Talk:James Wesley Rawles/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2

Cafepress ref

When I tried to submit a boring syntax change, I got hit with a blacklist notice for a reference to I've never seen one of these notices before. To resolve the issue, I just threw the link inside an HTML comment. If the reference truely is spam, or someone knows a more appropriate resolution to this, feel free to take action...This is outside the fact that it may be a primary reference, meaning it may be appropriate to remove entirely. -Verdatum (talk) 15:27, 2 May 2008 (UTC)


Find sources: "Archive 1" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · HighBeam · JSTOR · free images · free news sources · The Wikipedia Library · NYT · WP reference —Preceding unsigned comment added by Colonel Warden (talkcontribs) 17:13, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Economic views

I'm deleting this section for the following reasons In a Usenet post in February of 2001,...

Usenet is not an authenticated medium, no way to prove that he was the actual poster. Even if he was, the signifigance of this fact is not explained and thus does not improve the article. even if it was, this is a primary source, which should generally be avoided as a source of content.

As of January, 2008, Rawles stills sees silver and gold in "primary bull markets."

at the very least, this needs a rewrite. It is not worded in a manner that can be easily understood, and even if it were, it just comes off as investment advice, it does nothing to represent his fundemental economic philosophies. Even if it did, such philosophies should really only be discussed via independant secondary sources.

Rawles put his mail-order business on hiatus in the last months of 1999 to prepare for the Y2K problem and its possible socioeconomic consequences.

His mail-order business was not previously mentioned in this article, so it makes no sense to explain it's hiatus. Further, his Y2K views are discussed in a separate section. Further, this fact is unsourced.

Rawles predicts a deep recession or possibly a depression in the near future...

At the very least, this claim needs to be rewritten to be chronologically neutral. Just be cause he blogged an opinion does not mean he maintains it. This sort of thing is discussed in Wikipedia:Biographies of Living Persons.

I hope anyone who disagrees with these arguments will take the time to respond here, and not just revert the edit. -Verdatum (talk) 18:02, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Marjor article changes

Ok. I'm doing my best to remove self-published, blog, forum and otherwise unreliable source material from this article. Consequently, plenty of statements that were sourced only from those kinds of references have been deleted or tagged. I'm going to keep an eye on this article, so if you want to replace something I've removed, go right ahead (it is a free country), but I might challenge it. Please don't add stuff written by rawles or stuff written on personal websites. Thanks. Protonk (talk) 18:00, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Vanity Press

Also, Huntington House Publishers appears to be a vanity press. Reports of that over the web. No web address (gliath listing, listing on christian publishing list). Mentioned on a watchdog blog (here, scroll down). Even this guy basically describes the MO of a vanity press but exonerates them because he is pushing the same nonsense (here warning: KEEERAZY ads). Protonk (talk) 18:28, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

I believe there's no web address because they went bankrupt, which is why he now has the book self-published--you'll almost never get a book moved from one publisher to another. I will check with verifiable sources as to the nature of their operation then--vanity or otherwise.Mzmadmike (talk) 06:01, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Section from "published books"

==Published works==

His first book, Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse, a novel, was first released in 1998. It was first released as Internet shareware in the early 1990s, and later published in interim form as TEOTWAWKI: The End of The World as We Know It, in the late 1990s[citation needed]. The story is set in the near future and describes a period of hyperinflation and a socio-economic collapse. While it is a fictional story, it is essentially a method to teach survival techniques in an interesting manner.[1] It was re-released in December, 2006 in expanded form. The novel reflects a conservative interpretation of Christianity combined with a stereotypical approach to "the Good" and "the Bad" (Good Christians versus Biker-looter gangs). The publisher's synopsis describes the novel as "distinctly pro-Christian, pro-preparedness, pro-gun ownership, and anti-racist." [2]


  • Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse from Huntington House Publishers, ISBN 978-1563841552 (November 1998)

There it is. When I get more time I'll rework this bit. It obviously needs to be in there somewhere, because the WND is an independent, non-trivial mention (probably the only one in the article), but not in its current form. Protonk (talk) 18:33, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Reworked and re-entered, see below for details and new section. Protonk (talk) 20:48, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

South China Morning Post

Their Archive has no record of the article mentioned in the text (at least that I can find. Maybe the title is wrong or maybe I typed it in wrong. Feel free to take a crack at it. For now, I'm marking it as a dead ref. Protonk (talk) 20:34, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

According to Declan McCullagh's web page, this was a newspaper article based directly n his web article "The Official Vehicle of Y2K." See: And here is his original article on Y2KCulture: The South China Morning Post article was included as a reference, because it ran in a HARD COPY newspaper, which, in the convoluted logic of wikipedia, is a more "reliable" reference than Internet articles, in descriptions of Internet phenomena. -- Trasel (talk) 15:03, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
Three things, if it ran in the south china morning post, where is it in their archives? Second, it really is a trivial mention, related to the purchase of the vehicle, most of the press coverage seems to be poking fun at him. third, please don't spend your time belittling the guidance over references. I'm sorry it is slanted toward "established" coverage but it doesn't help to attack the process. Protonk (talk) 17:14, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

You ask: "...if it ran in the south china morning post, where is it in their archives? Not all newspapers and magazines kept electronic archives of all of their articles before the turn of the century. (The 21st, that is.) Even today, electronic layout is not universal. You insist on Hard Copy references. Then they are provided. Then you complain that they aren't available online. This is more than a little ironic. You also mention: "Second, it really is a trivial mention, related to the purchase of the vehicle, most of the press coverage seems to be poking fun at him." That sort of objectivity is expected in a wiki biography. The articles are supposed to be well-balanced. If I had wanted to idolize Rawles then I would not have included references that are critical of him.

On another note: I am waiting to see if there is any response to my query to WP:WRE. If not, I can e-mail Rawles and ask him if he has copies of the magazines that I referenced. If so, perhaps he'd be willing photocopy or scan the magazine and handbook masthead pages. If he does so, is there a sandbox page where these scans can be posted, for editorial review? Trasel (talk) 17:47, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

I don't know. they can go to wikisource if the original is truly gone. But I mean, maybe I'm doing it wrong. See if you can get any hits from the SCMP archive. I might have not searched it properly or thoroughly. If we can't find the original but we are sure it existed, then we can cite is as the newspaper article "quoted in" the website you showed me. Like I said before, ust because the SCMP doesn't keep a record of it doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and all I did was mark the link broken.
One more thing to consider is that those references (the mention in wired, SCMP, Long Beach Press telegram, etc) all appear to be off a similar wire service report. In other words, it is unlikely that SCMP and the other papers searched Rawles out and all got the same story. It appears more likely that they plucked it from the wire report and put it into stories about Y2K. The mentions are, also bordering on trivial. that may be something else to keep in mind. Protonk (talk) 17:54, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Long Beach Press-telegram

I am suspicious of this reference, too. I can't get to it (seems to only be available from their proprietary database, can't get to it from Proquest or Lexis) and the first few lines make it seem like the article is about Y2K in general and not Rawles's specific warning. But, since I can't GET to it, I'm going to WP:AGF and not mess w/ the cite. Protonk (talk) 22:24, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

new book section

Rawles released his first book in 1998, a work of speculative fiction set in a near future period of hyperinflation and socio-economic collapse entitled Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse. The book was originally released as shareware but was later printed by the Christian[3], partner publisher[4] Huntington House. The book was re-released by Xlibris, a self-publishing firm[5], in 2006. World Net Daily reviewed the first printing and found the non-fiction information provided about survivalist techniques fascinating but the fiction elements "[not] exactly subtle".[6] The publisher's synopsis describes the novel as "distinctly pro-Christian, pro-preparedness, pro-gun ownership, and anti-racist." [7]

