|This is a Wikipedia user page.|
This is not an encyclopedia article or the talk page for an encyclopedia article. If you find this page on any site other than Wikipedia, you are viewing a mirror site. Be aware that the page may be outdated and that the user whom this page is about may have no personal affiliation with any site other than Wikipedia. The original page is located at
You can edit this page!
Wikipedia is the free encyclopedia that anyone can editYes, even you. No special expertise or education required.
Welcome to my Wikipedia user page, est. 2003.
On Wikipedia anyone, even a kid, or a random person on the street, or in a library, can help write or contribute to (including gnomes, even little gnomes help) the corpus of human knowledge. Be bold! I was a kid myself when I started editing the encylopedia, and gaining community trust through advanced permissions, and I learned a lot through the years I spent with the system and process. The community is an evolving place, and a lot has changed since then. What hasn't changed is the radical ad hoc simplicity of the wiki model and culture of getting shit done without red tape, or obstacles to quick change. Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy although it does have increasingly inaccurately named functionaries that I was once one of.
You can edit this user page right now. If you do, please make it useful, or funny, or both. On Wikipedia, vandalism isn't allowed and will be quickly reverted, though particularly funny vandalism may have some form of immortality, see WP:BJAODN. I'm giving you permission to be WP:BOLD and edit my user page right now, but I will probably revert you if I don't agree with your changes. Well, unless you actually make this page better by adding insightful information, wikilinks, references, or fixing mistakes. Wikipedia is a work in progress. Red wikilinks (meaning both new articles, and new users) are welcome! I'm not precious or particular, and I'm here to learn and listen.
Wikipedia is an experiment in decentralized decision-making by WP:CONSENSUS and it doesn't work perfectly, but it's better than all the other options that we know of. Wikipedia is not a democracy, but you can use your voice of reason to help discuss when disputes arise. We do base all of our content on verifiable, reliable 3rd party material. So no propaganda sources allowed for use on political articles. That has the binding power of consensus. Fox News is downgraded to generally unreliable for politics as of 2020 and should be used with caution otherwise.
Reliability of Wikipedia: Wikipedia is the best encyclopedia and general reference work. It helps Google provide good search results. It is a great nonprofit educational resource. You should consider donating your time and/or money because it can be very rewarding. See the donation page or Wikipedia:Community portal.
What should we include? How about everything? OK, not literally everything. But since we have articles on (nearly) every commercially-released video game, every sitcom, every TV show... to say nothing of every monarch of England, France, Rome, etc... if some topic or item seems worthy of considering for inclusion, and if it has significant coverage in published reliable sources... very likely, it is worthy of coverage here. It is probably worthy of some discussion, at least!
I was known as and signed as just "Andre" for many years. In retrospect, why didn't I have an acuté accént? I knew how to make one for Pokémon. My pronouns are he/him, but I don't care if you want to use neutral pronouns or words. "Guys" is a gender neutral term IMHO.
I later became a mediator, a bureaucrat in 2007, IRC op, meta-admin, sometime writer of thoughts that have later become those shorthand policy shortcuts: WP:RIG, WP:DAQ. As a bureaucrat, I renamed over 1000 people and promoted over 20 administrators. I closed one bureaucrat discussion and participated in several. I've also nominated 4 admins though they are long since inactive now, and blocked almost 100 people. Because MEDCOM was prominently advertised and my name was alphabetically high up, I would often get pinged by strange random new or anonymous editors with weird disputes. My page was also vandalized somewhat often, which was a kind of badge of honor or a rite of passage back then. 237(!) (which is 5.8 centijimbos) people are watching this page. Because I've been around for a while and was a known quantity, I was even once used as a baseline for a successful sockpuppet investigation. Also, I forgot about this, but check this out: Burma or Myanmar? I've created over 4700 pages across namespaces on Wikipedia, somehow, and at least 50 real mainspace articles, with over 34,000 live edits, and deleted over 700 pages as an admin. I am currently Wikipedian number 3631 by edit count (finally cracked the top 5k woo!). I'm running about a 70-80% accuracy in deletion discussions with over 500 AFDs participated in.
Believe it or not, in 20 years of editing, 2022 is my most active year in terms of raw edit count (tho, I never used to use Twinkle)! On really less than half of that, 3-4 high months. I've always felt the pull of editing in the summer, like a good book on the chaise longue, rich in intrigue and the trembling of anticipation. Wikipedia maxes the dopamine drip for the hyperverbal. My summer vacations from school, I rarely attended summer camp, I instead spent the summers playing on the computer and swimming laps in a wooded pool. Now as a geriatric Millennial who gets paid to manage software development, I can feel the fall feeling and pretty soon I will go into hibernation or have real life to contend with. But in the meantime I've gone on a spree cleaning up my old articles and wading deep into the belly of the beast, it proves that it's never too late to learn to play the piano.
