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Qualifications for Science Advisers

  1. Jan 12, 2012 #1
    I could not find the qualifications of some science advisers on their public profile page. I think it's a reasonable thing to ask SAs to post their qualifications under the "About Me" tab of this page. Any other opinions on this?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 12, 2012 #2

    Ryan_m_b

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    I don't think that is really necessary. An SA badge is a reward for demonstrable good understanding of science, it's not fair if we impose upon SAs requirements to reveal things about themselves they may not be prepared to do. In addition one of the reasons we removed showing qualifications on the name-plates was that it encouraged credentialism which I think applies somewhat to this situation.
     
  4. Jan 12, 2012 #3
    What is "credentialism"? I've never heard that word. Are you saying science advisers don't need to have scientific credentials/qualifications? That's not to say that credentials alone need qualify one to be an SA but I would think it would be minimum. Why wouldn't an SA want to post their qualifications if they wish to be an SA?
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  5. Jan 12, 2012 #4

    Ryan_m_b

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    Perhaps this is a cultural difference but credentialism is a fairly well known and often discussed topic in the UK; it refers to a condition whereby credentials are too-focussed on, an example is an obsession in the job market for applicants to have vocational certificates over extensive experience even if the person with experience is far better.

    Anyway to answer the rest of your question yes I'm saying that science advisers do not need any credentials. All they need to do is demonstrate a good enough knowledge of science and be nominated for discussion. As for why an SA wouldn't want to post their qualifications that would vary from person to person. I'm not in favour of any move that requires people to reveal information about themselves over the internet if they do not want to. I also don't think it is necessary, if an SA (or any member for that matter) is saying something then what they are saying should stand on their own merits regardless of their credentials.
     
  6. Jan 12, 2012 #5

    ZapperZ

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    There are no official qualifications.

    Science advisors are nominated and then voted on by the Mentors. We select people who have shown not only a command of the knowledge of the area they are good at, but also a consistent record of participation in the forum.

    Do you have a problem with this?

    Zz.
     
  7. Jan 12, 2012 #6
    Why should something anyone says stand on its own merits, especially if you have no idea who that person is? PF asks, quite properly, for citations and links to "qualified" sources. Why should posters not ask for qualified responders to questions as well, at least if they are recognized as SAs? I don't understand why this is not a reasonable thing to ask for a site such as this which wants to maintain a reputation as a reliable science forum. There are many members who do post their qualifications and provide good responses who are not SAs.
     
  8. Jan 12, 2012 #7
    That's not my question. My question is, why not ask them to post their qualifications? Do you agree with Ryan_mb?
     
  9. Jan 12, 2012 #8

    Ryan_m_b

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    I think there's been a miscommunication, when I say "stand on it's own merits" I mean if the post is properly formed with citations and accurate explanations. If someone posts an answer to something in a logical and intelligent manner and provides references with it then that is a post that stands on its own merits. They could be a nobel prize winner or a high school student and it wouldn't matter because the post still stands.
    Why should people be "qualified"? I've seen many people with degrees who are uninformed and unintelligent and many unqualified people who are the reverse. Qualification is not an absolute indication of knowledge and capability (this is related to credentialism), at best it tells you the person is more likely to be an authority on the topic but that should not matter anyway. In addition it might have the opposite effect, I've been rudely dismissed/insulted because a user saw that my speciality is nanotech and regenerative medicine and thus assumed by answer on a physics topic was wrong (it was right though). It's a reverse example of appeal to authority but it happens.

    You are right in saying that there are many good members who are not SAs, if they were nominated for being an SA and approved then they would receive the award. Regarding PF's reputation; our reputation stands because of the quality, not the qualification, of the members we have.

    Once again I do not think it is responsible for us to require people to reveal information about themselves. This is probably the biggest point for me.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  10. Jan 12, 2012 #9

    Evo

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    There are a number of criteria which need to be met for receiving an SA medal. It's not just knowledge of a subject. They should be someone that represents the forum and our *mission*, this would include, willingness to help, ability to answer questions at multiple levels of understanding, ability to admit and correct mistakes, etc...

    In other words it's not recognition of someone's degree.
     
