Talk:Elizabeth Bentley

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"Her death passed..."[edit]

The passage "Her death passed with relatively little notice" is supported and documented by the next sentence in the article, which describes the level of notice given to the death of Whittaker Chambers. The roles played by Bentley and Chambers were comparable in many ways, so it's valid to look at the notice given Bentley's death relative to that of Chambers. RedSpruce (talk) 15:07, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

On second thought, I think this passage should be more specific about the nature of the coverage of her death, with a comparison to Chambers clearly stated rather than simply juxtaposing the two people in the text. I'll work something up when I get a chance. RedSpruce (talk) 16:00, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

Hi, RAN. Among your recent edits, one was made with this comment" "restore quote to show that "Her death passed with relatively little notice" is incorrect." Perhaps you could explain to me why it is necessary to show that a statement is incorrect when that statement is no longer in the article. I could also explain to you that the statement isn't incorrect, but that isn't necessary, since it's no longer in the article. RedSpruce (talk) 10:34, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

New section heading "Death"[edit]

The text in this deals with more than her death. The text noting the posthumous verification of Bentley's story is quite important to the overall story. The section could be called "Death and subsequent validation" or something like that, but that's an awkward mouthful. RedSpruce (talk) 15:11, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

RAN, your solution was to restore a "Death" section and add a "Legacy" section. In this form the article ends with 3 extremely short sections, which is stylistically awkward and unnecessary. The heading "Aftermath" is general enough to cover what you made into three sections. Also, "Legacy" isn't the correct word, since it refers to something that a person leaves behind after their death. The content of this section was about the posthumous validation of Bentley's story, not about any "legacy." RedSpruce (talk) 10:40, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Death[edit]

I have rearranged the references, and restored the Washington Post AP obit to reinforce that "Her death passed with relatively little notice". I think an obit in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Time magazine dispels this. The extra reference makes sure that anyone who read or cited the article while that information was there, now has the correct information. After all, if you still aren't convinced, how can I convince others who will be reading in the future or have read it in the past. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 12:26, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

So some past readers of this article might have misinterpreted the statement "Her death passed with relatively little notice", and you want to repair that misinterpretation among those readers who read that past version of the article, misunderstood it, and are now revisiting the article. That's certainly a unique reason for making an edit. Luckily your edit doesn't do much harm, so I'm willing to leave it for the time being.
I say "misinterpret" the statement, because that's what you're doing. The word "relatively" is key. It means her death received little notice, compared with someone else. That someone else, of course, is Whittaker Chambers, who was and is mentioned in the immediately following text. Even without the word relatively" to make explicit the fact that there's a comparison to be made, "little notice", "minimal notice", etc. are relative terms with no absolute meaning. They only mean something when there's a point of comparison. (The sitting president of the US? An anonymous homeless person?) In this case, the article has always made it clear (to all readers except you, apparently) that the point of comparison was Whittaker Chambers. Compared to Whittaker Chambers, Bentley's death received "little" notice. I hope this clarifies the text that was in the past version of this a article for you. RedSpruce (talk) 16:39, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Bentley's middle name[edit]

RAN, Although my edit summary comment here was justified based on the content of your footnote (and on your history of not understanding the difference between trivial and non-trivial content), on further research it turns out that this isn't a matter of a simple typo. The two published biographies of Bentley are actually in disagreement on this point: Clever Girl gives Bentley the middle name "Turrell" and Red Spy Queen uses "Tirrell". This still wouldn't be worth mentioning if it was only one article in Time that used this "alternate spelling", but as it turns out, many sources do. When I get a chance I'll add a footnote to the article noting this. RedSpruce (talk) 15:24, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Trivia, unnecessary repetition[edit]

Richard Arthur Norton's (RAN) recent edits to the article add the following:

The footnote regarding the spelling of Bentley's middle name reads (prior to RAN's addtion): Sources are divided on the correct spelling of Bentley's middle name. Kathryn Olmsted's biography spells it 'Terrill', while Lauren Kessler's uses 'Turrell'.
RAN adds the following: Time magazine uses "Elizabeth Turrill Bentley" and the Associated Press uses "Elizabeth Terrill Bentley." This is more coverage of an extremely trivial point than any reader will ever want. It also makes a false statement: it is not known that Time and the NY Times always used these respective spellings when they printed Bentley's name, but the text incorrectly asserts this.

Repetition through redundant footnote quotations; RAN's edit adds the following text in the form of source quotations in footnotes:

  1. Elizabeth Terrill Bentley, self-styled courier for a Communist spy ring, told a reporter today she was born New Year's Day 40 years ago in New Milford, Conn.
  2. Elizabeth Bentley, the apostate Communist agent who helped unmask a web of wartime red treachery in this country, died quietly today. She was 55.
  3. Elizabeth Bentley, a Soviet spy in the United States during World War II who later aided the United States, died today in Grace-New Haven Hospital. She underwent surgery for an abdominal tumor yesterday.
  4. Elizabeth Turrill Bentley, 55, onetime Communist whose disclosures of wartime Soviet espionage led to the conviction of more than a dozen top Reds between 1948 and 1951; following surgery for an abdominal tumor; in New Haven, Conn.

