The Mass Media, The Government, Wikipedia and other institutions are withholding information from the public about preventing violence or presenting it in a way that will not be effective.

The Mass Media and the government are the worst perpetrators of censorship but I am focusing mainly on Wikipedia and Wikimedia on this page because they may be easier in the short term to influence and they are in a good position to set a good example for the government and the Mass Media. By setting a better example for the Mass Media the public can demonstrate that we can have a much more credible and effective press that focuses on important issues. The cornerstone of democracy is the free press but when the Mass Media became controlled by too few people that was virtually eliminated. There is plenty of alternative media but they are being drowned out by the Mass Media. Even though Wikimedia has its problems they seem to be the most organized media outlet that allows some direct participation from the public. In order to reach its full potential they must first correct some problems.

My objective isn't to discredit Wikipedia but to point out flaws so that they can be fixed. Wikipedia is a new institution edited by the public so it is a work in progress and there is good reason to believe that these problems can be fixed if they are addressed before they become institutionalized.

The only reputation I can ruin is my own and I don't expect you to take my word for this without confirmation. My recommendation is that you try editing Wikipedia on a subject of your choice and develop your own opinion.

Wikipedia does have problems with censorship but it is also worth noting that they are doing a lot to get a lot of information to the public that other institutions aren't. In many cases where the articles are not controversial Wikipedia is doing a lot more than colleges and the Media to inform the public like archaeology pages and many other science pages where people interested in the subject are allowed to edit without interference from people that may try to influence the way it is presented. They have also pointed out some flaws in the way some members of the Mass media present the news including Nancy Grace and Geraldo Rivera.

This doesn't mean we should look the other way when they are part of the problem though. There are still some problems with the way they handle some subjects that need a lot of improvement. The most powerful institutions should be held to the highest standards.

If Wikipedia addresses these problems they can be a major part of the solution rather than part of the problem but first they have to get over internal bickering and set up rules that prevent special interests from anonymously disrupting solutions.

There should be preferential treatment for scholars that have studied the problem over political points of view. In many sections of Wikipedia they already have that where there is little or no political opposition but unfortunately that isn't the case on the sections that address violence. In some cases they are allowing gun rights advocates to present their point of view and censoring points of view based on work from qualified academics. If anything it should be the other way around although I don't think that is the way to go either. They should present both points of view fairly. There should be more input from researchers who have looked into the subject and it should be linked up to the related articles so that if anyone wants to find out about prevention they can find it easily when looking at an article about a specific incident like Columbine.

I have Googled Wikipedia censorship and found that there are many other people who also believe that Wikipedia has problems with censorship although I'm not sure I agree with all their motives and reasons. In some cases they probably have legitimate complaints but in others the people complaining may be worse than Wikipedia in my opinion. Discretion is advised even with my concerns.

The strongest evidence for censorship or lack of censorship on Wikipedia or anywhere else on the subject of violence prevention is the quality of their work. If they did the best job possible that implies there is little or no censorship but if you look at the work of some of the most qualified experts and find that they did a much better job than Wikipedia and that there is an effort to minimize improvements this implies either censorship, incompetence or some other problem. Check the work and find out for yourself.

For my own Blog page about violence prevention click here. This Blog includes material that is not researched in a way that was intended to be appropriate for Wikipedia but there is another link below to a page that is intended to be appropriate for Wikipedia. This is in the section "What Wikipedia can do to improve violence prevention information"

What Wikipedia can do to improve

Why Wikipedia isn't doing it under the circumstances

How people within Wikipedia and new editors can change this

Intentional censorship or negligence?
Why this should be put on the back burner either way after a brief definition

Letter from Michael Snow and Jimmy Wales. Includes request for input on how to improve Wikipedia.
This seems to indicate that they may be open to improvement if they receive good input from the public.

Rational censorship

Censorship of political candidates

Cooperation with Vote Smart, Free press and other organizations

Not an experiment with democracy?
Should Wikipedia be obligated to serve the public's wishes if they are requesting their efforts to build up their encyclopedia and donate money to it?

Wikipedia Neutrality, opposition to advocacy etc.

Wikipedia can probably also use reform on other important subjects including the way health care is addressed and the environment.

Rational Skepticism and Fringe subjects

Special interests
Domination by full time Wikipedians who don't explain their motives

How Wikipedia could set a better example for the Mass Media or become another propaganda outlet depending on whether they address their problems.

The way the Mass Media presents violence prevention information is the academic equivalent of the way Kitty Genoveseís murder was portrayed.

Post your response to this or read the response to this from others including Wikipedians here

Wikipedia Accountability
Other Web sites that have criticized Wikipedia including some that are attempting to reform it.


What Wikipedia can do to improve violence prevention information
More Input pending

The most important thing Wikipedia can do is to allow more material based on work done by academic researchers and prevent those who disagree with this from censoring this information.

This wouldn't violate the rules in general; however the way many people interpret the rules can be used to justify just about anything. This creates an environment where the dominant editors can control any article just by being persistent. The administrators can set up rules and enforce them in a way to prevent unreasonable censorship from occurring.

