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Everything changed in America—
  Except nothing changed in America.
You wanna tell me what's America?
  But who do you think built America?

—"Another Day in America", Kali Uchis & Ozuna

Wikipedia in a nutshell

One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit... Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about.

The professors are the enemy. Professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard 100 times and never forget it.

In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

— How Facts Backfire, Boston Globe, 11 July 2010

The Cynic's Guide to Wikipedia

He who is attached to notability criteria and NPOV will suffer much. The man who expects only self-promotion and POV-pushing will never be disappointed.

The Fourth Law of Stupidity: Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular, non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places, and under any circumstances, to deal with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.[1]

  1. If you wrestle with a pig, both of you will get muddy. And the pig will enjoy it.
  2. Ignorance is infinite, while patience is not. Ultimately, you will lose patience with the unchecked flow of ignorance, at which point you'll be blocked for incivility. The goal is to accomplish as much as possible before that inevitability comes to pass.
  3. If a person edits Wikipedia largely or solely to promote one side of a contentious issue, then the project is almost certainly better off without them.
  4. On Wikipedia, any form of real-life expertise is a serious handicap. If you have real-life expertise on a subject, do not under any circumstances mention it here.[2]
  5. If your edit sticks close to the original source, you will be accused of plagiarism. If your edit is paraphrased to avoid plagiarism, you will be accused of straying from the original source. Rinse and repeat.
  6. Jimbo's talk page is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
  7. If you hand an olive branch to a Wikipedian, he will likely try to beat you to death with it.
  8. Anyone who edits policy pages to favor their position in a specific dispute has no business editing policy pages. Corollary: these are the only people who edit policy pages.
  9. Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to keep proposing civility paroles.
  10. The more abusive an editor is toward others, the more thin-skinned they are about "personal attacks" directed at themselves.
  11. The more a viewpoint is odious, ignorant, wrong-headed, or obscure, the more likely its adherents will perceive Wikipedia as their best opportunity to promote it.
  12. Anyone who defends their edits by citing WP:NOTCENSORED doesn't have the first clue.
  13. When a Wikipedian uses Latin, you can be sure they are up to no good.
  14. if $username =~ m/truth|justice|freedom|neutrality/i, then the account should probably be blocked preëmptively, because nothing constructive will ever come from it.
  15. Being blocked has never made anyone more civil. On many occasions, it has made people less civil. Nonetheless, our default approach to increasing the general level of civility is to block people.
  16. Forced apologies are worse than meaningless; they're demeaning both to the apologizer and to the recipient. Nonetheless, Wikipedians are obsessed with demanding forced apologies from people who clearly aren't sorry.
  17. When someone complains that Wikipedia is biased, it usually means that their ideas have failed to gain traction because they've misunderstood this site's goals. For example, to a committed flat-Earther, Wikipedia will appear to have a systemic round-Earth bias which stymies their efforts to contribute.
  18. Wikipedia's processes favor pathological obsessiveness over rationality. A reasonable person will, at some point, decide that they have better things to do than argue with a pathological obsessive.[3] Wikipedia's content reflects this reality, most acutely in its coverage of topics favored by pathological obsessives.
  19. You can tell everything you need to know about an editor's understanding of Wikipedia's sourcing guidelines by their approach to the Daily Mail.
  20. The amount of fuss that an editor makes over retiring is inversely proportional to the likelihood that s/he will actually retire.
  21. Anything truly insightful has been said better, and earlier, by someone else.

Received wisdom


But why the pride in these doctor children (why not shame, why not incredulous dread?): intimates of bacilli and trichinae, of trauma and mortification, with their disgusting vocabulary and their disgusting furniture... they are life's gatekeepers. And why would anyone want to be that?

Martin Amis, Time's Arrow, or the Nature of the Offense

Life is short and the art is long; opportunity fleeting; experience is deceptive, and judgment difficult. The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and externals cooperate.

Hippocrates of Cos, on the practice of medicine

All who drink of this remedy are cured, except those who die. Thus, it is effective for all but the incurable.

Galen of Pergamum

Reassure herself as she might—she knew that these accidents, combined with cases of mistaken diagnosis and of measures taken too late or erroneously, comprised no more than perhaps 2 percent of her activity, while those she had healed, the young and the old, the men and the women, were now walking through plowed fields, over the grass, along the asphalt, flying through the air, climbing telegraph poles, picking cotton, cleaning streets, standing behind counters, sitting in offices or teahouses, serving in the army and the navy; there were thousands of them, not all of whom had forgotten her or would forget her—and yet she knew that she would sooner forget them all, her best cases, hardest-won victories, but until the day she died she would always remember the handful of poor devils who had fallen under the wheels.

