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Jimmy Wales: Objectivist

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So really, the title of the thread should be Jimmy Wales: Subjectivist.

More specifically a collectivist subjectivist. I am remined of the following excerpt from The New Fascism Rule by Consensus by Ayn Rand

If you doubt the power of philosophy to set the course and shape the destiny of human societies, observe that our mixed economy is the literal, faithfully carried-out product of Pragmatism-and of the generation brought up under its influence. Pragmatism is the philosophy which holds that there is no objective reality or permanent truth, that there are no absolute principles, no valid abstractions, no firm concepts, that anything may be tried by rule-of-thumb, that objectivity consists of collective subjectivism, that whatever people wish to be true, is true, whatever people wish to exist, does exist-provided a consensus says so.

If you want to avert the final disaster, it is this type of thinking-every one of those propositions and all of them-that you must face, grasp, and reject. Then you will have grasped the connection of philosophy to politics and to the daily events of your life. Then you will have learned that no society is better then its philosophical foundation. And then-to paraphrase John Galt-you will be ready, not to return to capitalism, but to discover it.

(Bold is mine.)

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Wikipedia *is* inherently collectivistic, that is its fundamental problem. Any particular article might be the result of hundreds or thousands of edits from different individuals.

I've had ideas for a long time about a better Wikipedia, but the main problem with trying them has been the need for an expensive "server farm" as the popularity grows, which Wales funded personally. Recently it became possible to rent such systems "on the fly", adding or subtracting capacity as needed without capital expenditures for hardware or long term agreements, so that's not a big deal any longer. In my abundant spare time (ha) I'd like to do something about the ideas, but one question is how to make it pay, since the altruistic part of Wikipedia is also not interesting to me. (I do have some ideas about that.)

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I've had ideas for a long time about a better Wikipedia

The other founder of Wikipedia (who had a major falling-out with Wales from what I understand) has started his own "open-source" encyclopedia. But this one has editors and attempts to have accurate information:

http://en.citizendium.org/

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I found this note on Dr. Peikoff's website:

June 8, 2009

To my listeners:

I would appreciate any help that you can give me in my effort to reverse Wikipedia’s decision in this issue.

Thank you,

Leonard Peikoff

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr. Wales,

I learned recently to my astonishment that while books by Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, attacking Ayn Rand and her personal life, enjoy the status of reputable references in Wikipedia, a book disputing their claims and presenting the opposite viewpoint has been removed from your list as non-reputable. I refer to The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics by James Valliant published in May 2005. On its face, this is a policy of egregious injustice on your part.

As Ayn Rand’s executor, heir, and longtime personal friend, I will testify in any forum to the accuracy of Mr. Valliant’s book. I do not pretend to know every detail of the clash between Rand and the Brandens, but I do know firsthand the essential truth of the Valliant book. I leave aside here my own personal observations and discussions on this issue with Rand, because the book itself contains lengthy excerpts from her own personal notes, which completely bear out Valliant’s thesis in her own words. I released these notes only after a 20 year wait, because in Valliant I found at last a writer who would give her personal viewpoint a rational hearing, neither hostile nor worshipful.

My understanding, which may not be correct, is that one of the instigators of your new policy is Barbara Branden, one of the two persons identified in the Valliant book, with substantial corroborating evidence, as hostile to Ayn Rand. Surely such an individual and her claque have a transparent motive to kill this book. Can you justify removing one side of this dispute, the one endorsed by someone with my credentials? Do you describe as “reputable” only enemies of Ayn Rand?

There are those in the academic world who question the objectivity of Wikipedia. I hope that your action on this matter will prove that they are wrong.

Sincerely yours,

Leonard Peikoff

Executor, Estate of Ayn Rand

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Wikipedia is too far gone to prove "those in the academic world" wrong with this correction, since it explicitly supports "neutral point of view", not objectivity. However, I do hope Wales is enough of an honest man to get this policy reversed. It violates even his own quality standard for the encyclopedia, since he is not presenting both sides.

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I found this note on Dr. Peikoff's website:

June 8, 2009

To my listeners:

I would appreciate any help that you can give me in my effort to reverse Wikipedia’s decision in this issue.

Thank you,

Leonard Peikoff

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr. Wales,

...

There are those in the academic world who question the objectivity of Wikipedia. I hope that your action on this matter will prove that they are wrong.

