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> Institute Of Network Cultures, Koolaid Is The New “Kritikal”
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thekohser
post Wed 28th July 2010, 9:55am
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QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Tue 27th July 2010, 11:22pm) *

Zoom Messy Fooey !!! — They don't allow links in comments or even simple HTML — how backwoods is that!?

Jon hrmph.gif


Extremely irritating. Supposedly, a new Examiner interface is just around the corner, so I hope that it will tolerate links in comments. (Although, I can see why this feature was disabled to prevent spammers from taking over.)
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Jon Awbrey
post Wed 28th July 2010, 4:48pm
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QUOTE

“There is only one way to turn signals into information, through interpretation”, wrote the computer critic Joseph Weizenbaum. As Google's hegemony over online content increases, argues Geert Lovink, we should stop searching and start questioning.


But not too much


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Jon Awbrey
post Thu 29th July 2010, 4:08am
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Dork Fibber

QUOTE

According to media critic Geert Lovink, the Internet is being closed off by corporations and governments intent on creating a business and information environment free of dissent. Calling himself a radical media pragmatist, Lovink envisions an Internet culture that goes beyond the engineering culture that spawned it to bring humanities, user groups, social movements, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), artists, and cultural critics into the core of Internet development.

MIT Press Blurb for Dark Fiber (2002) by Geert Lovink

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thekohser
post Thu 29th July 2010, 4:40am
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QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Thu 29th July 2010, 12:08am) *

Dork Fibber

QUOTE

According to media critic Geert Lovink, the Internet is being closed off by corporations and governments intent on creating a business and information environment free of dissent. Calling himself a radical media pragmatist, Lovink envisions an Internet culture that goes beyond the engineering culture that spawned it to bring humanities, user groups, social movements, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), artists, and cultural critics into the core of Internet development.

MIT Press Blurb for Dark Fiber (2002) by Geert Lovink




Wow... the hypocrisy of it all. That's very telling.
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Jon Awbrey
post Thu 29th July 2010, 12:04pm
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QUOTE(thekohser @ Thu 29th July 2010, 12:40am) *

QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Thu 29th July 2010, 12:08am) *

Dork Fibber

QUOTE

According to media critic Geert Lovink, the Internet is being closed off by corporations and governments intent on creating a business and information environment free of dissent. Calling himself a radical media pragmatist, Lovink envisions an Internet culture that goes beyond the engineering culture that spawned it to bring humanities, user groups, social movements, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), artists, and cultural critics into the core of Internet development.

MIT Press Blurb for Dark Fiber (2002) by Geert Lovink



Wow … the hypocrisy of it all. That's very telling.


It's hard for me to figure out what happened here. We're talking about a well-respected author who obviously had some sort of critical vision — once upon a time. How did he fall into such a state of irreflection that he can't see what he did?

Is is just that Jimbo's “Sub-Midas Touch” turns everything he touches to Hypochrysy?

Is it just that Geert has staked his career on the supposition that Wikipedia is something Wonderful And Complex And New And Radically Different (WACANARD) — when anyone who knows anything can tell it's something Plain And Simple And Really Same Old Same Old (PASARSOSO)?

Time … Will … I … Reckon … Tell … (TWIRT) …

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Jon Awbrey
post Thu 29th July 2010, 2:16pm
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Here's a possible clue …

Maybe CPOV's e-radical reason — whose critique I e-lide … for now — has something to do with Geert Lovink's vision of Zero Comments?

Maybe 0 (M-P-T) could e-lighten us with a comment on that?

