Rickrolls and Russian dolls, the world of mindless citing
Jordan Anaya

Regarding the paper ‘Position of the American Dietetic Association: food and nutrition misinformation.’ (2006) in your last section the citations are somewhat different in the preprint version*:

  • The 168 billion figure is attributed to: Food and Health Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization. Draft guidelines for use of nutrition and health claims. In: Report of the Thirty-First Session of the Codex Committee on Food Labelling. Geneva: WO; 2003; 44–68. This is now temporally closer to 2004, but still could be deemed as “psychic”. Maybe the 168 billion was a projected figure in the 2003 report?
  • The 43 billion figure is attributed to: Wansink B. Marketing Nutrition: Soy, Functional Foods, Boitechnology, and Obesity. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press; 2005. This would seem “unpsychic” since the book referenced doesn’t temporally precede the year in question. On the other hand, it is not clear if this is the source of the original research that produced that figure; I don’t want to be unfairly skeptical towards Wansink here, but since in this post you did talk about “russian doll” citations…
  • The 13.9 billion figure is attributed: Sarubin A. THe Health Professional’s Guide to Popular Dietary Supplements. Chicago, IL: The American Dietetic Association; 2000. This would again seem to have some problems with causality, BUT in the preprint the sentence doesn’t necessarily refer to the year 2004: “ This wide range of herbal, botanical and sports supplements, now comprises over half the dietary supplement industry and has helped sales increase by over 60% to $13.9 billion”, if we consider just the latter part of the whole sentence, and as a such this could be considered congruous with the conventional timeline of the universe. Of course, one could wonder why someone would refer to 4 years old figures while the writing strongly implies the present day.

Some inconsistencies could be explained by the numbering gone awry, there seems to be 13/14 type things going on, but all in all it seems a bit strange indeed.


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