There. Much less spammy. Protonk (talk) 17:18, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

Discussion of Referencing Methodology

Wiki editor Protonk deleted a direct (original) reference to a quote about Rawles. This was a direct quote, from a letter written by a reader of his blog. Protonk commented on his edit: "(No. Rawles' blog can't be used as a source for that quote. that is a contentious claim of opinion that needs to be attributed to a third party source or removed.)" I'm stumped here. Are you saying that a direct quote about blogger is not a valid quote unless it is re-printed in a third party hard copy publication? By that train of logic, it would be virtually impossible to create a wiki article that mentions any blog or similar web site. (When teh subject matter is something online, then it is only logical to quote an online source. I'm stumped here. What should I do, write to the original author of the letter, and ask him to have it printed by the New York Times? You seem to be asking the editors of this wiki bio to jump through flaming hoops. I'm just trying my best to add references, just as I promised. Trasel (talk) 15:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

It is indeed a difficult issue. The key bit of guideline here is WP:PSTS. When you use primary sources, you are synthesizing their signifigance and providing interpretation of the source by nature of including it. When using a secondary source, you are relying on the secondary source's interpretation of the data. Relying on secondary sources is also an excellent method of preventing undue weight. If no one is writing about the person, they should have either no article, or a very short article. The gray area, and the place that you should be arguing is that sometimes primary sources are appropriate. However, working against you is WP:BLP which is a strict policy about the things that can and cannot be said about living people. in many cases, BLP does indeed ask you to jump through flaming hoops. This is why it's often difficult to write articles about people who's primary claim to notability is their blogging, and part of why this article is currently up for AFD. -Verdatum (talk) 16:31, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I'm sorry. I understand the frustration here, believe me. I'm currently attempting to bring Los Angeles class submarine up to GA class but so much of the information is basically private, tribal knowledge of submariners or classified. There are secondary sources, but the good ones are few and far between. I'm left with the option of WP:SYN from my own memories or leaving information out that isn't really classified and would be useful. Granted, that article has fewer restrictions on it than ones that are covered by WP:BLP. But despite the fact that I empathize, the rules are there for a reason. there are two sources of guidance for these situtations (really one). First is WP:SELFPUB:

Self-published and questionable sources may be used as sources in articles about themselves, so long as:

  1. the material used is relevant to their notability;
  2. it is not contentious;
  3. it is not unduly self-serving;
  4. it does not involve claims about third parties;
  5. it does not involve claims about events not directly related to the subject;
  6. there is no reasonable doubt as to who authored it;
  7. the article is not based primarily on such sources. (emphasis mine)
The second (right above it, really), is this, FN:5 in WP:V

5. "Blogs" in this context refers to personal and group blogs. Some newspapers host interactive columns that they call blogs, and these may be acceptable as sources so long as the writers are professionals and the blog is subject to the newspaper's full editorial control. Where a news organization publishes the opinions of a professional but claims no responsibility for the opinions, the writer of the cited piece should be attributed (e.g., "Jane Smith has suggested ..."). Posts left by readers may never be used as sources. (Epmphasis mine)

To me, that is clear as day. A reader leaves Rawles a comment on his blog. It can't be used as a source where the purpose of the source is an appeal to authority on a contentious claim. I understand the problem. I understand that this guy is underground, but has a web following. I understand that you feel he is important to the survivalist movement. I'm not a survivalist, so I can't speak from any personal experience. But I think (and this is important in the AfD debate, too) what should be clear is that the WP:N and WP:BLP guidelines are pretty clear and pretty strict with regard to cases like this. If he is notable and if we are to adhere to the guidelines in WP:BLP, then we have to use sources that are independent of the subject and otherwise reliable. We have to be sure that the source material verifies the citation. Sometimes this will be impossible. It doesn't mean that you lied or that Rawles didn't do it, it just means we can't include it. It wouldn't be fair to the wiki and it wouldn't be fair to Rawles. The question of whether or not online sources should be sufficient isn't an easy one. We aren't going to answer it here. Part of the flaw of wikipedia is that as much as it is the embodiment of web 2.0, it is still tethered to the pre-internet age in terms of sources. This is a good and a bad thing. It allows wikipedia to maintain considerable authority, but it needlessly excludes what would otherwise be accurate and helpful information. It is a compromise, and e seem to be on opposite sides of its impacts. I hope this helps to explain my thoughts. Protonk (talk) 17:05, 5 May 2008 (UTC)


I don't want to pretend like I know more about these guidelines than anyone else here, but I think that I should be frank about my feelings on this article. I don't think that Rawles meets the criteria of WP:N or WP:BIO. This probably biases me on the subject. I also feel that the article, in its original form, had the appearance of notability, in that it referenced lots of sources and even noted that the subject was mentioned in various news reports. However, most of those sources either didn't verify the text or were trivial mentions. I know the trivial part is up for debate and I can't claim a monopoly on the truth here. But in some sense they really are. None of newspaper articles are about Rawles, per se. They are either about the military vehicle he bought in preparation for Y2K or about the survivalist movement in general, where he is quoted as a source. Here are the criteria for a notable biography:

A person is presumed to be notable if he or she has been the subject of published[8] secondary source material which is reliable, intellectually independent,[9] and independent of the subject.[10]

  • If the depth of coverage is not substantial, then multiple independent sources may be needed to prove notability; trivial coverage of a subject by secondary sources may not be sufficient to establish notability.[11]
  • Primary sources may be used to support content in an article, but they do not contribute toward proving the notability of a subject.

Presuming that we would like to admit him as an author, here are the criteria:

Scientists, academics, economists, professors, authors, editors, journalists, filmmakers, photographers, artists, architects, engineers, and other creative professionals:

  • The person is regarded as an important figure or is widely cited by their peers or successors.
  • The person is known for originating a significant new concept, theory or technique.
  • The person has created, or played a major role in co-creating, a significant or well-known work, or collective body of work, which has been the subject of an independent book or feature-length film, or of multiple independent periodical articles or reviews.
  • The person's work either (a) has become a significant monument, (b) has been a substantial part of a significant exhibition, (c) has won significant critical attention, or (d) is represented within the permanent collections of several notable galleries or museums, or had works in many significant libraries.
  • See Wikipedia:Notability (academics) for guidelines on academics

If he meets either of these criteria, he is in. As it stands, I don't think that is the case. But maybe I am wrong. Protonk (talk) 18:20, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Wow Protonk, I generally agree with your views, but do you need to be so verbose? Generally, the policy/guideline pages speak for themselves, and it is sufficient to merely link to them or include small excerpts to reinforce your views; I think providing annotated versions of the content may be a little excessive. I tend to agree with the talk page good practice "Be concise". Adding the bottom footnote/reference section to talkpages is generally dissuaded as it breaks the whole concept of adding new sections to the bottom of a talkpage.
Maybe. You are, of course, free to edit it as you like. I just find that linking it and saying it doesn't really establish the point. In this case, there are reasons that I am using the words "trivial" and "notable" rather than other words. Because I feel they have specific meaning. I'm not dropping this policy here to make a point, but rather to hope to illustrate one. I think that showing the specific wording (wikilawyering!) might help to show that I'm not just calling Rawles's NYT mention trivial because I don't like Rawles. But it is a little excessive. also, I've since changed my mind about the least marginally. Protonk (talk) 01:54, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

See Also

Are there more things that can go there? Like other survivalists? That way we can link back to rawles from their page. Because this page is orphaned right now. Protonk (talk) 17:47, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Someone mistakenly removed the "see also" links to Survivalism, and Retreat (survivalism). Another couple of logical ones are Self-sufficiency and Fallout shelter. Other related survivalist biographical pages (where, BTW, I've made editing contributions--so I can vouch that they would be of interest to survivalists) would include: Jerry Ahern, Ragnar Benson, Barton Biggs, Bruce D. Clayton, Jeff Cooper, Pat Frank, Karl Hess, Dean Ing, Cresson Kearny, Jerry Pournelle, Howard Ruff, Kurt Saxon, Joel Skousen, Don Stephens, and of course the Godfather of modern survivalism: Mel Tappan.