It was a peculiarity of her memory.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Cancer Ward

Macbeth: How does your patient, doctor?
Doctor: Not so sick, my lord,
   As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies,
   That keep her from her rest.
Macbeth: Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
   Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
   Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
   And with some sweet oblivious antidote
   Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff
   Which weighs upon the heart?
Doctor: Therein the patient
   Must minister to himself.

William Shakespeare, Macbeth, V.iii.

Physicians of the Utmost Fame
 Were called at once; but when they came
They answered, as they took their Fees,
 "There is no Cure for this Disease."

Hilaire Belloc, Cautionary Tales for Children

This disease men call "sacred", but to me it appears no more divine or supernatural than any other disease; it must have a natural cause like all afflictions. Men regard its nature as divine from ignorance and wonder... They who first ascribed this malady to the gods seem to me to have been conjurors, mountebanks, and charlatans, who invoked the supernatural to conceal their own inability to afford any assistance.

Hippocrates, On the Sacred Disease

The Laws of Medicine:

  1. If what you're doing is working, keep doing it.
  2. If what you're doing isn't working, stop doing it.
  3. If you don't know what to do, don't do anything.
  4. Never let a surgeon manage your patient.

—Variant; usually attributed to Robert F. Loeb, as Loeb's Laws

Languebam: sed tu comitatus protinus ad me
 Venisti centum, Symmache, discipulis.
Centum me tetigere manus aquilone gelatae:
 Non habui febrem, Symmache, nunc habeo.



Now listen here, Colonel... Batguano, if that really is your name...

Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

He could feel quite tangibly the difference in weight between the fragile human body and the colossus of the State. He could feel the State's bright eyes gazing into his face; any moment now the State would crash down on him; there would be a crack, a squeal—and he would be gone.

Vasily Grossman, Жизнь и Судьба (Life and Fate)

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
Everybody knows that the war is over.
Everybody knows that the good guys lost.
   Everybody knows the fight is fixed.
   The poor stay poor and the rich get rich.
That's how it goes.
And everybody knows.

Leonard Cohen, Everybody Knows

There once was a bastard named Lenin,
Who did two or three million men in.
   That's a lot to have done in,
   But where he did one in
That old bastard Stalin did ten in.

—Attributed to Robert Conquest

Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment.

I knew that age well; I belonged to it and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead.

I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and institutions... but I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regime of their barbarous ancestors.

Thomas Jefferson, shortly before his death

They say I'm all about murder, murder and kill, kill...
But what about Grindhouse and Kill Bill?
What about Cheney and Halliburton? The back door deals on oil fields?
How is Nas the most violent person?
I'm dealing with the higher form;
Fuck if you care how I write a poem.
The only fox that I love was the Redd one;
The only black man that Fox loves is in jail or a dead one.

Nas, "Sly Fox"

"Why, exactly, do you people intend to have me shot?"

Ivanov let a few seconds go by. He smoked and drew figures with his pencil on the blotting-paper. He seemed to be searching for the exact words.

"Listen, Rubashov," he said finally. "There is one thing I would like to point out to you. You have now repeatedly said 'You' - meaning State and Party - as distinct from 'I' - that is, Nikolai Salmanovich Rubashov. For the public, one needs, of course, a trial and legal justification. For us, what I have just said should be enough."

Rubashov thought this over; he was somewhat taken aback. For a moment it was as if Ivanov had hit a tuning fork, to which his mind responded of its own accord. All he had believed in, fought for and preached over the last forty years swept over his mind in an irresistable wave. The individual was nothing, the Party was all; the branch which broke from the tree must wither... Rubashov rubbed his pince-nez on his sleeve.

Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon

I'm here to laugh, love, fuck, and drink liquor,
And help the damn revolution come quicker.

The Coup, "Laugh/Love/Fuck", Pick a Bigger Weapon

Life & Death

Ivan Ilych saw that he was dying, and he was in continual despair.

In the depth of his heart he knew he was dying, but not only was he not accustomed to the thought, he simply did not and could not grasp it.