Except for the name of the hospital where she died, none of these footnote quotations add a single piece of information to the article. Not only do they all repeat information already in the article, the last 3 all repeat each other. Well-written articles do not repeat the same information four times over.

RedSpruce (talk) 16:58, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

Response[edit]

Actually I made the discovery that there are two versions of her name here, you then dismissed it as a typo here. Then after I complained to Arbcom, you reinserted your own reference, and left mine deleted here a few days later. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 17:41, 30 May 2008 (UTC) The redundant references about her death were added to counter your claim that: "her death passed with relatively little notice". Obituaries in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Time magazine did not support your original research. (see section above)

Your dishonest complaint to the ArbCom had nothing to do with my change. Seeing a different spelling for a person's name in a single news source is not in itself notable; assuming that it's a simple typo is the only rational course. When I saw that the biographies of Bentley disagreed on the spelling, then it became noteworthy.
I've already responded several times over to your lack of understanding regarding the word "relatively". No original research was involved, as I have made clear.
And BTW, none of your comments here "respond" in any way to the points I make in the section above.
RedSpruce (talk) 18:16, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
I guess thats the difference between research and "assuming". You also say: "When I saw that the biographies of Bentley disagreed on the spelling, then it became noteworthy." (my emphasis added) Yes, a good example of solipsism. You have a tendency to delete my references in articles in favor of your own. I don't delete your's, more references are better than fewer, or none. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 18:44, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
As you would have understood if you weren't focused on finding excuses to make a childish insult, my point in saying "when I saw that the biographies disagreed..." is that a biography, which is more carefully researched than a news source article, is a better and more significant source than a weekly or daily news outlet. The biographies, in this case, recount the history of Bentley's family, with some discussion of the origin of her middle name. Therefor the likelihood of a simple and meaningless typo is far less than it is with a news source.
And no, more references are not necessarily better than fewer. If that were true, then an article with 50 footnotes to every sentence would be "better" than a sane article, that someone might actually read. If I have a tendency to delete your references, it's because your references tend to be bad for various reasons, as these are, for the reasons I have stated. RedSpruce (talk) 18:58, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
I believe that argument is called reductio ad absurdum. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 02:18, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
That is correct. Unfortunately for the point you're apparently trying to make, reductio ad absurdum is not an example of a false argument. It's a perfectly valid illustration that your statement was nonsensical. RedSpruce (talk) 05:04, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
And BTW, with the exception of your invalid argument "more references are better", you still haven't even tried to respond to any of the points I raised in the section above. Since you have no defense of those edits, you shouldn't be opposing their removal. RedSpruce (talk) 16:41, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
  • RfC response: Point #1: Neither Time magazine nor the Associate Press are go-to sources for the spelling of names. While they are generally accurate, they are not definitive, since, just like Wikipedia, their info is only as good as their sources. However, biographies by their nature investigate matters such as this (against primary sources, eg. birth certificates), so they are infinitely more appropriate sources for this kind of matter. In the end, ditch the Time and AP references. Point #2: Taking quotes from the source material is not standard practice, and because Wikipedia (and pretty much everybody) likes to use the fewest amount of words to express the most information, if referential notations don't introduce new material or clarify something confusing from the body, they are redundant, pointless, and bulky. RAN, haven't we discussed this before?--Esprit15d • talkcontribs 17:39, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Point #1: We have a requirement and responsibility to use reliable and verifiable secondary sources to document facts in articles. Time and AP are exactly where we should be obtaining information, both to confirm and contradict information supplied in the article. Point #2: The use of quotations in references is a built-in feature of all of the citation templates, and a proposal to consider a prohibition of their use was roundly rejected by Arbcom. This is a perfect example of a case where including bare links (without quotations) leaves the sources meaningless and uses fewer words but provides no useful information. That others have arbitrarily decided not to take advantage of a designed system feature is no argument against its use. An edit summary stating "rv for the usual reasons, and 'advisor' is the more common spelling" is a clear demonstration of refusal to address the issues here in any meaningful fashion. Alansohn (talk) 02:24, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
"Point #1": You don't address my point that the spelling of this person's middle name is a trivial issue, not deserving of four sources. "a proposal to consider the prohibition [of footnote quotes]" was never made, and therefor was not "roundly rejected by Arbcom". Under the circumstances, "rv for the usual reasons" is precisely, utterly, crystal clear. RedSpruce (talk) 10:37, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
  • I think it is a bit of original research and speculation to say that the tertiary sources (the two books) trump the secondary sources (AP and Time), because the tertiary sources had access to death certificates. If the tertiary sources had access to the death certificate, why don't they match each other? We don't know that any more than what sources were used by Time and AP. All are unknowns. And even if someone orders the death certificate, that would just be another source, even if a primary one. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 03:06, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Honestly, though RAN, four sources? For a middle name? There are definitely bigger fish to fry here at Wikipedia, but since it was brought to RfC, I have to concede that this is a case of over citation.--Esprit15d • talkcontribs 21:10, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Where there is a discrepancy, it is entirely appropriate to show that there are different versions in different sources. Showing the preponderance for one version requires multiple sources, and is the best way to demonstrate what we call "consensus" between the various sources. Are you suggesting that dishonesty is the reason for adding these sources? Alansohn (talk) 22:44, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
Since Esprit15d isn't as familiar with you two as some other editors are, I'm sure he was using "honestly" in its second (and very commonly known) definition: 2: used to emphasize the sincerity of an opinion, belief, or feeling: 'honestly, darling, I'm not upset'.
The only point to be documented here is that varying spellings of the middle name have been used by reliable sources. It is not necessary to show which spelling has a "preponderance", because it's a vanishingly trivial point that no reader will care about enough to justify the text required. Even if showing preponderance was important, that still wouldn't be an argument in favor of these footnotes, because they don't establish any preponderance.RedSpruce (talk) 18:20, 15 June 2008 (UTC)
Some sources "trump" others for obvious reasons. In this case the biographies trump the news sources, for the reasons I have stated and to which you have not responded. RedSpruce (talk) 10:37, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
Your original theory was that it was a typo, remember? That was another example of Original Research, that was incorrect. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 15:10, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
And that comment is an example of a non-sequitur. RedSpruce (talk) 16:35, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
I think this prolonged discussion is enormous waste of time. Current version of this article makes excellent citations of the original sources; and it does not really matter if there are minor disagreements of the sources. I would like to see most articles in WP sourced like that. Let's keep the sources with citations.Biophys (talk) 02:22, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
The mistaken notion that "more references are better" has already been dealt with in the discussion above. Repetition and excessive coverage of trivial points do not make an article better. An article should not merely convey facts, but do so in a professional manner that is engaging and pleasant for the reader. RedSpruce (talk) 12:48, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
Then rewrite it in such a way that the repetition is avoided. I would do it myself, but really, an argument over the spelling of a middle name and what looks like different newspaper obituaries using different sources or just getting it wrong. And this rose to the level of a request for comment? Has anyone here heard of WP:LAME? (Before you get offended, have a quick read of the page - some are quite funny). Carcharoth (talk) 21:41, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
Rewriting to avoid repetition is precisely what I have done, Carcharoth, and precisely what RAN persists in undoing. I agree that taken as a single article, this issue is minor and lame. But RAN makes little detrimental edits like this on literally thousands of articles. If he can be convinced here--or somewhere--that what he's doing is a mistake, then all of Wikipedia will benefit. If this article becomes just another in the list of thousands where editors give up trying to reason with him, then he will continue to do his damage to thousands more articles. RedSpruce (talk) 22:04, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