I got to meet and make a lot of online friends, I'm not the greatest at keeping in touch with people, but feel free to reach out and rekindle the magic any time.
|Discord and on Libera Chat.|
Why Wikipedia works
Wikipedia works because it's fundamentally founded on the principle and value system of agile software development as developed by Kent Beck and Ward Cunningham, creator of the original WikiWikiWeb. This is also how many other open source and free software projects operate. Wikitext has a lot of similarity with program code. That's why diffing and version control work so well. These are the tools and workflows that were developed for use with git, Apache Subversion, concurrent versions system etc. Wikipedia is more semantic than a normal corpus of documents. It goes beyond hypertext due to the rich templating, different kinds of nesting logic, redirection, namespacing, forking, branching, etc.
- Change should be easy and cheap
- Rapid iterations and tight feedback loops
- Don't gatekeep - collective ownership
- Don't plan too far in advance - resolution, clarity are inversely proportional to roadmap distance (time) in decision-making (WP:CRYSTAL, WP:NOTNEWS)
- Don't set things in stone
- Change is the only constant
- Embrace new information opportunistically
- Learn from mistakes aggressively in real-time
- Fail fast
- 2 heads are better than 1 - pair on decisions
- Don't do with a committee what you can do with a pair
- Don't do with a cross-team dependency what you can do with an autonomous team
- Rule of 3: extract a pattern or abstraction no earlier than the 3rd case
- Distribute and empower from the bottom-up
- Working product is more important than comprehensive documentation
- Process and ceremony are adaptable and must be based on intro-/retrospection
- The backlog - it's a stack-ranked priority list of shovel-ready tasks approached iteratively in an ad hoc manner
- You can't steer a ship unless the rudder is moving
- Keep calm and deliver value
- Just-in-time solving of problems
- Organic, emergent, and evolutionary
- Track and optimize honest metrics
- LISTEN to feedback and bottom-up decisions
- EMPOWER the people who feel the pain to make decisions
- OUTCOMES not output
on pedanticness considered harmful
Because Wikipedia's culture is largely borne out of the engineering and science/social sciences world, it has inherited a strong cultural emphasis on correctness, exactness, and adherence to the letter of rules. However because Wikipedia is a countercultural exercise that inherited the early Internet Silicon Valley California ideology of libertarianism combined with the UC Berkeley, Steve Jobs-on-acid Atari in the 1970s, hippie Eric Schmidt-at-Burning Man utopian earnestness, surrealism, humor, gestalt, art, music, pervaded the early, freewheeling days of Wikipedia. There were Bomis babes. There were some unusual characters pretending to be something they weren't. There were hucksters, scam artists, and also some brilliant and very unique contributors. It wasn't pure and it definitely wasn't stuffy. It may have been kind of corrupt, plucky, but it meant well, and you must have some nuance when judging the early project. Constraints may inspire creativity, but creativity needs chaos, space and is connected to anarchy - when you tighten the screws and put on a business suit, the innovators often move on. Still, the community has always had leading lights of compassion, peace, and friendliness to newcomers. It has generally tried to avoid being punitive when addressing abuse and concerns. In fact the community has given a massively long leash to some extremely pernicious, dangerous contributors at times. Other times the community has been quite harsh and aggressive on certain transgressions. What I want to talk about is something different: pedantry.
Pedantry is about outcomes vs. outputs. Sometimes it's important to be exact. Like in cooking or chemistry (which are the same thing). Sometimes it's important to be able to abstract things to a high degree, like in physics, linguistics and computer science. Abstraction is the process or property of isolating a mess to be able to reason meaningfully and operate on a subject or object. Encapsulation is the ability to compartmentalize or insulate the exceptions to apply a map (see map-territory relation). When you consider pedantry harmful, you're eliminating the rough edges, adding offramps and slack into the system. It's a form of practical cybernetic elasticity. It's useful to have a flexible structure because it bends, and not breaks.
Discretion is discretion for a reason. It's not a misuse of the system. It is not required to find a way to make the exception fit the letter of the rule. That's why it's an exception. The important thing is a good, common sense outcome. If you can shortcut the proceedings and all the ceremony, and achieve an outcome that improves the project, that is preferable to following the process for the same, let alone a worse outcome. Pedants are often Gaming the system, scrupulously cultivating constraints to trap up the works, Wikilawyering, often achieving a worse outcome with more fuss. They may acknowledge that a better outcome could exist, but their hands are tied by following the rule. Thankfully, creators of living systems knew about politics and system-gamers, that's why they designed elastic clauses like WP:IAR.
