[Air-L] Credentials

Gilbert B. Rodman gbrodman at mindspring.com
Tue Aug 18 08:01:51 PDT 2009

Sure.  Who's actually speaking (or typing) can make a difference to the
perceived validity of their comments.

But the idea that professional credentials matter so much to assessing
the value of a listserv message that people should be expected to
provide them every time they post is another matter.

I could, for example, claim that AIR-L has managed to survive pretty
well for more than a decade without this sort of "norm" in place.  But
the perceived validity of my claim is more likely to be bolstered by the
fact that I've been on the list for almost as long as the list has
existed than it is by a list of my degrees and job titles.  If you
really want a helpful assessment of that hypothetical software package,
it's probably more important to hear from someone who's actually used
the software -- regardless of their degree status -- than to get advice
from some random statistics PhD who's never heard of the software at
all.  The most helpful context and background in such cases simply isn't
going to show up in most people's signatures.

All the more so since an email signature is hardly ironclad proof of
anything.  Will this post *really* be more convincing to you if my
signature tells you that I have a PhD from Harvard?  What if it tells
you that my PhD is from Illinois?  What if it doesn't tell you where my
PhD is from at all?  Why are you suddenly going to believe what my
signature tells you if you're already skeptical about the validity of
everything else I've typed here?


Dr. Rasha Abdulla wrote:
> Don't you think it makes a difference if the person giving me advice on a
> statistical software package has a Ph.D. in statistics (even if jobless), is
> an undergraduate student who heard about it from a friend (and yes, that
> info could still be very valid), or a marketing staff member of the software
> producing company? Yes, I know I can Google the name, but what's the harm is
> signing off with a title or at least a full name (to be able to google it?)
> Anyway, just a suggestion!
> All the best.
> Rasha

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