Wikipedia can do more to improve the prevention section of articles like school shootings and school violence. This can be done based on work done by credible academic sources. More can be done to explain the root causes of violence. There is an enormous amount of research from academic sources available in the library that can be used to find out more about this but this isn't being presented to the majority of the public which doesn't do much reading especially about this subject. Most people are much more inclined to read novels. By having a summation of the causes of violence Wikipedia can do a lot to inform the public that may be looking for relatively brief summation of the problem.

It is important to keep in mind what the target audience is if these articles are to be effective. It is important to present this information in a manner which can be understood by the general public. In order for this to happen language designed to address scholars only should be avoided most of the time. There may be some cases where it helps to describe technical terms but they should also include explanations as to what these technical terms mean since the general public may not have the appropriate background education that many scholars have. Some authors that have done a good job doing this include James Garbarino, Ellen deLara and Joanne Scaglione.

In my opinion it would be better to have an article called Preventing School Violence or something that gives the same impression. This would be better than an article that does more to describe school violence that lists the events without telling much if anything about prevention. Many people would be much more inclined to read the article if it said it was about prevention instead of just giving the people the impression it is just another article describing violence. These types of articles are more likely to attract the attention of people fascinated by violence and less likely to attract the attention of people that are more likely to do something about it. This is what I did with the article listed below.

The most important root causes of violence are the treatment that children receive at an early age. There is a consensus about this from the majority of credible academics but most of the information the public receives is based on what the Mass Media tells them and that is often dominated by demagogues or other talking heads who try to come up with quick answers. They rarely ever try as much as they could to explain the long term causes of violence.

There can be mush more done to organize the way different articles are linked up so that people can find links to the appropriate articles from related pages. Once there is improvement on the prevention section there can be return links from all the articles about specific incidents like the articles about Columbine and the Virginia Tech massacre. These return links can include a brief summation of the preventions page and a link to the main article for more information. These return links can also be added to Wiki-news. Where ever there is related material about violence it can provide links to pages that inform the public about the causes of violence and how to prevent them. The Mass Media can do something similar as well they can remind the public about the route causes based on the most reliable academic work available and a variety of experts can provide opinions and they can refer the public to sources that can tell them more. Right now the Mass Media relies on a small number of experts that generally make the rounds of many shows. They often provide quick and incomplete assessment of the situation based on insufficient evidence. They rarely tell the public where to find much if any more detailed information that elaborates on the subject. Members of the public that are inclined to do their own research based on their own initiative are much more likely to understand the subject but unfortunately that doesn't include the vast majority of the public so they could use some guidance from those that are more informed about academic work. Instead they are receiving more guidance from demagogues and people with political agendas.

Something similar can be done to the sections about violent crime including the articles about Mass murderers and serial killers. Most if not all serial killers that I have read about have come from violent upbringing far worse than what the average person endures. This is a major contributing cause. Once again there is a lot of agreement about this in the academic community from people of different views including James Garbarino and Dorothy Otnow Lewis who often tend to be more sympathetic and may oppose the death penalty and hard liners like John Douglas and Vincent Bugliosi who acknowledge that violent upbringing is a contributing cause but claim it shouldn't be used as an excuse and favor the death penalty. All these people also agree that the worst serial killers should never be let out even if they aren't executed not only so they wonít kill again but so they won't abuse children and contribute to the next generation of violent criminals. Once again an article can be created about prevention and return links can be provided from all related articles. Return links can also be provided from Wiki-news articles about violence with lead in sections.

Once the public is better informed about the causes of violent crime then they can all do their part to help prevent it. There is an enormous amount of research that indicates there are serious social problems that lead to violence and this could be prevented by having a better informed public. If the Mass Media isnít willing to do it then sincere members of the public can do it then once a better example has been set pressure can be put on the Mass Media to allow more points of view from credible sources to be presented to the public. This could help lead to Media reform where the Mass Media isnít controlled by a small percentage of the public that may have their own best interest in mind instead of the best interest of the public.

One of the most important things Wikipedia could do is to find good sites that are prepared by credible experts that are already trying to present this information to the public but only draw the attention of those who seek them out. Not only is a lot of this information available in the library but it is also available online in some cases but it is often hard to find if people donít know where to look due to information overload. This is sometimes referred to as a link sink on Wikipedia; however if it is for credible sites and the links are organized and presented well they should be allowed. This is one of many examples where reasonable discretion should be allowed.

Prevention isn't about using previous abuse as an excuse to get violent felons off. It is about recognizing the causes of crime and preventing them. This means it would be about preventing future child abuse and preventing the future victims from becoming future felons. Prevention is about protecting the innocent before they are driven to crime.


Why Wikipedia isn't doing it under the circumstances
More Input pending

I have attempted to do this myself and the work I did was disputed. There were many complaints about my work most of which I don't think were valid; however if someone else did a better job I wouldn't have any objection. It has been several months since this happened and nothing has been done to improve the violence prevention section. It is hard to know for certain why the article was disputed since Wikipedia is being edited by anonymous sources but it is clear that inconsistent use of the rules and constant bickering is part of the problem. There was also a reluctance to look up sources. There was some indication that opposition to any mention of gun control was part of the problem but the dispute went beyond opposition to gun control. There may have been some emotional points of view and ideological disagreements that may have indirectly been effected by demagogues or the way the public has been educated in the past. Part of the problem may be that Wikipedia is asking the general public to edit the articles and they have received a lot of information about the subject which many of them have concluded is accurate for one reason or another.