Or Nought …

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Jon Awbrey
post Thu 29th July 2010, 5:52pm
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It looks like we need a disambiguation page …

Yahoo! Search for “CPOV” gives this near the top — CPOV

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Jon Awbrey
post Mon 2nd August 2010, 1:34pm
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Just by way of trying to figure out what happened here …

Let's go back to what was evidently the last straw for the “C” in CPOV, namely, the topic of “The Wikipedia Cult”. This topic was raised by Juliana Brunello, one of the staff at The Institute of Network Cultures (no, the other TINC), and it began with this post:

QUOTE

<CPOV> The Wikipedia Cult
Juliana Brunello <juliana at networkcultures.org>
Mon May 31 12:33:36 CEST 2010

This is an interesting interview that compares Wikipedia to a cult. Sam Vaknin sees Wikipedia through a very negative lens, but I did agree with some of the arguments (though I believe his arguments are mostly exaggerated). I would like to read your opinions on that.

http://globalpolitician.com/26423-wikipedia-cult-jimmy-wales

Juliana

Institute of Network Cultures
HvA Interactive Media
www.networkcultures.org

Juliana Brunello, 31 May 2010

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Moulton
post Mon 2nd August 2010, 2:09pm
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Jon, did the CPOV dialog proceed to a review of Vaknin's follow-up to comments and criticisms arising in the aftermath of his interview with Daniel Tynan?

QUOTE(Is Wikipedia a Cult? Wikipedia strikes back)
Is Wikipedia a Cult? Wikipedia strikes back

Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/16/2010

In response to Dan Tynan's excellent article about Wikipedia , Wikipedia struck back, in an article typically riddled with blatant lies and not so subtle distortions (see the text below). ...
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Jon Awbrey
post Mon 2nd August 2010, 2:20pm
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QUOTE(Moulton @ Mon 2nd August 2010, 10:09am) *

Jon, did the CPOV dialog proceed to a review of Vaknin's follow-up to comments and criticisms arising in the aftermath of his interview with Daniel Tynan?

QUOTE(Is Wikipedia a Cult? Wikipedia strikes back)

Is Wikipedia a Cult? Wikipedia strikes back

Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. — 6/16/2010

In response to Dan Tynan's excellent article about Wikipedia , Wikipedia struck back, in an article typically riddled with blatant lies and not so subtle distortions (see the text below). …



No, the posts that followed in May 2010 were these:
  1. Joseph Reagle — cited Wikipedia's Own “Cult Checklist”
  2. Jon Awbrey — cited Wikipedia Review on “Single Mad Belief”
  3. Nathaniel Tkacz — “i don' think the question of whether wikipedia is or is not a cult is a
    useful one.”
  4. Jon Awbrey
    QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ 31 May 2010, CEST 16:06)

    Nathaniel & All,

    The good of a concept or a term of description, more or less following Kant and Peirce, is that it unifies a manifold of sense impressions.

    As it happens, my work on social and technical means of facilitating inquiry led me study the factors that "block inquiry", in other words, that inhibit critical reflective thinking, long before I ever encountered the worldview of the Wikipedian true believer. One of the telltale signs of a closed belief system that I kept noticing was one that I dubbed the "cul-de-sac" — rhymes with "cultist act". This is any plank of a belief platform that keeps those who stand on it from reflecting critically on its fundamental structures and evaluating their suitability for the espoused common purpose.

    For my part, I am skeptical of the hypothesis that “Peter Damian” asserted to lead off that sample thread — I don't think I'd trace every deleterious effect of the Wikipedia Complex to a “single” mad belief, but I can see some sense in trying to unify the manifold of otherwise senseless impressions.

    Jon

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Moulton
post Mon 2nd August 2010, 4:49pm
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Jon, your academic work following up on Kant and Peirce devising "a concept or term of description that unifies a manifold of sense impressions" concords with my own work on modeling or characterizing a system. I don't use the same vocabulary terms as you. My terminology comes from the fields of Systems Theory, Systems Science, and Systems Modeling, as pioneered by those who, some 60 years ago, called their work "Cybernetics." But we fundamentally have been using the same tools for thought.

I am perplexed by the recurring observation that these reflective inquiry processes keep getting halted, just as we are converging to a deeper and more profound insight, model, or understanding of the rascally beast we are seeking to tame.
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Jon Awbrey
post Mon 2nd August 2010, 5:18pm
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QUOTE(Moulton @ Mon 2nd August 2010, 12:49pm) *

Jon, your academic work following up on Kant and Peirce devising "a concept or term of description that unifies a manifold of sense impressions" concords with my own work on modeling or characterizing a system. I don't use the same vocabulary terms as you. My terminology comes from the fields of Systems Theory, Systems Science, and Systems Modeling, as pioneered by those who, some 60 years ago, called their work "Cybernetics". But we fundamentally have been using the same tools for thought.

