Book Stop

Sometimes discussions end when somebody says or implies, "go read book X and then you will agree with me or know what I am talking about". It tends to end discussions, hinging further progress against a particular book or set of books.

Unless something is revolutionary, it should be possible to describe in a few paragraphs. Thus, an appeal to a book or long article may be a sign of laziness. The topic no longer is self-describing. It's likely a cop-out, in my opinion. Bring your book-gotten evidence HERE. -top

True sometimes but not always. The ISBN at the top of CategoryTheory is a helpful reference from someone who knows the subject to those who may want to buy or borrow it to learn more. It did not prevent further discussion in the rest of the page. Same with web links ie ToolCommandLanguage refers to the Tcl web site again no impediment to discussion. Depends on context - even in a debate referring to a specific page#/paragraph can lend credibility instead of just one person's word against the other.

If it is short, then please try to quote it or paraphrase it.

[Sometimes discussions end when somebody says or implies, "go read book X"...] and this must not be a bad thing. Maybe it is possible to give a short summary, but if you get into serious discussion of topic, your opponent may ask questions or address points, that you do not have available in memory. Or cannot you cannot recover them adhoc without taking some time (I assume, that you are not toally fluent with the subject). In this case it might be appropriate to either stop the discussion to avoid burning time and getting into all the traps the original author of the book probably went too before he condensed whatever it was into the book.

I sincerely believe that BookStops are generally used by poor articulators or the lazy. If you are not in the mood to present your view and would rather let a 400-page book do it, then politely say so and move on. Don't verbally crucify the other party for not joining. --top

I personally think that anyone fool enough to suggest that reading a book may help to enlighten someone on a subject merely because they found it useful is committing a logical fallacy. I call it the 'I can do it you can do it' fallacy Why it's almost like claiming that anyone can learn just because one person can. It's wrong and its not fair. It is also not fair to deny persons who are not well-read the same status as person who spent years studying and learning. Why should it matter that they worked hard. Some people do not work hard-- is it not their right? Now if you could give a 'proof' that any one who read and studied could become learned and thus gain respect then you may have a point, but we all know that not everyone can. So how can we blame them for not trying?, its a lot of work and they may fail. Look at it this way-- those who work hard often say ' work is its own reward', clearly they are not interested in external validation. On the other hand whose who do not work hard just want to be able to get all the benefits of hard work, and are often fixated on the external rewards. As a lazy failure myself, I can see their point here. Why not give everyone what they want-- fools can get respect and industrious masochist get to work as hard as they like. And no one will ever need to read a book again if they don't feel its worth the effort. -- When I started this I was sure it was satire -- by the time I finished I was sure someone here would ask congress to pass exactly such a law and then I feared they already had.' -- MarcGrundfest is trying to use sarcasm to make a point. If he fails to do so you need to read it again... You can stop as soon as you get it...

{Keep in mind that "working hard" can also apply to converting vast knowledge into a more compact or relevant-to-the-issue form, such as demonstration applications and scenarios. The output side requires just as much work to "do right" as the input side. More on this under ScienceShouldBeEasy. --top}

Cool I can see you like to use scarcaism too ... but I have news for you --- Science really is Easy. This is why it is never necessary to explain it to anyone layman or otherwise.. and the proof is that it can't be done. QED

You are as good at sarcasm as you are in articulation.

I sincerely believe that BookStops are often used when the frustrated articulator is being attacked by a Troll or HostileStudent who refuses to gain an education or listen to explanations from someone who has opened the books (and studied them) on the ground that it "appears" to be ArgumentFromAuthority... nevermind the fact that statements in science are correctly founded not in authority but in collective experience, observation, and prediction. There are some real fools and bastards out there, top.

Anyhow, when someone starts spouting stuff that is wrong on many levels and far removed from grounding in reality or math (such that any complete explanation regarding the fallacy would be so long and so divergent that it would become dreadfully off-topic), it calls for a BookStop - telling the fool to scrap his worldview on the subject and get a true education. This is seen most often where the person lacks knowledge of a subject and is allowing fancy and invented fictions fill an educational gap. I've seen it in children who attempt to describe the physical laws or explain moral rules. I've seen it in people who promote or believe in the various conspiracy theories. I've even seen it done by a person who lacks any theoretical background in type theory (and who refuses to acquire it) who suddenly declares that 'TypesAreSideFlags' and decides to "bring it to the masses" like some sort of new religion (despite it being untested and undeveloped). These people don't see their own fallacy, quite possibly lack the education to even understand why the fallacy IS a fallacy (even if it is pointed out to them), and will often steadfastly refuse to gain said education (or, as one said, will "thumb his nose at academia" rather than open a book and read or listen to the "authority" of those who have opened the books and read). Some would go to blows, even to war, before making the effort to gain the necessary perspective to judge their own beliefs.

Definitions are made by the masses, not ivory towers. If this bothers you, it's not my problem. And math never proved that you had the right definition or that your pet paradigm was objectively better (outside of performance/speed). NEVER! (I'm not saying it will never be done, only that it hasn't so far.)

