Talk:Neil Postman

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I've taken the following line out... "there is a limit to the promise of new technology, and that it cannot be a substitute for human values", as it isn't a quote from Postman, but part of the precis to the interview. I have replaced it with... "new technology can never substitute for human values", which is a Postman quote from within the interview

Copyright Issues[edit]

The following line from the second paragraph (as of 06:31, 28 June 2006 (UTC)) is taken directly from : '. . . there is a limit to the promise of new technology, and that it cannot be a substitute for human values'. I haven't got time to redact it, but thought it ought to be pointed out for others to tackle.

Tributes and comments[edit]

Anyone who thinks that Postman was decrying the "dominance of US culture" in this book either didn't read it or wasn't paying attention when they did. There's simply nothing whatever in the entire work to support such an absurd assertion.

Anonymous comment moved here:

On a personal note, Dr. Postman was truly inspiring for me. He is the sole reason I chose NYU and the driving force behind my desire to learn. The clarity and depth of his writing allows nearly anyone to read his books. He was a great educator and a great man. He is gone now, but we can all still continue to learn from him everyday. Dr. Postman, did you see any sign of God?

He was a kind and wonderful man and I was fortunate to have met him when he received awards from SUNY. I had no idea who he was, but he made a huge impression on me.

Changed to "he criticized the television industry for confounding serious issues with entertainment." One of Postman's main criticisms was that television encourages viewers to fail to distinguish between "news" and "entertainment".

From Amusing Ourselves to Death: "The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter, but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining, which is another issue altogether." (Should be from page 87; my own notes are not perfectly clear about the page number.)

Changed same sentence further to "... in which he deplored the dominance of US culture by the medium of television, his assertion being that by its very nature, television confounds serious issues with entertainment, demeaning and undermining political discourse by making it less about ideologies and more about image". Attempting to further clarify the summary of his argument - his problem was not so much with what television might 'choose' to do, or with the individuals and organisations that produce 'television', but with the impossibility that television (considered as a medium) can convey complex rational ideas or discourse, and with the implications of this for a culture in which the pre-eminent mode of communication is television. This same intent governs alterations to the penultimate sentence of the same para.

Added 2 quotes from a 1995 television interview regarding "Cyberspace." Added a summary of his thoughts about personal computers in schools under the In Education heading. Added 5 critical works that Postman has published that were not listed before, very pertinent and influential in his career. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Deh58 (talkcontribs) 12:49, 26 September 2010 (UTC)


Was this guy actualy a media theorist, or a mere cultural critic? The JPS 15:05, 19 May 2005 (UTC)

Good question. What do you think? Most articles like this have been written by non-specialists. Viajero 15:29, 19 May 2005 (UTC)
How do you define "theorist"? Clearly, Postman has developed and refined theories of the media and technology. He built upon the work of Marshall McLuhan and developed the perspective known as media ecology. He's rightfully cited in the media theory article. --michael zimmer 22:26, May 19, 2005 (UTC)
I had not encountered his work before, to be honest. The 'cultural critic' label in the article was (incorrectly) suggesting to me that he was in the lowly realm of the arrogant newspaper columnist (the kind who, and whose readers, would gladly categorise themself as a media theorist). He clearly is clearly academic if he has embraced McLuhan's work, and that warrants inclusion within the category. The JPS 23:36, 19 May 2005 (UTC)

I would say he's both, but I'd call him a media theorist first because he discusses how media impacts cognition and social relationships. So he's also making assertions about cognitive psychology and sociology/cultural history. In fact, I believe his most interesting chapter is titled, "Media as epistemology". One of Postman's most intriguing ideas, which needs to be addressed on this page is that he didn't think humans conform media to our cognitive patterns, rather he believed that media determines our cognitive patterns. I personally think it's a recursive process, but it's an interesting construct. Also, I'd like someone to include Postman's comments on how cognitive processes differ in the print environment versus television. For instance, print allows for reflection time, and fosters complex, multi-faceted argumentation. Television generally does not.


This page seems promising but I'm not sure what's happening at the end of the quotes section. Maybe this should just be cut off as it destroys the readability. --Sachabrunel 15:56, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

"Crap-detection" essay[edit]

Is this the same Neil Postman that gave the 1969 speech at the National Convention for the Teachers of English? The speech was called "Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection". Looking at the dates suggests this is the same person, but the NCTE website doesn't have a list of previous speakers. --Culix 22:43, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes, this is the same, inimitable, Neil Postman. Tvoz |talk 15:27, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks Tvoz! Do you think that link is okay to use as a reference? I'd love to find something official. --Culix (talk) 09:01, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
Well, it's not the best, but I think it's ok for now. But it seems uneven to have Amusing Ourselves, Technopoly and the Bullshit essay together - is the essay really on the level of the books? And what about his many other books? Teaching as a Subversive Activity was an important one and Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk one of his best observations. I think the section needs expansion. Tvoz |talk 09:04, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

Explain twenty-odd edits involving hundreds of words[edit]

