[Buddha-l] Wikia Buddhism page

Erik Hoogcarspel jehms at xs4all.nl
Tue Jan 8 06:54:19 MST 2008

Richard Hayes schreef:
> On Monday 07 January 2008 09:41, Erik Hoogcarspel wrote:
>> I just found a new buddhism information website. It's free for anyone to
>> participate. Wikia is commercial, but the positive side is that it tries
>> to break the monopoly of top down search engines.
>> http://buddhism.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page
> This wiki phenomenon is fascinating to watch as it evolves. As a teacher, I am 
> sometimes discouraged by the fact that so many students nowadays go no 
> further than Dr Google and Professor Wiki for their information on any topic. 
> On the other hand, as a deeply opinionated and totally closed-minded advocate 
> of open-source software, I have come to appreciate the amount of useful 
> documentation on open-source software that is readily available on the 
> Internet. 
I share your interest in this. It seems that knowledge is becoming 
information. Knowledge is true which is garanteed by the authority, the 
source. Information is just there and may become true or may not. It can 
change from one to the other.
> When it comes to controversial issues, on the other hand, wiki articles are to 
> be taken with liberal pinches of salt. 
I have seen many examples other then the one you mention. Often politics 
is involved, see f.i. the row about the Arian Invasion Theory. It makes 
you realise that truth and power are closely related.
> More and more one finds a little tag on Wikipedia articles saying "The 
> neutrality of this article is disputed." (Indeed, I recently saw such a tag 
> on the Wikipedia entry for the word "wiktionary".) I'm not sure what effect 
> such tags have on people. When I see such a tag, my reaction tends to be "So 
> what else is new? What of any interest in this world is NOT disputed by 
> someone?" 
Nietzsche called this the perspectivism of truth, Buddhists may call 
this samv.rtisatya.
> As an unreconstructed academic, and a very mediocre one at that, I personally 
> find it healthy that there are fora (that's what hard-assed academics call 
> forums) such as Wikipedia on which people can experiment with non-standard 
> views about things. For my entire academic career I have been appalled by the 
> way that certain received views on things go unchallenged and gain a momentum 
> as they are passed on from one generation to another. While the academic 
> world tends to love to see itself as populated by hardy individualists who 
> think for themselves and come to conclusions only after examining all the 
> relevant evidence and have no fear of offering radical critiques of 
> established dogmas, the truth is that most of the academic world is in fact 
> populated by timid sheep who cower at the mere suspicion of peer disapproval. 
> Academics who toe party lines are seen as truth-telling sages, and they get 
> the most prestigious jobs and the most lucrative grants and regular 
> promotions, while those who challenge the doctrines pushed by the big names 
> in any given field tend to publish and then perish. If you want to eat and 
> live with a roof over your head, then say what everyone else in the academic 
> world believes. (Just ask any academic who's still on buddha-l.) For the 
> dissidents in the ranks of academia, Wikipedia has the potential of being a 
> venue for their views, if only because the big names are so uninterested in 
> Wikipedia articles that they won't bother to obliterate them. (The 
> obliteration comes from fanatics like the Dark Zen crew, not from professors 
> at Oxford and Harvard.)
An excellent example of Thomas Kuhn's theory of scientific progress (or 
the lack thereof in normal circumstances). I think you're right when you 
suggest that the borderline between official science and alternative 
speculation becomes ever more blurred, both inspiring each other.
> Anyway, thanks for the reference to the Wikia Buddhism page, Erik. It will be 
> interesting to see how that one evolves.
You're welcome, Richard.



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