The syllogism he had learnt from Kiesewetter's Logic: "Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal," had always seemed to him correct as applied to Caius, but certainly not as applied to himself. That Caius — man in the abstract — was mortal, was perfectly correct, but he was not Caius, not an abstract man, but a creature quite, quite separate from all others. He had been little Vanya, with a mamma and a papa, with Mitya and Volodya, with the toys, a coachman and a nurse, afterwards with Katenka and with all the joys, griefs, and delights of childhood, boyhood, and youth. What did Caius know of the smell of that striped leather ball Vanya had been so fond of? Had Caius kissed his mother's hand like that, and did the silk of her dress rustle so for Caius? Had he rioted like that at school when the pastry was bad? Had Caius been in love like that? Could Caius preside at a session as he did? "Caius really was mortal, and it was right for him to die; but for me, little Vanya, Ivan Ilych, with all my thoughts and emotions, it's altogether a different matter. It cannot be that I ought to die. That would be too terrible."

Such was his feeling.

Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Well, I went to the doctor.
  I said, "I'm feeling kind of rough."
"Let me break it to you, son,
  Your shit's fucked up."

I said, "My shit's fucked up?
  Well, I don't see how."
He said: "The shit that used to work—
  It won't work now."

Warren Zevon, "My Shit's Fucked Up", Life'll Kill Ya

War, Peace, & Patriotism

Michael Williams: But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make; when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day, and cry all, "We died at such a place;" some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

William Shakespeare, Henry V, VI, i

"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."

"There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."

"Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

From Nuremberg Diary, by G. M. Gilbert

It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.

Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian

They act like they don't love their country
   what it is
is they found out
their country don't love them.

Lucille Clifton

Wonderful meal in T[aranto]. Steak—eggs—cherries—white wine—macaroni—and Marsala. We should never have fought these people.

From the diary of Oliver Carpenter, a British soldier in occupied Italy, June 1944

The imagination and spiritual strength of Shakespeare's evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology.

Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination... That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations.

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago


When I was running about this town a very poor fellow, I was a great arguer for the advantages of poverty; but I was, at the same time, very sorry to be poor.

Samuel Johnson, from Life of Johnson

I don't believe in excess; success is to give.
I don't believe in riches, but you should see where I live.

U2, "God Part II"

The teacher said no college,
But still a kid's gotta get a check with a couple commas...

Citizen Cope, "Bullet and a Target"

Conspiracy theories

  The Templars have something to do with everything
  What follows is not true
  Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate
  The sage Omus found the Rosy Cross in Egypt
  There are cabalists in Provence
  Who was married at the feast of Cana?
  Minnie Mouse is Mickey's fiancée
  It follows logically that
  The Druids venerated black virgins
  Simon Magus identifies Sophia as a prostitute of Tyre
  Who was married at the feast of Cana?
  The Merovingians proclaim themselves kings by divine right
  The Templars have something to do with everything

"A bit obscure," Diotallevi said.

Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum

Now, Stuart, if you look at the soil around any large US city where there's a big underground homosexual population—Des Moines, Iowa—perfect example. Look at the soil around Des Moines, Stuart. You can't build on it; you can't grow anything on it. The government says it's due to poor farming. But I know what's really going on, Stuart. I know it's the queers. They're in it with the aliens. They're building landing strips... for gay Martians.

You know what, Stuart? I like you. You're not like the other people here in the trailer park.

The Dead Milkmen, "Stuart"


The recipe for authorship in this line of business [the social sciences] is as simple as it is rewarding: just get hold of a textbook of mathematics, copy the less complicated parts, put in some references to the literature in one or two branches of the social studies without worrying unduly about whether the formulae which you wrote down have any bearing on the real human actions, and give your product a good-sounding title, which suggests that you have found a key to an exact science of collective behaviour.

Stanislav Andreski, Social Sciences as Sorcery (1972; ISBN 978-0233962269)

The only thing wrong with literature in our time is that it lacks... malice, envy, and hate.

James Jones, accepting the National Book Award in 1952

/* You are not expected to understand this */

From the UNIX v6 kernel source code

Difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae
  tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se...

Juvenal, Satires I;1

Sources of self-esteem

The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.
The Barnstar of Diligence
I thought I'd give you this Barnstar of Diligence for your combination of extraordinary scrutiny, precision and community service in numerous articles. Wikidudeman (talk) 05:38, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
The Working Man's Barnstar
I, Durova award The Working Man's Barnstar to MastCell for diligent efforts countering sockpuppeteers and long term vandals. Keep up the good work! DurovaCharge! 20:27, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
The Defender of the Wiki Barnstar
I award MastCell this barnstar for quick and decisive action at the Community sanction noticeboard, thereby sparing all those articles on smoking from so much obstructive and pointless POV-pushing. Peter Isotalo 12:47, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
The Tireless Contributor Barnstar
For your tireless contributions to controversial articles and effort to strengthen the NPOV in Wikipedia. миражinred (speak, my child...) 03:32, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
The Defender of the Wiki Barnstar
To MastCell, for maintaining the neutral viewpoint. Axl (talk) 10:38, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
The Wiki Wiffle Bat
Your courage is contagious, your reasoning is infectious, and your patience is the kind of communicable bug we should all be so lucky to catch. Thanks for just being. -- Levine2112 discuss 09:02, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
File:Haig-award.png The Defender of the Wiki Barnstar & the General Alexander Haig Medal of Honor

