Talk:Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

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Organic farming[edit]

I removed all but the list item itself from the following list entry:

I removed it because it's deceptively phrased and is likely to create a false impression. The quote in context shows that Gardner is not referring to all vegetarians, but rather to vegetarians who have created pseudo-scientific theories on the harm done by eating meat, which have to do with meat creating "necrones" in the body. And while Gardner does not give much credence to the organic farming theories of Jerome Irving Rodale, the context in which he actually says that Rodale is "even more extreme than the vegetarians" is in discussing Rodale's theories on the supposed dangers of eating one's food cooked. -- Antaeus Feldspar 01:04, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

Fortean Times[edit]

There's a line in the article that reads "Charles Fort's magazine Fortean Times is still popular, and still even more skeptical than Gardner himself". Is it just me or is this a bit POV?

Also a bit bizaare given what sort of material is normally in the Fortean Times. JoshuaZ 20:48, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

Criticism section not valid[edit]

Both critics can be accused of being POV. Colin Wilson is interested in "telepathy and the awareness of other energies" and Bruce Kodish is an adherent of general semantics, both of which are demolished by Gardner. Removing these two effectively leaves an empty Criticism section so if no-one comes up with some acceptable criticism I propose to delete the section. Hpvpp (talk) 09:28, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

WP:NPOV is an obligation placed on wikipedia editors, not a filter on those they quote. The "Overview and summary" section is full of Gardner's POV, but it is acceptable to include it since it is clear that that's what it is. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 14:44, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Okay, without referring to POV then: Gardner is applying the yardstick of scientific method, Wilson and Kodish are just defending themselves. Gardner's criticism is neutral, Wilson and Kodish's is not. This makes the Criticism section invalid. Hpvpp (talk) 21:24, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
What you say might apply to Chapter 25. Gardner himself make clear that it is exceptional, when he writes "Finally, we shall make a serious appraisal of the reputable work of Dr. Rhine ..." (end of chapter 1). In Chapter 25 he again makes it clear that he is making an exception by undertaking a proper study of Rhine's work. Gardner is a mathematician, and can deal correctly with the tricky issues of probability which arise here. The net result is an excellent chapter, which convincingly demolishes Rhine's claims.
The trouble is, that chapter in unique in that respect. The remaining chapters are neither "applying the yardstick of scientific method" nor in any way "neutral". Wilson's and Kodish's comments may not be neutral, but thay are reasoned and soberly stated. In particular Kodish is surely right when he complains that Gardner's arguments are often ad hominem. His style of sweeping statement and casual offence begins on the very first page with things like "Untold numbers of middle-aged housewives are preparing to live to the age of 100 by a diet rich in yoghurt, wheat germ, and blackstrap-molasses", which is hardly the language of scholarly detachment (quite apart from the fact that some of them may have succeeded by now). SamuelTheGhost (talk) 01:02, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
I asked a friend, who is a skeptic, but he is too busy to comment here. However, he pointed out to me that most of the book is summary comment, but that the actual skeptical work (if there has been any) is by others and that the book should be read in that light. Thus, I concede that there is a degree of ad hominem attacks, but both Wilson and Kodish do no better in that respect. Criticism is not just gainsaying. The point remains that they are essentially defending themselves and they do so without providing any proof or evidence in favor of their positions. And so I maintain that the Criticism section is invalid. Hpvpp (talk) 05:58, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── A sceptic (the preferred spelling in my subculture) is one who requires evidence for their beliefs, and I certainly count myself as such.

The essence of science is not what you believe, it's why you believe it. It's a method which can be summed up as the testing of falsifiable hypotheses against reproducible experiments. The personal attributes of the person advancing the hypothesis should play no part in the process. Ad hominem attacks are just bad science.

In his chapter 1, Gardner admits that "One can go back to periods in which medicine was in its infancy ... and find endless cases of scientists with unpopular views that later proved correct". He gives many examples, not just from medicine. But he goes on to allege "But the picture today is vastly different." Finally he develops his theory of the pseudo-scientist's paranoia, and how to recognise it. Unfortunately the argument is effectively circular, since in effect it is

  1. new ideas may be resisted by the established experts, particularly if proposed by someone not recognised as one of them
  2. the proposer of such ideas feels he is being unfairly opposed or ignored
  3. he reacts by denouncing the experts and surrounding himself with the few people who agree with him
  4. (Gardner's thesis) this proves he was wrong in the first place.

Turning now to Wilson and Kodish, you seem to be making your own ad hominem attack on them. Neither of them is explicitly criticised in the book. Both of them make valid points. What do you mean by "their positions"? Are you suggesting that their accurate criticisms are somehow devalued by other opinions which they may hold? SamuelTheGhost (talk) 12:28, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

No, this won't do. CW doesn't actually make any substantive crits of the book itself. All he objects to is the tone of MG being right. Everything he says is vapid. There must be better than this, and if there isn't, it should be removed William M. Connolley (talk) 22:53, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
(still waiting for an answer) WMC 21:00, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
I had answered that briefly below, but I'll do so again. CW says "[Gardner] asserts that the scientist, unlike the crank, does his best to remain open-minded", and we all agree that he's right about that. So when CW goes on to say "So how can he be so sure ... that all the people he disagrees with are unbalanced fanatics?" he is making the substantive and reasonable criticism that Gardner in this book is not practising what he preaches.
As for your "There must be better than this", I only wish there was. As I said below, I'd love to see all the reviews from when the book was first published, but I see no easy way of getting hold of them, particularly as most of them were presumably on the far side fo the Atlantic from you and me, as well as half a century ago. If we're too picky the whole article will vanish - the whole of the "Overview and summary" section is WP:OR based solely on reading of the book itself. We therefore must show some common sense and reinterpret the rules in a balanced way. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 22:13, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
Due weight for the relevance of these sources to this article has not been established. Why should the reader care what these people have said about the book? What makes their opinions significant and of interest to someone reading an article about Fads and Fallacies? We should, anyway, integrate the commentary into the article instead of setting it off with a separate criticism section. Also, SamuelTheGhost, you are currently edit warring against a clear and active talkpage consensus. Please self-revert and make the case here for the material you wish to see included. - 2/0 (cont.) 23:02, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────As I've pointed out, there are no independent third-party sources for this. Most of the article just repeats what Gardner says, and therefore is weighted to his own high opinion of his own views. Without criticism the article would be totally biased in his favour. We are meant to achieve balance and NPOV and that's what I'm trying to do. That's wikipedia policy. As for integrating the criticism into the article, I agree that would be a good idea and would happily co-operate in the effort to do so. Finally there was no "clear and active talkpage consensus" against me. For the past several days the only person arguing with me was the banned "Peter Damian". WMC has just come back. You've only just spoken up for the first time, and JzG has made no contribution here at all. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 23:43, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

It has been a while since I placed the {{Criticism section}} tag and given the number of edits so far, I think it might bring some clarity if we conducted a vote to see if we can actually get this consensus. I have started a new section for that. Hpvpp (talk) 00:09, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

alleged POV words[edit]

After your allegation that 'indeed' was POV, I browsed the MoS, but the closest I could come was WP:OPED, which does not quite cover the sentiment. I used the word to keep the flow of the text going, which means I used it as a rhetorical device, but I don't see how it could insinuate POV. Please enlighten me. Hpvpp (talk) 01:11, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Your form of words was "Indeed, as Michael Shermer says: ..." which clearly implies agreement with what he says. It should be quoted just as Shermer's opinion, not wikipedia's. We don't need to get hung up about the meaning of the word "indeed" in isolation. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 12:11, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
Okay. Hpvpp (talk) 20:59, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
This subsection was moved by SamuelTheGost from his personal talk-page. The main section continues below. Hpvpp (talk) 00:09, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

(now getting lost): I had answered that briefly below, but I'll do so again. I don't see you repeating yourself above - can you please point to the section where you had previously provided this arguement that you are providing "again"? William M. Connolley (talk) 08:55, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

No. What's the point of arguing for the sake of arguing? SamuelTheGhost (talk) 10:23, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
In other words, you were "misrepresenting" what you'd said. Don't do that William M. Connolley (talk) 13:03, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

Criticism section not valid - cont'd[edit]

Bruce Kodish is a redlink and is therefore not notable; which degrades his opinions. Why exactly do we care what he thinks? Also, the link was borken. I've removed him William M. Connolley (talk) 22:48, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

STG re-instated this [1]. He corrected the link (which is good) and removed the [] around BK, which isn't, because it evades rather than solves the problem. BK remains non-notable (if you disagree, please start an article about him) and there is no clear reason why wiki cares what he says. Moreover, his crit is essentially self-published, not in some reputable 3rd-party source like a newspaper or book William M. Connolley (talk) 18:41, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
There is no wikipedia rule that the author of a source has himself to be notable. Publication was in the General Semantics Bulletin which not "self-published" but which we can assume to be biased. If we were really strict about sources for this article we would have to delete the lot, since I know of no reliable, unbiased information about it. The book was reviewed in national periodicals when it first came out; it would be valuable if we had access to the full text of those reviews. Meanwhile we have to exercise a little common sense, which means to balance up the very positive attitude to the book's content in the opening paragraphs with critical remarks which make sense, whatever their origin. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 19:57, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
There is indeed no such rule, but it is an indication. But there is a rule that stuff has to be notable. You're right, its not self-pub, its pub by Do you trust them to have high standards of review? General semantics doesn't inspire confidence. Meanwhile, don't forget to address the crit of CW, above William M. Connolley (talk) 20:34, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
As I said before, we have no perfect sources, so have to make sensible use of imperfect ones. Kodish is voicing a critique whose credibility depends solely on the content of Gardner's book. The only other factual information he uses is the brief quotation from Morris R. Cohen, so unless you doubt that, the standard of reviewing is irrelevant. As for CW, all I can say is that I disagree with your assessment. If I'd been writing it I'd have used different examples, but he's making a good point. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 21:03, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
On the quotation from Cohen (who is reliable, yes) Cohen was not writing about General Semantics, which is generally recognised as claptrap. Also, the article refers to the five characteristics of crankiness as 'characteristics', not 'criteria'. What term does Gardner actually use? Peter Damian VI (talk) 21:08, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