I am perplexed by the recurring observation that these reflective inquiry processes keep getting halted, just as we are converging to a deeper and more profound insight, model, or understanding of the rascally beast we are seeking to tame.


The variable of state that comes into play at this juncture is called by many names, the top three being Doubt, Entropy, Uncertainty. Peirce observed that Inquiry begins with the “Irritation of Doubt”, a mentally distressing state that we launch into inquiry for the sake of avoiding, if not now then maybe at a future date. But inquiry tends be a backtrack process, recurrently requiring us to relearn things that we thought we had learned well enough already, and that requires us to regress a bit, to re-experience irritating doubts that we dreamed we were well quit of. People tend to demur at that.

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Moulton
post Mon 2nd August 2010, 5:26pm
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What Peirce called “Irritation of Doubt” I would call Cognitive Dissonance, that inchoate feeling that one's mental model or concept is incomplete or incorrect, perhaps even internally inconsistent.
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Jon Awbrey
post Mon 2nd August 2010, 7:12pm
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Incidentally, here is the brand of Pøst-Mødish Peacøck Pøøfery that passes for a “Critical Point Of View”™ vis-a-vis Wikipedia on the “New, Impurged CPOV List”™, now that its critics have been “de-opened” from the “open”™ diablog —

QUOTE

Niesyto, Johanna <niesyto at fk615.uni-siegen.de>
Mon Aug 2 16:24:46 CEST 2010

[[Wikipedia:Ein kritischer Standpunkt]]
September 25-26, 2010
University Library Leipzig, Germany

On 25th and 26th of September 2010 the German speaking conference [[Wikipedia:Ein kritischer Standpunkt]] ([[Wikipedia:Critical Point of View]]) will take place at the University Library in Leipzig, Germany. The conference will gather Wikipedia researchers, critics as well as community-members from the German-speaking world for an interdisciplinary debate. In particular the significance of Wikipedia for education, politics, culture and society will be discussed.

Wikipedia is one of the largest, if not the largest, self-contained general knowledge reference of our time. It offers critical insights into the contemporary status of knowledge, its organizing principles, function, impact, production styles, mechanisms for conflict resolution, and relation to power (re-)constitution. New strategic and tactical operations of knowledge and power are clearly at work through Wikipedia. Of specific interest is the concept of 'the open', which is ambiguous within the social formation(s) constituted by Wikipedia, serving as both a rallying concept of digital democracy enthusiasts and as an ideoglical nodal point masking new agonistic encounters.

In both material and perceptional ways, every new technology modifies the conditions of possibility for knowledge. The logic of technologies bleeds into the very structures and organizing principles of knowledge, and today both medium and message may reflect the ideas of the (organized) network, multitude, or the Deleuzian machine. It is through a selected mix of technological and normative conditions — the distributed architecture of the net, the Wiki software platform, commons-based property licenses and the FLOSS zeitgeist — that Wikipedia as the encyclopedia of the information age emerges, both continuing and transforming the Enlightenment encyclopedic impulse or will to know.

The main topics of the conference are Wikipedia & The Politics of Open Knowledge, Digital Governance, and Wikipedia & Education. These topics derive from the significance of the online encyclopedia in the reconfiguration of knowledge (re-)production and its consequences for the public, architectures of participation, and political education in a media democracy. Alongside presentations of established scholars like Christian Stegbauer, Peter Haber, Rainer Hammwöhner, Ramón Reichert, and Ulrich Johannes Schneider, the programme of the conference will consist of a panel discussion of Wikipedia community-members and critics, as well as Wikipedia-workshops and a research network meeting.

The research network meeting addresses Wikipedia researchers to discuss their current research and draft new research projects. Especially aimed for young academics, the research network meeting is planned as open space, allowing its participants to actively engage in the event as questions and topics are shaped and discussed among the group. To participate, we ask for a registration by email not later than August 31, 2010 to info at cpov.de. Please include a description of your research interest or abstract of your research on one page and tell us, if you are interested to make a short presentation.

