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RfC on whether calling an event "murder" presumes the perpetrator is a "murderer".[edit]

See Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Crime and Criminal Biography#Request for Comment: Does "murder" presume "murderer"? Or don't. InedibleHulk (talk) 16:20, July 17, 2015 (UTC)

OR on GMO articles[edit]

Previous NOR entry, at the time the related article content was changed to agreement. However, editors changed it back again to claim that there is a consensus on GMO safety.

Why is a consensus statement problematic?

If there were a consensus it would be clear in the wast amount of scientific literature.

  • The WHO states in their official conclusion about food safety of GMOs, "Different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods."
  • A UNEP/IAASTD report from last year (p. 34) states, "As the general public has become increasingly interested in the linkages between agricultural production systems and human health, the list of food-related health concerns has continued to grow. It includes uncertainty with regard to the effects of GMOs on human health, fear of pesticide residues on foodstuffs..."
  • From the IAASTD synthesis report, "The three most discussed issues on biotechnology in the IAASTD conceredt: • Lingering doubts about the adequacy of efficacy and safety testing, or regulatory frameworks for testing GMOs [e.g., CWANA Chapter 5; ESAP Chapter 5; Global Chapter 3, 6; SSA 3]; • Suitability of GMOs for addressing the needs of most farmers while not harming others, at least within some existing IPR and liability frameworks [e.g., Global Chapter 3, 6]; • Ability of modern biotechnology to make significant contributions to the resilience of small and subsistence agricultural systems [e.g., Global Chapter 2, 6]" prokaryotes (talk) 23:20, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
Comments
  • Comment. The first thing that needs to be stated is that this subject has just been covered at Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Genetically modified organisms, and discretionary sanctions apply to this discussion. I want to make clear that the edits that are in dispute are the following: [1], [2], and [3]. So all of the noise above is simply over whether we should say "scientific agreement" or "scientific consensus", as if that were a big deal. But the reason that it is in dispute is that we have POV-pushers who want to undermine the idea that GM foods are safe, so they want to water down the idea of a "consensus", even if that means that somehow, miraculously, "agreement" is better. Now it's true that there is a WHO source that calls for testing each new GM crop plant, on a case-by-case basis, in case a new problem should emerge. That isn't an upsetting of the scientific consensus, but simply an application of good science, to check whether future findings might provide exceptions to the existing scientific consensus. No editor is claiming that there is a scientific consensus against testing new GM plants, only that there is a scientific consensus that, so far, your food won't make you drop dead. And as for talk page consensus, the immediate talk page discussion is at Talk:Genetically modified crops#Scientific "consensus", and the most recent discussion of the question in general was at Talk:Genetically modified food controversies#Scientific consensus?. To say that Aircorn and I are ignoring talk page consensus is counter-factual. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:22, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
There are many reports (such as this) who conclude that wisdom about safety (a certain GMO case) is incomplete. Again, my point above that you can not make general statements. And then there is the fact that glyphosate is considered a probable carcinogenic, which renders glyphosate depending herbicide tolerant products unhealthy to some degree (yes, this does include non GMO as well). prokaryotes (talk) 23:41, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
Glyphosate is not a GM plant. It is a chemical. Part of the POV-pushing is centered on creating the false impression that GM plants have more toxic chemical residues on them than conventional crop plants do, so inevitably, discussion about scientific consensus about the plants subtly shifts to discussion about scientific consensus about the residues on the plants. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:57, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
We are discussing food safety of GMOs, which according to food safety includes pesticide residues, "In considering industry to market practices, food safety considerations include the origins of food including the practices relating to food labeling, food hygiene, food additives and pesticide residues, as well as policies on biotechnology and food" I notice that you repeatedly refer to POV-pushers, please focus on actual evidence per sources, instead of repeating terms characteristic for battleground behavior, see WP:BATTLE. This talk is about OR not about factions. prokaryotes (talk) 00:05, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
I'm not the one who needs to read WP:BATTLE. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:08, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment (edit conflict) To my knowledge this question has been to WP:RFC twice. The first was closed in August 2013 as "the statement being reasonable" (Talk:Genetically modified food controversies/Archive 6#Request for comment on "broad scientific consensus"). I took part in that RFC. The second RFC was closed as no consensus in July 2015 (Talk:Genetically modified food/Archive 10). Whether the statement was original research was discussed at length in both RFC's. AIRcorn (talk) 23:30, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment To claim "scientific consensus" is actually a big deal according to WP rules, and i think everyone here knows that. The second RfC trumps/negates the first one, and it wasn't simply "no consensus", it was no consensus that the SC statement had support even with the 18 sources clumped together. We still don't have any strong, non-advocacy RS stating that most or all scientists agree on GMO safety, only Pew poll of AAAS scientists. From Archive 12:
A quotation from the author of the RfC might be relevant to this discussion: "[I]f there is no consensus then we have to rework the statement." - GrayDuck156 23 July
the closer has more authority than i. the closer also suggested we try to rework it. so that is what we should do. we need to work that out here. - Jytdog 23 July
Now that no one is looking, two editors are inserting this language again. It cannot be said that editors weren't aware of the RfC and its findings, not after the ARbCom where it was mentioned ad infinitum. This appears to be pro-GMO POV pushing to me. petrarchan47คุ 02:59, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
You have it the wrong way round as the scientific consensus language was already there. This is the first edit that I can find that changed it to scientific agreement. AIRcorn (talk) 04:04, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
That's only because the RfC to which you are referring took place at the GMO foods page, not the GM crops article. So, only the GM foods article was amended post-RfC; no one got around to changing all the articles. There may be upwards of 12 pages that still contain the "scientific consensus on GMO safety" claim, likely because of the blowback when any change is attempted.
Here is the first time the SC statement was changed after the RfC. Here is where Jytdog 'fixed' the wording from admitting that some questions do exist, to another form of SC (which is still in need of proper sourcing).
If the RfC found no support sufficient to claim SC - including the widely discussed AAAS ref - then that RfC holds true for this claim no matter where it sits, until new sources arise support it. Have any new sources been produced? petrarchan47คุ 21:56, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment WP:OR is policy, a local consensus from a RFC or agreement of editors on an article talk page cant override policy that has community consensus. No source makes that exact claim, The AAAS source is close but problematic in that it misrepresents the WHO. AlbinoFerret 03:09, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment Aircorn's description leaves out the complete history. Jytdog created the second RfC because it was clear that there was no longer a Wikipedia consensus supporting the "scientific consensus" language. In the start of the 2nd RfC Jytdog indicates the intent and purpose of the need for a 2nd RfC: "That statement undergoes constant challenge, so it is perhaps time to review it again." And the result of the close was indeed that there was no consensus on what to do about the disputed language. However, the closers of both RfC's advised on revising the language to gain consensus. I described that in the following post:
RfC on Sentence on “broad scientific consensus” of GMO food safety fails to achieve consensus: It is time to improve it.
The Request for Comment (RfC) here created by Jytdog for the purpose of reaffirming the findings of this previous RfC on the language and sourcing of the sentence of a “broad scientific consensus” of the safety of GMO food (found in numerous articles) has closed here. There is no longer a consensus supporting the sentence. The closer stated:
Should the sentence be removed? Or maybe modified (and if so, to what)? There is no clear consensus on any particular action....Some of the opposes in this discussion appear to agree with the substance of this section but feel that the wording of the one sentence is overly broad; they might support more nuanced statements. I recommend that someone propose an alternative wording
I would also like to note that the closer of the earlier RfC made a similar recommendation:
... it may be helpful to refer to to some of the literature reviews to represent alternative views on the matter with respect to due weight.
With these recommendations in mind, I have provided a new...discussion at Talk:Genetically modified food .... Because the sentence occurs at numerous articles:
  • Genetically modified food controversies (Talk)
  • Genetically modified food (Talk)
  • Genetically modified crops(Talk)
  • Genetically modified organism(Talk)
  • Regulation of the release of genetically modified organisms (Talk)
  • March Against Monsanto (Talk)
  • The Non-GMO Project(Talk)
I suggest we continue to consolidate talk at Talk:Genetically modified food. David Tornheim (talk) 23:28, 21 July 2015 (UTC) (post is here).
Editors discussed the language at Genetically Modified Food (no one objected to my proposal to discuss it there) and eventually the "scientific agreement" language was the result at the GM Food article. I explained all that here.