This same phenomenon infests governments, corporations, online projects, you name it. Rule-followers who don't understand how to cut through red tape and get shit done. Pedants often wring hands on the idea that they should avoid any possible appearance of impropriety or inconclusivity. They are more concerned with making sure the outcome is defensible, documenting a paper trail for ass-covering, not that it be swift. Justice delayed can be justice denied at times. We owe due process and swiftness to the project and its contributors. It's better to deliver the value quickly. There are a lot of revolving doors - outcomes that can be reversed. If we're at 80%, it's usually good enough to pull the trigger, relying on instinct, because politics is an art, not a science, for the most part. So don't worry so much and trust your instincts.
This was something that the old breed of WP:ROUGE [sic] admins did reflexively, sometimes pissing people off or getting into hot water, but we traded some accuracy for speed. This is now a legacy model, and prospective/current admins will likely be sanctioned or blocked or otherwise ostracized for defending or mimicking the cowboyism and the perceived battleground mentality of the olden days. The project has changed, but perhaps somewhat to its detriment in some ways. So consider this at your own risk! I am no longer an admin and I won't be. But it is instructive to make sure we do not allow stultifying bureaucracy to gum up the works. Gatekeeping is dangerous, as is process adherence, losing the spirit. Projects grow and flourish when they have a spark of creativity, which necessitates some freewheelingness. IT HAS TO BE FUN! AND A LITTLE CRAZY! WP:OGTW#10 WP:TROUT or else your project slowly dries up as all the zany vibes are squeezed out of it. The process is negotiable and it's a means to an end, not the end-in-itself.
So next time someone, purposefully or accidentally, ignores a rule and closes/does something that seems uncontroversial, as I was wont to do in my heyday, to occasional great consternation, which I do regret, but I digress... ask yourself, next time that happens, or anything else that seems like admins shortcutting the ceremony and going rogue, would the outcome have been different if a different uninvolved closer had closed it? Or are you just harping on the rules and not focusing on whether anyone was harmed? Wikipedia is pragmatic and preventative, not punitive, so injury must be substantiated by evidence toward outcomes. (PLEASE NOTE this is not excusing mistakes I made myself, or asking for forgiveness, or the slate to be wiped clean on the times when I jumped the gun and in doing so, created more fuss than necessary, or did something else that broke the rules in a way that actually did cause harm however small OR large.) Next time it happens, ask yourself if you're more concerned with the APPEARANCE of propriety and process-following-correctness, or about the IMPACT that the decisions are making (good or bad). I'm not looking to reconsider my own actions or a referendum on that. I'm looking to make an abstract, philosophical point as I often do, which might itself feel pedantic, but it's NOT! It's about big ideas. Wiki is not a court of law, and we are not lawyers or lawmakers. Very few of the things we do here are about life and death. We have to be here to build an encyclopedia. Move fast and break things. Learn by doing. Fail, learn, and fail again. Be bold!
Avoid WP:BIKESHEDdingDon't get hung up on trifling details.
TLDR: Lighten up, focus on the principles and values, not the specific process. If you're not WP:AGF and having fun, you're doing it wrong. It's OK to learn by making mistakes. Don't create a punitive or a pedantic environment. Wikipedia should encourage breaking the rules, or short circuiting a bureaucratic process, in the interest of expediency, lightening the load, and empowering good users with broad discretion and the ability to act instinctively. That doesn't mean a green light to do whatever all the time. It means you should focus on whether anyone or anything was harmed, and whether outcomes improved the project and peoples' lives. It also means we need not give infinite chances to obvious bad actors.
WP:BESTNP The perfect shouldn't be the enemy of the good. 80/20 rule, pareto principle. Good enough is good enough, ship it, iterate, and move on. What's the simplest thing that can possibly work. Don't solve a problem that you don't have yet. Wikipedia is worse is better.
The egg came first
The egg came firstFish evolved before chickens, fish lay eggs, chicken lay eggs, therefore the egg evolved before the chicken. Q.E.D.
Chicken-egg problems are resolveable inductively: assume the simplest thing you're trying to prove/accomplish, and test your hypothesis. A contradiction (failure) proves the null hypothesis. The egg came before the chicken in world history. See the article.
This is a practical proof of the value of iterative development. Any sufficiently complex system evolved from a simpler system. Who is John Gall?
Other questions? The glass is neither half-full nor half-empty, it's 100% full with both air and water/milk. The glass is both 50% full of milk, and 50% full of air, it's both 50% empty of air, and 50% empty of milk. In many cases, the false dichotomy of our binary bicameral minds and realities, lead us to ignore the both/neither option. Most of the time, reality is actually a hypercube/tesseract with a superposition of states, i.e. 4, and not 2 options (A, B, not-AB, AB). Sometimes reality is just reality and not a bias.
