Talk:Hearsay society

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If this page is not edited again in 2 hours, I will archive it. Just a heads up

brenden 19:22, 2 May 2012 (EDT)

That's not how it works

When I ask myself what's the population of Paris - perhaps triggered by reading a book - I'll take a look at Paris or Paris (wikipedia) and I get one (or two answers) : over 2.1 million in the city of Paris itself at Conservapedia and The city of Paris, within its administrative limits [..] has an estimated population of 2,211,297 at wikipedia. That sounds plausible, and I'm satisfied. So, I won't look up the sources given.

But when I'm disputing the question which the second biggest city of France is, I won't take the entries on a wiki at their face value. The wiki can only be a starting point, which states the number and gives me a source for it. Now I won't consider that the the statements are [..] true regardless of whether the reference consists of unreliable hearsay., but follow the given links for myself. Then I can find out whether they are relevant, up-to-date, etc. If they links don't work out, I have to look somewhere else - and ideally improve the articles with the source I will get.

The same is true if the question arises in a homework: I won't state the wiki as my source, but the wiki's sources. Unfortunately, that doesn't work for Lyon and Marseille here at Conservapedia: While I read in the article on Lyon

After Paris and Marseille, it is the third largest city, however with its suburbs, it is the second largest city. It lies between the two cities, and is only 2 hours from Paris by the TGV.

I can't find the number of inhabitants, nor the source for this claim. The article on Marseille states

Marseille, (English alt. Marseilles) is the second-largest city of France and forms the third-largest metropolitan area, with 1,516,340 inhabitants at the 1999 census (Paris and Lyon are larger).

again, without a source.

Obviously you can say that Conservapedia is the trustworthy encyclopedia, and that therefore I should be able to accept the statement without further ado (other than a statement in wikipedia). There is only one little problem. While the article on Marseille is much more informative and of higher quality than the one on Lyon, it is basically unchanged from its first version from June 8, 2007. And this first version is only an excerpt of wikipedia's revision from May 2007: its quite literally the introduction and the section on history.

AugustO 08:18, 24 April 2012 (EDT)

August, if you bother to follow up the references on Wikipedia articles then you are in a regrettably small minority - one that does not include millions of school students, university students, professors, ordinary people and even journalists working for supposedly reputable newspapers and other news sources. Well done to you on not being part of the hearsay society, but that doesn't mean that the problem doesn't exist.
Your last paragraph might be better off on the talk page for the Marseilles article.--CPalmer 09:15, 24 April 2012 (EDT)
  • Every student who failed a grade because of an intellectual lazy approach to wikis will join our regrettably small minority :-)
  • journalists (including especially science journalists) and politicians are something different: they tend to read any text until they find something agreeable and won't bother with the rest - whether there are sources or not. Sadly, this is something I find here in discussion on the talk-page all too often, too.
  • I'll add the part on Marseille to the talk-page. It's just here as it shows that sometimes Conservapedia is just a bad copy of wikipedia - and even those parts are sometimes better as the more original articles (like Lyon)
AugustO 12:58, 24 April 2012 (EDT)

An additional point is that Wikipedia does not distinguish between citation to speculation or hearsay in references, which would be inadmissible in court, as opposed to citations to legitimate factual content which might be admissible in court. Wikipedia hopelessly mixes the two categories, while Conservapedia does not.--Andy Schlafly 11:10, 24 April 2012 (EDT)

