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Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes 
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Gregarious
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Unread post Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Thesis: The attested "neutrality" policy of Wikipedia means that parties involved in political disputes on Wikipedia tend to hide their agendas because revealing one's political position necessarily compromises one's status as a supposedly "neutral" editor.

Corollary: Similar to the way in which the veneer arguments of Bush v. Gore hid the political maneuvering of US Supreme Court Justices, arguments over the applicability of Wikipedia's "living persons" policy have often happened in lieu of overt political arguments.

Inspired by this comment..


Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:03 pm
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
I'm not going to rise to the bait of your linked quote, and I don't encourage anyone else to do so.

I find that in many political disputes, there is little or no per se hiding of the underlying political agenda, though the editors in question always deny that they are biased.

Take, for example, both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian geo-political debate. The combatants are all pretty clearly identifiable, and their partisan biases are no mystery. There are times when there is open warfare over particular articles, times when there is detente, and times in between, but no one wonders what Jayjg (T-C-L)'s bias is, nor Nishidani (T-C-L)'s.

Other fields of battle include Ireland/Northern Ireland, Animal Rights (owned by SlimVirgin), the Armenian Genocide, (Rick) Santorum, and several hundred (if not thousand) others.

There are few editors who seek, profess, or achieve "neutrality" on these pages: everyone has a bias of one kind or another. Early in my (abortive) Wikipedia career, I deliberately picked some "battlefield" pages on topics I really, really didn't give a crap about, just to see whether an educated but "neutral" voice could be of some help. I was, in virtually every case, cast out by both sides of the argument.

Wikipedia is a porch light for the moths of bias, editors battering themselves to death arguing over their objections of true belief. The porch floor is littered with their corpses, each with a "banned" banner stamped in tiny print. Wikipedia has no system for managing systematic bias and harnessing it into anything useful. It is one of Wikipedia's most pernicious aspects.


Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:40 pm
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
greybeard wrote:
Wikipedia is a porch light for the moths of bias, editors battering themselves to death arguing over their objections of true belief. The porch floor is littered with their corpses, each with a "banned" banner stamped in tiny print. Wikipedia has no system for managing systematic bias and harnessing it into anything useful. It is one of Wikipedia's most pernicious aspects.


+1

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Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:47 am WWW
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
greybeard wrote:
I'm not going to rise to the bait of your linked quote, and I don't encourage anyone else to do so.


Thanks. It wasn't the bait I was interested in anyway, more the claims regarding WP:BLP's use.

Quote:
I find that in many political disputes, there is little or no per se hiding of the underlying political agenda, though the editors in question always deny that they are biased....

Early in my (abortive) Wikipedia career, I deliberately picked some "battlefield" pages on topics I really, really didn't give a crap about, just to see whether an educated but "neutral" voice could be of some help. I was, in virtually every case, cast out by both sides of the argument.

Wikipedia is a porch light for the moths of bias, editors battering themselves to death arguing over their objections of true belief. The porch floor is littered with their corpses, each with a "banned" banner stamped in tiny print.


The ability to pretend there is a plausible deniability against claimed expressions of bias, I think, is at the root of who is and isn't run-out-of-town. Those who can't figure out how to hide their bias behind Wikipedia rules are banned quickly. Those who truly don't care have a difficult time maintaining a consistent rule-based story in the face of relentless attacks that are the required fare in the proxy debates. The survivors all seem to have this way of dancing around the political points without actually claiming they are on any one side, though it is obvious where they lie. Wikipedia plays Emperor's New Clothes about these political alliances as a matter of policy.


Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:08 am
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
EricBarbour wrote:
greybeard wrote:
Wikipedia is a porch light for the moths of bias, editors battering themselves to death arguing over their objections of true belief. The porch floor is littered with their corpses, each with a "banned" banner stamped in tiny print. Wikipedia has no system for managing systematic bias and harnessing it into anything useful. It is one of Wikipedia's most pernicious aspects.


+1

Added to my collection of bons mots.


Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:01 am
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes


You would think that someone with so much on his plate like MastCell would not have so much time to spend enabling wikipedia's irresponsibilities.

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Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:30 am
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
iii wrote:
The ability to pretend there is a plausible deniability against claimed expressions of bias, I think, is at the root of who is and isn't run-out-of-town. Those who can't figure out how to hide their bias behind Wikipedia rules are banned quickly.
There is a certain indirect benefit to the project here, because the agenda-pushers must invest a substantial amount of time in thankless drone work in order to maintain the fiction that they are not there solely to push their agendas, and thus avoid the dreaded WP:SPA stigma.

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Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:33 am
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Of course, this whole issue raises the thorny problems of claims to 'objectivity' and 'neutrality' (and why these claims are untenable) in ALL knowledge domains.

It's a key concern of philosophy of science/sociology of science types, and much has been written about this problem.

Even not being intimately related to a topic, or being ignorant of it, does not mean you can have a 'true' neutrality or objectivity about it. One example is that men, who do not menstruate, cannot have a 'neutral' or 'objective' view on say, pain in menstruation. But that's an incomplete example, and lots more could be brought up.

What is depressing about Wikipedia is that it pays no attention to actually attempting to understand why all claims to be 'objective' or 'neutral' are highly problematic in themselves, and why understanding one's own bias (i.e. taking part in the exercise of reflectivity) is an important way of increasing the possibility of reducing partisanship, and increasing 'neutrality' and 'objectivity' in the way knowledge is produced, while understanding that there is likely no 'true' objectivity in humans. There is always a 'view from somewhere' (i.e. a partiality).

What happens in Wikipedia (and elsewhere) is that claims to neutrality, objectivity and 'SPOV' ALWAYS belie a partisanship, and are merely irrational claims to authority in order to push an agenda, even where someone does not understand the untenability of those claims, or even that they even have their own agenda! Those claiming privileged access to a neutral, objective 'SPOV' are the worst culprits!

The inability to grapple with these issues of philosophy (including of science) are what makes Wikipedia such an unreliable knowledge resource.

I remember trying to bring this up to Guy Chapman once... :(


Thu Apr 19, 2012 6:27 am WWW
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
I remember trying to bring this up to Guy Chapman once... :(

He's the one guy you should have convinced of this, and yet it was impossible from the start. Because he was recruited by "friends" of Jimmy Wales, and shown
a little universe where up was down and electrons carry a positive charge. The whole culture of the WMF is based upon lies, and if they ever admitted this, they
would fail--immediately. And they seem to deeply understand this, even if they can't put it into words.

The worst part: until 2008, the WMF was a pathetic joke in the fundraising category. That was when this corrupt subculture became established. Now they have
millions in the bank. So there's NO impetus, whatsoever, to change the culture. Continuing to lie will make them millions of dollars next year, anyway.

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Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:19 am WWW
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
I was musing on this, because the idea that there is a correct point of view from which to view things is a very damaging concept indeed, and as Wikipedia is the de facto source for a lot of information for a lot of people, it should be of massive concern to the powers that be, because it suggests that there is massive potential for corruption, and the fact that Wikipedia has a dysfunctional governance should be of major concern.

It occurred to be that the European Union stepped in to try and sort out Microsoft, for example, Internet Explorer was dealt a blow by the EU as was Windows to a certain extent. The EU should be equally perturbed if not more so by an organisation successfully capturing the knowledge market with no competition.

