Michael Snow wrote:
There's an ACCEPTED CANON OF KNOWLEDGE? Wow, I had
no idea! Where is it,
and how can I get my hands on it? Why hasn't anybody deleted everything
in Wikipedia yet and replaced it with this CANON? (sarcasm alert)
I can't vouch for what Fred was saying, because I think I disagree
with him and actually agree more with what you're saying. But I would
say that there *is* an accepted canon of knowledge, and that Wikipedia
ought to (and mostly does) reflect it.
To me, the notion of "accepted canon" immediately raises the question
"accepted by whom?" The wikipedia process/policy of NPOV answers that
question by saying that articles ought to be such that they are
acceptable to the widest possible range of _reasonable_ contributors
working in a spirit of mutual inquiry. This means that we frequently
have to make "softer" claims than we might like, due to the existence
of some annoying minor (but reasonable) viewpoint. We have to
"contextualize" a lot of claims, but this makes us stronger overall.
The gun control debate is one area that I know quite a bit about. And
I don't know of any other source in existence that I can point to and
say "Here is a body of knowledge about this subject matter that most
closely reflects the accepted canon of knowledge, where 'accepted'
means accepted by knowledgeable and reasonable partisans on both sides
of the issue."
Important here is the idea that most people actually are reasonable,
that not all writing is polemic, that most people are more interested
in getting the information right than in pushing a particular point of
You and I might (or might not, I don't know you so I can't even guess)
agree about gun control. But we can agree that this study said this,
and that study said that, and about what the content of the arguments
on both side actually are, and about what the laws actually say, and
so on. So we could (if we were interested) work together in a spirit
of love to present the basic information in a way that no reasonable
partisan could find unfair.
That, to me, is the only possible sensible meaning for 'accepted