[Informal definitions are indeed established by the masses, but informal definitions are frequently ambiguous or incomplete. Academia refines or clarifies definitions, in order to discuss them accurately and rigorously apply them in formal reasoning. This helps avoid inadvertent invocations of LaynesLaw. Perhaps a reasonable debate should be had over whether this wiki is merely a "fun" forum -- in which informal definitions may be casually used in the same manner as they're (usually) applied in pub and water-cooler arguments -- or a scientific forum, in which only formal, rigorous definitions should be used.]

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I have a personal rule that I think is fair: One must provide customer-side metrics before they can expect one to read their proposed book that allegedly has the "golden evidence". (See DesignVersusResultsEvidence, PageAnchor: Customer). It has to be shown "better" from a perspective beyond mere design elegance ("cool math"). There are far more "elegancy" claims/books/papers than there are customer-side evidence sources. To widdle down the candidate pool, we need customer-side evidence also (empirical measurements of "results"). In short, I put far more emphasis on customer-side metrics. I have my favorite design-side guidelines and models, but I will not claim them objective at this point as far as making a better product for the "customer". --top

Pretty much anything that has a model (elegant or not) ALREADY has reasons for it that can be seen by at least one customer. E.g. TypeSafety - to say: "I can guarantee the program won't crash, fail, or be in error due to reasons X, Y, and Z" is a perfectly valid customer-side metric, one especially liked by customers who have experienced programs crashing due to reason X, Y, or Z. In any case, the primary "customer" of a programming language feature, object pattern, or software design is the developer - the end customer might not care even if you wrote your program in SnuspLanguage so long as it gets the job done (along with all shifting requirements) on time and under budget... but if proving safety and correctness are on the agenda, a SnuspLanguage solution creates a lot more work for the developer. --AnonymousDonor

This is not the topic to promote TypeSafety. If you mean that different situations require different approaches, I don't think anybody will disagree.

BookStops are a form of ArgumentFromAuthority, an "official" fallacy. Debate societies have disallowed argument from authority for the most part, or at least give it minor status. I didn't do this, THEY did. Complain to them if you don't like its lowly status, not me. --top

I'm not sure if I'm convinced that debate societies disallow argument from authority. When I was in (admittedly, high school) debate, an entire branch--Policy Debate--seemed to be nothing but argument by authority. You had to have a quote to back up every thing you said, so Policy Debators typically had two or three bins full of folders with quotes, ready to pull out for every random need. It is my understanding that College Debate was even worse: I heard of one Policy Team (consisting of two people) would have twenty of these bins.

ArgumentFromAuthority isn't necessarily bad--Authorities often knows what they are talking about--the only reason why it's a "fallacy" of any sort, is that Authority isn't always right. Thus, it's important to check your assumptions, put quotes in context, and, in general, make sure you do your homework thoroughly. --Alpheus

From SantaEverywhereFallacy: ArgumentFromAuthority? Rarely. They do violate SelfStandingEvidence - a rule you pulled out of your ass a while back. An "answer" might be a page long, but might require 500+ pages background to understand, and so expands to 501 pages when presented to someone ignorant. You shouldn't even join a debate before you have that background; it's rude, a bit like barging in on a Charles Dickens reading group and commenting without knowing the subject. BookStops can provide that background. When pointed to a BookStop, we don't demand you agree with the book, only that you understand it. Generally, with understanding will come agreement... but, if not, at least you will be able to speak the same language and have the background to make precise complaints. ScienceShouldBeEasy is a fallacy. SelfStandingEvidence - evidence that stands even for people who haven't the background to comprehend it - is a fiction. Not everything can be simplified for your convenience, and you shouldn't expect people to treat you like an equal, or even with the respect due a professional, when you put your ignorance on a fucking pedestal and demand other people inconvenience themselves to serve it.

I've purchased books what had allegedly slam-dunk evidence of the claimer's claims, only to find out that they are no more scientific than the debaters. BertrandMeyer's OOSC2 is a prime example, for it was recommended by approximately 5 different OO enthusiasts. His claims simply didn't stand up to scrutiny. (I wrote 30-page critique.) Bertrand is an evangelizer, not a scientist. Robert Martin's book was the same way (PayrollExample). Evangelizing is how they sell books. An non-biased book would simply not sell. One has to hype a solution to sell it because nobody is going to buy a slightly incremental improvement: they want GoldenHammers. Thus, I've been burned and less likely to fork over money and time for BookStops. --top

A fundamental component of rational, academic, and scientific thinking is the ability to critique and evaluate source materials. It is common to find materials that are questionable for whatever reason, and to then assemble evidence against them. This does not, however, deprecate the value of books and other reference materials in general. It is foolish to deprecate all books merely because you've found some with which you disagree, especially as (a) scientific writing is built on a tower of references, and (b) without references you're forced into unqualified ArgumentFromAuthority -- often with yourself as the (only) Authority.

