As you may see from other postings, I don’t defer to views that are based simply on credentials.
I watch and hear government officials, academics and scientists with a skeptical ear and eye. I think they duck or manipulate important questions because of unsound motives like political expediency and commercial advantage. These are usually people packed with credentials.
Wikipedia came to me as an antidote to this – open to everybody that had something sensible to add – not just the copper bottomed experts with commercial interests or reputations to protect. The knowledgeable interested amateurs, who care and have a thirst for knowledge could participate without reputations or commercial interests to advance.
OK, that was spoiled as Wikipedia became successful and a mention was worth something so various interests piled in with spin. I think this is why Wikipedia began to rely heavily on peer review. Perhaps peer review helped to combat biased entries and bogus claims but the comment by a moderator “I can see only one reason for citing a non-peer reviewed article: ego-spam.” (see below) shows to me this has gone too far.
There seems to be no study too fragmented, no hypothesis too trivial, no literature too biased or too egotistical, no design too warped, no methodology too bungled, no presentation of results too inaccurate, too obscure, and too contradictory, no analysis too self-serving, no argument too circular, no conclusions too trifling or too unjustified, and no grammar and syntax too offensive for a paper to end up in print.
And read their entry on conventional wisdom
Conventional wisdom is the body of ideas or explanations generally accepted as true by the public or by experts in a field. Such ideas or explanations, though widely held, are unexamined. Unqualified societal discourse preserves the status quo.
I believe that Wikipedia could address important areas of knowledge ducked or appropriated by those with credentials. The top of my list would be [[the carbon footprint of everyday activity]] with sub-topics such as the [[carbon footprint of beef]] or the [[carbon footprint of air travel]]. With friends and a grant from UnLtd, I tried to do this with the Green Ration Book but Wikipedia is the obvious place for this to happen with a world-wide audience and world-wide helpers.
Sadly I think that academics and government organisations won’t address these issues in any helpful and straightforward manner. Bring on the amateurs.
Here are three of my encounters with Wikipedia…
I am Geoff Beacon.
My entry on the embodied carbon of beef was removed by a moderator. OK, It did point to a website I set up with a grant from UnLtd, the millennium charity, which has the relevant references. But the moderation has had the effect of denying readers the chance to know the enormous carbon footprint of beef (and the meat of other ruminants).
As far as I can see there is no [[the carbon footprint of beef]] on Wikipedia or many other everyday products and activities that were found on the website I set up. Wikipedia would be a much better place than my site.
I did offer to pay a student this summer on the carbon footprint of beef or anything else of his choice without mentioning my site. He couldn’t get past the moderator.
Wake up Wikipedia. Your coverage of carbon footprints tells very little about the impact of our everyday lives. You give references to academics that do not disclose their actual figures. Those that do get it wrong (e.g. pig meat and beef do not have the same footprint!)
I am Geoff Beacon.
My entry on the embodied carbon in BedZED has been removed by a moderator. OK, It did point to a website I set up with a grant from UnLtd, the millennium charity, which has the relevant references. But the moderation has had the effect of denying readers the chance to know the enormity of the problem of embodied energy in buildings like BedZED – the Beddington Zero Energy Project.
Again I ask the question Is Wikipedia too credentialist?
The Kim Swales argument
I am Geoff Beacon and I have just come across an archive discussion in Talk:Minimum wage/Archive 04.
I think the moderator gave Peter Lawrence an unnecessarily hard time: “I can see only one reason for citing a non-peer reviewed article: ego-spam.” The “non-peer reviewed article” was a report that was commissioned by the European Commission.
I was aware that Wikipedia had become more prone to credentialism but this case highlights a problem – it is difficult for a non-academic with a bright idea like Peter Lawrence to get anything published – let alone with peer review. They must reference academic work to make perferctly sensible and obvious ideas credible to policy makers.
But the idea he references is so ******* obvious that it shouldn’t need any reference – subsidise labour at the bottom end of the labour market (That is where unemployment hits!) and the poor find jobs and get paid more. Obvious to taxi drivers and that “man on the clapham omnibus”. I should know I have been asking them since the late sixties. I wasn’t until sometime in the eighties, when I met Kim Swales, that I found an academic economist that got the point.
He agreed to follow up the idea an we got funding from the European Commission to work on the report referenced by Peter Lawrence. Kim and Darren Holden did an excellent job of improving previous work that actually was peer reviewed. (Beacon, G. and Monk, P., “Employment Creation with Very Large Scale Labour Subsidies”, Northern Economic Review, No. 15, Summer, 1987.)
I started with this proposal in 1969 and have had decades of brush-offs but with few sensible suggestions from academics. The standard response was “X has done work on that” but they never had. Even Nicholas Kaldor seemed to forget he had made a similar proposal in the 1930s and replied with a reference to his book “An expenditure tax”.
I suppose the moderator was a academic economist.
Want to argue whether utility is denumerable or non-denumerable?
Could [[Is Wikipedia too credentialist]] be a new topic?
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