It made me wonder what the process would be to get the bureaucrats to turn their gaze on Wikipedia?

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Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:38 am
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
What is depressing about Wikipedia is that it pays no attention to actually attempting to understand why all claims to be 'objective' or 'neutral' are highly problematic in themselves, and why understanding one's own bias (i.e. taking part in the exercise of reflectivity) is an important way of increasing the possibility of reducing partisanship, and increasing 'neutrality' and 'objectivity' in the way knowledge is produced, while understanding that there is likely no 'true' objectivity in humans. There is always a 'view from somewhere' (i.e. a partiality).

What happens in Wikipedia (and elsewhere) is that claims to neutrality, objectivity and 'SPOV' ALWAYS belie a partisanship, and are merely irrational claims to authority in order to push an agenda, even where someone does not understand the untenability of those claims, or even that they even have their own agenda! Those claiming privileged access to a neutral, objective 'SPOV' are the worst culprits!


It seems to me that most people who want a reference are usually looking for an "academic POV" not a "neutral POV" in the strictest of senses. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but I'd be willing to bet that's what Britannica aims for and what Citizendium was attempting to accomplish. On Wikipedia, the war of attrition is such that it's those who can game the WP:NPOV mantra most to their advantage who get the upper hand. Those who hide their agendas are the ones who get keys to the kingdom, so I'm not sure I have enough evidence to buy the claim that they don't recognize their own biases.


Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:09 am
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
iii wrote:
Angela Kennedy wrote:
What is depressing about Wikipedia is that it pays no attention to actually attempting to understand why all claims to be 'objective' or 'neutral' are highly problematic in themselves, and why understanding one's own bias (i.e. taking part in the exercise of reflectivity) is an important way of increasing the possibility of reducing partisanship, and increasing 'neutrality' and 'objectivity' in the way knowledge is produced, while understanding that there is likely no 'true' objectivity in humans. There is always a 'view from somewhere' (i.e. a partiality).

What happens in Wikipedia (and elsewhere) is that claims to neutrality, objectivity and 'SPOV' ALWAYS belie a partisanship, and are merely irrational claims to authority in order to push an agenda, even where someone does not understand the untenability of those claims, or even that they even have their own agenda! Those claiming privileged access to a neutral, objective 'SPOV' are the worst culprits!


It seems to me that most people who want a reference are usually looking for an "academic POV" not a "neutral POV" in the strictest of senses. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but I'd be willing to bet that's what Britannica aims for and what Citizendium was attempting to accomplish. On Wikipedia, the war of attrition is such that it's those who can game the WP:NPOV mantra most to their advantage who get the upper hand. Those who hide their agendas are the ones who get keys to the kingdom, so I'm not sure I have enough evidence to buy the claim that they don't recognize their own biases.


Ok - well first you would have to define an 'academic POV'. Such a thing, if it exists, could never be a monolith. The idea that there is a homogeneous, monolithic 'academic point of view' or even 'Scientific point of view' is one of the most fundamental fallacies inherent in the Wikipedia set-up.

As for Britannica etc. the same universal problem applies to them - and unless they could understand how to deal with theses issues, the same potential for unreliability applies.

As regards people not recognizing their own biases. There is enough evidence on Wikipedia to suggest there are BOTH people who DON'T recognise their own biases and prejudices, nor the problem of irrational claims to neutrality, AND people who DO recognise their own biases, and the problem irrational claims to neutrality only too well, and are cynically pushing their own agendas to - what was that Breivik was saying about getting one's agendas as 'established truths' again?


Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:22 am WWW
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Ok - well first you would have to define an 'academic POV'. Such a thing, if it exists, could never be a monolith. The idea that there is a homogeneous, monolithic 'academic point of view' or even 'Scientific point of view' is one of the most fundamental fallacies inherent in the Wikipedia set-up.

As for Britannica etc. the same universal problem applies to them - and unless they could understand how to deal with theses issues, the same potential for unreliability applies.


My point was that often people looking for a good reference are looking for an academic point-of-view. I don't believe that a monolithic academic perspective exists, but surely it's better to have articles written by an academic expert in a subject rather than, say, Randy in Boise. Britannica's model has historically been one where they get a single author for their more in-depth articles who could be identified. Citizendium tried a more collaborative approach which tended to break down, in my observation, over petty squabbles over content control.

Quote:
As regards people not recognizing their own biases. There is enough evidence on Wikipedia to suggest there are BOTH people who DON'T recognise their own biases and prejudices, nor the problem of irrational claims to neutrality, AND people who DO recognise their own biases, and the problem irrational claims to neutrality only too well, and are cynically pushing their own agendas to - what was that Breivik was saying about getting one's agendas as 'established truths' again?


The accounts on Wikipedia who do not seem to recognize their own biases have two flavors. One are the obvious crusaders who tend to get marginalized or blocked relatively quickly. The other are those who claim neutrality because they "take no sides". The editorial machinations and drama-mongering of the latter tend to be a bit more pernicious than the former in my estimation.


Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:58 am
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Quote:
I don't believe that a monolithic academic perspective exists, but surely it's better to have articles written by an academic expert in a subject rather than, say, Randy in Boise.


Not necessarily. First you'd have to define expert (that's no easy feat), but then you have to work out if the academic has a bias (academics are not free of bias!)

Then if you have various academics with differing viewpoints - how (on earth) do you sort out which is the more 'reliable' one?

It might be Randy in Boise HAS worked out how to write in a reasonably useful 'neutral' POV that Professor PorkChops has not, because Randy understands that appeals to authority are often not rational, and that claims to authority by neutrality and 'objectivity' are not tenable. I'm not saying we should go with Randy in Boise just like that! But Professor Pork Chops may be no 'better'.

This is one of the problems of ALL knowledge-producing domains. Wikipedia has its own flavour of these problems especially due to the anonymity and authoritative claims to neutrality, the gaming of the system by agenda-pushers, and the systemic failures. But Wikipedia is not alone in this, though its popularity as a 'knowledge source' is highly problematic, sometimes verging on the dangerous, in particular.


Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:47 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Quote:
I don't believe that a monolithic academic perspective exists, but surely it's better to have articles written by an academic expert in a subject rather than, say, Randy in Boise.


Not necessarily. First you'd have to define expert (that's no easy feat), but then you have to work out if the academic has a bias (academics are not free of bias!)

Then if you have various academics with differing viewpoints - how (on earth) do you sort out which is the more 'reliable' one?

It might be Randy in Boise HAS worked out how to write in a reasonably useful 'neutral' POV that Professor PorkChops has not, because Randy understands that appeals to authority are often not rational, and that claims to authority by neutrality and 'objectivity' are not tenable. I'm not saying we should go with Randy in Boise just like that! But Professor Pork Chops may be no 'better'.

This is one of the problems of ALL knowledge-producing domains. Wikipedia has its own flavour of these problems especially due to the anonymity and authoritative claims to neutrality, the gaming of the system by agenda-pushers, and the systemic failures. But Wikipedia is not alone in this, though its popularity as a 'knowledge source' is highly problematic, sometimes verging on the dangerous, in particular.

Isn't the essential factor that EB uses that of reputation? If we start from zero, who knows, but in reality, EB people sort of know their subject, sort of know when they need something extra or the subject warrants some extra attention, and they also know the reputation of various experts in their field, normally through publications that are not deemed unnecessarily controversial.

