[WikiEN-l] Age fabrication and original research

Anthony wikimail at inbox.org
Tue Oct 6 17:31:28 UTC 2009

On Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 12:59 PM, Ray Saintonge <saintonge at telus.net> wrote:

> Anthony wrote:
> > And it's not a primary source.  "In historiography, a primary source
> (also
> > called original source) is a document, recording, artifact, or other
> source
> > of information that was created at the time under study, usually by a
> source
> > with direct personal knowledge of the events being described." Social
> > security didn't even exist in 1904, so clearly this information was not
> > created in 1904.
> >
> The requirement that Social Security Numbers of newborn children appear
> on a tax return is relatively recent.  Before 1989 the person applied
> himself.

I thought your parents could still apply for you back then, but maybe I'm
wrong.  Nowadays they don't quite force you to get them but you can't claim
any tax deductions/credits/etc without them.  But even today I'm not sure
it's a primary source.  It's generally a secondary source, which is based on
your birth certificate, which is the primary source.  (And there are plenty
of exceptions to that - not everyone has a birth certificate, after all.)
It's just a bad secondary source, because it presents conclusions without
backing those conclusions up with explanations.

Still, probably worthy of a mention if it contradicts others sources which
are presented in the article, and isn't proven to be incorrect by any of
those other sources.  (But how do you come up with a hard and fast rule
about that?  I don't think you can.)

On Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 1:11 PM, Rob <gamaliel8 at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 12:58 PM, Anthony <wikimail at inbox.org> wrote:
> > If they're available.  But what if they're not?  Is it okay to mention
> that
> > the contradictory information exists?
> >
> > I doubt you're going to come up with a hard and fast rule which doesn't
> have
> > any unintended consequences.  Ultimately, the fact that "everyone can
> edit"
> > ensures a system of "verifiability, not truth".
> >
> You're absolutely right, availability is an issue.  But if we have a
> hard and fast rule the other way and say sources like the SSDI are
> okay, then there's no incentive to look for that secondary source
> which does explain the issue.  We might, in rare cases, settle for the
> SSDI if absolutely necessary, but not without a reasonable search,
> which in this particular case clearly hadn't been done.

Right, the problem cuts both ways.  The best source, it seems, would be a
reliable secondary source which details the primary sources it relies upon
and explains why it has come to the conclusions it has come to about them.
But that's not always available.

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