<------------------- I reverted STG's last edit while an IP. I have now created an account. I have a PhD in a linguistics related subject (philosophy of language) and I was alerted to the problems with this article by a qualified linguist (also with a PhD) and a few others who had a concern. We should always cite reliable sources - whether notable or not. Similarly we should not cite unreliable sources - whether notable or not. Kodish is not a reliable source, being a spokesman for General Semantics, which is a notorious branch of junk science. Gardner's chapter on General Semantics is amusing and informed, and sound. So please do not unrevert, STG. Thanks. Peter Damian VI (talk) 21:05, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Note also that while Cohen's point is quite correct (we don't criticise a scientific theory on the basis of who produces it), it is not relevant to the point that Gardner is making in the book. In the chapter on 'General Semantics' he gives a critique of the subject - noting for instance that Korzybski's use of the term 'semantics' is non-standard, indeed so broad it is practically meaningless. The work itself is 'poorly organised, verbose, philosophically naive, repetitious mish-mash of sound ideas borrowed from abler scientists and philosophers, mixed with neologisms, confused ideas, unconscious metaphysics, and highly dubious speculations about neurology and psychiatric theraphy (p. 281). Peter Damian VI (talk) 21:29, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

  • Cohen was making a general epistomological point which applies to all the chapters in this book, not just the General Semantics one.
  • Gardner's words are "There are five ways in which the sincere pseudo-scientist's paranoid tendencies are likely to be exhibited." and then the list.
  • This discussion is not about General Semantics or any other particular view; it's about the criteria for assessing views, as Cohen says. I'd be perfectly happy to pursue this discussion using Gardner's chapter on flat-earthers for my examples, since the same criticisms apply.
  • The claimed academic qualifications of Peter Damian VI are as irrelevant as those of SamuelTheGhost (talk) 21:42, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
1. Cohen was making a valid point, but it is not relevant. Gardner gives other reasons for believing these theories are fatally flawed (and, yes, my qualifications are entirely relevant).
2. You have now conceded that Gardner is talking about characteristics, not criteria. A 'criterion' is usually something that is necessary and sufficient for what it is a criterion of. A characteristic, esp. a 'likely' characteristic is merely that. So the criticism is straw man.
3. It's about General Semantics in the sense that the motive for Kodish's criticism is his defence of it. Wikipedia should not be a platform for junk science. (And that includes the article on GS itself, which is an abomination).
4. What are your qualifications? Why are you defending junk science in what purports to be a reliable and comprehensive reference work? (OK it's not, but it purports to be).

Peter Damian VI (talk) 21:50, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

The whole point is that Gardner does not concentrate on reasons for believing that the various theories are flawed. At best he does, as in the case of Chapter 25 as I mention above. All too often he just mocks and makes sweeping statements and personal attacks. The presumed motives for Kodish's criticism don't affect its validity. Emphatically, I am not defending junk science. I am saying that the sole criterion for distinguishing between junk science and the genuine article should be rational discussion of the evidence, and I am supporting the inclusion of critiques which point out that Gardner openly and proudly ignores that criterion. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 22:10, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Rather amusing you say that motives don't affect validity, and then you revert my edits with the comment 'reverting banned user'. You haven't replied to my points above, which are valid, so I am reverting. You need to justify why the criticism isn't a straw man (because it talks about 'criteria' rather than 'characteristics'). And I have already pointed out Gardner's criticism of GS which is (in my expert judgment) entirely valid). Please give reasons before reverting. Peter Damian VII (talk) 08:05, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

The current dispute[edit]

Before I am blocked as part of the continuing campaign for junk science in Wikipedia, here is the basis of the dispute. If we are to have criticism of an author or his work, the criticism must be of something that the author has claimed or stated in the work. The criticism I have removed (by Kodish) is that Gardner is judging theories on the basis of psychological criteria. This is incorrect. I have re-read the relevant parts of Gardner's book, and he nowhere makes that claim. In the introduction, he says he will confine himself, 'except in a few cases', only with theories so close to 'almost certainly false' that there is no reasonable doubt about their worthlessness'. He also is not claiming that there are psychological or behavioural 'criteria' by which we can determine the validity of a scientific theory by reference to its author. That would be clearly wrong. He is giving 'common characteristics' of cranks.

Note also that the article itself is mistaken about what Gardner actually says. It is misleading to say that "[Gardner] goes on to list five common characteristics of pseudo-scientists." What Gardner gives is TWO characteristics. The first is that they work in total isolation from their colleagues. The second is that he/she has a tendency to paranoia. He then gives 5 ways in which the paranoid tendencies are likely to be exhibited (which are the same 5 mentioned in the article, in the wrong context). Peter Damian VII (talk) 08:56, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

PS I have made the necessary correction [2] mentioned above (two main characteristics, not 5, with five sub-characteristics of the second main characteristic, i.e. paranoia). This is likely to be reverted when I am blocked. Could anyone with access to the book please read it carefully and unrevert (and then hopefully they will be blocked for helping a banned user, what fun). Peter Damian VII (talk) 09:15, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
I have reverted 'HelloAnyongs' absurd changes. Can we please address some genuine issues about this article rather than the politics of Wikipedia. ThanksPeter Damian VIII (talk) 22:35, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

Much as I agree with your edits, I disagree with your suggestion that there is a "continuing campaign for junk science in Wikipedia". The rules for 'good science' are most likely adhered to by all so that the problem must lie with the underlying premises being assumed to be so self-evident that they need no scrutiny. To be sure, this can cause some articles on Wikipedia to look like items from a trash-and-treasure market, but it does not warrant insinuating bad intent. Hpvpp (talk) 00:35, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

restored content[edit]

Thank you for restoring worthwhile contributions that improve this page. [3] --mikeu talk 05:00, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

call for vote to establish consensus re "Criticism section not valid"[edit]

User 2/0 (cont.), aka 2over0, stated above that there is a "clear and active talkpage consensus" in favor of removing the Criticism section (and possibly integrating the material in the article) which consensus is disputed by SamuelTheGost. Please vote for or against removal in order to establish whether there is or is not such a consensus. Hpvpp (talk) 00:17, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Good idea. Thanks. I'll even forgive you for spelling my name wrong. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 11:54, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Keep section I see no reason to integrate a criticism section into an article. Criticism (should be named Critical reception, really) is supposed to be its own section and shouldn't be integrated into any part of the article. SilverserenC 00:23, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
Addition: Because of your new qualification that makes this more about removing the criticism section and possibly reintegrating it, but maybe just leaving it out, my position is now upgraded to Strong keep section. I disregarded the arguments in sections above, since they are completely asinine. But if I am being forced to make a comment about them, then I shall.
The main arguments given above are that the two critics are biased against the book and have a POV that shouldn't be considered. Just by putting this out plainly in itself shows the ridiculousness of the statement. It doesn't matter at all if the critics are biased against the work, their critique is still critique, no matter how incorrect it may be toward the work. Especially considering the fact that all critics will have a POV, whether it is for or against a subject. Picking and choosing which critic comments we should include (which in terms of the people trying to remove this section above means only including positive comments toward the work) is something that is fundamentally against the purpose of Wikipedia and the neutrality we are trying to achieve. We do not decide which critics' comments to include, we include all of them.
The other argument is that these critics are being given undue weight and why are they important toward being allowed to have a comment? This argument is also ridiculous. Just including critique of a subject is not undue weight, no matter who it is making the critique, so i'm disregarding that argument straight off. As for the other, I would have thought that its quite clear that, in this field of study, these critics are quite qualified to make critiques on this work. It's not like you have a random newspaper reporter making a critique (though i'm sure you would allow that, it's just that you don't like the comments of these two critics because they are closer to the topic, thus are able to make more insightful critique).
All in all, there is nothing wrong with either the criticism section or the critics that are currently being cited. If you don't like the negative critique being the only thing included in there, then go find some positive critiques of the work. If you can't find any...well, that's telling in and of itself, isn't it? SilverserenC 00:50, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
  • I support keeping the criticism section; it is useful and valid. Philosophy Teacher (talk) 01:48, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
  1. Voting is evil.
  2. My post in the above section should not be generalized. I support coverage here detailing how the book has been received, preferably (to agree with part but by no means all of Silver seren's statement) in an integrated Reception section rather than a dedicated Criticism section. The present sources do not show evidence of passing the bar of due weight by being in the way of being prominent or noteworthy commentary. We do not lower the bar of reliable sourcing just because there might be not much material or because much of it is old and not easily accessible. - 2/0 (cont.) 07:22, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
  3. I agree with 2/0's point 1. The crit here isn't good quality and isn't notable. It needs to be replaced with something better, if such exists. Which means I agree with his point 2, as well William M. Connolley (talk) 08:54, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
  4. I agree with Connolley and 2/0. There are clear criteria in Wikipedia's policies that justify this. (talk) 19:46, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