I'd be pretty confident that it is a no-brainer for EB, and they always have the option of not liking what they see and deciding not to use it (now that's an interesting comment I just made, because not using stuff tends to be problematic for Wikipedia, they jump through hoops).

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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Ok - well first you would have to define an 'academic POV'. Such a thing, if it exists, could never be a monolith. The idea that there is a homogeneous, monolithic 'academic point of view' or even 'Scientific point of view' is one of the most fundamental fallacies inherent in the Wikipedia set-up.

As for Britannica etc. the same universal problem applies to them - and unless they could understand how to deal with theses issues, the same potential for unreliability applies.
I think there is a fundamental problem with the idea of an "encyclopedia" itself. In a healthy society, the world of ideas is in constant flux. Any theoretical framework that attempts to explain the world around us is inherently incomplete. An encyclopedia attempts to capture "knowledge" and pin it to a display case like an entomologist. Reference works of some sort are unavoidable, but should be taken with a grain of salt even under the best of conditions.

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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Not necessarily. First you'd have to define expert (that's no easy feat), but then you have to work out if the academic has a bias (academics are not free of bias!)

Then if you have various academics with differing viewpoints - how (on earth) do you sort out which is the more 'reliable' one?


Your tasking an encyclopedia with something that is inappropriate, I think. I say that authorship and standing behind one's work is the way to ensure that issues of experthood, bias, and viewpoint are handled appropriately. Authorship does not remove bias/erroneous scholarship/viewpoint marginalization, but as far as I know there is nothing that will do that. Being up front about who is writing your reference work and having editorial standards such as peer review is the way in which the most successful scholarship communities have come to address these problems. Wikipedia's perspective is one which positively ignores these lessons and (imperfect though they are) attempts to deal with the situation. That's the fundamental issue with the crowdsourcing model; when no one owns the content no one can be held accountable for the misrepresentations and errors that are bound to crop up.

Quote:
It might be Randy in Boise HAS worked out how to write in a reasonably useful 'neutral' POV that Professor PorkChops has not, because Randy understands that appeals to authority are often not rational, and that claims to authority by neutrality and 'objectivity' are not tenable. I'm not saying we should go with Randy in Boise just like that! But Professor Pork Chops may be no 'better'.


One can look at the offerings of various individuals without credentials and compare them to the offerings of individuals with credentials. The internet offers this opportunity quite readily. It's pretty clear to me that it is much more likely for that an author with a credential will write a high-quality reference than an anonymous internet user. If you think otherwise, I'd encourage you to start your own alternative epistemic community and see whether you can get it off the ground.


Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:49 pm
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Hersch wrote:
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Ok - well first you would have to define an 'academic POV'. Such a thing, if it exists, could never be a monolith. The idea that there is a homogeneous, monolithic 'academic point of view' or even 'Scientific point of view' is one of the most fundamental fallacies inherent in the Wikipedia set-up.

As for Britannica etc. the same universal problem applies to them - and unless they could understand how to deal with theses issues, the same potential for unreliability applies.
I think there is a fundamental problem with the idea of an "encyclopedia" itself. In a healthy society, the world of ideas is in constant flux. Any theoretical framework that attempts to explain the world around us is inherently incomplete. An encyclopedia attempts to capture "knowledge" and pin it to a display case like an entomologist. Reference works of some sort are unavoidable, but should be taken with a grain of salt even under the best of conditions.


I'm with you there Hersch.


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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Quote:
Your tasking an encyclopedia with something that is inappropriate, I think.


How am I 'tasking an encyclopaedia with something that is inappropriate' in pointing out the problem of bias and competing positions in academics?

Quote:
I say that authorship and standing behind one's work is the way to ensure that issues of experthood, bias, and viewpoint are handled appropriately.Authorship does not remove bias/erroneous scholarship/viewpoint marginalization, but as far as I know there is nothing that will do that. Being up front about who is writing your reference work and having editorial standards such as peer review is the way in which the most successful scholarship communities have come to address these problems. Wikipedia's perspective is one which positively ignores these lessons and (imperfect though they are) attempts to deal with the situation. That's the fundamental issue with the crowdsourcing model; when no one owns the content no one can be held accountable for the misrepresentations and errors that are bound to crop up.


I wouldn't say it is THE way, but it is certainly ONE way, and yes, ostensibly a good one. And yes, Wikipedia doesn't play that way.

Quote:
One can look at the offerings of various individuals without credentials and compare them to the offerings of individuals with credentials. The internet offers this opportunity quite readily. It's pretty clear to me that it is much more likely for that an author with a credential will write a high-quality reference than an anonymous internet user. If you think otherwise, I'd encourage you to start your own alternative epistemic community and see whether you can get it off the ground.
[/quote]


Right. Firstly, three-i's guy, I AM an academic and part of various epistemic communities, both mainstream and those that might be considered 'alternative'. Indeed, the issues I am talking about here are WELL-KNOWN in philosophy of science and social science circles. I therefore demand that you bow down to my credentials and therefore higher-quality of knowledge about these things immediately :evilgrin:

Appeals to 'Credentials' rapidly turn into a game of trumps - a highly irrational one at that - in areas of disagreement. This happens on Wikipedia all the time. In addition, many people with impeccable credentials get things wrong (or are you disputing that?), and if you rely on 'credentials' in order to try and separate what you can find reliable and unreliable, without exercising skills of critical thinking, my friend, you are likely to get things wrong and suffer because of that.

You can place your trust in mechanics and plumbers - but if something remains wrong in your car or plumbing after they've attended to it, most people will not hesitate to tell such people they might have not completed the job properly, even though they are likely experts in their fields (and what is more, accredited!) It is always interesting that people are more willing to submit to the higher-class claims to expertise and credential holding without question.


Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:18 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Hersch wrote:
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Ok - well first you would have to define an 'academic POV'. Such a thing, if it exists, could never be a monolith. The idea that there is a homogeneous, monolithic 'academic point of view' or even 'Scientific point of view' is one of the most fundamental fallacies inherent in the Wikipedia set-up.

As for Britannica etc. the same universal problem applies to them - and unless they could understand how to deal with theses issues, the same potential for unreliability applies.
I think there is a fundamental problem with the idea of an "encyclopedia" itself. In a healthy society, the world of ideas is in constant flux. Any theoretical framework that attempts to explain the world around us is inherently incomplete. An encyclopedia attempts to capture "knowledge" and pin it to a display case like an entomologist. Reference works of some sort are unavoidable, but should be taken with a grain of salt even under the best of conditions.


Careful there. That almost sounds like an argument for a "continuously updated encyclopedia", i.e. a Wikipedia.


Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:47 pm
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Volunteer Marek wrote:
Hersch wrote:
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Ok - well first you would have to define an 'academic POV'. Such a thing, if it exists, could never be a monolith. The idea that there is a homogeneous, monolithic 'academic point of view' or even 'Scientific point of view' is one of the most fundamental fallacies inherent in the Wikipedia set-up.

As for Britannica etc. the same universal problem applies to them - and unless they could understand how to deal with theses issues, the same potential for unreliability applies.
I think there is a fundamental problem with the idea of an "encyclopedia" itself. In a healthy society, the world of ideas is in constant flux. Any theoretical framework that attempts to explain the world around us is inherently incomplete. An encyclopedia attempts to capture "knowledge" and pin it to a display case like an entomologist. Reference works of some sort are unavoidable, but should be taken with a grain of salt even under the best of conditions.


