Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Why I Like Wikipedia Fairly Well, Unlike J.J. McCullough

I'll give you my last paragraphs, last comment, sorry, by now second last, my main point, directly after the video link, so first.

Why I hate Wikipedia (and you should too!)
10 Sept. 2022 | J.J. McCullough

I have arrived to your beginning list of recommendations "instead of wikipedia" ... I am not going to diss it, any other reference work is arguably good complement, but I think I want to make a main point.

There is a certain type of people, often boomers, who first grew up reading things like Readers' Digest and then went on to study and were dissatisfied with the Readers' Digest articles that brought them to the subject and concluded Readers' Digest is trash. And you have demonstrated, on one point wikipedia is unlike RD, it includes articles clearly adressed to geeks already into a subject.

Those who concluded that only Academic papers count, or at least well fact checked works of reference that are also well written and well edited came to ditch RD. After all, its articles aren't written by researchers, it is done by amateurs who are online with a certain type of writing and may have known nothing on the subject two weeks or in some cases even two hours before finishing the article.

But Academia has its own problem, in German you speak of Fachidioten. People who know their Academic niche (and the protocol surrounding it) very well and are idiots outside it.

Such people can sometimes go on for years repeating a misunderstanding, and a quick search on wiki may inform not just one, but all of their students that it is one.

These guys have a knack of taking revenge for such humiliations by stating wikipedia is trash.

The 1 % of wikipedians regularly and effectively contributing to articles may be a small élite, but it is certainly bigger than the people surrounding that type of Academic in each individual institution. They may be very niche geeks, but their niches are overall much more varied than those of people who have spent years on a subject and are disappointed at students refuting them from wikipedia. Wikipedia, as long as it lasts, and as long as Academia doesn't get even more control over it, is a way of breaking out of that charmed circle.

BS told of a concern that wikipedia could, despite NPOV, encourage, heavily, group think. But there are no big media that can't. Public schools do. I left my own country Sweden because the public school system has succeeded too heavily in imposing a group think that is heavily secularist and therefore anti-Catholic. Encyclopedia Britannica does. In fact, the Catholic Church to some extent does that too and we are not ashamed of it. It is clearly group think to have a reflex to get salmon rather than sausage on a Friday (unless it's on Dec 25 - 28 or the Friday just after Easter Sunday) - but why be ashamed of a thing that's good for both health and calm?

As per the fact that much group think is controlled by much smaller think tanks than wikipedia is, however I don't think wikipedia is the main culprit, it is rather part of the cure than of the illness.

1:41 If you are a monoglot, wikipedia is a single web site at any given moment.

But if you are a polyglot, you can compare different languages' coverings of the same subject.

And even for monoglots - articles do change over time.

1:56 It is one thing to regurgitate a wikipedia page and try to hide it.

It's a fairly different one to use it and show it.

Or more of them and show it.

Or show the state wiki was in after your own latest edit of an article others aren't likely to leave in your shape.

On these items, I'd proudly say for more than one article "guilty as charged" ... but regurgitating one article and NOT showing it. Nope.

For instance there is not one wikipedia article which will tell you that Lewis XVI's ancestors number 340 and 341 in Sosa Stradonitz (Stanisław Ostroróg and Zofia z Tęczyński) went from Catholic Polish small nobility to Protestant one, I think Lutheran, yep, while their son, ancestor number 170 Jan Ostroróg returned. Each of these took the whole village of peasants along. From Catholicism, to Catholicism. But if you start at Lewis XVI (who in English wikis is likely to get the French spelling Louis for some reason), you can go to his father and mother, to the father and mother of each of these and so on ... 340 : 2 = 170 : 2 = 85, Anna Ostroróg, - 1 = 84 : 2 = 42 Stanisław Jan Jabłonowski : 2 = 21 Anna z Jabłonowskich Leszczyńska - 1 = 20 : 2 = 10 Stanislas Leszczynski : 2 = 5 Marie Leszczynska (father's mother) - 1 = 4 : 2 = Lewis of France : 2 = 1, Lewis XVI himself, I worked my way back to Anna Ostroróg the other way and shifted languages once in a while.

A statistic of the ancestors as to the lifespans giving deaths getting the median at mid fifties is definitely not taken from any single wiki article, I did lots of work to get ancestor numbers up to 127 Catherine de Mayenne in a post and getting the lifespans for each person where it could be done and lining them up in order and checking where the median was.

I did the father and grandfather of Anna Ostroróg just a little further for the fun of knowing this kind of thing ...

8:17 some such complicated bureacratic rules are on behest of Academia.

For instance, rules like "no facts without references" (there is often some time with "reference needed" signals when one can add or someone else can add a reference for a fact, and "reference needed" is highly abused to challenge info that's unwelcome to the left), or "no personal unpublished research" (i e wikipedia refuses to come as a shock to Academia and peer reviewers).

8:27 Let me give you some of my experience of editing wikipedia. And I am clearly an outsider.

In 2005 and 2006, I gave new paragraphs on the French article "géocentrisme" as well as correcting the definition.

It mentioned - very provincial misunderstanding from modern times - "a world view in which the Earth and not the Sun is the centre of the solar system" - no doubt because modern Heliocentrism is no longer anything like Galileo's Heliocentrism with the fix stars in a shell around the Sun instead of round earth, it's really acentrism for the universe or "telecentrism" (centre of the universe is far off, if any), while "heliocentrism is only now relevant in a reduced meaning, about the "solar system" - but there was no such concept in Geocentrism, it really is about all of the UNIVERSE turning around the Earth each day.

The change was accepted.