Critical reception section[edit]

I have gone ahead and reorganized the critical reception section and added a number of reviews to it. I sorta wish that both sides that were arguing above had done that in the first place, since our purpose is to build an encyclopedia and not argue over it. But, whatever. It's there now. SilverserenC 10:05, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

I am not happy with this. I acknowledge that the new heading is as per WP:CRIT, but the two disputed criticisms are not of the same kind as the newly added ones. The effect of the new heading is to mislead the casual reader into assuming that there is no real difference between the two sets. The problem as originally raised still exists. Hpvpp (talk) 06:03, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
The only problem I see is that the block quotes for the negative criticisms should be summarized into a sentence or two. They are over-represented at the moment. SilverserenC 15:09, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
Has anyone yet addressed the arguments above for removing the Kodish quote. (1) Kodish's criticism is mistaken (2) Kodish himself is not a reliable source. Wikipedia might include mistaken criticism from a notable source (such as Wilson, who clearly is notable). For example, it might include Wittgenstein's thoroughly mistaken criticism of Goedel. That is because mistaken criticism from a notable person has an interest of its own (as long as it is clearly identified as mistaken). But Kodish is not notable. Therefore delete. (talk) 19:45, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
Nearly all the comment above about Kodish is attacking his notability or presumed motives. Only one editor ("Peter Damian") has actually suggested that he is mistaken, and if we decide that that is relevant, we need further discussion about whether it is so. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 22:09, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
Concerning Colin Wilson's purported criticism, William M. Connolley (WMC)'s charge of vapidness above (I would have used 'vacuousness') still stands, because SamuelTheGhost's response fails for the simple reason that CW's criticism is not reasonable as he claims. Gardner is very much practicing what he preaches. The key is to recognize the unexpressed premises assumed by both. Accordingly, notice that CW "suggests the possibility of life after death and the awareness of spirits" (quoted from his wikipage), which is fine, but the problem here is that this is (obviously) based on faith and not on scientific evidence. What this suggests, however, is an underlying assumption that faith-based experience can be accepted as evidence on par with scientific evidence. Thus, it makes sense for CW to allow that it is theoretically possible that somebody actually did see a flying saucer and that dowsing actually does work. From which follows that CW denies the possibility that Gardner is right on all the topics in the book (I assume CW does indeed talk about that book, because it is not in the quote while it should have been). And so CW starts to wonder about Gardner's standards and how Gardner can be so sure. Well, that standard is simply Occam's Razor and Gardner's underlying assumption is that it applies. Now, faith-based evidence leads to more complex explanations than scientific evidence simply because it has less ontological economy, i.e. makes more assumptions. Consequently, the onus of proof lies with those theories that are based on faith. And complaining that Gardner is 'so sure' is vacuous for the simple reason that his sureness follows logically from applying Occam's Razor. Once we have ascertained that some theory we are considering rests on faith-based evidence we can dismiss it in favor of some other, competing scientific theory. And, of course, if the scientific evidence says that we don't know, then that must necessarily be our conclusion.
The conclusion here then is simple: CW's purported criticism is vacuous and should be removed. Hpvpp (talk) 10:32, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
  • First of all, the CW quote is correctly given. The book title "Fads ..." is named in an earlier paragraph. Then later there are the words " ... in Martin Gardner's book. He writes ..." so the way I gave it in the article is correct.
  • "The key is to recognize the unexpressed premises assumed by both." What a wonderful key it is. Never mind what anyone actually wrote, we have this "key" which allows us to invent anything we like, and discuss those inventions without troubling ourselves with the facts. So I'm afraid I refuse to use this key. We have to discuss what CW wrote with reference to what Gardner wrote, not fantasise about what they might having been thinking.
  • As far as CW is concerned, this means that his real or supposed other beliefs are irrelevant. Your accusation that he is making an "underlying assumption that faith-based experience can be accepted as evidence on par with scientific evidence" is utter bollocks. Even Gardner never goes so far, as he believed in a God of sorts, and it is noticeable that he never attacks the Bible or Christianity as such, and would not have endorsed the view that religious believers cannot be good scientists.
  • I am in total agreement with you about the merits of Occam's Razor and ontological economy. Where are they even mentioned, never mind used, in Gardner's book? Tha answer is nowhere. That is precisely my criticism of it. You allege that "his sureness follows logically from applying Occam's Razor", which would be a good argument if it was more than total wishful thinking on your part. I think you'd do well to read what Gardner actually says. Stop defending the book which you imagine him to have written, the book we both agree that he ought to have written, and look coolly at what he did write. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 17:33, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
You assert that CW "is making the substantive and reasonable criticism that Gardner in this book is not practising what he preaches". However, you do not show how or why that criticism could be reasonable. All I am arguing is that it is not reasonable. Hpvpp (talk) 22:41, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
To include a critical view it's not necessary to agree with it. For example, we're including Louis Lasagna's opinion that Gardner "combines solid fact with a pleasing style". Now personally I disagree totally with that judgement, and could say so at length. But I'm not going to, because the words are clearly attributed to Lasagna as his opinion, and I can understand that there is a mind-set which produces that view. Colin Wilson has a very different opinion, which is closer to my own. All I'm asking of you, as a wikipedia editor, is to join me in extending the same tolerance as I do to a view which you do not share. Our readers can then make their own minds up, on the basis of full information. That's what WP:NPOV is all about. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 18:48, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
Samuel is exactly right. It doesn't matter if CW's criticism is "reasonable". We're not here to determine whether criticisms are reasonable or not, that would be breaking NPOV. All we have to do is make sure to represent the criticisms in the way they were meant to be understood as. What I mean by that is, we shouldn't give partial quotes that obscures or changes the meaning of the critic's criticism. It looks like we haven't done that, so everything is fine. Sure, CW could be wrong and unreasonable in his criticism, but that is for our readers to determine, not for us to denigrate or proselytize about. SilverserenC 19:01, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
You are both crucially wrong & I will substantiate this, but it might take me a while to formulate properly. Hpvpp (talk) 23:51, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
CW’s criticism must needs to be ‘reasonable’ simply because if it isn’t then the reader won’t be able to understand it and even less why it was included. Hpvpp (talk) 04:48, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

Shupe's book[edit]

I've been reading the excellent

Rather than rocking the boat by immediately putting his remarks into the article, I'll give a couple of quotes here for people to think about. Shupe's general attitude to Gardner's book is positive, and he praises him for his humor. But he says

Gardner also counts on his readers sharing his own middle-class assumptions about social reality, i.e., that they will trust M.D.'s over osteopaths and chiropractors ... that they feel ESP is bunk and/or the result of scientists and subjects deceiving themselves, and so forth.


If there is a single criticism to be made of Gardner ... it is that he accepts too comfortably the conventional wisdom, or accepted social reality, of current twentieth-century science and middle-class American Christianity. Somehow it is evident (to me at least) that he is implicitly making a pact with the reader to evaluate these fringe groups in terms of their own shared presumptions about what is "normal". Thus he is quite confident throwing around labels like "quack", "crank" and "preposterous". In science the use of such value judgments can be quite time-bound; likewise in religions where today's heresy may become tomorrow's orthodoxy. The odds of course are always on the side of the writer criticizing fringe groups because statistically speaking so few of them survive. However, whan a group does weather its infancy and go on to prosper, invariably its original detractors look a bit more arbitrary than they did initially, and then the shoe is on the other foot.

SamuelTheGhost (talk) 12:19, 25 February 2011 (UTC)