Since his FAQ on antique guns is considered a standard reference, a "See also" link from the Rawles bio page to Antique guns would also be apropos.

There were some fairly extensive back-links to the Rawles bio page, but they were all ripped out when the article went through AFD. I was planning to wait until the final okey-dokey (i.e. the AFD flag being dropped) before investing the time to re-establish any of those links. Thanks again for your time and trouble in contributing to this page. - Trasel (talk) 21:02, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Notability and References - General Agreement?

The consensus seems to be that Jim Rawles is notable. The article now has 53 references, only a few of which point to his web site, and even those meet the test of WP:SELFPUB. All of the rest of the references are verifiable, third party, and in large proportion from reliable hard copy publications. So, can the Notability and Self-published flags now be dropped? Thanks for everyone's input. -- Trasel (talk) 15:22, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

Multiple references

Many facts in this article are currently backed up with multiple references, sometimes to the point of absurdity. Multiple references are only needed for highly contentious claims, and even then, usually only two or three are needed. Having an excessive number of references for a fact makes it look like you are trying to add undue weight to the signifigance of the info. I'd like to trim each to only contain one or two references unless more are actually needed. -Verdatum (talk) 16:18, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

I'd take some of them down. A few of the multiple-cited claims became that way (like the Ed. of Defense electronics) because the cites given didn't verify the claim and the claim was important to Rawles's notability. I think correct references have been added (hard copy descriptions)without the originals (reference lists just showing Rawles as a writer) have remained. Same as the Y2k claims (which don't look contentious now but seemed much more so when the article was up for deletion). Protonk (talk) 18:57, 20 May 2008 (UTC)
I'll go ahead and remove some of the references, as discussed. My only reluctance is that this article has come up twice for deletion (one PROD, and one AFD--more recently) in part because it was claimed that there were insufficient references to affirm notability. So if anything, I think we ought to err on the side of too many references, to prevent a repeat of the same cycle. Trasel (talk) 19:30, 20 May 2008 (UTC)
Done. Trasel (talk) 22:12, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Not a stub?

Seems like this article isn't a stub anymore. Should the stub tag be removed? (talk) 21:58, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. Unless I hear otherwise, I'll drop the Stub flag tomorrow.Trasel (talk) 03:32, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
  • I removed the stub tag. Needs an infobox and some talk page tags. I'll do the talk page tags. Protonk (talk) 04:17, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

economic views

I don't want to be adversarial, but I think some of the "economic views" section is vague and too deferential to the subject. Let me explain. This line:

As early as September, 2005, Rawles urged SurvivalBlog readers to stock up on diesel fuel, bulk grains, and ammunition.[15] All three have risen in price substantially, in the interim.

Is factually correct but the implication (left unstated by the evidence and the text) is that Rawles advised people to hoard those items in the face of an immediate and sustained price increase for all of them. those three items seem to me like things a survivalist would want to stock up on anyway, so it isn't really out of his way to recommend them. But as the text suggest now (especially given the section this is under), these predictions were based on his economic acumen and they have been borne out by an increase in the price of those commodities. I'm not suggesting this didn't happen, necessarily. but the reference cited is a general list, not a prediction about future prices.

The section on derivatives should probably be changed a bit as well. It is funny that the lead in paragraph to the derivatives post is a dismissal of the possible bursting of the housing bubble.  :) Everyone makes mistakes. Dismissing that bubble and fearing the derivatives bubble puts him in the same boat as about 90% of academic economists in 2006. But the general danger he alludes to fits into TEOTWAKI more so than it does specific economic predictions (that is my opinion). He is very smart and reasoned with his predictions, much better than most armchair economists, but I get the feeling like each prediction is less connected with the events in the market and more connected to possible worst case scenarios for the market itself. That doesn't mean he is wrong, I just thin it means that it either needs to be worded as such or removed.

In some sense, it is ok (again, my opinion) to remove this material because it doesn't really add to the information we have about him. The Usenet post about silver might lend him some cache, but it is one: not true ( shows that even in 2003, the price is still about 4.25, which is/was probably the minimum it was ever going to reach) and two: not usable for WP:V (since we are appealing to the usenet post as an authority on Rawles' prediction of the market price, see WP:RS).

The 'hyperinflation' concerns are the least well grounded (Again, my opinion here, but I have a little bit of expertise in this area). what Rawles describes in ref 12 isn't actually hyperinflation. He's arguing that fiat currencies don't carry intrinsic values like commodity money (gold/silver) does (did, really). That is 100% true. But it has nothing to do with hyperinflation. Inflation is not unique to fiat currencies. For a good counter-example, take the government of Spain in the 16th Century.

Anyways. That's my 2c. I'm not going to muck around in that section unilaterally, but I figured I'd let you know what I thought. Protonk (talk) 04:56, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

I think that you misunderstood the context of the first paragraph of his piece on derivatives. The context was regarding questions about "worst case scenario" (economic collapse) triggers. Rawles had been warning his readers about the housing bubble and to get out of any rental or "spec" real estate since the first month he posted his blog (August, 2005). See, for example, this post from August 14, 2005, under the title: "The Housing Bubble": "...My advice: Sell any rental or non-retreat vacation houses that you own. Take your profit *now*. It is better to be a year too early than a day too late. Keep that money on the sidelines, with at least a portion of it in precious metals. Then after the bubble bursts, you'll have the chance to step in with cash and buy at perhaps as low as 40 cents on the dollar versus the currently over-inflated prices. When you eventually do decide to buy, concentrate on productive farm land in a lightly populated rural region..." For the full post and context, see:

Where Rawles disappoints is in failing to make any short-term market predictions. He writes a lot about major (macro level) market trends, but unlike serious economists and investment advisers, he only rarely mentions short term market moves. Well, I should mention that he has specifically said to buy gold and silver at particular market dips, but that is about it. He is more of a vague "big picture" economic commentator. He has been right about most trends, but that doesn't make him a qualified investing adviser. If anything, the wiki bio section should be re-written to make that distinction.

As for his "calling the bottom" on silver, he was essentially correct. After a 20 year bear market, he was accurate was within a few months and within 20 cents of the absolute bottom of $4.13 for spot silver. Both in calendar terms and percentage terms, he was as close to "spot on" as anyone could ever hope to be. Yes, the market did dip again the following year to $4.26, but that was not the real bottom--that was actually AFTER the market had turned the corner and was starting a bull market cycle.

I'll take a stab at adding some more balance to the "economic views" section. As it is presently written, it still has too much of a "cheering section" tone to it. Trasel (talk) 16:54, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Sure. Like I said, you clearly know more about what he has said and where his beliefs lie than I do, so I'll just suggest change. Notwithstanding, the usenet post should probably not stick around as a reference and the "ammunition, fuel and grains" prediction needs to be an actual prediction, not just something culled from a list of items to prepare for a retreat. Currently, that is where the reference points.

I guess my broader points is that although he is very astute and does cover these issues, they are not discussed (in the references or the text) outside of the broader survivalist context. The housing market is a good example of commentary that is directly related to the issues at hand, but the financial derivative article is more of a particular scenario for the end of civilization. The same with the fear of fiat currencies. The same with urging a policy of contrarian investment. This doesn't mean he is wrong or that those aren't prima facia economic predictions but it does mean that the predictions are more related to survivalism than they are to the economic issues at hand.

