Talk:Jim Bell

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Good article Jim Bell has been listed as one of the Social sciences and society good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
February 1, 2008 Good article nominee Listed
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Continuing edits[edit]

I just made some more edits, which I believe can be fully justified. I am starting this topic here to ask that they not be reverted without prior discussion. I believe I have defended my previous batch of edits successfully, as I have not received a reply after one week. Additionally, I think the list of POV statements I posted on 28 February 2010 speaks for itself.

As as an example, I removed the references to methamphetamine - the article previously stated that he was charged with the manufacture of it. But the source only said that police said they had found a "methamphetamine lab" - this was clearly incorrect. Furthermore, I removed a reference to Bell's mother, as it unnecessarily mentions her, but she is not a public figure and her privacy should be respected. Keystroke (talk) 04:14, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for explaining your changes. --NeilN talk to me 04:28, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Note I've removed this as it seems to have happened before he became notable and doesn't seem to relate to his notability. --NeilN talk to me 01:27, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Great! Keystroke (talk) 03:24, 13 April 2010 (UTC)


I have some serious doubts about BLP policy and interpretation - nonetheless, the section "Acolytes" runs afoul of it as I see it.

First, there's no source that uses the term "acolyte". The sources barely associate Bell with another named individual (Bell calls him a distant acquaintance; prosecutors "tried to link" according to one news story).

Second, the individual is a BLP1E. If he had his own article it would get deleted under the policy as currently practiced.

Third, there is an attempt to then link an attack on a prosecutor to the trial of this then-imprisoned distant acquaintance, which is based only on mailing list commentary about a news story that doesn't mention it. And the mailing list commentary is more of the "ha-ha look what happened to him" variety than any serious attempt to claim that that particular case was really responsible for the attack, and again, that has little relationship to Bell.

So in the end I just threw it all out. Wnt (talk) 19:48, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. --NeilN talk to me 21:41, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Thank you! Fantastic! Keystroke (talk) 04:16, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

Writing press releases for a militia[edit]

Contrary to the edit summary, the claim does appear in the source:

The affidavit also said that officials tied Bell to a militia group through his computer documents.

"From April 1995 to November 1995, Bell had written press releases for the Northwest Independent Militia Training Association, which met in Vancouver," the affidavit said.

Is there any other reason to remove the material? --NeilN talk to me 02:19, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for catching that! I was looking at this link rather than this one. I think we should probably change the link order to be more clear. Currently it looks like the "'They're seeing demons in dark,' says Bell's mother" article is the one which is being cited with regards to the press releases. Keystroke (talk) 03:22, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
I moved that ref to the end of the sentence (it was there anyways) so hopefully it's clearer. --NeilN talk to me 03:37, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
I did some further research and can't find anything about this organization on the net which shows it as being a militia, despite the word militia being in its name. This site says that it met once a month at a pizzeria. Is there anything else important about this group besides Bell's purported involvement? As there is no other evidence to associate Bell with a militia, perhaps we should still remove this line. Keystroke (talk) 01:24, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
I think that's bordering on original research as we should rely on secondary sources to describe the group. But you're right as this particular group seems very non-notable. So associating Bell with a militia group might be undue weight. --NeilN talk to me 01:40, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Items found during searches[edit]

As Bell was not convicted of the following, would it be correct to remove these lines from the article? I think at least the "according to Bell's friends" should go because there does not seem to be evidence of it.

"Inside the car, investigators found bomb-making instructions, political literature and detailed information concerning cyanide and fertilizer.[7]

IRS officers raided Bell's home on April 1, 1997, and seized three semi-automatic rifles, a handgun, several computers containing indecipherable encrypted data, as well as dangerous chemicals including sodium cyanide and an alleged nerve-gas precursor[10] (according to Bell's friends, he had previously claimed to have produced sarin of the type used in the 1995 attack on the Tokyo subway).[7]"

