Friday, December 10, 2004

Today I am going to talk about Christmas Trees. My roommate asked me a few days ago if I wanted a Christmas Tree. I told her that my mother lives in a first floor flat and my brother and I had to carry a six foot tall pine tree into her flat almost every year. It became old very quickly. So I told her if she wanted a tree, she was going to carry it up the Stairs of Doom herself. I was not going to take part. So she got the next best thing. A fake Christmas Tree, which now adorns our window. It has fiber optic lights that change color, which makes it more fun than a real tree and with less hassle than a real tree.

Otherwise, I spend most of the afternoon in the library trying to dig up more on my guy, Fíthal. Well, out of 50 journals that make up Revue Celtique (a French Celtic Studies journal from 1860-1936, when it became Études Celtique) I found one story which refers to Fíthal once by name in the second paragraph. I also found one reference in Cormac's Glossary from the 10th century and it said "Fíthal - nomen judici", which translates into "Fíthal - name of a judge". Oh WOW! Like I could not figure that one out. I have a couple of other places to go to look but I am quickly running out of places.

I saw a story from CNN today, which talks about teacher's problems with getting their students to use anything other than Google to do research with. They seem to type in some search words then screen scrape together some information then write it up so it looks good. Well, there is a problem with that, veracity of source material. The internet allows anyone to post anything about anything, which means that you cannot trust things on the internet. The only problem is that it is the same problem for books. Yes, there are publishers, which are supposed to filter out bad information but with the rise of on demand publishing, the same can be said about books. Even if the publisher is supposed to look, most of the time they could not care less as long as it sells. So there is the grey area where fact meets fiction even if it is a physical book and not a web page. This is why scholars publish among themselves and in highly technical ways. They want to make sure that only people with the proper background and training are able to access the information. This is especially true of Celtic Studies. Do a quick search on Celts or Celtic in Google and tell me if even one percent of that information is true.

So should everything be written in a scholarly fashion? No. There are still problems with that. Remember the problems posed in the book "Intellectual Impostures"? You have the same problem. They just took it to its natural extreme with jargonistic garbage. The only way to do it is to peer review the information and allow no margin for fantasy to creep in. This is not to say that a person should not be imaginative and creative in a scholarly discipline. If that were the case, no one would do any scholarly work. There has to be checks from within the community of people who study a particular subject. That is really the only way to keep information from becoming fantasy.

Alright, I am tired of ranting for now.

posted by Chris  #8:13 PM | 0 comments |