I am pinging each of the closers of the two RfCs--@I JethroBT: and @Risker:--in case they want to comment on what they meant in the above quotes. --David Tornheim (talk) 03:27, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
I deliberately left it short so as not to prejudice or discourage any uninvolved person who might be willing to look into this. Because that is what we need, uninvolved editors. What RFC did Risker close? AIRcorn (talk) 04:12, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
David, I disagree with your assessment: "And the result of the close was indeed that there was no consensus on what to do about the disputed language." The RfC question was not "What do we do about the language", rather, it was "Do these sources support this claim?" The result was 'no, we don't have a consensus that this is supported', leaving the closer with the only conclusion (found in his closing statement): we cannot use "scientific consensus" re GM food safety. This means that all of the refs cited above have been through the RfC process and failed miserably for one reason or another. Unless there are new sources, IMO editors should be fixing the articles according to RS, not defending outdated, unsupported language that was overlooked by editors post-RfC and forcing us to re-argue the same points. petrarchan47คุ 23:50, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
  • As I look at the discussion here, everyone (including me) is an editor who has long been involved in the disputes about GMOs, and predictably, it looks like most editors are lining up according to the existing "sides". Therefore, I think that the most useful purpose of a noticeboard like this being to attract "fresh eyes", I hope that uninvolved editors may be able to offer something here. But another thing – I've been thinking very hard about the dispute here, and an idea occurred to me. Shortly, I will suggest it at Talk:Genetically modified crops. Who knows, maybe it will help. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:31, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment There were a number of problems with the claim that there was academic consensus. Either the sources were unreliable or they did not make that claim. The only review studies presented have said that insufficient research has been conducted to draw any conclusion. If anyone has a review study that says differently, then it would be helpful to present it. TFD (talk) 20:52, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
It's scientific consensus, rather than academic. There are plenty of reliable sources that review the literature (thus, secondary sources) and conclude that there is no greater risk. And there are no reliable sources that conclude that there is a greater risk, although there are reliable sources that say that there still needs to be case-by-case testing. The issue you raise is whether or not it is SYNTH to take the preponderance of sources and conclude that they are in consensus. As you, TFD, well know, you and I have disagreed about the proper application of SYNTH many times before, and doubtless, we disagree again here. But thank you for providing an outside opinion. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:07, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
Per your own words it shows that the claim is WP:SYNTHESIS it matters not if you agree with it, its WP policy.
"There are plenty of reliable sources that review the literature (thus, secondary sources) and conclude that there is no greater risk."
Thats adding up the sources to come to a conclusion. What is required by WP:VER is a WP:RS that makes the claim that there is "scientific consensus" if there are so many sources, it should be easy to pull one up. AlbinoFerret 21:29, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
  • I think you have a false dilemma here, either (1) the risk is not greater -or- (2) the risk is greater. As you have acknowledged the sources indicate a need for case-by-case testing. And as TFD mentioned the review studies indicate insufficient study and knowledge from lack of long term studies. We seem to all agree that Domingo 2011[1] is the best (or one of the best) review articles on this subject. This Krismky article[2] discusses eight review articles about GMO safety (including Domingo 2011). The journal for Krimsky states here its impact factor as: Impact Factor:2.194 | 5-Year Impact Factor:2.475.
  1. ^ Domingo, José L.; Giné Bordonaba, Jordi (2011). "A literature review on the safety assessment of genetically modified plants (5 February 2011)." (PDF). Environment International 37 (4): 734–42. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2011.01.003. PMID 21296423. 
  2. ^ Krimsky, Sheldon (2015). "An Illusory Consensus behind GMO Health Assessment" (PDF). Science, Technology, & Human Values 1-32 40 (6): 883–914. doi:10.1177/0162243915598381. 
--David Tornheim (talk) 21:56, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment been over this before, this silly coat-racking of cites that say nothing definitive about scientific consensus is going to keep causing problems. Cite only those sources that provide undisputed support for the claim, remove the fluff. Semitransgenic talk. 22:39, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
Tryptofish, certainly with your background I am sure you are capable of researching the literature and forming an opinion about the general consensus. However, that is still original research and cannot replace peer-reviewed studies. I would point out that publicly known figures including Jane Goodall and David Suzuki have questioned whether there has been sufficient testing. It would also seem to violate WP:MEDRS, since we could be offering incorrect information about health claims. Since you have spent a lot of time on this, have a PhD in biochemistry and have written peer-reviewed papers, have you ever thought of writing a review study for an academic journal? Then we could incorporate your findings into the articles. TFD (talk) 22:45, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
  • There's no OR with respect to the scientific consensus. We're just seeing the same tactics as we see in climate change denial to make it look like there isn't a consensus such as cherrypicking the isolated fringe sources, claiming different nuanced ways to say essentially the same thing isn't consensus, etc. At one point, we had people complaining that there were too many references (up to 20 I recall) that gave a comprehensive overview on the different ways to say consensus in this topic, and now we have people picking out a few sources instead trying to claim they don't match up. This content has been through multiple RfCs, so there shouldn't be any reason to keep bringing it up as original research. Competency in the subject matter is required here, and we have multiple editors conflating specific parts of the overall consensus description in the literature as being contradictory when it is not. Kingofaces43 (talk) 02:45, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
It is remarkable that you suggest that editors who give valid policy based input are similar to climate deniers/use same tactics. I think you should retract that and read about climate denial. Or better retract teh entire comment, fringe...conflating parts...competency, are you serious?prokaryotes (talk) 02:48, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
Many of the things listed are unfortunately behavior problems that this board isn't suitable to handle, which is why we likely won't get anywhere here (and why I mentioned them and am done on that part). That being said, and focusing on the real-world aspect, the same arguments being used to deny the GMO consensus as with climate change, vaccines, etc. is written about pretty often. It's not hard to find sources commenting on those things hand in hand and mentioning that fringe aspect of society, why they do it, etc. [4][5][6][7]. We're not writing content on that right now, but that is a real world issue that comes with trying to edit articles where people are trying to deny a scientific consensus. It is a legitimate content problem when editors or sources are using the same arguments here as in climate change denial. Kingofaces43 (talk) 03:25, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
There is a difference between an article out of Wikipedia, and policy based discussions when an editor suggest that other editors use climate denier tactics. There is also a difference when someone compares his SYN/OR sources which do not refer to a consensus, and compares that with the overwhelming consensus in climate science (i.e. IPCC statement on scientific consensus). I find your argumentation here very concerning, and your comments show that you seem to lack basic will to understand these differences, besides very good arguments by various involved and uninvolved editors. prokaryotes (talk) 03:41, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
"We're just seeing the same tactics as we see in climate change denial" - what utter bollocks, an association fallacy of the highest order, this is Kingofaces43 casting aspersions again in an attempt to poison the well. Claiming that those critical of GM technologies are somehow undifferentiated from those who deny climate change is nothing more than a straw man. Please note GMO arbitration decision 4.1.5 Semitransgenic talk. 10:12, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────There is a comparison with climate change denial. Review papers on climate change say there is consensus that it is real, and industry supports studies outside the academic mainstream to promote the view that consensus does not exist. Review papers on GMO say there is no consensus that it is safe, and industry supports studies outside the academic mainstream to promote the view that consensus does exist. The Searle Freedom Trust is listed first in an International Business Times article about funders of anti-climate change science.[8] It is also a major funder of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, one of whose scholars, Jon Entine, runs the pro-GMO Genetic Literacy Project. Ironically, the Genetic Literacy Project says that climate change is real and compares GMO scepticism to climate change denial. TFD (talk) 14:33, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

yes, that narrative is there, no denying it, but that's not the context in which the above concern was raised. The origination of this "tactic" of using the GMO/climate change association fallacy to negate criticism is outside the scope of this discussion unfortunately. Semitransgenic talk. 15:31, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

