Sunday November 19, 2017
Prolific Wikipedia editor explains how our framing of history can make us more empathetic
more stories from this episode
- How a teen's apparent flashback of childhood abuse set off a debate over repressed memory
- Should we demolish or preserve remaining residential school buildings?
- Rewriting a family's history obscured by anti-Semitism
- Is erasing Lord Jeffrey Amherst's name a way to expose hidden history?
- 'I didn't tell anybody': Why a respected social worker hid her criminal past
- Prolific Wikipedia editor explains how our framing of history can make us more empathetic
- A teacher debunks historical myths to help his students get closer to the truth
- Full Episode
Justin Anthony Knapp doesn't consider himself an expert in anything, but that didn't stop him from becoming the first person to make one million edits to the English-language Wikipedia pages.
He concerns himself with many problems across Wikipedia, including how to frame pages that are part of political disputes, using correct sources, excluding political propaganda and, of course, whether people are using hyphens correctly.
The goal of Wikipedia is to have only objective and verifiable facts featured on its pages, but there are some topics that require some finessing from editors to ensure the page isn't framed in a biased way.
"An example of a values-based or preferences-based dispute was over how to frame and how to name the movement which is associated with conservatism that we might call the 'pro-life movement' or that we might call 'anti-choice'," Justin explains.
"In this case, what ended up happening was there was this sort of compromised name which ended up being the 'anti-abortion movement'."
Justin thinks it's important to draw a distinction between history and historiography and hopes that by making Wikipedia articles as objective and fair as possible, users will be able to understand events and issues from a multitude of perspectives.
"There's a big difference between what really happened and how we frame it. And there's also a big difference between an infinite set of facts which are true and nobody can deny them and what's really important ... the idea is that the facts won't change, the occurrences won't be any different, but maybe we can be more empathetic."