As they used to say "n million users can't be wrong". But they can. And in the case of pseudoscience they are and will ever be so that the shoe remains firmly on the (original) foot. What I have read (on Wikipedia) of Shupe doesn't impress me and while I have not read the articles in the Skeptic journal (not having access) the mere fact that he has been criticized in Skeptic is good enough for me to go by my initial impression. In particular, his comment "In science the use of such value judgments can be quite time-bound; likewise in religions where today's heresy may become tomorrow's orthodoxy" strikes me as not understanding how science works. To be sure, hypotheses come and go, but once some fact has been established it will stay that way. Thus it is very much not like religion. Accordingly, I am saying that it would be a mistake to include quotes from Shupe in the article. Hpvpp (talk) 00:32, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
  • As for "the mere fact that he has been criticized in Skeptic is good enough for me" - LMAO. It's been a long time since I saw such a self-contradictory remark. A skeptic is one who requires evidence for their beliefs. Unconditional and unseen acceptance of authoritative statements is the exact reverse of skepticism. Please stop believing in Skeptic and become a skeptic instead.
  • More seriously, although "once some fact has been established it will stay that way" is true to a certain extent, Gardner doesn't actually quote much science; he insults his subjects and mocks their beliefs while sometimes not even spelling out the scientific standpoint, and very rarely justifying it. I've come across a nice example of one of his judgments being "time-bound": In the section on vegetarianism (page 223) Gardner writes "Among the amino-acids which are essential to health, about ten must be supplied by the food we eat. It is extremely hard to obtain all ten from a plant diet ..." Subsequent research has shown that this last remark is completely wrong. See Essential amino acid#Essential Amino Acid Deficiency for details and references. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 14:42, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
You are pushing that "subsequent research" too far. I have updated the section you refer to so as to include the response. Hpvpp (talk) 05:46, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
Congratulations on finding a further source for "Essential amino acid". There is clearly a difference of emphasis between McDougall and Howard, but neither of them supports Gardner's statement. Howard says "it is difficult to maintain essential amino acids at optimum quantity and distribution", and immediately goes on to explain how easy it is. This is very different from Gardner's "It is extremely hard to obtain all ten from a plant diet". If Gardner was right, vegans would be dropping like flies, and they aren't. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 18:11, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
I feel this comment is not very WP:CIVIL and your description of Gardner even less so. The effect of Howard's statement is to remind the unwary reader that McDougal's conclusion should not be taken out of context - as the section on amino acids did. Gardner can be accused of hyperbole, but he is not "completely wrong". Hpvpp (talk) 06:29, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
I had no intention of being uncivil to you. My congratulations were sincere. WP:CIVIL applies only to treatment of fellow-editors, so not to Gardner. I have made harsh statements about him on this talk page to counter the apparent attitude, shown by some editors, that he is somehow above criticism. In the article itself we should adopt a fair and balanced approach. Frankly I think McDougall is right and Howard is wrong, but the real point is that subsequent research has indeed made Gardner's remarks, taken as a whole, look very dated. For example any modern scientific discussion of vegetarianism would include mention of its positive benefits. While on the subject, have you any source for "necrones", which appear to be pure fantasy on Gardner's part?
  • Congratulating me of finding a source is sarcastic
  • re Gardner, your “vegans would be dropping like flies” reminds me of WP:WTA
  • Barbara Howard was president of the MedStar Health Research Institute, John McDougall is a suspected quack – Quackwatch lists his newsletter as ‘nonrecommended
  • Gardner’s stated purpose was to expose quacks, not to present a balanced review of various theories
  • necrones are not ‘on the subject’
Hpvpp (talk) 04:27, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Your first point feels close to WP:PA and your second point does not engage my argument. I am getting tired of this. Hpvpp (talk) 22:41, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
I do not wish to attack you personally, and I have struck out those parts of my comment above which might be taken as personal. On the second point, you stressed the immutability of "facts" in science; I point out where Gardner's "facts" do not "stay that way", and you just ignore that and accuse me of not engaging your argument. I don't see how I could do better. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 14:51, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
The point I made was that Shupe says that science is like religion. It is not. Science is based on (independent) evidence, religion is based on faith. Your argument about Gardner's "facts" that don't "stay that way" is irrelevant (and which I already had conceded with "hypotheses come and go"). Hpvpp (talk) 23:39, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
Shupe doesn't say that "science is like religion". He points out that scientific value judgements can be time-bound, and that a similar change over time can happen with religious belief. This does not imply that science and religion resemble each other in any other way. The example I quoted about amino-acids is entirely relevant, since it nicely exemplifies what Shupe says. Gardner does not put forward his statements about vegetarian diet as a "hypothesis", but as an established fact which he uses to bolster his very inaccurate discussion of vegetarianism. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 15:32, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
Never mind the amino-acids - that is something you have brought up.
The key is Shupe's comparison of science with religion. The problem here is his equivocation of "science" with "scientists", i.e. "practitioners of science". Science does not make value judgments - people do. When scientists use labels like "crank" they do so on the basis of the relevant theory being incoherent or non-falsifiable. Such judgments are not value judgments, but factual, i.e. based on independently verifiable evidence. To be sure, when new evidence is produced they will retract their judgments, but that is not comparable to changes in religious beliefs which is ever based on faith. In science, change in outward appearance reflects change in understanding, not so in religion where change in outward appearance is just that because the faith essentially never changes. This is the crucial point and whether science and religion resemble each other in whatever way is totally irrelevant. Shupe's criticism is not valid. Hpvpp (talk) 00:22, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The reason this discussion of getting nowhere is because we haven't adequately clarified who and what we're talking about. We have

  • Gardner's critics: Kodish, Wilson, Shupe. You have been subjecting these to detailed scrutiny, proposing that they should be ruled out if their views differ in any detail from your own, Currently you are focussing on Shupe, since he made a comparison (and only that) between prevailing viewpoints in science and those in religion. Making such a comparison would seem utterly unremarkable to any sociologist or historian, and Shupe is a sociology professor.
  • "The scientist", as described with "When scientists use labels like 'crank' they do so on the basis of the relevant theory being incoherent or non-falsifiable. ..." and so on. An admirable fellow whom we all support and agree with. Unfortunately this article is not about him.
  • Martin Gardner, who wrote the book "Fads and Fallacies ...". An author who specialises in sweeping generalisations, personal attacks and unsupported assertions. Occasionally he has moments where he shows he could resemble "the scientist" if he wanted to, but mostly that isn't his style. You seem to have no interest in him or what he has written, as shown by your remark "Never mind the amino-acids ..." since that refers to an assertion in his book.

So there is the problem. Gardner's critics have no problem with "the scientist" but criticise Gardner. You attack the critics, praise "the scientist" and refuse to discuss Gardner. So we get nowhere. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 13:48, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

In response to your comment:
  • you claim that I have been "proposing that they should be ruled out if their views differ in any detail from your own", but I have nowhere said this; this too feels like WP:PA
  • I am responding to your proposed inclusion of Shupe, because it is the most recent event and I have little time to spend
  • you yourself have appealed to Cohen/Kodish quote "If the premises are sufficient, they are so no matter by whom stated", so Shupe’s qualifications are irrelevant and your appeal to Shupe’s qualifications is distracting
  • you say about Gardner: "An author who specialises in sweeping generalisations, personal attacks and unsupported assertions." If this were said about me I would complain of WP:PA, but as it stands, it is WP:POV and WP:OR
In response to what you say the problem is:
  • Gardner’s ‘critics’ have a huge problem with ‘the scientist’ simply because what he says exposes them as cranks, but because they cannot hope to defeat ‘the scientist’, they attack Gardner in the hope of biasing the reader against Gardner and (by implication) devaluing his criticism of their own beliefs
  • I do not praise ‘the scientist’
  • Gardner is not relevant and should not be discussed, rather, what Gardner says should be scrutinized. Again, you yourself have appealed to Cohen/Kodish quote "If the premises are sufficient, they are so no matter by whom stated"
  • the reason we are getting nowhere appears to be that you take the requirement of presenting a balanced view out of context, viz. your comment of 9 February 2011:
"Meanwhile we have to exercise a little common sense, which means to balance up the very positive attitude to the book's content in the opening paragraphs with critical remarks which make sense, whatever their origin."
and of 13 February 2011:
"Most of the article just repeats what Gardner says, and therefore is weighted to his own high opinion of his own views. Without criticism the article would be totally biased in his favour. We are meant to achieve balance and NPOV and that's what I'm trying to do."
Does this mean you would advocate balancing both Earth and Flat earth each with quotes that contradict? Surely not. But then the question is why you are defending the Colin Wilson and Bruce Kodish quotes. Perhaps this is a case of WP:OWN? Because after all it was you who introduced them (at 405364408 and 214157997 respectively). If not, then do I need to suspect your motives is this perhaps a case of POV? Because after all you did comment on 18 February 2011 that "Colin Wilson has a very different opinion, which is closer to my own".
Perhaps I am reading all this entirely wrong in which case I trust you will illuminate me. However, in my readings I have found the requirement of WP:INDEPENDENT and it should be abundantly clear that both Colin Wilson and Bruce Kodish fail this requirement for the simple reason that they are adherents to views disparaged by Gardner. Worse, CW’s and BK’s texts are primary sources in that they directly interact with Gardner’s book and including them in this article is WP:OR. What is needed is some secondary source that treats of the topic and discusses both Gardner’s book and CW’s and BK’s responses. Hpvpp (talk) 04:44, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for your response. I'll try and address the main points.
  • "Perhaps I am reading all this entirely wrong in which case I trust you will illuminate me." Yes, and let's hope so, respectively.
  • As to my use and abuse of Gardner, it must be plain that when I have said "Gardner" I mean Gardner as author of the book we are discussing, rather than in any personal sense. I'll continue to do so.
  • Rather than complaining about your personal attack on me, I will explain my standpoint:
    • We agree totally about what scientific method is, and that it is a good thing. I liked your phrase "ontological economy" above. I remind you that Gardner neither describes scientific method nor exemplifies it.
    • A further part of science, in practice, is "what scientists believe". This is mostly right, but fallible, and changes over time, precisely as Shupe says. It corrresponds much more to what Gardner is defending, but the excessive sureness of his views is what Wilson objects to.
    • I am critical of Gardner's book because a) it occasionally chooses the wrong targets and b) it persistently uses the wrong weapons, in particular personal attack. This is the point of Kodish's comment.
  • You correctly draw attention to wikipedia policy, and specifically WP:INDEPENDENT. Unfortunately strict adherence to the rules there would imply deletion of almost all the current article, most of which is derived directly from the the book as primary source. The entire "Summary" section would have to go for a start. So we have all effectively agreed that we must reinterpret the rules, using wp:common instead. I firmly stand by what I said on that subject above.
  • You ask "Does this mean you would advocate balancing both 'Earth' and 'Flat earth' each with quotes that contradict?" The two viewpoints we are comparing are a) Gardner's book is perfect or b) Gardner's book is flawed. Are you suggesting that this choice somehow resembles flat/round earth? I thought I was being a bit too sarcastic when I suggested, above, that some editors regard Gardner as somehow "above criticism", but you amaze me by confirming it so shamelessly.
  • Similarly you are trying to deny expression to "adherents to views disparaged by Gardner". So for example, since Gardner disparages vegetarianism, no criticism is to be valid if made by a vegetarian? That really is very funny. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 14:26, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Sorry for not continuing the argument, but this takes priority. You say: "Rather than complaining about your personal attack on me, I will explain my standpoint". No, I cannot think of any such and I would have taken this to your personal talk-page, but since you moved my formal query about the use of the word 'indeed' from your personal talk-page to here, I assume that you would wish to address this matter of personal attacks here as well. Accordingly, you either put up or shut up. Hpvpp (talk) 10:28, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I regard "But then the question is why you are defending the Colin Wilson and Bruce Kodish quotes. Perhaps this is a case of WP:OWN? Because after all it was you who introduced them (at 405364408 and 214157997 respectively). If not, then do I need to suspect your motives?" as a personal attack. But unlike you, I chose to exercise a sense of proportion about it. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 12:02, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I read WP:AGF and suspecting motives can indeed be seen as PA and so I apologize. I have modified my comment to raise the possibility of POV instead. Hpvpp (talk) 04:10, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
That's fine, and I hope we can consider that particular issue closed. I'd still appreciate your response to the main points above. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 09:06, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