Careful there. That almost sounds like an argument for a "continuously updated encyclopedia", i.e. a Wikipedia.


It's not the wiki technology and the facility to frequently update when instigating a knowledge-producing domain that's the problem is it?


Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:52 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Volunteer Marek wrote:
Hersch wrote:
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Ok - well first you would have to define an 'academic POV'. Such a thing, if it exists, could never be a monolith. The idea that there is a homogeneous, monolithic 'academic point of view' or even 'Scientific point of view' is one of the most fundamental fallacies inherent in the Wikipedia set-up.

As for Britannica etc. the same universal problem applies to them - and unless they could understand how to deal with theses issues, the same potential for unreliability applies.
I think there is a fundamental problem with the idea of an "encyclopedia" itself. In a healthy society, the world of ideas is in constant flux. Any theoretical framework that attempts to explain the world around us is inherently incomplete. An encyclopedia attempts to capture "knowledge" and pin it to a display case like an entomologist. Reference works of some sort are unavoidable, but should be taken with a grain of salt even under the best of conditions.


Careful there. That almost sounds like an argument for a "continuously updated encyclopedia", i.e. a Wikipedia.


It's not the wiki technology and the facility to frequently update when instigating a knowledge-producing domain that's the problem is it?


To the extent that I understand the above sentence, that's a separate question and the supposed charter of the site makes it a "knowledge-recording" domain not a "knowledge-producing" domain.


Thu Apr 19, 2012 6:57 pm
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
How am I 'tasking an encyclopaedia with something that is inappropriate' in pointing out the problem of bias and competing positions in academics?


Because an encyclopedia shouldn't fix that.

Quote:
Indeed, the issues I am talking about here are WELL-KNOWN in philosophy of science and social science circles.


But, in that, it seems that yours is a critique that isn't levelled so much towards Wikipedia as towards the world at large.

Quote:
Appeals to 'Credentials' rapidly turn into a game of trumps - a highly irrational one at that - in areas of disagreement.


It doesn't have to be this way if you have an editor who decides who the author should be. You're almost skirting the issue, as I see it. The question is who is better qualified to write an article about X? An amateur or an expert? I say that most of the time it's the expert and most of the time the expert will be a person with an academic credential.

Quote:
... if you rely on 'credentials' in order to try and separate what you can find reliable and unreliable, without exercising skills of critical thinking, my friend, you are likely to get things wrong and suffer because of that.


In life and in research the reader is the one who needs to be a critical thinker as do reviewers, but taking a step back and deciding which critics to whom you will give an audience is most easily decided by looking at who has certain credentials. It's not foolproof, only a good starting point.


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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
I AM an academic and part of various epistemic communities, both mainstream and those that might be considered 'alternative'. Indeed, the issues I am talking about here are WELL-KNOWN in philosophy of science and social science circles. I therefore demand that you bow down to my credentials and therefore higher-quality of knowledge about these things immediately
I bow with utmost obsequity, but mainly because of your avatar.

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Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:20 pm
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
One other aspect of the partisan battles that take place in Wikipedia is the personalities of the involved editors. I notice that many of the most partisan editors, especially in science-related topics, appear to have extremely authoritarian personalities. They seem to have an almost compulsive distaste for ambiguity in their topic of interest. Thus, they seem physically unable to compromise or to accept contrary opinions, no matter how well sourced. Wikipedia apparently attracts authoritarian personalities.


Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:35 pm
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Hersch wrote:
I think there is a fundamental problem with the idea of an "encyclopedia" itself. In a healthy society, the world of ideas is in constant flux. Any theoretical framework that attempts to explain the world around us is inherently incomplete. An encyclopedia attempts to capture "knowledge" and pin it to a display case like an entomologist. Reference works of some sort are unavoidable, but should be taken with a grain of salt even under the best of conditions.

I most thoroughly disagree with you. Without a repository of what is either settled or at least widely-accepted, a young scholar or a layman gets no guidance about how to begin their exploration of a field of study, and is vulnerable to be led down culs-de-sac by the fanatics about whom we have been talking.

Reference works, regardless of claims made for them, do not exist to set down every single piece of knowledge within a field, and it is important for the users of such works to know this. They exist to provide the first draft of understanding, an overview, a sketch -- that is deliberately shorn of most unsettled complexity. In this regard, a well-written encyclopedia is far more important than a complete one. That the 1914 Britannica does not talk about sub-atomic particles is not an indictment: its treatment of classical physics is exemplary, and there is little that has "fluxed" on that topic since then, despite wondrous discoveries.

One must separate the delivery mechanism from the function. Yes, printing reference works in voluminous, leather-bound, expensive volumes tends to make them (cough) "hide-bound". Online resources are preferable. But wishing for something that sets out the best understanding of a field at a particular point in time, the "settled science" (or history, or whatever) and leaving it be while scholars of the field sort out the messy edges is essential to learning about new things. If one starts learning physics with quarks, gluons, and string theory, one is likely to end up not knowing much physics.

An encyclopedia, more so than many reference works, is pedagogical: a clean and well-lit place to begin exploration of a new field, not the last resort.


Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:56 pm
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Cla68 wrote:
One other aspect of the partisan battles that take place in Wikipedia is the personalities of the involved editors. I notice that many of the most partisan editors, especially in science-related topics, appear to have extremely authoritarian personalities. They seem to have an almost compulsive distaste for ambiguity in their topic of interest. Thus, they seem physically unable to compromise or to accept contrary opinions, no matter how well sourced. Wikipedia apparently attracts authoritarian personalities.


Wikipedia in its darker corners actually has a pretty interesting repository of certain unsettled science that is accompanied by a lot of ambiguity and some pretty heady discussion. This content is normally inserted by anonymous IP contributors from .edu domains and often flies over the heads and under the radar of the commentators and the obsessive types.

At the risk of :offtopic: I address now the question of "sourcing" of "contrary opinions" in the realm of scientific knowledge. I think the open source "consensus of anybody who edits" model fails miserably in that very regime. The way it works in the professional communities is that the ideas at the bottom of rabbit holes are not published in the major journals because reviewers and editors recognize that the proponents of such are either unfamiliar with the literature, cherry-picking sources, or re-fighting battles which happened and ended decades or even centuries earlier. On the other hand, Wikipedia is littered with articles and tortured prose that serve as frontline battles between mavericks who see Wikipedia as a perfect outfit for promulgating their ideas and their opponents. The sources are necessarily horrible because these manufactured controversies are not happening in the scientific community where the best sources for scientific ideas are produced. The structure of Wikipedia is such that it encourages fighting between these two groups in a way that does a disservice to a general goal of science education.


Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:25 am
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
greybeard wrote:
I most thoroughly disagree with you. Without a repository of what is either settled or at least widely-accepted, a young scholar or a layman gets no guidance about how to begin their exploration of a field of study, and is vulnerable to be led down culs-de-sac by the fanatics about whom we have been talking.... An encyclopedia, more so than many reference works, is pedagogical: a clean and well-lit place to begin exploration of a new field, not the last resort.


The scholarly communities that rely on decent education of the masses have really dropped the ball by not making foundational knowledge more accessible online. Wikipedia could be made irrelevant in this regard if every research grant was accompanied by a requirement that the academician publish a webpage that explained a foundational concept in a way that was accessible to the layperson.


Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:32 am
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Volunteer Marek wrote:
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Volunteer Marek wrote:
Hersch wrote:
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Ok - well first you would have to define an 'academic POV'. Such a thing, if it exists, could never be a monolith. The idea that there is a homogeneous, monolithic 'academic point of view' or even 'Scientific point of view' is one of the most fundamental fallacies inherent in the Wikipedia set-up.

As for Britannica etc. the same universal problem applies to them - and unless they could understand how to deal with theses issues, the same potential for unreliability applies.
I think there is a fundamental problem with the idea of an "encyclopedia" itself. In a healthy society, the world of ideas is in constant flux. Any theoretical framework that attempts to explain the world around us is inherently incomplete. An encyclopedia attempts to capture "knowledge" and pin it to a display case like an entomologist. Reference works of some sort are unavoidable, but should be taken with a grain of salt even under the best of conditions.


Careful there. That almost sounds like an argument for a "continuously updated encyclopedia", i.e. a Wikipedia.


It's not the wiki technology and the facility to frequently update when instigating a knowledge-producing domain that's the problem is it?


To the extent that I understand the above sentence, that's a separate question and the supposed charter of the site makes it a "knowledge-recording" domain not a "knowledge-producing" domain.


Well - yes, that would be it's ostensible function. But it nevertheless produces its own 'knowledge' (and by knowledge I don't necessarily mean facts!)


Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:34 am WWW
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Quote:
The way it works in the professional communities is that the ideas at the bottom of rabbit holes are not published in the major journals because reviewers and editors recognize that the proponents of such are either unfamiliar with the literature, cherry-picking sources, or re-fighting battles which happened and ended decades or even centuries earlier.


Oh wow! You really do buy into the power of authority over critical analysis don't you? Have you never seen debates about the problems of peer review? Do you really think SCIENCE contains battles that END? Are you one of those "The science is DONE" types? Have you ever heard of Thomas Kuhn?

Oh I wish both philosophy of science and sociology of science were compulsory topics at high school and university level.[/quote]


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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Hersch wrote:
Angela Kennedy wrote:
I AM an academic and part of various epistemic communities, both mainstream and those that might be considered 'alternative'. Indeed, the issues I am talking about here are WELL-KNOWN in philosophy of science and social science circles. I therefore demand that you bow down to my credentials and therefore higher-quality of knowledge about these things immediately
I bow with utmost obsequity, but mainly because of your avatar.


Yes Hersch, so you should. That avatar is a true reflection of my breeding and credentials.


Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:45 am WWW
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Quote:
...a young scholar or a layman gets no guidance about how to begin their exploration of a field of study, and is vulnerable to be led down culs-de-sac by the fanatics about whom we have been talking.


Who is a fanatic? That is such a value, ideology and emotion-laden term. That's important because it's not scientific. It shows how emotion and ideology and partisanship of humans and their behaviour dog the so-called 'scientific process'. I don't wish to come over as school-marmish, especially to someone with an avatar of such a great beard which trumps my pretty hat, but have you ever read 'feminist' philosophers of science such as Helen Longino or Sandra Harding? I really would advise that. You too, mr three-i guy.

Quote:
Reference works... regardless of claims made for them, do not exist to set down every single piece of knowledge within a field, and it is important for the users of such works to know this. They exist to provide the first draft of understanding, an overview, a sketch -- that is deliberately shorn of most unsettled complexity. In this regard, a well-written encyclopedia is far more important than a complete one.


I agree in principle, but ONLY if written in such a way as to accurately set out the tentative nature of science process. Encyclopaedias' failures to do this appears to have led to swathes of 'scholars' and lay people with no understanding of either this, nor how science can be corrupted by ideology and how to prevent that. Though I wouldn't blame Encyclopaedias per se.

Quote:
...wishing for something that sets out the best understanding of a field at a particular point in time, the "settled science" (or history, or whatever) and leaving it be while scholars of the field sort out the messy edges is essential to learning about new things.


But claims of 'settled science' or 'settled history' are fundamentally unsafe. The best an encyclopaedia can do is to set out, in a TENTATIVE way, what certain positions of certain scientists are. Science is always a work in progress, and paradigms are always subject to change. To claim otherwise is to believe in a certainty that science really cannot deliver - nor should it have to. It also allows the loudest voices in claims to authority and expertise to prevail, even where they are incorrect. This is not me making some 'moral' claim as to what 'science' should be. It is about how science progresses (or doesn't, because of the ideology of those who see science as a battle for supremacy).

Quote:
An encyclopedia, more so than many reference works, is pedagogical: a clean and well-lit place to begin exploration of a new field, not the last resort.


It may be the way it SHOULD be (the clean well-lit place). But it doesn't follow it always IS, especially when problems of pedagogy are not addressed.


Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:06 am WWW
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Oh wow! You really do buy into the power of authority over critical analysis don't you?
Nope.

Quote:
Have you never seen debates about the problems of peer review?
I have. They're irrelevant to our discussion here.

Quote:
Do you really think SCIENCE contains battles that END?
YES. There is no battle over whether phlogiston theory is correct or not. It's over.

Quote:
Are you one of those "The science is DONE" types?
No.

Quote:
Have you ever heard of Thomas Kuhn?
Yes. Also, note, that Kuhn is not nearly as popular in philosophy of science circles as he once was.

Quote:
Oh I wish both philosophy of science and sociology of science were compulsory topics at high school and university level.
They are where I come from.


Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:05 pm
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Who is a fanatic? That is such a value, ideology and emotion-laden term. That's important because it's not scientific. It shows how emotion and ideology and partisanship of humans and their behaviour dog the so-called 'scientific process'.
I don't pretend to speak for Greybeard, but if you think that there are no consistent ways of distinguishing between between schizophrenic mystics and professional scientists, I think you're so far out on a limb you've switched trees.

Quote:
I don't wish to come over as school-marmish, especially to someone with an avatar of such a great beard which trumps my pretty hat, but have you ever read 'feminist' philosophers of science such as Helen Longino or Sandra Harding? I really would advise that. You too, mr three-i guy.
Sandra Harding's feminist critique of the Principia is rather famous, Angela. I wonder if you agree with that or with her later backing down from the characterization.

Quote:
I agree in principle, but ONLY if written in such a way as to accurately set out the tentative nature of science process.
Perhaps you'd like to explain how one indicates the tentativeness of Maxwell's Equations?

Quote:
But claims of 'settled science' or 'settled history' are fundamentally unsafe.
We actually agree here, but the point is that good references don't have to claim an idea is settled. They just state the idea and move on.


Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:16 pm
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
iii wrote:
Quote:
But claims of 'settled science' or 'settled history' are fundamentally unsafe.
We actually agree here, but the point is that good references don't have to claim an idea is settled. They just state the idea and move on.

Greybeard's comment was appropriate. Schooling is based on this, after all.

When you start school you start with observable things, sky is blue, water is wet and so on. Then further layers of knowledge are built up, often in disgracefully simplified forms that no scientist would accept as real, but they do understand the need to bootstrap understanding.

So when you are tiny, gravity just is, it is not commented on, it is not taught. Then the idea of the earth sucks is introduced. Later on we learn to understand how much the earth sucks. As far as I am aware (and I am not very aware as I am not a physicist), nobody really knows how the earth sucks, but it does.

