Bad Scholarship

I left a comment on Curiosity – Deutsch Misquoted Turing today about some bad cites I’ve found recently, this post follows on from that. mirror

One thing I just realized: a lot of papers are only accessible through preprints – like, if a paper was accepted into a journal and ends up behind a paywall, but a preprint is available, won’t ppl just use the preprint (university journal portals aside).

The problem with that is that even if an error was in the preprint and fixed before being published in a journal, the error can still propagate via the (more accessible) preprint. So journals both restrict access to the (potentially) higher quality doc + don’t prioritize taking errors seriously.

UEG’s latest video covers retracted papers being used as citations in a recent publication (and other bad scholarship)

Gamers - The Most Oppressed Class

TikTok video plagiarism by a university (that doesn’t let its student plagiarize) towards one of its own students:

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I’ve been talking with a friend (who’s spent like 6+ years at uni – done now) a bit about academia recently and fwd’d them that vid:

Max: re universities and plagiarism -

[friend]: ooh I have so much about this

This is happening increasingly with their lectures - one of my close friends did a great operating systems course with amazing lectures and videos → stoled.jpg :(
And there’s a huge legal issue as well that’s brewing up because of this :\

This post criticizes the idea that Roman soldiers were paid in salt or received an allowance for buying salt and that’s where “salary” comes from.

Haven’t scrutinized it super closely but this part criticizing Wikipedia jumped out at me:

The trouble with citing Pliny as a source for the myth is of course that Pliny doesn’t say anything of the kind. The problem is exacerbated by Wikipedia, which bald-facedly re-writes Pliny, and has been quoted very widely:

the Roman historian Pliny the Elder, who stated as an aside in his Natural History’s discussion of sea water, that ‘[I]n Rome…the soldier’s pay was originally salt and the word salary derives from it…’.

– Wikipedia, ‘Salary’ (the addition of this line dates to 2004)

This is a mistranslation, just to be clear. And this wording doesn’t even appear in the linked source. And Pliny isn’t writing about sea water, but about salt itself. None of that has stopped this fake quotation being repeated in countless books and websites.

Note, 18 Jan.: this error, and the other Wikipedia excerpt quoted above, have since been corrected. However, some other parts of the articles are still inaccurate: see below.

I wrote about bad scholarship in Atomic Habits. It got the etymology of a word wrong and contradicted its own source. Linking it here for reference. Self-Help Books - #8 by Elliot

The fifth paragraph from the bottom in Bad SEP scholarship contains this sentence:

I’m also not seeing signs that he misuses an assisstant to create errors.

The word “assistant” is misspelled.

It is a calmer Stewart [on his 2021 TV show] than during his famous diatribe on Crossfire in 2004, during which he tore into his rightwing blowhard interviewers Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala

Crossfire was a show about the left and right fighting – which was one of Stewart’s main criticisms of it. It had two hosts so they could represent both the right and left. Paul Begala was the leftist. Stewart was making a non-tribalist criticism of the fighting between the left and right, and how the media encourages it. But The Guardian misrepresents that as Stewart having made a tribalist attack on two rightwing blowhards, not on one leftist and one rightist. Even if they weren’t liars (or misinformation dispensers or whatever), The Guardian would still be part of the problem that Stewart was criticizing.

Also I’m not well-versed enough in this stuff that I should be catching The Guardian out. I don’t think I’ve ever watched an episode of Crossfire. I had no idea who Paul Begala is – I just remembered the basic concepts of Crossfire, and of Stewart’s criticism, enough to be suspicious and look it up. Also I thought Stewart was pretty calm on Crossfire. Also “diatribe” makes it sound like Stewart gave one mean speech when actually he interactively asked some questions and made a few separate short points.

For reference:

Moreover, the ‘‘faulty MCDA’’ model reviewed was not even created to guide shared decision making but rather to illustrate approaches to manage uncertainty within the MCDA framework.

The term “faulty MCDA” does not appear in the paper Dolan is replying to. This is a misquote.

To check, I downloaded then searched the version of the paper provided at the author’s website. Then I re-did the OCR myself with Abbyy FineReader and searched again. My main search term was “fau” which appears once. The term “MCDA” appears on 20 out of 30 pages in both the original and my new OCR, and both OCRs generally appear to have worked well.

I also noticed some very short misquotes by David Deutsch. I think when quotes are very short, e.g. 1-3 words long, people are more likely to go by memory instead of checking the words in the text they’re allegedly quoting.

What were the shorter misquotes?

This headline is wrong, incompetent, and grossly irresponsible. I’ll leave identifying the article’s error as an exercise for you guys. The headline is:

80% of all US dollars in existence were printed in the last 22 months (from $4 trillion in January 2020 to $20 trillion in October 2021)

Hundreds of papers promoted its use, though all relied on a single double blind, placebo controlled trial as support for its efficacy. Mentioned almost no where was that this trial did not show any superiority over placebo.