I don't think we should be putting Shupe's middle-class American Christianity into the article. That is just silly. I'm a non-Us atheist and I agree with MG. Unless you're suggesting that Shup'es opinions are so notable that they belong, even though silly? William M. Connolley (talk) 17:18, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

I certainly don't think Shupe's opinions are silly. He is a notable person (not that I regard that as essential) making a reasonable point. On close reading of the book "a non-US atheist" might notice that Gardner is rather narrowly American in his perspectives, with a slight but consistent tendency to sneer at the British. Other nationalities fare even worse; most are ignored, but Gardner takes every opportunity to mention that pseudo-science flourished in Nazi Germany. More importantly although he often attacks pseudo-science that is religiously based, he never attacks Christianity or the Bible as such. In other words, Shupe is not wrong to describe Gardner's intended audience as "middle-class American Christianity". As for "I agree with MG", whereas we all agree with Gardner on many points, such as that the earth is not flat, he attacks many dozens of people and ideas. I'd challenge anyone to read the whole text carefully, and honestly say that they had no grounds for criticism or disagreement at all. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 18:31, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

It's now over three weeks since I transcribed Shupe's remarks onto this page. I think it's time that at least some of what he wrote should go into the article. I'd welcome constructive comment on that before I go ahead. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 16:18, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Not while the discussion is still going on. Hpvpp (talk) 21:49, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Putting the Shupe quotes into the article would be pushing POV. I have acquired the book, read the relevant chapter as well the Introduction, the first chapter and the Conclusion. I have also read Pavlos’s 1983 review in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (22), 95-96. The problem is threefold,

(i) the implicit claim that any observation is inherently biased

from Pavlos
A "social structure perspective" - Shupe's bias - places the analysis of "fringe religions" squarely on a sociological level. (p. 95)
from Shupe
Developed into an ideology, cultural relativism negates the ultimate moral superiority of any belief or practice over any other. In the extreme cases, for example, cannibalism, rape or war atrocities have no inherent immorality other than what societies arbitrarily assign them. They simply exist. To what extent can we make absolutist statements about ethics and the morality of human relationships? Comparative social scientists claim the universality of certain basic norms (such as reciprocity and protection of in-group members, particularly family/guests) but exceptions can easily be found. Beyond various perspectives, is there a truth, or reality to be found? (p. 26)
All nonmainline groups are not crooked or "rip-offs". If there is an overall weakness in this criminological approach, it is a cynical tendency to overgeneralize, to impute criminal intent to the actions of persons who believe radically different doctrines from the popular norm and who organize their affairs in terms of different ideals than those observers hold. In a word, its weakness is a frequent, arbitrary presumption of criminality in social and cultural deviance which may not be warranted at all. a criminological perspective. (p. 44-45)
and, concluding the chapter with “Thoughts for further consideration” as follows:
Legally, persons may believe anything they please in American society, but their actions frequently involve other people, and these actions are within society's domain to supervise. From a practical point of view, does a society (through its police, government agents, etc.) have a right to take preemptive, i.e., preventive, actions against a fringe religion which might pose a danger to citizens? Need we wait for a tragedy such as occurred at Jonestown, Guyana where over 900 persons, including children and the elderly, drank cyanide-laced Kool-aid and died, or can/should we act to intervene in groups we suspect of having such antisocial capabilities? If not, is Jonestown also a price our society paid for religious freedom? If so, who will decide when a group has anti-social capabilities? (p. 60)
and from the conclusion of the book:
However, social phenomena often have no such clearcut referents for judging the accuracy, distortion or misunderstanding of observers. Hence there is no independent, material existence of an "elephant" that exists alongside attempts to describe or imagine one. Translated into terms of analyzing fringe religions, this means that such groups are merely organizations of like-minded people onto whom various types of scholars project their own disciplinary concerns. (pp. 233-234)
and the final paragraph
Fringe religions exist as conglomerates of human activity. That we, as outside observers, give them theological, psychological or social structural interpretations is our enterprise and not inherently theirs. (p. 235).

(ii) the explicit claim that religious matters are not open to criticism

At the outset it may seem inappropriate to readers for me to select a book such as Gardner's, or any other that I have previously categorized as a "debunker", since religious ideas cannot be "debunked". They are not empirical truth claims but matters of faith and therefore do not lend themselves to proof or disproof. (pp. 50-51)

(iii) the insinuation of Gardner’s bad faith

However, many of the targets of Gardner's analysis are in a special class of fringe religions. These are groups that employ some element of science or pseudoscience in their doctrines or practices and that in fact claim some scientific support for their spiritual validity. It is the scientific claims of such groups that Gardner directly scrutinizes, though their religious credibility also comes under attack at least implicitly. (p. 51)

The quotes speak for themselves, but the essence of Shupe’s criticism is that Gardner should not dismiss any fringe religious group simply because he is not in the position to know whether they are right or not. Putting the Shupe quotes into the article would imply suggest assent and would therefore be pushing POV. Hpvpp (talk) 03:35, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

There are several things wrong with the above, but the crucial one is "Putting the Shupe quotes into the article would imply assent", which is so totally untrue that if you do not withdraw or modify it, I will conclude that any attempt at rational discussion with you is a waste of time. The article is full of statements of other people's views, but correctly attributed to their authors. On your logic I could demand that almost the entire article is deleted on the grounds that I do not "assent" to the opinions of Gardner and those who support him. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 09:09, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
I liked the screaming, it was a nice touch. Oh, and I agree. SilverserenC 20:32, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
Ah, you're so friendly (again - and counting) Hpvpp (talk) 07:26, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Neither the article, nor anything in it, is subject to claims of POV, only the editor writing it - as you yourself told me some time ago. The POV is a combination of "their religious credibility also comes under attack at least implicitly" and "religious ideas cannot be "debunked". They are not empirical truth claims but matters of faith and therefore do not lend themselves to proof or disproof". The operative word here is "implicitly", i.e. not openly and therefore only as per Shupe's interpretation. Consequently, if you put in Shupe's quote then you are suggesting (note my mod above) that Shupe's interpretation is correct which means you are pushing that POV. (And if this is an incorrect understanding of POV, I expect you to enlighten me.) Hpvpp (talk) 07:29, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
You say "The quotes speak for themselves", yet preface all of them with interpretations which distort what they actually say. But it doesn't matter, because we don't need to analyse every nuance of Shupe's position. It's enough that he is a reasonable guy making a reasonable point. Putting his view into the article, with attribution to him, implies only that it is a viewpoint worth considering or worth knowing about. That's all. It doesn't imply or even suggest that we as wikipedia endorse it or that the reader must agree with it. NPOV means that we as editors must not present disputable judgements as fact. It doesn't prevent us from presenting other people's opinions as their opinions. We need to avoid a double standard in the qualifications we require of people we quote. Specifically, Kodish, Wilson and Shupe have all been subject to close examination as to their opinions on the assumption that they must pass some test before they are allowed to have their views known, but the anonymous reviewer in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ed Regis, Paul Stuewe, Michael Shermer, Louis Lasagna are all accepted without demur on your part. Why? I can only assume that it's because they say what you want to hear. I think that Shermer and Lasagna are pushing their own POV, but I'm not trying to get them excluded, provided we present their opinions as their opinions, not as ours. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 15:04, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

Stop removing a valid review[edit]

Colin Wilson has a wikipedia article, so any argument against him based on notability is automatically invalid without even having to bother to argue it. And the due weight argument is also silly. Up above, WMC asked what made this review important. The answer is that it is being made by a clear critic of the subject (anti-pseudoscience) and thus is important to show that viewpoint. Saying that his criticism is giving undue weight is saying that any critical reception whatsoever is giving undue weight and I don't think we're arguing to remove all critical reception sections on all the articles on Wikipedia. I note that none of you have said anything about the positive reviews, which is hilarious, because it clearly shows the bias here. SilverserenC 11:52, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

