It is one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him in possession of truth.
— John Locke
This quote reminds me how knowledge is passed around in geek communities. It is not enough to explain that someone is wrong, we tend to require backup (references) of our claims and sometimes will forgo even the mention of why someone is wrong and just yellout “RTFM!”.
It appears this line of reasoning is also becoming a staple in grassroot organizations. It is the mantra of truthout (where the quote was found), can be seen as the footnotes in the Daily Misleader, and was one of the operating principles in the Matt Gonzalez mayorial campaign’s attempt to educate the voters (instead of muckrake the opponent).
Perhaps a product of an online world where providing reference links is part of our writing system and a response to the FUD we find ourselves constantly bombarded by.