One of the biggest complaints has been the opposition to advocacy or the claim that Wikipedia is neutral. Both these claims require reasonable discretion. It is very difficult to know what neutrality is. The closest you can get to the truth should be neutral regardless of what many emotional people believe. If people thought 2 plus 2 equaled either 5 or 7 would neutral be to say it might be 6? Of course math isn't an emotional subject so we don't have that problem but violence is an emotional subject so we do have that problem. People want someone to blame instead of recognizing that the abuse perpetrators endured as a child caused the problem. Also the claim of no advocacy is also false since they allow input that seems to be advocating gun rights and political plugs from high profile candidates that make sympathy calls but do little or nothing to solve the problem. When considering neutrality and advocacy it also helps to consider why the rules were made in the first place. This may have been done for political reasons but the objective seems to have backfired in some cases. It is hard to see why activities to prevent child abuse and bullying could be considered controversial yet they seem to be. Everyone agrees that violence should be prevented but not everyone agrees how. One of the biggest problems seems to be the failure to look at long term causes. Many people seem to look for solutions that would catch the problem shortly before School Shootings happen. Many academic researchers have clearly found that the biggest contributing causes are the long term culture of abuse that many felons endure before they become felons. Unfortunately these researchers aren't getting their point across to the public although those that look for their work in the library should be able to find it. What the public is hearing a lot about comes from political commentators that often cater to the emotions of the public and sometimes give the public the impression that they are the experts. Many members of the public may believe this and yet the solutions they propose continue to fail.

The exact reason why there hasn't been improvement whether from me or anyone else is based on speculation pending an in depth look at the details. Even this may not be good enough with out knowing the motives of the anonymous editors. Another part of the problem is the rules which may not be as clear as they could be and the negligence of some of the administrators who abstained. In some cases this may simply because they didn't know about it. Most of the administrators are focusing on a variety of different subjects.

Suggested preventing school violence currently being withheld by Wikipedia

Articles for deletion request for Preventing school violence which resulted in a merge or virtual deletion.


How people within Wikipedia and new editors can change this
More input pending

The administrators can do a lot to help the article by allowing some of the clear basics to be put in immediately. In most cases this doesn't call for anything extreme since it is education about how child abuse and bullying can lead to much more violence later in life. How can education about that lead to a problem? I can see how lack of education about that can lead to a problem it is already happening. Rules can be reviewed so that the benefit of the doubt can be given to the person who does the research at least until someone has had a chance to check the sources assuming the additions aren't extreme.

New editors that are familiar with the subject can provide there input. Michael Snow and Jimmy Wales have requested new volunteers and input from the public. If we have more people joining Wikipedia that are more interested in prevention it could go a long way to solve the problem. Any one can go to the appropriate section of the library and read up on the subject. I have provided some sources which I have found to be very credible and reliable and I'm sure there are plenty more on many library shelves. It would be better to have more educated wikipedians about this or any other subject but people with basic sense and good intentions are also needed especially since many of these pages are dominated by people with their own agendas. Wikipedia often claims that they donít vote on the truth but they often demonstrate with their actions that they do. If there are more people that are familiar with any given subject and look up sources and they are over ruled by those that donít check sources it will be apparent that they do vote on the truth. If they donít vote on the truth then they have to have another way to come to their conclusions. A better explanation should be provided. Until that explanation is provided and implemented there needs to be more attempts at reasonable discretion.

Ideally when this is brought to the attention of Wikipedia administrators they would do what they can to fix the problem but if they don't then the public should be informed of the problem. Wikipedia is growing in popularity and therefore it should be held accountable for credible information. If they want help from the public they should be subject to public pressure.

A new Wiki-project can be created for violence prevention where people interested in improving the coverage about violence prevention can collaborate to find good sourced material that should be acceptable to Wikipedia. Also if there are more people organized to improve the way violence prevention is addressed it will be easier to overcome the opposition which may be more concerned about other goals including gun rights. If there is a Wiki-project for nonviolence this would be above board ideally which should be better than any collusion that may or may not be happening behind the scenes. It may seem absurd that people would be colluding behind the scenes to many but since this could have a political impact on many peopleís agendas including powerful people this shouldnít be ruled out. If there is a project of people working together above board and they show the work with good sources they should receive more priority that those that fail to look up sources or seem to have a political agenda that might be hidden. This would also mean that the work wouldnít be the work of just one person. At this point it seems as if there are very few people who are sincere about improving the way this subject is being handled. This may seem like a bad sign but it could also mean that just a few people joining the effort could help make a difference. Even if that doesnít work then it will help to show that there is a bias here if they are overwhelmed by people who donít check sources or make rational arguments.

Gun control or gun rights shouldn't be the most important aspect of this issue but it seems as if it sometimes is because many people are very devoted to guns. There should be a way to do a lot to improve the way this is addressed without banning guns or leading people to believe that is the goal. I know of few if any people who are trying to do that yet many gun rights advocates seem to believe that is the case. There are many who want to restrict gun access to felons and mentally ill people but this shouldn't be a problem for law abiding people. Attempts to prevent the mention of any other issues but gun control in some cases may lead some people to believe this is the only option. This should actually be much lower profile in my opinion since the two leading contributing causes to violence that I know of are clearly child abuse and bullying. There needs to be much more emphasis on this.

