Talk:List of new religious movement and cult researchers

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Steven Hassan fails the inclusion criteria[edit]

Steven Hassan has published three books, but none of these are peer-reviewed or academic in nature. In fact, they are self-published under Hassan's publishing company "Freedom of Mind Press". His title of "cult expert" is self-designated one, as he has never born witness as a cult expert in a court of law.

His name should be removed from the list.

Zambelo (talk) 02:10, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

This has been argued here a few times before. That his work has been widely cited in academic books and journals was established, as was his participation as an expert/witness. Some of the cites supporting that were in an endnote that arose from those discussions, but which had been blanked earlier this year. I have restored the broken link to the endnote. Unfortunately, the talk page archive bot seems to be broken, so the links to archived old discussions also seem to have disappeared (fixed) • Astynax talk 03:46, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

I think there is a double standard here; and the issue should be revisited - are we allowing self-published authors, with unrelated qualifications and with self-given honorific on this list? It shouldn't matter that he was cited as an 'expert' in the media, firstly because this isn' about 'cult experts', but about cult researchers, and secondly because the media isn't qualified to bestow this title. The fact that he bases his research on existing material is irrelevant, since his own work fails to qualify him as a peer-reviewed academic researcher. We may as well allow other anti-cult proponents on the list such as Rick Ross or Christian countercult proponents such as Gérard Dagon. Zambelo (talk) 05:52, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

While Hassan's books may be self-published, his studies have been both published and cited in academic works. He does have degrees in a field relevant to NRM/cult studies. Although there are researchers who have an anti-cult PoV and who do not base their work in normal methodology, it is a mistake to discount all those whose work gets lumped together pejoratively under an "anti-cult" label: most NRM academic literature accepts that there are a range of fields in which NRM/cults have impacts, and more than one way to look at NRM/cult phenomena, including historical, sociological, legal, theological and psychological. I personally don't find Hassan's work compelling, but he has done research, his work has been published in reliable academic works, etc. as supported by reliable citations. He is a well-known figure to the public, and a lay reader with any familiarity with NRM/cult phenomena would expect to encounter his name on this list. • Astynax talk 09:02, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

His writing did not go through peer review though, meaning that it is not up to standard, and has not been impartially reviewed. There is a difference between being peer-reviewed and having your work cited in another's work, especially if these works are not scholarly themselves. Steven Hassan may belong in an "anti-cult" list, but he sticks out like a sore thumb on a list of researchers who have been peer-reviewed in a related field of study and have been independently published. Zambelo (talk) 10:04, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Not every book or article published by scholars is peer reviewed, nor is this a criterion (not all of the people on the list have published books). Moreover, at least 2 of his books have received reviews in major scholarly journals. • Astynax talk 19:51, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

The inclusion criteria is:

  • Requisite training as well as actually conducting at least one research study on cults and/or new religious movements (using accepted methodological standards common in the research community), published in a peer-reviewed journal or academic book.

Looking past Hassan's rather sketchy training, none of his books can be considered research material. They are either self-published or published by a "New-age" publisher, and therefore lack the rigour necessary for his work to be considered research. That he was reviewed in scholarly articles is simply a remark on his status as a vocal anti-cult proponent, and not on his abilities or qualifications as a researcher. Should the list include any one who has written a piece about cults and been mentioned in other publications? Zambelo (talk) 20:39, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Lists are entry points where encyclopedia users come to locate articles they are seeking (they may have forgotten or misspelled a name or be looking for a wider scope of articles in a given subject). Hassan and Conway, no matter how you, I or others deem their work, are names that a person coming to the encyclopedia would reasonably expect to find on this list. They are regarded as researchers in the area of new religious movements in some scholarly circles, and adequately cited. The desire to blank this information has been discussed, and rejected, previously. • Astynax talk 21:34, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

I removed the content because there was no further discussion after I raised the issue about there being a double-standard in the article. If Hassan and other self-described specialists remain in the article, then the inclusion criteria should be amended, and/or the article renamed to reflect that any published content is allowed (it doesn't need to be peer-reviewed) as long as it is mentioned in a separate publication. It doesn't matter that a person coming to the encyclopedia would reasonably expect to find these people on the list, it is about presenting the facts - a researcher is someone who's work appears in a peer-reviewed journal or book, and who has the requisite training. I have been through the previous discussions, but I don't think there has been adequate or enough neutral discussion on the topic - perhaps mediation should be the way to go, since this is clearly an issue. Zambelo (talk) 02:56, 16 December 2013 (UTC)

I have submitted this to a mediation channel. Zambelo (talk) 03:08, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

Shopping this to RS is unlikely to produce the response you desire. Your serial blanking on this and other articles is starting to look more like agenda-pushing effort to remove information with doesn't fit into your PoV, intentional or not. Please familiarize yourself with how to locate and provide citations, rather than blank information. It really isn't terribly difficult to locate and insert sources if you have questions. If you cannot locate a source, Wikipedia has templates which you can use to ask others to help provide a citation, again, rather than destructively blanking information. • Astynax talk 20:41, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