  • Wikipedia does not distinguish between citation to speculation or hearsay in references Could you give some examples? Wikipedia has a politic on sources which should prevent such a thing to happen.
  • Wikipedia hopelessly mixes the two categories, while Conservapedia does not How does Conservapedia achieve this goal? Is there something in the guidelines which I have overlooked? Surely, omitting sources can't help herewith.
AugustO 12:58, 24 April 2012 (EDT)
  • Add. "Wikipedia does not distinguish between citation to speculation or hearsay in references Could you give some examples? Wikipedia has a politic on sources which should prevent such a thing to happen."
Good example could be following case(s):
  • 1.Wikipedia "Historical examples of religious individuals or institutions promoting claims that contradict both contemporary and modern scientific consensus include ...Galileo Affair" In other words, Wikipedia is trying to spread hearsay that it was a "religious institution" which promoted claim contradicting contemporary and modern "scientific consensus".
  • But the historically true statement is that Church promoted contemporary and modern scientific consensus on Ptolemaic system and opposed minority view of its own "religious individual" Galileo who in his "Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany" in fact declared "I discovered in the heavens many things that had not been seen before our own age. The novelty of these things, as well as some consequences which followed from them in contradiction to the physical notions commonly held among academic philosophers, stirred up against me no small number of professors-as if I had placed these things in the sky with my own hands in order to upset nature and overturn the sciences". Further Galileo commented about these contemporary-consensus-scientists: "They know also that I support this position not only by refuting the arguments of Ptolemy and Aristotle, ... In addition there are astronomical arguments derived from many things in my new celestial discoveries that plainly confute the Ptolemaic system ... Possibly because they are disturbed by the known truth of other propositions of mine which differ from those commonly held, and therefore mistrusting their defense so long as they confine themselves to the field of philosophy, these men have resolved to fabricate a shield for their fallacies out of the mantle of pretended religion and the authority of the Bible. ... First they have endeavored to spread the opinion that such propositions in general are contrary to the Bible and are consequently damnable and heretical...they have had no trouble in finding men who would preach the damnability and heresy of the new doctrine ...they make a shield of their hypocritical zeal for religion...And Your Highness knows what happened to the late mathematician of the University of Pisa who undertook in his old age to look into the Copernican doctrine in the hope of` shaking its foundations and refuting it, since he considered it false only because he had never studied it". The historical lesson is actually quite opposite from what Wikipedia is trying to portray: You should perhaps better try to be skeptical about "contemporary" and "modern" scientific consensus, and better demand observational confirmation etc. Wikipedia's speculation is that "The Ptolemaic system was not contemporary [scientific consensus]" (cf."propositions of mine which differ from those commonly held", "The novelty of these things...stirred up no small number of professors-as if I had placed these things in the sky ... overturn the sciences") and Galileo's own claim that he plainly confuted [by] new celestial discoveries the "Ptolemaic system" is presented as refutation of Bible and "religious" views.
  • John Ross, Chemical and Engineering News, 7 July 1980, p. 40: "… there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems. … There is somehow associated with the field of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics the notion that the second law of thermodynamics fails for such systems. It is important to make sure that this error does not perpetuate itself."
  • 3.ibid. "The fact is that natural forces routinely lead to decreases in entropy. Water freezes into ice"
  • cf."The ice example is thermodynamically irrelevant to the origin of life. When ice freezes, it releases heat energy into the environment. This causes an entropy increase in the surroundings. If the temperature is low enough, this entropy increase is greater than the loss of entropy in forming the crystal. But the formation of proteins and nucleic acids from amino acids and nucleotides not only lowers their entropy, but it removes heat energy (and entropy) from their surroundings. Thus ordinary amino acids and nucleotides will not spontaneously form proteins and nucleic acids at any temperature. Also we should distinguish between order and complexity. Crystals are ordered; life is complex. To illustrate: a periodic (repeating) signal, e.g. ABABABABABAB, is an example of order. However, it carries little information: only ‘AB’, and ‘print 6 times’. A crystal is analogous to that sequence; it is a regular, repeating network of atoms. Like that sequence, a crystal contains little information: the co-ordinates of a few atoms (i.e. those which make up the unit cell), and instructions ‘more of the same’ x times. If a crystal is broken, smaller but otherwise identical crystals result. Conversely, breaking proteins, DNA or living structures results in destruction, because the information in them is greater than in their parts. A crystal forms because this regular arrangement, determined by directional forces in the atoms, has the lowest energy. Thus the maximum amount of heat is released into the surroundings, so the overall entropy is increased....Proteins and DNA are also non-random aperiodic sequences. The sequences are not caused by the properties of the constituent amino acids and nucleotides themselves. This is a huge contrast to crystal structures, which are caused by the properties of their constituents."
  • 4.Wikipedia's hearsay: "Creationists often claim that public support of creationism is a sign of its validity as a scientific theory"
  • The inline-citation given allegedly to support the given speculation: "^ No scientific issue is ever decided by such argumentum ad populum (Introduction to Logic, I.M. Copi, Macmillan, New York, 1978). The only thing that matters in science is if the data available match the predictions of a given scientific theory. As pointed out by creationist Bert Thompson, "Truth never is determined by popular opinion or majority vote." (The Day the Scientists Voted, Bert Thompson, Apologetics Press: Sensible Science)" Note: There had been group of admins backing the position that challenging this obvious absurdity/ speculation should be regarded as disruptive edit and the speculation has been only removed after I initiated DRN where it would really look stupid if they'd support even there something so eye-strikingly inconsistent.--AK 18:49, 1 May 2012 (EDT)

What's so bad about requiring references?