Break 1[edit]

In my opinion the strongest source for the scientific consensus currently linked to in the article is a statement from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012. T me this appears strong enough to support scientific consensus on its own. AIRcorn (talk) 21:23, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

Why not simply quote the AAAS? prokaryotes (talk) 21:34, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
The only problem is that the AAAS source only lists 4 groups, not even mentioning scientific agreement or consensus, even worse it misstates the WHO that GMO's have to be guaged on a case by case basis, a red flag for reliability. It also does not list any other sources it relies on, second flag. Try again. AlbinoFerret 21:35, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
It mentions four very important science groups then says "and every other respected organization that has examined the evidence". Saying the AAAS is unreliable is a big call. How does it misstate the WHO? I don't see evaluating on a case-by-case basis as contradictory to saying current GM food is as safe as conventional. AIRcorn (talk) 21:41, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
Four groups does not "scientific consensus" make. clear and simple. If the claim was "The AAAS board of directors said four organizations ..............." even listing the WHO ect out, it would be one thing, but the problems with the source, and using it to back a "scientific consensus" statement is problematic. Still OR/synthesis. AlbinoFerret 21:50, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
After it mentions the four groups it says and every other respected organization that has examined the evidence so four groups plus "every other respected organization that has examined the evidence" is as strong a statement of consensus as I have seen. AIRcorn (talk) 07:48, 26 January 2016 (UTC)
That is a very extraordinary, to claim all other respected organizations. Perhaps you would like to read WP:EXTRAORDINARY. AlbinoFerret 08:00, 26 January 2016 (UTC)
You can't keep moving the goalposts. First you say it doesn't mention enough oranisations and now it mentions too many. AIRcorn (talk) 08:12, 26 January 2016 (UTC)
@Aircorn: An editor put it succinctly and well, over two years ago:
I also agree that the AAAS board of directors one-page editorial statement is a problematic source. There's no indication that the AAAS members were polled; it's basically an ex cathedra statement at the ranking at the lowest level of evidence.
That editors have found AAAS a problematic source is nothing new. It is high-grade PR writing, that is factually accurate, while appearing to say something that it in fact does not support. The issuers were willing to take flak for the position, all they had to protect against was being called out on the facts, not on the creative wording, and everything is so non-specific, there is always an interpretation of the literal statements like, "every other respected organization that has examined the evidence," that can be supported.
In the media, the AAAS was openly associated with anti-labeling efforts in the California Proposition 37, 2012 campaign, as was their statement. It was released just over two weeks before the vote, and intended for immediate public impact. The money sentence can be quite easily deconstructed to show that what at first reads like an assertion of broad scientific agreement for a GM food safety claim, is in fact only the much more conservative claim that GM methods are inherently no riskier than conventional methods. It's well-written.
To use this as verifiable sole evidence of a scientific consensus seems kinda bizarre, and definitely inadequate. --Tsavage (talk) 02:16, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
If they believed their statement then it should come as no surprise that they are anti-labeling. They haven't tried to hide the timing or reason for its release as it is present in the title. I see no problem with that, statements are generelly released in response to something. I agree that "respected organization" can be gamed, but then again so can most statements and they needed to qualify it in some way. If they just said every organization then people would cry foul and bring up CRIIGEN. The money sentence ends with "consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques". The word food is used heavily in that sentence fragment. No matter how I read that it says that food from GM crops is no riskier than food from conventional crops. In any case this seems like more an issue of reliability as opposed to synthesis. I recently read through the reliable source noticeboard discussion you started and the only comments from an editor who has not responded here (I do not recognise them from any other discussions on gm food either) suggest using it in conjunction with other sources. Discussion on other sources is continuing at Talk:Genetically modified crops#Citations, which you might find interesting. AIRcorn (talk) 09:18, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
That the AAAS is anti-labeling is in regard to independence: this is not a formal review of evidence, it is their OPINION that certain organizations, in whatever they had each said, are in agreement with what the AAAS is saying - that opinion will obviously be slanted as much as possible in favor of their anti-labeling/GM-food-is-safe position. So, non-independence would apply here, and in-line attribution, not "scientific consensus" summary.
The food claim is easy to dismantle: consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques is simply extending the proposition that GM methods are inherently no riskier than conventional methods:
1. if, as they note in their preceding EU quote (which is what they rework), biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies, then...
2. any "same" (identical or...equivalent) crops produced by GM and by conventional methods should present the same risk, and...
3. the food produced from those crops as ingredients should also pose only equivalent risk.
Crops or food or ingredients, it's the same hypothetical equivalence of METHODS, and that's the statement they're saying is supported by "everyone respected." In this (US-framed) context, taking the further step to the safety of actual available food relies on evidence of substantial equivalence testing, case by case for each food. While the AAAS statement discusses regulation and testing later, that "every" food has been tested as safe is not included IN THE FOOD STATEMENT.
Here, we're not trying to see for ourselves if GM food can be considered safe by the available evidence and standards, we're looking for a source that says there is consensus, so that we can write consensus, and we don't seem to have it here.
I'm not sure in what sense you're referring to previous RSN discussions, which I just glanced at: they seemed to go on and on to no clear end, as is kinda usual.
If my understanding is somehow totally...perverse, please indicate how so. --23:53, 29 January 2016 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tsavage (talkcontribs) 23:58, January 29, 2016‎
  • Here are the reasons AAAS was not considered acceptable for a safety consensus statement:
The AAAS source is not a review/not MEDRS; the only review of GM food to date and its impact on human health is Domingo 2011, which is still missing from WP pages (it says that half of independent studies find "serious cause for concern").
From RfC re Safety Consensus statement:
  • not peer-reviewed
  • includes a false representation of the WHO's position
  • contrasts GM food with "conventional plant breeding techniques", not "conventional food"
  • "The AAAS document, "Statement by the AAAS Board of Directors On Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods," is a position piece opposing mandatory labeling legislation in the US." - Tsavage
  • "A press release from the American Association for the Advancement of Science—with exactly two footnotes!—does not begin to fulfill the requirements for a reliable source in this case." - groupuscule
  • "The AAAS public position paper, which seems to be the source most cited as support for the consensus statement, was written to argue against GM labeling, published as news on their web site, and seems obviously aimed at legislators, media reporters, and the general public, as a group, non-technical readers. It's essentially a form of press release." - Tsavage
  • Does not represent the AAAS scientists. petrarchan47คุ 00:23, 26 January 2016 (UTC)
Since that time, new information has come from FOIA documents that should make us question the AAAS as RS:
"Buried in the emails is proof positive of active collusion between the agribusiness and chemical industries, numerous and often prominent academics, PR companies, and key administrators of land grant universities for the purpose of promoting GMOs and pesticides. In particular, nowhere does the Times note that one of the chief colluders was none other than the President of the [AAAS]". per ISN. petrarchan47คุ 00:34, 26 January 2016 (UTC)
I don't know if quoting other wikipedians is much proof of anything except that this subject has divided contributors (we argue about dashes so I am not sure that is notable in itself). The environmental health news source is easily countered by the pew research centre, which found that "88% of AAAS scientists say GM foods are generally safe". Independent science news is hardly a reliable source. Also how do you think conventional food came about if not through conventional plant breeding techniques. AIRcorn (talk) 08:09, 26 January 2016 (UTC)
A Pew research poll of American scientists with the AAAS doesn't for much of anything; the problem is that we don't tell readers the specifics of this poll, we simply indicate that most scientists (worldwide?) think GMOs are safe. This is misleading and unsupported, as is your claim that ISN lacks veracity. That article is fact-based and shows through FOIA requests that the AAAS is pushing GMOs, so if the AAAS is the only source we have for this extraordinary claim of "most scientists agree", you can see the problem. petrarchan47คุ 04:55, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Because multiple editors have replied to me along similar lines, I'm going to make a single post here, instead of trying to reply to each one of you individually. To those who have claimed that I am ignoring the NOR policy, no that's really not true. At its core, what we have here are two competing theories of what the SYNTH part of NOR really means. Neither one is entirely wrong, and I'm not sure how editors who disagree about it can come to consensus.
    • Theory 1: WP:SYNTH is a bright-line rule, not unlike WP:3RR. We have to be rigidly careful not to have editors including original research. If, for example, we are to say that there is "scientific consensus", then there must be a reliable secondary source that says explicitly that there is scientific consensus. The source must actually use that exact phrase, "scientific consensus". Absent a reliable source that says that, we must not use that phrase here.
    • Theory 2: WP:SYNTH is important, but it is a rule that requires editorial judgment and a certain amount of common sense. Editors constantly make valid decisions that a group of sources constitute "the preponderance of reliable sources". We do not consider it to be SYNTH when editors decide that a group of sources constitute "the preponderance" (and indeed, Wikipedia would come grinding to a halt if we did). Even though there is editorial judgment, it is not original research. And when there is such a preponderance, it is not SYNTH to note that each of these sources is saying the same thing. When these sources are examinations of the scientific literature, such an observation can legitimately be expressed as saying, in Wikipedia's voice, that there is a "scientific consensus". Editorial judgment is not like a computer that must follow a strict algorithm.
  • As I said, there are valid arguments in favor of each of these theories. Obviously, I see it more as the second, whereas other editors here see it more as the first. To a large extent, the dispute here really isn't about OR. It's about NPOV. Some editors are selecting a view of SYNTH based upon their view of what constitutes NPOV. In my opinion, sources such as AAAS speak for the scientific community as a whole, in ways that Jane Goodall and David Suzuki do not, especially since neither of them is an expert on agricultural science. That's where we are now. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:51, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
WP:SYNTHESIS is part of the WP:OR page, a core policy you can disagree with it all you want, but you cant ignore it or put your own spin on it, or form a local consensus to override it. There are policies that need to be followed, and picking and choosing when they apply because it fits a specific view is a horrible idea. Even if the claim is right, you still cant use synthesis. Just like you cant add it without a source and violate RS or VER. AlbinoFerret 21:53, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
You can shout the word "core" all you want, but the fact remains that what I said is that both "theories" of that policy are good-faith interpretations of what it means, not a violation of it. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:15, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
no, one is policy, the second is spin to ignore the policy. What part of "Do not combine material from multiple sources to reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated by any of the sources." do you think backs up your spin? AlbinoFerret 23:02, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
No, it's not spin. If you think that SYNTH is a bright-line rule like 3RR, then we disagree. If you think that this can reduce to a computer algorithm, then we disagree. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:21, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
