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The Ugly Side Of Wikipedia’s Gigantic Re-Creational Publishing Scheme
Wikipedia has lost thousands of editors due to a culture of deletionism, anti-expertism, bloated bureaucracy, horrible abuses of power, and its slightly condescending founder (They all work for free because “it’s awesome!”). Or maybe all those unpaid imps realized that it is just a gigantic re-creational publishing sham and snowball scheme. Better to publish your own stuff, and in the real world. The Future of Wikipedia could be: paid services, openness, and accountability- the precise opposite of what it first intended.
BEIJING – When an editor named 'Moonriddengirl' came across the ‘East-West Dichotomy’ as a work and article, she engaged, like so many stressed editors in those days, in defaming Your author (then a grad student at Peking University and Tokyo University), prompting a deletion, a block, and, when Your author protested, a ban. Verdict: Non-notable. He took the beating, and moved on.
But wait what happened then:
After the pesky author was out of the way, the editor made it her personal mission to “re-create” The East-West Dichotomy herself, explaining away her plagiarism with simply ‘painting’ over it: “If a canvas is painted over and somebody puts a new picture there, it isn't a copy of the original even if the subject is the same.”
A gigantic re-creational publishing house, relocating attributions
It’s not like the East-West Dichotomy could not be clearly identified as Your author’s work (8 of 10 top research results link to the original East-West Dichotomy). The copyright was always his, and is now with China’s Foreign Language Press. It’s about how nasty a Wikipedia editor can become in abusing her admin powers, snatching ideas from others, blocking their accounts, removing their traces, posing as new expert, and guarding her spoils like a ballyragging harpy. I never look at Wikipedia articles the same way again.
For years I thought nothing of it; after all, as the original what should I care what Wikipedia says? But then, after a deal with Google, Wikipedia is now visited by millions of people each day (it shows up in almost all research results at the near top). Every day I am painfully reminded how they snatched the East-West Dichotomy. Thus, I thought I should bring this striking case to attention to serve as a reminder to other people out there to protect better the fruits of their own work and research. [There are some good websites like Wikipediocracy, that offer information].
In his naivety about Wikipedia, Your author tried to locate Ms Maggie Dennis, Moonriddengirl's real name, at her university department. It turns out that she has no such credentials outside of Wikipedia. I then tried to find similar accounts of plagiarism and found shocking tales about Wikipedia’s general hatred for elites, its anti-expertism, editor revenge, and rampant cronyism (yes, they gang up on you).
Once anonymity is gone, they are accountable
You may know this longer than I do; there was this 2007 case of Ryan Jordan, alias Essjay, then a 24-years old college drop-out, who posed as an expert on religion and made 20,000 Wikipedia edits. He pales against Moonriddengirl who joined that same year and has since then altered, according to this source, over 100,000 entries, which clearly makes her a recognizable public figure. The question remains: How can people have so much ‘expertise’?
Well, the answer is they don’t, they copy ideas; in the case of Essjay, from sources such as ‘Catholicism for Dummies’. Within the Wikipedia community, however, the amount of articles created and re-created, and the number of edits, is an artificial currency; it’s a bit like pseudo-academia: publish or perish.
RELATED Beware of ‘Universal Ethics’
Wikipedia is a publishing snowball scheme
One would be correct, I believe, to think of Wikipedia as partly a gigantic publishing snowball scheme that re-creates knowledge found in other people’s works (incl. textbooks, news and media) –namely by inviting an army of anonymous (often semi-educated) volunteers to “re-create” what they just read elsewhere in their own words, and transfer it into Jimmy Wales' Wikipedia.
Intellectually, copying the work of others by simply rephrasing content is very demeaning work, so, naturally, some editors want to break free and express their own ideas, views, and idiosyncrasies. That’s when they mistake themselves as writers or experts while in reality, giving Wikipedia's own principles, they are cheap, faceless, exploitable, and expandable minions.
Hence the hatred for the true creator of things, the writers and experts (in the real world) who -famous or not- have something that most Wikipedia editors wouldn't be allowed to take credit for even if they had written and signed it: substance. They are condemned to attribute their (anonymous) writing to somebody else's work; the only freedom for them lies in choosing to whom: "To whom shall I attribute?" -this is power! And like all power, it is addictive.
