I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Courts are using Wikipedia's definitions of terms

An article in the New York Times said,

A simple search of published court decisions shows that Wikipedia is frequently cited by judges around the country, involving serious issues and the bizarre — such as a 2005 tax case before the Tennessee Court of Appeals concerning the definition of “beverage” that involved hundreds of thousands of dollars, and, just this week, a case in Federal District Court in Florida that involved the term “booty music” as played during a wet T-shirt contest.

Also, the courts' use of Wikipedia's definitions of terms is discussed here and here.

Courts' acceptance of Wikipedia's definitions of terms is especially alarming because there has been a lot of controversy over some Wikipedia definitions and in many cases dissenting views about those definitions have been suppressed. For example, there have been big Wikipedia controversies over the meanings of the following terms:
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"reverse engineering" -- there is a controversy over whether the "reverse engineering" of natural objects -- as opposed to man-made objects -- should be included in the definition.

"banned book" -- there was a big controversy over whether the book "Of People and Pandas" meets the definition of "banned book." Some hocus-pocused that it wasn't really banned because Judge Jones did not expressly ban it but only banned the statement that mentioned it. Others hocus-pocused that it wasn't banned in the school library but was only banned in the curriculum. Others kept obstinately insisting on a statement from a "reliable non-partisan source" that the book was banned.

And of course there is a huge controversy over the definition of term "intelligent design."

As I said, it is impossible to reach a consensus on a single undisputed Wikipedia presentation of a controversial subject. IMO the only solution is just to add disputed items to Wikipedia along with notices that the items are disputed and links to external websites where the disputes are discussed or debated.
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12 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> Courts' acceptance of Wikipedia's definitions of terms is especially alarming <

Few of us are alarmed.

> in many cases dissenting views about those definitions have been suppressed. <

Not at all. You are free to use your daffy definitions all you want. You have shown on your blog that you are using a different dictionary than the real world does.

> For example, there have been big Wikipedia controversies over the meanings of the following terms: <

Your disagreement does not mean a "big controversy".

> "reverse engineering" -- there is a controversy over whether the "reverse engineering" of natural objects -- as opposed to man-made objects -- should be included in the definition. <

Natural objects are not engineered. There is no controversy.

> "banned book" -- there was a big controversy over whether the book "Of People and Pandas" meets the definition of "banned book." <

One person protesting and failing to get any followers is not a big controversy. The bottom line is that the book was never banned, regardless of the opinion of one pajama clad fatheaded dunghill of an imbecile.

> And of course there is a huge controversy over the definition of term "intelligent design." <

There is no controversy here. The words are plain english. Naturally intelligent design requires a designer. Surely no sane person could despute that.

Monday, May 14, 2007 10:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Bill Clinton said...

What about the Big Controversy over the definition of "is"? (Hasn't Wikipedia weighed in on this?)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 2:02:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

ViW cannot explain why his breathtakingly inane comments are still here if his charge that I arbitrarily censor comments is true (his comments are so inane that deleting them would hardly be arbitrary).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 4:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> ViW cannot explain why his breathtakingly inane comments are still here if his charge that I arbitrarily censor comments is true <

The fact that many (I will admit most) of my comments are still here shows only that the censorship is arbitrary.

If you put an automatic filter in to get rid of inane comments, your entries on this blog would virtually disappear.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 3:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anything new about the Association of Pajama-Clad Nutcases?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 3:15:00 AM  
Anonymous hector said...

After checking Wikipedia articles under a number of subjects, I am impressed with the neutrality and even handedness of their approach. Where true controversies exist they present both sides and have links to the supporters of each.

Of course they do not stretch this to the point of including the position of the Flat Earth Society, nor do they include the bombast of every unhinged halfwit who feels that they are in need of attention.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 3:58:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Hector said,
>>>>>> After checking Wikipedia articles under a number of subjects, I am impressed with the neutrality and even handedness of their approach. Where true controversies exist they present both sides and have links to the supporters of each. <<<<<<

There are an awful lot of people who are not impressed with the neutrality and even-handedness of their approach -- for example, see this post.

What do you consider to be a "true" controversy? If the number of debaters and the length of debates were measures of what is a "true" controversy, would not, say, evolution and ID be "true" controversies? It's high time that you Darwinists stopped claiming that there is no controversy.