The problem then isn't that he predicts trends more broadly than an investment adviser would. The problem is that he depicts (right or wrong) trends insofar as they relate to survivalism.

I might do some tweaking tomorrow. I won't change anything major without posting it here first. Protonk (talk) 21:27, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

You wrote: "...the usenet post should probably not stick around as a reference.

If none of the print media mentioned his prediction at the time, does that mean that it can't be referenced? He is obviously the guy that posted it to Usenet (since the post mentions both his name and his novel's title). Is Way Back Machine considered a more reliable archive than the Google archives? In either case, archived seven year old Usenet posts can't be changed, can they?

You also wrote: "...and the "ammunition, fuel and grains" prediction needs to be an actual prediction, not just something culled from a list of items to prepare for a retreat..."

I'll dig though his blog archives and see what I can find. I'll post those refs, if and when I find any. Trasel (talk) 21:55, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

I found several, and posted them, with references, as promised. My goal was to remove some of the "rah rah" cheering, but the more that I looked through his blog archives, the more that I found he was accurate.Trasel (talk) 23:55, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Original research

Thanks to trasel for improving the econ/philosophy section. I changed a few sections but I think we ought to be careful judging the accuracy of Rawles' predictions in the wiki text ourselves. While we may be right, we should either leave the claim where it stands (without adding claims of accuracy) or reference a secondary source. If no such secondary source exists (and we have probably scoured the web of secondary sources), then we ought to be ok leaving it unsaid.

I could be wrong on this, it is certainly on the edge of what OR/SYN is. We have Rawles making a prediction (say, about Oil prices) and then an unrelated story about oil price trends. IMO, what we need is a secondary source saying something along the lines of "Rawles was correct about oil prices". that is probably a VERY narrow reading of what OR is.

thoughts? Protonk (talk) 20:11, 7 June 2008 (UTC)

Rawles has twice made a prediction that is likely to not come true: He predicted that the price of silver will exceed $40 per ounce by the end of the second term of the Bush administration. I think that when an economic prediction is plainly stated with a date attached, and then it can post facto objectively be seen that it either did or didn't come to pass, then doing so does not cross over into "original research" to state the outcome, as long as both the prediction and the actual course of events are properly referenced. As each event horizon passes, the accuracy of predictions can be objectively assessed. That isn't being judgmental. Of course, that is my view, and I'm not sure if that matches the majority of other wiki editors..Trasel (talk) 14:38, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

Undue weight

This article is really starting to (re)gain some blatantly obvious issues of non-neutral point of view by giving undue weight to Rawles' accurate predictions. This article cannot just list the entries in his blog where he correctly predicts something similar to a current event. If we did so, we would also need to mention any predictions he makes that turned out to be false. Failure to do so gives the same fallacies that surround the perception of Nostradamus, to paraphrase, "all of his predictions can be linked to actual events except for the ones that can't. Those predictions will be linked to events that simply haven't taken place yet." The best way to combat this in the article is to stop using his blog as a reference, and restrict information to third party sources; other respected people who think Rawles and his achievements are worth discussion. I'm considering doing cleanup of some of the sections that come off ass Rawles worship, but I may be too lazy. Comments, particularly dissenting comments on this issue would be appreciated. -Verdatum (talk) 18:24, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Hey wait, this is exactly what Protonk was talking about above. Oh well, sorry for the new section. the issue still stands. -Verdatum (talk) 18:28, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
This topic has been kicked around before. The bottom line is that this guy is, in part, *in the business* of making predictions, so at least a summary of his key predictions should be part and parcel of his biography. To chop them all out is a disservice those wiki readers that come to the page, wanting to learn objectively what he stands for, and his veracity. In the context of economic predictions, lets just be dispassionate. Where he was right, then lets give him credit. Where he was wrong then lets call him to account. But to chop nearly all of it out just because he has been right more often than he has been wrong, and then call that "undue weight" is hardly fair.

I'll be happy to look back through his archives and try to find some more examples (like Y2K) where Rawles was wrong, or exaggerated the potential impact of various "emerging threats", as he like to call them. If he's stepped on his private parts with bad calls, then by all means, lets make it public. To my fellow wiki editors: Please do likewise. Trasel (talk) 22:35, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Well, my first search on "Silver AND $" showed that in April of 2006 Rawles wrote: "...I'm still predicting $20 silver by next February ('07), and perhaps even $40 silver by the end of Aught Eight. [2008]". (ref: ) A visit to the historical charts at Kitco shows that silver only made it to $14.51 in February of 2007. Spot silver didn;'t get past $20 per ounce until March of 2008. To his credit, he was right about the general trend, but his prediction was premature by 13 months. And unless silver takes off like a rocket, it is NOT going to be at $40 by December 31, 2008. So come January, we ought to post about his failed prediction. Trasel (talk) 23:00, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
The problems stand. I read this article for the first time today, and was flabbergasted and the POV and undue weight, as well as the lack of context. There were mainstream magazine articles (and a Wikipedia page!) about the housing bubble before it burst. Orange County, California knew the danger of derivatives prior to this. The "hyperinflation" indicated by a spike in commodity prices was quickly reversed (although, of course, we don't know if this is temporary; still, silver is under $13 now). None of this is in the article; honestly, these predictions could use a complete rewrite by someone familiar with his predictions but also familiar with the larger context (i.e., not a "true believer"). Calbaer (talk) 19:32, 2 May 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm re-removing the claims sourced through survivalblog. Details about this person are only appropriate to discuss in this article if other independent people make mention of them first. Otherwise, it's WP:OR. -Verdatum (talk) 16:16, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
My edit was reverted because removing the improperly sourced information "makes him look like a religious loon". The sections I removed were related to his economic predictions. If his religious views look unjustifiably loony, they should be reworded, it is not a valid reason to make exception to WP:OR. -Verdatum (talk) 20:04, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
No offense untended, Verdatum! I only meant that leaving his religious views (which have some hard copy references) intact in the wikipedia page, whilst removing his economic and investing views and his predictions, (which BTW have had, ahem, mixed accuracy), might tend to put undue emphasis on his religion. Rawles is better known as an economic commentator than he is as a theologian. (He certainly isn't a Seminary graduate!) To emphasize one aspect, while deleting the other, in my opinion pushes the POV pendulum too far in the one direction. I realize WP's rules on online sources are there for good reason, but when the only sources for documenting a public figure's views are mostly available online (since he is a blogger), then I think it is apropos to include them. OBTW, I went back though those paragraphs and did a bit of NPOV-ifying Trasel (talk) 21:14, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

“Philosophical, political and economic views”

Aside from the question of whether Mr Rawles' "views" as well as his economical preditions are of any notability whatsoever, his advocates are clearly sorting the wheat from the chaff in this article. If his everyday political opionions are worth mentioning, it too should be noted, that Mr Rawles propagates several conspiracy theories (especially about september 11th 2001). For example he writes abouthis allegedly “second smartest neighbor”: “I spent 30 minutes one day taking him through the physics of WTC 7 and how 47story modern steel framed skyscrapers don’t collapse completely and symmetrically into their own footprints at freefall speed defying the laws of physics. I thought I saw a glimmer of understanding but I never heard back from him. I am assuming he went back to the TeeVee set.” (See:

Since “views” like this throw an unfortunate light on Mr Rawles' intellectual virtues (not to mention his self-perception), it could be concluded, that his advocates intentionally omit them from this article so as to not portray Mr Rawles as a hilariously self-decepting moron and impostor. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:15, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Whoa there, Mr. Unsigned Comment! What you were quoting was a letter from one of his blog *readers*, not from Rawles himself. Aside from the politics of gun regulaltions, his blog intentionally downplays most political issues, and definitely shies away from the whacko conspiracy "black helicopter" rantings that are commonplace in many other survivalist blogs. Far from being a "self-decepting moron and impostor" , Rawles could and his blog best be described as a survivalist voice of reason, amidst the clamor of rants and tirades that typify many other blogs. Trasel (talk) 14:09, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

See also

The see also section, as it stands, contains a number of names, with no explanation as to why they are included on the list. As far as I can tell, the reason they are included is that they are all survivalist authors. Ideally (supported by WP:SEEALSO), a see-also list should have text explaining why each entry is included. This list would be

...And so on. The concern I have is the arbitrary inclusion criteria for this list. It leaves out other survivalist authors who are every bit as important. To improve the formatting, I could have a subsection of see-also like "Other survivalist authors" and include them all, but then that starts to feel off-topic, and a bit silly, since we'd need to include this same list at the bottom of every one of these author's articles.

