Talk:International Humanist and Ethical Union

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Following an edit war, the issues raised on this page were referred to the Mediation Cabal.

In the mediation, it was determined that comments that serve only as a record of misperception and rancor ought to be removed – some sections of this page have been edited and some removed in order to accomplish this. In creating the edited version, I tried to retain the substance of the discussion while removing snark, rancor, redundancy, and extraneous digressions. Edited sections are marked with a (*). The version prior to this edit may be found here. I hope all parties find my edit acceptable.
--plover 14:31, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

(*) IHEU's stance on usage of "Humanist"[edit]

Rohirok - you are a secular humanist, right? That's fine, but if your organisation is a member of the IHEU then I suggest you clarify what their position is on the Amsterdam Declaration 2002, which was not just "some leaders" endorsement but the unanimous endorsement of the General Assembly of the IHEU on behalf of all member organisations. --Couttsie 03:15, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

True, the Amsterdam Declaration 2002 as written always capitalizes the word, and doesn't use an adjective, but this in no way implies that such a convention should be binding on all Humanists and Humanist organizations. Now, read the article about capitalizing Humanism here, and the article about capitalizing sans adjective and using the happy human symbol here. Notice that, unlike the Amsterdam Declaration 2002, it is not endorsed by the IHEU Congress. These were written and endorsed by certain members of IHEU or its member organizations. Their recommendations are not binding on all Humanists and Humanist organizations. [T]hese documents [do not] support your contentions about the "correct" and "offical" ways to refer to or symbolize Humanism. Rohirok 03:59, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

"True, the resolution as written always capitalizes the word, and doesn't use an adjective, but this in no way implies that such a convention should be binding on all Humanists and Humanist organizations."

I have changed the text of my contributions to make it clear that such usage is not compulsory for member organisations or even individual IHEU members. However, it is clearly the preference of the IHEU to capitalise these words. I have written to the IHEU and they can decide - not you and not me. --Couttsie 05:46, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

The article currently reads "However, the General Assembly (on behalf of all member organisations) unanimously endorsed the Amsterdam Declaration 2002 which exclusively uses the capitalised words Humanist and Humanism with no adjective (such as "secular"). Whilst this does not make use of such terminology compulsory for member organisations, or even individual members of the IHEU, it does reflect the views of the IHEU."
As Plover noted, IHEU's own website makes use of the lowercase humanist. The particular capitalization used in the declaration is not itself a statement on IHEU's views on whether Humanism should always be capitalized. Dacoutts must find such a statement elsewhere to verify the claim that the capitalization in the declaration reflects IHEU's views on the matter. The text alone does not serve as evidence for this, especially since other official publications from IHEU use humanist. Rohirok 00:53, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
If you can produce verifiable evidence for your claim that IHEU officially endorses always using H without adjectives, I will concede immediately. That's all this is about--the truth of the matter, and verifiability. Rohirok 01:37, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
"If you can produce verifiable evidence for your claim that IHEU officially endorses always using H without adjectives, I will concede immediately" I'm not sure how many times I've said this, or something similar, but I don't wish to impose my preference for capitalization. I want to accomodate both sets of views in the one article. We cannot delete all references to capilization, as there is clearly evidence to support capitalization. The only question is how do we adequately cater for both sets of views, not just lower case views. --Couttsie 03:08, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
As stated below, following my raising this issue with the IHEU, they have now corrected their front page to show capilization of H's. --Couttsie 01:10, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

(*) H vs. h at IHEU website[edit]

The header at the IHEU website says:

International Humanist and Ethical Union: The world union of humanist organisations

The first line of the page (which is reproduced in the Wikipedia article with an added 'Humanist') says:

IHEU is the world union of humanist, rationalist, secular...

What are we supposed to make of your demands to adhere to a convention in writing about humanism – or even the IHEU itself – when that convention is not even followed on their own website?
--Plover 12:56, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Granted, but did you click on the link for "humanism"? It takes you to the Humanist identity page, in which (again) the IHEU prefernce for capitlization is apparent. I have asked the IHEU to help out with this page in particular - A Call To Arms!], and have already received the thanks of the IHEU for my "good work". I am as keen as anyone to ensure that there is a consensus, but not at the expense of misrepresenting the IHEU's own views on the IHEU article!
The whole point of capitalization is to avoid an identity crisis for Humanism. However, perhaps the IHEU retains a semblance of support for humanism to broaden its appeal (whilst at the same time favouring Humanism to strengthen Humanist identity). --Couttsie 01:04, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

I see no reason to doubt that the IHEU refers to the particular form of humanism it promotes as 'Humanism' with a capital H, and that it is thus appropriate usage when referring explicitly to the standpoint of the IHEU, but I see no evidence (and, in fact, have the above quotes as evidence to the contrary) that the IHEU as an organization – let alone humanists in general – thinks that means one should run around sticking a capital H on the word every time its used.