Other changes I did was adding paragraphs showing geocentrism was not one monolithic system which was founded by Prolemy and actually refuted by both Galileo (moons of Jupiter) and Tycho (no solid spheres between the planets). It was a series of systems which took off with Aristotle, continued with Ptolemy and was last updated as a major academic pursuit of astronomy in the Tychonian system, a good hand book of this one being Novum Almagestum by Riccioli.

The one paragraph I tried to add was on the decline of geocentrism, with the gist that none of the theoretic steps away from it was conclusively proven. This one was edited away both in 2005 and in 2006. If you want to read it, it is on my blog here:

En français sur Antimodernism : Géocentrisme, ma vers. 2

[Before this blog, recently updated graphically, it had been on an MSN group that went down with the rest in Feb. 2009.]

Or if it should be blocked with a false alarm on malware, there is a reserve of it:

New blog on the kid : Geocentrisme, ma version 2

This is not THE current wikipedia page on the subject, I don't claim it is, and I publish it because I know what has been deleted on the wiki.

The rule from which my discussion of the history of heliocentrism replacing geocentrism was banned was "no personal unpublished research" ... the facts were fairly well known before me.

10:29 Say that again : "how wikipedia likes to frame a subject cannot help but be the first and last impression many people get on it"

A fairly good reason for me to get my facts when I argue from wikipedia, right?

  • it is easier for me than to get a paper encyclopedia in a library, copy the text by hand for the paragraph I want, and then copy it by hand again when typing my article on the internet;
  • it is easier for the reader to check, as long as it's a reader online (if he's offline, he's very well able to check with paper encyclopedias of his choice);
  • AND it is easier for the reader to recognise the fact I am arguing from.

14:24 Ah, this is a very interesting point. Paedagogics.

In a classroom, a teacher will be competing with other teachers and random or popular entertainment for the attention of the general public constituted by the classroom.

And if the subject is not already a big hit (like dinosaurs) and possibly even has a "boring" label in pop culture (like grammar), the teacher has to "be paedagogic" ... he has to make the listeners care, and you are probably wanting a writing that makes the readers care.

Wikipedia is written, and I largely write myself, for people already interested in the subject. If you don't feel Mario and F. L. U. D. D. matter to you, genuinely, not just pretending to make a point, arguably you are simply not a Super Mario fan in the first place. The wiki is written by those who are and for those who are.

And when I make a calibration of C14 to the Biblical timeline from Flood of Noah to Fall of Troy, it is not adressed to a very general public who has no idea why they should bother to waste even a second on Young Earth Creationism, it is for those who have already made or taken interest in how the uniformitarian calibration contradicts the Biblical timeline. Whether they are on the side of YEC (acronym for a phrase already mentioned) as I, and tend to trash C14 instead of use it, or they are on the other side and try to use C14 against the Bible.

It is not meant to be interesting to the general public, even if the blog as such and other articles on it are. A publication that is for the general public can contain articles that are more niche. A horse magazine can contain sob stories about a girl who managed to save an old horse from becoming horse meat - which is arguably a good thing - but also advertisements for cures against intestine worms that the girls going to a stable usually don't need to bother about. A news daily often involves tips for horse race fanatics who, while they may be numerous still are kind of niche, and not mine.

Let me give you a tip.

If you already like a subject, it would become boring if article after article tried to paedagogically win you over for it instead of simply offering the information you want

15:57 You just gave a fine piece of writing to people less geeky about financial news than the authorial wikipedians were.

But that is one resumé that can be based on that paragraph. If someone else wants to make a different resumé, he might want to make a different analysis of the paragraph as it stood.

I am not and you are not passionate readers of Financial Times. Some of those who wrote the article are. And some of those who read it are.

16:31 You are aware that someone who wants info on the Vancouver school of conceptual photography is by those blue letter words gently nudged to click Vancouver school, or persons ranging from Jeff Wall, through Ken Lum and to Rodney Graham, where information on these subjects will be more readable. Aren't you?

[the following is the actual last comment, after the one given initially:]

17:20 I have seen non-fiction books that I could refute points of (notably in Palaeo-Anthropology, the belief in Human Evolution) simply by consulting wikipedia - and drawing my conclusions.

For instance, Colin, Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, I suppose "Prehistory: The Making of the Human Mind" is the English original behind "prehistoire notre biographie" - and it is very notable that he simply takes all the dating methods for granted as providing "knowledge" - whereas I have made an effort (with quite a few helps from good old wiki) to get a grip on archaeological items helping me to a Biblical calibration of C14.

How do I know the oldest layer of Göbekli Tepe is dated to 9600 BC, and the youngest to 8600 BC? Wiki. How do I know that the evacuation of En Geddi by its chalcolithic population of Amorrhaeans is dated - by reed mats on which temple treasures were carried out and hidden - to 3500 BC? Wiki and a reference found in it. Or that Neanderthal and Denisovan skulls or other body parts have a tendency to be carbon dated to 40 000 BP to 60 000 BP? Wiki on each item that was available on wiki.

These carbon dates should correspond to Biblical events in Genesis 11:1 - 9 (Göbekli Tepe = Babel, city of), to Genesis 14 (En Geddi is here called by its older name Asason Tamar) and (parts of) the pre-Flood world described in Genesis 4 and 6, as well as limit corresponding to the Flood, to years 2957 BC for the Flood, 2607 - 2556 being the ball park for 40 years of Babel, and 1835 (80 years after Abraham was born - he could have been between 76 and 86, so 80) also BC.

Colin Renfrew never bothered to check such pov.

ADDED FOR BLOG : the wikipage Origin of language and the a linea Lexical-phonological principle show both (this a linea) the challenge to be met and (other subsections) the wild guessing about how it could be met as to how man is supposed to have invented language.

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