I've reverted a recent spree of edits because they have no edit summary. I'm hoping for either a single proposal by the author of the last twenty-something edits, or at least some kind of explanation, any kind of positive gesture will help. — CpiralCpiral 07:31, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

Try making a positive contribution. (ERIDU-DREAMING (talk) 10:25, 18 February 2013 (UTC))
The ethical reasons I continue to revert (cap Eridu-dreaming) the apparently bountiful good-faith edits are because there is no explanation for the edits in the edit summary, and because the talk page request for explanation was effectively denied. The technical reasons I found for not accepting the edits, and thus continually reverting is for a pattern of removing information and for altering the propositional logic as it was originally formulated. These patterns of editing behavior start in the lead section and continue into every section.
The first example: in the lead, the cited sentence Postman was a humanist, who believed that "new technology can never substitute for human values.", though with a much stronger preference for faith and religious belief as evidenced by his book Technopoly was edited in such a way as to remove "humanist", to change the quantifier "believed that" to "central assertion is that", and remove the "much stronger preference for faith and religious belief" clause, replacing it with a comma: Postman's central assertion is that "new technology can never substitute for human values.", Technopoly. Keep in mind that this was a cited sentence that I have restored.
Examples of removed material are
  • that a book was of the genre "historical narrative"
  • that TV depictions "undermine political discourse"
  • that the "19th century was a pinnacle of rational argument"
and on and on it goes.
An example of the changing of the propositional logic is the one from
Since television images replace the written word, Postman argues that television confounds serious issues by demeaning and undermining political discourse and by turning real, complex issues into superficial images, less about ideas and thoughts and more about entertainment.
(logical form "Since TV does X Postman argues Y", i.e. Y --> X) to
It replaces the written word with images, and turns complex issues into entertainment.
(logical form X & Y, but where both X and Y are missing terminology and concepts, are watered down.)
Vast stretches of the article are, it seems to me, corrupted in this way. I believe the onus is on the contributing editor to prove there own points, rather than the defender, to argue every change it finds difficulty appreciating.
If the discussion does not start in earnest, I will be forced to revert again. Please discuss, OK? Accompanying any further reverts on my part I will also have to fill out the forms at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Edit warring. — CpiralCpiral 12:40, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
Read Neil Postman, and then come back and improve the article. ERIDU-DREAMING (talk) 21:01, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
CpiralCpiral, I agree that edits need to be explained, if they are at all substantial. I disagree in principle with your philosophy of editing, that the content at any one point in time is sacrosanct, and that changes should be reverted entirely. You should deal with each one, and if neutral leave it, and if poor, revert it, explaining why. The problem at present is the absence of verifiable sources for large tracts (see below), and so there is no way to mediate a dispute in this article about content. (How can one unverifiable variant of the text, be any more valid than another unverifiable variant, regardless of which is older/newer?) In terms of justification: I think by the WPs, the onus is, clearly, on the one reverting, and not on a person offering what could be good faith edits.
I believe this all the more to be the case, since the article is substantially, at present, original research -- it presents what appears to be a single editor's/group of editor's take on Postman, instead of presenting published work interpreting and commenting on his scholarship. A blatant case of this is report of a speech, with no citation given even to the primary source (providing the content of the speech). As such, vast portions of the current article are not verifiable, and cannot be considered as being of any more value than another editor's changes based on personal perspective. The article needs to be turned into a citation-rich encyclopedia article, and not the work of a single (or few) editors, however personally knowledgable. LeProf

Article laced with original research[edit]

I appreciate Postman and the work that has gone into this article. However, we are not to be providing original criticism and reporting on Postman, but rather to be reporting the criticism and published information from others, from reliable secondary (and if necessary, primary) sources. This article reads very much like the original work of one(s) personally very knowledgable on Postman. The information needs to be substantiated based on published sources. Content (ideas, observations) cannot appear for the first time here. LeProf — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:50, 16 March 2014 (UTC)

Postman-Whitehead controversy[edit]

While calling attention to sections and sentences lacking citations, I noted that the paragraph on the Postman-Whitehead quotation controversy was apparent OR (no sources), and that it had BLP issues—Whitehead is, to my knowledge, still alive. Because it was entirely without secondary sources, and without primary sources as to its main claims, the claims are therefore OR, however true they might be. (By lack of primary sources I mean, primary sources for the accusation that the quotation is plagiarized; we are not to be doing original analyses of published works for plagiarism, and of the impact of such, we are to be reporting from sources on these matters.) As well, the paragraph was laden with emphatic language (see WP:WEASEL and related WP). The section was therefore set apart in its own section, and heavily annotated for the clarifications that are needed.

It is perfectly fine to take umbrage at academic/editorial dishonesty in the mainstream media; it cannot be acceptable to cut corners in its reporting, however egregious the dishonesty might appear. It is my view that if this particular controversy section is not cleaned up within the month—citations added making clear that this paragraph's claims are not OR (appearing for first time here in Wikipedia)—then it needs to be deleted part and parcel (moved to Talk until the BLP and OR issues are resolved). LeProf — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:48, 16 March 2014 (UTC)