IMHO, when we're arguing policy interpretation, we should always observe one bit of policy advice: Because these policies work in harmony, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another (WP:NOR). Why? Because looking for the intersections, not the exclusions, seems to yield more logical, balanced, sensible-sounding results.
You say a little common sense SYNTH doesn't really violate WP:NOR, when we're simply summarizing several sources, and that seems to satisfy WP:V, because we do have the sources. But what about WP:NPOV? If we, for example, establish "scientific consensus" as a summary, that automatically relegates all other views to a FRINGE, or at least an oddball outlier, position: "after careful deliberation, EVERYONE agrees, except..." So we should be careful that general agreement really does exist, or risk (seriously) violating NPOV by relegating otherwise valid, well-supported minority views to the crackpot bin.
Which helps explain the need for an explicit source stating consensus, per WP:V's little helper, WP:RS/AC: The statement that all or most scientists or scholars hold a certain view requires reliable sourcing that directly says that all or most scientists or scholars hold that view. Which is the useful but long way around to saying, as a matter of course, we should just literally observe WP:SYNTH. --Tsavage (talk) 22:54, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
You are absolutely correct that the real policy issue here is NPOV, not NOR. And SYNTH can be wielded as a weapon to push a POV. I don't agree with the idea that, if we say "scientific consensus", any dissent is automatically fringe. The RS passage that you quote speaks of "all or most scientists", not "all scientists". In fact, the lead sentence of scientific consensus notes that unanimity is not required, and I wouldn't think that it means that the dissenters from consensus are only crackpots; some can be mainstream scientists who dissent. There is scientific consensus that evolution is real. But there are scientists who dissent about the time course over which natural selection occurs, and they are not fringe. It comes down to the details, which is why the revisions of the sentence that are going on matter. We have plenty of sourcing to indicate that most scientists see existing GM foods as no less risky than conventional foods. If editors disagree with that, then I think they need to provide a source to indicate that such scientists are anything less than a large majority – just literally. This is what is wrong when editors argue that the existence of ongoing debate means that there isn't a scientific consensus. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:41, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
Our three core content policies always work together, there is never only one applicable policy, they all come into play, always, is what I said. NPOV is not the "real" policy here: NOR/SYNTH logically applies first, because there is wording there that addresses arriving at a conclusion not specifically found in the sources - while all policies apply, as I demonstrated.
Quibbling over the definition of "scientific consensus" ignores that the immediate impression made by the language we use is what is of most importance. "Most scientists agree" frames the subject differently than, "X, Y, and Z say," and absent of support, it is effectively an appeal to authority, which can shape reader opinion away from the actual evidence. To be safe, we shouldn't strive to say the former, to the point of creating that language when it is not readily available in sources - we shouldn't try to manipulate the framing beyond the sources - instead, we should set things out simply, so the reader can easily see how what is on the page got there. --Tsavage (talk) 01:02, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
I did not say that POV is the only applicable policy. Of course not. I said that it is really the policy that applies to what editors here are really talking about. That's different. And at the present count, I think that there are at least 3 reliable sources that we have now, each of which says explicitly that there is a "scientific consensus" that GM foods are that. --Tryptofish (talk) 01:06, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
I wrote a longer reply; it doesn't belong here. Short version: we shouldn't be expending so much time (years!) and energy (how many word count equivalents of doctoral theses?) on a one-sentence safety summary that, regardless of what it's for exactly, REQUIRES explanation of the underlying components, something which our GM food article and others in the suite do not do well or in many instances, at all.
This sort of reductionist approach to Wikipedia article development is proving increasingly ineffective as editors get better and better at, and more accustomed to, endlessly arguing rules and details. We should not be trying to insert summary language like "scientific consensus" against WP:SYNTH. Least of all should we be trying to support content by arguing that SYNTH should not apply in some cases that are clearly described by SYNTH, because they aren't really SYNTH, or, they're an acceptable kind of SYNTH (argue that at policy change level). --Tsavage (talk) 13:50, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
I appreciate the thoughtful way you are discussing this with me. And amen, would that we were not expending so much time and energy over this! But it seems to me that the reason it drags on and on is because there are editors who are very determined, for reasons that arise out of POV rather than reasons that arise out of OR, to WP:RGW. I was thinking more about what you said about consensus relegating dissenters to being "fringe". Up to around the first two decades of the 20th century, there was a very solid scientific consensus that Isaac Newton's principles about physics were an accurate and comprehensive explanation of the physical world. That was exactly what scientific consensus is. Then Albert Einstein proposed that relativity made Newton's physics incomplete, and it took a while for physicists to accept Einstein's ideas. During that time, the scientific consensus was against Einstein. His view was a dissenting view. But it is obviously not the case that he was a fringe figure or a crackpot. Therefore, saying that there is a scientific consensus about GMOs does not mean that all GMO dissenters are fringe. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:43, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
@Tryptofish: Your general argument is incomplete, because it does not consider, from an encyclopedia-writing perspective, what "scientific consensus" represents and how it should be used. I just replied to this at Talk:Genetically_modified_crops#Citations at 13:09, 1 February 2016 (UTC). --Tsavage (talk)
I looked at your post there, and if I understand correctly, what you mean about how it applies here is that you are concerned about how some people use the phrase in a political way. It is true that people sometimes do that, but I do not feel like Wikipedia would be doing that here, nor do I think that it is a reason that Wikipedia could never use that phrase. In fact, it seems to me that most of the opposition to using the phrase in our GMO pages arises from a political consideration on the part of those editors who oppose it, where they are taking a political position that is at odds with what the scientists say in the sources. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:00, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Question (ec) To those who are familiar with Discretionary Sanctions, because this entire suite is under DS, and because we have two editors who have ignored the results of an RfC they were both well aware of, shouldn't this go to a noticeboard dealing with behavior rather than OR? We should not have to re-argue the RfC. The AAAS source, for example, was discussed for months, and it was determined that because it was an advocacy statement in support of GM foods labeling (and because it was the SINGLE source that contained the exact wording desired), the AAAS statement, along with the others mentioned at the top of this thread, were NOT sufficient to claim consensus. Nothing has changed, and ignoring the results of the RfC, (re)adding language that has no support in RS, is clearly disruptive and not good faith. petrarchan47คุ 22:05, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
The place to go for that is WP:AE. If we go there, I expect to point out that the RfC was closed as "no consensus". --Tryptofish (talk) 22:15, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for the tip. I expect to point out that you are well aware the closer told us to reword it as there was no consensus that the sources support the claim - and you know this.
([I]f there is no consensus then we have to rework the statement." - GrayDuck156 23 July
the closer has more authority than i. the closer also suggested we try to rework it. so that is what we should do. we need to work that out here. - Jytdog 23 July
Perhaps Jytdog can help you understand, or you could review the RfC. petrarchan47คุ 22:53, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
I'm sure you did not mean that to sound condescending. Those quotes are found at Talk:Genetically modified food/Archive 12, in a post-RfC discussion, and were not part of the RfC close. Here is a link to the actual RfC close, for editors who are unfamiliar with it: [9]. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:11, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
The question of the RfC was "Do these sources support this claim". RockMagnetist said, "I recommend that someone propose an alternative wording." No one in the commounity disagreed with this idea, and the wording was indeed changed. It cannot be said that this wording is somehow acceptable at the GM Crops article but not GM Foods. I wonder if Rock Magnetist could weigh in here? petrarchan47คุ 23:56, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Source. OK folks, I've done some searching and (thanks to a citation in the Krimsky critique) I have found a reliable source from 2014 that says there is a "scientific consensus", in those exact words. It's a review article, reviewing the literature about GM food crops, with a particular view to summarizing both support and scientific concerns about GMOs, thus, a secondary source. It is in Critical Reviews in Biotechnology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, thus, a reliable source. All of the authors hold academic appointments or government research appointments in Europe, and appear to be unaffiliated with biotech companies, so no apparent author "COI". Here is a link: [10]. And here is a verbatim quote from the abstract: "We selected original research papers, reviews, relevant opinions and reports addressing all the major issues that emerged in the debate on GE crops, trying to catch the scientific consensus that has matured since GE plants became widely cultivated worldwide. The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of GE crops; however, the debate is still intense. An improvement in the efficacy of scientific communication could have a significant impact on the future of agricultural GE." On the one hand, there is still a debate (no kidding!), at least partly attributable to communication problems, but nonetheless there is a matured scientific consensus that no significant hazards have been detected so far. No SYNTH, no matter how one defines SYNTH. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:16, 26 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Issues with his new study
The abstract mentions how the consensus has grown. What does this mean? Has it grown from 1 to 2 %?
And the abstract states "not directly detected", but indirectly it could, and it has been found that glyphosate is indirectly a health problem.
The abstract acknowledges that there is still a debate.
Paywalled
Contradicts the WHO statement
Unclear how the mentioned consensus can be interpreted in regards to our article content prokaryotes (talk) 01:01, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
The abstract does not say, "there is a matured scientific consensus that no significant hazards have been detected so far." It says, "The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of GE crops; however, the debate is still intense. (my emphasis)." There is a difference. Cf global warming, evolution or smoking: no review paper would say "the debate is still intense." IOW it draws the same conclusions as the other review studies you have been arguing against.
prokaryotes, being behind a paywall is not an obstacle, but someone has to read the report, it is probably available through a library. I imagine indirect refers to fertilizer, but it could also refer to the types of food produced. Most of what is currently produced should be avoided even if it is not GMO.
TFD (talk) 16:52, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. I want to reply to these concerns. Starting with the paywall issue, I had already said the same thing as TFD did at the article talk page [11], but Prokaryotes repeated it here anyway. About how much "consensus has grown", a plain reading of the source is that it is talking about a "matured" consensus. It does not even make sense to talk about a 2% consensus, because that would not be a consensus at all, so why would the authors even write about a consensus that had yet to develop, and yet call it "matured"?
Now it's really past time that we need to deconstruct the claims about the WHO source, that it contradicts the source here. Here is a link to that source: [12]. It is divided into multiple sections. There are two sections that are relevant to the question of whether scientists view GM foods as safe or not: 8 ("Are GM foods safe?") and 12 ("Have GM products on the international market passed a safety assessment?"). Prokaryotes and the editors who agree with him have focused on Section 8, paragraph 1, which reads:

Different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods.

Unquestionably, that does indeed support the idea that WHO is advocating for case-by-case evaluation, and please note that I, personally, have consistently supported having our content reflect that. And it does indeed make it clear that, without case-by-case testing, it is impossible to draw reliable conclusions about safety. But – there is a second paragraph in this section, that some editors appear to overlook:

GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved. Continuous application of safety assessments based on the Codex Alimentarius principles and, where appropriate, adequate post market monitoring, should form the basis for ensuring the safety of GM foods.

Woops! That sure puts the first paragraph into a different context! The sentence in the first paragraph thus cannot be saying that it is impossible to make a general statement on the safety of all GM foods currently available, because the authors go on to make exactly that general statement. The call for testing, and the caution against general statements, are being made with respect to new GM plants, as they come out, not with respect to those already in the food chain. And in section 12, here is the entire text:

The GM products that are currently on the international market have all passed safety assessments conducted by national authorities. These different assessments in general follow the same basic principles, including an assessment of environmental and human health risk. The food safety assessment is usually based on Codex documents.

That's about as strong as statement as one can get about GM products currently available. So why are we talking about contradictions between the WHO source and the other source?
Then there's the point about "direct" versus "indirect". That's about the possibility of chemical residues that remain on the plants, as opposed to the plants themselves, chemicals such as glyphosate. Please note: the WHO source just said those things about the foods as they have been eaten ("as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population"), residues or not.
Now the issue that I agree is the biggest one here, about there still being debate. When the source says "The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of GE crops", that's the same thing as the WHO source. So what do they mean about "however, the debate is still intense. An improvement in the efficacy of scientific communication could have a significant impact on the future of agricultural GE."? After the debate-is-intense phrase, another sentence comes, and it explains why the authors consider the debate to exist. I imagine one could find reviews about climate change where one could cherry-pick a sentence out of context that says "the debate is intense". But I will also say that this source does indeed point out that there are dissenting scientific studies, so clearly, the source does not contend that there is a unanimous scientific consensus. (Then again, there are scientists who dissent about evolution, but there is still a consensus about that.) The authors say that they are describing "the scientific consensus that has matured since GE plants became widely cultivated worldwide." They are not saying that a scientific consensus has yet to mature. It is actually original research, or more precisely a misrepresentation of the source, to say that the authors are concluding that a scientific consensus does not yet exist. For purposes of demonstrating that there is a reliable source for the existence of a "scientific consensus", this is it. That does not mean that our pages should omit all the caveats that go along with that, and I am in favor of making those caveats clear. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:01, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

Now, thanks to an editor who has access to the full text of the source I have presented here, the following comes from the second paragraph of the Conclusions section of the review:

We have reviewed the scientific literature on GE crop safety for the last 10 years that catches the scientific consensus matured since GE plants became widely cultivated worldwide, and we can conclude that the scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazard directly connected with the use of GM crops.

That, more so than the passage I quoted earlier from the Abstract, is a clear statement that there is a mature scientific consensus that no health problems have to date been found in GM crop food. There is no original research in saying that there is a scientific consensus about this. The source says it. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:48, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

The problem with this quote is simple, its not about GM foods for consumption. prokaryotes (talk) 00:04, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
No, not so. The title of the source is "An overview of the last 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety research". They ain't talking about plants grown for the cut flower industry. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:23, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

And I have just found out, at Talk:Genetically modified crops#Citations, that there are a couple of additional sources that say explicitly that there is "scientific consensus" about GM crop safety. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:38, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

Break 2[edit]

I want to turn the questions here around. Originally, this discussion was opened over these edits: [13], [14], and [15]. The question here is about whether to say "general scientific agreement" or "general scientific consensus". That's what this has been all about.