No-one is arguing against CW's notability, by wikipedia standards. But having a wiki article about you does not make your criticism notable, nor does it automatically entitle your words to appear on wiki. I have a wiki article about me (William Connolley) but just because I say "Colin Wilson's words are not worth reading on this subject" doesn't mean *my* words should appear, either. Please drop the spurious arguments and use real ones instead William M. Connolley (talk) 11:49, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Colin Wilson works within the field of study that is being critiqued by this work, and is notable, thus it seems to me that he would be the perfect critique to have in the article from someone on the other side of this work. We already have comments in the article that I added as well that are on the skeptic side. CW's critique is to show both sides of the argument. SilverserenC 15:03, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Since WMC outed himself, above, we can read a bit about him. It would be interesting to known what he, as an official Green, thinks about Gardner's attack on organic farming, and whether he'd propose the exclusion from this article of opinion from organic farming advocates. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 17:41, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
My point in referring to that page was to make it clear that being notable doesn't give your views automatic inclusion. You appear to be asking me for my views, as a Notable Person (if you aren't doing so, then please clarify your remarks). I will give you my views, if you wish, but only if you are prepared to make use of those views. If you aren't prepared to use them (and you don't get to know in advance what they are, or on exactly what subject) then it would be better for you not to ask for them, as a Notable Person, but merely as a wikipedian. In which case, my user talk page is open William M. Connolley (talk) 09:41, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

Unsourced claim about a living person[edit]

I've removed a newly added unsourced claim[4] about a living person. If someone has a reliable source for this information which doesn't violate WP:SYN, we can consider adding it back to the article. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 13:17, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Your objection here is a bit vague, but I assume you're referring to the characterization of Shermer as a "skeptic." You do know that he's executive director of the Skeptics Society and founder of Skeptic magazine, right? Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 15:09, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
No, I was referring to Colin Wilson.[5] Sorry, if I was unclear. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 15:15, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
It's self-evidently the case; someone willing to do the drudgery could readily source it. After all he's a member of the The Ghost Club and so on. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 15:25, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
But I think adding that comment is attempting to cause the reader to discredit his critique immediately. SilverserenC 15:27, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
I disagree. Doesn't the reader deserve to know the stance of the commenters? After all, we characterize Shermer as a "skeptic" and so on. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 15:38, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't think we should "characterize" any of them, that is not our job, and is introducing POV into the article. It is up to the reader to look into the articles about the people and come to their own conclusions, not for us to tell them what to think about the critiques. SilverserenC 15:41, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
We're not telling the reader what to think, we're just telling them who the commenters are. By your logic we should never refer to Barack Obama is a "Democrat" except in his biography. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 15:45, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
There's a difference between calling someone a Democrat and saying that someone is a supporter of fringe science. The change on Kodish is even worse. It already stated he was a General Semanticist, there was no need to change that. SilverserenC 15:52, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
I think it's fair that there should be some description easily available for the interested. That means that it should be given if there is no article on the person. Thus it's reasonable to describe Kodish, briefly and factually, since otherwise the reader would probably not know anything about his views, but in the case of Wilson or Shupe (looking ahead a bit), since they have articles, the reader can follow the link. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 16:00, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Agreed, but Kodish already had General Semanticist attached in front of his name and that was changed to say "a supporter of General Semantics, one of the targets of this book", which isn't really appropriate. The article already describes the chapters and has General Semantics in there, so the reader can figure this out on their own. SilverserenC 16:03, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
So you think we need to make the reader work as hard as possible? I've never seen that approach recommended in guides to good writing, but maybe I'm wrong. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 16:05, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
I think Silver seren has hit the nail on the head. Also, avoiding contentious labels altogether is - generally speaking - a good idea IMHO.[6] A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 16:12, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Disagree. Stating that GS is one of the book's targets is helpful. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 16:20, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
From reading the policies, I think that the typical WP reader wants instant information and should not need to dig any deeper. Accordingly, all relevant information needs to be present on the one page. Which means that, yes, appropriate context should be given. Essentially, it means that the relevant information is summarized. And, surely, that is not OR? Hpvpp (talk) 07:37, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

This is ridiculous. Saying that Shermer is a skeptic, that Colin Wilson supports a lot of fringe topics, and that the General Semantics guy is a General Semantics proponent is in no way contentious at all. Every single one of them would freely admit those labels proudly. It is giving much-needed context to the inclusion of their comments here. ditto for mentioning that General Semantics was a target of this book - and it is especially important with the people inexplicably trying to remove he chapter headings from the article, which has the end result of hiding just what was discussed in the book. If you do not want the reader to know who these people are then you are misleading readers. That's POV-pushing. Hell, the criticism section arguably should not be there at all when the only true criticism is from fringe true believers instead of notable and reliable sources. DreamGuy (talk) 19:45, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

Wow. Surreal, indeed. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 20:00, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
As I have been arguing from the start. Hpvpp (talk) 08:29, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm fairly certain (though I may be wrong) that A Quest For Knowledge was being sarcastic. Mainly because of DreamGuy's last sentence, which is ridiculous. SilverserenC 08:36, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
No, I'm serious. DreamGuy's post is so riddled with errors and violations of several Wikipedia policies and guidelines, it's hard to even know where to begin. But let's dissect it:
  • "Saying that Shermer is a skeptic" - I removed an unsourced claim about Wilson, not Shermer.
  • "that Colin Wilson supports a lot of fringe topics" I removed the phrase because it was an unsourced, negative claim about a living person. This is a routine change I would make on any WP:BLP. It wouldn't matter to me in the slightest if it was Barrack Obama or George W Bush. If you want to put a contentious claim about a living person, cite your source.
  • "and that the General Semantics guy is a General Semantics proponent is in no way contentious at all." Again, I removed an unsourced claim about Wilson, not the "General Semantics guy" (whoever that is).
  • "Every single one of them would freely admit those labels proudly." Perhaps, but cite your sources.
  • "and it is especially important with the people inexplicably trying to remove he chapter headings from the article" (emphasis mine) Pure nonsense. I clearly explained why the chapter listing was removed. Articles about books are not supposed to have chapter listings. AFAIK, there is not a single featured article which contains such a thing and it specifically goes against the WP:WikiProject Books/Non-fiction article guideline.
  • "which has the end result of hiding just what was discussed in the book." As has already been explained, the contents of the book should be explained in a synopsis section. Again, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Books/Non-fiction article.
  • "If you do not want the reader to know who these people are then you are misleading readers." Violation of WP:AGF. I'm vaguely aware of Shermer. I have no idea who the other people are.
  • "That's POV-pushing." Violation of WP:AGF and WP:NPA.
  • "Hell, the criticism section arguably should not be there at all when the only true criticism is from fringe true believers instead of notable and reliable sources." Books should have a critical reception section just like any film or album.
To address WP:TLDR, I'll bold-face the following:
The hilarious thing is that I have absolutely no idea who Colin Wilson is and never heard of this book. I only came here because it was mentioned on the Fringe theory noticeboard where I'm a regular patroller. I made a couple of minor, routine changes that I would make in any article about any book. Somehow, a couple of minor changes gets turned into a grand conspiracy theory about POV-pushing editors wanting censor this article and mislead readers. Surreal, indeed. Wow. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 17:27, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
Why are you shouting? William M. Connolley (talk) 17:16, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
What does not having heard of Colin Wilson have to do with anything? Whenever a source is cited for anything one has to consider the source, and by removing otherwise well known facts that give much needed context about the source -- in this case, that Colin Wilson is a well known advocate of extreme paranormal and fringe topics, as detailed in his own books -- the end result is misleading and ends up supporting a particular POV. How pointing out this basic fact and basic Wikipedia makes anyone a conspiracy theorist is beyond me. Colin Wilson is, however, a well known conspiracy theorist. Your not knowing who he is (and our readers not having a way of knowing be censoring information on him) is the problem. DreamGuy (talk) 02:00, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
It's funny how one is inspired to do things. I just created a dab page for well known. I resisted the temptation to add that the phrase can be weasel words meaning "unsourced and untrue", as used above. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 13:56, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
It stems from the fact that three times you made bad faith accusations against your fellow editors ("POV-pushing", "attempting to censor this article to promote a particular POV in violation of core principles.", etc.). You've been on Wikipedia long enough to know better: Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced should be removed immediately and without discussion. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 15:20, 25 March 2011 (UTC)


Who appointed STG as the keeper of consensus? [7] William M. Connolley (talk) 17:14, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

What consensus are you talking about? STG is talking about the consensus of the status quo that has not been refuted by consensus of discussion here on the talk page. SilverserenC 17:21, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, I can't parse that. Can you explain more clearly? Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 17:29, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
There is no consensus for removal that I can see. Can you point me to the proper section where there is, adding the consideration that I also do not think it should be removed? SilverserenC 17:42, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
See WP:BRD. Let the D part begin here: Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 18:00, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Presumably, WMC's question was prompted by STG's persistent defense of the Wilson and Kodish quotes. As I said above, this is perhaps a case of WP:OWN. Because after all it was STG who introduced them (at 405364408 and 214157997 respectively). Hpvpp (talk) 06:40, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes, OWN looks like a bit of a problem here. It is clear tht STG thinks he has rights over this page, including the right to declare "consensus". It is equally clear that no such consensus exists; so reverts based purely on "talk page consensus" are spurious. I am beginning to doubt STG's good faith William M. Connolley (talk) 08:39, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

