Talk:Burkle Estate

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Controversy[edit]

There is absolutly no evidence to support the Slavehaven claims. The citations used are amateurish and based on recent folkore. They would not be accepted by any History department for a term paper. The claims are "lies" used by wishful dreamers to obtain government grants. If you have any good evidence then cite it! A similar effort was made by the owner of the Hunt Phelan home. Fortunately, the Wall Street Journal smelled a rat and sent an investigator who exposed these fraudulent claims for what the are. Every legitimate local historian refutes these claims. Even Arthur Prince, an African American Memphis historian had shown how absurd these claims are before he died about ten years ago to the Shelby County Historical Commission. Also, please do not use the recent book by Rushing. She is not an historian and the book is full of gross errors. If you still have doubts about the Burkle Estate or the Hunt-Phelan house, check with thee director of Special Collections at the Univerity of Memphis library.
Tubacranger (talk) 14:01, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

The above section was started on User talk:DoxTxob#Burkle Estate
doxTxob \ talk 00:15, 19 June 2010 (UTC)

Hello Tubacranger,
I understand your opinion and the controversy you are talking about. If you read the Wikipedia article you will notice that the wording there is very carefully chosen. The article states that the house "is believed to have served as a way station on the Underground Railroad" and that many "believe [the] home was the last stop in a series of Memphis homes connected by underground tunnels." To balance the story even further it is mentioned that "the role of the home as a part of the underground railroad is still subject to debate". [Emphasis in all citations by doxTxob] This is a pretty good reflection of what the sources provide. The sources provide no certainty as of the history of the house, nor do they provide proof to support the opinion that the house was not part of the Underground Railroad. And that is exactly what the article states.
Wikipedia is not a medium that can provide "the truth". Wikipedia is a medium that uses source materials and if those sources are controversial then that is what the article should provide to the reader. So, to summarize why I would like you to refrain from deleting content from this article is this: The article does not say it is a fact that the house was part of the Underground Railroad. That cannot be ultimately determined since possible evidence is lost and not recoverable. The article states that many believe that it was part of the Underground Railroad. That is a fact. Many do believe that it was and the sources used support that standpoint.
This is like discussing the existence or non-existence of "God". There is no proof for either side so we will have to provide both sides to the reader for them to make up their own mind about the topic. Many believe and many don't but there is no proof. You just cannot delete what you don't like.
I would like to suggets something to you since you seem very educated and knowledgable as well as interested in the facts and in the Burkle Estate. Would you like to start a section in the article that deals with the controversy and fairly states both sides of the story? That is what Wikipedia is about: If there is a controversy, both sides need to be mentioned. It seems biased to just delete what you do not believe in. So please do not delete any contend from the article since the formal criteria are fulfilled; your deletions will be undone and that does not help anybody. I invite you, however, to add controversial information to the article in an appropriate manner, help the article grow and provide more detail regarding the controversy to our readers so they can form their own opinion with the material provided. Please make sure that you include sources that support your additions. Should you need help in your efforts, I would be more than happy to assist you.
doxTxob \ talk 00:50, 19 June 2010 (UTC)

First, the article states it as a fact that Burkle was a "conductor on the Underground Railroad." The Underground Railroad existed, but not in the South, especially Memphis. FYI, the Undergound Railraod existed in the Northern States to assist runaway slaves pass through the North so they could not be arrested and returned South. The Fugitive Slave Laws reqired Federal law enforcement officials to assist in the return of runaway slaves. For this you should read legitimate historical sources on the Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Laws. Thus, the first premise, that is the existive of the Underground Railroad in Memphis, is disproved. History is not an exact science, but it is a rigid academic discipline. It does require some basis in a primary source that can be corroborated. There were some Union sympathizers in Memphis (five in Shelby County voted for Lincoln). All of these claims about "Slavhaven"and the Underground Railroad in Memphis have arisen in the later half of the Twentieth Century. The managers of "Slavehaven" used to take visitors to the cellar to show where the railroad tracks were once! Unless you can come up with some primary sources, let me repeat "primary" to support these claims I will continue to delete the false claims. The Memphis Flyer and the others cited in the article do no qualify. Have you ever asked yourself how a tunne was dug to the river and kept a secret. Do you realize was an incredible feat of engineering that would take in the 1850s? I could write several pages on this subject but I think I have proven my point. Wikipedia claims to be an encyclopedia. If so, it should demand a higher level of proof. To this date no one has ever priveded substantial evidence to support these claims. If you have it, you should provide it.

tubacrangerTubacranger (talk) 03:03, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

Sorry for the typos. I have an old computer and there is a screen lag between input and the display.