I am only saying it is an overused "out". If these books truly have absolute proofs or slam-dunk examples, then repeat the proof/example here. Most proofs for practical IT don't require 50+ pages. How does the reader know whether they are being lied to or not without buying the books? At least give specifics or a fairly detailed summary, such as "the proof that Reynolds definition can be the only true definition of types is on page 54 of his Foo book." I don't see sufficient homework done by the book claimers. It is, well, hand-waving, on their part. Even if repeating the full proof/example is not practical, it is possible to describe the following:

Usually I get diddly-squat when I request it. BookStop often is used as a get-out-of-debate-for-free card, and then I am called all kinds of nasty names for not buying the damned book.


Numerous books have absolute proofs -- of mathematical theorems. I know of no scientific field outside of mathematics and related mathematical domains (such as pure computer science, or logic) that can make claims of "absolute proof". Otherwise, arguments involve a presentation of evidence. You may disagree with the evidence or its significance, but then it's up to you to provide counter-evidence if the arguments presented are generally held to be sound. In most cases here, however, reference to a BookStop is made in instances where you (or others) are obviously lacking in general understanding (such as of generally-accepted foundations of computer science) rather than differences in opinion -- even though you may regard them as differences in opinion rather than your (often obvious!) lack of understanding.

I could claim the same for lack of practical experience on your part. You cannot really be head-deep in academia and dedicated to actual practical field work at the same time, and so you will be experience-biased toward practical or academia one way or the other unless you live for 200 years. ExperienceStop?: "Come back when you have 20 years of field work in custom biz apps under your belt". And, I reject "generally held to be sound". Even acedemics are subject to lemming-ness. --top

Assuming your response is remotely relevant (which it isn't), on what basis do you claim I "cannot really be head-deep in academia and dedicated to actual practical field work at the same time"? That is, in fact, precisely what I am and what I do. I have been working in the field (I am a partner in a small software house) and in academia (I am a senior lecturer at a university) since 1987. Should you desire evidence, you can read my informal CV at

Then you should be well-qualified to bridge the communication-gap between theorists and practitioners rather than insist practitioners become theorists and use your vocab system. The "vocabulary" of us practitioners is actual or realistic dissectable examples that clearly make better what you claim is better. We don't want to hear about the "elegance" of your car engine design. Instead, Race the Fscker! --top

To the extent that it exists, said "communication-gap" tends to revolve more around the application of recognised concepts than "vocabulary". For example, there is often debate (frequently fruitless) between database theoreticians and database practitioners over whether NULL is bad or good, but both groups essentially agree on what "NULL" means and why the opposition thinks it should or shouldn't exist. Those who debate the "vocabulary" of NULL itself tend to be viewed by both camps as zealots, "problem children", or ignorant (I mean that to be descriptive, by the way, not pejorative). Serious practitioners recognise & appreciate the value of theory, and serious theoreticians recognise & appreciate the value of practice. The "communication-gap" is not as big as you appear to think, and I suspect it reflects your own personal debating experience rather than actual divisions between theory and practice.

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(Moved from StuckOnPetFactors)

Top, did you just use a BookStop [in StuckOnPetFactors]? Say it isn't so. Or at least explain why its ok for you but no one else. Perhaps it is ok to rely on only one book whereas if there are hundreds of books that would be a BookStop. Or maybe is it more of an ArgumentFromLackofAthority? since you have claimed that 'experts are not immune' to the folly you decry which class includes the author ( I think this may be the sole author you have ever cited ) whose work you cite. Thanks for the laughs -- Bottom

Yes, I did use a BookStop and I admit it. But I am not complaining to others for not reading it, merely placing it as related info. I am not "faulting" others for not reading it. Further, issues of human behavior cannot really be tested directly at this wiki (at least I haven't found a way). Source-code examples, however, can. Some issues are presentable and dissect-able as wiki text and some are not. If you want the citation info for the studies referenced in the book, then please ask.

With regard to souce-code analysis, source-code analysis can still lead to issues over WetWare. For example, under PayrollExampleTwoDiscussion, issues over what kind of typos programmers tend to make came up (case statements versus polymorphism). These can probably only be answered by observation of and interviews of multiple keyboardists. But at least we can narrow it down to the point of the difference, such as "if tests show programmers make typo X more than typo Y, then this source-code pattern is probably the better choice, assuming all else equal." We've come closer to the ideal of GoodMetricsProduceNumbers because it's based on a percentage.

It may be a "ResearchStop?", but at least the point of contention has been identified and tied to a research outcome. Most bookStops I encounter here are not that specific. The entire answer is allegedly in the book, not just a pivot point. They don't pivot on a number. That's a big difference. Even if a debate is not "solved", if the pivotal factors or issues are identified and narrowed, progress has been made. Solving tough problems often takes several stages. Solving most of the puzzle still has utility even if it's not finished. Einstein studied others' puzzles and theories on the (then) odd nature of the speed-of-light measurements taken before formulating a solution candidate.

I used to be frequently book-stopped on Bertrand Meyer. Finally, I did something about it:


See ISBN 0868406643 ;-)

Bless you Dave --MarcGrundfest

Books are closed source and restrict you from seeing the information unless you pay. BooksAreClosedSource

See also GodwinsLaw, SelfStandingEvidence, TheoreticalRigorCantReplaceEmpiricalRigor, RoleOfComputerScience, BookStart, TheMasterAndHisEmissary, RocketAnalogyProblem



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