Another way of making a difference if the information canít be provided on Wikipedia immediately would be to do the work to prepare one or more article(s) and make it(them) available through other outlets. If Wikipedia doesnít allow them they can be provided to other similar web pages. There are a growing number of copycats' wikis that can be used either to replace Wikipedia if they don't reform their problems or encourage them to improve on their own. If they realize they will be replaced if they don't fix their problems this could be a strong incentive to fix them. This wouldnít be as good as putting it on Wikipedia since one of the advantages of Wikipedia is their organizational abilities but it would be better than nothing and it would mean that if there is an article ready it could be added quickly. Once it is added then links could be provided from every article about the subject. If prevention is repeated as often as the call for justice through punishment after the fact has been done in the past then violence can be drastically reduced.

Similar things can be done for other subjects including health care reform and environmental protection. In order to come up with specific recommendations on these subjects it would help to look up more information on the best sources available on them many of which may also be available in the library.

Wikipedia:WikiProject Anti-war

To start a new wiki-project see Wikipedia:WikiProject


Intentional censorship or negligence?
Why this should be put on the back burner either way after a brief definition while more effort is made to confirm violence prevention information and make it available to everyone in the most effective way possible.
More Input pending

Whether information is being intentionally held back or it is being held back due to negligence depends on how well the government, mass media and wikipedia understand the subject. If they understand the subject and still withhold information that would indicate some degree of intention. If they censor people who try to put this information out there that would indicate some degree of intention. If on the other hand they truly believe that seeking justice as a deterrent after the fact is the best way to solve the problem; and that the information about child abuse is misleading that would indicate they are doing the best they know how to.

Either way it is more important to get information about violence prevention out there than to argue about whether it is intentional or not. If more people can work together to improve the coverage about it then we can worry about past obstacles later. However if there is to much resistance to this within the Mass Media government and Wikipedia then there should be efforts to improve coverage elsewhere as well as efforts to inform the public about the censorship problems so that they can help put pressure on the more powerful institutions to do a better job. It is important to obtain cooperation from these institutions since otherwise peace and education advocates will be fighting an uphill battle since there may be a lot of demagoguery canceling out any efforts that are being made by the sincere advocates of peace and education.


Letter from Michael Snow and Jimmy Wales. Includes request for input on how to improve wikipedia.
This seems to indicate that they may be open to improvement if they receive good input from the public.
More Input pending

Michael Snow and Jimmy Wales have written a letter asking for more input from the public and Wikipedians about how Wikipedia can be reformed and improved. This indicates this may be a good time to try to provide more input. Hopefully they may be more inclined to address these problems if there is more input from the public and it is clear that they will be held accountable. This is also an indication that they may already recognize that Wikipedia is going through some growing pains and needs reform. This may indicate that the problems with Wikipedia censorship may only be a temporary issue.

There are some people who doubt the sincerity of this request for reform but if they don't even try then they are guaranteed to fail. If on the other hand they do participate in the discussion then they will either succeed in getting some degree of reform or they will at least have the debate and find out what the objections are. This way people will be better able to know if they aren't sincere although hopefully this won't be necessary.

Letter from Michael Snow and Jimmy Wales. Includes request for input on how to improve wikipedia.


Rational censorship
More Input pending

If everyone shouts at the same time no one is heard and everyone is censored. It should be more a matter of whether the right priorities are chosen. An individual that claims to be opposed to censorship then demonstrates it by deleting information that he disagrees with and attempts to evade reasonable discussion is clearly only opposed to censorship when it is used against him. If misleading information or advertisements are censored so that the educational content that this is supposed to provide gets the top priority this would be reasonable IMO. The difference between reasonable and unreasonable censorship should be whether it is educational and accurate or not. Censorship for political or financial reasons should be unreasonable. Judging political reasons may not be that easy though. If a political reason involves distorting the truth so that a special interest benefits at the expense of the majority this would be unreasonable. If however some people push the truth for reasons that benefit the majority without distorting or misrepresenting things this may not be considered politics or at least not bad politics and reasonable discretion should be used.

Wikipedia isn't a blog or a soap box nor in my opinion should it be. There are some things that should be made available to the public in other forms. Wikipedia puts a lot of emphasis on sourced material to improve reliability. They also set up standards that are designed to keep extremely unreliable information out of Wikipedia if it doesn't come from credible sources. This isn't unreasonable in most cases. However sometimes even if information is from a reliable source and it isn't extreme or bizarre it may be disputed by just about anyone. This is especially true if the person disputes it spends a lot of time on Wikipedia and is inclined to argue. If the person who attempts to put the information isn't inclined to spend a lot of time on Wikipedia and argue about it the more persistent person can and often does win the dispute despite the fact that the other person may be better informed. This should be addressed by what ever management Wikipedia has.

What is unreasonable is when they censor information based on reliable sources or the best information available about any given subject. In some cases the best information about a given subject may not be that good so there may be a tough judgment call but in the cases of violence prevention that is based on several credible researchers that all seem to agree with each other this is unreasonable.


