Citations as Confirmation Bias

August 26th, 2011

If it were up to law review editors, every sentence in an article wold have a footnote with a citation to support that proposition. But a citation to what? Well a citation to a court with some authority is best, but citations to secondary sources, such as another law review article are acceptable.

I ask, so what? Who cares what another prof wrote. It doesn’t make your argument right if someone wrote a similar idea in the Podunk Law Review. It simply means that article confirms what you wrote. Most footnotes seem to be nothing more than confirmation. Other than citations to courts or statutes or original sources or the like, all other footnotes–especially for novel ideas–seem superfluous, and merely a way to minimize cognitive dissonance.

Frequently a journal tells me to find a footnote for a sentence, so I just search the jlr database for some such similar idea, and slap a citation. My idea was not supported by whatever I found–my idea stated the same–but was merely confirmed. What an exercise in academic futility.

As is, I hate the bluebook. Seems I just hate footnotes in general.