HIV/AIDS Skepticism

Pointing to evidence that HIV is not the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS

The unqualified (= without qualifications) gurus of Wikipedia

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/02/05

Further insight into Wikipedia as an in-group cult comes from looking at the posted procedures for resolution of problems,  and especially at the people in charge: 11 names are given that may well be genuine names of real persons, plus 11 IDs; 3 of the latter are linked to pages that give apparently real names, and another couple yield photos, but half-a-dozen remain completely anonymous.

But even more informative is the make-up of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.

Let’s do a thought experiment. If you wanted knowledgeable people to organize and supervise a world-class information source, something that in the Internet age would supersede Encyclopedia Britannica and its ilk, where would you look for likely candidates?

You would certainly want to enlist some people who have had long experience with encyclopedia-type projects. Obviously you would want some people who have expertise in the validation of knowledge claims, so philosophers would be an immediate choice, especially philosophers of science. You might well want an ethicist or two, and at least one lawyer. And you would probably set up a “tree” of types of subjects and try to recruit people of established credentials in the major fields of human knowledge, who would be asked in turn to recruit reliable people in more specialized areas within their general field.
What about the technical part, the software and hardware etc.?
Well, you’d cheerfully leave that part to technical specialists, who would follow guidelines set down by the people who know about the intellectual side of things.

Instead, membership of the Wikimedia Board and the Communications Committee looks rather like what you might find at a start-up (up-start?). Cult indeed. Infotech specialists re-inventing all the intellectual wheels of the last few millennia, and making all the mistakes that were corrected along the way — and then adding some new pitfalls (pratfalls?)  that have come with the Internet age.
Enough really said.

4 Responses to “The unqualified (= without qualifications) gurus of Wikipedia”

  1. Dave Smith said

    Right on, Dr. B!

  2. Francis said

    21st Century Pulp Fiction.

  3. Good to see more validation for deciding to stop trusting what I read on wikipedia, let alone cite them as a source some time ago.

  4. Henry Bauer said

    Here’s something pertinent:
    “Plugging in to tune out, young Americans have turned technological access into a means of rendering self-righteous, aggressive ignorance ‘a common, shame-free condition'”.
    That seems an apt description of vociferous dogmatists who edit Wikipedia and “adjudicate” disputes without ever having themselves achieved anything that warrants such activity. So too with the anonymous commentators who defend mainstream dogmas like HIV/AIDS without revealing their identities and lack of qualifications.
    The quote above is from Erin O’Connor, “No child left offline”, Academic Questions 22 (2009) 234-9, a review of “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30)” by Mark Bauerlein

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