Sincerely yours,

Leonard Peikoff

Executor, Estate of Ayn Rand

The self-parody of the sad pretense of intellectuality by "contributors" discussing this issue at Wikopedia can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Ayn_Rand. Search on Valliant, but set your priorities on how you want to spend your time first.

The objectivity of Wikipedia is indeed "questioned" in the "academic world" -- and well beyond. The problem with getting something like the Wikipedia purge of Valliant corrected is that even if successful there is so much more, almost implying a sanction of the rest of that by mentioning Valliant but not the rest. Getting some of it right only lends credibility to the rest of the "insertions" seeking a platform.

The Wikipedia discussion of Ayn Rand is dominated by fringe groupies attempting to portray themselves as expert scholars on Ayn Rand, promoting the most ridiculous figures as acceptable "sources" known primarily only among themselves. The kind of discussion you see in the history of the Wikipedia article is very similar to the combination of snide grousing and pompous pretense at knowledge that you find on their own web forums and god knows what else in the name of "scholarship". They are losers. Occasionally I have been amazed to stumble on some of these people prattling on -- in breathless expose's -- about events that never happened -- which I can confirm because some of it has purported to be about me personally, including an entire "discussion" betweeen myself and Leonard Peikoff that never occured. These people have no understanding of Ayn Rand's ideas, some of them hate her, and they have no credibility.

It seems that in Leonard Peikoff's well-motivated attempt at correction appealing to the likes of JimmyWales he unwittingly stepped into something perhaps best left unnamed by the proper word.

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It seems that in Leonard Peikoff's well-motivated attempt at correction appealing to the likes of JimmyWales he unwittingly stepped into something perhaps best left unnamed by the proper word.

That's because in all of his years of existence, he still evidently has not figured out who his friends and enemies really are, or should be/ought to have been.

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It seems that in Leonard Peikoff's well-motivated attempt at correction appealing to the likes of JimmyWales he unwittingly stepped into something perhaps best left unnamed by the proper word.

That's because in all of his years of existence, he still evidently has not figured out who his friends and enemies really are, or should be/ought to have been.

I don't know what he thinks Jimmy Wales is, but he sure doesn't seem to know how Wikipedia works and is controlled, and for whose benefit. I can understand why he wouldn't want to bother following what that crowd of pseudo-intellectuals has been doing with its Ayn Rand "scholarship", but he apparently gave it the benefit of a doubt that someone close to him should have warned him about.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Objectiv...pt_at_a_Summary

Regarding the email from Peikoff, this is an example of what I just mentioned. If Peikoff endorses Valliant's book and the claims therein, he has many venues available to him where he could say this. He could publish a review. He could write an essay that includes the use of Valliant as a source. He could mention the book in a radio or tv interview. These would be verifiable references from a reliable source that could be used to bolster the book's status, both on Wikipedia and elsewhere.

Unless I'm misreading this, it appears that Leonard Peikoff could achieve what we wants if he follows Wikipedia's protocol. It seems to me that the Wikipedia editors are being quite objective here.

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It seems to me that the Wikipedia editors are being quite objective here.

In the vast majority of cases, any idiot can remove or rewrite a Wikipedia entry regardless of the intelligence or reliability of the original words. Then it becomes a ridiculous and absurdly time-wasting game of who can maintain their desired version by the fastest/most repeated edits. That isn't objectivity, it is the epitome of collective subjectivism. The biggest issue arises on controversial subjects but the problem applies to any Wikipedia entry. The problem is that Wikipedia is now treated as a primary reference source and is often at the top of Google queries.

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It seems to me that the Wikipedia editors are being quite objective here.

In the vast majority of cases, any idiot can remove or rewrite a Wikipedia entry regardless of the intelligence or reliability of the original words. Then it becomes a ridiculous and absurdly time-wasting game of who can maintain their desired version by the fastest/most repeated edits. That isn't objectivity, it is the epitome of collective subjectivism. The biggest issue arises on controversial subjects but the problem applies to any Wikipedia entry.

I didn't mean to say that Wikipedia is objective - it isn't. They are, however, applying an objective standard in regards to the issue of using PARC as a reliable source (in the context of how that term is used on Wikipedia).

The problem is that Wikipedia is now treated as a primary reference source and is often at the top of Google queries.

