Wikipedia:Peer review/Noam Chomsky/archive1

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Noam Chomsky[edit]

The article's in an exceptionally stable state, given the subject. I'm looking for outside opinions on what remains to take it to featured article status: missing major concepts, missing sources, general readability for a general audience, overall structure, etc. Thanks! czar 23:34, 24 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Interesting topic. Seems very well written, well sourced, and comprehensive to me. A few items to note:

  • The last two sentences under the "University" section beginning "He was also interested in..." could be reworked or pruned. The first of the two sentences is a run-on; it seems like a fairly trivial point; and it seems like it's contradictory to say he was intrigued but didn't really believe the thesis.
  • Early career section: "Chomsky has been open about his employer at this time, saying MIT "was a Pentagon-based university. And I was at a military-funded lab." What is "open" about this? Is he saying he was open about the fact that he worked for the military indirectly? Reword.
  • "He has said he gave "a good bit of thought" to resigning from MIT during the Vietnam War." I would have said "He later said he gave..." Also, maybe this would be better placed in the next section that deals with the Vietnam War directly.
  • "Chomsky, photographed in 1977" could read "Chomsky in 1977" instead.
  • "After the September 11 attacks in 2001, Chomsky was widely interviewed..." I would switch the order of these two clauses. That is, "Chomsky was widely interviewed after the September 11 attacks." Also, I recommend you make more explicit why he was widely interviewed. Lastly I might delete the part about collating and publishing the interviews, as that's not so important to the narrative.
  • Comma after "international media attention". Also, Security Courts is capitalized - does it need a Wikilink?
  • Before talking about the Occupy movement, there is a gap of about 10 years. I might say "Later," or "Beginning in 2011," before the start of that paragraph. I would also break it into two sentences since the first part of the current sentence will serve as the topic sentence for the entire paragraph: "He delivered talks at encampments..."

Unfortunately, I have run out of time to finish reading ("real life" calls!) but I've managed to make it through the Lead and Life sections. Really good work from what I've read. I hope to be able to come back and get the rest, but I make no promises: "knowing how way leads onto way, I [question] if I should ever come back." Trevdna (talk) 00:01, 10 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Good edits. Thank you, @Trevdna! Would be curious to hear your take on the other sections as a general reader. czar 07:32, 10 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi @Trevdna, sending another ping in case you were interested in reading further czar 19:51, 29 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for the ping! I have not forgotten about this article. I will pick up on this tomorrow. Thanks! Trevdna (talk) 01:00, 30 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ok, here is the second half of this peer review:

  • "...who viewed behavior (including talking and thinking)..." parenthetical phrase is inelegant. How about "... who viewed all behavior..." which would presumably include speech.
  • "Since the 1960s" I think needs a comma afterward but maybe not.
  • Universal grammar section: maybe it could use a paragraph break somewhere? Maybe once you've finished explaining the premise and start talking about the reactions to it?
  • "It is a common conception that..." Would it be accurate (in light of the rest of the sentence) to call it a common "mis"conception?
  • "Following transformational grammar's heyday through the mid-1970s, a derivative government and binding theory became a dominant research framework through the early 1990s, remaining an influential theory, when linguists turned to a "minimalist" approach to grammar." Uhh I'm really not parsing this sentence. First of all, what is government and binding theory? What does it have to do with Chomsky? Also, did you mean "it remains an influential theory" to avoid implying that it was only relevant in the early 1990s? What is "minimalism" in the context of language studies? I'm assuming that the government and binding theory is somehow related to minimalism, but as an outsider I am confused by this sentence. Later in the paragraph there is some explanation of how the minimalist approach "asks which minimal principles and parameters theory fits most elegantly, naturally, and simply", but if you can reword the topic sentence to explain the minimalist approach earlier, I think it would help with readability to outsiders.
  • Political views: I've heard Chomsky is deeply skeptical of US involvement in the current Russo-Ukrainian war. Could just be Internet hearsay, but if there's any more nuance to his stance on it than what's listed in the article that would be important to include.
  • "He offers a wide range of political writings as well as free lessons and lectures to encourage wider political consciousness." Borderline POV. The acid test for NPOV is that, after reading it, you "cannot tell where the author's sympathies lie," and I think I can tell on this one.
  • "Rather than accepting the common view among U.S. economists that a spectrum exists between total state ownership of the economy and total private ownership,..." I feel like this could use a citation if it's not covered by the citation at the end of the sentence.
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict: 4 citations seems excessive on one point. Maybe prune?
  • "Chomsky considers most conspiracy theories [to be] fruitless, distracting substitutes..." for grammatical clarity
  • "He asks whether General Motors..." probably a good point, but the level of granularity with which Chomsky's ideas are presented, clarifies to me where the author's sympathies lie here... Also applies to the sentence immediately preceding this one.
  • "(Enlightenment and Cartesian)" can probably be scrapped. Adds no info to the reader.
  • "Foucault's position was that of critique, that human nature could not be conceived in terms foreign to present understanding, while Chomsky held that human nature contained universalities such as a common standard of moral justice as deduced through reason based on what rationally serves human necessity." That's an especially dense sentence in an article full of them. Could almost certainly end at "... as deduced through reason." without losing meaning to 99% of readers. Also ", while" could perhaps be turned into a semicolon.
  • "...implies that his readers know better..." know better than what? Than him? Unclear. "...which can make them more engaged in the veracity of his claims." How? Also unclear.
  • "...with [and] the disputes between the two camps [are] often acrimonious.
  • "Sperlich also says that Chomsky has been vilified by corporate interests, particularly in the mainstream press." Comment: as I read this, I realized that the article up to that point introduces us to relatively few of the anti-Chomsky arguments; therefore reading that came as something of a surprise to me. The article in general seems pretty glowing before that point. Now, in fairness, the rest of that section is pretty much devoted to his controversies, but even then there are POV issues because it tilts toward an anti-Chomsky tone (includes lots of quotation marks around fairly vitriolic statements), before reverting to a positive tone for the rest of the article. I can't help but feel like the editors kind of noticed "oh yeah, maybe we should point out why he's so hated by some groups" when these points of controversy should be addressed throughout. Likewise, the anti-Chomskyists should not be simply quoted at their most hateful; instead, diligence should be done to explain why they disagree with Chomsky so vehemently. When everything is kept in quotes, it feels like Wikipedia's voice stops short of directly criticizing him.

Another facet that makes it difficult to maintain a balance is that: objectively, Chomsky has done a lot and has a very long list of accomplishments! By the time they get to the politics section, we're already familiar with a long of great things he's done in several different fields. So it's hard for the reader not to sympathize with him after reading about all that. But that's all the more reason that his detractors should be given a fair explanation in the article so the reader can make up their mind more or less objectively.

Overall, a fascinating and informative read here. I learned a lot about a character I knew very little about. I hope you don't take my detailed comments as an indicator of assessed poor article quality. Quite the opposite: none of the issues I could find were systemic in any way, with the possible exception of the POV thing. Very thorough and extensive, great summary style, really a good, quality article for me. I really believe this article is approaching FA quality; if these items are addressed or discussed and this were to show up in FAN at a future date, give me a ping and I'd be happy to support.


