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User talk:WickerGuy

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Blue (pester) 22:11, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

fuckin humans, making mistakes![edit]

I dont see why you needed an entire Saloon bar topic to point out that, yes, we have some errors in the website or its deliberately done for a POV.

Because the frequency with which I found several major errors in just 2 weeks suggests that we are allowing the POV to interfere with good research. I like the POV, frankly, that's why I'm here, as well as Wikipedia.--WickerGuy (talk) 16:57, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
So if we took stub articles from wikipedia with less than 2 or 3 contributors, ones that have had little to no edits in over year, with WP's source guidelines and NPOV do you feel that they would have less frequency of errors then the same kinds of articles at RW? Tmtoulouse (talk) 17:00, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
An excellent question, and I'm honestly not sure. But the biggest gaffe I found was not at all in a stub article but a fairly developed one (admittedly still less than a quarter the size of the corresponding WP one), and the gaffe was specifically in a debunking context!! ("Of course, the English would say the Holy Grail was brought to England...the English made up most of the Grail mythology"- except that the myth is largely French in origin. I haven't mentioned this before but French were interested in Arthurian legend since it took place in an England that was Christian but not Roman Catholic) And in the second gaffe I mentioned the entire premise of the article was wrong, and again this was an article that about seven editors had worked on and it still had no sources. (Fast food Christianity)--WickerGuy (talk) 17:08, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
Based on Saloon Bar post the Holy Grail article was created by just one of our editors and had received only "wikignome" updates in over a year. I haven't paid much attention to the Fast food Christianity article. I am sure that our site as a whole has more errors in a per article measure than WP. But I think trying to attribute it to a fundamental systemic flaw with RW versus just the wiki model as a whole is pre-mature. For example, I would hypothesize that number of active editors and age of the site are a stronger influence then our POV or source requirements. The key is to try and compare like-to-like. Take some of our banner articles like say homoeopathy to compare to more developed WP articles, and compare articles like fast food Christianity or holy grail to less developed, less edited articles on WP. I am not convinced that there would be that much of an appreciable difference. Which would mean that "errors" are more a product of the wiki model. But of course we don't have this kind of data, and interested knowledgeable third party reviewers (ala what has been done with WP and Britannica) is probably difficult. Tmtoulouse (talk) 17:17, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
All good points, though I don't quite know what wikignome means. I just saw that 7 editors had worked on it and the most glaring gaffe had gone uncorrected. I'm honestly just suggesting vigilance, not saying the RW model is fundamentally flawed.--WickerGuy (talk) 17:22, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
Ah its a WP term, "wikignome" are editors that mostly do surface level, aesthetic, or organizational edits. Say formatting, categories, adding templates, etc. Everyone has a set area of expertise and I think that we try and be vigilant in looking at and correcting material that we are knowledgeable about. I would like to think that as our editor base and knowledge base has grown things are improving. Ever upwards. Tmtoulouse (talk) 17:30, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
There are a lot of little shit articles laying around the wiki. Plus fast-food Christianity is being debated on the talk page because it's just a user trying to fob off his pet coinage as a real one. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 17:39, 12 April 2012 (UTC)


There are no citation templates. ТyComplaints 16:29, 14 April 2012 (UTC)

"On what grounds"[edit]

On what grounds does User:Ace McWicked revert a whole series of carefully constructed changes to an article when he hasn't done a single contribution to the article in its entire history?--WickerGuy That isn't how a wiki works, just saying--il'Dictator Mikal 01:16, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Yeah, but in this case, he reverted pretty decent edits. some of Wicker's takes I disagree with, on Karen, but it's not like Ace reverted a trolls trolling. course, in the end, ace didn't revert anything. :-) --Green mowse.pngGodot 01:23, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Oh no, its ok to question the revert, but justifying the questioning with "you havent worked on this article, what gives you the right to touch it" was the problem. --il'Dictator Mikal 01:27, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
He has the right to touch it, of course. Turns out it was an accident. But a massive revert without explanation is a bit much. All OK now.--WickerGuy (talk) 03:51, 8 May 2012 (UTC)


Are you high? Have you been high for several days? Wanna pass the joint?--"Shut up, Brx." 01:34, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Ohh, sheette. No, I guess just dyslexic.--WickerGuy (talk) 03:50, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
I sit corrected.--WickerGuy (talk) 03:50, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

tl;dr on Karen Armstrong[edit]

Do you know of any reviews of her work? You might be able to cut down the tl;dr and tighten up the section if you link to a review that provides the same criticisms. That's what I generally try to do when I'm tempted to write a book-length article, at least. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 04:32, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

