acne rosacea sourcebook: a computer wrote it !!

Written by on April 15, 2008 in research with 1 Comment

Back in 2003 I ordered a copy of “The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Acne Rosacea“. I was looking to read what was available on the topic of rosacea and this book was listed on The book confused me ; it was so bad.

Little did I know, the book was written by a computer. The author, Philip M. Parker has some patents related to automatically generating books. Apparently he is responsible for over 200,00 books, and in fact you can see him listed as the author of 85,000+ books on

I was contacted last week by Noam Cohen of the New York Times to get a reaction to being told that this book which I loathed, was in fact written by a computer algorithm. It was a surprise to me.

From the NYT article He Wrote 200,000 Books (but Computers Did Some of the Work):

While nothing announces that Mr. Parker’s books are computer generated, one reader, David Pascoe, seemed close to figuring it out himself, based on his comments to Amazon in 2004. Reviewing a guide to rosacea, a skin disorder, Mr. Pascoe, who is from Perth, Australia, complained: “The book is more of a template for ‘generic health researching’ than anything specific to rosacea. The information is of such a generic level that a sourcebook on the next medical topic is just a search and replace away.”

When told via e-mail that his suspicion was correct, Mr. Pascoe wrote back, “I guess it makes sense now as to why the book was so awful and frustrating.” Mr. Parker was willing to concede much of what Mr. Pascoe argued. “If you are good at the Internet, this book is useless,” he said, adding that Mr. Pascoe simply should not have bought it. But, Mr. Parker said, there are people who aren’t Internet savvy who have found these guides useful.

Sorry for quoting the bit that mentions me, but feels good to finally find out why the book was so awful.

This is a sad development. It is hard enough to find good printed information about rosacea. What we don’t need is robots trying to make a living for their owners !

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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1 Reader Comment

  1. phlika says:

    I’ve never read this book but well done David for getting your comments out there. The remark by Mr Parker saying that you shouldn’t have brought it is just rude. if you buy it off Amazon how are you meant to know if its any good before you do.

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