Employer[edit]

What evidence do you have that Time magazine is incorrect? --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 15:23, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

  1. ^ Barnes, Bart (2014-02-16). "Eric O. Stork, former EPA official who oversaw auto emissions compliance, dies at 87". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  2. ^ "Eric O. Stork". Microsoft Academic Search. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
I never said that Time magazine was incorrect. I said that the "employer=" entry was incorrect, because the employer shown was "not her most notable employer". Like most people, she was employed by many places. Picking out any single employer is therefor misleading, but picking out one that had nothing to do with the period of her life for which she is notable is clearly wrong. RedSpruce (talk) 19:52, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
Bio, in biograpy = life, otherwise we wouldn't discuss her birth and death. There is no rule that says we just discuss "the period of her life for which she is notable". Its reporting in Time makes it notable. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 14:26, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
That doesn't respond to my point (and the "Bio, in biograpy = life..." etc. I don't understand the meaning or relevance of at all). There is a rule that says we [primarily] discuss "the period of her life for which she is notable'", and that is the rule of common sense for a biography article. Look at any GA or FA biography article in Wikipedia for examples. Since you have no response to the objection I've raised here, you should not be restoring your edit. RedSpruce (talk) 20:14, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
Can you point us to this "rule"? Alansohn (talk) 20:37, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
Like most rules of common sense, it may not be written down anywhere. Look at any GA or FA biography article in Wikipedia and see if you can find one where "employer=" has been used to list an employer who had nothing to do with the stage of the person's life for which they are notable. RedSpruce (talk) 21:08, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

An infobox dispute? Rather than argue over what should be in the infobox, get the wording right in the article first, and then use the infobox to summarise that, or make clear that it can't be easily summarised and that people should look to the article. I presume this is about wanting the infobox to say she was a spy? Carcharoth (talk) 22:01, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