At each level there are appropriate texts available, setting out information at an appropriate level. So the concept of gravity is very much settled - the understanding of how gravity works is very much in the realm of higher physics. So as iii suggests, things like encyclopedias are about a concise summary of the subject as it stands at the time of writing. In some cases it may be appropriate to point out that this is current understanding, in other cases it will be assumed that this information is unlikely to change. In my lifetime, plate tectonics would be a good example of something that was not really understood, what, 50-60 years ago, whereas now it is accepted and "common knowledge". It would be interesting to see how this was presented over the last 100 years.

That is another Wikipedian flaw - there is no target audience, so this one size fits all encyclopedia does not know whether it is teaching simplified concepts, even if they might be technically incorrect, or detailing the accepted science in as much depth as can be achieved.

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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Quote:
I don't pretend to speak for Greybeard, but if you think that there are no consistent ways of distinguishing between between schizophrenic mystics and professional scientists, I think you're so far out on a limb you've switched trees.


That makes no sense and is completely out of context. It's a ludicrous misrepresentation of everything I've said. But hey, I can see how it might make you feel you've scored a point. But it comes from the "I know you are, but what am I?" school of nonsensical come-backs.

But while we are at it- what do YOU know about schizophrenia? I'm interested that you've chosen that (contested) illness in order to misrepresent my points, and place in opposition to a 'professional scientist'. What's one of those even? And it's not a flippant question. It acknowledges the complexities of power and social structures in deciding who gets to be a 'scientist', or at least who YOU believe should be a 'scientist', or even what one of those creatures are.

Quote:
Sandra Harding's feminist critique of the Principia is rather famous, Angela. I wonder if you agree with that or with her later backing down from the characterization.


Oh wow, you read ONE THING that Harding wrote, didya? But I'll bet money you don't know about other stuff she's written, in terms of philosophy of science and its problems. Oh the power of the quick internet search.

Quote:
Perhaps you'd like to explain how one indicates the tentativeness of Maxwell's Equations?


Not my field. I'm guessing maths, yes? But an educated guess is that, prior to Maxwell's Equations, there were other 'definite the science is settled' claims, which were superceded. Even Mathematical knowledge is not yet finite (and may never be). Other sciences of course have nowhere NEAR freedom for being superceded, but many 'scientists' write as if they do, a major problem in science

Quote:
But claims of 'settled science' or 'settled history' are fundamentally unsafe.
We actually agree here, but the point is that good references don't have to claim an idea is settled. They just state the idea and move on.[/quote]

Well - the problem is you and others here, and all over the place, have been claiming certain science IS settled. You've just contradicted yourself somewhat in acknowledging, on the one hand, claims of settled science are unsafe, while implying Maxwell's Equations are settled science, and accusing me of being 'out on a limb'. It seems a weird way to go if you fundamentally agree that claiming any science is 'settled' is not safe, and that there needs to be a degree of tentativeness in writing encyclopaedia entries in order to maintain a scientific approach.


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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Quote:
I don't pretend to speak for Greybeard, but if you think that there are no consistent ways of distinguishing between between schizophrenic mystics and professional scientists, I think you're so far out on a limb you've switched trees.


That makes no sense and is completely out of context. It's a ludicrous misrepresentation of everything I've said. But hey, I can see how it might make you feel you've scored a point. But it comes from the "I know you are, but what am I?" school of nonsensical come-backs.

But while we are at it- what do YOU know about schizophrenia? I'm interested that you've chosen that (contested) illness in order to misrepresent my points, and place in opposition to a 'professional scientist'. What's one of those even? And it's not a flippant question. It acknowledges the complexities of power and social structures in deciding who gets to be a 'scientist', or at least who YOU believe should be a 'scientist', or even what one of those creatures are.

Quote:
Sandra Harding's feminist critique of the Principia is rather famous, Angela. I wonder if you agree with that or with her later backing down from the characterization.


Oh wow, you read ONE THING that Harding wrote, didya? But I'll bet money you don't know about other stuff she's written, in terms of philosophy of science and its problems. Oh the power of the quick internet search.

Quote:
Perhaps you'd like to explain how one indicates the tentativeness of Maxwell's Equations?


Not my field. I'm guessing maths, yes? But an educated guess is that, prior to Maxwell's Equations, there were other 'definite the science is settled' claims, which were superceded. Even Mathematical knowledge is not yet finite (and may never be). Other sciences of course have nowhere NEAR freedom for being superceded, but many 'scientists' write as if they do, a major problem in science

Quote:
We actually agree here, but the point is that good references don't have to claim an idea is settled. They just state the idea and move on.


Well - the problem is you and others here, and all over the place, have been claiming certain science IS settled. You've just contradicted yourself somewhat in acknowledging, on the one hand, claims of settled science are unsafe, while implying Maxwell's Equations are settled science, and accusing me of being 'out on a limb'. It seems a weird way to go if you fundamentally agree that claiming any science is 'settled' is not safe, and that there needs to be a degree of tentativeness in writing encyclopaedia entries in order to maintain a scientific approach.


Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:50 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Right, three i guy.

You claim you don't buy into the power of authority over critical analysis, yet what you have consistently done is argue for authority trumping critical analysis on this thread.

You claim to have seen the debates about the problems of peer review, and that they are irrelevant to the debate here, yet what you did on this thread was to argue for the authority of peer review and wrote as if it has an infallible ability to discard bad science for good science. Did you really do that KNOWING that peer review as an adequate gate-keeping system in this way HAS been heavily criticised? I'm guessing that, instead, you haven't considered the problems of peer review, and were not aware of the debates in this area.

Then you contradict yourself again, because you say that claims that science is settled are unsafe (you agree with me at one point on that!), but they you say phlogiston theory is OVER, contradicting one of the tenets of scientific method (tentativity and the acceptance of the possibility of superceding of scientific knowledge).

Then you make an (untenable and unsubstantiable) appeal to POPULARITY to dismiss the paradigm shift discussions of Kuhn! Well I can't mention him because he's not as popular as he was you know! Seriously? That's your argument?

I can only conclude you must have been asleep for much of your allegedly compulsory high school and university philosophy and sociology of science courses (or spent those periods smoking fags behind the bike sheds). What I've said here are NOT some wacky mystical notions, but accepted as issues to be considered in philosophy of science. Your visceral, antagonistic response from the offset to the points I've raised indicate you were not aware of this.


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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
dogbiscuit wrote:
iii wrote:
Quote:
But claims of 'settled science' or 'settled history' are fundamentally unsafe.
We actually agree here, but the point is that good references don't have to claim an idea is settled. They just state the idea and move on.

Greybeard's comment was appropriate. Schooling is based on this, after all.

When you start school you start with observable things, sky is blue, water is wet and so on. Then further layers of knowledge are built up, often in disgracefully simplified forms that no scientist would accept as real, but they do understand the need to bootstrap understanding.

So when you are tiny, gravity just is, it is not commented on, it is not taught. Then the idea of the earth sucks is introduced. Later on we learn to understand how much the earth sucks. As far as I am aware (and I am not very aware as I am not a physicist), nobody really knows how the earth sucks, but it does.

