Sophistry, Not Analysis

A recent essay shows once again how sophistry isn't knowledge, logic, or fact

Recently, an essay by Jeff Pooley has been making the rounds. It meanders through a number of current topics — LLMs, copyright, surveillance economics — using an inaccurate map, which leads Pooley to become lost amidst foundational and logical errors.

The essay also echoes the strange, stalker-like fascination anyone pro-OA has with Elsevier.

Pooley’s essay seems to have been inspired by a November 2023 report from SPARC about ScienceDirect and its purported tracking of researchers, which itself perpetuates the decades-long fixation with Elsevier.

The SPARC report is not being dealt with here, by the way. That’s a separate matter, which, for all the verbiage, is made rather toothless with this sentence:

Our analysis cannot definitively confirm whether personal data derived from academic products is currently being used in [RELX] data brokering or “risk” products.

Unfortunately, rather than accurate and sober analysis, Pooley’s essay is more weak OA sophistry.