Talk:Independent Institute

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2007/8 comments[edit]

Do we really need two glowing reviews of this Institute? - dcljr (talk) 22:53, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Is this institute anarchist??? J87 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:30, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

I would say they may be somewhere in between the Cato Institute and the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Aldrich Hanssen (talk) 21:43, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

Also,is this institute critical of Objectivism? J87

In what sense is a self described libertarian think tank "non-partisan"? If they're anything like cato, they are far-right and probably borderline fascists to boot.


A recent edit added "Its symbol is a lighthouse, chosen because of its symbolism of how services commonly regarded as public goods can be privately owned and operated.[1]". However, while that link debates lighthouses, it does not mention any relationship with the institute. Please find a better source. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 21:59, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was page moved.  Skomorokh, barbarian  09:00, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Independent InstituteThe Independent Institute — The name of the institute includes "The". Defender of torch (talk) 07:48, 27 September 2009 (UTC)

  • Comment either way, it's highly confusable with the concept of an independant institute, so this name is bad, - the proposed name is better though... (talk) 11:09, 27 September 2009 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


If the infobox says it is oriented towards libertarianism; the lede says it is non-partisan. Which is correct? A first glance at the remainder of the article indicate libertarian. I recognize libertarians can be of various positions on the left to right axis, but I do not think that an institute with that focus can be called non-partisan. It would help to have some sources for that word in the introduction from outside the Institute. They may claim what they choose, but how do others regard them?

I note furthermore that the article is a hagiography--a totally positive PR piece. I'll take a look further. DGG ( talk ) 22:30, 15 August 2012 (UTC) .

"The Independent Institute, Microsoft Money and Oracle's Private Investigators"[edit]

Okay, so before this turns into a fight, I would like to negotiate what happens to that material. I for one think that its not a factual error if an executive of the subject says it because he could be lying. In addition, it is sourced. Your username also suggests that you are doing this on behalf of the subject (correct me if I'm wrong). Citrusbowler (talk) (contribs) (email me) 19:14, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

As is mentioned very briefly at the end of this disproportionately long, highly detailed, single-source negative section (somebody has an agenda here), in 2000 it was revealed that the "anonymous" source cited as the single source for the Brinkley article was none other than Microsoft's rival, Oracle. This is an ancient, discredited smear campaign and deserves to be retired.LysanderMises (talk) 21:24, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

The section is not "single-source"; it refers to several sources beside Joel Brinkley's coverage in the NYT: three of them from the Independent Institute itself, one from Penguin books, and another from the ZDNet website.
Describing events that actually occurred is not a "smear campaign"; as the Wikipedia article states, David J. Theroux confirmed that Microsoft had paid for the ads but claimed it made no difference. Carlstak (talk) 21:57, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

Re: Recent edits by single-purpose, new accounts[edit]

This article appears to be under attack by persons with an axe to grind opening new, single-purpose accounts.

Proposed substantive changes should be addressed here on the talk page. Carlstak (talk) 19:49, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

Speaking of axe to grind: what's the agenda of adding ad nauseam links to a single-source article (the Brinkley article) that was itself subsequently shown to have been single-sourced-- planted by Microsoft's rival, Oracle? Should half of a Wikipedia entry be devoted to perpetrating the smear campaign created by a company that originated as a CIA project (Oracle) against a rival (Microsoft)? LysanderMises (talk) 21:34, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

We may have a case of WP:UNDUE going on here, but the best way to resolve this is by discussing on the talk page, not by doing wholesale removals of significant portions of sourced text. Update: this was definitely a case of WP:UNDUE. Several paragraphs were dedicated to rehashing one story from the NYT. It's certainly worth inclusion, but it needs to be paraphrased, which I've attempted to do. Safehaven86 (talk) 21:59, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

The Microsoft controversy is clearly notable enough to mention, but I agree that it's being given excess weight in recent iterations of this article and could be handled more briefly. I share the original poster's concern about the sudden appearance of numerous accounts apparently connected to the Institute and seeking to influence our coverage, and would encourage further discussion here on the talkpage rather than edit-warring. MastCell Talk 00:28, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
The edits made by Safehaven86 address the excess weight issue in a fair manner. I introduced the disputed content to bring some balance to a text apparently written by someone with ties to the Independent Institute, which would obviously be a conflict of interest. I may have gone overboard, but am satisfied with the changes as they stand now. Carlstak (talk) 02:31, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Environmental Issues Section[edit]

The Environmental Issues section has several issues which I have attempted to correct.

  • The book "Merchants of Doubt" and the article "Climate of scepticism: US newspaper coverage of the science of climate change" are cited in this paragraph. But there are no substantive statements of fact that these citations are backing up. The citations, and the argumentative statements that reference them should be removed.
  • Use of the word “rhetoric” to describe the work on global warming is biased and should be reworded.
  • TII is a small think tank. Saying that the anti-global warming work is the “work of a few persons” is pejorative, arbitrary, and irrelevant. Furthermore, this statement cites the article "Climate of scepticism: US newspaper coverage of the science of climate change" Nothing in that article backs up the statement.
  • The fact that Singer has done a great deal of work for TII is not in dispute, and can best be verified by referencing numerous articles on TII's website which I have attempted to do.
  • Describing Singer and his work and then saying that other analysis agree that the environment is a pressing concern makes it sound like Singer does not think that the environment is a pressing concern. Singer questions whether man is causing global warming, and whether warming would necessarily be a net negative for the environment. These positions have nothing to do with thinking that the environment is unimportant. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jurtal (talkcontribs) 06:43, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Tobacco Industry Section[edit]

