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Comment: Re:Yo, Jimmy, I've got an idea: (Score 1) 608

by Antaeus Feldspar (#34608808) Attached to: Should Wikipedia Just Accept Ads Already?

To play devil's advocate here:

Is there anything that Blake Thompson has done other than produce The Dave Ramsey Show that has made him notable?

If not, then everything that makes Blake Thompson notable is already described in a Wikipedia article, and there's no point in adding all the same information to a new article just so the article can have his name on it.

(Note: I readily admit I have no knowledge of Thompson or the show he produces and so there may be a perfectly good answer to the question "What besides this show makes Thompson notable?" that I don't happen to know. However, back before I gave up Wikipedia in disgust I had to explain, many many many times, that if X's only notability is their participation in Y, it's much better to make the title "X" a redirect to the article "Y" than to make them two separate articles which can fall out of sync as people update one but forget to update the other.)

Comment: Nice idea but no match to reality (Score 1) 191

by Antaeus Feldspar (#34000750) Attached to: Can Wikipedia Teach Us All How To Just Get Along?

It sounds as if Reagle based all his work on the false premise that Wikipedia actually follows the rules it claims to follow.

In the infamous Scientology arbitration case (WP:ARBSCI) the ArbCom was ready to punish a well-respected user and admin because he did not speedy-delete an article that they thought should have been speedy-deleted. The rules on speedy deletion have some gray areas, but they also have areas which are starkly clear, such as an article which has survived an AfD discussion is not a candidate for speedy deletion. Speedy deletion was introduced as an alternative to the lengthier process, AfD (Articles for Deletion), only because the lengthier process was overkill for very simple cases like blatant hoaxes and unambiguous copyright infringement -- cases where no user with knowledge of Wikipedia's standards could seriously dispute that the article merited deletion. But the only way that an article survives an AfD discussion is if a sufficient number of users do dispute that the article should be deleted. So if an article has survived AfD, even if you think the AfD reached the wrong conclusion by not deleting the article, it was obviously not one of the simple cases that speedy deletion was intended for. And yet the ArbCom was actually ready to sanction this long-time admin for not violating the rules to speedy-delete an article that had survived four such discussions!

That barely even scratches the surface of what the ArbCom did wrong in that case, and I'm sure that was hardly the only case where they committed such egregious violations. ArbCom is supposed to be the "Supreme Court" of Wikipedia and yet if they're not only not enforcing the rules but trying to punish users for following the rules then there's no reason to think that the rules are being followed past the point of convenience anywhere on Wikipedia.

Comment: Re:Previous condition (Score 1) 594

by Antaeus Feldspar (#33550494) Attached to: Family To Receive $1.5M+ In Vaccine-Autism Award

Without a study no one knows how prevalent the disorder might be.

We do know something about how prevalent the disorder is, or more accurately, how prevalent it isn't. Besides Hannah Poling, there have only been four other known cases.

If you think that's a risk which comes even close to approximating the risks from vaccine-preventable diseases, I think you don't know what you're talking about.

Comment: Re:On the other hand... (Score 2, Interesting) 171

by Antaeus Feldspar (#31391370) Attached to: A Balanced Look At Cellphone Radiation

The problem is that class-action litigation is also an industry, and that industry is just as capable of commissioning "studies" not to discover scientific truth but to create a useful appearance.

In fact, I'd say litigation is more capable of doing so, given that they can win victories far more easily with useful appearances. If "Big Doohickey" discovers that doohickeys causes a serious risk of seizure, they will have to try to keep everyone fooled that there's no danger, for as long as they're selling doohickeys, and they know that at any time, some researcher will look for themselves and discover the truth. By contrast, if the law firm of Dewey, Cheatham and Howe says "hey, we've got a bunch of loonballs here who claim doohickeys are causing seizures; I think we could rake in a lot of cash from the pockets of Big Doohickey if we represent them in court," they can commission scientific-looking studies which appear to show a doohickey-seizure connection, and there's probably less than twenty people in the world who have to be sold on the idea that these studies have some sort of validity: those are the judge(s) or jur(ies) hearing the case. And they only have to keep up the appearance long enough to get a favorable verdict or settlement.