So, lets return to the substance: Kodish is NN, that is clear. Is his crit notable? It doesn't appear in a reliable 3rd party source: it appears in some dodgy GS bulletin: ie, it is essentially self published. Why exactly are we including NN crit by a NN person in a self-published source in this article? William M. Connolley (talk) 08:42, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

Looking above, I see that STG has repeatedly defended inclusion of the Kodish piece on the grounds that In particular Kodish is surely right when he complains that... and that Kodish makes valid points.... This is entirely a matter of personal opinion from STG; I certainly disagree that Kodish is *surely* right; indeed, I say that he is arguably wrong. Finally, STG asserts that the GS piece is from a reliable source; I think that claim is dubious. STG: do you have any connection with GS? William M. Connolley (talk) 08:46, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

Leaving aside the issue of whether that is an appropriate question, I am willing to tell you that I have absolutely no connection with GS. I had never heard of it until I read Gardner's book about three years ago. The only other source of information I have ever had on it is wikipedia and consequential internet searches. Furthermore I don't find it particularly interesting, have no clear opinion about its merits, and have edited its wikipedia article only once, to correct a link. Will that do? SamuelTheGhost (talk) 12:33, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
That answers my last question, thanks. But you've ignored all the other points re appropriateness of the quote William M. Connolley (talk) 15:16, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I made those statements because Kodish correctly drew attention to Gardner's repeated ad hominem attacks. If you want to show that he is "arguably wrong" you either have to demonstrate that the attacks are not ad hominem, or that Gardner is justified in making them so. I didn't "asserts that the GS piece is from a reliable source"; I said that "we have no perfect sources, so have to make sensible use of imperfect ones. Kodish is voicing a critique whose credibility depends solely on the content of Gardner's book. The only other factual information he uses is the brief quotation from Morris R. Cohen, so unless you doubt that, the standard of reviewing is irrelevant", which is quite different.
On the issue of consensus, there was a formal request for views above, at #call for vote to establish consensus re "Criticism section not valid", which was split 50-50. The long-prevailing situation should then have been allowed to continue. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 16:52, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I think you're deliberately trying to muddy the waters. *You* said that Kodish is surely right; I said that I say that he is arguably wrong. You understand the difference? You are making a statement of fact. I am making a statement clearly marked as my own opinion. Now: are you still asserting as fact that Kodish is surely right? William M. Connolley (talk) 16:55, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
"muddy the waters": No, I cannot accept responsibility for your stupidity. I say that arguably you are indulging in silly sophistry. The reason I think that is because you are indulging in silly sophistry. You understand the difference? Kodish (or anyone else) is surely right when he complains that Gardner's arguments are often ad hominem. Gardner himself is effectively trying to justify this, rather than deny it, throughout chapter one. Of course I am aware that people can have impossible views. That is because prejudice trumps reason, and is doing so in your case (that's presuming that you've actually read the book). SamuelTheGhost (talk) 00:22, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
As to consensus: your edit comment was reinstate section removed against consensus) and now you are admitting that there is no consensus. And no, a 50-50 split does not allow you to insist on the status quote. and of course "formal vote" is meaningless. And on top of that, you can't use a discussion about whether to keep an entire section to justify keeping one bit of it William M. Connolley (talk) 16:58, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
My edit comment was not perfect. I should rather have said "no consensus for removal". The Kodish quote had been there since 22 May 2008, without complaint until Hpvpp tagged it on 10 January 2011. Discussion continued until your provocative removal of it on 8 February 2011. There was never consensus for removal, and it is well-established (see WP:BRD for example) that the status quo in such cases should have preference. As discussion was continuing throughout, your actions have been simply disruptive. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 00:22, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

<----- STG cannot defend inclusion of the Kodish piece on the grounds that STG thinks Kodish is right. Nor can William reject it on the grounds that Kodish is wrong. Neither of these are acceptable reasons. The only acceptable reason for including criticism is when it is from a reliable source. Is the criticism by Kodish a reliable source? If it not, it must be rejected. (talk) 22:04, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

No need to respond to sock of banned user "Peter Damian". SamuelTheGhost (talk) 15:46, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
This is a pedantic post (see quote here). Furthermore, it contradicts what you have appealed to yourself "If the premises are sufficient, they are so no matter by whom stated." Lastly, it violates WP:IAR. Hpvpp (talk) 00:38, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
If Hpvpp will restore that quotation, in context, into the article, I will apologise to "Peter Damian" and make a serious response to his remarks. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 14:33, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
Interesting proposition, but seeing the ramifications I cannot believe you are serious. Hpvpp (talk) 08:28, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
Absolutely serious. Go on, try me. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 11:20, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
Since you can only apologize to somebody who is actually there, you would need to go to WP:AN and call for his reinstatement while arguing sufficiently to ensure success, so are you sure you are serious? Hpvpp (talk) 00:52, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
You do know Peter Damien reads this discussion anyways? Or you could just go to Wikipedia Review, that would work too. SilverserenC 02:22, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
As Silver says, he's only banned from writing, not from reading, so there's no problem. Doubtless he's reading this. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 10:34, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
No, apologies only stand if accepted and ratified. Justice must be seen to be done. Peter Damian cannot accept here until reinstated so any apologies you would make here before then would be empty and self-serving (like apologies to a dead person). Hpvpp (talk) 23:29, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

Chapter listing[edit]

I removed the chapter listing from the article.[8] It seemed weird to have all the chapters listed and I checked a couple other featured articles on books (The Slave Community, Uncle Tom's Cabin and The Country Wife) and none of them have chapter listings. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 17:53, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

The other articles aren't comparable; note especially that the last two you list are fiction. In the present case the chapter headings are helpful in describing the book's specific coverage. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 17:59, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Can you give an example of a high level article that is formatted the same way? SilverserenC 18:00, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
SBHB: You can check yourself.[9] A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 18:14, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
None of the listed books are remotely similar in structure or content to the present one. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 18:46, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
So, none of the WP:FA on books has a chapter listing. And this book is different because? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 02:50, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
You really see no difference at all between this book and, say, Uncle Tom's Cabin or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Really? Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 03:12, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Actually, I asked you to articulate why this book is different. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 12:14, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Ah, the good old "I asked you first!" game. For a start, it isn't a novel. Your turn... Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 16:03, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I gave my reason for removing it in the OP of this thread. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 16:05, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
And I refuted that reason by stating that the examples cited are irrelevant to the present case. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 16:42, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
You said that this book was different than all the other books that have featured articles about them. I asked how this book is different and I have not yet received answer. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 16:49, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I have not yet received answer. That is simply untrue. I already mentioned that it is not a novel. I am attempting to engage in constructive, cooperative debate but it is difficult in the face of continued intransigence and WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 18:55, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Typing a reply is not the same thing as answering a question. The very first book I mentioned, The Slave Community, is not a novel. Can you please explain why this book is different? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:03, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree with that, though we should probably make a themes section or add a paragraph to the summary section that discusses the main subjects that the book focuses on. SilverserenC 18:00, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
As AQFK has left it, practically the whole of the article is about chapter 1. "Weird" has been replaced by very much weirder. Comparison with other articles should be restricted to articles about books that themselves have a similar structure. If there is some better way of doing justice to the contents of the rest of the book, that's fine, but just deleting it all isn't very constructive. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 18:34, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
I still think a themes section would be the best way to deal with it. SilverserenC 18:45, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
I think that Silver's suggestion is the right approach. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 02:51, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
That might be a good approach. If you can list themes without engaging in WP:OR. If. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 03:14, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I have reverted AQFK's edit, because the article is under heavy discussion and such a removal should have been proposed on the talk-page first. Hpvpp (talk) 06:55, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
The chapter listing is significant, because it informs the reader which pseudo-sciences are being discussed. The overall theme is probably given in the preceding sections and could perhaps be stated explicitly, though I doubt if that would improve the article much. Considering other books that have chapter listings, check out the various books of Aristotle in the Corpus Aristotelicum. Hpvpp (talk) 07:27, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
The Corpus Aristotelicum is a start class article like this one. We were asking for an example of a higher level article that uses a chapter listing, such as a GA or FA class book article. We have yet to find one, which indicates that such formatting is deprecated. The common practice is to represent such listings instead with a themes section that discusses the major subjects of the work. SilverserenC 18:59, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
We have yet to find one, which indicates that such formatting is deprecated. That's strictly your own interpretation. Can you find a clear statement regarding the appropriateness or otherwise of chapter listings? Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 19:33, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I can and it only took a few seconds to find it. WP:WikiProject Books/Non-fiction article states that chapter listings should be avoided. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:42, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
You have misrepresented the text at WP:WikiProject Books/Non-fiction article -- it says "avoid if you can convey this in the synopsis" (emphasis added). Are the contents adequately conveyed in the synopsis? Can they be adequately conveyed without listing the individual chapters, whether in tabular form or as a running narrative? I'm not convinced, but am open to alternative formulations. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 19:52, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Of course, we can include this information in the synopsis. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:55, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The text at WP:WikiProject Books/Non-fiction article also said "(see discussion)" where it was suggested to expand the text with "something along the lines that 'an exhaustive list of contents, without any editorial commentary or significance, should not be included'". Given the age of that discussion, I have assumed there was no opposition and implemented it. The point here is that the chapter list does have encyclopedic value which, by the way, also answers AQFK's question how this book is different. Hpvpp (talk) 23:30, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for doing this. The annotation is what makes or breaks it in terms of encyclopedic content. Since two people agree that makes it consensus, right? Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 23:49, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I have to admit that this discussion is a bit surreal. The guidelines at WP:WikiProject Books/Non-fiction article are pretty clear and the fact that no one can produce a single featured article that violates them speaks for itself. I've been assured that this book is somehow different from all the others, yet no one can explain why. This should have been a routine change, but it's not. What's going on here? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 00:38, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
IMHO, what is going on here is part of the war on pseudoscience. Hpvpp (talk) 02:14, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
Wow, the above comment made me laugh and also revealed your own advocacy. SilverserenC 15:53, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
I take offense at this post. As for my position, that should be clear from my user-page. Hpvpp (talk) 00:44, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
I apologize if what I said was offensive. But, to call this discussion a "war on pseudoscience"...don't you think that's a little bit of an exaggeration? Or...not even accurate at all? SilverserenC 05:39, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

