Wednesday, April 21, 2010

So, Unh, What Color Is The Sky On Your World?

Looking for something to post about, I tripped over an article on the horrors of Wikipedia at -- where else? -- HuffPo. Seems (and who could ever, ever have anticipated it in a million, zillion years?) biographies of living persons have become quite a battleground for admirers and detractors of the famous. --Never mind that you can, after all, "open the hood" and read who's saying -- and editing -- what, the young writer thinks it's just awful and people have got to be nicerer.

Hey, I'd love to live in a land of gentle, genteel philosopher-kings myownself -- I just don't much expect it; humans are what we are and spatting is what our species does. Right well, too.

But the comments! The comments are a hoot!

Did you the Earth's blue sky is a purely subjective phenomenon? See here: "Facts are also subjective -- the sky is only blue if you have the correct color receptors in your eye, and the correct wiring in your brain," and here all along I thought it was a matter of what frequencies of light were scattered and/or absorbed by our atmosphere. The more fool I, hey?

Or did you know wingnut trolls labor ceaselessly (and seemingly unopposed) to stick Creationism, anti-unionism and hatred of FDR throughout Wikipedia? I read it on the Innernet, it must be true: "A friend...he was lamenting how right wingers and libertarians have gone wild on wikipedia, framing a huge swathe of the site with a conservative perspective.[...] [T]his bottom-up gaming of the web's history and point of view is a serious top down project, just like is done in Texas with textbooks, and some of the biggest right wing think tanks literally have rooms of interns making postings daily on wikipedia, blogs, etc.."

No doubt those interns labor beneath the yoke and lash of their wicked, cigar-huffing, capitalist overlords; being conservative, they'd've passed on offers of rum and buggery instead of or in addition to the lash (this is also how we can be sure it's not the Royal Navy). And never you mind that this is the same guy who, a few comment earlier, was outraged -- outraged! -- about Thomas Jefferson bein' Wikibio'd as strong and early proponent of "republicanism," (with a small "r"), 'cos that's so, like, partisan. Never mind that he was in favor of moderating direct democracy by means of elected representatives in a manner akin to, say, the "public thing," res publica, of the Roman Republic. The party by that name came along, if I can trust what I've read, rather later, after Rome and Jefferson were both safely dead.

And the purveyors of this level of "fact" are the folks steamin' up over Wikipedia's perceived bias? I guess I should be glad they've not leapt into the fray, preferring to whine on the sidelines; but it does give me to wonder.

8 comments:

Stranger said...

There have always been those who will rewrite history to suit their political aims. In makes them so utterly a victim - which gives them expertise, the more so when they are wrong.

See the history of slavery, the Scots "removals," "Irish slaves in the Caribbean," or the Indian wars for typical examples.

While the Wiki's setup makes burying inconvenient history easier, what I see is the left/minority noisemakers rewriting history to suit their ends - and then bitterly complaining because it's not even further left.

Stranger

AM said...

True history doesn't have a slant, it is simply a record of what happened.

Attributing cause and effect to history is where slant comes into play.

Sigivald said...

That commenter is confusing color qua color (ie, light of a given frequency) with color perception.

Perceptions are necessarily relative.

But "What color is the sky?" does not necessarily mean "what is the label your culture and optical abilities combine to use for the description of that quale?".

It just as reasonably (indeed, if we're going to talk philosophy, far more reasonably) means "Roughly what frequency is the dominant one of the light from the sky, and coincidentally what is the label your culture uses for light of that frequency?"

The difference is, sadly, poorly explained enough in common practice that people don't even realize there is a difference sometimes.

Roberta X said...

Indeed, Sigvald; he or she is one of the vast multitude for whom perception is reality. All their world is subjective, conditional, mutable.

...One reason why, when an irascible Russian emigre was asked the name of her philosophy, she turned immediately to the difference between subjectivity and objectivity -- and identified her side. It may've ended up not quite as expected but at very least for the name and the notion, you've got to hand it to Ayn Rand.

Don said...

Rome isn't dead, though it is reliably reported to smell that way.

Roberta X said...

Not the city, the... H'mm. Polity? Empire? -- But it didn't start out as one. Aw, fooey: at a certain point between Julius Caesar and now, darned near everybody moved away and did other stuff, elsewhere. Sure, they came back (or other people did) and the place has the same name; but they'd rebooted it on new firmware.

;)

Faitmaker said...

Sigivald beat me to it. Being red-green color deficient (color-blind for normal folk), I almost said "but that is right. The color is subjective". And then I thought about it a bit more. The reality is or isn't is not really determined by a person's perception of it. The fact that the sky isn't blue, to me, doesn't mean that it isn't blue. Good post.

Patrick said...

Sigivald beat me to it. Being red-green color deficient (color-blind for normal folk), I almost said "but that is right. The color is subjective". And then I thought about it a bit more. The reality is or isn't is not really determined by a person's perception of it. The fact that the sky isn't blue, to me, doesn't mean that it isn't blue. Good post.