Censorship of political candidates
More Input pending

I have spotted several complaints that criticism of Barrack Obama was censored from Wikipedia. I'm sure there are many more complaints about high profile candidates but that isn't the biggest problem with censorship of political candidates. First of all I can't be certain that the censorship claims of criticism about Barrack Obama or any other candidate is reasonable or not. My best guess is that some of it is but not all. Some of it may be distorted information that is designed to give the public an inaccurate impression of the candidate. Unfortunately this is standard procedure in politics and in order to fix it the public needs to pay more attention and we need reform of the media as well as the way elections are controlled. This isn't limited to wikipedia. The problems with improper political activity in wikipedia are almost certainly similar to political activity elsewhere.

The biggest problem with censorship of political candidates isn't the high profile candidates but the low profile candidates. Wikipedia notability rules are designed so that they don't make someone much if any more notable than the Mass Media already does. This is highly unreasonable when it comes to political candidates. If Wikipedia is going to address political candidates at all and they are going to ask the public for help they should allow the public to put information about grass roots candidates as well. Under the current system anyone can run for office but unless they are known by the public they have absolutely no chance of winning. When it comes to high political office this gives the Mass Media virtual veto power over candidates. The Mass Media is the only way to obtain enough attention to be a serious contender for statewide or national office. The Mass Media is currently controlled by a very small number of corporations. That means that a very small percentage of the public has real influence when it comes to choosing which candidates can obtain the attention necessary to be a serious contender for office.


Cooperation with Vote Smart, Free press and other organizations
More Input pending

Wikipedia can do a better job handling political activity by cooperating with other grass roots organizations including Project Vote Smart, Free Press organization and other organizations. If this is done then wikipedia and these organizations should be up front about their activities and there should be ready access for finances or any other potential conflict of interests that may arise.

This can be done either by inviting members of these organizations to join the editing of Wikipedia or starting new Wiki-institutions that are designed to help grass roots political activity. In order to have a true democracy we need to have accurate information available to the public about the candidates and we need to have the opportunity to be able to choose our own candidates. That isn't the situation now; the Mass Media has a disproportionate amount of input on what kind of information is made available to the public not only about violence prevention and political candidates but about everything.

By setting up a grass roots organization that lets the public know about all political candidates regardless of how much money they collect in contributions this could give low profile candidates a chance without seeking the support of the most powerful and often most corrupt or at least biased institutions. The emphasis on money for advertisements has turned the system into a non-democratic boondoggle that gives preferential treatment to the rich over the better informed academic sources. This means the majority of information given to the majority of the public is influenced by people with political agendas that distort the ads or other sources of information. In many cases the public can find more reliable information if they search hard enough but most people don't go to the trouble and those that do are often out voted by the special interests and those that follow they demagogues blindly.

Project Vote Smart web site

Project Vote Smart's Blog: The Voter's Speakeasy

Summation of Robert McChesney's book about censorship and copy right laws being withheld from wikipedia this link is to the history page which only those familiar with wikipedia know where to look for.

McChesney's professional website

''Media Matters''

Free Press

VIDEO: Robert W. McChesney - The Life of Death Struggle for Journalism and Self-Government, lecture delivered at the University of Portland, Portland, Oregon, February 26, 2009.


Not an experiment with democracy?
Should wikipedia be obligated to serve the public's wishes if they are requesting their efforts to build up their encyclopedia and donate money to it?
More Input pending

Wikipedia claims that it isn't an experiment in democracy. This isn't entirely true. The rule about coming to a consensus is partly democratic and until something better comes along it should be. However when it comes to hard facts they should not be based on a popularity vote but on the evidence. Wikipedia can also be an important tool to advance democracy if it is done right. In order to have a democracy that works best the public has to have the information and education necessary to make intelligent choices instead of relying on hype and propaganda from demagogues. Also by participating in Wikipedia many shmucks can develop and understanding of how the "truth" is discovered and what kind of biases can potentially distort it. This may initially decrease the trust in experts but at the same time it will actually bring people closer to understand the process and realize that some of the things presented as absolutes may only be theories and sometimes flawed ones at that.

Wikipedia asks for contributions from the public that include both financial contributions and time and effort putting information onto their media outlets and they also provide information about political candidates to a large number of people. It is difficult to see how you could argue that Wikipedia shouldn't welcome more input from the public yet some of the rules about what Wikipedia isn't prevents some important information from being presented to the public. Ironically it often isn't enforced when the people who check the pages don't want to enforce them. Wikipedia does many of the things that they claim they don't do but in many cases it is still used as an excuse to withhold information that some determined editors don't want to provide.


Wikipedia Neutrality, opposition to advocacy etc.
More Input pending

Wikipedia claims to be neutral and opposed to advocacy. These may be noble goals but in order to achieve them there has to be a lot of fact checks and even then this may not be possible. The truth is neutral; when you have enough information to know what is true beyond a reasonable doubt then you can be sure that it is neutral and not advocacy. However in most cases things are more complicated and it may be necessary to present different points of view. You don't stand up for neutrality by only allowing what the traditional institutions are already saying even if it is wrong. Simply by making information about one aspect of any given subject means that Wikipedia advocates providing information to the public. If they later refuse to provide conflicting points of views they are providing a biased point of view. In order to truly be neutral there needs to be reasonable discretion.