What it means is that your machinery that you use to read the universe are faulty, and you're assembling a partial picture with pieces. (See: reality tunnel, Marshall McLuhan, medium is the message, map-territory relation) Those pieces are logic, and evidence. You need to follow those places and not go back when you encounter cognitive dissonance, conditioning, fear, insanity, irrationality, etc. It is not a given that everything is going to be binary and symmetrical. 2 is a powerful number, that's very true, but the world is complex. Some things come in 3s, 5s, 9s, and 43s. See also prime numbers, Riemann conjecture, P vs NP In fact the universe is not locally real.
Consider a spherical cow. In reality, nothing is perfectly round. Our minds apply an approximation. We also tend to round things to base 10. It's not a coincidence that we have 5 digits on each hand and foot. In fact some properties of base 12 are mathematically interesting in this universe, and perhaps polydactyly might have been more common at some point in the past. Another example is 2pi, when it's really half-tau. It's hubris to claim that science is done, the Standard Model is complete, and there is nothing more to heaven and Earth than is dreamt of in our philosophy, Horatio.
Emergent properties are phenomena that extrapolate from initial conditions. Flocking is one, or swarm intelligence. Another way to think of it is that complex behavior can emerge from simpler automata like the game of life or Langton's ant. So when we construct our iterative and incremental realities, if we introduce error, like a false dichotomy or a sorting or forcing function, that error will be amplified in the final result. It also means that small things like a pebble into a pond, can introduce a ripple effect or butterfly effect. Or how a lot of AI is racist. Like the tail wagging the dog, it can move the mountain with sufficient leverage. It is observed that 30% of a school of fish can start to break a certain way, and then the rest of the school may yet end up going that way.
History is a combination of macro-forces and microscale great person theory. The world is a lot smaller than you think, and we all do make a difference in the body politic and the zeitgeist. Culture isn't a single thing, it's an aggreggate of many small processes, like a garden or a yogurt. You need to plant a seed or get a sourdough starter. There can be culture jamming, and viral memes that hijack the system and create cults. There are also virtuous ideas that create a new philosophical school of thought or an artistic movement. It's built on mimicry, inspiration, and great artists steal (no copyvios please though!) There's a reason why nobody really knows who created Mediterranean cuisine. It's a great salad bowl/melting pot/amalgam of syncretism and virtuous theft or borrowing going back millennia. Same thing with a sprachbund and loanwords.
Baby steps are the only way to accomplish large things. It's said that Rome wasn't built in a day, but the corollary to that is that each neighborhood of Rome wasn't built in a day, nor was each individual domicile. Each marble brick laid in the homes of Rome had to be mined from a quarry that wasn't built in a day. As an miner knows, you need to extend the shaft carefully, testing along the way with a canary, and quickly retreat (rollback/revert) when you have a bad indicator. You need to read the room and taste the soup (see: Rands in Repose). We stand on the shoulders of giants. It's turtles all the way down. All abstractions are to some extent leaky abstractions, and all code hides a hack somewhere: from TCP/IP to the Von Neumann architecture. Everything on some level is duct-taped together.
Trust and decentralization
The global computer network is a messy place. There are issues. Many people are good, trustworthy, and some are sociopaths or utility monsters who effectively manipulate the system. Most people are good people with some flaws who occasionally mess up or do bad things. Naively, Wikipedia is set up to be easily vulnerable to well poisoning, copyright violation, self promotional paid editing or COI editing, sockpuppetry, meatpuppetry, Wikibullying, other forms of Long term abuse. There's also an extremely long WP:ROPE for Fresh starts, Right to vanish, or general 2nd chances granted by the community. The community can occasionally be capricious and it is sensitive to mob mentality. Also, many of the desires and behaviors of the community evolved organically over time, and norms shift as rigor and structure replace values and principles, with lessons, learnings, and complex Byzantine apparatus. This can sometimes serve to scare away, or discourage well-meaning newcomers who don't have a tough hide or a thick skin to navigate complexity. It can also produce bad results. The community may penalize or call out well-meaning people for political or toe-over-the-line technicalities [not talking about myself, I had feet over several lines at one point]. It can also occasionally overlook bad actors and allow the system to fall prey to their mistakes, such as the many cases of editors who have bulk added bad information, copyright violations, non-notable stuff, insidious POV pushing or misrepresented sources.
Brigading is a known phenomenon and a major problem. Asynchronous warfare and unilateral disarmament are a problem. It takes truly dynamic, patient, and thoughtful behavior to counter the stacked deck: by which I mean, honest, good people, don't cheat, and bad people do, which gives them a kind of iterated prisoner's dilemma advantage, that's why some people think nice guys finish last. They're wrong of course - tough reciprocal altruism (see tit-for-tat), or maybe we could call it strong opinions, weakly held, can be a very effective game theoretic strategy. Institutions, mechanisms, and feedback loops are necessary. I've been on the other side briefly, and I can say we
aren'tit feels like we ARE doing a n adequate swell job of giving good editors the help they need to deal with bad actions.