The Tobacco Industry section describes work that certain Institute-affiliated individuals have done for other organizations. If the institute has put out studies on the issue of tobacco, that work should be mentioned here. However, unless there is evidence to the contrary, there is no reason to believe that work done by these individuals for other organizations had any connection to the Institute, so therefore that work should not be detailed on this page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jurtal (talkcontribs) 06:54, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

I removed this section, as it was violating WP:COATRACK. The section basically said "these various individuals who have been or are connected in some way to the Independent Institute (no citation) were involved in some other work, detailed here, regarding tobacco (connection to Independent Institute unclear)...." Safehaven86 (talk) 18:42, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
For whatever reason, Carlstak seems intent on vandalizing the page by continuously posting information on the Tobacco issue. For a multi-million dollar organization, a $5,000 donation from Phillip Morris 18 years ago is irrelevant in the context of all funding the organization has received over the past 26 years, and does not rise to the level of relevance of being mentioned. If it is to be mentioned, it belongs in the Funding section, not the Policy Positions section. Furthermore, he cites "a study opposing cigarette taxes", but does not say, and the source he cites does not say what that study is, so there is no way to verify it. Jurtal (talk) 19:19, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
David J. Theroux's own letter to R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, which I linked to, refers to the study by Thomas DiLorenzo. This information is not irrelevant, and you suggested moving it to the Funding section yourself, and even said above, "If the institute has put out studies on the issue of tobacco, that work should be mentioned here." O.K., so I did, and you deleted the sourced info you demanded. That is vandalism. Also, you still haven't answered my question: are you associated with the Independent Institute? Carlstak (talk) 22:00, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
Carlstak, consistent with your overall level of inaccuracy, you put words in quotes that I did not actually write. I wrote "if" the tobacco donations are to mentioned at all, they belong in the Funding section, not the Policy Positions section. However, I also argued that the tobacco industry donations are so small and so far in the past, that they do not rise to the level of being notable enough to be mentioned at all. Regarding the RJ Reynolds letter, there is no proof that the money was actually donated, only that it was offered. Regarding the supposed Thomas Dilorenzo study, there is no evidence that the study was actually done. What was the name of the study? Where can we read the text of the study? Until the actual study can be produced or linked to, it does not warrant a mention. Furthermore, there is nothing about the study that would make it more notable to be mentioned than any of the other hundreds or thousands of studies TII has done.
Based on your focus on the issue, you must have a conflict of interest and be associated with an anti-tobbaco advocacy group. Do you have such an association? My focus is to make sure that this page offers a neutral and accurate overview of TII, its history, and work. I have been fair in this regard, while you for whatever reason keep pushing the page towards being a hit piece containing trivial, deceptive, and misleading information on the tobacco issue. Jurtal (talk) 22:56, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
Amusing that you assert that I "must have a conflict of interest and be associated with an anti-tobbaco advocacy group" when you still haven't answered the question of whether or not you are associated with TTI. I am not associated with any group, a statement which you appear to be unwilling to make, so it is not unwarranted to suspect that you might be associated with the Institute. I added the material originally, and you seem to have a fixation on removing it, no matter what. You keep contradicting yourself-- you didn't even notice that I did use the word "if", then you say that I put words in quotes that you did not actually write. This is ridiculous-- I copy and pasted them from your own text, as anybody can see. Carlstak (talk) 23:37, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes, you correctly quoted the word "if" but other words you quoted were not written by me. First you lost the battle to include on the page irrelevant information about tobacco studies done by other organizations. Then you posted an out of context quote by Bill Shughart making it look like he advocated taxing children. Now you are trying to add incorrect information about a non-existent R.J. Reynolds donation, and a non-existent DiLorenzo study. Clearly you have an obsession with the tobacco issue. Why you have chosen to pollute this page with your obsession is beyond me. Jurtal (talk) 23:48, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

Jurtal: You keep saying "refer to what has been decided on the talkpage." Then you remove content regardless of what it says on the talk page. The information about II completing an anti-tobacco tax study is one of the few things in this article with references pointing to outside sources (unlike the info you added earlier about gun control and anti-trust, which was all internally sourced). I moved the tobacco information from the funding section to the policy section. What's your rationale for deleting it entirely? And why would you delete the info about RJ Reynolds funding? You're not giving any reasons for your behavior, and you're not listening to other editors. Safehaven86 (talk) 23:44, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

As I explained, the letter to RJ Reynolds refers to a proposed study by DiLorenzo. What was the name of the study? What were its findings? There is no evidence that the study was actually carried out. Furthermore, the letter refers to an "offer" of a donation. There is no evidence that the donation was actually made.
The new sections I added on Gun control and Antitrust referred to actual material on the TII website. Therefore, they represent an actual record of TII's positions and work, and are much more relevant than a reference to a study of which there is no record. Jurtal (talk) 23:55, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

Carlstak's creative tobacco fantasies continue. He has posted a new paragraph about a Thomas Dilorenzo study supposedly commissioned by TII, copied almost word-for-word from Sourcewatch ( He cites the book Merchants of Doubt, which makes zero mention of DiLorenzo or any TII tobacco study, and an essay titled "Smoke and Mirrors" which says TII "published a study opposing cigarette taxes while taking money from several major tobacco firms". However, the essay does not say the title of the supposed study, its findings, or that it was written by Dilorenzo. Since this first assertion is unsubstantiated, everything in the rest if the paragraph is off-topic, has no connection to TII, and should be removed from this page. I see no evidence that TII has any connection to the book CancerScam, Unhealthy Charities, or any arrangement made between R.J. Reynolds and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Jurtal (talk) 05:17, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

