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NPOV a Thing of the Past at Wikipedia?


TrueTomHarley

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Mostly I use Wikipedia for details on out-of-the-way topics that you wouldn’t think would be subject to bias—lately it has been to corroborate some background on Voltaire, for instance.

But not always—sometimes I use it as though a base stock, like you would in cooking, to develop a post on some contemporary issue. Others do this, too—pretty routinely—to provide backdrop for points they are making. @JW Insiderand @Araunaare doing that right now with a thread about China and its modern-day & changing role.

It’s an encyclopedia, Wikipedia is—that’s how everyone thinks of it. As such, it is unbiased—that supposedly is it’s mission statement. Anyone can edit it (I’ve never quite understood how that works—well, I guess I do, but I’ve never been interested enough to attempt it, and the premise is that when anyone can do so the result will be complete and unbiased.) Not so, says co-founder Larry Sanger. “Unbiased” went out the window long ago. NPOV (neutral point of view) Is a thing of the past.

He says it here, on this post from his own blog: https://larrysanger.org/2020/05/wikipedia-is-badly-biased/

He doesn’t say the website is not factual. Nor does he say it is not objective. But it is not complete. It clearly sides with particular points-of-view. Larry offers about a dozen examples of clear bias, from politics, to science, to health, to religion in which the minority view is run off the road. 

Sigh...this seriously compromises Wikipedia as a base. It is a leftist choir that is preaching there these days, and if you quote the source, which I do all the time, you will be getting a leftist point of view, and other viewpoints either ignored completely or declared wrong. It is not for an encyclopedia to do this, Sanger says. It is supposed to reflect all points of view. It is not to declare a winner. 

Sanger’s background (per Wikipedia (!) ) is not primarily technology, as being co-founder of Wikipedia might imply. It is philosophy, epistomology, and ethics. He is clearly disappointed in the path his creation has taken. 

 

 

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Mostly I use Wikipedia for details on out-of-the-way topics that you wouldn’t think would be subject to bias—lately it has been to corroborate some background on Voltaire, for instance. But not a

Because he will just turn around and make another one. And another one. And then another one. The only common feature of them will be that they have nothing to do with the thread. It’s my own fau

I notice how the biases often correspond, too. It is amazing how they do that, almost to the point of, to take an example, if you know (in the US) a person’s view of health treatment, you can make a g

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Thanks for posting this. Neutrality is nearly impossible by any one person, even with rules that attempt to define exactly how differing points of view about a topic should be handled. Obviously some types of topics are more easily made neutral, but he shows how political, religious, and scientific topics, too, can be biased. Sanger has been going on about this not just because he wished for his "Citizendium" to be a viable competitor (a 2007 startup after he left Wikipedia). He wrote some good guidelines on neutrality with the original plans for Wikipedia.

It's not as good or complete as your link above, but he also did a good interview with Slate about 10 years ago: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2010/07/this-interview-is-a-stub-wikipedia-co-founder-larry-sanger-on-being-wrong.html 

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23 hours ago, JW Insider said:

how political, religious, and scientific topics, too, can be biased.

I notice how the biases often correspond, too. It is amazing how they do that, almost to the point of, to take an example, if you know (in the US) a person’s view of health treatment, you can make a guess on their political leanings and seldom be wrong 

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I will even manage to tie this is with the Voltaire kick that I’ve been on lately.

Voltaire was very taken with Newton’s discoveries and the idea that you derive truth from experience—in this case, truth about the universe from his experiments. Seems obvious to people now, but at the time truth was established by religious teachings and one did not think to look beyond them: What does the Church say about such-and-such? was as far as people went, or were even authorized to go.

Voltaire wrote it was “arrogant” to arrive at truth that way, and only common sense to arrive at truth Newton’s way. He could not possibly have foreseen that it becomes arrogant to think one can learn through experience, too—and this business with Wikipedia illustrates why. 

People choke on “experience.” There is far too much of it to process and we are far too puny to take it all in. It depends upon where we’ve been and what we’ve seen. 

Well, one ought to be able to rise above that—at first glance, that seems reasonable. Through study, reading, “critical thinking,” one can yet deduce truth. If there is one thing your exchange with Aruana proves to me, it is that even so we cannot—for the same reason: the sheer volume of what must be processed, and our insignificant time and ability to do it. 

Study the nature of water while it is in a test tube—yes, then it may be doable. But we dont get to study it in a test tube. We are forced to study it at the precipice that is Niagara Falls—as it cascades over us and overwhelms our instruments. 