TubacrangerTubacranger (talk) 14:19, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

Hello there, I again reverted your edits since they appear unconstructive and delete content. So far you have not presented any literature that would proove the estate was NOT part of the underground railroad. You state "local historian" who do not "believe" in it. Again, let me summarize, there is no proof for either side but it is a fact that many believe it was the case.
I hate to repeat myself but this is like discussing "God". Many "believe" in its existence but there is no proof, still there likely is an article about it. I, as an atheist, am of the opinion that God is quite a far fetched concept and widespread myth but I can not just go ahead and delete content from that article because I do not agree with that concept. "Gods" existance is not a fact but it is a fact that many "believe" in God and it is OK to state that. There are many controversial topics on Wikipedia and the method to aproach controversial issues its to mention both sides of the stroy, not just delete what does not fit your viewpoint.
Please feel welcome to add statements to this article for which you can find sources to show the other side of the story but refrain from deletions. They will be undone. doxTxob \ talk 00:09, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

To equate an historical discussion such as the Burkle Estate with a theological discussion is an absurdity. An encyclopedic entry is not about belief systems. It's concern is with corroborative evidence to accept the hypothesis. To state that some believe the house was used to assist runaways is acceptable if support is provided either in the written record, archaeological evidence or other acceptable sources. In this case that has not been done by any of the claiments. Even the Flyer admits that is the only fact regarding the Burkle house. "Slavehaven" as a part of the "Underground Railroad" has not been proven. This is a case of local wishful thinking. Asking me to prove the myth is a myth is a logical impossibility when no assumptions are based on evidence which could then be tested in the empirical world. Nonexistence is non existence. The case here rests, prima facie, on the lack of evidence. It cannot be proven, ergo, it does not exist until evidence is produced to support the claim. Actually, the real story is probably found in the Flyer. The strongest evidence in this case is that the Memphis Ciy Commission swallowed this line and appropriated a significant amount of money for its restoration. The real story is about money and greed. Without money from the city the museum would never have been developed. This case can be made. There are public records to support it. It further fits into an effort to adopt the resistance model to current African American history with a local example. Where heroes do not exist they are manufactured. The burden of proof rests upon those who make the claim. You might recall that a few years ago some unsubtantiated false claims were made on Wikipedia about John Sigenthaller, the former edtor of the Nashville Tennessean. Wikipedida removed them because they were not true; there was no proof. When good evidence is produced I will accept it and let this entry rest as it. Until then, I will not let these lies stand unrefuted. Note the line under this box that states "Encyclopedic content must be verifiable." I have not removed any part of the article that meets this criteria; I have removed those portions that do not!. If you have the proof, produce it; if not, then leave the lies out.

TubacrangerTubacranger (talk) 04:50, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

Tubacranger, you're misunderstanding what an encyclopedia, and very specifically Wikipedia, does. The threshold for including material in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. It doesn't make any difference whether it is true or not, the fact that some people think it is true and have published material to that effect is good enough to include it.
See, Wikipedia is not a place where truth comes out or is published. Like any encyclopedia, it's a synthesis of pre-existing materials from other places. It's a reference guide to give the information as it exists, and to refer readers to elsewhere for more information. Wikipedia doesn't need to "prove" whether the house was or was not used on the underground railroad. All that's needed is that reliable sources say that it could have been. That's it.
Your removal of this material is incorrect and needs to stop. Repeated vandalism of this article will eventually get you banned. If youw ant to improve the article, then I suggest finding reliable sources which back up your statements and then ADD them to the article. Do not simply remove material, especially sourced material, simply because you do not agree with it. -- Otto (talk) 14:14, 22 June 2010 (UTC)
Reading your above statement again, I see that you misunderstand what "Verifiability" means as well. I would encourage you to read WP:VERIFY to understand this topic further. The statements in the article are verified, by Wikipedia standards. Each of them is referenced by a reliable source. Whether the statements are true or not has no bearing on whether they are verified or not. -- Otto (talk) 14:22, 22 June 2010 (UTC)
I read through the article again and found that the controversial believes might have been mixed up too much in the article as it was. To make the controversy more clear to the reader I have restructured the article without removing any parts. I have added a header to cover the possible connection to the Underground Railroad and one for the controversy regarding these claims. I have moved some information to that section and also added some information there. I hope that this is balanced enough and helps readers to identify the extend of controversy regarding the topic whether or not the house was part of the Underground Railroad. I have integrated Tubacranger's last addition to the article but reformulated the warning to Wikipedia readers slightly as statements by local historians which is hopefully acceptable.
Either way, in a private note, I do not think that the existance of the museum has anything to do with greed when it is about money from the City of Memphis that is directed to the museum for the upkeep of the house and the museum. The Underground Railrod Museum is the only museum in Memphis that covers the topic of slavery, slave trading and the hardships for black people in those times. It seems to me that today, many white folks would rather not mention that slavery topic at all, likely hoping that when we don't talk about it that embarrassing period might become forgotten. But that is not the case: Once terrible times from the past become forgotten, there is a risk that they happen again. In my private view, this is one of the best museums that our great city has to offer for residents and for tourists. For this great educational purpose and for the sake of keeping dark parts of Southern history above the surface and in our minds it does not even matter if the house was actually part of the Undergroud Railroad or not. doxTxob \ talk 22:06, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