I deleted the unsubstantiated section about TII having taken money from tobacco companies. That section had two sources, the book Merchants of Doubt, and a pdf of an article titled "Smoke and Mirrors: The Tobacco Industry's Influence on the Phony "Grassroots" Campaign for Liability Limits". I have read and searched through Merchants of Doubt and there is zero mention in it about tobacco donations to TII. The ″Smoke and Mirrors″ article says “[The] Independent Institute published a study opposing cigarette taxes while taking money from several major tobacco firms.” Their source for this is “Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, Tobacco Industry Front Groups, October 11, 1995”. However, there is no link to this source or way to find it online, so there is no way of verifying it or finding out what it is based on, so it is heresay. Wikipedia should certainly not post that TII took tobacco donations until a verifiable primary source can be found to back it up. Even if such a source does exist, the relevance of posting about tobacco donations is dubious. Even if TII had taken donations from the tobacco industry in the '90s, that is hardly notable in the context of a multi-million dollar organization that has taken donations from thousands of sources over the years. Vidmastb (talk) 05:17, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

Edit-warring by Jurtal[edit]

New account user Jurtal (talk) is making arbitrary edits, deleting sourced content without consensus, then demanding consensus to revert his edits. That qualifies as edit-warring. Carlstak (talk) 18:06, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Consenus is formed through editing and through discussion on the Talk page, both of which I am doing. So far, you have failed to make a case for why the irrelevant Tobacco section should be included on the page. The Tobacco section has sourced content, but it is all irrelevant to TII. For now I have added the Off-topic tag to the section to hopefully spur further discussion. Jurtal (talk) 18:24, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
As written, the tobacco section was not clearly connected to the Independent Institute and was properly removed by another editor as original synthesis. The Independent Institute was a player, albeit a relatively minor one, in the tobacco industry's anti-regulation campaign, but such a statement needs to be more appropriately sourced if we're going to put it in the article. The Institute is mentioned briefly in Landman & Glantz (Am J Public Health, 2009), where it is described as a "tobacco industry–funded think tank" which carried out projects on behalf of Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds. MastCell Talk 18:48, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
This article is being edited incrementally to a state resembling the one it was in when I began editing it, i.e., major parts of it appeared to have been written by an employee of the Independent Institute. At the time, it read laughably like a puff piece for the organization, and now, slowly but surely, it seems to be trending that way again. These lists of associated personages are absurdly long, fatiguing to the reader, and could certainly stand to be trimmed for concision.
If editors who insert this sort of material (who often have a conflict of interest in "contributing" to an article) really want to accomplish their ends, one would think they'd strive to hold readers' attention, rather than put them to sleep with long lists, which don't belong in the main body of the article in any case.
The Institute's collusion with the tobacco industry, overt and covert, should definitely be included in the article for a balanced overview. I'll research it when I get a chance, and add MastCell's reference as well, much to the consternation of Institute employees and interns, I'm sure. Carlstak (talk) 05:17, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
Carlstak laments the page becoming a puff piece. The fact that he is so driven to link TII with the tobacco industry despite the admitted absence of evidence, shows that he is acting in bad faith and his primary motivation is to turn the page into a hit piece containing irrelevant propaganda.
He complains about the recent changes to the page to make it sound like a puff piece, but the only specific he cites is the long paragraph of event people. That is not an example of a recent change because that paragraph has been on the page in basically its current form since 2006. The only change made this week was to add citations to that paragraph. I agree that the paragraph may be too long to read comfortably, but the entirety of TII's event program certainly deserves at least as much coverage as the Microsoft controversy. Perhaps we should split it into multiple paragraphs to form a new section called "Events". Jurtal (talk) 06:17, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
This is a typical (of non-disinterested parties) distortion of what I actually wrote, in the past tense: "At the time, it read laughably like a puff piece for the organization, and now, slowly but surely, it seems to be trending that way again." That's quite different from saying "make it sound like a puff piece" (present tense, his words). This guy purports to magically have knowledge of what my motives are, ignoring the fact that I've stated previously (now archived) on this page that I accepted the previous changes to the Tobacco Industry section. I'm not opposed to covering all aspects of the Institute's past behavior; my question to Jurtal is, are you associated with the Independent Institute? because if you are, that is a clear conflict of interest, see COI, and you should not be editing this article. Carlstak (talk) 14:30, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
One problem I'm noticing here is the lack of secondary sources to establish notability. The recently added "Gun control" and "Antitrust" sections are almost exclusively sourced to Independent Institute published sources. The information may be true, but unless there are secondary sources, it doesn't show that it is notable enough to include here. The page of any think tank would get very, very, long if the standard for inclusion was "things this think tank published, or that its scholars said," rather than "activities of the think tank that have been included in secondary sources, thereby establishing their notability." Safehaven86 (talk) 16:09, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
It seems to me that citing sources on TII's website is a legitimate way to cite their positions on issues. Their website arguably provides a more pure view of their positions than a third party commenting on the organization would have. Other think tank Wikipedia pages like Cato and AEI cite plenty of content on their own websites. Jurtal (talk) 23:34, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
We need third-party sources to establish notability. Just because an II scholar said something does not mean it is notable. We don't need a "pure view" of their positions–we need an overview article that conveys to the reader, via reliable, third-party sourcing, what has been said about the II. Not what has been said by II, but about II.Safehaven86 (talk) 23:39, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
By the notability standard, TII sending two letters to tobacco companies 19 years ago is not notable either. I'm sure TII has sent out thousands of letters over the years. Why pick only these two to feature? Jurtal (talk) 00:06, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
Other editors seem very interested in including material on donations to TII by tobacco companies and Microsoft, and the alleged influence those donation had on TII's work. If that material is included, then it is also relevant to include more extensive details on TII's research history on the subjects of antitrust and tobacco before and after the donations in order put the controversies in context and show that TII's positions on those issues has remained consistent regardless of donations. The best place to put that material is probably the Policy Positions section, and the most comprehensive source for those positions is probably TII's own website. Jurtal (talk) 05:08, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
"To show that TII's positions on those issues have remained consistent regardless of donations." This is a point of view that you have, Jurtal, and it's causing you to push an agenda here. The agenda is "use this page to prove that this organization's work is not influenced by donations." That's not what Wikipedia is for. But building an internally sourced narrative is not going to work. Independent, third party sources can establish the notability of particular II research projects/activities. II's website cannot. Safehaven86 (talk) 19:40, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
Granted, the page should not overtly push the view that TII's positions have remained consistent. However, other editors seem to think it is highly relevant to post information about TII's work on antitrust and tobacco having coincided with donations from Microsoft and tobacco companies. The only reason to insist on posting that material is to imply that TII is corrupt and owned by those outside entities. Why is TII's work on antitrust done in 1999 any more relevant than work they did on the issue in 1990 or 2010? Why is posting a study on tobacco taxes from the 90's any more relevant than posting any of their other studies on taxes? Cherrypicking TII's work to paint a picture of a corrupt organization is not neutral. The neutral approach would be, if any of TII's work is to be cited, then it is equally relevant and notable to detail a more complete history of TII's work on those issues to let the reader draw their own conclusions on the issue of influence. Jurtal (talk) 21:06, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