The Leipzig conference continues the series of international conferences of the Wikipedia Research Initiative Critical Point of View from January and March 2010 in Bangalore (India) and Amsterdam (Netherlands). It is hosted by cultiv — Gesellschaft für internationale Kulturprojekte e.V. in cooperation with the Research Initiative Critical Point of View and funded by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung.

The conference will be open to the public. There will be no participation fee. Conference language is German.

For further information please visit the conference website: www.cpov.de

Deadline for the Registration for the network meeting: August 31, 2010

Concept and Editorial board: Geert Lovink, Johanna Niesyto and Andreas Möllenkamp

Contact
cultiv
Gesellschaft für internationale Kulturprojekte e.V.
Bernhard-Göring-Str. 65
D-04107 Leipzig
Tel. +49-341-2228893
Email: info at cpov.de
www.cpov.de

Johanna Niesyto, 02 Aug 2010


Try not to bust a gut lolling …

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Jon Awbrey
post Mon 2nd August 2010, 8:54pm
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Just by way of trying to figure out what happened here (cont.) …The next post on “The Wikipedia Cult” thread was by Seth Finkelstein —

QUOTE

> nathaniel tkacz
> i don' think the question of whether wikipedia is or is not a cult
> is a useful one. what is there to add by calling it a cult?

Demystification.

I've been saying "Wikipedia is a cult" for years now, including in some columns I wrote for the Guardian newspaper, for example:

Inside, Wikipedia is more like a sweatshop than Santa's workshop

“One subtext of the Wikipedia hype is that businesses can harvest an eager pool of free labour, disposable volunteers who will donate effort for the sheer joy of it. The fantasy is somewhat akin to Santa's workshop, where little elves work happily away for wages of a glass of milk and a cookie. Whereas the reality is closer to an exploitative cult running on sweatshop labour.”

The point is a very concise way (four words) of conveying an alternate explanation for Wikipedia's functioning, against the immense marketing of it as a mystery created by magical technology ("wikis" and "The Internet").

I get a lot of flack from describing Wikipedia as a cult. One common response is a strawman argument, something like: Cults are by definition extreme apocalyptic, murderous, or suicidal, organizations. Wikipedia does not fit that definition. Therefore Wikipedia is not a cult.

But I'd say such a definition would be drawn too narrowly. Extreme cults tends to be self-limiting, precisely because they are too dysfunctional to survive (mass suicide is not good for organizational continuity).

Then sometimes people want me to give an extensive theory, which will handle all cases and examples they can imagine. That's very tedious.

The basic point is that "cult" is a extremely illuminating way of analyzing how Wikipedia works (or doesn't), in terms of social dynamics. Especially in the face of much pressure to view it as some sort of unique technological entity which should not be connected to many well-known aspects of group psychology.

Seth Finkelstein Consulting Programmer <sethf at sethf.com> http://sethf.com
See Guardian columns at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/sethfinkelstein

Seth Finkelstein, 03 June 2010, CEST 15:04

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Moulton
post Mon 2nd August 2010, 9:01pm
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QUOTE(Seth Finklesten paraphrases his critics)
Cults are by definition extreme apocalyptic, murderous, or suicidal, organizations. Wikipedia does not fit that definition. Therefore Wikipedia is not a cult.

I have found Wikiculture to be apocalyptic, annihilative, and self-defeating.

I can provide details (and evidence), but I suspect everyone here has already seen it.
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Jon Awbrey
post Mon 2nd August 2010, 9:24pm
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QUOTE(Moulton @ Mon 2nd August 2010, 5:01pm) *

QUOTE(Seth Finklesten paraphrases his critics)

Cults are by definition extreme apocalyptic, murderous, or suicidal, organizations. Wikipedia does not fit that definition. Therefore Wikipedia is not a cult.


I have found Wikiculture to be apocalyptic, annihilative, and self-defeating.

I can provide details (and evidence), but I suspect everyone here has already seen it.


