Talk:Christopher McCandless

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Poor and unclear sourcing[edit]

Another issue of the article is poor and unclear sourcing. Many statements lack proper citations. I've been rather lenient about adding the cn tag, as if I were to properly use it I'd be tagging almost every other sentence. And when there is citations, they are often times unclear.

On June 10, McCandless embarked to travel throughout the country in his Datsun B-210, arriving at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, two days prior to the beginning of fall classes.

All interesting if true.

McCandless was strongly influenced by Jack London, Leo Tolstoy, W. H. Davies and Henry David Thoreau.[citation needed]

Both needs a citation and clarification. Did McCandless himself cite these figures as inspiration, or did a later person come to the conclusion? It's unclear whose view this is.

In his junior year, he declined membership in the Phi Beta Kappa Society, on the basis that honors and titles were irrelevant.[citation needed]

Needs citation.

McCandless donated the remaining $24,000, given to him by a family friend for his law degree, to Oxfam International, a hunger prevention charity.[citation needed] Toward the end of June, he began traveling under the name "Alexander Supertramp". By the end of the summer, McCandless made his way driving a Datsun through Arizona, California and South Dakota, where he worked at a grain elevator in Carthage. A flash flood wet his car's engine, and he drained the battery trying to revive it. He left the car behind and buried the license plates. The car was later reused by the local police force as an undercover vehicle.[1] In 1991, McCandless paddled a canoe down remote stretches of the Colorado River to the Gulf of California. He crossed the border to Mexico and, having gotten lost in many dead-end canals, was towed by duckhunters to the sea, where he stayed for some time.[citation needed]

Most of this is notable and should be re-added to the article if a proper citation is found. This paragraph does have a citation, but it is unclear what exactly it is references. Is it for the entire paragraph that precedes it, or is it just for the claim that the car was used as an undercover vehicle?

He took pride in surviving with a minimum of gear and funds, and generally made little preparation.[citation needed]

Similar issues as elsewhere where it's unclear who's view this is, his own or a later writer? Should be re-added only if properly clarified and citations found.

On June 2, 1986, McCandless graduated from W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia.[citation needed] McCandless graduated from Emory on May 12, 1990, with a Bachelor's degree, double majoring in history and anthropology.[citation needed]

Since his education seems like a pretty mundane claim, and is likely true, I've added this back. Still needs citations of course. --Harizotoh9 (talk) 23:37, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Pronunciation of the name[edit]

I think we should add the IPA pronunciation of Christopher's name (and surname), chiefly for non-English Wikipedias. I'm not a native English speaker, so I'm not able to do it and I haven't found it anywhere. Can anyone add it? Thanks --Tn4196 (talk) 13:26, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done --Tn4196 (talk) 17:29, 2 October 2014 (UTC)

Revised cause of death[edit]

The article currently has this sentence: He put forward the proposal that Chris McCandless died of lathyrism caused by ODAP poisoning from Hedysarum alpinum seeds... I haven't read Hamilton's piece, but Krakauer's New Yorker piece doesn't make this claim. Krakauer still claims the actual cause of death was starvation, but that it was brought on by the lathyrism-induced paralysis in his legs, which prevented him from gathering enough food. I have no idea if Hamilton's hypothesis carries this nuance, but somebody who has a copy of his paper could check this, and possibly rewrite the sentence in question. —MiguelMunoz (talk) 21:45, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

Okay, I just went back to read Hamilton's piece, and as I suspected, he doesn't claim that McCandless died of lathyrism, he claims that McCandless starved to death because lathyrism had left him paralyzed, which caused him to starve. I rewrote the Cause of Death section to clear this up. I also removed some redundant and unsourced claims. I removed a properly sourced claim from the American ChemiI cal Society because it wasn't really relevant and had outdated information. (It claimed that no research yet has detected ODAP in the wild potato seeds, but this seems trumped by the very conclusive test results that Krakauer had commissioned.) The passage seemed to have the intent of claiming (correctly) that Hamilton's conjecture remains unproved, so I describe it as a "hypothesis," rather than a proof. —MiguelMunoz (talk) 20:27, 5 October 2014 (UTC)

I have further edited this section because of several problems I see with it. First, all sources I've been able to find suggest that ODAP poisening requires the consumption of β-ODAP containing seeds for two to three months, and the seeds must constitute at least 1/3 of the person's diet. This article suggests that because of malnutrition, McCandless began suffering paralysis as a result of ODAP poisening much faster than the typical person. (McCandless first mentions potato seeds on day 78, and complains of weakness he blames on the potato seeds on day 94.) However, every other source I can find suggests that many (probably most) other ODAP poisening sufferers would have been in a similar situation as McCandless, nutritionally. People who have been affected by lathyrism caused by ODAP are almost universally people who turn to these legumes in a time of famine (such as the concentration camp prisoners used as the example by Hamilton). There is no reason to suggest that McCandless is atypical in this regard. Is there any source for this claim other than Krakauer/Hamilton, neither of which is an expert in this field?