Clean up[edit]

I've tried to do some substantial clean up here, operating under WP:BOLD. This page needs a lot of work. This page should convey to a reader, "what is the Independent Institute? What is its history, mission, activities, notable features, etc." Right now it seems like we're mired in arguments about very specific, historic items. We definitely need more third-party sources. Otherwise he page looks like the II website, slightly re-imagined. What do reliable sources say about this organization? Is it in the news? Why? The funding section is out of date. It lists cherrypicked donations from 10+ years ago. Why are those particular donations relevant? Do we have access to more recent data? Anyway, I tried to address some of these issues, but wanted to have a (hopefully constructive) dialogue here. Safehaven86 (talk) 22:31, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

We have two editors at odds here. Carlstak, you've added significant portions of the org's article on Sourcewatch. These are out-of-date, cherry picked additions from a source hostile to this org. Jurtal, you're reacting to this with a seeming bias in favor of the org at hand. You're both coming across as if you have an axe to grind. Let's remain neutral and examine our motives here. Safehaven86 (talk) 05:18, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
The recent edit-warring carried on here by accounts currently blocked as sockpuppets illustrates my case perfectly. I included the material from Sourcewatch as a counterweight to information in previous versions of the article, which appeared to have been written by a person or persons at the Independent Institute, and read almost like propaganda for their "libertarian" mission. Though the Sourcewatch stuff may have been dated, it did represent part of the history of this outfit. I think it's obvious that the socks were associated with TII, particularly because this "Jurtal" played so coy and refused to answer a direct query.
It is difficult to find third-party sources for information about TII, and difficult to find much material at all that isn't generated by the organization itself, for whatever reasons. Assuming that these socks originated from TII, a fair assumption given their behavior here, this little imbroglio demonstrates the sort of tactics it resorts to.
I should say also that a serious scholarly exegesis of the history of TII would include the references used by the Sourcewatch article for the light they shed on its motives. Carlstak (talk) 14:17, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
This is Jurtal. I am under no obligation to reveal personal information about myself on the internet, hence my refusal to answer any of your personal questions. I have had nothing to do with past text on the page that made it sound like "propaganda" for TII, and I'm fine with making the page more neutral. Sourcewatch is a clearly biased organization. And you are clearly a biased individual who has sought in all of your edits to cherry pick quotes and pieces of information to make TII look bad. --Jurtal — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:58, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Jurtal, what you've written on this page and the fact that your sock puppets are banned tell us all we need to know about you. Carlstak (talk) 18:30, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

Policy positions[edit]

Much of the material about policy positions has been removed. The remaining piece needs a quotation. The problem with the material was that it conflated works done by people associated with II as if the works and associated conclusions were the policies of the institute. In this regard the section is off-WP:TOPIC because it does not stay with the scope of the article. – S. Rich (talk) 03:22, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

Well, in noting that TII has 65 different categories of issues, dozens of publications, hundreds of associated scholars, it is simply impossible to present "policy positions" as a balanced and non-POV-pushing section. E.g., as stated above it is conflation to say "this person" wrote about "that subject" and thereby imply that TII adopts "this policy". (Duh -- does SYN ring a bell?) In fact, one of the "tributes" they list is a United Press International blurb (not referenced) that says TII is the "least partisan" of many think tanks. TII holds itself out as a non-profit think tank dedicated to libertarian issues. That is encyclopedic enough. (I've removed the remaining "policy" item.) – S. Rich (talk) 04:00, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

The irony here is that TII does seem to have a "policy position", it's just not overt. David J. Theroux's comments here on the talk page (under at least one pseudonym) might give a clue, but how do you catch that greased pig? No need to be snide. Carlstak (talk) 04:22, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Funding from Philip Morris[edit]

The source says they got $5,000 from Philip Morris in 1995. This is not a noteworthy bit of information. Tagged as undue. – S. Rich (talk) 19:59, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