These barnstars are presented to MastCell for courage and clear thinking in the face of obstinacy. -- Fyslee / talk 01:14, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Home-Made Barnstar
For all your good work. I associate you with intelligent and insightful views, and I respect your thoughtfulness. John (talk) 07:41, 8 July 2008 (UTC)
The Barnstar of Good Humor
I'm stumbled across User:MastCell/UBX-CIV and it completely caught me off-guard. I laughed long and hard enough to cause the knitting broken bones in my face to hurt. Despite the resulting discomfort, I needed a good hearty laugh and I thank you for it. Vassyana (talk) 03:54, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
The Barnstar of Diligence
For being an administrator who is willing to look into the complex yet very important problems that show up at WP:ANI which most other administrators don't get into for lack of diligence. Bravo, and keep up the good work (though don't grow too big a head). The Evil Spartan (talk) 23:25, 22 July 2008 (UTC)

For MastCell, this award was meant for you. It is for those who seem to do everything right on Wikipedia, and go beyond that to show excellence and be respected in every aspect. You have the uncanny and never-ending patience to control your words in even the most intense and controversial situations. You are special. I hereby award MastCell with the “Cool Award.” -- Dēmatt (chat) 15:25, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

The Writer's Barnstar
What a nice article on an important book, Autism's False Prophets. I wish I could write articles so effortlessly. (At least, you make it seem so effortless.) Thanks. Eubulides (talk) 20:19, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
The Defender of the Wiki Barnstar
To MastCell, for insisting on sensible, neutral articles. Axl ¤ [Talk] 16:25, 19 April 2009 (UTC)
The E=mc² Barnstar
To MastCell, for hard work and common sense. Tim Vickers (talk) 18:55, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Civility Award
You're a better (more civil) man than I am, Gunga Din. Quartermaster (talk) 21:44, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
The Barnstar of Diligence
Kudos to you for your watchful eye over Water ionizer. You are always polite, firm and evidence based. Gillyweed (talk) 04:01, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
The Socratic Barnstar
For helping to remind us that a tempest in a teacup is still just in the teacup. Sodam Yat (talk) 18:54, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
The Barnstar of Integrity
For resisting the temptation on the John Yoo discussion page to argue with bitterly ideological editors, despite being "a little leery about what's going on here," thus demonstrating selfless forbearance, dignity, calm good manners, and above all the personal integrity of balanced perspectiveElijahBosley (talk) 14:46, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
The Surreal Barnstar
By the powers vested in me, which are minimal, I hereby award you the surreal barnstar for your comments made during the Middleton dog deletion thread. It's been a long time since I laughed that hard at a wikipedia comment (I'm still giggling), which actually fit in well with wikipedia policy as well. We need more people like you in wikipedia. Bravo! Thegreatdr (talk) 22:25, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
The Defender of the Wiki Barnstar
It's about time you got some positive reinforcement for your tireless work editing articles and as an example for how to not only edit and collaborate but not take this place too seriously. Yobol (talk) 19:24, 26 July 2011 (UTC)
The Random Acts of Kindness Barnstar
MastCell, I can hardly find the words to express how impressed I am with your ability to step into a difficult situation with intelligent guidance in such a non-threatening manner. While other admins just banned the editors, you offered good, sound advice that may help to bring about a resolution rather than just anger and hurt feelings. I wish that there were more admins like you. You are my HERO for the day and many days to come. Gandydancer (talk) 15:28, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
Cents for Sense
Sometimes two cents is worth alot more than it seems. Your comments always broaden the base for communication and discussion, widening the circle to include many Wiki-editors. Thank you for your continued concern about our most precious commodity---our reader. ```Buster Seven Talk 16:58, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
You may need some sustenance since you've been on the Trayvon Martin case for quite a while now. Hang in there--your work is appreciated. Which reminds me: I had an edit request, that we include the number of nose hairs counted in recent photographs of each of the two participants; can you just stick that in? Thanks! Drmies (talk) 15:17, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
The Special Barnstar
Awarded to MastCell, for telling it like it is. JN466 01:30, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
The Admin's Barnstar
Yes, MastCell, looking at your years and years of contributions, wise advice, and janitorial work, it's hard to understand how you became an admin. If only you were as calm, reasonable, neutral, and smart as Whatzisname. Sarcasm aside, I was torn between giving you an admin's barnstar, and creating a "How The Hell Do You Stand Dealing With These Fuckwits" barnstar, but I figured if I gave you the latter, I'd get in trouble for personal attacks (and horror of horrors, have my own adminship questioned). It should be obvious, but perhaps bears repeating, that outside of Bizarro World, you are valued very highly by the grownups. Floquenbeam (talk) 22:24, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
The Frozen Trout of Seafood Justice
But God shall wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses. Ravenswing 10:57, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
The Barnstar of Good Humor
I love your user page and the good sense of humor you show. Now ... back to writing articles! Bearian (talk) 01:10, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
The Special Barnstar
You are a fucking awesome Wikipedia editor and administrator. Gandydancer (talk) 21:07, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
The Original Barnstar