So I want to ask whether it is a violation of NOR to say "general scientific agreement". What is the source for saying "general scientific agreement"? --Tryptofish (talk) 20:01, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

IMO, they're the same, one just sounds a little milder, less like a decree, both need explicit support. What is different is the entire rewording of the sentence, that brings the meaning more in line with what there does seem to be wider agreement on, that GM methods don't on their own introduce extra risk than non-GM methods, that GM is not an inherently unsafe tool, it's what you use it for that matters. It's a "guns don't kill people, people kill people" finding that ON ITS OWN does not speak directly to the safety of specific products on the market.
The previous sentence leaned much further toward saying (or strongly implying) that there is broad scientific consensus that GM food is categorically as safe as non-GM food, and no sources really say that. --Tsavage (talk) 22:15, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
Thanks, that's a sensible and thoughtful reply. And I agree with you about the rewording being an improvement. What concerns me about this entire NORN discussion, however, is that several editors seem to be hell-bent on discrediting the "consensus" wording while seeming to actually be in favor of the "agreement" wording. I'm all in favor of what you called "explicit support", but there comes a point where objections to the plain meaning of the source material become unreasonable. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:23, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
I do not why know why we cannot just say what the abstract says rather than reading into it that there is a consensus. Indeed there are scientists who do not accept global warming or evolution. The difference is that they do not present those views in academic writing because those views cannot be defended with the known evidence. A better comparison would be with aspartame, where sufficient testing has been completed so that no "intense debate" exists. Also one needs to read the actual article to determine what exactly is meant by the matured scientific consensus or the intense debate. BTW while Suzuki is not an agricultural scientist, he is a geneticist and was a professor who conducted research and wrote textbooks and articles. TFD (talk) 23:41, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
You need to see what I posted more recently, from the Conclusions section of the source. But in fact, I and other editors at the page are working to make the language more nuanced. And, per the question that I asked, I take it that no one has a source for "agreement"? --Tryptofish (talk) 00:26, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
This is why we probably end up citing the most authoritative sources. prokaryotes (talk) 01:14, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

In terms of being "more nuanced," context for the role of the precautionary principle, the Cartagena Protocol, and the Codex Alimentarius should be provided; with respect to the history of GMO bio-safety testing and the matter of arriving at the stated scientific consensus ("food on the market derived from GM crops pose no greater risk than conventional food"): which of course is derived squarely from the concept of substantial equivalence. It would clearly be useful to highlight that testing regimes can vary, regionally, that they are subject to interpretation, subject to improvement, and that new testing methods will be needed to deal with advances in GE food produce. It might also worth highlighting, and especially in the context of regional differences, that America refused to be party to the Convention on Biological Diversity and is therefore not subject to the provisions set out in the Cartagena Protocol; meaning is has been able to ignore the issues associated with the precautionary principle - unlike the 170 countries that have signed up. The WHO report also offers the following caveats: "Different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods" and "where appropriate, adequate post market monitoring, should form the basis for ensuring the safety of GM foods." With regard to the American situation the SAGE Green Issues and Deabtes: An A-Z guide offers a succinct overview:"In 1992, the FDA adopted a policy whereby GE foods were presumed 'generally recognized as safe'. Similarly, the FAO and the WHO subscribed to the concept of substantial equivalence, which regards GE food products to be as safe as their conventional counterparts. Safety resting through the FDA has been documented by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest(CSPI) and others to he inadequate. Studies noted that biotechnology companies frequently have not released the requested information, there were undetected errors in technical data, and the FDA had a lack of necessary authority in the review and regulation of GE research and crops. Since 2003, official standards for food safety assessment have improved with the global consensus forwarded by the Codex Alimentarius Commission of FAO/WHO. These principles dictate a pre-market assessment, performed on a case-by-case basis, which includes an evaluation of both direct and unintended effects. However, peer-reviewed studies found that despite these guidelines, risk assessment of GE foods has still not followed a defined prototype." Semitransgenic talk. 13:33, 28 January 2016 (UTC)


  • OK, so to be clear, all the editors who came here demanding that the page say "agreement" instead of "consensus" on the grounds that it would be OR to say "consensus" do not, in fact, have any sources for "agreement", whereas there now are sources for "consensus". --Tryptofish (talk) 21:34, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
Although the abstract uses the term consensus, it is OR to say it claims there is a consensus that GMO products are safe. It could be there is a consensus that there is no evidence they are harmful but that there is insufficient evidence that they are not harmful. Certainly if there were consensus there would be no "intense debate," at least in the academic literature. If there is consensus then what are they debating? TFD (talk) 22:40, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
So there is still no source for "agreement". And if we were to say anything you just said in article space, that would be OR. As I already said, the authors say that the consensus is about them being safe – they do not quite say it in the abstract, maybe, but they say it explicitly in the conclusions section. And we now have some other sources that say it too. As I also already said, the authors attribute the debate largely to communications issues. And I pointed out above that there was a scientific consensus about Newtonian physics even when the debate about Einsteinian relativity had begun. There can be debate before a consensus is overthrown. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:22, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

Where things stand[edit]

  • Sources for "scientific agreement": none.

We have reviewed the scientific literature on GE crop safety for the last 10 years that catches the scientific consensus matured since GE plants became widely cultivated worldwide, and we can conclude that the scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazard directly connected with the use of GM crops. [16]

Empirical evidence shows the high potential of the technology, and there is now a scientific consensus that the currently available transgenic crops and the derived foods are safe for consumption. [17]

There is a scientific consensus, even in Europe, that the GMO foods and crops currently on the market have brought no documented new risks either to human health or to the environment. [18]

There is no issue of it being original research to say that there is a scientific consensus. Arguments to the contrary are POV-pushing. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:55, 30 January 2016 (UTC)