What do I mean by that? I mean that the patience of well-meaning people here and there, who are willing to do extremely frustrating argumentation for free, doesn't scale when you're dealing with the infinite patience of a 13-year old guzzling caffeine and ready to rumble. Also, many of the people willing to do the frustrating argumentation are going to be folks who aren't acting with the best interest of the project at heart. So we need to design a system that rewards acting with good interest, and which can accurately locate and dispense with mistakes or bad-faith edits. The system is a lot better at doing this than it was in the early days, but there seem to be fewer well-meaning contributors who aren't jaded or burnt out.
There's a well-known phenomenon that when you ask someone to sign up for something, even something free and beneficial, if you make them fill out a bunch of forms, and work with uncooperative people at the DMV or the post office or the IRS to get it done, they might just give up and do something else. So those who are left are the ones who have unusual traits. The odds are good, but the goods are odd. The Cynic's Guide (WP:CGTW) #18
Wikipedia relies on WP:AGF to work. It also relies that the good people speak up, rather than succumb to fear of saying the wrong thing. Being bold, and also providing psychological safety rather than punishing dissent. That's why it works when it does work: the power of a robust debate in the public square. Solutions like the blockchain address the trustless nature of online transactions. I wrote in 2018 this set of thoughts about a hash-based system to defeat sockpuppetry. There are other schemes we could devise. We need better tools because I would say that the existing tools are hit-or-miss, and there is plenty of evidence for that.
On robust debate in the public square
One of the most important tools we have to keep the project working well is the social norm. If we norm intellectual hygiene: skepticism, logic, rationality, avoiding fallacious reasoning, we create a self-correcting, robust tool to make smarter decisions. The point of logical debate is to come to the root of an idea.
That doesn't mean we're debating for sport. Wikipedia:Don't come down like a ton of bricks, don't WP:TEXTWALL, don't WP:BLUDGEON, but also don't throw these terms around willy nilly in accusation either. Sometimes truly complex topics need to be worked around and examined. Eventually, you need to disagree and commit, but strong opinions weakly held means making a clear, crisp, sharp position and not a wishy-washy one. Humor and civility are important too, and one must soften one's blows in context. After all, this is conversing with another human being, so have empathy.
Nonetheless, we should not spare the sharp clarity of intellect, and that means logic. Some people prefer to use the term "discussion" than "debate," but then many people mistake a discussion for a "vote" or a "request for comment" being a simple question and answer loop. So let's not forget that when a point is in "dispute," you are now debating that point, whether you wish to use a pugnacious connotation or a more collaborative one. I prefer to think of robust debate as a civil, and respectful activity, but remember to check for understanding and do not belabor.
Debating a point means refuting the central point and offering specific evidence, and arguments. Evidence and arguments can be well-formed, or they can be faulty. An argument is constructed via a graph of premises, much like a decision tree or an abstract syntax tree or diagramming sentences. It's not incivil to attack an argument, even aggressively, so long as we stay in the realm of the abstract, don't repeat yourself, and remember to respond consciously to feedback by listening. Wiki is not a courtroom or a parliamentary chamber. Still, there is value in the common rules of evidence and common logical fallacies.
Common objections (from rules of evidence, U.S. courts)
Wikipedia is not a legal system. We're all volunteers, there are no judges (except WP:ARBCOM), there are no juries (except the consensus of our peers), there are no sentences (except blocks and bans), but we do construct articles using admitted evidence, almost like the testimony of witnesses and affidavit or deposition statements of sorts, we do qualify experts, and cross-examine and impeach or discredit other arguments. Wikipedia is indeed a social system which contains rules, norms, practices, processes, values, principles, and the construction of narratives and arguments to advance positions. Wikipedia can also occasionally be an adversarial setting or a setting in which one encounters asynchronous information and spin, POV pushers, filibustering, sophistry, play-acting, sealioning, or garden variety ignorance and irrationality. The rules of legal evidence are a baseline of civil code and civil procedure, and civility is key to what we do here. Keeping a cool head and avoiding ad hominem, by focusing on the content and the arguments, can be difficult, but I have found that the rules of evidence offer a lot of clarity and interesting parallels. It's not wikilawyering or gaming the system to know the principles of civil social thought that may be generalizable, and apply them to logic and rational discourse and inquiry.
- Leading (see also: begging the question)
- Prejudicial effect outweighs probative value, or, inflammatory
- Asked and answered
- Vague, confusing, misleading, misstatement/misreading
- Lacks foundation
- Improper opinion
- Answer wasn't responsive to the question
- Hearsay (out of court statements)
- An exception to hearsay is a statement not being offered for the truth, but simply that it was said (attributed WP:RSOPINION).
- A statement by a party opponent (e.g. a self-description or admission) is not hearsay since it goes directly to the issue at hand and may be tried as a fact.
