On Feb 5, 2008 2:56 PM, Ray Saintonge
Wily D wrote:
Well *explicit discussion* is not needed to
determine consensus where
a universal or near universal practice exists. Every article where an
image is available to represent someone it ends up getting used, even
if there's no particular reason to believe it's accurate. Pick any
Old Testament figure, really ancient Greek philosopher, whatever, and
there's a portrait if we can get our grubby little mitts on one.
That everyone seems to feel they're useful indicates to me they're
useful, even if it's tough to explain exactly why.
There is a fundamental fallacy in this argument. Just as consensus in a
discussion represents only the consensus of the participants, so too a
universal practice represents only those who actually follow that practice.
I'm sure that many of our editors are addicted to having pretty pictures
to decorate an article at all costs. It seems to break up the monotony
of straight text. Where do you get the idea that "everyone" finds them
useful beyond mere decoration. When we show a bust of Socrates is it
verifiable that Socrates.looked like this? Perhaps all these pictures
should be properly referenced.
The images in the Muhammad article that are under dispute are actually
fairly well referenced, with three of the four giving authors, two of
the four naming the source work and all four giving approximate dates
- beyond that, the common mantra of "verifiability, not truth" can
then be chanted adequately loudly.
As for whether the argument is a fallacy, it's not. I do not mean to
imply that such images are useful in the edification of *every*
editor, just that out editing process has universally held that such
images are of significant educational value such that their usage is
universe. Reject rationalism and embrace empiricism, eh?
The point that would need
to be verified is not who created the picture
or that these pictures exist, but that they truly represent what the
subject looked like, and not merely fanciful caricatures.
"Universally" means "by everyone.".Whether there is "significant
educational value" depends on what you are trying to teach. Your
particular empirical observations do not imply universality even if all
your observations reflect the same view. If only one person, whose
views you have not observed, sees things differently your views cease to
be universal. What is the educational value of a picture when you
cannot establish that the picture is not a true one of what it purports