Excellent thinking. I happen to be in a month of May in which I am heavily pressed for time and ergo don't have time to polish my edits. I may not get around to your suggestion till June, but it's well-taken.--WickerGuy (talk) 15:36, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
Why can't we just say "Karen Armstrong: fucking idiot who likes to hear herself talk, and has little to say". just saying....--Green mowse.pngGodot 15:48, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
B...b...but her WP article doesn't have a criticisms section, so she must be perfect! Scarlet A.pngnarchist 15:57, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
In reply to Godot I would say as Polonius said of Hamlet "Though this be madness, there be method in it". Rationalwiki tends to oscillate between sarcasm and rational engagement, but does better on the latter when the issues are science, and less so when the issues involve history of religion (which is empirical in a way religion per se is not). Even beyond the pages of Rationalwiki, I note that some (a minority but a significant minority) rationalists often make very elementary errors in the history of religion in a way that isn't very heartening. (Dan Barker's mostly eloquent book Losing Faith in Faith contains three very elementary mistakes about church history and the Bible for example. [For example, it is Zoroaster who invented the modern concept of hell, not Jesus as Barker claims, never mind that Jesus is the first Biblical figure to mention it.]) Rationalism needs to better on history of religion than it is.
Obviously, when Karen Armstrong is taken seriously enough to be given an award by an institution as devoted to free-thinking and rational engagement as TED (an institution that Dan Dennett put forward as a model of what a good alternative to religion might be), she needs to be taken seriously.
From a skeptic point of view, the most generous/charitable reading of Karen Armstrong is that she is arguing that to maintain a sense of wondrous surprise, numinous mysticism, and compassion in our lives, we need some version of the monotheistic religions (even if a radically modified and reshaped one). In the article as I have written it, I note that Carl Sagan, Christopher Hitchens (and earlier Aldous Huxley) have all talked about ways in which these can be maintained while discarding classical religion entirely. (I have particularly in mind Hitchens' remark that the great thing about the novels of Ian McKewan was that they conveyed a deep sense of the numinous without any concession at all to supernaturalism and Hitchens remark the the photos seen in the Hubble telescope convey a far profounder sense of transcendence than any traditional Christian iconography!!! See also PZ Myers remark in his critique of Terry Eagleton that the image of a child looking at the stars was far more meaningful than pictures of the crucifixion.) This kind of argument I think deals with Armstrong both vigorously and charitably.
Finally, I think Armstrong's least convincing historical claim (as opposed to philosophical or theological claims) is that the overliteralization of religion is due to the scientific revolution. Goodness knows her own books have several counter-examples to that, but she seems somewhat oblivious to their implications. (She thinks as long as theologians are preserving some sense of mystery to God, they aren't overliteralizing, but if she's right all the most toxic forms of religion would have to be post-science which doesn't explain the Crusades and other atrocities which she herself blames on overliteralization. Her scapegoating of science seems to me to be special pleading)
Finally, I would note that I personally relate to KA much as Christopher Hitchens once said he related to political conservatives. (I culled this from The Quotable Hitchens: From Alcohol to Zionism--The Very Best of Christopher Hitchens p. 130 stated in 1990) Hitchens said that he was by temperament/instinct often attracted to some forms of political conservatism but reason prevented him from embracing those views. This is in fact my own view of Karen Armstrong. I am attracted to her world-view by temperament, but reason creates several obstacles towards embracing her views. Having spent 5 happy years as a Wikipedia editor writing mostly on movies and literature but hampered from writing any personal essays, I thought I might use RationalWiki to mount a modest and reasonably brief critique of Karen Armstrong, sticking to mainly fairly obvious points.
At least I haven't gotten into as much hot water with this article as I have with defending the historicity of Jesus at the talk page of that article.--WickerGuy (talk) 18:48, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
Sorry I left you on that talk page. I was in the middle of Elections, and did not have time to argue, though I wanted to. For what it's worth, you have my full support on that page. your edits are good and true. :P My own dislike of Karen has more to do with her as a human - well, no, i hate her scholarship too. I find her sloopy and lazy as an intellectual or rationalist. I find she, not unlike hitch who you quote, tends to have ideas about things that come from her gut, and elevate them into the discussion as if they are proven and accepted. Especially in her works with Islam, where she has literally invented positions about modern Islam that experts in the area say "huh? What? Where?". She does not accept questions or criticism well, and you are to sit an listen to her lecture, and not bring up other people's ideas, much less your own. I have known her personally from both class, where I generally wanted to walk out, and conferences (ie., American Academy of Religion) were people are just bound to interact with each other. I am no where near the scholar she is, but given my own inadequacies in the field, that's really not saying much (that's not to really put myself down, but the reality is a degree from Colo U, and teaching at local colleges is just not the same as a degree from Chicago, UC Berkley, or Harvard in these fields.)Green mowse.pngGodot 18:57, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
New (inserted) I also find Armstrong sloppy and overly defensive. I am the son of a prominent religion scholar and I have a Masters of Arts in Religion and Ethics from a prominent liberal seminary whose curriculum I found often intriguing but excessively eclectic and politically correct. I found Armstrong's memoir Through the Narrow Gate very moving and powerful, but still find recent proclamations of hers annoying.