If you and Aruana cannot convince each other—both of you with background, time, resources, experiences, and studious natures far in excess of the average person, then it cannot be done. 

And whereas the above illustration with Niagara Falls assumes, so far, that all sources are truthful, and open as what they are doing. they’re not. Everyone just assumes that Wikipedia is neutral, and thereby authoritative. It isn’t. Without explicitly lying, it effectively does so. By not presenting “the other side” of anything, it presents the picture that there is none. So it our determination to search for truth, hampered by the limitations already discussed, we also have to deal with the fact that people are trying to muddy the waters.

It goes back full circle. You can’t determine truth through religion, as Voltaire states? Sounds reasonable. But it turns out you cannot determine it by experience, either—it is equally “arrogant” to think we possess the resources that makes us up to the task. It turns out that you do determine it through religion. Of course, you have to have the right one, and that is mostly a matter of heart, not head.

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On 8/24/2020 at 4:00 PM, TrueTomHarley said:

Anyone can edit it (I’ve never quite understood how that works—well

Not any longer. If your story does not suit their bias. Several authors have complained that their information online was changed and they could not change their own biography so that it ireflects the truth. It seems everything is now biased  and has an angle or opinion attached to it. Activists against Islam etc have had their bios changed in unflattering terms and there is NOTHING they can do about it. WIKIPEDIA now have people who scan new info.  

When Jeffrey Epstein was taken into prison his history exploded on internet.  His bio contained the names of his close friends and business partners.   These were immediately removed.... ...on wikipedia.... to protect the........ innocent ?

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16 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

Without explicitly lying, it effectively does so. By not presenting “the other side” of anything, it presents the picture that there is none.

And then there's the problem of giving "the other side" too much credibility when it is not worthy of a mention.

An example might be: "Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group from his own Senate. Of course, there is a growing number of people who believe that Julius Caesar never existed at all."

Last night, I caught a bit of a show called "Bombshell" (which is mostly about Roger Ailes and FoxNews). In it a new hire is trying to impress Bill O'Reilly, and fails. She is counseled by her mentor that if she doesn't have a source she should just say that "some people are saying." Of course, the show is clearly opportunistic in using the downfall of Ailes and O'Reilly to spit venom at the whole process of creating news at FoxNews.

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3 hours ago, JW Insider said:

And then there's the problem of giving "the other side" too much credibility when it is not worthy of a mention.

I don’t see that Sanger had much of an issue with this. He didn’t speak of the scenario of doctors vs the unwashed & uncredentialed.. He spoke of controversies among doctors, and controversies among scientists that are papered over to give the impression that the community is monolithic 

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24 minutes ago, TrueTomHarley said:

I don’t see that Sanger had much of an issue with this.

I was a bit surprised that he didn't deal with this as a major issue. It's often brought up as THE issue when it comes to certain conclusions about vaccines, climate science, etc.

I heard that he did an interview, I haven't seen, where he spoke of the need to put major news media sources far ahead of minor news media sources, which could work against his goal here.

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On 8/25/2020 at 9:00 PM, TrueTomHarley said:

You can’t determine truth through religion, as Voltaire states?

It so happens - as I said before - that there is a way to prove the bible to be absolute reality. ... which to me is the only truth there is.  Jehovah is real and his word is a record of his administration of his will/ purpose throughout the ages with a set timeline.  

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On 8/26/2020 at 2:24 PM, Arauna said:

there is a way to prove the bible to be absolute reality. ... which to me is the only truth there is. 

Listening up on Voltaire via the Great Courses Lecture series (the entry that caught the attention of @JW Insider), I get the same sense that I did with Mark Twain, and even to an extent, with Charles Darwin—that if they had had any sense of the overall coherence of the Bible writings, their output would have been much different. 

Darwin at one point toyed with becoming a clergyman—a respectable profession for a man of letters who couldn’t otherwise figure out what he wanted to do with his life. The historical novel ‘The Origen,’ by Irving Stone, vividly tells of and probably exaggerates Darwin’s brief stint as a priest, and how he infuriated his superiors. Not only did he refuse to shake down his peasant-class parishioners for money, but he committed the unforgivable sin of joining them in their toil and day to day lives. (It was a long time ago I read this—I really should re-read it.)

Mark Twain savaged religion, and Christianity in particular. He is widely thought to have been atheist, and yet—he never had an unkind word for Jesus. His constant complaint was that those who claimed to follow him did not. “There has only been one Christian,” he would write. “They caught and crucified him—early.” Imagine what might have been if he had found a people who follow the Christ.

