[Taxacom] Wikipedia rewrites

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Fri Feb 13 12:51:42 CST 2009

 -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-
> bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Doug Yanega
> Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 1:31 PM
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Wikipedia rewrites
> John Grehan wrote:
> >Wikipedia offers a potentially unique situation in which orthodoxy
> >no necessary control over content. So they may not like it. But so
> >Science is supposedly about evidence, not popularity. If 'people'
> >I am giving too much attention to the orangutan theory is that any
> >different to my view that I think they are giving too little?
> Yes, it *is* different. You are close to being correct, but the
> difference is an important one; Wikipedia's stance is neutrality, but
> that does NOT mean *equal weight* is given to alternative theories.
> If one theory has a lot more attention in the *relevant community of
> experts*, then it ALSO gets a lot more attention in Wikipedia - the
> essence of neutrality is acting as an impartial observer, and if one
> side of an academic debate has 50,000 supporters, and the other side
> has only 5, then that observation is significant and must be pointed
> out, so as not to mis-portray the minority opinion as if it had
> broader support. 

I understand that the majority view would likely get more attention from
contributors. This was not being contended. I was being asked not to
stir things up with the majority - basically not make them

As you'll note from the excerpt I posted last time,
> the founder of Wikipedia *personally* laid out the policy explicitly,
> that a viewpoint held by a single individual/organization should be
> excluded from Wikipedia unless it is otherwise notable (and there is
> a formal definition of "notability"). 

Understood, but that is not applicable here.

It's not about popularity per
> se, but it IS necessary that someone other than the proponent of a
> theory has given it credence, or at least discussed it in a scholarly
> context even if only to condemn it.

I understand Wikipedia focusing on the majority, but I was not referring
to their policy. I was just questioning whether the majority view that I
am giving too much attention to a minority view is intrinsically any
different from the minority thinking that the majority view gets 'to
much' attention.
> So, it's NOT simply a matter of evidence; the policy states it
> explicitly: "If your viewpoint is held by an extremely small
> minority, then - whether it's true or not, whether you can prove it
> or not - it doesn't belong in Wikipedia". 

I said "Science is supposedly about evidence, not popularity", I was not
referring to Wikipedia policy. I guess that in light of the above policy
I will expect the orangutan theory to be soon erased and banned.

Evidence, in and of itself,
> does not compel Wikipedia to include something; the evidence has to
> be well-known, or at least well-sourced externally. I might have
> evidence that the Monarch butterfly is actually 12 different species,
> for example, but until I have published it in a proper manner, I
> would not necessarily be allowed to include it in Wikipedia; if any
> editors challenged it, I'd have no choice but to back down. 

But the policy above makes that irrelevant if its published by an
'extreme minority'

More to
> the point, perhaps, is whether or not I maintain that the Monarch is
> a species complex, and whether or not I have evidence for it, I would
> not be able to go in and edit the Wikipedia entry on the Monarch to
> say that people are giving too little attention to my theory;

But I did not say that this is what I wanted to do.

> and unless the scientific community accepts and promotes my theory,
> it would be relegated to nothing more than a sub-heading of
> "Alternative theory".

Thanks for the continued feedback.

John Grehan
> Peace,
> --
> Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research
> Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
> phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not
>               http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
>    "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>          is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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