As it turns out, We've already got such a list. This is the purpose of Category:Survivalists. As far as I can tell, all entries in that list are also authors. And this makes sense, since you're not likely to be a notable survivalist unless you're writing about it. I think the category is sufficient. The people in the section who are just "other survivalist authors" may be removed.

If the people on the list have some stronger connection with Rawles, then they might be appropriate for a see also list, like:

But any time those stronger connections arise, it's easier to add that information into the main article. -Verdatum (talk) 20:53, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

Agreed. The See Also lists for biographies of living persons should be kept lean, since most of the relevant cross-wiki links are already in the narrative. Trasel (talk) 21:52, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

Notability needs to be established.

This article needs to establish that Rawles is notable in the world beyond the survivalist movement. It needs references to reliable secondary sources that discuss him, not just tons and tons of blog and forum postings. Some mainstream media coverage would do the trick (even media coverage that disparages him would qualify... see WP:FRINGE.)

Without establishing such notability, the article may be deleted. Blueboar (talk) 18:04, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Are you kidding? Please take the time to read the cited references. He has been quoted by the New York Times several times, and I've seen him interviewed twice on Fox and heard him interviewed by G. Gordon Liddy. He's also been interviewed by Laura ingrahm.

There was an attempted AFD on this wiki bio a couple of years ago, and the result was "Keep". And note that this AFD was bounced around even before Rawles reached his recent prominence and his books reached best-seller status. (He's sold more than 200,000 books, and two of them have been in Amazon's Top Ten (overall) , within the past year).

Gee, MSNBC calls him a "survivalist guru" ( ), but somehow he's non-notable? Oh, and so does Forbes magazine ( ), and CNN calls him a "defender of the [survivalist] movement" (, but that's non-notable? Those are certainly sources beyond the survivalist movement! Notability has been established, repeatedly! Trasel (talk) 18:53, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Relax... I didn't say he was not notable... I said the article needs to establish his notability. There is a difference. If he is notable, that should be easy to demonstrate... If reliable sources outside of the survivalist movement have discussed Rawles, fine... we should mention what they say and cite them. As the article stands, most of the citations are to Rawles's own writings, blog and forum postings... none of which qualify for establishing notability per WP:NOTE (and many of which are not even considered reliable sources). As for the previous AfD... Wikipedia has developed higher standards than it had a few years ago... so something that was kept back then might not be kept now. The goal therefore is to see if the article can be improved... to the point where deletion will no longer be an issue. Blueboar (talk) 23:41, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Two of those three articles are not about James Wesley Rawles. They mention him only in passing. Only the one Forbes article is about Rawles. Also, it appears that James Rawles describes Trasel as as "old friend"[1], per WP:COI there needs to be some disclosure about appearance of conflict of interest here. SaltyBoatr (talk) 21:10, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Please read some of the dozens of articles that quote Rawles. What on Earth is your standard for notability? It certainly must be well in excess of Wikipedia's long-standing policy! If, as a best-selling author, he's not notable, then we need to eliminate about half of Wikipedia's biographies.
And, as for you allegation of COI, yes, I knew him back in college. (San Jose State University, in the early 1980s.) But that hardly disqualifies me from editing a biography. If anything, It gives me some useful perspective. I'm not from some frickin' fan club. If you look at my editing history, you will see that I've made edits to the wiki bios of more than a dozen economists, survivalists, and firearms writers. These include: Jerry Ahern , Barton Biggs ,Bruce D. Clayton , Jeff Cooper , Pat Frank ,Dean Grennell , Karl Hess ,Dean Ing ,William W. Johnstone ,Cresson Kearny , James Howard Kunstler , Dr. Gary North , Jerry Pournelle ,Howard Ruff , Kurt Saxon ,Peter Schiff , Cleon Skousen, Mark Skousen , Mel Tappan and Claire Wolfe, Yes, AND James Wesley Rawles. I even started a couple of new ones. (And you can see one that I'm drafting in my Sandbox section, for example. ) Pardon me all to hell for touching the wiki bio of someone that I attended a Military Science class with, in 1983. I have sinned! I am unworthy!
Lighten up, Francis! Trasel (talk) 21:29, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Answering your question, the standard for notablity is WP:Notability, "...significant coverage in reliable secondary sources that are independent of the subject..." At present I see just the one Forbes article that qualifies as 'significant coverage'. Regarding your assertion of "best selling author", I see a Sales Rank[2] of number #255,700 which hardly seems to be "best selling". SaltyBoatr (talk) 21:50, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

You are mistaken. The Amazon listing that you pulled up was for the 1998 edition of his book. Here is the Amazon data on the current edition: Sales Rank: #353 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books) Popular in these categories: (What's this?)

  • No. 10 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Political
  • No. 23 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Action & Adventure
  • No. 52 in Books > Literature & Fiction > United States

Meanwhile, his non-fiction book (the one with the incredibly long name... "The End of the World as we know it...") has this sales rank: Sales Rank: #167 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books) Popular in these categories: (What's this?)

  • No. 1 in Books > Computers & Internet > Business & Culture > Future of Computing
  • No. 1 in Books > Science > Technology > General & Reference
  • No. 1 in Books > Science > Technology > Technology & Society

Again, both of his books got into Amazon's top ten, right after they each came out. Trasel (talk) 22:14, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Somethings don't add up here. Your COI disclosure above suggests the extent of it being that you knew this author back in 1983, yet when I look at the authors blog I see your name mentioned many dozens of times[3] in the last few years, not just 1983. Including, even, canvasing the author to solicit assistance in Wikipedia AfD debates[4] to which you were party, sorry there seems to need to be more COI disclosure than "I knew him in 1983". And, if this author is so huge I would expect to see significant coverage in a Google News Archive search[5], and I see very little. Regarding the sales ranking at Amazon, it appears to be a very specialized market as described in Library Journal "It appeals to a small but vociferous group of people concerned with survivalism"[6]. Notibility is established by coverage in mainstream press, and per policy around here, not by a small but vociferous group of fans. SaltyBoatr (talk) 22:29, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Let's not get heated here... There are a number of problems and issues with the article as currently written. My goal is to highlight these problems and work with other editors to fix the problems and resolve the issues. I am not here to attack Rowles, or the article, or any of the editors that have worked on the article. It appears that Trasel knows the subject well... and that does indicate a WP:COI. Fine... as long as everyone is aware of that COI, there should be no problem working with him. Trasel, since you are directly connected to Rowles, you really should take a step back from active editing on this article... that does not, however, mean you can not assist with the article (especially in pointing us to good reliable sources). Don't try to defend or save the current article... help us re-write it so it no longer needs defending or saving. Blueboar (talk) 23:59, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
OK... as a first step, I have cleaned up the sources... removing any links that no longer work (tagging, the statements so people can have a chance to find sources that have links that do work), or don't actually support what was stated. In a few cases I have re-phrased things to better reflect what the sources do say. Blueboar (talk) 01:01, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