This isn't about wanting the info box to say she was a spy. Something to that effect could be added to the infobox in the form of a "known_for" parameter, but personally I don't think that's particularly necessary. What this is "about" is that RAN has found a piece of information, and he wants to include it in the article, regardless of whether it fits into the article in any rational or meaningful way. RedSpruce (talk) 22:15, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
I agree. The article says: "Though she had been a successful executive with a profitable shipping company while she was with the Communists, after her defection she earned a living first through secretarial work and then at a variety of teaching jobs." The snippet of information about one of those jobs should be stuck in a footnote to that sentence, not put up in the infobox. I'd suggest taking out the "employer" bit, and putting a "known for" bit, but please don't spend *too* long arguing over how to phrase what she was "known for". I'd say her McCarthy testimony, but it should be made clear she was a spy in the infobox. That is important. Come to think of it, her cause of death is a bit irrelevant for the infobox as well. Did you know Enrico Fermi died of stomach cancer, possibly because of his work on the world's first nuclear reactor? Now that is relevant. Carcharoth (talk) 22:26, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
I suppose the "known_for" parameter could read "American who spied for the Soviet Union until she defected in 1945". As the article states, she worked for a number of different schools. Having read her biographies, I don't know of anything that makes Academy of the Sacred Heart any more notable than any of the others. It just happens to be where she was working in 1953, when Time wrote that little snippet of text. RedSpruce (talk) 01:15, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
I would say "spy, defector and informer", but precise wording of "known for" bits is always tricky. Expanding in a footnotem, or putting a "see article for details" caveat is one option. Carcharoth (talk) 14:10, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
Agreed; but I'd say that "see article for details" kind of goes without saying :-) RedSpruce (talk) 14:23, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
Were there defectors who didn't inform, or who were allowed to not inform? :-) Note that I've put the school bit back in further down, but it is really quite minor and could be dropped altogether. It would be more relevant to get more details of the following bit: After her defection, calls to give evidence before various bodies would be a fixture in Bentley's life for many years. Occasional consultations with the FBI would continue for the rest of her life." Are there more details or not? Carcharoth (talk) 14:44, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
Per your suggestion, I propose that the sentence "An example was her appointment in 1953 to..." be dropped altogether. If there was something special about this particular place of employment for Bentley, then the place, and what made it significant, should be mentioned. As far as I know, there is no such significance, so the "An example was..." just seems like inserting a random fact for no reason.
I'm not aware of any further details of note around her "calls to give evidence" and "occasional consultations". The notable "calls to give evidence" are already described in the article, and according to the biographies there was nothing significant about the consultations (more in the nature of informal chats) she had with the FBI later in her life. RedSpruce (talk) 11:08, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
It kind of begs the question why TIME magazine reported it, then. Look at what RAN recently put in: "She was born in Connecticut, graduated from Vassar (1930) and had taken an M.A. degree at Columbia" (quoting from the edit summary). How much of that is relevant? At what point is the line drawn between "relevant" and "irrelevant"? Maybe a compromise would be to put the TIME citation and the information in the school article, thus providing a link back to here? Would it be relevant there, or is it something that is completely irrelevant to the encyclopedia? I was recently reading the JFK article, and realised that there was no obvious (I didn't check the whole article) links to obituaries. Now, obviously, JFK had hundreds of obituaries penned for him, but the right approach there, when looking for sources, is to use the biographies and published, detailed, research on his life, not obituaries rushed out following his death. On the other hand, obituaries like that (along with contemporary newspaper coverage) are an interesting example of further reading and contemporary coverage, but is there anywhere suitable to link to them within Wikipedia? Wikisource only takes PD stuff. Possibly Wikinews, if it did retrospective items, could gather links to contemporary coverage of the JFK assassination, but that too doesn't feel quite right. In essence, the problem is how to accommodate possibly trivial information and the desire of some readers and editors to engage in further reading beyond the main article and its sources? Anyway, I'll take it out for now and put it in the school article. Carcharoth (talk) 11:26, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

"Her death passed..." again[edit]

The point of this passage of the article show that, compared to Whittaker Chambers (with whom her life had many parallels) her death passed with relatively little notice. The additions regarding the NY Times and AP obits are at cross-purposes to this point, because no word count for Chambers's obits is given. And if such a correction were made, it would still make the passage badly written, because the rather minor point would be given more attention than it deserves, given the length of the article. RedSpruce (talk) 19:52, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