The litigation industry definitely produced dodgy scholarship to push a lawsuit in the case of the MMR vaccine (think Andrew Wakefield)) and there's evidence strongly suggesting that it has done so in the case of the alleged cellphone-cancer effect. For example, take a look at the Myung meta-review of cell-phone/cancer studies, where the author declared that even though the overall review of the chosen studies had failed to establish any sort of convincing evidence that cell phones caused cancer, a "sub-group" of "high-quality" studies established a "significant positive association". What the meta-review may have failed to call attention to, however, was that seven out of the eight "high-quality" studies were all done by the same researchers, a group led by Dr. Lennart Hardell, and that Hardell is frequently retained as an expert witness in lawsuits against cell-phone companies. Just because "the cellphone industry" isn't the industry funding a study, doesn't mean that study isn't funded by an industry or twisted to serve that industry's agenda.

Comment: Wikipedia has always been a Cathedral (Score 2, Insightful) 160

by Antaeus Feldspar (#31386088) Attached to: Why Wikipedia Articles Vary So Much In Quality

Actually, a large part of the problem is that Wikipedia always has been a Cathedral.

Cathedrals are venues where the decisions are made by a person or persons in a position of near-absolute power over the cathedral's output. That elite position exists on Wikipedia too. It's called The Last Guy To Edit.

In wiki theory, it doesn't matter that every person to edit, at the time they are editing, are acting as the Supreme Ruler of the Cathedral. The theory is that any abuse of this power will be corrected because:
1) some other person who knows how to edit will come along;
2) that person will see that the Last Guy To Edit committed some sort of wrongdoing;
3) that person will become the new Last Guy To Edit and undo anything bad done by the previous Last Guy To Edit.

In practice, however, there is no guarantee that 1, 2 and 3 will happen -- at least not within any time-frame that would count to a reasonable person as "success". The more articles Wikipedia adds, in fact, the greater the chance grows that the correction process will fail at any given step, because the number of good editors who can and will do corrections is not growing as fast as the number of articles, or even as fast as the number of poor editors who, through design or lack of ability, will create situations that need correction.

Wikipedia can't be truly said to follow Bazaar principles as long as one person can come along and unilaterally undo what all the rest of the Bazaar is doing.

Comment: Re:"Independently funded" doesn't mean "unbiased" (Score 2, Interesting) 474

by Antaeus Feldspar (#31052950) Attached to: Studies Find Harm From Cellular and Wi-Fi Signals

Your own response really casts doubt on your claims.

You claim that even when you read things you disagree with, you generally find "a nugget or two of useful information I didn't know about previously and from which I can benefit either directly or through researching further", and proceed to go into a long comical diatribe based on the implicit assumption this one brief "interaction" of ours entirely sums up our entire beings. Oh, yes, I'm sure you know everything about my information processing habits based on one Slashdot comment, and I'm sure that your extrapolation of that to the results of a century spent in a library is an entirely accurate non-caricature.

Yet you fail to even mention the Myung meta-analysis which I described, which (similar to the GQ article) divided up studies, announced that a certain sub-group of those studies presented an alarming result, and failed to show adequate consideration to the possibility that sub-grouping in the fashion they did introduced a co-founder. I'm sorry, should I have buried that nugget in piles of conspiracy-mongering clap-trap, so that you would be able to recognize it as information?

You also fail to respond in any meaningful fashion to my exposure of the original article's misconception of the Frey effect, instead pulling what I like to call "the haystack gambit." "Oh, so you argue that A, do you? Well, you're wrong! You're so totally wrong! I am not even obligated to give specific reasons why anyone should believe that you're wrong; I will just tell you that the proof that you are absolutely wrong is contained in Wikipedia article X/somewhere in the complete writings of Y/on the side of a needle located in haystack Z! Now you cannot rebut me without poring through everything I chose to throw at you in order to try and figure out what the heck my argument actually is."