How on earth is listing the various topics the books covers as fallacies anything but giving pertinent information? Oh, that's right, the people opposed to having their ideas called fallacies object. Whatever. A chapter listing is one way to relay this information, but it could also be done with prose. Removing it entirely looks like yet another attempt to censor this article to promote a particular POV in violation of core principles. DreamGuy (talk) 16:53, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

None of us are calling for a perpetual removal of the information, we're just discussing the proper way to present it. For example, I am thinking that the information would be better presented as prose in a Themes section, while others think it would be better presented as prose in the Summary section, which needs restructuring anyways. No other book article that is of a high level (GA or FA) has a chapter listing section and, if we want to improve this article, something needs to change with said section in this article. SilverserenC 02:21, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

FYI: WP:WikiProject_Books/Non-fiction_article is still under development and what is there refers to "Non-fiction biography books and similar articles" and that does not cover Fads and fallacies. It would seem best then to treat that article as suggesting rather than binding. Hpvpp (talk) 07:12, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

The best thing for us to do then would be to go and start a discussion on Wikiproject Books to see what they think about chapter listings. SilverserenC 07:13, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
I notice that the phrase "Unless the list has encyclopedic value ..." qualifies what they say there. "Fads and Fallacies" isn't structurally like a normal book, in that after the introduction the remaining chapters are each like separate essays. It could easily be reorganised to put the subjects into alphabetic order and called an encyclopedia. We need to look for comparisons with articles about books which are similar in that respect. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 11:22, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
Separate essays? You mean sorta like Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass, the GA article I wrote? SilverserenC 11:26, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
To some extent yes, but there are differences. Gardner's book is full of references to particular movements and particular people, most of which and of whom have articles in wikipedia. Our readers are best served by retaining these names and the corresponding links which are there in the chapter listing. To do this while going over to a style of continuous prose, rather than the current note form, will cause the material to lengthen substantially, which is perhaps acceptable. Then since this article has attracted a lot of conflicting views, it is going to be hard to get consensus where descriptions are fuller. Which I suppose is not a reason against trying.--SamuelTheGhost (talk) 23:13, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
Rather than starting a discussion at Wikiproject Books why don't you ask for help there? Then, bringing this article up to GA status would effectively be creating the standard for however you want to classify this book. Meanwhile, I have requested an assessment (here) so let's wait with any further edits until we get the result. Hpvpp (talk) 23:37, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

Use of 'crank' in Wikipedia's voice[edit]

Should we be using the word 'crank' in Wikipedia's voice? It doesn't sound very encyclopedic or professional. Is there another term we can use? Or perhaps we can word things differently? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 18:18, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

It's clear that the word is in Gardner's voice, not Wikipedia's. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 19:12, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
All uses of crank in the article should be in quotation marks, since it is neither a professional nor an encyclopedia word. Currently, there is one use of it that is in quotation marks and six uses that are not. This needs to be rectified. SilverserenC 19:15, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Not necessary after the first such usage within the same block of material, unless the goal is to imply skepticism toward Gardner's views. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 19:25, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
The subsequent, continuous usage of it makes it seem like it is a word that Wikipedia is advocating. Truthfully, four of those six uses in the article are unnecessary and could be replaced with a different term. That would probably be better. SilverserenC 19:30, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
It seems WP:LABEL would apply. Value-laden labels are best avoided unless widely used by reliable sources to describe the subject, in which case use in-text attribution. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 21:51, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

This article has multiple issues[edit]

I finally got around to reading the article today, and I have to say that there are multiple issues with the article. Aside from the things that have already been mentioned, the article reads like a WP:QUOTEFARM. Most of the History section is NOT about the history of the book. The Summary section contains way too much detail on the second characteristic of pseudo-scientists while completely ignoring the rest of the book. Also, I wonder if Wilson's criticism is notable; I couldn't find any secondary reliable sources for it. I'd also like to see some reviews by professional book reviewers. To be honest, it might be easier to delete the article and start over from scratch than to try to fix this. However, given that even routine and minor edits such as deleting the chapters listing gets Wikilawyered and filibustered back into the article, I'm not sure if there's a good way forward. Which is a shame, because apparently this book is a classic, and there's no good reason why Wikipedia shouldn't have a good or featured article about it. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:35, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

IMO, part of what is wrong with this article is the same as what is wrong with Wikipedia as a whole. However, I am not adequately equipped to deal with that. I am sorry (for myself) to have placed that {criticism} tag, but I was still idealistic then. Now that I have spotted this quote by User:MastCell
Ignorance is infinite, while patience is not. Ultimately, you will lose patience with the unchecked flow of ignorance, at which point you'll be blocked for incivility. The goal is to accomplish as much as possible before that inevitability comes to pass.
I have decided to quit here before I, too, lose my patience. I apologize for leave any loose ends and if anybody seriously wants an answer they can come to my talk-page. Hpvpp (talk) 06:25, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

Baloney detection kit[edit]

I'm reverting the See also link to Baloney detection kit because it has no relevance to the article. Gardner's criteria are quite different from those that Sagan suggests. (Sagan's are better.) SamuelTheGhost (talk) 11:46, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

Would the link then be useful if it were presented with some context, rather than a See Also, and explaining what this difference was? Andy Dingley (talk) 11:51, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes indeed, if the comparison could be sourced, but otherwise we'd be open to the accusation of WP:OR. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 12:22, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

I've re-added it, but under its true name. It is a see-also link: it doesn't have to be directly the same. But asserting that it has no relevance to the article is clearly wrong William M. Connolley (talk) 12:52, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

Putting it in as a reference to the book is different, and perhaps more justifiable. But it's interesting that although Sagan in his book acknowledges Gardner as a source of inspiration and help he never mentions Fads and Fallacies. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 13:19, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
And if Sagan, why not also the books by Robert L. Park, Donna Kossy, Christopher Evans etc.? Ed Regis, Michael Shermer and Louis Lasagna are already mentioned, but not specifically itemised as authors of books on the same topic. I think the sensible approach would be to name those authors who themselves acknowledge Fads and Fallacies as their spiritual ancestor, but not others. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 09:47, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
why not also the books by Robert L. Park - dunno, which books do you mean? But anyway, WP:NOTPERFECT applies William M. Connolley (talk) 11:59, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
Voodoo science, Kooks and Strange Creations, Cults of Unreason for those three authors respectively. And I repeat that we need to adopt a sensible, and reasonably consistent approach. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 12:59, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
It would seem reasonable to link those two with articles William M. Connolley (talk) 13:51, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
Well, not worth further argument, anyway. I wouldn't revert that. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 14:50, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

"what it described as"[edit]

A disagreement has broken out about whether to say "what it described as pseudosciences and cult beliefs" or just "pseudosciences and cult beliefs", The latter clearly inplies that every topic in the book is, objectively, a pseudoscience or cult belief. This is obviously a question of POV. I really can't see any way this can honestly be disputed. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 18:10, 30 September 2012 (UTC)

Your wording adds unnecessary editorializing based on preconceived notions. What is your source? IRWolfie- (talk) 22:29, 30 September 2012 (UTC)
The front cover has "The curious theories of modern pseudoscientists and the strange, amusing and alarming cults that surround them. A sudy in human gullibility". That wording must be Gardner's own, or his publisher's with his consent. So clearly we can use those words in a way which attributes them to him or his publisher. What we cannot do is use those words, or words like them, as unconditional description of the book's subjects, since that is a POV matter. SamuelTheGhost (talk) 11:34, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
Sure we can. He's a reliable source for it. You are making attributions when no source does it. IRWolfie- (talk) 11:37, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
So you're saying that a book can be used as a WP:RS for the accuracy of its own content? SamuelTheGhost (talk) 11:56, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

The claim that Gardner himself is a reliable source for any such idea is dubious at best. He was a journalist, right? Moreover, whatever sources we have, we are required to maintain an impartial tone. Articles involving fringe subjects should make clear what the majority viewpoint is, but should not actually take the stance that the majority viewpoint is correct. PSWG1920 (talk) 05:48, 2 October 2012 (UTC)