I suspect the majority of people in the world who might call themselves humanists have never heard of the IHEU. This is not to say that the organization is unimportant, just that the IHEU doesn't currently affect how most people perceive the word humanist very much. Of course, the IHEU should have its perspective described accurately on Wikipedia, but Wikipedia is not a place for evangelising. If it ever becomes true that most people who call themselves humanists – not just people who belong to IHEU or other humanist organizations, but anyone who simply thinks of themselves as humanist – adopts the IHEU definition, then it might be reasonable to treat the IHEU stance as the primary definition. Until then, 'humanism' is a general term with multiple meanings, 'Humanism' is one specific, codified form of humanism, and any attempt to supplant humanism with Humanism is evangelising, rather than creating a neutral description of how most people actually use the term humanism.

The purpose of an encyclopedia is to provide neutral, descriptive articles, not push a certain point of view. Have you read the guidelines for contributing on Wikipedia? (Especially What_Wikipedia_is_not?) Why do you think your actions here fit these guidelines? If you want more people to know about the IHEU, that's great – it's just that Wikipedia is not that kind of platform. Of course, any effort you put into making sure that the information about IHEU is accurate is more than welcome.
--Plover 02:32, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

"Until then, 'humanism' is a general term with multiple meanings, 'Humanism' is one specific, codified form of humanism, and any attempt to supplant humanism with Humanism is evangelising, rather than creating a neutral description of how most people actually use the term humanism."
I agree, which is why we have separate articles for secular humanism, humanism and Humanism (lifestance). Again, I believe we can accomodate both sets of views accurately on the IHEU article once we have the views of the IHEU, so why the rush now? And please don't lecture me. --Couttsie 02:46, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
  • As regards your earlier comment, my point about the IHEA website is that the organization does not appear to regard the capitalization of 'humanist' in a rigid fashion. Whether or not it really is your intention, those statements of yours that I have seen often imply that they do.
  • If a reasonable solution for separating the general idea of humanism from the IHEA's specific view has been found, then, great. My concern was with making sure the IHEU's Humanism was being presented as the view of a specific organization rather than as a universal view among humanists and philosophers.
  • My intent was not to lecture; I'm sorry it came off that way. I also made the unwarranted assumption that these humanism-related edits were your first contributions to Wikipedia, which I now realize is not true.
--Plover 05:09, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
  • There appears so far to be more evidence in favour of capitlization than against it, which is why I strongly oppose Rohirok's push to delete references to capitalization. I assumed you were supporting that push, but perhaps you aren't.
  • My concern is to ensure that the IHEU Wikipedia article reflects the views of the IHEU. Any further need to then clarify opposing views, or supplementary views, should of course be accomodated, but not at the expense of pushing only Rohirok's views.
  • No worries, as we say in Australia.
--Couttsie 05:28, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

(*) IHEU website updated[edit]

OK, now take another look at the IHEU's front page. Note the following changes:

  • Under banner heading: "The world union of Humanist organisations" (previously "The world union of humanist organisations"
  • "IHEU is the world union of Humanist, rationalist, secular, laïque, ethical culture, atheist and freethought organizations. Our mission is to represent and support the global Humanist movement. Our goal is a Humanist world in which human rights are respected and all can live a life of dignity." - Previously "IHEU is the world union of humanist, rationalist, secular, laïque, ethical culture, atheist and freethought organizations. Our mission is to represent and support the global humanist movement. Our goal is a humanist world in which human rights are respected and all can live a life of dignity. "
  • "Read about how to join, Humanism, IHEU's policies, representation at the UN or find an IHEU member organisation. Or contact us." Previously "Read about how to join, humanism, IHEU's policies, representation at the UN or find an IHEU member organisation. Or contact us."

I received an email from Jeremy Webbs, who maintains the IHEU website. I like what he has to say on the matter:

"Capitalization is not mandatory. (There is no compulsion in Humanism.) It is recommended usage and the normal usage within IHEU"

Regarding Rohirok's attempt to play down capilization, by referring to "some leader's of international Humanism", I aksed Jeremy Webbs to clarify who these leaders are. Hrere's his response:

"Harold Blackham (102 and still going strong as of this writing) was a founder of the BHA and IHEU. Harry Stopes-Roe was and is a leading light in the movement. Corliss Lamont was a leading American Humanist. Levi Fragell is a former Secretary General of the Norwegian Humanist Association and former president of IHEU. Rob Tielman is a former president of IHEU."

Hmm. a founder of the BHA and IHEU, and two former Presidents of the IHEU.

Anyway, I'm happy to include something along the lines of Jeremy Webb's comment (in the Humanist identity section) to put an end to the debate.

Jeremy also added :

"Humanism embraces a number of sub-varieties: secular Humanism, scientific Humanism, and religious Humanism. It has been our practice wherever possible to capitalise the words Humanist and Humanism. This is consistent with common usage for other life stances and philosophies such as Christian, Christianity, Muslim, Islam, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhism etc, when these words are used as nouns. There is however some variation possible when the words are used adjectivally, e.g. "the humanist tradition", "christian ethics". In French it is notable that all such words when used adjectivally are invariably lower case."