Trevdna (talk) 05:05, 31 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Hey @Czar:: apologies for taking so long to get around to reviewing this. Think I'll give it a quick go over and see what can be tightened up. Stand by for review. --Grnrchst (talk) 09:29, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • The explanatory footnotes describe him as a "historian", not a "historical essayist". Consider clarifying this, as "historical essayist" is rather odd at first glance.
  • Consider moving explanatory footnotes b and c to the end of the sentence, rather than in the middle, and merging the two.
  • It says Chomsky was on Nixon's Enemies List, but it appears he was actually on the larger master list of Nixon's political opponents. Consider clarifying as "list of political opponents" instead of "enemies list".
  • "One of the most cited scholars alive" - this is a big claim. Is there a quote from Babe 2015 that could be included in the citation?
--Grnrchst (talk) 10:50, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • His father is listed here as "Ze'ev "William" Chomsky", consider labelling as his common name "William Chomsky" for simplicity.
  • Consider bundling citations 25, 26 and 27. (Maybe trim or convert the Philadelphia Inquirer one, for the sake of consistency)
  • The modern state of Belarus didn't yet exist when Elsie Simonofsky was born, or even by the time she moved to the United States. Consider either disambiguating "Belarus" to Belarusian history in the Russian Empire, using the specific governorate she was born in (Minsk Governorate), or specifying the city she was from (Babruysk).
  • "Chomsky and his brother were raised Jewish" - clarify this to "Noam and his brother", as it's talking about the Chomsky family more broadly here.
  • "regimented teaching methods" - what does this mean? Like "regimented" as in it was militaristic or strict?
  • Consider removing citation 37: "Interview with Noam Chomsky by Max Raskin", as it's technically a primary source, and already covered by two other independent sources.
  • Consider adding a link to anti-Stalinist left for "anti-Bolshevik left".
--Grnrchst (talk) 10:50, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • "Aged 16" - consider standardising the description to "at the age of 16" or "at age 16", and bring that in line with the ageing descriptors in the above section.
  • "Russian-born linguist" - Zellig Harris was born in Balta, which is in modern-day Ukraine. If his place of birth isn't relevant to his relationship with Chomsky, consider removing this descriptor and just say "linguist".
  • "which appeared not in a journal of linguistics but in The Journal of Symbolic Logic." - is it notable that it wasn't published in a linguistics journal? If not, consider cutting that detail.
  • "Highly critical of the established behaviorist currents in linguistics" - consider adding a link to behaviorism for clarity.
  • There is a grammatical inconsistency with how sentences are introduced by year. Some start with "In 19[XX]" with a comma, while others start without a comma. Consider standardising for better readability. (This is more broadly applicable to the whole article but I noticed it in this section)
  • Consider disambiguating the link for "compulsory military service" to Conscription in the United States for clarity.
  • "In 1953 the couple took a Harvard travel grant to Europe, from the United Kingdom through France, Switzerland into Italy," - it appears that his visit to Israel is the most important part of this trip, so consider cutting the excess detail for the sake of concision.
  • "Despite enjoying himself, Chomsky was appalled by the country's Jewish nationalism, anti-Arab racism and, within the kibbutz's leftist community, pro-Stalinism." - consider rewriting. He saw displays of Jewish nationalism and anti-Arab racism in the country, but it reads a bit odd to say that the country itself was these things. "Pro-Stalinism" reads a bit odd too, consider simply "Stalinism" or something like "an affinity for Stalinism".
  • "whose work introduced Chomsky to the link between anarchism and classical liberalism" - I can assume this is referring to Rocker's Pioneers of American Freedom?
  • "as documented in Orwell's Homage to Catalonia (1938)" - was Chomsky specifically inspired by this book or is this just name dropping it? If the latter, please cut this.
  • What does it mean by "orthodoxy" in reference to Paul Mattick? Does it mean Orthodox Marxism? If so, consider adding a link to that for clarity.
--Grnrchst (talk) 10:50, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Early career:
  • Consider bundling citations 71 and 72.
  • "The review [...] helped to establish Chomsky as an intellectual." What does this mean exactly?
  • Is it possible to summarise the Barbara Partee quote?
  • There are two links to UC Berekely in the same paragraph. Remove one.
  • "His Beckman lectures" Who or what is Beckman? This is completely unclear. Please clarify.
  • Change the link for "John "Haj" Ross" to John R. Ross, as he didn't start using the name "Haj" in his work until the 1980s.
--Grnrchst (talk) 14:39, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Anti-war activism and dissent:
  • For some reason there is a citation to At War With Asia, this could be removed.
  • Consider bundling citations 98, 99 and 100.
--Grnrchst (talk) 14:39, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Edward S. Herman and the Faurisson affair:
  • Unsure if Lukes' comments are notable, as it's cited to a primary source. Is there a better way to communicate that there was a controversy over Chomsky's comments without citing one individual's comments?
  • Consider rewriting the direct quotes from Chomsky here, as it uses some quite fiery language with any commentary.
--Grnrchst (talk) 14:39, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Critique of propaganda and international affairs:
  • "The book was inspired by Alex Carey" How? What did he inspire in it?
--Grnrchst (talk) 14:39, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Iraq war criticism and retirement from MIT:
  • Are there any secondary sources for Chomsky's support for Occupy? The cited source (Younge & Hogue 2012.) is an interview with him.