You said a lot previously, and none of it was valid or applicable to my point here. If you have a response, respond here. RedSpruce (talk) 20:11, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
Scroll, up, its easy. Nothing has changed, I would just be cutting and pasting. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 20:48, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
Cut and paste then. There has been a lot of discussion of this and related points, and I'm not going to try to guess which of your responses you think is valid and applicable. RedSpruce (talk) 20:58, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
If I may? The whole article is very good (congrats to the editors and authors), but the last section, that has bits about the Olmstead biography, feels like Wikipedia is presenting the Olmstead stuff and then gathering other sources to refute aspects of it. Shouldn't really be doing that. Also, as an uninvolved editor arriving at this page, the word-count for the obituaries does stick out like a sore thumb. I do hope no-one went and counted the words and put that in the article. That really would be original research. Just say that one biographer has said "little notice" was given, and then give a list of all the known obituaries. Let the reader themselves work out that the biographer might, in fact, be wrong, and by listing the other biographies, you can maybe say that Olmstead fails to mention the other obituaries. Or does she mention them all and give word counts for them all? Essentially, what I'm saying is it is unclear here what Olmstead is saying, and what the article is saying. Carcharoth (talk) 22:10, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
Does this version look better to you, Carcharoth? RedSpruce (talk) 22:20, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
I think listing some of the obituaries but not the others is not quite right. What we need here, IMO, is a mention of the obituaries that Olstead discusses, followed by a mention of other obituaries (without the word counts). Carcharoth (talk) 22:32, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
The two obituaries mentioned in the article version I linked above are the only ones that Olmsted discusses. We could mention others, but to what end? What point is conveyed by mentioning other obits, especially if there is no comparison with Whittaker Chambers's obits in the same sources (which is the point Olmsted and that section of the article is making)? And which other obits? And how are they described if not with a word count? And how much article text is this point worth? RedSpruce (talk) 00:30, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
I think all major obituaries should be mentioned if you mention any. Since you've introduced Olmsted's comparison, you either need to mention the other obituaries, or give Olsted's explanation for not including them. Carcharoth (talk) 11:39, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
The article (my last version, linked above) gives Olsted's explanation for including only a couple of obits. She was merely making the point that, compared to Chambers, Bentley's death received little notice. Other obits could be included, but that leaves all of my above questions: To what end? What point is conveyed by mentioning other obits if there is no comparison with Whittaker Chambers's obits in the same sources? And which other obits--who decides what's "major"? And how are they described if not with a word count? And how much article text is this point worth? In my version, the article text is relaying the information given by a reliable secondary source, as well as relaying the analysis of that information as given by that source. To add further, independently-researched information would be to make or imply a further analysis, which would be WP:OR. RedSpruce (talk) 22:46, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
Then you need to make clear that other obituaries exist, even if we don't name them. Something like:

"In her biography of Bentley, Kathryn Olmsted discusses two sets of obituaries and notes a sharp contrast between the notice paid to Bentley's death and that of Whittaker Chambers, who had died two years earlier. The National Review, which had put out a special memorial issue on the death of Chambers, allotted only a paragraph to Elizabeth Bentley. Time magazine had devoted two pages to its Chambers obituary, but gave Bentley's death a two-sentence mention in its "Milestones" section. Other obituaries of Bentley, not discussed by Olmsted, include one in the New York Times, and one by the Associated Press, which was carried in the Washington Post.

What do you think? Some of that could be shunted down into a footnote. Carcharoth (talk) 00:20, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm happy with this as a compromise. Per your suggestion, I would remove the sentence beginning "Other obituaries..." and add a footnote reading "Obituaries of Bentley were also carried by New York Times, the Associated Press and the Washington Post." RedSpruce (talk) 13:58, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
I sort of did this, but when I realised that those two obituaries were supporting the details and location of her death, I just brought the source deatils out into the open a bit more. See here. Carcharoth (talk) 14:41, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

Note to self[edit]

  • "Elizabeth Turrill Bentley" = 42 Ghits; 2 News; 2 Books
  • "Elizabeth Terrill Bentley" = 513 Ghits; 5 News; 65 Books

Unsupported statements[edit]

"Time magazine uses "Elizabeth Turrill Bentley" and the Associated Press uses "Elizabeth Terrill Bentley". "Terrill" is the most common spelling used by authors."
As I've pointed out before, you haven't established that 'Turrill' is always used by the AP and Time, and while you show evidence above that ""Terrill" is the most common spelling used by authors."", it appears to be missing from the article. That makes 3 incorrect or unsupported statements in one sentence. RedSpruce (talk) 20:20, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