Harry Binswanger wrote:

Thus, gold is not “a barbarous relic” (Keynes)

This appears to be a misquote.

The’Barbarous Relic’ – It’s Not What You Think | James Turk Blog

This gold pejorative is attributed to Keynes. But here is what he really wrote in 1923 in A Tract on Monetary Reform : “already the gold standard is a barbarous relic”.

Is Gold A Barbarous Relic? | Seeking Alpha

Many claim that John Maynard Keynes said that gold is a barbarous relic. In reality, it was the gold standard he was referencing in his 1924 book on monetary reform.

Sudden Media Infatuation With Keynes' "Barbaric Relic" - Gold

In 1924, the seminal macro -economist, John Maynard Keynes, called the gold standard (and by proxy gold) “a barbarous relic”.

I haven’t checked the actual book but this looks pretty damning for Binswanger.

The original book is available at and the only mention of the word “barbarous” occurs on p. 172 in the sentence:

In truth, the gold standard is already a barbarous relic.

So Binswanger misquoted Keynes.

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I watched The Predators of Pickup - YouTube by Philion and saw this:

That is not what a “set” means. He made this up and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I guess he assumed it’s like a comedy set. The image he put behinds the words looks like a comedy set.

The main people Philion is talking about including Mystery and Style (Neil Strauss). Strauss wrote a popular book, The Game, which Philion already brought up.

Having read The Game, I remember that it has a lengthy terminology section at the end. Since Philion is trying to teach pickup terminology in his video, you might expect him to have just copied all the definitions from the book. That’d be pretty easy. But he definitely didn’t do that because the book says:

SET- noun: a group of people in a social setting. A two-set is a group of two people; a three-set is three people, and so on. Sets may contain women, men, or both (in which case they may be referred to as mixed sets). Origin: Mystery.

A “set” refers to a group of people, not a pickup routine.

This one mistake seems to indicate that Philion didn’t actually do his research for this video; he’s just being a cheerleader for hating a particular outgroup without bothering to learn about the outgroup first. For example, he mocked the reality TV show The Pickup Artist, but after seeing this error I doubt he actually watched it.

Philion got a few more terms wrong, seemingly on purpose, to mock PUA. But here’s another one where I think he just doesn’t know what he’s talking about:

Compare with what The Game says a neg is:

NEG- noun: an ambiguous statement or seemingly accidental insult delivered to a beautiful woman a pickup artist has just met, with the intent of actively demonstrating to her (or her friends) a lack of interest in her. For example: “Those are nice nails; are they real?” 2. Verb: to actively demonstrate a lack of interest in a beautiful woman by making an ambiguous statement, insulting her in a way that appears accidental, or offering constructive criticism. Also: neg bit. Origin: Mystery.

Note how negs are ambiguous rather than negative. Negs are one of the most controversial and criticized ideas in PUA, so anyone very familiar with PUA, or with the debate about PUA and criticism of PUA, ought to know what it means. Philion’s ignorance is really showing.

Philion showed some bad things done by individuals like RSD Tyler and Julien. He did not attempt to actually explain or critique PUA’s ideas, and he doesn’t actually know what those ideas are (he should find out what they are before concluding that they’re bad). He’s a tribalist who wanted to flame the outgroup for views.

After text searching many of the ~2000 YT comments I was unable to find anyone who noticed the glaring factual errors. I did find this defense of PUA which I partly agree with:

Ola Bassey

1 month ago

bro, i watch your videos on fitness frauds and on misogynists but this is just pure clownery. the fact that you mentioned peacocking as something pickup artists do and promote today is telling enough for how wrong and outdated your information is. pickup artistry itself is just strategy, i am a hardcore feminist, and i go through pickup artist content (mostly john anthony lifestyle) regularly and don’t engage in predatory behaviour or coercion or maniupulative tactics. i’ve been using it since I was 18 and it has helped me immensely with my dating life. the fact that you mentioned negging and peacocking as tactics puas use in 2022 shows how shallow your knowledge is. i admit and know that the manosphere itself is full of misogynists, red-pillers, black pillers, incels, alpha males etc, but that is different from outright saying that pua which is just structured dating strategy for men, doesn’t work or is inherently misogynistic. all men need to do is find the right information, there are tons of frauds out there. yes there are frauds out there and yes some men are misogynistic, but that doesn’t mean you’re a loser because you’re interested in improving your social skills or ability to achieve the dating life you require. you just have an unsubstantiated belief that the right woman (or man, if that’s your deal) will automatically land in your laps, which is frankly laughable, and magical thinking. this is just a sad hitpiece on pua, but unless you’re going to ban men from talking to women they find attractive, your hitpiece will do nothing about men seeking out structured dating strategy, its redundant. all you’ll do is reduce harrassment, which is a good thing. i hope this comment convinces some men that improving your dating skills or social skills is not a bad thing or something to be mocked just avoid coaches who hate women, i suggest John Anthony Lifestyle or A.G Hayden.