This raises a valid point, that Humanism is not alone in capitalizing the first letter. Yet, like the traditional theistic religions, humanist can be written as humanist when used adjectively. --Couttsie 23:50, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

  • Well done, though your method seems to violate WP:OR. Also, there is the question of verifiability, as what you are relying on is a private email, not a public statement from IHEU. Perhaps [the IHEU could] write up a statement to post on their website, for all of us to see firsthand.
  • Also, as I had said before, the documents you had earlier cited do not count as support for the view that IHEU advocates always using Humanist, so I have deleted your references to them as irrelevant to the point. You have received confirmation from someone in IHEU of their standard practice, so you shouldn't have to rely on those references for your support, though I must emphasize again that the confirmation you received is still not publicly verifiable. Pointing out that prominent Humanists and former IHEU heads have endorsed using Humanism is not the same as showing that IHEU has endorsed this, nor is the mere fact that Amsterdam Declaration 2002 happens to have used this indicate advocacy. Rohirok 02:45, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
At this point I'm not entirely sure what the argument is. If the IHEU cares enough about capitalizing Humanism to change their website when the use of lower case is pointed out to them, then that seems fairly clear evidence that it's a meaningful convention within the organization. I'm also not quite sure that asking an organization what stylistic conventions it uses falls under original research. It doesn't really matter anyway, there is certainly public evidence that the IHEU does use the convention, even if not universally, therefore whether or not to use the convention in writing about the IHEU and its documents and actions seems like a judgement call. In the case at hand, my impulse is to go with the opinion of the person most familiar with the group. (See also the style guideline on identity.) Within a given article, however, there may be cases where humanism refers to a more general concept than the specific formulation of the IHEU, and in those cases I would recommend not using a capital.
The specifics of what I'm saying, of course, apply only to the IHEU (and possibly to International Humanism as a movement in some more general fashion). For any other specific organization, the conventions of that organization, as well as they can be discerned, should be used. In contexts concerning humanism as a philosophical tradition rather than an organized movement, it would be very surprising to me if there were any evidence in favor of capitalisation (beyond Historical or Idiosyncratic usage by people who find it Necessary to capitalize their Favored Abstractions). Mostly, I just think blanket statements on any of this are a bad idea.
--Plover 04:15, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
There has been less and less of an argument to make as time has gone on, thankfully. Dacoutts has retreated from earlier edits which said that Humanist is the only correct way to write it to [now] saying that AD2002 reflects their recommended usage. That they changed their website from h to H is compelling, and I admit that always capitalizing without an adjective is their general practice, as evidenced by much of the website. I have never objected to using Humanist in this article. I happen to prefer it myself. I just thought that the claims made in the article ought to be accurate, and not overstate IHEU's position, or over-interpret the references. Like Dacoutts, I have taken this whole affair way too personally, and the verbal barbs exhanged here and elsewhere have been a regrettable by-product. Fortunately, it seems as if the bulk of my grievances have now been mooted. Thankyou for taking a look at this issue, Plover. Rohirok 04:49, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
I have always attempted to accomodate your apparent preference to show that it was not compulsory. This was already in the article (I put it there) before the response from the IHEU. --Couttsie 05:03, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Number of members[edit]

where did the figure in " The IHEU represents the views of roughly four million Humanists " come from? 2ct7 19:23, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

I found it on the American Humanist Association website. I'll try and find it again and add a reference. --Couttsie 00:50, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Done. I've also contacted the IHEU for any other online references to the number of people who are members (either individually, or through a member organisation). --Couttsie 01:45, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks!2ct7 01:48, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Email (1st March, 2006) from Jeremy Webbs (who maintains the IHEU website):
"I have seen a detailed estimate of the number of individual members of IHEU member organizations adding up to around 4,000,000 but we normally quote "over 3,000,000" to be on the safe side. The majority of these people are in the Third World."
"This is, of course, a moving target because the number of member organizations is growing and their memberships are growing too."
I've changed the article to suit the IHEU's preference. --Couttsie 01:28, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

IHEU Biographies[edit]

A call for volunteers. The IHEU adminstrator has just added a bunch of very useful information linked to the IHEU About page. I've fixed up the Presidents/Chairman section, and added the Awards. I've also linked existing Wikipedia articles to this people on this page, and reverse linked to this page from those existing Wikipedia people articles.

One page that I haven't had time to tackle just yet is the IHEU Biographies page. This is a useful starting point for anyone wanting to write biography articles on notable IHEU and Humanist personalities. --Couttsie 06:08, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

Use of the word "our"[edit]

I quote from the "Strategy" section:

"work closely with our many member organisations"

I don't think the use of the word "our" is the right perspective for an encyclopedic article.

Capitalization of 'humanism'[edit]

'Humanism' (as a stand-alone term) is capitalized throughout this article. I don't think there is any need to capitalize it except when it is part of the name of an organization. Jojalozzo 03:36, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

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