I don't know what that comment is supposed to mean, but I agree with you that the Google book searches are significant, and worth adding to the footnote. Thanks for adding this valuable research. RedSpruce (talk) 20:51, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
  • You do know what it means, because you just corrected the error here, now that it was pointed out. You endlessly argue for your additions, even when they are 100% incorrect, or 50% in this case. If that isn't showing blind devotion to your own edits over mine, I don't know what is. You must have reverted back to your error 5 times or more. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 20:54, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
Oh. My God. I made a typo. How infinitely humiliating. I shall immolate myself immediately. Stand back lest you be singed by the flames. RedSpruce (talk) 21:02, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
And argued endlessly that your typo was correct. Anyone can make a typo, but it takes cajones to argue that your error is correct, over and over. And to remove material that contradicts your error. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 21:17, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
Did you point this typo out to me somewhere? And did I argue "over and over" that this typo was correct? I can't seem to find those points on this page. And if you were aware of the typo, why did all of your edits repeat the error "Kessler's [book] uses 'Turrell'"? RedSpruce (talk) 21:23, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
I wrote "No, but I can prove that you are incorrect.", then you corrected the error. I found it doing the searches and from adding the new information. I would say every time you deleted my sources for variations of the name and kept your incorrect version, you were incorrectly asserting your correctness over mine. Anyone can make a typo ... well, just reread above. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 21:33, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
In other words, no, at no time did you point out my typo to me. You never mentioned it until after I had fixed it (I found it while recreating the google searches you mentioned). And no, I did not "argue that my error was correct, over and over" (or even once). You're just making stuff up out of thin air, RAN. RedSpruce (talk) 22:09, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
You even get history here wrong. My comment at 37 past the hour and you change at 50 past the hour, June 19, 2008. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 22:19, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
You did not mention the typo to me until after I had corrected it. Your comment of 37 minutes past the hour was "No, but I can prove that you are incorrect." -- and for some reason I did not immediately interpret as meaning "you misspelled 'Turell'. I found the typo while recreating the google searches you mentioned. You never pointed it out to me and I never argued that my error was correct. You are just making stuff up out of thin air, RAN. RedSpruce (talk) 01:03, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
Guys, please. This little subthread isn't helping. It looks like a misunderstanding. Let's get back to the article. Carcharoth (talk) 07:06, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Oh look, I just found a marriage certificate with the spelling Turell. Can we please sort out the middle name stuff once and for all, or just leave it? People generally comment on interesting RfCs, and I can assure you that an RfC about a middle name is not interesting. Carcharoth (talk) 22:13, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
    • I should, in fairness, point out that I was being sarcastic above. I haven't found any marriage certificate and don't even think she was ever married. Sorry about that. It was a reaction to the pettiness of arguing over the middle name. Carcharoth (talk) 07:08, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

Mother's maiden name[edit]

Elizabeth T. Bentley, daughter of May Charlotte Turrill and Charles Prentiss Bentley. I suggest if you want to settle what her "middle" name was, someone goes and looks up the birth certificate for May Charlotte Turrill. Carcharoth (talk) 22:35, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

See also Terrill and Turrill. It depends on two things, IMO. A concrete source for the mother's maiden name (and not one of the secondary sources, which might be wrong), and whether or not the family just got the spelling wrong with their daughter. Carcharoth (talk) 22:46, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
I don't see how the mother's maiden name would be conclusive, since there's no saying that the family didn't deliberately change the spelling for Elizabeth's middle name. Based on the Google Book search that RAN initiated, it seems clear that biographer Lauren Kessler and a couple of other sources got the spelling wrong, and 'Terrill' is correct. It's rather unusual for a respected biography to get the spelling of its subject's middle name wrong, and for that reason I think the point warrants some brief mention. But as you've noted Carcharoth, it's an awfully minor point, and I think the footnote covering it should be shorter than my most recent version.
I would suggest:
Lauren Kessler's biography and a few other sources have spelled Bentley's middle name 'Turrill'. Kathryn Olmsted's biography and most other sources use 'Terrill'; see this vs. this.
You cannot put links to Google Books searches in articles. You also need to make the point that the spelling "Turrill" is the same as her mother's maiden name. That suggests a few avenues of further research, but don't push that research into the article. Just leave it at that and let the reader draw their own conclusions. Ie. "Lauren Kessler's biography and a few other sources have spelled Bentley's middle name 'Turrill' (the same spelling as her mother's maiden name). Kathryn Olmsted's biography and most other sources use 'Terrill'". We also need to give the source for the mother's maiden name. If the only source is one of the biographies, then it might just be wrong. Also "a few other sources" and "most other sources" are weasel words. Either explicitly name the sources, or don't. By saying "a few" and "most other" you are presuming you have surveyed all the available sources, and thus you are presenting results. Just name the source you have used, and leave it at that. ie. "Lauren Kessler's biography as well as Smith (2001) and Jones (2004) have spelled Bentley's middle name 'Turrill' (the same spelling as her mother's maiden name). Kathryn Olmsted's biography and Baker (1997), Gregs (1956) and Dent (2000) use 'Terrill'". This only makes sense though if you know where each source is getting its information from. I suggest just giving the earliest use of each spelling in the sources, and noting that later sources propagated this spelling (or rediscovered it independently - do you see the problem?). Carcharoth (talk) 06:58, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm curious under what policy it's forbidden too add a link to a google book search. It's simply a tool that allows one to look something up in a great number of books--something that is certainly legal (and strongly encouraged) when researching for Wikipedia articles. It seems the perfect way to document a consensus among scholars in the field. One could argue that by presenting such a search one is incorrectly suggesting that all books have been surveyed, but in this case the consensus among scholars is overwhelming enough so that that suggestion can't be very misleading. "a few other sources" and "most other sources" aren't weasel words because they're documented by the google search, and no specific claim is made that the google search covers all books.
I don't quite understand your final suggestion: I suggest just giving the earliest use of each spelling in the sources, and noting that later sources propagated this spelling (or rediscovered it independently). What do you mean by "earliest use"? In which sources (the two biographies)? And how can we note "that later sources propagated... or rediscovered" this spelling when we have no idea which occurred? RedSpruce (talk) 10:51, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
The search results change over time, are not stable, and don't actually take the reader anywhere. You are saying to them "look at this search result and seen what we mean". That is not acceptable. It is pure original research. What I think you can do is say "these two spellings exist" and give the earliest known published example of each (while not explicitly saying that). Leave the rest for the reader to ponder. Going further than this is original research. I suggest taking the whole matter to WT:OR. In fact, I've posted at Wikipedia talk:No original research#Using Google Books search links as surveys. Carcharoth (talk) 11:09, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
This just seems to be a convenient way of citing a swathe of source, en masse. If the data seems volatile then the accessdate tag can be used. Colonel Warden (talk) 11:46, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm in agreement with Colonel Warden here Carcharoth, but I also totally agree with your second comment at Wikipedia talk:No original research#Using Google Books search links as surveys: "we should not go into excessive detail or push the reader in one direction or another by suggestive presentation." In this case the issue is a simple matter of spelling, so there's no question of "excessive detail" or of "pushing the reader" with "suggestive presentation". A reader is likely to be curious about which spelling is the most commonly used, and the google book search answers that question. There isn't any original research here at all, that I can see, and there's nothing I can see on the WP:No original research policy page that indicates that this is OR. (No mention of Google or "web search" at all, in fact, which seems strange to me.)
It's often necessary for WP editors to consult a large number of sources in an attempt to determine what the "majority" or "consensus" view of authors in the field is. Doing this isn't independent research, it's a necessary part of producing an article that's in keeping with Wikipedia:Neutral point of view#Undue weight. RedSpruce (talk) 23:08, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
Sure, but keep the Google searches on the talk page. Don't let the talk page arguments flow over onto the article, if you know what I mean. Carcharoth (talk) 00:09, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
This isn't about a talk page argument. It isn't about showing who's "right". This is informational material that belongs in the article. And you haven't given any reason why it shouldn't be in the article. RedSpruce (talk) 11:38, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
But that's the point. It isn't informational. It leaves the reader hanging and having to work out why you've sent them to a Google Book search. Look at it again: "Lauren Kessler's biography and a few other sources have spelled Bentley's middle name 'Turrill'. Kathryn Olmsted's biography and most other sources use 'Terrill'; see this vs. this." Now click on the links. One says "Books 1 - 10 of 65 on "Elizabeth Terrill Bentley"" and the other says "Books 1 - 2 of 2 on "Elizabeth Turrill Bentley ".". You haven't actually told the reader anything, just asked them to compare two search results. This is completely pointless. If something needs to be said, it should be said explicitly in the article and sourced. If you can't do that, then it is original research. For example, an alternative would be to say "A Google Books search, conducted on 21 June 2008, found 65 books with the spelling "Elizabeth Terrill Bentley" and 2 books with the spelling "Elizabeth Turrill Bentley"." Would you find it acceptable to read that in an article? If not, then the links are not acceptable either. Carcharoth (talk) 12:47, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