I agree. It's properly sourced, but without some secondary discussion or even notice of this, I don't think it adds to the article. SPECIFICO talk 20:32, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
The Independent Institute's connection to the tobacco industry is noted in Merchants of Doubt (on p. 234), and in Landman & Glantz, Am J Public Health 2009, where the Institute is described as a "tobacco industry-funded think tank". These are both reliable secondary sources. MastCell Talk 22:55, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
These sources may be useful in the article. Editors who wish to add the material are certainly free to do so. But to add a 14 year old thank you letter for a lousy $5,000 from Philip Morris is blatantly undue. TII, recently, has a $2,000,000 budget. – S. Rich (talk) 21:55, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
@Carlstak: please note I had already opened this thread and I received support to remove the Philip Morris mention. Perhaps you or MastCell or Specifico can add the Landman or Merchants of Death material. Thanks. – S. Rich (talk) 22:01, 16 July 2014 (UTC) I further note that you wanted this particular item in earlier discussions. I do not see where you garnered support to include it. – S. Rich (talk) 22:08, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I have opened a NPOVN discussion on this issue at WP:Neutral point of view/Noticeboard#Philip Morris donation to The Independent Institute. – S. Rich (talk) 23:26, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

Srich, my comment was made prior to MastCell's comment. I think the easiest solution here would be for you to devise language that's acceptable to you, based on RS secondary references, and BOLDly add it to the article. Removing the old text without trying to fix it in light of new information doesn't seem likely to help get us to consensus here. SPECIFICO talk 01:58, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
A secondary source about Philip Morris' contributions would justify including the Independent Institute's contributions in a section about contributions to think tanks in the Philip Morris article. If we want to include information about where the Institute gets its money, it would be better to use a source about where it gets its money. For example, the SourceWatch article lists many major contributors. In comparison, it may be relevant to an article about a celebrity with a notorious reputation that they gave $5000 to the Democratic Party. That does not mean that we should add it to the Democratic Party's article, especially if we do not mention other donors. TFD (talk) 13:24, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

As there has been no response from Carlstak, I archived the NPOV Noticeboard thread here. – S. Rich (talk) 03:18, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

That is preposterous. First, you are an involved editor. Second, the thread has been up for only 6 days. The purpose of going to NPOVN is not to have the same editors pay a visit from the article to the Noticeboard. This is not a personal matter. You should undo the archiving and see whether anything fruitful comes of the posting there. What is the rush or the harm in leaving it there. Furthermore as the one who turned this into a complicated dispute, you might consider making use of the references which other editors have presented here and trying to improve the article rather than shut down any discussion. SPECIFICO talk 03:36, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
"[...] I don't think it adds to the article." I'd like to hear from someone who disagrees with you. That is why I posted the thread at NPOV, but there was nothing to contest your statement. The NPOVN has a backlog, so archiving a section that had had no meaningful activity was to help clear the backlog. If whoever wants to come in and say the $5k donation is noteworthy, they should and can say so here. (Per H:ARC the thread should not be un-archived.) – S. Rich (talk) 04:21, 22 July 2014 (UTC) [Add ...ellipses... – S. Rich (talk) 20:07, 22 July 2014 (UTC)]
[insert] @Srich32977: For the second time, I'll remind you of what you already know -- that you are quotin the opinion I stated before additional RS information about tobacco funding was presented by @MastCell:. Don't use my words to misrepresent me. That's a personal attack and it's not going to help us improve this article. SPECIFICO talk 19:57, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Well, it's obvious that tobacco-industry support is considered noteworthy by reliable secondary sources. That should be evident from the two sources I listed above; the funding is noteworthy enough for mention in Merchants of Doubt, and noteworthy enough for the Am J Public Health paper to call the II a "tobacco industry-funded think tank". On the basis of those sources, I would suggest including a sentence or two describing the role of the tobacco industry in funding the II. MastCell Talk 18:44, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Go right ahead. I haven't objected to using the sources you mention. (And I'd like to see what you put forth.) It was the single sentence paragraph from the primary source about an old and very small donation that I objected to. (BTW, is the tobacco funding an on-going issue?) – S. Rich (talk) 18:53, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
How could you object to the sources? They're RS for their statements. Instead of trying to whitewash the article, why not just beef up the content, which previously did not document that the support was noteworthy based on the single primary source? SPECIFICO talk 20:18, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Again, while it may be notable in an article about Philip Morris that they gave $5K to the IAIndependent Institute, it may not be important for an article about the IAIndependent Institute. Notice that the Merchants of Doubt has a section about their donations, and does not single out the IAIndependent Institute, but includes it with other groups. Similarly, a source about the IAIndependent Institute (such as SourceWatch) has a section about contributors to the IAIndependent Institute. Singling out one minor donor in this article is tendentious. TFD (talk) 20:45, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Nobody's insisting on the $5000 Philip Morris bit any more. But the statements in the more general source provided by MastCell are worth including in this article. SPECIFICO talk 21:15, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
TFD, by "IA" do you mean "TII" (The Independent Institute}? If Merchants did not mention TII, then it cannot be used. But let's see what beefing up of content is provided. I await. – S. Rich (talk) 21:28, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Sorry, I have corrected it. TFD (talk) 21:38, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Srich, you seem to have strong opinions here. Why don't you give it a shot and use the sources which MastCell has provided? Or if you believe that material does not belong in the article, it would help if you could state the reason for that view? Thanks. SPECIFICO talk 21:39, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
SPECIFICO, the same argument applies, you need to establish weight. I am sure you think the fact Philip Morris gave money to the Independent Institute is really important and should be included, but you need to show that writers in secondary sources about the Independent Institute have come to the same conclusion. TFD (talk) 21:41, 22 July 2014 (UTC)Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page without content in them (see the help page).
I was referring to this, (Personal attack removed) SPECIFICO talk 02:06, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
I explained my position above and we have been through this before. Articles are supposed be neutral which means if we are going to single out one donor we need to explain who else donates, unless reliable secondary sources about the subject single out one donor. SourceWatch for example which researches funding of the Institute as well as other right-wing think-tanks and is certainly not favorable to them does not even mention the tobacco industry's funding. It would be against neutrality to make a bigger issue of this than they do. TFD (talk) 03:33, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
TFD, this link [2] give sources which state that the Independent institute is funded by the tobacco industry. Is there a problem with those sources? SPECIFICO talk 13:24, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I have explained my position repeatedly, and while you may disagree with it, I find it hard to believe you do not understand it. I have never said, "there is a problem with those sources." They may meet the policy of "Reliable sources". The problem is that your edit fails to meet "Balancing aspects", which is part of the policy of "Neutrality". These are two entirely separate issues.