As for Wikipedia presenting "both sides" and having "links to the supporters of each," that happens only where the Wikipedia administrators have the good sense to handle disputes in that way. There is nothing in the Wikipedia rules that requires or recommends that disputes be handled in that way. The Wikipedia rules consist of three content policies: NPOV (neutral point of view), Verifiability, and No original research.

>>>>>> Of course they do not stretch this to the point of including the position of the Flat Earth Society, nor do they include the bombast of every unhinged halfwit who feels that they are in need of attention. <<<<<<

The "flat earth" example is a trite Darwinist straw man -- you should show some originality. Is there a lot of online debate over the flat earth theory? I haven't seen any. Is there a lot of online debate over evolution theory, intelligent design, etc.? You betcha. It is the extent of the online debating that shows whether an issue is controversial. There was a lot of debate over whether "Of People and Pandas" should be listed as a banned book, particularly on the Questionable Authority blog.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 6:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Hector said...

> There are an awful lot of people who are not impressed with the neutrality and even-handedness of their approach <

There are a lot of kooks around.

> would not, say, evolution and ID be "true" controversies? It's high time that you Darwinists stopped claiming that there is no controversy. <

I didn't say that evolution and ID were not "true" controversies. I said that the demand to put a book that is not banned on someone elses list of banned books is not a true controversy. Only a few moonbats believe that it should be done.

> As for Wikipedia presenting "both sides" and having "links to the supporters of each," that happens only where the Wikipedia administrators have the good sense to handle disputes in that way. <

I have not yet found and exception. The two cases you describe: putting non-banned books on a list of banned books, applying the term "reverse engineering" to natural objects or phenomena are quite absurd.

> There is nothing in the Wikipedia rules that requires or recommends that disputes be handled in that way. <

There is no need since they are doing it.

> I haven't seen any. <

It has been established that you rarely, if ever, read the material that you comment on here.

> There was a lot of debate over whether "Of People and Pandas" <

With the sane on one side and you and the rest on the other.

Thursday, May 17, 2007 7:13:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Heckling hectoring Hector drivels,
>>>>>I didn't say that evolution and ID were not "true" controversies. I said that the demand to put a book that is not banned on someone elses list of banned books is not a true controversy. Only a few moonbats believe that it should be done. <<<<<

Moonbats have the same right to be heard as anyone else. And those who think that "Of Pandas and People" is truly a banned book think that those who think otherwise are the moonbats. The control freaks at Wickedpedia completely rewrote the whole banned books article rather than admit that Pandas is a banned book.

>>>>>> There is nothing in the Wikipedia rules that requires or recommends that disputes be handled in that way. <

There is no need since they are doing it. <<<<<<

That is like saying that there is no need for laws against murder because most people don't commit murder and wouldn't commit murder even if there were no laws against it.

>>>>>> I haven't seen any. <

It has been established that you rarely, if ever, read the material that you comment on here. <<<<<

Bullshit. This is a well-documented blog. I don't just pull "facts" out of the air like, say, Fatheaded Ed Brayton does.

Thursday, May 17, 2007 10:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Hector said...

> Moonbats have the same right to be heard as anyone else. <

Yes. And you are free to rant all you want. The problem is when you demand that others parrot your rantings.

> And those who think that "Of Pandas and People" is truly a banned book think that those who think otherwise are the moonbats. <

I am sure that many of your fellow inmates at the asylum believe that the real nuts are outside.

> The control freaks at Wickedpedia completely rewrote the whole banned books article rather than admit that Pandas is a banned book. <

They may have had other reasons to rewrite the article. They are constantly rewriting articles. That still does not require them to "admit" that an apple is an orange.

> That is like saying that there is no need for laws against murder because most people don't commit murder and wouldn't commit murder even if there were no laws against it. <

Not at all. All I am saying is that the Wikipedia writers are not doing what you accuse them of.

> This is a well-documented blog. <

Often you just pull "facts" out of the air. You should do your homework like, say, Ed Brayton and Kevin do.

Friday, May 18, 2007 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

You can continue making insults and ad hominem attacks until you are blue in the face, but they won't advance your position any. You are only exposing the vacuity of your position.

Friday, May 18, 2007 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> You can continue making insults and ad hominem attacks until you are blue in the face, but they won't advance your position any. You are only exposing the vacuity of your position. <

Larry is talking to himself!

Saturday, May 19, 2007 10:16:00 AM  

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