Wikipedia talk:Baby and bathwater

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I've substantially overhauled this page in a WP:BOLD way to resolve a lot of issues:

  • Some of the explanations were not cogent at all, using the wrong terminology (like "relevance" when it meant "reliability"), citing the wrong pages, etc.
  • It made up lots of fake names for policies and guidelines, in piped links, for no imaginable reason.
  • Its text did not agree with its nutshell summary.
  • The nutshell was not a nutshell, but a restatement that it was an essay, followed by a type of case that should have been listed as a line-item in the essay.
  • Several forms of baby–bathwater problems were missing.
  • It falsely claimed to be a guideline.
  • It had few examples.
  • It only really explained the actual applicability of one policy it was citing.
  • It was word-for-word quoting a policy instead of summarizing it, which is always a bad idea in pages like this because the exact policy wording changes frequently, while the central meaning rarely shifts much.
  • It spelled out the inverted "I want to undo your revert" form of one baby–bathwater fallacy, but gave examples of the "I want to revert you" form; I split these up.
  • It lacked explanation, or even any awareness of the difference between a source being reliable for some things and not others, and a source being secondary for some things and not others.
  • A page like this is mostly for new-ish editors, and should spell out what documents is relies on and whether they are policies or not, and avoid using shortcuts for them without explanation.
  • It badly needed copy-editing in various places.
  • The markup was bletcherous.
  • The various cases were presented in mostly inconsistent ways.
  • Several of its policy explanations were flat wrong (e.g. saying that a source that no longer exists at all is still a valid source, and several other errors).
  • Misunderstood the difference between and scope of several policies (which is ironic, given the topic).
  • And about a dozen other things.

I think the current version accurately describes the policy background and the nature of the various related baby-with-the-bathwater issues (though someone could probably think of a missing one).

Oh, and I made sure there were see-also links to this barely-known page at a bunch of other revert-related pages.

 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:17, 3 March 2016 (UTC)


The Destruction of Dresden seems like the most poorly chosen example possible for the concept of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The essay currently says that:

Deleting Wikipedia content based on the book's details about other topics, such as allied bombing operations (numbers of sortie aircraft, etc.) which were substantially researched by the author

The problem is, Irving claimed to have substantially researched – before the Lipstadt trial, made his reputation on having substantially researched, and having discovered new documents relating to – the death toll on the bombing of Dresden. After a long libel trial, a 740 page long expert witness report by Richard J. Evans, which took two years and the help of two PhD students to compile, along with work from four other expert witnesses from Europe and the US, it was determined that huge amounts of Irving's work (including The Destruction of Dresden, previously thought to be largely free from the flaws of Irving's work on the holocaust) was miscited, uncited, and even fabricated. The Destruction of Dresden, to quote Evans, is characterised by

deliberately falsifying statistics, misrepresenting testimony, attributing false conclusions to reliable sources, using evidence which he knew to be unreliable or forged, and bending reliable sources to fit his argument

— Evans, Telling Lies About Hitler, p.191

Irving's work is so fundamentally flawed that it is not a reliable source for any fact, and post-Irving v. Penguin I doubt a single reputable historian would say otherwise. Unfortunately, I can't think of any particularly good replacement examples. Caeciliusinhorto (talk) 22:15, 12 June 2016 (UTC)