The point of references is that anyone can look up the original information to see if the arguments/ conclusions being made in the argument make sense. It is not that references automatically mean that what is being referenced is true. How is this a bad thing?Gabe

If the reference consists of hearsay or speculation for the point made, then the citation is misleading because there isn't really meaningful support for the statement.--Andy Schlafly 23:53, 30 April 2012 (EDT)
How is that any worse that your claims about gray hair, which are backed up with nothing more than you talking about Jesus? Sylvain 00:03, 1 May 2012 (EDT)
Add."It is not that references automatically mean that what is being referenced is true. How is this a bad thing?" I'll try to explain on examples from Wikipedia:
  • Wikipedia: "The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe...The Big Bang is a well-tested scientific theory which is widely accepted within the scientific community because it is the most accurate and comprehensive explanation for the full range of phenomena astronomers observe."
  • BBC: Parallel Universes"The fundamental problem of cosmology is that the laws of physics as we know them break down at the instant of the Big Bang. Well some people say what's wrong with that, what's wrong with having the laws of physics collapse? Well for a physicist this is a disaster. All our lives we've dedicated to the proposition that the Universe obeys knowable laws, laws that can be written down in the language of mathematics and here we have the centrepiece of the Universe itself, a missing piece beyond physical law. NARRATOR: The very beginning of the Big Bang was the single biggest mystery in all of cosmology. It was called the singularity."
  • ESA: Is the Universe finite or infinite? "But we have no understanding of how to change from collapsing to expanding. There's no physical way to explain that transition."
Tell me, is "The Big Bang... a well-tested scientific theory" or is it "the single biggest mystery", "missing piece beyond physical law", or "we have no understanding of how to change from collapsing to expanding"? How this matches together if it is not "a form of intellectual cowardice [that] can lead to the propagation of misleading, incorrect or deliberately untrue information, while some individuals abandon even the attempt at using their own logic or thinking for themselves"?
I agree with you that if a group of people has opinion X, let's that sourced opinion be attributed to this group X, even though it might be somewhat strange. But the real problem with Wikipedia is that it does not allow for opinion Y which regards opinion X for strange to be present. If you want proof just go ahead and try to balance at Wikipedia those articles like Objections to evolution, Big Bang, Militant atheism (which ceased to exist), anti-christian articles like Christian terrorism etc. with meaningful sources (I can navigate you should you wish find such) which are not "bad things". I genuinely wish you good luck.--AK 05:39, 1 May 2012 (EDT)
The points made above are good, but in response to Gabe's question, I'd also say that there are cases where the way to decide whether an argument/conclusion makes sense isn't to find a reference and shift the intellectual responsibility elsewhere - it's to evaluate the argument using your own faculties of reason and decide for yourself. That's an absolutely basic part of human enquiry, but it's discouraged at Wikipedia.--CPalmer 06:21, 1 May 2012 (EDT)
Tell me, is "The Big Bang... a well-tested scientific theory" or is it "the single biggest mystery", "missing piece beyond physical law", or "we have no understanding of how to change from collapsing to expanding"? Both. My understanding (from having taken an astronomy course at college) is that there is significant evidence consistent with the Big Bang (the nature of the CMB, the 3:1 H:He ratio, etc.) and yet scientists do not know everything about the processes that happened in the moments following the big bang. Moreover, I don't think that anything prior to the Big Bang or its effects are observable, and so any answer to the mystery of how or why the universe began before the Big Bang is beyond the purview of science. GregG 19:04, 1 May 2012 (EDT)
Thanks for expressing your opinion, however I think Galielo would not agree with you wrt. "both":"['s] being obvious that two truths can never contradict each other". If you "don't think that anything prior to the Big Bang or its effects are observable", then I suggest there might be something awkward with adjective "well-tested theory" and perhaps it would be more appropriate and intellectually honest to admit that this theory does not have its beginning tested at all, after all, it is pertaining to origin science; and then it just popes up somewhere at undefined point of timeline as already well-tested according to one group of supporters whereas others who are not allowed to have their voice sound at Wikipedia suggest that at the very minimum when it comes to interpretation of CMB as remnants alias evidence of Big Bang, the observed is mistaken with inferred and there are definitely other explanations of the same phenomenon possible. Anyway, Big Bang should be perhaps discussed under Big Bang talk page and we should concentrate on aspects pertaining to hearsay society here, still my reaction to your points in brief:
  • "anything prior to the Big Bang" requires two things at the very minimum:
  1. definition of what big bang is, possibly in less weasel words than "the full range of phenomena" on another occasion described as "In spite of the fact that we call it the Big Bang Theory it really says absolutely nothing about the Big Bang. It doesn't tell us what banged, why it banged, what caused it to bang. It doesn't even describe, doesn't really allow us to predict what the conditions are immediately after this bang." (BBC Source above)
  2. Definition of where is the border on the time line between prior stage "beyond physical law" and later allegedly "well-tested" stage, possibly in somewhat more scientific rigorous and less blurry way. Obviously it is not "immediately after this bang" but some time later.
  • Again, problem with WP is that it does not allow for meaningful opposition to what is regarded as basic pillars of scientism and what is believed to put God on the shelf so to speak, there do exist reasonable contra-arguments against "the nature of the CMB, the 3:1 H:He ratio, etc.", if you are really interested to learn them. Just read "Was there a big bang?", Dismantling the Big Bang, watch Universe -The cosmology quest - by the way this source was described as "I looked at the source you presented on the RSN. I agree that the source would be considered reliable." by my mentor. In the hearsay society that "superficially gives an impression of rigor, but in practice it leads to a parrotting of the opinions of others and a negation of the individual's ability to use his intelligence to make connections and insights based on logic" it ended up like this. They might call it fringe and non-mainstream or whatever, but such assertions will neither make the presented contra-arguments stupid nor their proponents non-scientific. As Galileo wrote: "whoever has truth on his side has a great, indeed the greatest, advantage over the opponent... it follows therefore that we must not fear any assaults launched against us by anyone, as long as we are allowed to speak and to be heard by competent persons who are not excessively upset by their own emotions and interests." (source above).--AK 15:30, 2 May 2012 (EDT)