  11. Jan 12, 2012 #10

    Ryan_m_b

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    +1.0 to this :smile:
     
  12. Jan 12, 2012 #11

    Ygggdrasil

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    Why should the validity of a person's argument hinge upon their identity? If someone makes a claim that you find dubious, the appropriate question to ask should be "can you cite any studies to back up your claim?", not "do you have a PhD?"
     
  13. Jan 12, 2012 #12
    A visitor (or member) might not know that an answer is dubious.
     
  14. Jan 12, 2012 #13

    Pengwuino

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    I agree, this system is flawed. My answers are absolutely better considering I have 3 Nobel Prizes, 2 PhDs and was the President of the United States for a couple of years.

    Okay I made that first part up, I only have 2.

    The only thing dubious about this whole situation is asking people to give their credentials with no way of verifying. This reminds me of some people in town who wanted tutoring for their son who was in middle school and the requirements for the job were to have a PhD.

    In all seriousness, I don't understand why you feel credentials are the most important thing here or are even important at all. A correct, well explained answer from a 18 year old undergraduate is just as valid as a correct, well explained answer from a 60 year old PhD holding 30-year experience physicist or whatever. Hell, a degree means nothing when you consider there are degree-holding people who think homeopathy works and that aliens live on Earth.
     
  15. Jan 12, 2012 #14
    Someone not familiar with the field might not know if something is dubious. Moreover, its not realistic for a specialist to cite every fact he or she might say (and it's not done). I don't see why this is controversial. You don't have to give personal information if you don't choose to, but you don't have to be an SA either. Most people use usernames anyway. It's unlikely that revealing you have a PhD on your public page will cause you to be identified. These are just my opinions as a user. Obviously PF will operate as PF management wishes.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  16. Jan 12, 2012 #15

    Evo

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    That why we assign SA medals. A person with an SA medal is more likely to give an accurate answer, and if they do make a mistake, they will correct it asap. We know this because we have vetted the person given the SA medal to make sure that they have a history of accurate posts and appropriate behaviour. That doesn't mean that sometimes we don't make a mistake, medals have been removed, but it's not often.

    One of the reasons we removed the "credentials" from the post profile was that it became obvious that a lot of people were making up degrees to sound important. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. It's not what you say you know, but what you show you know.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  17. Jan 12, 2012 #16

    Pengwuino

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    Think of it like PF giving a degree! Except this one is verified and their degree is in helping explain things accurately :)
     
  18. Jan 12, 2012 #17

    Evo

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    Very good!!!
     
  19. Jan 12, 2012 #18

    Fredrik

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    I have an opinion, and it's not the same as yours. I consider "credentials" (academic degrees and positions) to be irrelevant here. I doesn't make sense to me to judge what someone is saying based on anything other than how much sense they're making. I don't think that forcing SA's to post their academic credentials would help anyone distinguish good answers from bad.

    We don't. Not if you meant "academic" when you wrote "scientific". (That seems to be the case). The only scientific qualifications that an SA who posts about science must have is a solid posting history.

    Suppose that you post a question about a detail in a proof in a math book that you don't understand, and an SA posts a reply explaining that part in a way that you can understand. How does knowing his academic record change anything here? I can't see how it would, unless you wouldn't even read the reply if you knew that the guy is only an undergraduate.

    It's often a post count issue. Only members with a post count of 600 (in some cases 500) will be considered. This is why people like DarMM (probably the only member with a solid understanding of rigorous quantum field theory and a post count over 50) don't have SA medals. Yes, there are solid posters with higher post counts, and some of them probably should be SAs. I think the main reason is that it's really boring to have to go through someone's posts to try to determine if the quality of their posts is high enough.
     
  20. Jan 12, 2012 #19
    I never said it's the most important thing, and after you get to know who's who, it's not really very important at all. But its equally strange to argue that your education and training has no bearing on the reliability of your answers, especially for a newcomer.

    As far as verification goes, someone who claims to have a PhD and doesn't is at risk of being exposed just by the answers he or she might give.
     
  21. Jan 12, 2012 #20

    jhae2.718

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    Hmm, I wonder if you could take ML and come up with some method to look through posts and flag those members that might be eligible?
     
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