On 09/11/12 8:23 AM, Nathan wrote:
That comment sounds like it was written by Peter
Damian. Not everyone,
even Wikipedians, recognize or keep in mind the fact that there is a
subversive principle (or really, many) underlying the Wikipedia model.
It intentionally does not offer deference to editors with credentials
in the fields they might choose to edit. There are obvious practical
reasons for this, but there's also an element of democratizing
information and the curation of knowledge.
This strikes many self-defined experts as wrongheaded; they expect to
be treated as authorities, and are often upset when they are not.
While unfortunate, that doesn't turn this feature of Wikipedia into a
bug. If anything it suggests we need to do a better job educating
potential editors and readers about the principles of the
The subversive principle lies in making reality a victim of group-think.
This subjects truth to a wholly flawed mechanism of verification that is
immune to any kind of reality check. Wikipedia has a perverse history
when it comes to dealing with expertise. It substitutes it's own
bureaucracy for recognized experts in a field. These admins are the
wrongheaded self-defined experts that expect to be treated as
authorities. In circumstances of law they are quite willing to evade
responsibility with a strategic "IANAL" while they run to the
acknowledged experts in that field. Understanding and good judgement are
not the product of rules.
If we note the wording, "There’s no way Roth could have tackled this
subject without thinking of Anatole Broyard," It doesn't state Broyard's
influence it speculates about it. The innuendo works for all but the
most careful readers. In the underlying incident instead of treating the
word "spook" in its ordinary meaning of a ghost, the crowd willfully
mischaracterizes the word in a more obscure sense. In the famed
Seigenthaler incident the writer did not make a blunt claim that
Seigenthaler had been involved in the Kennedy assassination, he merely
stated that he had been cleared of any such charges. That claim may have
been outright vandalism, but, judging by the reaction, it was effective.
How we fail to read accurately is frequently a big problem.
I tend to be very critical of experts in any field. I still like to give
them the prima facie benefit of the doubt in the absence of evidence to
the contrary, or other basis of conflict. Similarly, I also read
"reliable sources" with the same criticality.
Needing "to do a better job educating potential editors" sounds to much
like the politician who thinks that the only reason the public hasn't
agreed with views is that he hasn't explained them well enough. It
doesn't occur to him that there might be something wrong with his views,
nor to us that our epistemology might be flawed.