I have over thirty years experience as an author and as an historian. I have both written and edited encyclopedic material for publications and professional journals. The purpose of verificability is not to determine whether someone has made a claim, but whether or not the claim is authentic, thus truthful. On a persoanl note to you, these claims about the Burkle Estate and the Underground Railroad would not clear the vetting process of a true encyclopedia exercising peer review. Perhaps Wikipedia should drop the word "Encyclopedia" and rename itself the "People's Forum." No problem with the house being used as a museum for the history of slavery in America or even focus upon that subject. There is a fair represention of the totality of the black experience at the Pink Palace, but as long as it adds to our knowledge, that is fine and good the more the better. However, to emphasize these rumors without acceptable evidence is intellectual dishonesty. As I have inferred earlier, the burden of proof rests with the caliment.

TubacrangerTubacranger (talk) 23:08, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

From the Wikipedia article God: Carl Sagan argued that the doctrine of a Creator of the Universe was difficult to prove or disprove and that the only conceivable scientific discovery that could challenge it would be an infinitely old universe.
He is right: No proof for the concept or doctrine "God" is available from a scientific or historic point of view. The claim of the existence of God is not verifyable in the same sense that you describe above. Some people claim God exists but the authenticity or truthfulness is not verifyable. Some ideas or concepts for which no proof is available still have a right to exist and to be mentioned. If we discuss the priciples or scientific argumentation, it does not matter which topic we use that cannot be proven.
Burkle Estate or God they might both be myths ... but we do not know for sure due to the lack of evidence. As long as people's believes are mentioned in sources that can be included in Wikipedia. doxTxob \ talk 02:09, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
Tubacranger, that is not what we mean by "verifiability" here. Again, I would encourage you to read WP:VERIFY in order to be clear on this topic.
Also, whether you've edited for other publications before is irrelevant. I don't care who you are or what your credentials are. So please, don't insult us by trying to play that card. Your background and experience doesn't make you correct.
From WP:VERIFY: The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—whether readers can check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether editors think it is true.
This is how it works. I suggest you come to terms with that. -- Otto (talk) 16:09, 25 June 2010 (UTC)


Tubacranger, please stop adding the link to the Britannica article on this topic. It is not considered to be a valid source on Wikipedia, as it is a tertiary source. Wikipedia relies on secondary sources for its content. If you have a reliable secondary source, then feel free to add it. However, a primary source is generally unacceptable as it falls into the original research policy, and tertiary sources like encyclopedias should have secondary sources of their own for their material. You should bypass the encyclopedic link and link directly to their source instead. So, please, stop it. What you're doing is not acceptable editing or behavior on Wikipedia. If you have reliable secondary sources then add those. Otherwise, stop. -- Otto (talk) 20:46, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

Otto, "reliable secondary source" is an oxymoron. No secondary source has value if it lacks solid primary sources to suppot it. If you do not know the meaning, look it up in the OED or Websters or any other dictionary that reads at your level. Secondary sources must ALWAYS defer to primary sources. I will not set idle while amateurs undermine an historical process that has stood the test of time and scholarship for hundreds of years. The current claims of those who control the Burkle Estate and market it as a stop on the Undeground Railroad are fraudulent and it is time for them to be corrected! They are now appearing in the CMOM and in childrens books. Thus, a lie is being layered and incorporated into the history of an area and era without rigorous scrutiny. The vandilism in this entire process is the nefarious effort to remove the truth and replace it with a lie. That these claims have been made is now a fact, and they are a part of the story, but they cannot be supported and that, too, is a part of the story. The inclusion of the Brittanica entry gives the intelligent thinking person the opportunity to come to his/her own understading of the total controvrsy. Stop being a ludite, it you had any confidence in your postion you would devleop your argument in an open forum where it could be subjected to scrutiny by experts. Your conduct in this exchange is a perfect excmaple why Wikipedia is not accepted as an authoritative source by any professional journal! Tubacranger (talk) 04:02, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