refs under discussion

  1. ^ WND Commentary Five novels of freedom by Claire Wolfe, WorldNetDaily, September 30, 1999
  2. ^
  3. ^ Alphabetical List of Christian book publishers Christian Online Community
  4. ^ Tom Horn A personal word from Tom Horn How Getting Published Could Change The Course Of Your Life Anomalos Publishing
  5. ^ Rachel Donadio: You’re an Author? Me Too! The New York Times, April 27, 2008
  6. ^ WND Commentary Five novels of freedom by Claire Wolfe, WorldNetDaily, September 30, 1999
  7. ^
  8. ^ What constitutes a "published work" is deliberately broad.
  9. ^ Sources that are pure derivatives of an original source can be used as references, but do not contribute toward establishing the notability of a subject. "Intellectual independence" requires not only that the content of sources be non-identical, but also that the entirety of content in a published work not be derived from (or based in) another work (partial derivations are acceptable). For example, a speech by a politician about a particular person contributes toward establishing the notability of that person, but multiple reproductions of the transcript of that speech by different news outlets do not. A biography written about a person contributes toward establishing his or her notability, but a summary of that biography lacking an original intellectual contribution does not.
  10. ^ Autobiography and self-promotion are not the routes to having an encyclopaedia article. The barometer of notability is whether people independent of the subject itself have actually considered the subject notable enough that they have written and published non-trivial works that focus upon it. Thus, entries in biographical dictionaries that accept self-nominations (such as the Marquis Who's Who) do not prove notability.
  11. ^ Non-triviality is a measure of the depth of content of a published work, and how far removed that content is from a simple directory entry or a mention in passing that does not discuss the subject in detail. A credible 200-page independent biography of a person that covers that person's life in detail is non-trivial, whereas a birth certificate or a 1-line listing on an election ballot form is not. Database sources such as Notable Names Database, Internet Movie Database and Internet Adult Film Database are not considered credible since they are, like wikis, mass-edited with little oversight. Additionally, these databases have low, wide-sweeping generic standards of inclusion.


I am requesting a quote from that magazine, it is pretty obscure. I looked on my subscription library database which has full text of many thousands of full text newspapers journals and periodicals available for search, and that title is missing. Quote request please. SaltyBoatr (talk) 02:54, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Views vs Warnings

I have separated discussion of Rawles's Philosophical, political and economic views from discussion of his various predictions and warnings... I think they are related but distinct topics.

Having done that, I have to ask... should we discuss his predictions and warnings in the first place? I think that this secton is one of the more problematic ones in the aricle. It comes down to what makes Rawles notable. If he is notable for making these predictions and warnings, then I would agree that the section is important to the article... but if he is not notable for making these predictions and warnings, then I think mentioning them gives them WP:Undue weight.

The way to determine whether he is notable for his predictions and warnings (and thus whether they should be discussed in the article) is to determine whether reliable secondary sources made note of (ie discussed or mentioned) his predictions and warnings. This is not established. Please note, I have not looked into the secondary sources ... I am not saying that these sources don't exist... I am only saying that, at the moment, it is not established that they do.

Trasel, you are probably in the best position to know the sources on this... do you know of any reliable secondary sources that discuss Rawles's predictions and warnings? Blueboar (talk) 17:21, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Trasel was asked a similar question above, and pointed to three articles. One of which, from Forbes Magazine, is the only secondary source that solidly features Mr. Rawles as the main topic of the article which I have seen so far. There may be others, but I have been looking pretty hard including in some very comprehensive subscription periodical databases from Gale, and see very little. There are three or four other secondary sources that mention Mr. Rawles, mostly in context of describing his book or his blog, but not really describing him, the man in any depth beyond a brief passage. There are also associated descriptions of the "survivalist" movement, but again those are describing a movement, not describing the man. So, it looks like the best we have is the Forbes article[7] which is indeed quite specific about the man. The second best is probably the MSNBC piece[8] that includes several paragraphs of interview with Mr. Rawles. The third, by CNN[9] also describes Rawles in context of the survivalist movement, and it probably comes closest to describing Mr. Rawles (or at least the survivalists in general) as making apocalyptic predictions and CNN editorially goes on to observe "Of course, none of this kind of talk is that new. The nature of the threat may have changed but groups of various descriptions have been predicting a breakdown of society since biblical times -- and very occasionally they've been right." So clearly, this article must neutrally describe the context of Mr. Rawles in context of a long tradition of apocalyptic prophets. It isn't neutral to describe his prophecy from snippets of his blog, and then describe how his prophecy is the true prophecy, because this is a non-neutral form of preaching his sermon. SaltyBoatr (talk) 18:03, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
Thanks Salty... I will read the sources you point to ... it may be that we can save the section by re-writing it so that it better reflects what the secondary sources say. Blueboar (talk) 19:33, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
James Comma Rawles has specifically noted that he DOES NOT see himself as a prophet--just someone who has made some PREDICTIONS, based on various data. (See this static page at his website: ---- where he wrote: "I'm not a guru. I'm not a prophet. I'm just a guy with an opinion and perhaps the ability to extrapolate some trends. YMMV."
OBTW, Salty, you've deleted one of the few portions of the bio where he went out on a limb to "call" a market. (That was when he call the bottom of the silver market, in 2001.) That part was deleted, I presume, because it was sourced from a Usenet post. It's also available in this blog: But I gotta point out that all Usenet posts can be retrieved with Way Back Machine, making them invulnerable to forgery. See:
I'll dig for some more references, as requested. Regardless, however, I think that it is a mistake to over-scrub his general biography and get picky about the notability test on each and every sentence. The man is notable, so that makes what he has to say notable. After all, part of what makes people read his stuff and pay him $100 per hour to yack (yak?) with him on the phone for, is the fact that he writes about market /social trends and makes predictions. To leave that out is to leave out an important part of his bio. What's more important and educational for Wiki readers is us documenting both where he has been very right (like calling the bottom of the silver market), and where he has been very wrong, like his prediction that silver would hit $40 an ounce before the end of President Shrub's second term in office. Trasel (talk) 21:15, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
To some degree I am trying to avoid the situation where we nit-pick over every sentence, and take a more wholistic approach to the section. This is why I want to see what reliable secondary sources say on this... At the moment, the article is heavily focused on what Rawles says about various things; when what it should focus on what others say about Rawles. If reliable sources have noted him as giving a warning or making a prediction, then we note this as well. However if reliable sources have not noted his warnings or predictions, then neither should Wikipedia. That is the key to NPOV. Blueboar (talk) 21:54, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
I agree strongly that the article should focus on what third party sources say about Mr. Rawles, and not focus on repeating what Mr. Rawles says. Point in fact, there are very few third party sources describing Mr. Rawles, and one of them compares him to a long history of groups predicting the end of the world since biblical times. I think that this is the main theme shared in the reliable sources about this man, which is that he is preaching to, and capitalizing on, this (largely Christian moralist) survivalist movement and their fears of an apocalypse. The article's main theme should be similar to this third party sourcing. If people want to learn what the man says, we can cover that with an external link to his blog, and a bibliography of his books. We should not repeat what he says on his blog at any length in this article. SaltyBoatr (talk) 22:54, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
I disagree with your assertion that there are "very few third party sources describing Mr. Rawles". I just spent the last 20 minutes looking with Google for some of his predictions being referenced. In doing that I kept finding more and more newspaper articles that mention and quote him, like these. The first one goes into some details about his "retreat"/ranch thingy:

I'll let you know if I find some newspapers that quote his predictions. Ohhhh... It just dawned on me: hat we're missing here are the predictions that he's made during radio interviews, which are sometimes 30 minutes, or longer. I've caught him on several. He's said in his blog that he has been interviewed by G.G,. Liddy, Laura Ingram, the BBC, ABC in Australia), etc. Some of those might be in archives. Trasel (talk) 23:35, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Trasel... sources that quote Rawles are OK, but what we really need are sources that go to the next level and discuss what he says in some detail. Blueboar (talk) 03:37, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
Agreed. Recordings of him speaking are not much different that his blog postings. Instead, Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable, published secondary sources. There actually are a few reliable secondary sources that meet this standard regarding Rawles, particularly the Forbes article, enough to work with. SaltyBoatr (talk) 04:10, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

Rewrite of "Rawles has been quoted, paraphrased, and mentioned several times by journalists..." sentence.