- Another exception is an expert opinion. A qualified expert may only opine when offered as an expert in their field, as established in proper evidence (WP:V WP:RS). Otherwise, it's an improper opinion.
- Improper character evidence
- Lack of personal knowledge
- Out of scope
- Fruit of the poisonous tree
Common fallacies and cognitive biases
- Post hoc, ergo propter hoc
- Straw man
- Appeal to authority
- What this means is that just because someone is in charge, pulling rank doesn't prove an argument. NOT that expert opinions in their field aren't admissible.
- Another variation on this is "This is the way it's always been done" aka Appeal to tradition
- False equivalence
- False dilemma
- Cherry picking
- No true Scotsman
- Moving the goalposts
- Argument from silence
- Ad hominem
- Argumentum ad populum
- I'm entitled to my opinion
- Tu quoque (whataboutism, WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS)
- Efficient market hypothesis
- Laffer curve
- Fundamental attribution error
- Fallacy of composition
- Quoting out of context
- Motte-and-bailey fallacy
- McNamara fallacy
- Moralistic fallacy
- Naturalistic fallacy
- Prosecutor's fallacy
- Psychologist's fallacy
- Gambler's fallacy
- Hasty generalization
- False analogy
- Argument from ignorance
- Appeal to tradition
- Two wrongs don't make a right
- Vacuous truth
- Confirmation bias
- Framing effect
- Jumping to conclusions/Hasty generalization
- Red herring
- Anecdotal evidence
- Slippery slope
- Appeal to ignorance
- Irrelevant conclusion
- Endowment effect
- See List of fallacies
Common methods of proof, arguments and razors
- Proof by contradiction
- Proof by induction
- Strong induction
- Weak induction
- Pigeonhole principle
- Deductive reasoning
- reductio ad absurdum
- Occam's razor
- Hanlon's razor
- Argumentum a fortiori
- Argument by example
- Argumentum e contrario / poking a hole in a false analogy
- Dictum de omni et nullo (subsets)
- Newton's flaming laser sword
- Morgan's Canon
- Duck test
- Hitchens' razor
Common logical truth tables (copied from the article which had 611+ editors)
- T = true.
- F = false.
- The superscripts 0 to 15 is the number resulting from reading the four truth values as a binary number with F = 0 and T = 1.
- The Com row indicates whether an operator, op, is commutative - P op Q = Q op P.
- The Assoc row indicates whether an operator, op, is associative - (P op Q) op R = P op (Q op R).
- The Adj row shows the operator op2 such that P op Q = Q op2 P
- The Neg row shows the operator op2 such that P op Q = ¬(P op2 Q)
- The Dual row shows the dual operation obtained by interchanging T with F, and AND with OR.
- The L id row shows the operator's left identities if it has any - values I such that I op Q = Q.
- The R id row shows the operator's right identities if it has any - values I such that P op I = P.
The four combinations of input values for p, q, are read by row from the table above. The output function for each p, q combination, can be read, by row, from the table.
The following table is oriented by column, rather than by row. There are four columns rather than four rows, to display the four combinations of p, q, as input.
p: T T F F
q: T F T F
There are 16 rows in this key, one row for each binary function of the two binary variables, p, q. For example, in row 2 of this Key, the value of Converse nonimplication ('') is solely T, for the column denoted by the unique combination p=F, q=T; while in row 2, the value of that '' operation is F for the three remaining columns of p, q. The output row for is thus
2: F F T F
and the 16-row key is
|0||(F F F F)(p, q)||⊥||false, Opq||Contradiction|
|1||(F F F T)(p, q)||NOR||p ↓ q, Xpq||Logical NOR|
|2||(F F T F)(p, q)||↚||p ↚ q, Mpq||Converse nonimplication|
|3||(F F T T)(p, q)||¬p, ~p||¬p, Np, Fpq||Negation|
|4||(F T F F)(p, q)||↛||p ↛ q, Lpq||Material nonimplication|
|5||(F T F T)(p, q)||¬q, ~q||¬q, Nq, Gpq||Negation|
|6||(F T T F)(p, q)||XOR||p ⊕ q, Jpq||Exclusive disjunction|
|7||(F T T T)(p, q)||NAND||p ↑ q, Dpq||Logical NAND|
|8||(T F F F)(p, q)||AND||p ∧ q, Kpq||Logical conjunction|
|9||(T F F T)(p, q)||XNOR||p If and only if q, Epq||Logical biconditional|
|10||(T F T F)(p, q)||q||q, Hpq||Projection function|
|11||(T F T T)(p, q)||p → q||if p then q, Cpq||Material implication|
|12||(T T F F)(p, q)||p||p, Ipq||Projection function|
|13||(T T F T)(p, q)||p ← q||p if q, Bpq||Converse implication|
|14||(T T T F)(p, q)||OR||p ∨ q, Apq||Logical disjunction|
|15||(T T T T)(p, q)||⊤||true, Vpq||Tautology|
|P => P => T||Q => Q => T||AND||OR||XOR||XNOR||conditional||biconditional "if-and-only-if"|
The human mind has a binary bias
We are 2-dimensional minds in a 4-dimensional world. We're really not 3D, we might think we are, but we are pretty much 2D. Once we add that 3rd dimension things start to go awry in the human mind.