Second, the assumption is made that the H. alpinum seeds made up a major part of McCandless' diet. They may have been 50% of his diet, or 5%. The article should reflect this uncertainty.

Overall, this whole theory (and all theories about McCandless' death for that matter) is overwhelmingly conjecture based on circumstantial evidence, with a lot of unverified (and unverifiable) assumptions made. We have a handful of photographs, a couple hundred words written by McCandless, the inconclusive autopsy (inconclusive beyond malnutrition, at least), and a handful of artifacts left by McCanless at or near the bus. Beyond the fact that malnutrition was the primary cause of McCandless death, there is a great deal of uncertainty about his cause of death. This uncertainty should be reflected in the article. Paisarepa (talk) 05:31, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

Possible Neutrality Issue[edit]

The last paragraph of the introductory section refers to McCandless' name change as a "mystical transformation" and his venture into the wilderness as a "transcendental journey." In my opinion, use of these terms might tend to bias the article toward a spiritual or mystic view of the events it describes. I refrained from making any edits due to my own biased interpretation of McCandless. (talk) 02:14, 29 July 2015 (UTC)

There are neutrality and tone issues throughout the article. In addition to excessive use of the phrase "It has been speculated," the following phrases stand in need of refining: "Alexander Supertramp, an enigmatic and introspective yet charming loner, who undertook an epic odyssey throughout the United States and Mexico before ultimately heading north" "Krakauer delved deeper into the complex drifter and his restless meanderings" "This candid publication could posthumously hold the key to the motivations driving the now-famous young seeker's mystical transformation into Alexander Supertramp and propel him on his transcendental odyssey toward self-realization" "In the summer of 1986, Chris McCandless travelled to Southern California and reconnected with distant family and friends. It was during this journey" "It is speculated this discovery had a profound impact on the younger McCandless, perhaps playing a significant role in driving the odyssey that was taking shape in his psyche, and set to consume the remainder of the precocious adventurer's remarkable life" "As a side note, his beloved car was later revived" "a local who had given the younger man a ride from Fairbanks to the start of the rugged track just outside the small town of Healy. The good samaritan, Jim Gallien, was seriously concerned" "However, the determined seeker could not be swayed," "On August 12, 1992, McCandless' final journal entry cryptically read:" "Christopher McCandless' (aka Alexander Supertramp)" (excessive reminders of nickname) "The wandering seeker had led a simple and solitary existence for more than three months in the Alaskan." "Although this assertion is becoming less likely, perhaps even a case of confirmation bias , given a poignant development in the Christopher McCandless' story. One that could provide pivotal insight into the personality and mindset of the driven young man." -- (talk) 10:20, 7 August 2015 (UTC)

Agreed with all of the above concerns, though I can't volunteer to do the changes myself at this time. Someone should tone down the hero worship, unnecessarily emotional content and spiritual talk on this article. Phiwum (talk) 14:20, 9 August 2015 (UTC)
Agreed as well and I have a question--why does "seeker" link to the page about Quakers? Seelie (talk) 07:07, 9 September 2015 (UTC)Seelie
Agree with the above points. I started reading this article and was annoyed to find many instances of "Chris" when last names should be used in formal writing. When I went in to change that, I started reading the rest of the text which was just as overly familiar and non-neutral. I ended up rewriting a good portion, adding some sources and completely removing the more "flowery" content. I tried to attribute the speculative content to a specific person as well. As I'm on my phone, it's rather a chore to do more complex edits so I couldn't do as much work as this article still needs. I think the article is still lacking in sources and would benefit from more detail about the subject's background and what actually happened needs to be included instead of endless speculation and attempts to make this into a story about a mystical seeker on a great journey (no idea why "seeker" was linked to Quakers either, but I removed it). Pinkadelica (Talk) 00:10, 3 October 2015 (UTC)

Talk References[edit]

  1. ^ Krakauer, Jon (1996). Into the Wild. New York: Doubleday. pp. 28–29. ISBN 0-385-48680-4.