One of the coolest things to me personally in Armstrong's writing (which may not be saying much) is her memoir talks about leaving the convent in 1969 and in that year hearing for the first time (in a college dorm) the Beatles without having any idea of who they were!! She of course was in the embarrassing position of asking who they were listening to. She describes quite well the feelings invoked by and the enchantment and power of hearing the Beatles music without any advance hype!! It's actually just about the best analysis of why the Beatles were so popular I have ever read anywhere!! It makes other infelicities of hers easier to let go of.--WickerGuy (talk) 19:17, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
"Obviously, when Karen Armstrong is taken seriously enough to be given an award by an institution as devoted to free-thinking and rational engagement as TED (an institution that Dan Dennett put forward as a model of what a good alternative to religion might be), she needs to be taken seriously." Ha, sorry, but no. As much as I love my TED talks, "free-thinking and rational engagement" go straight out the window when the organizers' Silicon Valley pals need to peddle their techno-wares. I' to see this TED "religion," though, I have an odd feeling that it'll look like something Ray Kurzweil coughed up. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 19:04, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the link. Hopefully, TED will maintain self-correcting paradigms in place which most religion never does.--WickerGuy (talk) 19:17, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
One of the more interesting things is that people from the RLST community see her work as academic light. She's apparently an "expert" on these religions, but she's writing pop books, not peer reviewed articles. Which always sat strangely with me. Her degrees are in English Lit, not classical studies. I do not know that she is literate in arabic, or if she works predominately from translations. TED likes her because she is popular, and because she is saying things like "Islam is not evil, but it's rooted in human tradition", which is fine but rather superficial. Her commentaries about Aiecha are totally pulled out of nothing. Again, I'm not a islam expert.Green mowse.pngGodot 19:13, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
Again I agree that KA is sloppy and makes superficial generalizations (See newly inserted material above). I have not read her book on Mohammed. Bios of Mohammed by non-Muslims are fairly rare to begin with and even half-sympathetic ones by non-Muslims are even rarer. Generally, it seems to me that the toxic forms of Islam are scarier than the contemporary toxic forms of Christianity whatever the numbers are (extremist vs. moderate) and whatever cool things you can say about Islamic culture (like its advances in math in the Middle Ages) are. This is a point that Armstrong seems to me to be continuously evading.--WickerGuy (talk) 19:24, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
One of the reasons I avoid editing her page, is that i'm always aware of my human tendency to link "i don't like something, personally" by "therefore, it's bad scholarship". Your back ground is highly apparent on the Jesus pages. As I said, i rather love having another voice that is saying "look, can we not be anti-religion, when trying to be rational." It's not exactly any more rational to just say "I hate jesus and christianity, it's the biggest religion with the biggest propaganda system in history, therefore it's not true".--Green mowse.pngGodot 19:36, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
The valid point there would be that Christianity is indeed the religion that has gone the furthest in trying to rationalize its beliefs because it was up against the legacy of ancient Greek skepticism (not to mention Cynicism and Stoicism and other schools), as Jennifer Hecht has clearly shown in her book "Doubt: A History" (a book which I am tempted to describe as the rationalist counterpart to Armstrong's "A History of God"). That's why Christianity was the religion that developed a form of study called "theology". (Notice how so much lower percentage of Jewish seminaries have the word "theological" or "theology" in their title than Christian ones.). Armstrong, I therefore conclude, is trying to blame on "fundamentalism" something that is to some degree endemic to Christianity in general, albeit it achieves a more virulent form in fundamentalism.--WickerGuy (talk) 20:52, 16 May 2012 (UTC)Green mowse.pngGodot 21:06, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
Per the Jesus page, that you've rationalized your beliefs, invented some of them all together, and gone through revision after revision often with bloodshed, is not *evidence* that the religion itself is grounded on nothing, or that Jesus is a myth. Yet that is exactly the position being argued.--Green mowse.pngGodot 19:36, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
Please sign your post, and clarify yourself. I myself think it fairly likely there was a historical Jesus, but entirely reject all the theologizing done about this person. I can't entirely tell from this post entirely if you are addressing Christians, me, the opponents of my position on the page.--WickerGuy (talk) 21:40, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
OK, that was a post from Godot's waiter. In context all clear, thank you. I have taken the step of signing Godotwaiter's post now.--WickerGuy (talk) 21:42, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
Sorry! I can see where minus context, that made no sense as to whom the "you" was. Green mowse.pngGodot 21:52, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────@WickerGuy: A certain religion is already in good standing at TED. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 19:23, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

Ouch. Seems to have gained credibility from Bill Joy & I guess, Stephen Hawking (is he being quote-mined in their support?). TED's motto is "ideas worth spreading". If it was "ideas worth mulling over and sorting out", transhumanism would be fit in better (to be kind).--WickerGuy (talk) 19:30, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
Good call on Hawking, I took that out of the article. Transhumanism gets most of its cred from the AI-types, though, like Marvin MinskyWikipedia. One of the true geniuses of the 20th century, but also heavily imbibing the techno-Kool Aid. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 20:16, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

More on Karen Armstrong[edit]

I edited the Karen Armstrong article and also put a warning on Godot’s copy of the article Madam Godot is offended. Please take care you don’t offend the lady further. Proxima Centauri (talk) 16:45, 5 September 2012 (UTC)