Humans have 2 hands, 2 arms, 2 legs, 2 feet, 2 ventricles, 2 tonsils, 2 nostrils, 2 eyes, 2 ears, and 2 brains. We tend to want to model things as a spectrum where black starts here |----> and then there's an indeterminate blob of gray, and then white is here <----|. In reality, it's 4 quadrants with four different kinds of blurry gray, one for each different kind of combination. WE tend to want to think in terms of easy opposites, good guys and bad guys, up and down, left and right, in and out, etc. And even that 4-quadrant map is a simplification. You know your model is broken when you plot it in a way that isn't cohesive: you're imposing a Cartesian dualism again, but now it's 2^2 instead of your old 2. And try to refine that sooner and pretty soon you realize it's 8, then 16 and 32 and you are in an infinite regress once again. The slippery slope is a fallacy, but it's also an observation of Zeno's paradox. We must remember that some paradoxes are true, but they are oversimplified from the size of the universe one level up.
The 2-party system isn't just a fact of American politics, the system is unconsciously engineered through the emergent behavior of its inhabitants. And while other countries with a parliamentary system think they have it better, which they do in some respects, we still tend toward bipolarization with the coalition governing party and its loyal opposition. Not because a factional political system is inherently binary, but our minds tend to binariness unless we consciously grasp the illusion and work to model it more accurately. Many people are very bad at this. And not to get into sex and gender politics, but there is an inherent binary there, which is also illusory, but a natural product of the system produced emergently by the inhabitants. We tend to want to map one to 1, and one to 0, and there's a gross biological reason as to why. (READ: This is criticizing and not endorsing any negative view you might think this is espousing. Sex and gender are literally false binaries since we have asexual, hermaphrodite, intersex, people at a minimum. That's a biological fact. I am a male and not nonbinary but I try to avoid binary illusions to describe the universe.) Nevermind that you also do have -1, .5, .85, .23, etc. Our minds want to do black & white they know and we can't be surprised, because it's so common and really inevitable. However, it can be consciously corrected for if the error is understood.
There aren't two equal and opposite universes, though. There's only one universe (or multiverse if you wish) and we don't have alternative facts. One of the toughest things for many people to do cognitively is to appreciate the power of paradox. It is sometimes very important to understand that there do exist, in our reality, states where 2 things seemingly conflicting things are true at the same time. It's also hard for us to remember that there are imaginary numbers. This inability to grasp our conditions is a property of Godel's incompleteness theorem (see: Godel, Escher, Bach). We're inside the system so we sometimes forget that the total resolution of our microscale world is suspended when we view it from our perspective. If we could somehow exit the universe and view it from the outside, there would not be a Schrödinger wave equation just cranking away in the corner of the screen like a ticking FPS counter. God does not play dice with the universe. But, he might be playing Dungeons & Dragons. See: double slit experiment
Mop or bit?
I always liked the idea of Wikipedia administrator rights being an "sysop bit," meaning flipping a 0 to a 1 to indicate the boolean true value of a few extra tabs. This is a version of WP:NBD. The difference between a normal user and one with a bit is just 1. It's not a crown of gold or swords or thorns, it's simply enabling a feature toggle. On many online communities, moderators are referred to as such to imply that they are in the administration or in charge of making some decisions as impartial judges (similar, is the word arbitrator). Wikipedia has for a very long time preferred to call the admin role being a janitor, the job of keeping the place clean, wielders of a mop, looking to simply help with housekeeping tasks. However, don't forget the obsession with cleanliness and keeping out the riff raff can be just as dangerous and classist as more authoritarian and hierarchical interpretations of order. Hygiene has been closely associated with the development of eugenics and fascism - that's a very extreme case, but hanging out as a Wikipedia sysop on the drama boards has a way of putting you in touch with the fringe elements of intellectual internet society, such as nationalists, apologists, conspiracists, and all manner of civil POV pushers. It can be quite educational but it can also give you a very skewed and sideways view of the world. Just like if you get your news from Twitter or Facebook, you're viewing reality through a gravitational lens, and the pull pulls around different bodies at different rates. Wikipedia is not biased but because there still exists a reality police, a reality based community that ensures a consensus reality. The role of the admin should involve a short leash for trolls and a long leash for productive discourse (see: Wikipedia:Product, process, policy) Intellectual hygiene is important and the lack of it can be corrosive. A wikipedia admin is doing a customer service job - bouncing off of people and rendering judgment to ensure the trains continue to run on time. The role of the policy is keeping the place functional, but it's still a messy place. It is a form of social engineering moreso than a janitorial task. By which I mean being a manager. How to herd the cats? The best way of course is to make a honeypot and let them come to you. The point of it being a "bit" is that anyone can volunteer and learn the skills of management and leadership. It's not about power and it's not about lording it over people, it's about responsibility.