Merchants of Doubt has a section about political groups and think tanks Philip Morris donates to. Therefore we could use it as a source in an article about Philip Morris, provided we assign the same emphasis the authors do to each organization they support.

Similarly, we could find a source (I actually provided one) for who donates to the Independent Institute and report that in this article, provided we give the same emphasis the authors do to each donor.

Mentioning that Philip Morris has given money to the Independent Institute, without mentioning other donors or showing how the amount of their donations compares with other donors, without providing any comment from secondary sources about the significance of the donation, is tendentious. It leads the reader to believe that the Institute is influenced by the donation. It is saying to the reader, "The Independent Institute" is funded by big tobacco. They are biased and you cannot believe anything they say." Of course that may be a valid conclusion, but must be sourced, which it is not.

The assembly of select facts (cherry-picking) that lead readers to a conclusion is propaganda and has no place in an encyclopedia. Respected sources, even those politically opposed to the Institute, such as SourceWatch, do not do that because they would lose credibility, and their readers would not longer trust them as sources. And even though they may be "advocacy groups", they have a desire to inform the public, not merely persuade them.

TFD (talk) 20:59, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

Howdy, TFD. Actually I think your prior comments were rather terse and this is the first time I feel I understand where you're coming from on this. I do see, however, that you acknowledged the sources provided by Mast Cell so my repeating them didn't add anything. SPECIFICO talk 22:23, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

RePEc & EDIRC[edit]

The RePEc is a database maintained by the Research Division of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. The personal information in the link was provided by the individual concerned. There is no BLP issue and the info is not contentious in the least. In fact the Economist infobox has a parameter for RePEc data to be provided. Any editor who objects to inclusion of the RePEc data ought to cite which of the WP:ELNO criteria apply. – S. Rich (talk) 01:52, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

Violations of WP:NPOV policy[edit]

This recent edit [3] is in clear violation of a number of Wikipedia policies.

  • First, the claim that Patrick Michaels has "claimed that there is 'No Proof Man Causes Global Warming.'" "Claimed" is a violation of WP:SAY. Including information about Michaels in this article is also WP:COATRACK. Is he a scholar of the institute, writing on its behalf? Does he work there? In addition, the source for this claim fails verification. The cited book, Why We Need Nuclear Power: The Environmental Case, doesn't actually include any mentions of Michaels or the Independent Institute.
  • "In a 2003 report published by the Independent Institute and co-authored by Singer and several other scientists, the authors claimed that recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports were "misleading, inaccurate, unreliable, or simply wrong." Singer's claims have ranged from full denial of global warming evidence to claims that the crisis exists but isn't caused by humans. Singer has written that climate change "deniers" make "skeptics" look bad." The cited source--the study by Singer--is not published by the Independence Institute. It's published by Rowan & Littlefield. What do Singer's views have to do with the Independence Institute? They didn't evidently publish them, so what's the connection? That's what you call WP:COATRACK. This article is being used to "hang" information about various scholars whose work is not apparently connected to the Independent Institute in a meaningful way (or if it is, such connections are not appropriately sourced here). The last source in the section is an article by Singer. This fails WP:NOTABILITY. And again, II isn't even mentioned in the article, or in Singer's accompanying bio. Why is this article notable? What does it have to do with II? And again, we have an issue with WP:SAY.

These are not appropriate additions to this article, and I'm reverting them. If this is contested, I'll take it up at the neutral point of view noticeboard. Safehaven86 (talk) 01:51, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Climate Change[edit]

The two sources on Patrick Michaels mention him, but they make no assertion that he is associated with TII. They are irrelevant and should be removed A search on TII's website shows that the only reference to Patrick Michaels is a review of his book Climate Coup in The Independent Review in 2012. Considering that TIR has reviewed hundreds of books, including many by authors on the ideological left, Michaels is hardly worth a mention. Reviewing someone's book does not constitute "promotion" of their work.

The section mentions the TII books Hot Talk, Cold Science and the policy report “New Perspectives in Climate Change", but the references give no way for people to actually learn more about those publications. I changed the references to link to the TII pages for those actual publications.

Finally, I provided more detailed descriptions of the arguments made by the above two publications.Vidmastb (talk) 18:33, 9 January 2015 (UTC)