  • Are there any secondary sources for Chomsky joining the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation? One of the sources is a press release by the organisation and the other is a promotion for one of Chomsky's speaking engagements.
--Grnrchst (talk) 14:39, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
University of Arizona:
--Grnrchst (talk) 14:39, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Linguistic theory:
  • Is the "Brain From Top To Bottom" citation necessary?
  • If empiricism is defined here, then rationalism should be too, especially if rationalism is the philosophical model that Chomsky is supposed to align with.
--Grnrchst (talk) 15:05, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Universal grammar:
  • There appears to be some original research in this section, as some of it fails verification in the cited sources, particularly in the first half. Consider rewriting.
  • Consider removing the citation as a primary source.
--Grnrchst (talk) 15:05, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Transformational-generative grammar:
  • Is explanatory footnote e in the correct place? It's unclear.
--Grnrchst (talk) 15:05, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Political views:
  • Why does it mention that he is a member of the IWW in the "political views" section? It's not exactly a view. Also the citation is the IWW's own website, which gives little to no information about his affiliation and may not be reliable. Consider removing this.
  • "[he] believes that World War II is the only justified war the U.S. has fought in his lifetime." Is there a better source for this? It's currently cited to an interview with him. If not, consider removing this.
  • "criticizing these accounts, he seeks to correct them." Shouldn't this say "by criticising these accounts, [...]"?
  • Is there a better source for his views on Saudi Arabia? It's currently cited from an interview with him.
--Grnrchst (talk) 15:29, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Capitalism and socialism:
  • No notes.
--Grnrchst (talk) 15:29, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Israeli–Palestinian conflict:
  • Consider linking to One-state solution for "binationalist program".
  • His comments about the 1947 partition are sourced from an interview with him. Is there a secondary source for this?
  • Consider bundling citations 226, 227, 228 and 229.
--Grnrchst (talk) 15:29, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
News media and propaganda:
  • Maybe changed "news media" in the header to "mass media"? As what he's describing is bigger than just the news.
--Grnrchst (talk) 15:29, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Green tickY czar 06:36, 11 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • No notes.
--Grnrchst (talk) 15:29, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Personal life:
  • "Chomsky has attracted controversy for calling established political and academic figures "corrupt", "fascist", and "fraudulent"." Who has he described by these terms?
--Grnrchst (talk) 15:29, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Source doesn't say but I've further clarified why this matters czar 06:36, 11 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Reception and influence:
  • "Chomsky carries a dual legacy as both a "leader in the field" of linguistics and "a figure of enlightenment and inspiration" for political dissenters." Consider rewriting the quoted sections for more concision.
  • "The reception of his work is intertwined with his public image as an anarchist, a gadfly, a historian, a Jew, a linguist, and a philosopher." This is oddly phrased. Consider rewriting?
--Grnrchst (talk) 16:00, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Green tickY czar 06:36, 11 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In academia:
  • Consider bundling citations 274, 275 and 276. The latter two also need page numbers.
  • Consider bundling citations 278 and 241, the former of which also needs a page number.
  • Consider bundling citations 283, 284 and 285.
  • Consider bundling citations 20 and 265.
--Grnrchst (talk) 16:00, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In politics:
  • Cut down on the fluffy quotes in the first paragraph. Right now, it's a lot of people praising Chomsky without much substance to their praises.
  • Second paragraph needs a bit of a rewrite. Maybe cut some of it down for concision.
  • Paragraph about the Srebrenica massacre may need expansion. It currently feels like it's defensive of Chomsky's remarks, without really going into detail on what those remarks were.
  • Rabbani 2012 citation needs a specific page number.
  • Are David Horowitz and Jonathan Kay's criticisms so notable that they need to be quoted at length? Consider cutting down for concision.
  • Is the lengthy quote from the ADL necessary? Consider cutting or rephrasing.
  • Consider cutting down or rephrasing Chomsky's response to Dershowitz, as he's making a pretty big accusation here.
--Grnrchst (talk) 16:00, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Academic achievements, awards, and honors:
  • Is there a way to make this more readable? Currently it's just a prosified list. No worries if not.
--Grnrchst (talk) 16:00, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Overall, this is a really good article and one I think could very well be put up for featured status. Final comments are just to make sure all the pictures have alt text and move unused citations (and ideally Chomsky's primary sources) from "General sources" to "Further reading". I really enjoyed reading this and feel like I learnt a lot from it, so thanks for putting the effort in. I look forward to hopefully seeing this article get the gold star. :D --Grnrchst (talk) 16:03, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you! I'll work through these. Happy Noam Chomsky Day, all. czar 11:42, 7 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Query from Z1720[edit]

@Czar: It's been over a month since the last comment. Are you still looking for more comments or is this ready to be closed? Z1720 (talk) 14:59, 15 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have some edits and replies to make before closing this. Thanks! czar 09:56, 17 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]