That's not Wikipedia's fault, of course.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Objectiv...pt_at_a_Summary
Regarding the email from Peikoff, this is an example of what I just mentioned. If Peikoff endorses Valliant's book and the claims therein, he has many venues available to him where he could say this. He could publish a review. He could write an essay that includes the use of Valliant as a source. He could mention the book in a radio or tv interview. These would be verifiable references from a reliable source that could be used to bolster the book's status, both on Wikipedia and elsewhere.

Unless I'm misreading this, it appears that Leonard Peikoff could achieve what we wants if he follows Wikipedia's protocol. It seems to me that the Wikipedia editors are being quite objective here.

There is nothing objective about their critieria. Leonard Peikoff is a reliable source, and so is the extremely well-documented book itself. All the sophistry about "mentioning" the book somewhere else to manufacture a "veriable reference from a reliable source" to "bolster status" is baloney masqeurading as "scholarship".

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There is nothing objective about their critieria. Leonard Peikoff is a reliable source, and so is the extremely well-documented book itself. All the sophistry about "mentioning" the book somewhere else to manufacture a "veriable reference from a reliable source" to "bolster status" is baloney masqeurading as "scholarship".

Their policy is plainly stated and applied consistently. Leonard Peikoff is one reliable source and, until recently, has made no public statement about PARC. Other than him there are no other sources that cite PARC. This whole issue occurred because James Valiant made a nuisance of himself by spamming Wikipedia using his book as a reference. The editors' decision on this is quite reasonable.

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There is nothing objective about their critieria. Leonard Peikoff is a reliable source, and so is the extremely well-documented book itself. All the sophistry about "mentioning" the book somewhere else to manufacture a "veriable reference from a reliable source" to "bolster status" is baloney masqeurading as "scholarship".

Their policy is plainly stated and applied consistently.

Their ridiculous "policy" is not "objective" and is not applied consistently. The kind of pseudo-scholarly political manipulation of the content for a desired outcome on Wikipedia is well known.

The Leonard Peikoff is one reliable source and, until recently, has made no public statement about PARC.

So what?

Other than him there are no other sources that cite PARC.

That is false. The pseudo-scholars of Ayn Rand at Wikipedia want "sources" they approve of. Nor should it make any difference how many there are. There is nothing "objective" about requirements to satisfy the demands of that group.

This whole issue occurred because James Valiant made a nuisance of himself by spamming Wikipedia using his book as a reference. The editors' decision on this is quite reasonable.

That is nonsense. No one "spammed" anyone. The word "spam" has a meaning, and it is not 'anything that someone doesn't like'. The value of Valliant's book has nothing to do with whether or not his Brandenite antagonists like him or find anything he does to be a "nuisance" to themselves in his persistence.

Again, "the sophistry about 'mentioning' the book somewhere else to manufacture a 'veriable reference from a reliable source' to 'bolster status' is baloney masqeurading as 'scholarship'." That such a contrived "standard" would be promoted as "objective" here on the Forum is disturbing.

Leonard Peikoff should no more kowtow to the "standards" demanded by those charlatans than Howard Roark should have appealed to more "committees". I hope that he now understands enough of what is happening at Wikipedia that he has nothing to do with them that sanctions them in any way.

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* big snip *

The Wikipedians have provided copious evidence which I find convincing. You've provided none.

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* big snip *

The Wikipedians have provided copious evidence which I find convincing. You've provided none.

Your statement is almost hilarious, except for the fact that that is not the context you meant. Ewv, along with many others, have provided "copious evidence" on many different threads on this forum alone.

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* big snip *

The Wikipedians have provided copious evidence which I find convincing. You've provided none.

Evidence of being collectivists, yes. The validity of a source is determined by whether it presents the facts needed to support its conclusions. Valliant drew extensively from archives of Ayn Rand's own writing to refute the Branden's character smears, but all the Wikipedia crowd cares about is whether the book is popular in their circles. How can anyone claiming to agree with Objectivism even pretend that such a method is objective? That there is a formal procedure at Wikipedia for supplanting reality with the whims of the majority does not make it anything other than a disgrace as an encyclopedia.

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Your statement is almost hilarious, except for the fact that that is not the context you meant. Ewv, along with many others, have provided "copious evidence" on many different threads on this forum alone.