The article does not say that Patrick Michaels is associated with TII. The two sources are placed to show that he is associated with the Cato Institute, as it does say. Michaels is worth a mention in the article because he is a well-known and outspoken opponent of government action on climate change (one who has received much of his funding from the oil industry). His book is not only reviewed on TII's site, contrary to your assertion that the reference is unsubstantiated, it is clearly promoted with a link to its Amazon page. And so what if TIR has reviewed hundreds of books; that doesn't diminish the relevance of a mention of a controversial author who is promoted on the site.
Also, my understanding is that you are associated with the Independent Institute. If that is true, you should not be editing the article, as it would be a conflict of interest. Another editor who appeared to be David J. Theroux, founder of the Institute, was quite active in editing the article for a while and was later blocked for using sockpuppets here. Carlstak (talk) 07:13, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
I tend to agree with Vidmastb. We should be using reliable sources about the Institute rather than gleaning snippets of info about them. For example, why is it relevant that Exxon gave them $30,000? It is relevant to the Mother Jones article about Exxon which explains that they gave millions to right-wing think tanks. If there are few reliable rs, then we should scale back the article, just say what type of think tank they are, who their offices are, and provide a link to their website. TFD (talk) 04:13, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
You may have a valid point, but this part of the thread is about the well-supported climate change section, and your example refers to the funding section. I don't think your concern applies to this section, which is relevant to describing the Institute's approach to climate change. TII deeems the subject important enough to promote the work of Patrick Michaels, an anthropogenic climate change skeptic, so it seems appropriate for the article to reflect that. Carlstak (talk) 05:09, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
In response to your stated concern, I have removed the isolated reference to funding from Exxon Mobil. Carlstak (talk) 05:21, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
You say "well-supported", but no secondary source has bothered to mention the Institute's support of Patrick Michaels. Right Wing Watch does not even mention the Institute, except to say that someone at the Hoover Institute was with them. If secondary sources ignore them, it is impossible to write anything beyond a stub without ourselves providing analysis, which is original research. "Balancing aspects" says "An article should not give undue weight to any aspects of the subject but should strive to treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to the weight of that aspect in the body of reliable sources on the subject." How do we do that when we have no rs discussing the subject? TFD (talk) 06:15, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
You raise some good points. The subject suffers from such a lack of notability and respectability that few scholarly secondary sources are available to support much material about it. The article itself has a long history of editing by special-purpose accounts and sockpuppets apparently emanating from TII. I don't think it deserves much more than a stub. Carlstak (talk) 15:30, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
It looks like the standard practice of TII is to link to the Amazon page for a book when that book is reviewed. They probably do this to make some money from referral fees. They do this even for books by authors on the political left, such as Ralph Nader, Democrat Bill White, and Socialist G. A. Cohen. By Carlstak's logic, saying that TII promotes the work of these leftist writers would be just as accurate as saying that it promotes the work of Patrick Michaels. Also, one book review out of hundreds that TIR has done does not rise to the level of relevancy of being mentioned on TII's Wiki page. TII's Research Fellows page lists hundreds of names. Patrick Michaels is not among them. If we are going to start name dropping, how about starting with people with a real association to TII?
Carlstak, I would appreciate you not making unfounded assertions about my supposed affiliation with TII. You have no evidence for such an assertion. You do have a long history of vandalizing this page with disparaging statements backed up with flimsy sources, ad hominem attacks, and 20 year old controversies. What is your affiliation and what is your ax to grind here? Vidmastb (talk) 06:42, 14 January 2015 (UTC)
Talk about "unfounded asserions"! In your hands qualified suggestions are transmuted into "assertions".
This page has been an endless source of amusement as we have observed the antics of editors affiliated with TII edit the article with sockpuppets and special-purpose accounts, to the point that at one time perhaps the whole text was written by them. Your behavior here seems similar to theirs, and even now you exhibit a similar inability to distinguish between good-faith edits and vandalism. Those editors also interpreted any alteration of the text that shed light on activities TII would rather not see publlicised as "vandalism".
So what if some of the controversies surrounding its shadier activities are twenty years old? That doesn't diminish their relevance to an honest accounting of the organization's history one whit. As for my "affiliation", I notice that you still don't offer yours, a typical response from that sort of editor. I am a small-business owner and an amateur historian. Care to tell us yours? Carlstak (talk) 15:12, 14 January 2015 (UTC)
Vidmastb's comments here are very similar to those made by TII's sockpuppets on this page, using similar phraseology and the same devices of misdirection and disinformation. Like the blocked sockpuppet Jurtal, he challenges me to state my affiliation without deigning to offer his own. It's also interesting that 17 of the 43 edits made by an account started 16 December 2013 were made to this page or that of the corresponding article. That history is what you would expect from a special-purpose account with an "axe to grind", rather than from a Wikipedian interested in improving a free encyclopedia. I invite the reader to inspect my contributions, and compare them with those made by his account, and to draw your own conclusions. Carlstak (talk) 20:29, 14 January 2015 (UTC)

Addition of Non-Neutral Point of View Material[edit]

This article already relies "excessively on sources too closely associated with the subject, preventing the article from being verifiable and neutral". It doesn't need any more non-verifiable propaganda taken from the organization's website.

There is a lack of verifiable material available about it because peer-reviewed academic literature mostly ignores the subject. Carlstak (talk) 18:54, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

We do not requite peer reviewed academic literature as sources. WP:RS is broader than that. What will be helpful is non-primary source (non-II) material which discusses the various views and positions of II. I urge editors to bring up particular proposed changes here in order to get consensus for the changes before the edit war gets out of hand. – S. Rich (talk) 05:08, 23 January 2016 (UTC)

I appreciate the sentiments, Srich, but it's misleading to respond to a comment I made over a year ago as if I made it in regards to these recent edits. Carlstak (talk) 17:04, 24 January 2016 (UTC)