In many cases some Wikipedians argue that some information is advocacy but other information isn't without a clear explanation of what defines advocacy. In the case of violence prevention there is several section that have mentioned what appears to be gun right advocacy positions with no objections but when information was added based on the academic work of scholars it was labeled advocacy. They allowed a sectioned on violence prevention but when there was an attempt to actually provide productive information on it was labeled advocacy. If they don't allow advocacy they shouldn't allow it either way. There is also a lot of political material that could be considered advocacy but it is allowed. What is needed is reasonable discretion about this. If anything the information from academics who study a subject should be considered priority. As it stands there may be more information from Ted Nugent, who's only credentials is that he is a celebrity, than there is from James Garbarino and other researchers who study the subject.


Wikipedia can probably also use reform on other important subjects including the way health care is addressed and the environment.

I havenít looked as closely at the way Wikipedia handles these subjects nor have I prepared specific recommendations but I suspect there are probably political problems with these two issues as well. In order to make good recommendation it would be necessary to look closer so these comments should be considered rough for now. What ever the subject that is being addressed there should be an effort to present the subject in the most organized way possible starting with explanations of the basics even if it often seems like they are so obvious everyone knows them. In many cases things that are obvious are often not repeated over and over again but things that contradict these obvious basics are repeated over and over again. A simple example is the way organized gambling is treated in the media. The most obvious basics clearly indicate that in order for any organized gambling institution to succeed they need to cover expenses then make a profit. In order to do this it is necessary to make sure the odds are in their favor putting the average person at a big disadvantage. This is rarely ever mentioned in the media instead there is a constant advertising campaign that tells the wishful thinking that they can win big. This leads to double think since if you point out the basics to these people they will often say they know then hours or days later they will be living the dream that they can win and buying tickets. This is one of the more obvious ways that this is done but there are many more simply by providing a clear definition of the basics the public can understand this better and avoid these scams.

When it comes to protecting the environment it should first be made clear that there are multiple ways that the environment is being damaged and they all affect us in different ways. The environment evolved over thousands of years and the industrial evolution is only couple hundred years old and the damage is mounting in many ways. Many of these environmental damages are not disputed yet the vast majority of attention is being drawn to the aspects that are being disputed. The biggest one right now is clearly Global Warming which is resulting in gridlock. There needs to be more discussion that in addition to the controversial global Warming that there are an enormous amount of rivers and lakes being polluted around the world, The forest are being cut down at a rapid pace and there are many other aspects of pollution that are destroying the environment and there is little or no rational doubt about many of these cases. In stead of raising doubts about them they are making an enormous amount of noise about Global Warming and creating a distraction so that nothing will be done about these things and the short term best interest of stock holders are being put ahead of the best interest of the majority. In many cases simply providing an organized set of facts may help. If these can be located off site by a reputable source then all that needs to be done is provide links to them. A few examples of these organized sets of facts include the following:

A statistical list of temperatures around the world and how much they changed.

A statistical list of hurricanes and other storms and whether they are increasing or not.

A list of oil spills around the world. I have seen a few reports of local oil spills that werenít reported in the national press; this implies there are a lot more little local newspapers reporting many more oil spills only to the local people. I have also seen some general reports about how there are many more oil spills in countries like Nigeria and Columbia that are mostly ignored. This list will help people understand how much more damage is done in areas where there is little political power.

A statistical list of how many rivers and lakes are polluted and how many people in many parts of the world have little or no access to safe water. I have seen a recent report on CNN that briefly mentions the fact that polluted water is on e of the biggest killers in many third world countries. Pollution and lack of health care often does far more damage than other more widely reported problems like war or terrorism.

There are certainly many other examples of information that isnít being presented to the public in the most effective way possible.

The same can be done for health care reform. Starting with the basics it needs to be made clear that the most effective way of cutting costs for health care involves preventative medicine or diagnosing problems earlier. This often means simple things like informing the public about improved diet and exercise routines and providing better health care for children. In many cases this could involve informing the public about simple low cost or no cost things that can be done. They could include basics like eat less and exercise more without giving the corporations money for exercise and diet items that often donít work.

Some of these things may not be appropriate for Wikipedia but they may be appropriate for other related sites in Wikimedia or elsewhere. In order to find out which would be right for Wikipedia or else where it may require more time looking at the details and finding sources. In some cases it may just be a matter of presenting this information in a manner so that it should be appropriate for Wikipedia


Rational Skepticism and Fringe subjects
More Input pending

There is some misinformation and perhaps unreasonable censorship about these subjects as well; but there is usually not sufficient information to come to hard conclusions that will impact important decisions so in my opinion this subject is a lower priority. At best the information that Wikipedia is withholding about this subject indicates unsolved mysteries but little or no conclusions. This subject shouldn't effect major decisions without more research. Violence prevention on the other hand has an enormous amount of strong evidence to indicate how to make more effective decisions in the short term and this information can be presented to the public in a more effective manner immediately. Ironically by giving preferential treatment to skeptics who do little if any research to some fringe subjects Wikipedia and other organizations make the fringe subject seem more credible. In many cases there are a lot of distortions about some of these fringe subjects but in order to completely rule out fringe ideas it is necessary to investigate them. In many cases if there is an investigation the investigator might wind up debunking part of it without debunking all of it. This may seem absurd to many people who are accustomed to laughing at these subjects many of which really are ridiculous but it is the scientific way to find out what is true. In many cases the bad work by skeptics is what makes people more likely to believe in these subjects. This is unfortunate just because a skeptic doesn't do a good job debunking a fringe subject doesn't mean the conclusions that fringe scientists come to are true which is why these subjects should also be handled with rational skepticism and research not pseudo skepticism, ridicule and censorship.