←I don't know if your question was rhetorical, but yes, I would find it completely acceptable to read that in an article. My only objection is that it uses far more text than is necessary, since the footnote text I proposed said the same thing with fewer words. However, if you think it's necessary to be more clear, I suggest this wording for the footnote:

Lauren Kessler's biography and a few other sources have spelled Bentley's middle name 'Turrill', while Kathryn Olmsted's biography and most other sources use 'Terrill'; compare these book searches for 'Elizabeth Turrill Bentley' and 'Elizabeth Terrill Bentley'.
I'm still not convinced. My post at WT:NOR only got one response. I'm going to post at WP:3O to try and get another opinion. Carcharoth (talk) 13:51, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
Fine with me. Meanwhile, do you have any further comment on the "Employer" section above? RedSpruce (talk) 14:01, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
  • If it is a minor point, why do we spend so much time arguing over it? I do think its important to document in footnotes, that is what footnotes are for. No one is forced to read the footnotes. Why make everyone that comes across the two spellings have to do the research all over again, to decide which is correct? As I mentioned before RedSpruce tends to delete my references for his own, even if his are incorrect. I never touched RedSpruce's incorrect version, he deleted mine and replaced it wis error. Originally he deleted my original footnote as a "typo" in Time magazine, then later added his one misspelled version to the article. He deleted my correct version to his incorrect version multiple times. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 02:38, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

Third opinion[edit]

Hello, a third opinion was requested, and I will try to provide one. After reading all the arguments, as well as doing some research myself. I have come to think it is best to not place links to Google Books, and only make a short notion in the footnotes to the alternate spelling in the biography by Lauren Kessler. If there are other notable sources on this they are also best mentioned with a direct reference. This to make the original research issue as small as possible, external link policy also sides with that stating "links to results of search engines should normally be avoided". Greetings, Species8473 (talk) 15:30, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

Thanks, Species8473. Much appreciated. RedSpruce, how do you want to take things from here? Carcharoth (talk) 16:20, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
I think a simple footnote reading "Lauren Kessler's biography spells Bentley's middle name 'Turrill'. (Kessler 2003, p. 14)." would work for me. Written this way, it tells the reader that this is not the most common spelling, though without providing any evidence of that fact. If providing evidence can't be done without original research (at least according to some interpretations), then this would be the best way to dispense with the issue. RedSpruce (talk) 10:54, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

College of the Sacred Heart[edit]

The Time article reads, in its entirety:

After two trials and almost five years of denying he was a Communist, William W. Remington, handsome, 35-year-old ex-economist for the U.S. Department of Commerce, was sentenced to serve three years in prison for perjury. At almost the same time last week, it was announced that Remington's accuser, onetime Communist Courier Elizabeth Bentley, had been appointed to the faculty of the College of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic girls' school at Grand Coteau, La.