The fabricants of content
Moonriddengirl has spent seven years as unpaid ‘fabricant of content’ and has been promoted, it seems, to an admin. Maybe she is now close enough to power to change things. She arguably knows a lot about the nature of Wikipedia as summarized in her views about its copyright law: “it is legal to read an encyclopedia article or other work, reformulate the concepts in your own words, and submit it to Wikipedia, so long as you do not follow the source too closely.” This explains many editors' quantitative outputs and why they can turn expert over night, say, on the East-West Dichotomy, or any topic they type into Google. What about moral standards? Well, Ms Dennis continues: “However, it would still be unethical (but not illegal) to do so without citing the original as a reference.”
Wikipedia has a cure for plagiarism
It seems like a perfect cure for plagiarism: rewrite an article over and over again, better: re-create it, and we shall witness how the theft gradually disappears: “There is no plagiarism in this article now, (…) I rewrote it from scratch,” the editor admits to her bold revisionism. She, indeed, did a great job in rewriting the entire thing; the original is archived here. Referring to her new rip-off she goes on: “This is not your work nor based on your work in any way, and these are not your ideas.” Oh now she sounds like a real jerk.
Thorsten Pattberg is the Author of the East-West Dichotomy.
Image credit: Arjoe/Shutterstock.com
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Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
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In a recent study, researchers examined how Christian nationalism is affecting the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A new study used survey data to examine the interplay between Christian nationalism and incautious behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The researchers defined Christian nationalism as "an ideology that idealizes and advocates a fusion of American civic life with a particular type of Christian identity and culture."
- The results showed that Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior.
A pastor at the chapel of the St. Josef Hospital on April 1, 2020 in Bochum, German
Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images<p>Christian nationalists, in general, believe the U.S. and God's will are tied together, and they want the government to embody conservative Christian values and symbols. As such, they also believe the nation's fate depends on how closely it adheres to Christianity.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unsurprisingly then, in the midst of the COVID‐19 pandemic, conservative pastors prophesied God's protection over the nation, citing America's righteous support for President Trump and the prolife agenda," the researchers write.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Correspondingly, the link between Christian nationalism and God's influence on how COVID‐19 impacts America can be seen in proclamations about God's divine judgment for its immorality―with the logic being that God is using the pandemic to draw wayward America <em>back </em>to himself, which assumes the two belong together."</p><p>The logical conclusion to this kind of thinking: America can save itself not through cautionary measures, like mask-wearing, but through devotion to God. What's more, it stands to reason that Christian nationalists are less likely to trust the media and scientists, given that these sources are generally not concerned with promoting a conservative, religious view of the world.</p><p>(The researchers note that they're unaware of any research directly linking Christian nationalism to distrust of media sources, but that they're almost certain the two are connected.)</p>
Predicted values of Americans' frequency of incautious behaviors during the COVID‐19 pandemic across values of Christian nationalism
Perry et al.<p>In the new study, the researchers examined three waves of results from the Public and Discourse Ethics Survey. One wave of the survey was issued in May, and it asked respondents to rate how often they engaged in both incautious and precautionary behaviors.</p><p>Incautious behaviors included things like "ate inside a restaurant" and "went shopping for nonessential items," while precautionary behaviors included "washed my hands more often than typical" and "wore a mask in public."</p><p>To measure Christian nationalism, the researchers asked respondents to rate how strongly they agree with statements like "the federal government should advocate Christian values" and "the success of the United States is part of God's plan."</p><p>The results suggest that, compared to other groups, Christian nationalists are far less likely to wear masks, socially distance and take other precautionary measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior during the pandemic, and the second leading predictor that Americans avoided taking precautionary measures."</p><p>But that's not to say that religious beliefs are causing Americans to reject mask-wearing or social distancing. In fact, when the study accounted for Christian nationalist beliefs, the results showed that Americans with high levels of religiosity were likely to take precautionary measures for COVID-19.</p>
Limitations<p>Still, the researchers note that they're theorizing about the connections between Christian nationalism and COVID-19 behaviors, not documenting them directly. What's more, they suggest that certain experiences — such as having a family member that contracts COVID-19 — might change a Christian nationalist's behaviors during the pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Limitations notwithstanding, the implications of this study are important for understanding Americans' curious inability to quickly implement informed and reasonable strategies to overcome the threat of COVID‐19, an inability that has likely cost thousands of lives," they write.</p>
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