I have attempted to add a new Policy Positions section similar to the sections other think tanks like Cato Institute have. The vast majority of it is backed up with third party sources. For some reason Carlstak seems to think that the only policy position that deserves its own section is Climate Change even though II has clearly done extensive work on a wide range of other topics. If you look at the edit logs, Carlstak has a long record of steering this page towards negativity with irrelevant and dubiously sourced claims about tobacco companies, oil companies, and the Microsoft case, while preventing material about II's other work (which has much more extensive coverage and sourcing) from being posted. Demonstrating his bias, he called II founder David Theroux a "pig" elsewhere on this talk page. By the way, Carlstak has had no qualms about citing sources on II's website if he thinks the source supports a defamatory point, so his argument that II sources are invalid rings a bit hollow. His presence as an editor has not been helpful in molding this into a quality encyclopedic page. Can we come to a consensus to have him banned from making edits here? Vidmastb (talk) 10:02, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
The article has been relatively stable for over a year as its contributing editors had reached an apparent consensus, then on January 22, 2016 (diff here), user Vidmastb added a lot of material. Some of this text had been removed after previous discussion, and its reinsertion now, with expanded material, creates an imbalance that upsets the required neutral point of view. This new material also adds more information sourced from the Independent Institute to an article already relying excessively on sources too closely associated with the subject, and thus exacerbates that problem. Surely Vidmast was aware that it might be contentious, especially given the prior discussions here on the talk page, and should have discussed his desired changes on the talk page first. I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with the addition of the material not sourced to the Institute if it were submitted for discussion, but I believe that it should be counterbalanced with material that treats the same topics more critically. Carlstak (talk) 17:04, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
The text I added was entirely new and had not previously been posted and "removed after previous discussion". This page has been stable for the past year because apparently no one except me has been willing to write new text to fill it out in a more comprehensive way. The fact that a page is sparse and incomplete is no excuse for it continuing to stay incomplete. Pages for other think tanks like Cato Institute, Hoover Institution, The Heritage Foundation are much more detailed. The new material is an attempt to add neutral details to the page to provide a more complete picture of II and its activities of the sort that people expect to see on any organization's Wikipedia page. If other editors believe the new material is not worded neutrally, I welcome discussions of alternative wording. Notice the bias of Carlstak who seems to think that neutrality isn't good enough and that it's necessary to have critical text as well. Carlstak, I agree with the importance of using third party sources, but don't you think it's a bit hypocritical to object to using sources when you yourself have used sources when you think they can be used to cast II in a negative light, such as your edits on 18:15, 9 January 2015‎, and 12:02, 30 October 2014‎? Vidmastb (talk) 20:26, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
Oh, sorry, Vidmastb. Your edits from a single-purpose account here and on the article itself so strongly resemble those of blocked user Jurtal (a sockpuppet) in language, style, and substance that it led me astray. That, and the fact that your Vidmastb account was opened not long after Jurtal made his last edit to this article before he was blocked. No, I don't think it's hypocritical to use sources to illuminate a view contrary to yours, which seems to be synonymous with everything that is Independent Institute, since for whatever reason, there aren't that many secondary sources to rely on for a contrarian point of view. In any case, if you are associated with II, you should come clean and stop playing games. Carlstak (talk) 21:29, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
If there are a lack of secondary resources that provide contrarian points of view, wouldn't that mean such contrarian views are not notable or relevant? Why then do you insist so fervently that such views should be included? Vidmastb (talk) 21:42, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
Because it appears that either David J. Theroux, accounts representing him, or various sockpuppets, as per the Jurtal/Shadowdog investigations, have been editing this article for quite a while now, since 2006, to the point that it read like a promotional pamphlet for the institute. It looks to be headed that way again with your recent additions. Carlstak (talk) 21:53, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
Regardless of what other editors may have done in the past (which Carlstak seems irrationally obsessed with and has no bearing on this new material) the important thing now is that the page be expanded to provide a more comprehensive overview of the organization, just like the Wikipedia pages of every other think tank. Carlstak has exhausted every negative secondary source he can find about II and hasn't found much "contrary" material to post, so he argues that no positive or even neutral additional material should be added to the page, no matter how well it is backed up with secondary sources. If that is not a demonstration of bias, I don't know what is. Vidmastb (talk) 22:29, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
It has bearing, Vidmastb, because your edits originate from a single-purpose account and appear very similar to those of the blocked sockpuppets and their puppet master, and you seem to be associated with the subject of the article, which you don't deny. You are the one who appears to be "irrationally obsessed" with resurrecting past disputes that were resolved over a year ago. You are concerned with slanting the content of this article, not with building an encyclopedia. Carlstak (talk) 23:48, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
The disputes of a year ago that you say were resolved were on completely different issues: the wording of the climate change section, whether a section about tobacco belonged, and whether a mention of a $5,000 Exxon donation belonged on the page. The current dispute is on whether it makes sense to expand the page to provide a comprehensive, yet neutral overview of II's positions, history, and activities, just as every other think tank's Wikipedia page does. If other editors believe the new material is not neutral enough, I welcome their revisions to help reword and reorganize it. We have still not heard an argument from you as to why the page should be so short and incomplete, other than you saying that you can't find enough unfavorable coverage from secondary sources to contradict the new material, a novel requirement that has never existed for any other Wikipedia page. Vidmastb (talk) 04:21, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
And we still haven't heard from you an affirmation or a denial that you are associated with the Independence Institute. Wikipedia's WP:CONFLICT policy says editors who are employed by or associated with an organization should state their connection if they add content to an article about that organization:
"COI editing is strongly discouraged. It undermines the public's confidence in Wikipedia, and risks causing public embarrassment to the individuals being promoted. If it causes disruption, accounts may be blocked. Editors with a financial conflict of interest, including paid editors, are advised not to edit affected articles. They may suggest changes on the talk page and must disclose their COI." Carlstak (talk) 02:40, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── NPOV is not the problem with the proposed additional info. WP:SUMMARY STYLE is the guidance we should follow. Thus if someone is hired, fired, gives birth, is murdered, etc, the info is not noteworthy unless there is a connection between the particular event and the Institute itself. Also, we have to follow the very restrictive BLP guidelines. – S. Rich (talk) 03:47, 1 February 2016 (UTC)