No claim is made by Time that there is anything notable about this place of employment for Bentley. As the WP article states, she worked at several schools. At the end of her life she was working at a reform school for girls. The fact that mention of something has been found in Time or any other major new outlet does not in itself mean that that thing is itself notable. In this case, Bentley's starting a new job is just a handy contrast to Remington starting Prison. They aren't saying that there's anything at all notable about what Bentley's new job is. Separate from what Time says, if there were something notable about Academy of the Sacred Heart, Grand Coteau, then it would be worth mentioning in the article, but if there is, it certainly isn't mentioned in the Sacred Heart WP article. RedSpruce (talk) 21:23, 28 June 2008 (UTC)

I know of now rule requiring cross referencing in articles to determine notability. Time magazine publishing it makes it objectively notable, calling it trivia is 100% subjective. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 21:39, 28 June 2008 (UTC)
The mention in Time does not in itself make this point notable. If you know of a rule that contradicts that (like "anything ever mentioned in Time magazine should be added to an article."), please point me to it. Time mentioned it for the perfectly clear, and completely non-notable reason I explained above. If you were to read one of the biographies (sources just as reliable as Time), you would be able to list all of the places where she worked. But by so doing, you would be adding a lot of detail to the least-interesting part of Bentley's life, which would make no sense. Neither does it make sense to mention one of those places of employment, since that tells the reader that there's something special about that particular job. There isn't, so you would be misleading the reader. RedSpruce (talk) 14:41, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

First, Bentley is implicated in giving to the Soviets one of the largest items ever - how to make an A-Bomb. She and the Physics Dept. at Columbia were involved.

Second, she may have (with Chambers) masterminded the disbanding of the spy system in which she participated, to elude the Hoover and the FBI. Half of these agents returned to the USSR, as did Golos (possibly). The other half found employment in academia throughout the US, and continued the pursuit of Soviet goals in the US. Most of the people identified by Bentley, were already known to the investigators from other sources. She added little information of value. This is in contrast to this article that depicts her as a valuable person, possibly even a patriotic person. She drank herself to death, and was under constant surveillance until her death. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.98.40.58 (talk) 07:47, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Heroine or hardened spy?[edit]

First, Bentley is implicated in giving to the Soviets one of the largest items ever - how to make an A-Bomb. She and the Physics Dept. at Columbia were involved. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.98.40.58 (talk) 12:03, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Are there any references for this claim? I've never seen it before. DEddy (talk) 11:34, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

Second, she may have (with Chambers) masterminded the disbanding of the spy system in which she participated, to elude the Hoover and the FBI. Half of these agents returned to the USSR, as did Golos (possibly). The other half found employment in academia throughout the US (including her son), and continued the pursuit of Soviet goals in the US. Some continued to work in the US government. Most of the people identified by Bentley, were already known to the investigators from other sources. She added little information of value. This is in contrast to this article that depicts her as a valuable person, possibly even a patriotic person. She drank herself to death, and was under constant surveillance until her death.

Third, she did not earn her masters degree. Golos went with her to Italy and grabbed a thesis off a bookshelf and brought it back to Columbia italian dept, and asked the professor to give her a masters degree. He placed a piece of masking tape over the name, and wrote Bentley's on top of it. This, by the way, was a fairly common occurrence at Columbia, with many easy or fabricated degrees given to the party faithful. Many law degrees were given away easier than a Caribbean degree. When people left Columbia, they took this practice with them to U. of Chicago, Berkley, and others. These people gave the colleges and universities they were a part of, a distinct anti-government ambiance. If you went to one of these institutions, you know what I am talking about.

Her trip to Italy was a honeymoon with Golos, not an actual academic project, although it was probably funded by a grant or by Columbia. It was commie love in Tuscany. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.98.40.58 (talk) 12:03, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Finally, Bentley was an atheist, the sort that sold bibles and relics in front of cathedrals just as a joke. The idea that she somehow had seen the light, is just a whitewash. She sought refuge, because of the uncertainty in her life, from surveillance and possible attacks from Soviet agents that believed she turned, or might inform about them. In the end she was "friendless" and paranoid, as was McCarthy, by the way. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.98.40.58 (talk) 08:36, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

These are major elements in considering Bentley, not her middle name. :-) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.98.40.58 (talk) 07:54, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
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