"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Separating the Useful Information from the Gibberish

I read Dr. Mark Thoma’s blog over the weekend that 120 computer-generated, non-sensical research papers were published in scholarly journals.  Apparently, MIT created software that presents nonsense information in a correct format with tables and graphs along with references for the "papers.”  These papers, which are computer generated fakes, have found their way into both the scholarly journals but also cited at various conferences around the world.  Is this new, no?  But, it is increasing.  

After reading the article, it made me wonder if the same thing can be said for the thousands of pages in Congressional bills or bills before the Maryland General Assembly.  Have you ever read some of these bills?  Some of the contents many times appears to be gibberish, but then again these bills still become law even with the actual specifics of the contents being unknown to so many, including those who are required to vote on them.   

It also made me wonder if publications like the Harvard Business Review (HBR) intentionally publish non-sensical gibberish from time to time.  I am half kidding.  There are many excellent articles in the HBR, but there are times that I read an article and I have absolutely no idea as to what the author is trying to say.  Then I think, are these authors simply trying to convey just how much smarter they really are or do I need to simply eliminate the distractions around me and better concentrate on the article that I am reading?  Nine times out of ten, it is the latter.  

Anyway, I find it amazing that computer generated fakes can be cited in the work of "bonafide" researchers and academic institutions around the world. Their credibility has to be and should be shaken in letting these fakes into their academic publishing.

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