There's now evidence by Ewv in this thread to support his claims:

Their ridiculous "policy" is not "objective" and is not applied consistently. The kind of pseudo-scholarly political manipulation of the content for a desired outcome on Wikipedia is well known.
That is nonsense. No one "spammed" anyone.

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Again, "the sophistry about 'mentioning' the book somewhere else to manufacture a 'veriable reference from a reliable source' to 'bolster status' is baloney masqeurading as 'scholarship'." That such a contrived "standard" would be promoted as "objective" here on the Forum is disturbing.

Wikipedia has never presented itself as a scholarly encyclopedia. In fact, it's main page clearly states:

Because Wikipedia is an ongoing work to which, in principle, anybody can contribute, it differs from a paper-based reference source in important ways. In particular, older articles tend to be more comprehensive and balanced, while newer articles more frequently contain significant misinformation, unencyclopedic content, or vandalism.

Dictionary.com defines "objective" as:

not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased

Wikipedia's _objective_ standard for considering a source reliable is clearly stated and applied in an objective manner. Their standard is reasonable given the goals of Wikipedia. I've read the entire discussion on Valliant at Wikipedia and the editors' complaint is that PARC is being cited as a source for things that it should not be cited for per the terms of Wikipedia. PARC is certainly a reliable source with regards to the thoughts of Ayn Rand as presented by her diaries. But James Valliant's interpretations and conclusions certainly are not and this is what became an issue. Valliant (and others using his IP address) spammed Wikipedia with citations to PARC that were in violation of Wikipedia's policies.

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Because if you're defending the Brandens, you don't belong here. But as I am not the owner of this board, that is just my opinion.

Defending them against what? I have no association with them. I occasionally see them at TAS events but that's it.

I just checked the forum rules/guidelines (http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=35) and it makes no mention of the Brandens so it seems that you are misinformed.

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Thanks for the advice ;)

I'm not going to respond directly to this. This is all just a proxy for the same old arguments about the Brandens and I'm not interested in re-hashing it.

Whether you want to have an argument about the Brandens or not, you need to be clear about whose side you're taking. Because if you're defending the Brandens, you don't belong here. But as I am not the owner of this board, that is just my opinion.

I agree.

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Gee nice to know how civil Guy A and bborg are. We suspect you of defending the Brandens so get the hell out of here. Polite, civil people do not threaten in this way. I visit this forum because I value (most) of the participants and Betsy, in particular, has been very nice to me. Her objectivity in matters where she obviously disagrees personally is commendable. So, bborg and Guy A, I suggest you take a lesson from Betsy.

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Your statement is almost hilarious, except for the fact that that is not the context you meant. Ewv, along with many others, have provided "copious evidence" on many different threads on this forum alone.

There's now evidence by Ewv in this thread to support his claims:

Their ridiculous "policy" is not "objective" and is not applied consistently. The kind of pseudo-scholarly political manipulation of the content for a desired outcome on Wikipedia is well known.

The manipulative use of Wikipedia's "standards" to avoid Leonard Peikoff's appeal has already been described. The evidence of how Wikipedia is run has in fact been discussed many times here on the Forum and elsewhere, as has already been pointed out. Appeals to Wikipedia's alleged "objective" standards of "scholarship", especially on controversial subjects, as an alleged premise on which to defend its actions against Leonard Peikoff and James Valliant are too ridiculous to warrant further detail except perhaps by those with the time and patience to try to educate those who are too far behind to know how to further review the subject on their own. Self-justifying appeals to Wikipedia to rationalize acceptance of controverisal Wikipedia content are now far beyond serious discussion.

That is nonsense. No one "spammed" anyone. The word "spam" has a meaning, and it is not 'anything that someone doesn't like'. The value of Valliant's book has nothing to do with whether or not his Brandenite antagonists like him or find anything he does to be a "nuisance" to themselves in his persistence. That is nonsense. No one "spammed" anyone.

The meaning of the concept "spam" as unsolicited bulk email (UBE), i.e., to large numbers of recipients for advertising, financial scams, etc. is very well known. James Valliant is not a spammer. Spam has been around for over a decade and most people know what it means. Referring to that fact ought to be enough for those reasonably educated in common use of computers and the internet. Even Wikipedia knows what spam is. Accusations of "spamming" as a term of disparagement, counting on the accepted negative evaluation by 'association', is innuendo.

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