That is unacceptable synthesis. You are taking a comment in the abstract of a review study that uses the term consensus, without saying what it is, and omit that it says, "the debate is still intense." A reasonable reading of the abstract is that there is no consensus. Then you get two articles that say there is a consensus on safety, but neither would be acceptable on its own. The first is called, "Perspectives of gatekeepers in the Kenyan food industry towards genetically modified food." The second one is called "GMO foods and crops: Africa's choice" and is written by a political scientist. Those are not the two most obvious articles one would pick up to see if GMOs are safe. Your choices show cherry-picking. You have decided what the article should say and looked for sources to support your opinion. TFD (talk) 01:33, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
Please show me your source for "scientific agreement". I did not omit anything, because, as I pointed out to you earlier, this quote is not from the abstract. It is from the conclusions section. It is the author's conclusions. Why is a source written by people from Kenya not a reliable source? Are people from Africa less acceptable as authors than people from the first world? Cherrypicking means that the quote is not representative of the source, so is that quote not representative of the source from Kenya? Sheldon Krimsky, whom you tout below, is a Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, so why would a source written by a political scientist be unacceptable, but an urban planner be acceptable? All three of these sources were published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. How does that not make them reliable sources for scientific information? --Tryptofish (talk) 21:49, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
Your first comment on the abstract is unfortunately synthesis of the source. The abstract and body of the paper make the meaning clear that they are talking about science communication, not that scientific debate is intense in the scientific community. Kingofaces43 (talk) 05:28, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
There are criticisms of the Nicolia review that, if we determine are legitimate, by the measure of asking whether an investigator in the field would find them credible, would make this a questionable source for establishing consensus as a fact (rather than an attributed finding).
As for sources in general, as far as I've been able to gather, claiming scientific/scholarly/academic consensus is highly subjective, so the strength is very much dependent on how it was determined.
A specific consensus could be established by a meeting of experts, where evidence is formally examined and motions passed, with the result that X group, with participants and proceedings recorded, come to a final conclusion (if that group were sufficiently large and authoritative, and their review broad, that could perhaps establish a general consensus). Consensus could also be a single person giving their (expert) opinion, as opposed to presenting a formal evaluation of sources that can be reviewed and verified by others.
Assembling several consensus statements of varying quality doesn't make a stronger case for using that term as an established fact. For that, we're looking for a credible source that does not have significant criticism, that uses the term, applies it to a clear proposition, and backs it up by documenting exactly what that view is based on. Otherwise, we could quote or closely paraphrase, with in-text attribution, but not create a Wikipedia statement of fact.
Furthermore, consensus language is politically charged, and for a contentious subject, using it, especially without at the same time providing sufficient context by explaining the underlying factors, easily creates a biased impression, and so should be considered with serious reservation. That's my understanding. --Tsavage (talk) 07:43, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
@Kingofaces43:, sure its synthesis to say the reading implies there is no consensus, just as it is synthesis to say it implies there is. That is the point. If there is scientific consensus you need to provide a source that says that, not say that based on your personal analysis there is a consensus. And could you please explain why you are providing an article by political scientist as a source? If you were preparing a chapter for a textbook I am certain you would not do that. BTW there is a more recent (Nov 2015) article by Sheldon Krimsky in Science, Technology, & Human Values called "An Illusory Consensus behind GMO Health Assessment". TFD (talk) 18:11, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
I'm fine with including Krimsky as a source, but he self-identifies as a critic of conventional science, so we should treat him as he self-describes, rather than as a spokesperson for conventional science. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:49, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
Oh, and KingofAces, TFD wants you to use a source written by a Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, because everyone knows that's way better than a political scientist. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:53, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
I'll reply here on the political science thing, but some political scientists would be experts in this area. They can both reiterate the scientific consensus and deal with how how that is or isn't translating into the public discourse and be squarely in the center of their expertise. As for Krimsky, his article is still uncited (more a red-flag to look for more issues), but the things you've described so far seem to indicate pretty strong fringe author status being a critic of conventional science etc. I'll dig into that one in a bit to check it out, but it's already trying to contradict stronger sources. Kingofaces43 (talk) 01:53, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
As I mentioned below, I had not been aware that Robert Paarlberg had written extensively about GMO. Still it seems funny to pick a short article about the politics of GMO regulation in Africa as a source for the safety of GMO. Obviously if you were writing a chapter of a textbook this is not where you would look for an opinion on scientific opinion. So it is cherry-picking, looking for a source that supports what you believe rather than looking at the most relevant sources and reporting what they say. TFD (talk) 05:30, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
Sorry, but no. You can't engage in cherrypicking part of a source and then claim it can't be used because you managed to cherrypick a sentence. We could invalidate any source out there if that were actual process. The abstract and body of the paper make it clear that there is a scientific consensus on the safety, the intense debate is on the public end of things, and that science communication folks need to work on that area better to fix that. If you want to take something out of context from a source, this is the last place to do it. Even if someone only has abstract access, the author would be contradicting themselves by saying first there is scientific consensus and then implying there is intense debate in the scientific community. Kingofaces43 (talk) 01:53, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
The abstract does not support your opinion. It could be that the article does, but you have not provided any evidence it does. Your statement that "the author would be contradicting themselves" is OR. It's the same argument that climate change deniars provide - cherry-picked sources and original interpretations of sources. If you want articles to say something, get a source that says it. TFD (talk) 05:39, 31 January 2016 (UTC)

And, does anyone have a source for "scientific agreement"? --Tryptofish (talk) 21:51, 30 January 2016 (UTC)

I would like to see a source where he self-identifies as a "critic of conventional science." You probably mean he thinks that most scientists focus narrowly on technical issues and ignore the social, political and economic environment. As Krimsky's bio at Tufts says, "his research has focused on the linkages between science/technology/ethics/values." He writes extensively about biotechnology, for example Genetic Alchemy: The Social History of the Recombinant DNA Controversy (MIT Press) 1982, Biotechnics and Society: The Rise of Industrial Genetics (Praeger) 1991, Hormonal Chaos:The Scientific and Social Origins of the Environmental Endocrine Hypothesis (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), Science in the Private Interest: Has the lure of profits corrupted biomedical research? (Rowman & Littlefield Pub.) 2003. All of these titles presuppose an intensive familiarity with the underlying science.
I was not familiar with Robert Paarlberg, but he does I see he has written extensively on biotechnology as well. It just seems that his brief article is an odd source for a global claim about scientific consensus for the safety of GMO when he is writing about what type of regulatory system Africa should use.
TFD (talk) 23:22, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
I'm just learning for the first time, from this discussion, that Paarlberg has been associated with Monsanto. That is news to me and, because unlike some other editors here I am willing to be persuaded, I will say that it decreases my enthusiasm for that source. On the other hand, about the question of whether it is strange to cite him from an article about Africa, that would be a problem if he were being cited as a primary source, that is, if his assertion of a consensus were a result of his own new data in that paper. But, instead, he is basing it upon his reading, evaluation, and review of the published literature, so he is acting as a secondary source about what we might cite him for. About Krimsky, he has written extensively about how he disagrees with what he considers to be the standard scientific method of hypothesis testing, and he advocates for alternative ways of asking scientific questions. I want to emphasize again that the quote from Nicolia et al. is not from the abstract but from the conclusions section. The fact that they refer to "intense debate" in the abstract does not change the fact that they drew a conclusion in the conclusions section. For example, they discuss the Seralini affair, about which there was unquestionably intense debate, but which ultimately did not alter the mainstream assessment of scientific consensus. And finally I emphasize once more that, whatever else may be the case, it is not a properly sourced statement to say that there is "scientific agreement". --Tryptofish (talk) 20:00, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
I still hadn't found a source for this discussion on Paarlberg, at least until it was pointed out he had a bio here above. That source is from Alternet[19], which is generally considered a fringe news source generally not reliable for anything except its own opinion. That's only when there's weight to include it. That being said, the article itself even says he was not paid, which seems to indicate an standard advisory position professors take to direct both industry and the public on science. Kingofaces43 (talk) 20:35, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
I'm finding out new information as this discussion goes along, and I'm depending in part on collaboration with other editors. I've just gotten a better link to the Nicolia paper, showing the full text instead of just the abstract, without a paywall: [20]. I've just read the entire Conclusions section for myself, and it seems to me that the authors' conclusions are as I have been understanding them, and that the interpretations made by some editors based on the abstract turn out to be incorrect. They really do appear to be saying that they conclude that there is a scientific consensus, rather than an intense debate. They describe the debate in more detail, as being one that often distorts what the science actually says. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:27, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
The paper concludes, "We have reviewed the scientific literature on GE crop safety for the last 10 years that catches the scientific consensus matured since GE plants became widely cultivated worldwide, and we can conclude that the scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazard directly connected with the use of GM crops." It does not say, "there is now a scientific consensus that the currently available transgenic crops and the derived foods are safe for consumption."
Monsanto's 2005 Pledge Report calls him as a member of their Biotechnology Advisory Council. I have always thought though that what is important is where something is published. It is up to the publishers to determine if a conflict of interest prevents factual accuracy and when they err later writers may discredit their works. But in this case he was writing about GM regulation in Africa. Whether scientists think GMOs are safe or merely that there is no reason to believe they are not is of no relevance to article. Why would we consider his opinion superior to Nicolia's?
You keep saying that Krimisky disagrees with the scientific method. Could you please provide a source, since I could not find anything.
TFD (talk) 23:35, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment based on subject area expertise, paper topic, and apparent COI, Paarlberg is not an acceptable source for a definitive consensus statement in our article, again, it's fluff, we already have a string of such material, use only the best secondary sources for such content to avoid further dispute. Semitransgenic talk. 12:18, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
Based on more recent arguments, I'm leaning towards changing my mind about Paarlberg, and I'll probably end up arguing against citing that source in the context we are discussing here, although it might be a good source in a more extended page section about opposing views, ie, with a rebuttal that notes his background.
Here are some more specific answers to TFD's questions. You asked for a source where Krimsky discusses his views about the modern scientific establishment and its methods. Here is a good one: [21]. I don't understand how "we can conclude that the scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazard directly connected with the use of GM crops" is any different than if they had said something like "we can conclude that scientific research so far has looked for significant hazards directly connected with the use of GM crops, and has not found any such hazards." At the page, I'm pretty much opposed to wording that says flat out that there is a scientific consensus that GM crop foods are safe, full stop; instead, I favor language that says that the consensus is that no hazards (greater than the hazards of conventional food crops) have been detected so far, but that new GM crops need to be tested case-by-case – so personally, that's as far as I would want to take it, based on the sources I'm seeing. On reflection, I think that you are correct that Nicolia's opinion is more significant for Wikipedia's purposes than Paarlberg's, particularly because the Nicolia source is specifically a survey and evaluation of the scientific literature. And I trust that you have now seen what Nicolia actually says about the "debate". --Tryptofish (talk) 22:50, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────In his essay, Krimsky says that science can be used for good or evil and that politics plays a role in what is studied. An example of the first is the use of science in Nazi Germany and of the second Reagan's opposition to using fetal tissue in medical research. While people may disasgree what uses of sciences are ethical, few would question his statements. You gave the impression that he promoted alternative science.