C'mon, Tubacranger, give everybody a break. Will you? I added the Britannica link as an external link to the topic. Is that OK with everybody? doxTxob \ talk 04:25, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
Tubacranger... It's clear that you haven't bothered to read the rules on Wikipedia before contributing, or tried to understand any of the reasoning behind them.
I beg of you, please read WP:RS and WP:NOR before responding to this. As you are a historian, I fully understand your misconception here. You're used to being taken at your word. Well, the thing is, Wikipedia is not the place for original research. Publish your statements in a journal or other respectable venue, and then get that journal entry reported on by a reliable source. Then we'll take you seriously.
The "No Original Research" policy is the main reason that you are in the wrong about primary sources being relevant. Furthermore, your "source" is actually a tertiary source. Where did these statements in the Brittanica come from? What are their sources? See, if you had any real substance to your argument, then producing a reliable secondary source would be rather trivial, actually. A news article backing up your statements, for example.
Wikipedia is not SUPPOSED to be an "authoritative source". It's an encyclopedia, which is a synthesis of other published items, not a journal publishing original research. Encyclopedias are a starting point for further research. No professional journal would, or should, accept any encyclopedia article as a source for material, ever. Your lack of understanding on this simple issue utterly confounds me. I would expect a professional with "40 years" experience to know better.
If you want to talk this over in person, I'm more than willing to do so, and to explain to you exactly why you're wrong. I live in downtown Memphis and can be reached directly any time. See my user page for contact info.
BTW, just so we're clear, I don't give a damn about the Burkle Estate or their claims or anything else. I'm trying to explain to you why the material is in Wikipedia and to help you understand Wikipedia policies here. The actual truth of the matter of the Burkle Estate and the Underground Railroad is wholly irrelevant to this conversation, as far as I'm concerned. -- Otto (talk) 07:38, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

" If a topic has no reliable sources, Wikipedia should not have an article on it." Source WP:RS. The claims made regarding the Burkle Estate do not have 'reliable resources.' The link to the Encyclopedia Brittanica provides an accurate definition of The Underground Railroad. Tubacranger (talk) 09:36, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

Tubacranger, the sources for the article are right there on the article itself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burkle_Estate#References
You may disagree with those sources, but the article does indeed have them. -- Otto (talk) 13:48, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
Also, the Brittanica article has nothing to do with the Burkle Estate, it's talking about the underground railroad only. We have another article on the underground railroad: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underground_Railroad which would work for that purpose just fine.

Otto: Back when "we" were using the Commodor 64 for home computing we were taught the concept of GIGO; "Garbage In Garbage Out." There is another "Folk" wisdom that says a chain is no stronger than its weakest link. Until Wikipedia sets uniform standards, and enforces them, it will remain the joke it is. It is not just I who disagrees. Oral history has its standards and here, I again, have more than a passing knowledge. Oral historians have the responsibility to correct errors when they emerge. As it now stands, I do not know a professor in the country who will accept Wikipedia as a source for a freshman paper. I have seen the sad and pathetic results in student's work when they use Wikipedia. Even though students are instructed not to use it, it is on-line, easy to use and they assume it is accurate. Much to their chagrin they learn that the text book and seocndary sources do not agree. Texts and articles written by competent scholars who know how to use both primary and secondary sources through careful vetting with the benefit of peer reiew are suprior. In fact, that is how legitimate encyclopedia entires are processed. Wikipedia could be a fantastic tool, but it is not there now. If an entry is 80% correct, and most I have seen are, should error on key questions, there is a major problems. The current status of Wikipedia, especially on controversial issues, is resistent to this type of scrutiy.Tubacranger (talk) 15:42, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

Tubacranger, if your freshmen students ever use any encyclopedia as a source in a paper, then you should fail them. No encyclopedia is a valid source for a paper. Ever. That's not what an encyclopedia does or is. Encyclopedias, by definition, are not sources of information. They are a synthesis of material from other sources.
An encyclopedia is a starting point for finding more information about a topic and to find additional sources for that topic. It is not a source in and of itself and should never be used as such. If you have accepted any encyclopedia from a student as a source for their material, then you have failed as a professor.
BTW, many, many studies have found Wikipedia to be more accurate and correct, on average, than any other encyclopedia. I suggest you read up on the topic before continuing to make a fool of yourself and your peers in a public venue. Reliability of Wikipedia is a good place to start, however again, it is not the last word on the topic. That article has its own sources and I suggest you check those out directly. You know, as in doing your research? -- Otto (talk) 19:19, 27 June 2010 (UTC)