At each level there are appropriate texts available, setting out information at an appropriate level. So the concept of gravity is very much settled - the understanding of how gravity works is very much in the realm of higher physics. So as iii suggests, things like encyclopedias are about a concise summary of the subject as it stands at the time of writing. In some cases it may be appropriate to point out that this is current understanding, in other cases it will be assumed that this information is unlikely to change. In my lifetime, plate tectonics would be a good example of something that was not really understood, what, 50-60 years ago, whereas now it is accepted and "common knowledge". It would be interesting to see how this was presented over the last 100 years.

That is another Wikipedian flaw - there is no target audience, so this one size fits all encyclopedia does not know whether it is teaching simplified concepts, even if they might be technically incorrect, or detailing the accepted science in as much depth as can be achieved.

Dog biscuit, please don't bring 'schooling' into the issue, because that opens up a whole new can of worms! :blink: :D


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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Dog biscuit, please don't bring 'schooling' into the issue, because that opens up a whole new can of worms! :blink: :D

:iknowiknow:

Well, not only is Wikipedia an encyclopedia, its advocates make strenuous claims about is educational abilities - sex education via the observation of penises mainly, it seems. :evilgrin: In the end, doesn't it come down to "what is it for?" and an encyclopedia is essentially a method of trying to encapsulate a short summary of many topics. It is bound to fail as a method of being a comprehensive documentation of "the sum of all human knowledge" - there is no answer to that sum and one man's knowledge is another man's propaganda.

Wikipedia wants to be everything to everybody and thereby fails to be satisfactory to any audience. They long ago gave up with the Wikipedia for Schools and I doubt the dusty African child is holding its breath for their edition.

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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Right, three i guy.

You claim you don't buy into the power of authority over critical analysis, yet what you have consistently done is argue for authority trumping critical analysis on this thread.
Vis-a-vis creating a reference work. Not in the reader.

Quote:
You claim to have seen the debates about the problems of peer review, and that they are irrelevant to the debate here, yet what you did on this thread was to argue for the authority of peer review and wrote as if it has an infallible ability to discard bad science for good science.
Starting points are not infallible abilities.

Quote:
Did you really do that KNOWING that peer review as an adequate gate-keeping system in this way HAS been heavily criticised? I'm guessing that, instead, you haven't considered the problems of peer review, and were not aware of the debates in this area.
You guess wrong. The much vaunted problems of peer review are well-understood, but they are not solved by infanticide along with bathwater removal.

Quote:
Then you contradict yourself again, because you say that claims that science is settled are unsafe (you agree with me at one point on that!), but they you say phlogiston theory is OVER, contradicting one of the tenets of scientific method (tentativity and the acceptance of the possibility of superceding of scientific knowledge).
Really? You're going to go to bat for phlogiston theory being something which is still worthy of serious debate?

Quote:
Then you make an (untenable and unsubstantiable) appeal to POPULARITY to dismiss the paradigm shift discussions of Kuhn! Well I can't mention him because he's not as popular as he was you know! Seriously? That's your argument?
I don't think you are as "on the pulse" as you think you are.

Quote:
I can only conclude you must have been asleep for much of your allegedly compulsory high school and university philosophy and sociology of science courses (or spent those periods smoking fags behind the bike sheds). What I've said here are NOT some wacky mystical notions, but accepted as issues to be considered in philosophy of science.
Considered and discussed, but irrelevant to resource production.

Quote:
Your visceral, antagonistic response from the offset to the points I've raised indicate you were not aware of this.
You read a lot into what you think I do or do not know from an online discussion forum. Take a deep breath and consider the proposal that many of your points are either specious or mixed-up.


Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:01 pm
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
dogbiscuit wrote:
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Dog biscuit, please don't bring 'schooling' into the issue, because that opens up a whole new can of worms! :blink: :D

:iknowiknow:

Well, not only is Wikipedia an encyclopedia, its advocates make strenuous claims about is educational abilities - sex education via the observation of penises mainly, it seems. :evilgrin: In the end, doesn't it come down to "what is it for?" and an encyclopedia is essentially a method of trying to encapsulate a short summary of many topics. It is bound to fail as a method of being a comprehensive documentation of "the sum of all human knowledge" - there is no answer to that sum and one man's knowledge is another man's propaganda.

Wikipedia wants to be everything to everybody and thereby fails to be satisfactory to any audience. They long ago gave up with the Wikipedia for Schools and I doubt the dusty African child is holding its breath for their edition.


Yes indeed. I think you've just summarised one of the fundamental tragedies of Wikipedia (and for its claim as a 'knowledge' producing domain) in a bite-size there Dog!


Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:32 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Dear Mr three i guy.

Frustrating, asinine, irrelevant and irritating as your pompous one-line attempts at point-scoring are, I am still going to try and bring us back to the issue - the one you started this very thread with.

Politics underlying Wikipedia disputes.

What appears to be your problem is that you believe - fervently I have to say from the way you behave - that only SOME people are engaging in misguided 'political' disputes for promotion of their dodgy POV (the riff-raff), but there are some pure, objective 'scientists' out there, who, as long as they have 'credentials', can be safely assumed of writing absolutely reliable 'facts', free of ideology and personal agenda, per se.

I've called you on that assumption, because that assumption is unsafe. I've used debates well-known by academics in the philosophy and sociology of science to illustrate where there are problems in that assumption (and your subsequent ones, I might add).

The way 'science' is represented on Wikipedia is full of problems. A forum such as this can fruitfully discuss why that might be, what adverse effects that might have, and how might it be mitigated (given the utter arrogance of key movers and shakers in the the Wikipedia community so that they refuse to even consider these problems) but for us to do so on this forum requires understanding of key issues of philosophy of science (and sociology). What we don't need is a shoot the messenger mentality which you've exhibited as soon as people like me started answering your thread with points that are relevant, but uncomfortable to discuss, because for some they will challenge dearly held beliefs about the social system they inhabit.

I think you came up against your own cognitive dissonance on this one. You are attempting to shut down my points with claims of irrelevance when in fact they are crucial. So, in order to try and deal with you - because you are not making sense, and resorted extremely quickly to put-downs rather than engage with my discussion - I have had to make some guesses as to your knowledge base (people do this to each other all the time). I believe you are ignorant about the issues I raised because you've acted that way. Despite your claims to be fully cognisant of issues I've raised, you've acted as if what I was writing was some sort of crazy-talk, and that makes your understanding of 'science' somewhat suspect.

Anonymous people who claim to be 'science' types or even scientists, who claim to have a privileged access to scientific knowledge, but who know so little about scientific methodology and ontology, are rife on the internet. They are rife in skeptic forums, and they are rife on Wikipedia. They are shaping how science is understood by many, and not in a good way.

You understood there are political disputes underlying the attempts to control the dissemination of knowledge in Wikipedia. You just didn't realise, it appears, that 'scientists' - or those claiming scientific authority of varying degrees - are not immune to that either.


Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:10 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Dear Mr three i guy.

Frustrating, asinine, irrelevant and irritating as your pompous one-line attempts at point-scoring are, I am still going to try and bring us back to the issue - the one you started this very thread with.

Politics underlying Wikipedia disputes.

What appears to be your problem is that you believe - fervently I have to say from the way you behave - that only SOME people are engaging in misguided 'political' disputes for promotion of their dodgy POV (the riff-raff), but there are some pure, objective 'scientists' out there, who, as long as they have 'credentials', can be safely assumed of writing absolutely reliable 'facts', free of ideology and personal agenda, per se.

