Can We Please Put The 'Amateur Brain Surgeon' Strawman To Rest?

from the please,-make-it-go-away dept

For years, the common criticism of Wikipedia was the "brain surgery" myth, which usually was something along the lines of saying, "you wouldn't let an amateur or 'the crowd' perform brain surgery, so why would you let them create a reference book?" Of course, that makes a bunch of bogus assumptions. First, it assumes that there's some sort of equivalence between creating an encyclopedia and doing brain surgery. But that's silly. Second, it assumes that no one involved in Wikipedia is an expert, which is not true. In fact, there are some brain surgeons who patrol Wikipedia as well. Finally, it assumes that these kinds of services are based on everyone being on equal footing, rather than recognizing that well-supported content is what gets through.

Along those lines, we've now got people using the same bogus "brain surgery" myth to attack the concept of "citizen journalism":
First, would you trust a citizen neurosurgeon to remove your kid's neuroblastoma? No, you wouldn't. You would not trust a citizen dentist either for your cavities. Or even a people's car repairman.
Of course not. But most people seem to recognize the basic difference between reporting on something and cutting into someone's brain. And, many people also recognize that most reporters themselves are often not experts in the field they're reporting on -- and what participatory journalism and the internet enable is the ability for actual experts on the topic to take part in the discussion and reporting as well.

Filed Under: amateurs, experts

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  1. identicon
    Jose_X, 21 May 2010 @ 8:14pm

    Re: Re:

    Here is one of the second level links: .

    Together with the top page, this forms a tiny bit of the information you can access on Wikipedia related to brain surgery. This second page leads to hundreds of other pages on Wikipedia.


    Let me ask Dan something that apparently I have forgotten from my 5th grade human body study's class.

    We know that patients who had blood removed surgically after undergoing a CT scan showing the presence of hematoma have a significant risk of experiencing rebleeding at the site.

    This was basically common knowledge back in school..

    30 days hath September,
    April, June, and November,
    These plus one's still fewer
    Than the portion who rebleed
    Post fixing the Hematoma need.

    So since it's so important to pick the right surgical procedure, [and here is my question, Dan:] which, clipping or coiling, is generally used to fix aneurysms of the middle cerebral artery?

    I couldn't remember the answer, and Wikipedia, likely written by third and fourth graders, probably doesn't cover it.


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