Specious citations – urban legends

It is interesting how some "facts" take on a life of their own without actually being well documented.

The latest one that I'm tracking down is the assertion that adults need "8 to 10 meaningful touches each day" for "emotional and physical health". This assertion is made by Gary Smalley and John Trent in The Blessing at the end of chapter 3 and cited in footnote 10 as sourced from

UCLA Monthly. Alumni Association News. March/April issue 1981. pg. 1

There are several problems with this source:

  1. It is not (so far) verifiable – no authors are cited. If it really was a "scientific study" with legitimate results, then the results should be published in a real journal or reported at a suitable professional
    conference. If either of these really happened, then the citation
    should be to an authoritative source, not an "alumni news" magazine.
  2. If it really is a monthly publication, why does the issue span two months as if it is a bimonthly publication? This raises questions about the validity of the citation as well.

I've written to the authors of The Blessing, Gary Smalley and John Trent to see if they can provide additional information about this citation. Stay tuned for updates…

(Migrated from a previous life blog, originally posted on 2006-01-24)

Update 1 – April 2006: I've contacted the UCLA alumni association and the UCLA Library Archives – so far neither of them can find the purported article. 

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