If you think that every moldering garbage heap of thought has in it, somewhere, some tiny little scrap which, even if it is not a scrap of truth, at least provides the material for a moment's consideration, you may be technically correct (or perhaps you just haven't spent enough time on the Internet.)

But as one grows older and learns to value one's time, one realizes that not every garbage heap contains a reward worth the effort of digging it out.

Comment: "Independently funded" doesn't mean "unbiased" (Score 2, Insightful) 474

by Antaeus Feldspar (#31049816) Attached to: Studies Find Harm From Cellular and Wi-Fi Signals

I was going to RTFA but it's densely packed in an unfriendly typeface and when I opened it up, I immediately saw warning signs of conspiracy-mongering (Hey, this guy publishes an "investigative newsletter" called Microwave News! And he has a doctorate in environmental policy from MIT! That means if he says that the science is 100% solid about cell phones causing harm, he must be right, because God knows no one who got a doctorate at MIT ever got convinced of some cockamamie theory and started "investigative newsletters" to pursue some non-existent threat!) and research fail ("The "hearing," however, didn't happen via normal sound waves perceived through the ear. It occurred somewhere in the brain itself, as EM waves interacted with the brain's cells, which generate tiny electrical fields." First of all, any time someone mentions the Frey effect, 80% of the time you're about to hear schizophrenic ranting about government mind control transmissions. Second of all, the author seems to have made up the theory that the Frey effect happens because of EM waves interacting with brain cells; it seems quite inconsistent with Frey's own findings that there were some individuals who could not hear sounds around the frequency of 5Kc who also could not hear the "rf sounds". If the Frey effect bypassed the ear and directly stimulated the brain, why would anyone who had a brain be unable to detect this stimulus? Why would the people who were unable to detect this stimulus also be those with known deficiencies in their ears? Coincidence?)

Anyways, I suspected that what I would find in the article was a situation similar to the Myung meta-review of cell-phone/cancer studies, where the author declared that even though the overall review of the chosen studies had failed to establish any sort of convincing evidence that cell phones caused cancer, a "sub-group" of "high-quality" studies established a "significant positive association". What the meta-review may have failed to call attention to, however, was that seven out of the eight "high-quality" studies were all done by the same researchers, a group led by Dr. Lennart Hardell, and that Hardell is frequently retained as an expert witness in lawsuits against cell-phone companies. I wouldn't be surprised if at least 75% of the "independently funded" studies in the GQ article are also by researchers who profit handsomely from testifying in similar lawsuits. People talk about how they can't trust any studies done by "industry", but they're naive to think that litigation itself is not an industry.

Comment: Re:I recently needed to learn how to set a live tr (Score 3, Interesting) 249

by Antaeus Feldspar (#30452582) Attached to: Dad Delivers Baby Using Wiki

Well, you could try wiggling out of this one on a technicality, insisting on an article that is provably wrong in key facts and has been for more than a week, rather than one where that exact situation occurred but the article was later corrected after more than a week. But I'm sure you wouldn't do that, since that would be an artificial limitation.

So perhaps you should look at this version of an article about Colin Pitchfork, a convicted child killer: . Among the other false key facts presented in the article for twenty-five days (over three weeks):

* the city and the county where the murders occurred;
* the years where they occurred;
* the existence of a third murder;
* the year of Pitchfork's confession;
* the date and year of Pitchfork's sentencing;
* the name of the initial incorrect suspect;
* the affiliation of the scientist who developed the technique that identified Pitchfork;
* how Pitchfork's ruse to defeat forensic testing failed.

That's a bit more than "spelling errors and questionable references."

With your bare hands?!?