When it comes to cult dynamics, early diagnosis is vastly preferable to vain attempts at the post-apoxalyptic cure of souls after the Reign Of Terror (ROT) has already run its course.

So I hope people will excuse us for trying to be as pro-gnostic as possible, but all the early symptoms of cult-think are there.

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Jon Awbrey
post Tue 3rd August 2010, 2:14pm
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Just by way of trying to figure out what happened here (cont.) …Dramatis personæ
  • JA = Jon Awbrey
  • MO = Mathieu ONeil
  • NT = Nathaniel Tkacz
  • SF = Seth Finkelstein
  • TK = Thomas Koenig
The next few posts on “The Wikipedia Cult” thread were as follows —
  1. Nathaniel Tkacz
    QUOTE

    if the term "cult" is too attractive to be left aside, i think it would be useful to pose the question: how does wikipedia transform the notion of cult? one thing about cults historically, for example, is that almost everyone who isn't in the cult thinks the cult is crazy. with wikipedia this isn't that case. only a very small minority of people are critical of wikipedia and most think it's great (regardless of what you or i think). this kind of thought experiment seems more interesting for me.

    regarding your description of wikipedia as exploitative and akin to sweatshop labour, i have to strongly disagree. the realities of sweatshop labour are a million miles from wikipedia. last time i checked people weren't committing suicide on a weekly basis after contributing to wikipedia, as is the case in the ifactories. people who contribute to wikipedia aren't in free trade zones, or living in cramped dorms on company grounds. even if these comments were merely stylistic, think these kinds of claims are way over the top and disrespectful to actual factory workers.

    it seems to me that thinking about the work/contribution/labour process of wikipedia should begin with the debates around playbour. is anyone writing about work in wikipedia on this list?

    what is clear is that modern, industrial paradigms that clearly demarcate between work and leisure no longer apply.

  2. Thomas Koenig
    QUOTE

    The term "cult" might be popular in the press, but it has not caught on in the social sciences, for very good reasons. The best definition I have come across is by William Bainbridge and Rodney Stark, who define cults as groups with novel belief systems (as opposed to sects, which are splinter groups from larger religions). Other definitions include a tension with wider society. Neither is true of Wikipedia, nor is it (for most people, maybe the inner circle of 500–1000 Wikip/media regulars) an ideology that permeates all aspects of life.

    You can't "demystify" something with a fairly mysterious concept, such as a cult.

  3. Seth Finkelstein
    QUOTE

    NT: if the term "cult" is too attractive to be left aside, i think it would be useful to pose the question: how does wikipedia transform the notion of cult?

    Easy — it's the first truly successful *online* cult. This is where there really is something interesting going on — not unknown in the abstract, but new implementations are possible due to the scaling and efficiencies from electronic communications.

    For example, where physical cults may create alienation and isolation by trying to control the person's environment, Wikipedia can work by funneling in those who are *already* alienated and isolated in their lives. Now, it's not that physical cults can't recruit. Of course they do. But physical recruitment is a labor-intensive effort (getting someone to stand in an airport or on a streetcorner all day is difficult). If you can "advertise", worldwide — suddenly new methods of getting pre-existing vulnerable people to come to *you* become cost-effective.

    This seems to me so much more helpful in analysis that the standard line of saying a cult is X, and X doesn't fit, therefore …

    [Tedious note: I *did not* say "Every member is alienated and isolated"]

    NT: one thing about cults historically, for example, is that almost everyone who isn't in the cult thinks the cult is crazy.

    I'd say that's somewhat begging the age-old question of the difference between "cult" and "acceptable religion".

    NT: with wikipedia this isn't that case. only a very small minority of people are critical of wikipedia and most think it's great (regardless of what you or i think). this kind of thought experiment seems more interesting for me.

    Indeed, Wikipedia gets good press. So what?

    NT: regarding your description of wikipedia as exploitative and akin to sweatshop labour, i have to strongly disagree. the realities of sweatshop labour are a million miles from wikipedia. [… snip]

    Sigh. The sentence was "Whereas the reality *IS CLOSER TO* an exploitative cult running on sweatshop labour." Not "is exactly and precisely and fits perfectly as".

