Friday, February 26, 2016

Admins for the win. But at a cost....

I posed the question earlier about why reality wins at wikipedia, the encyclopedia that anyone can edit, when it's a closer call for dealing with everyone in general. Imposing the question later at Stoat got an answer from William, better than what I'd suggested:
if there is a conflict, you’re required to talk, on the talk page, to resolve the issue. If you’re not able to talk sanely, you’re going to lose when others come to see the debate, or when the admins come to visit. I think that is the crucial piece -W
Sounds right, although it also takes us to the next question - why do these admins, who aren't especially focused on climate science, decide that reality is sane and the denialists not? I'll give myself a consolation prize here, that wiki's emphasis on Reliable Sources and high education levels among editors and admins both push somewhat in favor of reality.

William also makes another point about the cost of it all:
I think that the wiki-bureaucracy tends to see the end result – mostly decent pages, e.g. Global Warming – and fails to appreciate how much the energy drain and inevitable disrespect puts people off -W
It takes a lot of effort to fight nonsense. I personally got tired of it after a while and have done mostly innocuous wiki edits in recent years. Might finally get back in though - I think wiki might need an article on stratospheric cooling. Anyway, it's interesting that wiki got things right, mostly, many years before the mainstream media.

Related thought - hard to overstate wiki's importance as a source of information, so another interesting question would be to what extent scientific reality has gained a foothold among the public, especially the young, because wiki is a fairly accurate source that excludes denialism.


Pete Dunkelberg said...

Wikipedia does have this problem:

"One problem with all of these (Wiki science articles) is that they're structured in a way that requires you to already have advanced knowledge of a topic in order to understand nearly anything on the page. In other words, they're probably only useful for people who would never have to read them anyway."

Hank Roberts said...

Alas, Wikipedia is for readers.

Spider Robinson, in a speech/essay titled "Seduction of the Ignorant" a while back, pointed out a problem:

----excerpt follows------

John D. MacDonald, in an essay he wrote for the Library of Congress just before his death, "Reading for Survival," put his finger on the problem: the complex code-system we call literacy--indeed, the very neural wiring that allows it--has existed for only the latest few heartbeats in the long history of human evolution.

In competing with television and cinema and video games, books are competing with a system of information acquisition that predates them by several million years.

Literacy is a very hard skill to acquire, and once acquired it brings endless heartache--for the more you read, the more you learn of life's intimidating complexity and confusion. But anyone who can learn to grunt is bright enough to watch TV ....

Literacy made its greatest inroads when it was the best escape possible from a world defined by the narrow parameters of a family farm or a small village, the only opening onto a larger and more interesting world. But the "mind's eye" has only been evolving for thousands of years, whereas the body's eye has been perfected for millions of them....

Writing still remains the unchallenged best way--indeed, nearly the only way except for mathematics--to express a complicated thought .... and it seems clear that this is precisely one of its disadvantages from the consumers' point of view. Plainly, recent generations of humans have begun to declare, voting with their eyes, that literacy is not worth the bother.

-----end excerpt-------

para. breaks added for online readability

Bernard J. said...

Hank, an intriguing quote indeed.

And it seems to be reflected in the political milieux of everything from responding to climate change to choosing presidential candidates.

We truly are a mess of differential adaptations.

William Connolley said...

There's what may be a useful example in progress;, currently protected and so under discussion.