Trasel is presently adding a number of references (presently six) to the article sentence: "Rawles has been quoted, paraphrased, and mentioned several times by journalists covering preparedness topics." This issue here is not that journalists do something. This article is not about journalists. The point is what the journalists say about Rawles. If those six references were used to support sentences paraphrased to repeat what the journalists said about Mr. Rawles, then this article would be improved to be based on reliable third party source coverage about Mr. Rawles.

It is WP:OR to make the hypothehsis: Mr. Rawles is great, look how many journalists quote him! Then proceed to prove the hypothesis by finding a long list of examples of journalists quoting Rawles as proof of the hypothesis. That is backwards.

Instead, tt would be much better to simply read those six newspaper articles about Mr. Rawles, then neutrally paraphrase what they say, cited to the third party source. SaltyBoatr (talk) 23:43, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

That sounds reasonable, as long as the links are maintained. I think that Blueboar would be the most neutral editor to do this. Since I have a COI, (since I knew Rawles in college, and I've corresponded with him several times since then), I don't think I should be the one to paraphrase him. OH, and it probably should be someone that reads German, since one of the articles is from A Frankfurt newspaper, in German . My German is almost nonexistent, but even without speaking German, Its obvious that they get into his secret location, relationship witb his ((now late)) wife, (and something about her crafts?) and that they home-school their kids ("kint"). I did find a translation of a follow-up article in Germany, but that is from some sort of ex-patriation blog rather than the FAZ newspaper. Here it is:

Good luck!!! Trasel (talk) 00:22, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

POV balance

A note for the attention of wiki editor SaltyBoatr: You have pushed your POV too far, when you inserted loaded phrases like ""claims to have predicted ". (See: ) That prediction is properly referenced therein, so it is clear that he did indeed make such a prediction. Why did you insert that phrase?

Another loaded word that you inserted was "purported" (See: ) Please explain why you did so.

You also used "lunatic fringe" in way that connected it closely with Rawles, rather than to just those elements of the survivalist movement. I have never seen Rawles himself characterized as part of "the lunatic fringe" by any reliable third party source. Name your source, or leave it qualified with more distance, as I did, in my most recent edit.

In at least two instances, you also saw fit to remove the qualifying phrase "was one of many [who predicted...]" Please explain why you singled out Rawles, with these selective pruning edits when it was clear that he was not standing alone in those predictions.

You also added the phrase: "Rawles in his survivalist writings made predictions of collapse and warned about". It is clear that Rawles was not making an absolute predictive statement, yet your choice of phrasing characterized it as such. In the vast majority of his macro level predictions he has only spoken in terms of possibilities and some probabilities, NOT absolutes. Please explain the intent of your edit.

Please keep in mind that this is a biography of a living person (BLP) , and as such, the editing is held to a higher standard than most other wiki articles. Please show caution and choose your phrasing more carefully.

Sincerely, Trasel (talk) 03:51, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

Let's regroup now. The goal, my goal, is to read reliable third party sourcing and edit an article to accurately and neutrally match what we read. Much of the article presently reads like a recruiting pamphlet for the survivalist cause, drawn from primary sources. While I try to assume good faith, it is plainly obvious that Trasel is editing from a perspective of an advocate for Survivalism, and an advocate for his longtime associate. This is plainly in conflict with the WP:Policy. I am not asking for editors to take my word either, and I am 100% willing to follow the methodical WP:DR procedures in order to resolve this dispute. SaltyBoatr (talk) 04:28, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
You haven't answered any of my questions about your specific edits. Please do so, point by point. Again , this is a BLP--with the concomitant standards thereof--so lets be meticulous and address each of your edits. Trasel (talk) 04:42, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
The issue is that Rawles is reported to be making predictions about the likelihood of a collapse as reported in the reliable secondary source, CNN. Your edit[10] actually goes well beyond what you claim, and whitewashes criticism sourced in the CNN article. This raises questions about your conflict of interest here. Do you agree to follow WP:DR? Please answer. SaltyBoatr (talk) 06:42, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
Again: You haven't answered any of my questions about your specific edits. Please do so, point by point. I will of course agree to going to DR with this. It is plain from you edits that you have taken the "guilt by association" approach with your edits, and that is just plain low. Your use of "lunatic fringe", in particular, is a blatant POV push. The quote in question was from CNN Europe ( "" )

Here is the original text of the article:

To those who have heard of it at all, survivalism is sometimes associated with extremist views. In the U.S., the movement has occasionally been hijacked by far-right groups attracted by its rejection of much of government and its fierce defense of the right to bear arms.

For example, Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh was obsessed with survivalism as a teenager, setting up a generator and a store of canned food and potable water in his basement.

For defenders of the movement, like Jim Rawles who runs a survivalist blog and lives "in a very lightly populated region west of the Rockies" this perversion by a "lunatic fringe" distorts the true message of survivalism, which is, in many ways, just about personal freedom.

You asserted that I'm trying to "whitewash" this article when at the same time, you are blackening it, with a tarry brush. You started out by saying: ( ) " "A central premise of the survivalist movement, of which Rawles is a leading spokesman, are predictions of a coming societal meltdown. Outlining a large number of doomsday scenarios, ranging from climate change to economic collapse, this message resonates with a growing number of people. Traditionally from the far-right "lunatic fringe" but Rawles claims that this distorts the "true message" and prefers to focus instead on "personal freedom"." Can't you see what you've done here? That is guilty be association, plain and simple. Instead of summarizing what the CNN article said forthrightly, you clouded the waters, and this puts the subject of the bio in a bad light. It is clear that Rawles wants nothing to do with "the lunatic fringe." For example, he is ANTI-racist. But that important distinction was removed from his biography. So what are we left with, at the end of the editing process? In effect that the survivalist movement is a bunch of loonies and racists, and the Rawles is "a leading spokesman" for them. Please explain and justify each of the edits that I've mentioned. Trasel (talk) 14:17, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