I also saw another comment that I partly agree with:


1 month ago (edited)

great video, amazing quality.

I think the PUA scene is just, overall and extremely simply put, taking advantage of how our society makes your average man non desirable to your average woman.

PUA sky rocketed at around 2005-2013 or so.

Who were the main audiences at those times? 16 to 30 year olds. If we look at what the media was portraying for those people when they were growing up, you had backstreet boys (and i love many of their songs to this day) who sang mostly about emotional men that unless you were a backstreet boy, would not be attractive to many women.

Same with N-Sync, as much as I loved N-Sync, lets be real about the content of their music

As well as many movies. I am not saying men should be extra dominant or force women ofc, all im saying is that it made young men confused, and think that by “showing their emotions” is what women wanted. The PUA community was an “overcorrection” and oversimplified what a man needs to do to get girls, because lets be real, if u r in highschool at those times, unless you are the jock, you aint getting girls, which was also further reinforced by media(specifically movies)

This made a lot of people extra shy and “traumatized” to approach women, and thats why you had that one guy that did a practice set with the woman in this video where he just stood there and stared at her even when she said if he would like to take a seat, the guy is frozen stiff, to portray him as cringy rather then a poor soul that had what I could assume as a terrible childhood when it comes to socializing is rather mean, poor sod was just looking for solutions to his problem.

At the end of the day, I’d say many grow out of the “need” for PUA guidance and realize that they don’t need help getting women they just need to go out and do shit and it will happen naturally, not for all, but for most. there is a lot more that can be said and specifics I have skipped here such as fantasies created by social media (think Dan Bilzarian type) but that’s would become a book rather then a comment at that point :)

I found this one searching “set” and noticed that it misuses the word “set” based on the misinformation in the video. I also disagree with the attitude like just try to interact with women and improve naturally. It’s reasonable for men to seek some actual advice and guidance. And women don’t actually like it when men with terrible social skills try to flirt with them, ask them out, etc. Women prefer if men become more competent before approaching.

Both of these long comments had zero replies and zero upvotes. YT is a terrible place for thoughtful discussion.

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us says:

Forget what we learned in school from that old diagram called the tongue map, the one that says our five main tastes are detected by five distinct parts of the tongue. That the back has a big zone for blasts of bitter, the sides grab the sour and the salty, and the tip of the tongue has that one single spot for sweet. The tongue map is wrong. As researchers would discover in the 1970s, its creators misinterpreted the work of a German graduate student that was published in 1901; his experiments showed only that we might taste a little more sweetness on the tip of the tongue.

I haven’t fact checked this but it plausibly claims that other people failed really badly at scholarship and then got their confusions taught in schools.

EDIT: I put salt on the tip of my tongue and I could taste it.

Just 10% of reviewers of a test paper recommended acceptance when the sole listed author was obscure—but 59% endorsed the same manuscript when it carried the name of a Nobel laureate.

Wow, I wouldn’t have predicted that big of a gap. I guess my viewpoint isn’t negative/cynical enough to match reality :frowning:

I used youtube comment suite to download 1984 of the 2150 comments (idk why it doesn’t get all of them) for the video and searched for the term “neg” and got 44 results, 1 from Mystery mentioning its misuse. I skimmed the 43 other comments and I don’t think they mentioned it as being misused.

I found out that Mystery (Erik Von Markovik) posted 9 comments on the video. 2 of them being about the misuse of set and neg.

Erik von Markovik: The Predators of Pickup - YouTube

SET means a group of people. a 3-set is 3 people, a 4 set 4 people,etc. You got it wrong and then went down the wrong train of thought. Im on comment 3 telling you as the man who coined the term, you got it wrong. You didn't read the glossary to my books. pressing play.

Erik von Markovik: The Predators of Pickup - YouTube

OK you described NEGGING incorrectly. You made up the definition yourself, changed it to an insult. Here, from the very man (ME!) to coin the term and to define it, is the definition. "A neg is a statement or action to briefly disqualify oneself from being considered a potential suitor." Its build comfort.also the result is laughter, not offense. pressing play.

I searched “set”, got 31 results, and found one person other than Mystery mentioning it’s misuse:

Marek Lame: The Predators of Pickup - YouTube

SET is not the routine. SET is the group of girls.

link to all Mystery comments:

  1. The Predators of Pickup - YouTube
  2. The Predators of Pickup - YouTube
  3. The Predators of Pickup - YouTube
  4. The Predators of Pickup - YouTube
  5. The Predators of Pickup - YouTube
  6. The Predators of Pickup - YouTube
  7. The Predators of Pickup - YouTube
  8. The Predators of Pickup - YouTube
  9. The Predators of Pickup - YouTube
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Thanks for sharing.

So Mystery was called a “predator” to 327,000 people by a guy who doesn’t get basic facts right. He used to be on TV but he doesn’t have enough of a platform to respond today, so he wrote YT comments that got ignored. Sad. Another example of how the world would be a better place if Paths Forward were common.