I've called you on that assumption, because that assumption is unsafe. I've used debates well-known by academics in the philosophy and sociology of science to illustrate where there are problems in that assumption (and your subsequent ones, I might add).

The way 'science' is represented on Wikipedia is full of problems. A forum such as this can fruitfully discuss why that might be, what adverse effects that might have, and how might it be mitigated (given the utter arrogance of key movers and shakers in the the Wikipedia community so that they refuse to even consider these problems) but for us to do so on this forum requires understanding of key issues of philosophy of science (and sociology). What we don't need is a shoot the messenger mentality which you've exhibited as soon as people like me started answering your thread with points that are relevant, but uncomfortable to discuss, because for some they will challenge dearly held beliefs about the social system they inhabit.

I think you came up against your own cognitive dissonance on this one. You are attempting to shut down my points with claims of irrelevance when in fact they are crucial. So, in order to try and deal with you - because you are not making sense, and resorted extremely quickly to put-downs rather than engage with my discussion - I have had to make some guesses as to your knowledge base (people do this to each other all the time). I believe you are ignorant about the issues I raised because you've acted that way. Despite your claims to be fully cognisant of issues I've raised, you've acted as if what I was writing was some sort of crazy-talk, and that makes your understanding of 'science' somewhat suspect.

Anonymous people who claim to be 'science' types or even scientists, who claim to have a privileged access to scientific knowledge, but who know so little about scientific methodology and ontology, are rife on the internet. They are rife in skeptic forums, and they are rife on Wikipedia. They are shaping how science is understood by many, and not in a good way.

You understood there are political disputes underlying the attempts to control the dissemination of knowledge in Wikipedia. You just didn't realise, it appears, that 'scientists' - or those claiming scientific authority of varying degrees - are not immune to that either.


I do think that if the problem with Wikipedia was that there were too many "impure, subjective 'scientists' out there, who, as long as they have 'credentials'" writing the damn thing, that'd be what you call one of them "good problems". But it's nowhere near the point where these kinds of considerations are relevant.


Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:30 pm
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
greybeard wrote:
Early in my (abortive) Wikipedia career, I deliberately picked some "battlefield" pages on topics I really, really didn't give a crap about, just to see whether an educated but "neutral" voice could be of some help. I was, in virtually every case, cast out by both sides of the argument.


There are a lot of drone bees at Wikipedia just for the drama. I figured out long ago that if you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone. So Wikipedia pieces are crap for hot topics of the day, but generally pretty good outside of that... Eventually the POV warriors move on to another playground and NPOV triumphs, 'cept in the case of the really huge permanent controversies.

RfB


Fri Apr 20, 2012 6:57 pm
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Volunteer Marek wrote:
Angela Kennedy wrote:
Dear Mr three i guy.

Frustrating, asinine, irrelevant and irritating as your pompous one-line attempts at point-scoring are, I am still going to try and bring us back to the issue - the one you started this very thread with.

Politics underlying Wikipedia disputes.

What appears to be your problem is that you believe - fervently I have to say from the way you behave - that only SOME people are engaging in misguided 'political' disputes for promotion of their dodgy POV (the riff-raff), but there are some pure, objective 'scientists' out there, who, as long as they have 'credentials', can be safely assumed of writing absolutely reliable 'facts', free of ideology and personal agenda, per se.

I've called you on that assumption, because that assumption is unsafe. I've used debates well-known by academics in the philosophy and sociology of science to illustrate where there are problems in that assumption (and your subsequent ones, I might add).

The way 'science' is represented on Wikipedia is full of problems. A forum such as this can fruitfully discuss why that might be, what adverse effects that might have, and how might it be mitigated (given the utter arrogance of key movers and shakers in the the Wikipedia community so that they refuse to even consider these problems) but for us to do so on this forum requires understanding of key issues of philosophy of science (and sociology). What we don't need is a shoot the messenger mentality which you've exhibited as soon as people like me started answering your thread with points that are relevant, but uncomfortable to discuss, because for some they will challenge dearly held beliefs about the social system they inhabit.

I think you came up against your own cognitive dissonance on this one. You are attempting to shut down my points with claims of irrelevance when in fact they are crucial. So, in order to try and deal with you - because you are not making sense, and resorted extremely quickly to put-downs rather than engage with my discussion - I have had to make some guesses as to your knowledge base (people do this to each other all the time). I believe you are ignorant about the issues I raised because you've acted that way. Despite your claims to be fully cognisant of issues I've raised, you've acted as if what I was writing was some sort of crazy-talk, and that makes your understanding of 'science' somewhat suspect.

Anonymous people who claim to be 'science' types or even scientists, who claim to have a privileged access to scientific knowledge, but who know so little about scientific methodology and ontology, are rife on the internet. They are rife in skeptic forums, and they are rife on Wikipedia. They are shaping how science is understood by many, and not in a good way.

You understood there are political disputes underlying the attempts to control the dissemination of knowledge in Wikipedia. You just didn't realise, it appears, that 'scientists' - or those claiming scientific authority of varying degrees - are not immune to that either.


I do think that if the problem with Wikipedia was that there were too many "impure, subjective 'scientists' out there, who, as long as they have 'credentials'" writing the damn thing, that'd be what you call one of them "good problems". But it's nowhere near the point where these kinds of considerations are relevant.


I'm sorry Marek. Can you clarify? I'm not clear waht you are arguing. What is a 'good problem' and who would characterise it as such? What considerations are not near the point of relevance?


Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:15 am WWW
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Unread post Re: Politics underlying some Wikipedia disputes
Randy from Boise wrote:
greybeard wrote:
Early in my (abortive) Wikipedia career, I deliberately picked some "battlefield" pages on topics I really, really didn't give a crap about, just to see whether an educated but "neutral" voice could be of some help. I was, in virtually every case, cast out by both sides of the argument.


There are a lot of drone bees at Wikipedia just for the drama. I figured out long ago that if you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone. So Wikipedia pieces are crap for hot topics of the day, but generally pretty good outside of that... Eventually the POV warriors move on to another playground and NPOV triumphs, 'cept in the case of the really huge permanent controversies.

RfB


Right. So the controversies that might have real world effects, then?

It worries me that you appear to be confident of (a) some 'invisible hand' of wikipedia that means these sorts of these problems just get sorted out (b) that you consider yourself an accurate arbiter of what is a so-called 'POV warrior' (c) anyone who has an open POV who wants to see that POV represented is potentially a child who has to move on to 'another playground' and (d) that you, on the contrary, are objective.

This is why what I'm talking about is relevant. This lack of awareness of the actual, complex problems around claims to neutrality and objectivity (and why asserting oneself as NPOV or SPOV does not mean one can safely be considered as such) means Wikipedia is an unreliable knowledge source. AND/OR, people who are doing this ARE aware of the discrepancies, and are cynically exploiting others' lack of awareness about these issues.

The problem is that people in the 'real world' (the ones who read Wikipedia) are not even helped much to develop the necessary 'buyer beware' mentality to help them understand that Wikipedia is not reliable per se. This is how misinformation can be reproduced.

And yes - this certainly doesn't just apply to Wikipedia. But as Wikipedia is so 'successful' as a so-called encyclopaedia, it is a major problem. And we are here to talk about Wikipedia mostly.


Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:34 am WWW
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