    People really seems to dislike that sentence. If I wrote something along the lines of "The government of Freedonia is closer to a mafia gang run by a murderous thug, than a happy extended family presided over by a loving patriarch", I don't think I'd get reactions like "The realities of a mafia gang are so different from Freedonia". (though maybe I would, and there's a lesson there)

    NT: what is clear is that modern, industrial paradigms that clearly demarcate between work and leisure no longer apply.

    No, there's now more money to be made trying to convince people to do free work.

    [combining replies]

    TK: The term "cult" might be popular in the press, but it has not caught on in the social sciences, for very good reasons.

    I will provisionally accept your assertion that the term "cult" would be inappropriate in an academic social science paper.

    TK: You can't "demystify" something with a fairly mysterious concept, such as a cult.

    However, here I must disagree, and I believe you are making the perfect the enemy of the good. In the context of opposing technological mystification, I find the imperfect but evocative phrasing of "Wikipedia is a cult" seems to work about as well as can be expected for a concise counter-argument.

  4. Mathieu ONeil
    QUOTE

    One way in which WP might be seen to operate as a cult is in fact common to other online projects (such as free software): it was explicitly set up against a certain way of producing code / culture, i.e. proprietary businesses, such as Britannica etc. So there are enemies which help negatively structure the project. The difference with WP (I think I wrote this a month ago on this very list, could be wrong) is that there anonymity leads to vandalism or manipulation leads to a siege mentality leads to heavy-handed policing leads to cases of injustice or abuses of authority by cliques etc leads to apostates (?) who leave and denounce the project. Plus, there is a charismatic leader who wields enormous power … At the same time I don't know that there is a really coherent belief system shared by members of the so-called Cabal other than to Protect the Project from Evildoers … so not sure if the term "cult" is appropriate as a coherent shared belief system would seem like a pretty necessary element of a cult.

  5. Jon Awbrey
    QUOTE

    Seth's remarks about "pre-existing vulnerable people" tie in with another one of those much-discussed topics at The Wikipedia Review. Many observers have noticed the commonalities that connect 3 types of "usual susceptibles":
    1. the predisposition to become addicted to online role-playing games,
    2. the psychological profile of the typical mark in a confidence game,
    3. the susceptibility to sudden belief system conversion, as in cults.
    The engine that that drives the game forward in all of these cases is an unbridled expectation buried in the psyche of the exploited person, an irrational drive that the exploiter uses to rein and ride the mark.

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Moulton
post Tue 3rd August 2010, 2:37pm
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The "susceptibility to sudden belief system conversion" is the issue that I find most intriguing and perplexing.

It's intriguing because it is seen to actually happen (so we know it's possible).

It's perplexing because the beliefs in question do not necessarily progress towards increasingly accurate ones. The gains in accurate knowledge are neither monotonic nor fluid in time.

As near as I can tell (from recent observations), belief system reversals seem to correspond to guidance from selected mentors whom one respects. Guidance from disrespected sources tends to be rejected, no matter how authoritative or accurate the disrespected source might be.
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Jon Awbrey
post Tue 3rd August 2010, 2:52pm
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QUOTE(Moulton @ Tue 3rd August 2010, 10:37am) *

The "susceptibility to sudden belief system conversion" is the issue that I find most intriguing and perplexing.

It's intriguing because it is seen to actually happen (so we know it's possible).

It's perplexing because the beliefs in question do not necessarily progress towards increasingly accurate ones. The gains in accurate knowledge are neither monotonic nor fluid in time.

As near as I can tell (from recent observations), belief system reversals seem to correspond to guidance from selected mentors whom one respects. Guidance from disrespected sources tends to be rejected, no matter how authoritative or accurate the disrespected source might be.


Once you open your eyes to the presence of the phenomenon, the next couple of questions are:
  • What is the belief that these wannabelievers so desperately wannabelieve?
  • And why?
As for Mentor FX, look to Homer and Freud for guidance.

Just an aside. I did not say “belief system reversals” — whatever those are — though I suppose they could be special cases of conversion experiences.

Jon Awbrey
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