In reply to paragraph 1, it is obvious that two contradictory statements cannot both be true: for example, 73 is odd and 73 is even cannot both be true. However, it is possible for seemingly contradictory statements to both be true: for example, 1 is not prime and 1 is not composite. The two statements about the Big Bang that I say are both true are really not contradictory at all, but rather are two separate perspectives on the proposed event that scientists say was about 14.7 billion years ago. On the one hand, we can determine much about what must have happened in the moments after the Big Bang from observations of our universe and application of known physical laws. And yet, not only do we not know everything about what happened after the Big Bang (my textbook says that scientists "lack a theory to describe conditions in the Planck era" [Bennett et al., The Cosmic Perspective: Stars, Galaxies & Cosmology, 6th ed., 2010, p. 677]), but we cannot possibly scientifically infer why the Big Bang occurred or who or what is the ultimate cause for the existence of the universe. The Big Bang refers to the very moment when, according to the hypothesis, the universe's matter came into being. Thus, logically, it follows that nothing we observe about physical matter can possibly tell us anything about the necessarily supernatural cause of the Big Bang. And this is what the BBC source is getting to. Despite the fact that scientists have inferred quite a bit about what happened after the Big Bang, science cannot possibly answer the who or why questions regarding the occurrence of the Big Bang. Those are ultimately questions outside the realm of science that properly belong to religion and philosophy. Regarding the second point, at least according to my textbook, a good cutoff for when, after the Big Bang, we start to have significant inferences about what must have happened is at 10-38 seconds after the Big Bang, which is the beginning of the Electroweak Era. I disagree with your statement that the Big Bang hypothesis "put[s] God on the shelf"; rather, it explains how God is ultimately the Creator of all things visible and invisible. GregG 15:57, 2 May 2012 (EDT)
I think you made several valid points but still there are aspects I have trouble to come to grips with. As for non-vs.- contradictory statements, in particular there were expressed like this:
  • A. "The Big Bang [is] a well-tested scientific theory"
  • B. "The very beginning of the Big Bang was the single biggest mystery"; "[we have the instant of the Big Bang as] a missing piece beyond physical law"; "we have no understanding of how to change from collapsing to expanding";
We should try to discuss this in the context of the Hearsay society article which identifies two approaches:
  • A. To find a reference for an argument/conclusion and shift the intellectual responsibility elsewhere whether it makes sense
  • B. To evaluate the argument using your own faculties of reason and decide for yourself - an absolutely basic part of human inquiry, discouraged at Wikipedia (at least according to authors/supporters of this Hearsay society article)
If you choose option A, you just state things ("my textbook says", "scientists say") and you are done. However if you regard option B for more intellectually honest, you should perhaps be alarmed beforehand, perhaps Qs like this should pop up in your head: How can be scientific theory well-tested if its beginning is the biggest mystery, isn't it perhaps more correct to say that some particular phenomenon out of "the full range of phenomena" like expanding universe which is backed up by interpretation of Hubble law is inferred? How can we test things in origin science at all? Isn't it with origin science (which tries to study the remaining evidence of past events and measure interpretations by their explanatory power) so that we can give only plausible answers rather than definitive ones? How do we know that something was collapsing and at the same time that it was beyond physical law? How do we know that nothingness beyond physical law took exactly 10-38seconds after the Big Bang? Why not 10-42? Isn't it just bare assertion of arbitrary number promoted as secular myth (to borrow the expression from David Berlinski, stated on different occasion)? Am I given any explanation for that figure or am I expected to take it with blind faith, based on kind of "blinding with science" -type of argument? To understand my point better, it would be maybe worth of reading book of Daniel from Bible. There was a group of people, referred there in as "the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers" at one place or "the wise men" at other, who had been overly confident that they would be able to explain certain things: "we will interpret it", even without knowing yet what that thing was about. But later they were sadly disillusioned that not all people are so easy to accept cheap propositions as they expected.
IMHO these "both" statements are much closer to the 73 -odd/even example than to 1-prime/composite example and it would be more appropriate to state that in origin science we cannot test things at all, we can only infer things and then correctly attribute what phenomena were inferred based on what assumptions and observations, and what are strongest contra-arguments for such interpretation (at least that was the style of Aquinas). It could be also stated that some people really believe the big bang can be tested, and I'm sure they would be honored at Wikipedia, but they provide only their claims as an evidence and that does not cost anything as a burden of proof. (cf. "Working with Prof. Edward Farhi and others, Guth has explored the question of whether it is in principle possible to ignite inflation in a hypothetical laboratory, thereby creating a new universe. The answer is a definite maybe. They showed that it cannot be done classically, but with quantum tunneling it might be theoretically possible. The new universe, if it can be created, would not endanger our own universe. Instead it would slip through a wormhole and rapidly disconnect completely.") By the way, is "in principle possible", "theoretically possible" the same as "definite maybe", contradicting, or "really not contradictory at all, but rather [they] are two separate perspectives on the proposed event that scientists say [something about]"? Is it good logic: "They showed that it cannot be done classically" =>hence it implies => "with quantum tunneling it might be theoretically possible"? Is there then anything impossible at all nowadays? (cf."until recently, great physicists have attempted with dignity to respect the distinction between what is known and what is not. ...contemporary cosmologists compromised their scrupulousness and feel free to say anything that pops into their heads, uncorrected by any criticism beyond the trivial"-Berlinski)
  • If you disagree with my statement, you should keep it in the original context, which was that the idea about the Big Bang putting God on shelf is viewpoint wished for at Wikipedia (at least by my experience), if you disagree, just try it out to present there your viewpoint that "rather, [Big Bang] explains how God is ultimately the Creator of all things visible and invisible" and let me know afterwards how it went.--AK 13:56, 3 May 2012 (EDT)
One more interesting comparison:
  • Wikipedia: "The Big Bang is a well-tested scientific theory which is widely accepted within the scientific community ..."
  • Philosophy of Science[1]: "historical researches cannot directly test their hypotheses by means of controlled experiments"--AK 17:40, 9 May 2012 (EDT)