Thank you for preventing perennial edit wars by simply editing to coalesce divergent views. You've earned the gratitude of the WP Community! I'm always so very impressed with your clarity of thought and clear expression of tolerance toward the wayward and pernicious inclinations of ludicrous hullabaloo-ers. ```Buster Seven Talk 15:51, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

The Special Barnstar
For your userpage, probably one of the best I have ever seen. It is deeply inspiring. 069952497aComments and complaintsStuff I've done 22:29, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

"hope—the most important thing in life"
Thank you, master of edit summaries, for quality contributions to articles on medicine, for advice on arbitrary arbitration, your compliments, for placing "hope—the most important thing in life" on top, but not without The Cynic's Guide to Wikipedia, - repeating: you are an awesome Wikipedian (2 February 2009)!

--Gerda Arendt (talk) 22:03, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

All-Around Amazing Barnstar
To MastCell, I give you this award for your long-term service to Wikipedia as an editor and an administrator; you've done excellent work, have sound judgment and are highly fair. While we have had few interactions, my observations of you over the years have always been positive. Thank you for everything that you do. Acalamari 19:43, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
The Editor's Barnstar
I've ran across you on multiple occasions and every time you are improving an article substantially. Keep up the great work! Meatsgains (talk) 05:59, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

Today's recommended reading

  • Goertzel T (July 2010). "Conspiracy theories in science". EMBO Rep. 11 (7): 493–9. doi:10.1038/embor.2010.84. PMID 20539311.
  • A toolkit for understanding science, from the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Gorski DH (2014). "Integrative oncology: really the best of both worlds?". Nature Reviews Cancer. 10. doi:10.1038/nrc3822. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Prepare to be horrified


  1. ^ For example: Alfred Russell Wallace once accepted a challenge from a Flat-Earther who offered him ₤500 if he could prove that the Earth was round. Wallace demonstrated the curvature of the Earth in a simple, elegant, and irrefutable manner. But instead of paying up the wager, the Flat-Earther launched a years-long campaign of defamation and harassment against Wallace.

    In the end, Wallace won a libel suit and put an end to the nonsense, but it had cost him years of his life and well more money than the wager was worth in the first place. A more elegant demonstration of the Fourth Law Of Stupidity would be hard to invent. The moral of the story: you cannot reason someone out of a fundamentally irrational belief.

  2. ^ You might naïvely think that a project attempting to summarize human knowledge would value people who actually know things. You would be badly mistaken, for two reasons. First of all, Wikipedia tends to attract obsessive amateurs—people who are deeply interested in arcane topics but who lack academic qualifications or recognition and thus view such things with suspicion and/or envy. Secondly, Wikipedians have really strange ideas about "conflicts of interest". It's been seriously suggested, for instance, that a physician has a conflict of interest in writing about medical topics, by virtue of actually knowing something about them.

    Wikipedia's hostility toward real-life expertise is usually externalized and blamed on the experts, who are portrayed as too arrogant and entitled to thrive in this democratic marketplace of ideas. But that's bullshit. Experts get frustrated because Wikipedia lacks any mechanism to ensure that sane people triumph over pathological obsessives. (If anything, our existing processes reward pathological obsessiveness much more than sane, reasonable approaches).

  3. ^ Or, as my father told me when I was young, "Only a dumb-ass argues with a dumb-ass."