He did not find one because the weeds were proliferating, and they had choked out the wheat. “Do you want us to pull the weeds out?” the slaves asked the master, and the reply is to hold off until the harvest. The harvest begins after Twain’s time, and Darwin’s, and Voltaire’s. It hardly seems fair to them, but “the devil” who planted the weeds while “men were sleeping” must be given full reign to prove his claim that humans need not heed God’s right to rule. (Matthew 23:24-30, 36-39). The wheat was completely overrun by our trio’s time. One result was that a coherent explanation of the Hebrew and Greek scriptures was nowhere to be found, and not one of the three greats could figure it out on their own.

It makes a difference. You will fight a lot harder to save your home than you will to save your dumpster. Voltaire and Twain readily condemned the travesties of religion—they were principled men, offended at injustice, so why would they not?—and in the process nearly threw the baby out with the bath water. Their successors would later do just that.

Voltaire’s brashness caused him trouble in France, so he fled to England, where he remained for a decade or so. Whereas France allowed only Catholicism to be practiced, England had many faiths and they all at the time, more or less got along with one another. He wrote ‘Letters on England’ and remarked on how others besides Catholics can appeal to verse to buttress their point of view—to frothing clerical disapproval back home. He sets himself up as a devoted and rigid (and naive), Catholic himself, aghast to find Quakers appealing to verse “wrongly”—as his narrative demonstrates that they are not doing it wrongly at all..

Feigning shock that the Quaker is not baptized—after all, Jesus was baptized—he wonders how the Quaker can call himself Christian. The Quaker asks him if he is circumcised—since Jesus was. He replies that he “has not had that honor.” “So—I am a Christian without having been baptized and you are one without having been circumcised,” is the reply. Voltaire lets that stand as having proved the point that all religions can successfully argue scripture. 

What is amazing is that he has no concept that scripture might be grasped as a coherent whole. It is perfectly fine with him to cherry-pick verse, and the reason that it is perfectly fine is that no one has ever demonstrated any other way. When in the skirts of ‘Babylon the Great’ is found the blood of ... all those who have been slaughtered on the earth” (Revelation 18:24) it is not so much for her acts of commission as it is for her acts of omission; it should have been teaching the complete Word of God, but it neglected that task, and thus Voltaire quite naturally assumed that it was not possible to teach it—so far as he knows, no one has ever done it. 

We Witnesses may not be ones for exalting humans, but by this standard, C.T. Russell becomes one of the most innovative humans of all time. You would think his approach to unlocking the Bible would be the most common-sense thing in the world, but it appears to be revolutionary: Toss out a verse for discussion, and do not move on until every other verse on that same topic is discussed. In that way, get a grasp on what the scriptures teach as a whole. The basic Bible teachings that Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for, so different from what may be found in any of the churches, have been in place for well over a hundred years.

It gets much heavier than this, and the blood of Babylon gets much thicker. More to come—

 

 

 

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Um, Russell. didn't he build a house expecting the prophets to come and live in it ?  And um, didn't he say that Rutherford should NOT take over the Bible Students ? And um, wasn't he racist and said that black people were of lower intelligence ? 

I'm sure the list goes on (more than I do :) ). And the joke from you Tom I quote 

We Witnesses may not be ones for exalting humans 

Of course you exalt humans. You put your GB on the biggest ever pedestal. You worship them by saying they are the 'Faithful and Discreet Slave' when it is so obvious that they are not so. 

And this is also funny Tom, Quote ;

What is amazing is that he has no concept that scripture might be grasped as a coherent whole. It is perfectly fine with him to cherry-pick verse,

Your GB always cherry pick verses to suit their own purpose. As an example I mentioned this in regard to Revelation 5 v 9 & 10. But the Org use verses 8 and 9 to mean everyone, whereas verse 10 proves it is the Anointed only.  And the GB use the Matthew scripture to give themselves that title of F&DS. 

So it is quite easy to see how your GB cherry pick scripture. 

You are so funny Tom, have you been drinking strong coffee?  Quote again :

 The basic Bible teachings that Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for, so different from what may be found in any of the churches, have been in place for well over a hundred years.

The basic Bible teachings have been there since the Bible was written nearly 2,000 years ago. 

But the JW interpretations keep changing. For instance the 7,000 year Creative days, and Armageddon coming in the mid 70's was never a Bible teaching from GOD. Stop living in a dream world Tom. 

 

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