  1. Cleland, C.E. (September 2002). "Methodological and Epistemic Differences between Historical Science and Experimental Science" (PDF). Philosophy of Science 69: 474–496. Retrieved 25.1.2012. "Insofar as they are concerned with identifying particular past causes of current phenomena, historical researches cannot directly test their hypotheses by means of controlled experiments.". 

Conservapedia Commandments

I noticed that after "The online encyclopedia Wikipedia is fundamentally based on a form of hearsay. Assertions made in Wikipedia articles are required to be supported by references", a user has added "(it should be noted that this is also one of the Conservapedia Commandments)". That's not quite correct - certainly everything posted here must be true and verifiable, but the difference is that we admit that some truths can be verifiable without needing a reference to an external source. For example, this includes truths which:

  • are self-evident
  • no one would seriously dispute in good faith
  • synthesise or sum up material included elsewhere in the article in question
  • are logical inferences from known facts
  • result from applications of generally agreed conservative principles to facts and events.

This difference is fundamental to Conservapedia. See Conservapedia:How_Conservapedia_Differs_from_Wikipedia (point 14). So I'm going to correct this misunderstanding by removing the addition from this page.--CPalmer 04:22, 15 June 2012 (EDT)

Just as an extra point, the fact that a user could think, in all good faith, that "true and verifiable" is synonymous with "corroborated by an external reference" just shows how insidious and far-reaching the hearsay society's (and Wikipedia's) influence is!--CPalmer 09:18, 15 June 2012 (EDT)

Thank you

I congratulate the authors on this article. I am a scientist and it has always worried me that Wikipedia regards some scientific discoveries as "fact" and labels them "settled science". A true scientist is humble enough to admit that he or she does not know everything and there is always more to be discovered. Desmonduk (talk) 16:45, 31 March 2016 (EDT)