Saying "the consensus is that no hazards...have been detected so far" makes no sense. Consensus means "an idea or opinion that is shared by all the people in a group."[22] Whether or not hazards have been found is an issue of fact not opinion. What that fact means, whether the "foods" are safe or more research is required, is a matter of opinion. It is disingenuous use phrasing not in the source.

TFD (talk) 15:26, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

Oh, no, I certainly never meant to imply that he promotes alternative science, and I do not read him that way at all! He endorses science historically, but argues that there are numerous ways in which the modern scientific establishment does not, in his opinion, go about science the right way. I thought that I was saying that he is a critic of the modern scientific establishment, and of its ways of coming to scientific conclusions, and I think that is accurate. I have no objection to citing him as an important critic of modern scientific consensus, but I do object to citing him as a spokesperson for it, or as a neutral observer.
If you look at scientific consensus, the page lead has been very stable for years, and notes that it is not necessarily unanimous. When you quote a dictionary definition of "consensus" in general, you are not referencing scientific consensus. And you are making a big mistake if you confound scientific consensus with broad, sweeping truth. It is perfectly normal for scientists to say that it is completely established that no examples of something specific have been found so far, but that it is not yet clear whether such examples might be found in the future. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:04, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
Had a reply written up for TFD, but I'll just piggyback here and say that the idea that scientific consensus isn't unanimity gets talked about a lot in climate change denial subject matter as it's common for someone to cherry-pick a handful of studies and claim there isn't a consensus. The general public has a tough time realizing the difference, but that's the uncertainty often played upon in climate change at least. I'm on mobile now, so I can't post links, but if you search climate change, consensus, and unanimity, you should get some reading that shows the definition is a bit different than you thought. Kingofaces43 (talk) 23:23, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
Another thought occurs to me about putative unanimity in consensus. In an example much closer to home, regardless of that dictionary quote, WP:Consensus does not require unanimity, and in fact, very often occurs despite the presence of numerous dissenting editors. And, like Wikipedia, science is not a democracy. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:37, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

Notice[edit]

A fresh discussion has started with a proposal for revision to the sentence in question here at the talk page of Genetically modified crops. --David Tornheim (talk) 07:29, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

NOR and coordinates[edit]

I need coordinates for a small street that is not named on any online mapping service. I know the town, but I don't know which of the unmarked (on a map) streets in the town is the one I want. There is a Wikipedian in the town who knows where the street is. Would it violate NOR if they provided coordinates and I used them in an article? ―Mandruss  10:10, 26 January 2016 (UTC)

That town has been visited by Google street view. Have you tried visiting that way and looking at street signs? Zerotalk 12:09, 26 January 2016 (UTC)
@Zero0000: Thanks for the reply. Not all of the town has been visited. I have a suspicion where the street is, but that area wasn't visited. In any case, I don't see much difference between getting coordinates that way and getting them by actually being there. If one is acceptable, the other should be, too. ―Mandruss  12:16, 26 January 2016 (UTC)
The difference is the ease of verifiability. Of course we do have a general principle that ease of access to a source is not relevant, but that rule was intended for things like uncommon books or paywalls and at some extreme point common-sense takes precedence. Personally I would accept this one if (1) there is no serious BLP issue relying on it, (2) the editor is one in good standing and there is no reason to suspect a COI, (3) there is no controversy about the claim. Zerotalk 00:13, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
@Zero0000: I think conditions 2 and 3 are met. As for 1, perhaps you'd care to check out the details, here (permalink). The location in question is the area of one of two crime scenes, the hundred-block of the street, which has been widely reported in the news. We're already showing the coordinates of the other crime scene, which is no more important to the story or the article. ―Mandruss  05:18, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
@Zero0000: Did I lose you? ―Mandruss  08:53, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
"I need coordinates for a small street that is not named on any online mapping service." After you get the coordinates, add them to OpenStreetmap. Then they will be on an online mapping service. And you OR problem is solved. If that seems fishy, it is, but no more so than the rest of wikipedia and the sum total of all internet and libraries and human consciousness. YourYou're welcome. GangofOne (talk) 00:48, 31 January 2016 (UTC)

Research deleted from page due to no source.[edit]

On the pages titled, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, I searched via Wikipedia and Humphrey Bogart's filmography for the year and title of the film with the quote which is also inscribed on his gravestone. The film is from 1944 and is called To Have and Have Not. And it reads as follows: "You know how to whistle Steve? You just put your lips together and blow. If you need anything just whistle" as I did not provide the source of this which was Wikipedia, Humphrey Bogart, and Filmography due to the fact I did not know how to I thought I would mention it in case someone else felt it should be included if they think it is relevant to either the Humphrey Bogart or Lauren Bacall pages, of which I attempted to add both. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 49.183.128.160 (talkcontribs) 08:05, February 3, 2016‎

We're going to need some more information.
So the information that you added was "This line, 'You know how to ... whistle' appears on Bogart's tombstone" and you added it to a different Wikipedia article?
That's not WP:OR; it's WP:CIRCULAR, which says that Wikipedia is not supposed to use itself as a source (but you are allowed to use the same sources in more than one article).
Do you mean that you cited this information off Wikipedia, like in a paper? This page, WP:CITEWIKI provides instructions for how to tell people that you got information from Wikipedia. Darkfrog24 (talk)
Is this it?[23] Yes, this isn't an OR issue. It's a reliable source issue. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:09, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

The Exodus edit war on original research[edit]

I have reverted several times edits like [24]. The problem is quoting an ancient historian (Josephus), thus not a contemporary mainstream scholar and using as verifiable reference a book cover (instead of a page number). Please advise. Tgeorgescu (talk) 23:56, 4 February 2016 (UTC)

  • I have now entered a source (Israel Finkelstein) from a mainstream scholar as a secondary source, mentioning the primary source (Josephus). The objection here is thus unjustified. As for the source referring to a book, no specific pages are needed because the material entered is a summary of various piece from the book. 173.238.79.44 (talk) 00:29, 5 February 2016 (UTC)
That is a WP:SYNTH kind of problem. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:49, 5 February 2016 (UTC)
Agreed, I want to see the page numbers. I'm not inclined to trust any editor who calls others "atheistic scum" (or "Christian scum", "Jewish scum", etc). Doug Weller talk 13:26, 5 February 2016 (UTC)
The source from Finkelstein HAS page numbers, as does the specific source to Josephus. Warning about calling atheists as scum will be heeded. 173.238.79.44 (talk) 16:30, 5 February 2016 (UTC)
And the deletion of my warning was accompanied with the edit summary. "atheists are scum, Judeo-Christians are not". Nice. Not surprising the IP was blocked. Doug Weller talk
By the WP:SYNTH problem I meant citing a book cover and pretending to speak in the name of all sources that it contains. The Finkelstein and Silberman book is properly cited but does not verify the claim that the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt is the basis of the Exodus story. I agree that they mentioned Josephus on another page, that is a verifiable reference. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:20, 6 February 2016 (UTC)