guidelines by publishing a personal attack under the aegis of their institutions.
It's a good point since the authors do emphasize their academic credentials in attempting to give their article authoritative cachet:
John Quiggin is an Australian Research Council Federation fellow at the University of Queensland. Tim Lambert is a computer scientist at the University of New South Wales
And the article does attack Africa Fighting Malaria's Roger Bate casting him as a man who will support any cause provided there's money in it for him.

Oddly for academics accustomed to writing articles subject to the stringent peer review process, Quiggin and Lambert provide no references (and nary a link) to support any of the claims in their Prospect article. The dubious nature of these claims prompting Roger Bate to write a long and pointed response characterizing Quiggin and Lambert's article as a "half-baked conspiracy theory that breaks down with a cursory review of the facts".

So overall it does seem questionable that Quiggin and Lambert touted their academic credentials to make their article believable. I mean, who would listen to these guys if they weren't well-credentialed academics.

Regardless, Quiggin at least acknowledges Bates response, but does spin it to make it appear Bate largely agrees with him. Quiggin is keen to avoid discussing this, however, removing my comment from this post.

Lambert, on the other hand, doesn't mention Bate's response and refuses to post my latest comment, which reads in part:
Tim Lambert saw fit to link to the article he co-authored but has neither linked to nor commented on Roger Bate’s response in the same publication. This seems a bit odd given that claims that it aims to “improve science literacy” through a “rich dialogue”. There is no dialogue if, as it is here, only one side of a story is presented.
Quiggin and Lambert are not reliable sources of information about DDT's use in the fight against malaria; nothing they write on the subject should be accepted as correct.

Update: A reader (yes, I do have a few) emails:
We're witnessing a rare phenomenon here - these two are even less competent when they pool their powers than when they work individually.
Yep, Quiggin and Lambert joint efforts often result in a uniquely nasty dumbness. Anyway, why worry about accuracy when you're telling your readers what they want to hear?
Most of my readers seem pretty happy with what I’ve provided JFB . Perhaps you should publish your own article on this topic.
As was noted long ago, ignorance is bliss.

Background for this story is here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone said that lambert hasn't published anything scholarly becuase his dishonesty wouldn't allow it through peer review. I think there's more truth to that than meets the eye.

9:14 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home