What blanking? I removed a tagged unsourced claim. I am well aware of how to find citations, and I had searched for one that backed up the claim, however had not come across one. The sources I found said that Conway was "advanced to doctoral candidacy", which isn't the same as having a PhD. If you look at the article history, this is the reason I gave for tagging the claim in the first place. Please do not make unfounded assumptions. Zambelo (talk) 20:59, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

You have blanked information both here multiple times and in articles across Wikipedia, and that is strikingly apparent from article and user histories. You did not merely remove an untagged claim (problematical in itself; it would have been wiser to wait for other editors, and hopefully the editor who inserted the information, to close the cite request), but blanked the entire entry for Conway. Not looking beyond a source that supported your viewpoint is part of the problem. It took all of a very few minutes on Google to locate and verify citations for Conway's Ph.D. • Astynax talk 21:08, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

You seem to be suggesting I'm going around blanking pages indiscriminately. This is not the case - if you look a little more carefully, you will notice that there is discussion on the issue. And per WP:BLP all material must be verifiable in a biographical article. Again, you are assuming bad faith - perhaps you have a viewpoint of your own you are trying to push here? Zambelo (talk) 21:50, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

This is not a BLP, and you have indeed been blanking cited information here. Whatever GF you may have, such actions are not constructive. • Astynax talk 23:39, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

Blanking implies a destructive edit, which my edits were not. I made the edit after raising the issue on the talk page, and receiving no response. Adding material without discussing why it belongs as per the agreed-upon inclusion criteria however is not only not constructive, it is dishonest. Categorising my request for third party input as "shopping" is certainly dishonest. If consensus cannot be achieved here, then third parties must be part of the discussion. Burden of evidence lies with the editor who wishes to keep material, as such you must explain why the material deserves to remain in the article per the inclusion criteria. Also, per Wikipedia:Verifiability

"Do not leave unsourced or poorly sourced material in an article if it might damage the reputation of living people or existing groups, and do not move it to the talk page."

I see that you have added a reviewed publication for Steven Hassan, which is good. Zambelo (talk) 00:10, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

Unilaterally removing cited statements in an article is both blanking and disruptive. Please keep this in mind in future. BLP restrictions do not apply in non-biographical articles, nor has the material you deleted in some BLP articles, per the guideline, been at all contentious or damaging to the subject's reputation—indeed the effect of your blanking in the Conway article was to unfairly minimize Conway's academic credentials, especially egregious, since her doctorate was already mentioned in the citation that was already present and you yourself previously had noted that the Ph.D was in Communications—you had information that the statement was accurate but decided to blank rather than provide a citation. In the case of this list, you have blanked when the already-sourced item in question here had been previously discussed and after your further attempt at blanking the information has been reverted. Then you continued with what starts to look influenced by a PoV mindset. GF was assumed, making allowance that your blanking was perhaps a newbie's lack of knowledge of sourcing and policy, but you claim to know all about that, so from that point I'll assume your edits are intentional. It again only took a ridiculously few minutes to locate an additional (if awkward to include in a list) citation for Hassan solely for your benefit and am surprised you hadn't looked and come across something yourself. I expect knowledgeable editors to do some serious homework before going against previous editor consensus and blanking information. I also expect knowledgeable editors to avoid unilaterally blanking cited material. • Astynax talk 08:24, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

The material I removed was (in the context of the inclusion criteria) not cited. BLP restrictions apply throughout Wikipedia - "Editors must take particular care when adding information about living persons to 'any' Wikipedia page". The information doesn't have to be contentious - it just needs to be verifiable. The only source I found that had any information about Flo Conway's credentials was her own website which says "She earned her master’s degree and was advanced to doctoral candidacy at the University of Oregon, where she pioneered the first interdisciplinary program in communication." This is the citation that was present on the page - and it doesn't mention her achieving her PhD. A verifiable source was requested, but not provided, and so I first a reliable citation, and then, a month later, I removed the unverified material. According to WP:BLP it should have been removed immediately. I think you need to take a step back, and assume good faith because your comments are starting to look more like personal attacks. I have read the policies, and acted well within them. My edits are focused on improving the NRM/Cult articles, because they are woefully incomplete, non-neutral and often lack verifiability. You say you expect editors to comply with former consensus, when you yourself are pushing to include material that doesn't agree with the agreed-upon inclusion criteria. Pot, meet kettle. Zambelo (talk) 23:28, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

You need to reread policy and editing guidelines, as well as check your other facts. Not every mention of a living person requires the amount of granularity you demand for non-contentious statements. The existing citation for Conway did indeed mention her Ph.D. (glaringly so—it is right there in the document title). If articles are woefully incomplete (and no question that many are), then blanking information rather than an honest effort to cite transparently accurate (let alone non-contentious) statements provided by other editors does nothing to make them more complete. Your statements regarding Hassan and Conway show a marked PoV antipathy, which your actions here have only served to underline. Your blanking here was simply wrong and violated policy. This topic has dragged on too long already. Drop it please, or better yet, learn from it to focus on constructive additions and edits rather than blanking. • Astynax talk 19:23, 19 December 2013 (UTC)