Special interests
Domination by full time Wikipedians who don't explain their motives
More Input pending

Wikipedia is open to everyone to edit for free and anonymously. This is a virtual guarantee that anyone with an agenda to get across to the public will try to do it on Wikipedia. There are many people who edit Wikipedia with good intentions but it is hard to imagine that all the full time Wikipedians are doing this especially after seeing some of the attempts to censor undesirable opinions. In many cases Wikipedians not only try to get their own edits in but go to a great deal of trouble to make sure that opposing views are not included.

Unless Wikipedia has full disclosure they will never be able to stop these people from trying but they can do more to make sure that the benefit of the doubt goes to the one that does the research and new edits can be kept if they are reasonable until someone has a chance to check them. In most cases these are probably not extreme. An exception may be something like the recent premature reports of the deaths of Robert Bird and Ted Kennedy (at the time Kennedy was still alive). Something like this could have easily been checked on the internet and if there was no report of their deaths it would have been clear. To use this as an excuse to rush to censor edits is unreasonable. Most edits aren't so extreme and when someone is trying to obtain shock value and they do use extreme false edits they are usually very easy to refute.

When there are full time Wikipedians who spend their time checking spelling grammar and for vandalism there is little doubt about their motives since they aren't doing any harm but preserving the quality of the encyclopedia but if they are spending a lot of time trying to get a biased point of view across then that should raise doubts. Wikipedia needs more input from people who spend their time researching and preparing edits in order to expand. If they also have to argue every time they try to edit Wkipedia they may often give up and the Wikipedia censors will win unless there is a predisposition to accept reasonable edits. If there are doubts about them they can be checked later and refuted unless it is something bizarre in which case it may be better to check first. When it comes to clowns that are not sincere it is usually easy to recognize them.


How Wikipedia could set a better example for the Mass Media or become another propaganda outlet depending on whether they address their problems.

Wikipedia could set a better example for the Mass Media by allowing the most informed people on any given subject to add material to the appropriate articles without interference from those who have a political agenda. This could go a long way to allow the public to help understand how good media could work and participate in it at the same time. In many cases there is free information from credible academic sources available in many libraries that clearly indicate much of what the Mass Media is presenting to the public is false. This information often comes from academic sources who explain how they came to their conclusions. By providing summations of some of these credible sources and citing the source it can help the public find out what they need to know about any given subject. This will also enable those who are interested in checking the source to make sure the information is accurate. Wikipedia can do a lot to present the public with a much better example than the Mass Media without changing any rules or much reform it just needs to enforce the rules properly in many cases.

Under the current circumstances there are many cases where people with an agenda try to censor material they donít agree with. The most common way of doing this is often to confuse the issue and drag things out in a long argument. By picking apart little details it is easy to convince less determined editors to give up. This method is almost certainly the reason why many Wikipedians have stopped editing. In order to keep these sincere editors from leaving the administrators need to do more to ensure that reasonable edits which include sources are not deleted for shallow reasons. In many cases it is clear that different standards are being used for different pages. For example in the archaeology pages they almost always present the material from recognized scholars and reject the work of fringe archaeologists. This is as it should be since the traditional scholars usually do a much better job peer reviewing their material. They may not always show the work as well as they could and should but they do better than the fringe scientists therefore they should get more credible billing in Wikipedia. Unfortunately this isnít the case with violence prevention and other controversial subjects. I havenít looked as closely at health care reform, pollution and other issues but I suspect there might be similar problems on those subjects as well. Part of the problem with this is that the Mass media is putting out an enormous amount of misinformation on these subjects. A closer look at the academic work from some of the credible academics that study violence prevention clearly indicates that they know much more than what the Mass Media and the major political institutions are presenting to the public. This means that there is much more false information and it has been presented to the public in a manner in which it seems credible to some of the less educated members of the public.

Wikipedia could be one of the most effective efforts to provide a better alternative to the Mass Media available and the people running the Mass Media almost certainly understand this much better than most members of the public. By having most of the biggest Media outlets in the control of an extremely small percentage of the public this enables them to control a disproportionate amount of the information the public uses to make important decisions. This gives the Mass Media an incredible amount of power. If small outlets are allowed to grow it will interfere with the power of these people and they donít seem to want to let that happen. If they did want to let that happen they wouldnít have gone through the media consolidation they went through over the past twenty years. From a practical point of view they could avoid this if new outlets that could pose a threat to their power fail. Since Wikipedia allows anonymous editors it is very easy to turn it into an outlet where arguments disrupt any effort to improve controversial subjects. This doesn't mean I have evidence that they are disrupting Wikipedia it is merely a possibility. It may seem bizarre but there have been far worse political deceptions in the past. Regardless of who is doing this or why it seems to be happening and it could be prevented by allowing those that check sources to provide material within reason.