I notice that you refuse to follow WP:DR procedures, and that you misrepresent my actions attempting to set up a straw man. This, plus your name calling, makes a hostile editing environment. Again, can we instead focus on rewriting the article based on the available reliable third party sourcing? You are bringing your personal admiration and friendship of this man here, resulting in the article relying far too heavily on your biased interpretation of primary sources. SaltyBoatr (talk) 18:14, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
I am skeptical we can proceed constructively in this hostile environment, but I will try. One issue here, you write above using a declarative "he is ANTI-racist". I haven't seen reliable third party sourcing that says he is "ANTI-racist", the best we can say is that based on synthesis of primary sources (his writings) he claims to be "ANTI-racist". We don't have the luxury within the policy of WP:SYN to make interpretations from his blogs (or, it appears, from your personal acquaintance of this man). SaltyBoatr (talk) 18:20, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
(NB: double edit conflict, so I haven't yet read the above two comments) In an attempt to mediate and provide a 3rd opinion, both sides of this concern appear to be sincerely acting in an attempt to improve this article, so I see no need for hostility. I hope that all parties will strive harder to discuss the individual edits, impersonally, as opposed to presuming the intentions of individual editors.
Regarding the article wording, terms like "claims to..." and "purported" are part of the WP:Words to avoid. They put an air of dubiousness on the action, which is generally inappropriate for a neutral article. Instead, we either should say or summarize what actions took place (e.g. "Rawles said X"); or say or summarize the secondary source's statements (e.g. "according to CNN, Rawles did X"). I agree that "lunatic fringe" is a non-neutral expression, that was used where perfectly valid neutral alternative terms exist. Even if the source used the term, it was used in a specific context which ended up being lost or altered in this edit.
If readers come into this article with the belief that all survivalists are racist loonies, or any other misconception, it is not this article's job to correct them. This article discusses the verifiable facts about a person.
As I've said in previous discussions, this article must be very careful in what predictions it does and does not report. Reporting only accurate predictions results in card stacking. Reporting only predictions covered by 3rd parties presents publication bias issues (journalists are less likely to write articles about "some guy you've probably not heard of was totally wrong about a prediction you hadn't heard of either"). I believe the prediction section is much better than it has been in the past, but also that further improvement is absolutely possible.
I'll look into suggesting more specific edits when I have more time. -Verdatum (talk) 18:53, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the calming advice. This makes me question what is the purpose of the predictions section? The feeling I get is that it presently is intended to make a case that Mr. Rawles has made these accurate predictions in the past (as documented by selective snippets from his blog), therefore isn't he great! What seems more neutral is the way that CNN handled it, which is that the survivalist movement (for which Rawles is reported as a prominent spokesman) is in the habit of predicting risk of calamity and they then advocate for preparedness as a lifestyle. Orienting the article around the way CNN handles their representation of survivalism, (as with the 'since biblical times' quote) creates a more neutral perspective. Presently the article suffers too much from boosterism and reads like a fan site. Let's tone than down through more neutral language, and through removal of the selective snippet quotes from his blog. SaltyBoatr (talk) 19:59, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
Salty actually raises a good question in asking what the purpose of the section is... do we really need to itemize Rawles's predictions and warnings? I think the entire section could be summed up with a broader, and less POV statement focusing on Rawles's call for preparedness rather than specific predictions. As Trasel has pointed out, Rawles does not consider himself a prophet. The specifics of his warnings are secondary to the over all theme of his warnings... that people need to be prepared for an economic collapse. His real message isn't about a specific economic collapse... it's about preparing for any economic collapse. Blueboar (talk) 21:41, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
I pretty much agree. Notice in the CNN article that Rawles comes 99.99% of the way to prediction of a "Coming Collapse" with the title of his claim to fame book: "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse. Then he also says, as quoted by CNN "...the cities are going to become unglued." And, the article discusses at length how this message resonates with survivalists, who respond to the advocacy for "preparedness" for "the end of the world" (from his other book title). I know Rawles denies being a prophet, but certainly he is aware and caters to his audience (like Derek, featured in the CNN article) who hear Rawles with a message of "coming collapse" and "end of the world" and "we must prepare". Rawles may deny being prophetic as a face saving measure of humility, but he then chose those prophetic book titles, and his written action belies his spoken word. Also an important point, the CNN author, and Rawles himself in direct quote, notes that he is speaking to survivalists who predominately are idyllic: "The majority of survivalists live in suburban areas and they see a life away from that as an ideal," he says. "Unfortunately, from a practical standpoint it's not possible so I think for some of these people we're living out their fantasies." My point being, that we must describe Rawles neutrally, in context of his audience, and presently with the undue weight of selective quotes in his blog the article reads like it is preaching Rawles message, where instead we should be neutrally reporting Rawles in societal context. SaltyBoatr (talk) 22:50, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

Whoa, there! Salty, you really should READ both of Rawles's books before drawing those kinda conclusions. First off, "Patriots" is a piece of FICTION. He has stated publicly that he doesn't expect things to go south--that badly. The "worst case" shown in that book was intentionally DRAMA. Yup, he wrote it as FICTION, for enetainment! People buying "adventure" novels don't want to read about boring times and ho-hum lives. ) I just did a search and found this: So you can put that conjecture to bed.

There are also something like 8,000 archived posts for his blog that have gone up since 2005. (He is nearly fanatical about posting EVERY day. I think he only took a couple of days off, after his wife died. ) If you do some searches there, he repeatedly states that he DOES NOT make many firm predictions.

For sources, I put a lot more weight behind his published 316-page non-fiction book than I do from a few hundreds words in an article filtered by a journalist. In his book, Rawles uses lots of "could be " and "might happen" qualifiers- NOT any absolute prophetic "THIS SHALL HAPPEN" kinda statements. Trasel (talk) 00:49, 24 February 2010 (UTC)

The thing is... By listing his warnings and predictions as we do, I think we (perhaps unintentionally) give the reader the impression that Rawles does make prophetic "THIS SHALL HAPPEN" statements. That is why I think we would be better off completely restructuring or even omitting the section. Essentially, Rawles has had the same message for years... be prepared. He changes the context in which he places that message to fit current events (warning about Y2K when that was current... warning about the current recession now) but the message itself remains the same. If we focus on the message and not the context I think we will more neutrally reflect what is really going on. Blueboar (talk) 02:25, 24 February 2010 (UTC)
I believe that most of the "Economic predictions and warnings of a possible collapse of society" section is coherent and properly balanced. The only foundational issue is that it should somehow clarify that Rawles doesn't see himself as a prophet, and that he rarely makes predictions with dates or dollar figures attached. The only problematic portion is the first paragraph (which begins with this: "A central premise of the survivalist movement..." That paragraph is--even after a re-write--still a muddled mess. I suggest that it either be axed, or completely re-written.
This leaves the "Philosophical, political and economic views" section, which still has some issues. But I'll leave that up to other editors, since the last time I tried to clean up a paragraph, Salty started making "COI" complaints. Trasel (talk) 04:42, 24 February 2010 (UTC)
No, we really shouldn't read his book or his blog, at least for the purpose of writing this article. We should read reliable third party sourcing written about the man. There are three articles, Forbes, CNN and MSNBC referenced above. The residual original research based on synthesis of the primary documents done previously needs to be drastically trimmed, and replaced by properly sourced content.
And, by the way, Trasel has not actually fully disclosed his conflict of interest. Initially he disclosed that he only knew the man in college, decades ago. But, when pressed, Trasel acknowledged that in addition to the 1980 acquaintance that he has "corresponded several times". But, looking at Rawles blog, we see Trasel mentioned 84 times. Included in this are several posts of Trasel gleefully pushing his personal POV on Wikipedia and that: Note from JWR (Mr. Rawles): "SurvivalBlog reader Trasel (our volunteer Wikipedia watcher) wrote to tell me that his newly-created Wikipedia page titled Retreat (survivalism) is already in the midst of its first 'war of revisions...' The controversy is about which (if any) external links are... Mr. Rawles speaking to fellow survivalists describes Trasel as "our volunteer Wikipeida watcher" acting as a SurvivalBlog Wikipedia sentinel. This undisclosed conflict of interest on SurvivalBlog article goes FAR beyond Trasels half hearted disclosure of "corresponded several times". SaltyBoatr (talk) 05:39, 24 February 2010 (UTC)