Keystroke (talk) 04:09, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

There are news reports [1][2] claiming that Bell boasted of making sarin and had a precursor. There are some BLP issues to consider before believing them. The second source is rather vague about it, and I suspect it may simply be based on the first. The first (The Columbian) says that investigators said that two friends said that Bell said that he had made sarin. Now the precursor chemical named in the story, diisopropyl fluorophosphate, is not listed by Wikipedia in our sarin synthesis recipe...
The question we get into, in terms of WP:BLP, is whether "the allegations are presented as true". I would guess that in this case, perhaps not. Wnt (talk) 06:59, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
For something like this which is potentially dynamite (well, ANFO, strictly, but you know what I mean) we should be extremely wary of using a single source. If the same thing is said in multiple sources then that would be an indicator that it has gone through more than one fact check and also that it is widely considered significant. Guy (Help!) 08:01, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Hmm, this gets more and more complicated the more I look into it. First, I was mistaken when I said "two friends" above - actually there was only one I could find. (It would be easier to do this if Wikipedia BLP guidelines would allow the person(s) to be named in the article, so editors be sure whether there is only one) Also, the Columbian cites the court record, so the newspaper may not be the weak link here. Then there's confirmation of a sort - a book says that the chemical found could be used to make a nerve gas "like" sarin, citing a now dead EPA hyperlink. (Alas, sometimes "like" could be used here to include sarin; but usually it would be interpreted to mean some other gas. For that matter, diisopropyl fluorophosphate itself could be called "a nerve gas like sarin"... just a very weak one). And to top it off the source links an IRS claim that they have an email where Bell claimed to make sarin, but they can't make it public because a plea bargain (non chemical warfare charges) prevents it.
Now the way I would prefer to have BLPs edited, which I shall dub the Goose Protocol, is that we'd chew up whatever sources we can get and deposit them into the article without much thought at all. But as you know I've encountered very different BLP practices in which we're supposed to weigh sources against one another and decide for ourselves what we believe. The problem is, I don't see a way to do this without imposing my personal bias.
To me, it seems entirely plausible, even likely, that IRS agents found this somewhat toxic chemical, found one vaguely worded e-mail that they interpreted in the most criminal way possible, got a water department employee fired over a careless conversation about potential tampering and then browbeat him with legal threats until he confirmed Bell was making sarin, and then used this cobbled-together raft of charges as a bargaining chip to get him to plead guilty to another debatable charge. I don't personally believe he made sarin, because if he did, why isn't he dead? Where's the glove box, the fume hood, the protective suit ... all the things a person needs to make a drop of something when a drop can kill him and his neighbors too?
Yet I would imagine that someone from the IRS would have a whole different take on how these documents come together - in particular, on the reliability of an IRS allegation for a BLP.
Now I can take this material out altogether, but it seems mostly like an arbitrary act of censorship based on personal opinion rather than a responsible editorial decision. And I'm afraid that's how I feel that many BLPs are now being edited. Wnt (talk) 18:41, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for summing up my thoughts and taking them further! Perhaps I should be more verbose here as I was also wondering, "why isn't he dead!" - while I don't know how difficult it is to make sarin, I imagine it is far more difficult to make sarin.. and live to brag about it! I mainly want to remove this because it colors the whole article in a way that, if it isn't true, paints Bell in a very different light than the established facts. Also it reminds me of the "methamphetamine manufacturing charge" which I removed before - there was info in the article which said he was charged with making methamphetamine, but IIRC, it was only the police who said they found a methamphetamine lab after the raid. Once the chemicals were tested it was shown they were unrelated to methamphetamine... Keystroke (talk) 02:13, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

What remains relevant however is the fact that all of those allegations were publicly made at one time or another by government officials and show the color of their interactions with him. It appears the most offensive thing (to them) was his essay on "Assassination Politics", however convictions related to his stalking of the agent(s) were in his view apparently related to an incident or series of incidents where he believed that a BATF agent had arranged for mistreatment while in prison, specifically a "hit" carried out by another inmate who was alleged to have been paid in the form of leniency and preferential treatment in his own sentencing situation. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:46, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

Bell's Patent Application on Isotope-modified optical fiber[edit]