Another problem is their rule about notability. In many cases this can be used to veto anything that is not considered notable by the Mass Media. The most effective way to become notable is to be presented by the Mass Media on a massive scale and this would qualify for inclusion on Wikipedia. Another way of being notable should be if a source goes through peer review. As I stated previously in archaeology pages this is allowed but in many cases this may not be allowed if there is a controversy. The article on Preventing School violence provided sources to indicate that child abuse and bullying leads to later violence the credibility of one of the sources Alice Miller was disputed without any sources. Additional source were added that came to the same conclusions. Since then I have found even more sources that make many of the same claims. The material I attempted to present is almost universally agreed on in the academic community; however it is widely disputed in the political community mostly by people with an agenda. These people donít do much if anything to make a good case for their cause but they do get an enormous amount of media attention. Academic notability should be considered more important in all serious articles than political notability.

The reputation of Wikipedia among the well informed is already very bad; it is only the less informed that consider Wikipedia a reliable source. These are the people that are less accustomed to checking sources and are more inclined to trust their leaders without adequate checks and balances. Woodrow Wilson once said "We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks." This is essentially what the Mass media is doing. They are presenting an enormous amount of information free to the public that is incredibly biased to get their point of view across. The difference between a good example for the Mass Media and just another propaganda outlet depends on whether or not they allow the most credible information from academic sources to be presented in a manner as favorable if not more favorable than the propaganda being put out by the Mass media.

The following is a proposal I made to set a better example for the Mass Media. If you have your own ideas pleas present your own proposal. There is more about that on the section above about the letter from Michael Snow and Jimmie Wales.

Proposal:Set better example for Mass Media


The way the Mass Media presents violence prevention information is the academic equivalent of the way Kitty Genoveseís murder was portrayed.

The most credible experts know an enormous amount about what causes violence and how to prevent it. The Mass Media has access to these experts and could give them much more air time if they chose to yet they donít. This essentially means they have access to solutions but they are withholding them from the public or presenting them in a way that doesnít seem clear or credible. They give equal or much more time to sources that are far less credible and present them as if they are just as credible as the experts that do research. There isnít complete agreement within the academic community and there are still a lot of academics that dispute some very simple basics but those academics are decreasing; however they usually donít even give them that much air time. The vast majority of the air time is given to political commentators who study politics and many other subjects without looking closely at many if any of them. These political commentators often seem to present themselves as experts on just about every subject the media covers. Even when they donít claim to be experts merely by flooding the airways with the commentary from a very small percentage of the public they drown out everyone else and achieve the same goal. The Mass Media rarely ever gives more than a token amount of air time to academics and then they often choose them to meet their own agenda.

There have been several freedom of speech cases protecting the right to speak and protest including ones involving Larry Flynt and Nazi protests in Skokie Illinois. These have o0ften been defended on the grounds that even if people donít agree with what someone has to say they donít think their right to free speech should be infringed upon and rightfully so. This argument has been made partly because people believe that right needs to be there when there is something important that needs to be said. If it worked that would be justified. Unfortunately it hasnít always served this purpose though. In many cases they protect the right of many emotional people to speak and they often drown out the voices of the people that are more careful to sort through the details. In addition to standing up for the right of organized groups to free speech there also needs to be more protection for the rights of those that want to get more credible and well thought messages out in a manner that will help get the message across to the public. Another message that needs to be gotten across to the public is that in cases like the Nazi party they often use the prejudices and emotions of the public to rally people for their cause. This way instead of trying to censor the Nazi party there will be a better effort to refute their beliefs based on a rational argument. There needs to be more effort to get the message of academics to the public and since Wikipedia portrays it self as a academic source that tries to be unbiased they should give more credibility to academics than political leaders who often have an agenda. This doesnít mean the political leaders should be censored though.

Wikipedia isnít as bad as the Mass Media and in some cases they are already setting a better example. The article on Kitty Genovese is one example. The Mass media didnít present it right she wasnít actually allowed to die in front of passive witnesses as the Mass Media has presented it for years. In fact they repeated this portrayal recently when the covered the rape at Richmond High School in California. The article from Wikipedia debunks this claim indicating that there is potential for Wikipedia to do a much better job when there isnít controversy on any given subject.

Since Wikipedia is a new institution and it may only be going through growing pains I wouldnít say that they are doing the academic equivalent of the way Kitty Genoveseís murder was portrayed yet. They may only be going through a temporary dispute which may be resolved in time. Some of the people may not understand the subject if they get their information from the Mass Media; however if they continue bickering and censoring information without looking it up to confirm it they may well wind up that way. A better alternative is that they could help reform and set a better example for the Mass Media and they could go a long way to becoming part of the solution on this subject as they already are on other subjects that arenít as controversial.


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If you would like to comment on this page you can do so on the following pages one on Wikipedia the other on my Blog page. There are also many other talk pages on Wikipedia where the subject can be brought up if you see fit.

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Wikipedia Accountability
Other Web sites that have criticized Wikipedia

The following sites are others who have critisized Wikipedia. In many cases they almost certainly have ligitimate complaints however in others they may have gone to the other extreme. The best way to find out for yourself is to edit Wikipedia yourself and develop your own opiniion.

Wikipedia Review

Wikipedia Watch

http://www.wired.com/politics/onlinerights/news/2007/08/wiki_tracker?currentPage=1

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN1642896020070816

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/07/06/wikipedia_otrs_volunteers/

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