On the fragility of knowledge
It seems to be a given that a lot of people feel like they know many things, some of which they actually know, some of which they only think they know. Of the things that people think they know but do not know, that could fall into things that are categorically false, things that are partially true, things that are mostly untrue, or things that are relatively true except for some amount of strict precision. Wikipedia doesn't care what you know - it only is interested in aggregating the source material. Which means that commonly held and reported, but erroneous knowledge that exists in 2022 and is corrected in 2048, is objectively wrong today, but still must be encoded in Wikipedia even if you know it's wrong. Science is an evolutionary process and Wikipedia is merely one reflection of the broader macrocosm. But a person in 2022 thinks they know several things that turn out to be categorically false, yet still must be considered verifiable in 2022.
Wikipedia is also necessarily an imprecise source. What that means is that when you summarize something, you may reduce its truth value by lacking precision. And that is a process of modelling an abstraction and constructing a narrative, a necessary and important process of distillation and re-cognization, of reforming into a coherent and cohesive and digestible, formatted, data serialization that the human brain can process.
Tribute to little gnomes
Little Wikipedia:Wikignomes are extremely important to the project working and should not be understated in importance. It is by the sheer force of many little gnomes that Wikipedia works. It can't be outsourced to AI.
- I don't know anyone who treats Bill Clinton's biography as their holy book, either. I don't know anyone who believes that the existence of France is a myth. I don't know anyone who believes that cars are a foodstuff. That's why I'm not about to start editing those articles with comments like "Believers in the existence of France claim that it is a country located in Western Europe..." and then defend them on the basis of NPOV. Harry R
- I do not worship logic, any more than I would worship a hammer. But neither do I scoff at logic, or at hammers; they are instruments most fine. Silence
- I have complete faith in the continued absurdity of whatever’s going on. Jon Stewart
- He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it. Douglas Adams
- Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true. Niels Bohr
- How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress. Bohr
- Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question. Bohr
- Life itself is but a compromise between death and life, the struggle continuing throughout our whole existence, until the great destroyer finally triumphs. All legislation, all government, all society is founded upon the principle of mutual concession, politeness, comity, courtesy; upon these everything is based... Let him who elevates himself above humanity, above its weaknesses, its infirmities, its wants, its necessities, say, if he pleases, I will never compromise; but let no one who is not above the frailties of our common nature disdain compromises. Henry Clay
- It's easy when you know how To get along without Biff! Bang! Pow! And if I see you're fed up I'll stop and give you a leg up Overpriced unreal estate, surreal estate The highest price they've hit to date Creating new divides and tension This is a tale of two city/situations Mutual appreciation Away from narrow preconception Avoiding conflict hypertension Non-phobic word aerobic This was my domain 'Til someone stole my name You've got to tolerate All those people that you hate I'm not in love with you But I won't hold that against you Super Furry Animals (Listen)
- if people really, really want to argue the toss, trying to do them a favor and save them time by getting them to not argue the toss won't work Floquenbeam
- This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself--nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. First inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt
- I certainly didn't intend to cause any dustup in the case of Meghan Markle - just to do the right thing as a bit of fun. I remember when it used to be ok to do the right thing at Wikipedia and have some fun with it. :-) Now, as to the Trump situation, I think I'll steer very far from it for now. Happy to have a long read at some point to see what I think, but.... I generally believe that editors should mostly stay away from situations or topics that are very emotional for them, and I can get quite emotional about Donald Trump. It would be a lot of work for me personally to write in a neutral way about him, because he upsets me so much.--Jimbo Wales on User talk:Jimbo Wales 20:18, 29 May 2018 (UTC)
- The expected path is: Somebody does their best (Wikipedia:Editing policy#Adding information to Wikipedia) but screws up (Wikipedia:Editing policy#Wikipedia is a work in progress: perfection is not required). A more skilled or better informed editor (maybe you?) salvages what they can (Wikipedia:Editing policy#Try to fix problems). WhatamIdoing
See my 2018 statement here
See my COI declaration here
|Multi-licensed with any Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License|
|I agree to multi-license my text contributions, unless otherwise stated, under Wikipedia's copyright terms and the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license version 1.0 and 2.0, and the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license version 2.0. Please be aware that other contributors might not do the same, so if you want to use my contributions under the Creative Commons terms, please check the CC dual-license and Multi-licensing guides.|