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Posts Tagged ‘honesty

Making an information source reliable – Revipedia

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Moldbug posted an idea in 2008 in response to the hype surrounding the Ron Paul campaign. Revipedia would basically be Wikipedia, except more reliable. Wikipedia isn’t reliable because its authors regularly cite University and NGO studies as “proofs”, when these studies are biased in favor of public policy and donors respectively. Here’s Moldbug:

You need to build a Web site that anyone with a screen and a mouse can click on, and get an accurate understanding of reality, including all the bits of history, government, economics, science and current events that Washcorp doesn’t want you to know. With a 5-minute overview for casual readers, and enough depth that a PhD with a standard Washcorp education will come away at least gritting his teeth.

You need to hire Steve Sailer and Michael Totten and Greg Cochran and Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Steve McIntyre and Jeffrey Rogers Hummel and Razib Khan and Michael Yon and Jörg Guido Hülsmann. Or at least people who are at least as smart, at least as knowledgeable, and at least as expressive as the above.

You need to produce a coherent corpus of authoritative information, a la Diderot, not just a random jumble of essays. You need to crowdsource, but not without editorial control, so that Conquest’s Second Law does not do its thing. You need a place that anyone who speaks English can go to find out what is actually going on in the world, and update that knowledge every day. And above all, you need to be right. The task of replacing Washcorp’s pile of nonsense with some other pile of nonsense is simply not solvable.

And then you need to wait ten or twenty years. Because this stuff doesn’t happen overnight. Your accurate description of reality has to become more fashionable than the official “mainstream” truth. Fortunately, the latter is extremely boring, chock-full of pretentious cant and intentional obfuscation, and often transparently self-contradictory. But you also have to be more fashionable than all your “alternative” competitors (see under: Alex Jones), which is definitely nontrivial. Too bad. It has to be done.

The way to defeat a massarchy is to create and propagate a credible alternate reality that outcompetes the official information network. Fifteen years ago, the propagation part was almost impossible. Today it is trivial. All that’s left is the creation, and I bet it could be done in half Cato’s budget. Bored billionaires of Plainland, you have nothing to lose but your Washcorp. Why not give it a shot?

I like this idea a LOT, but I think there’s one problem: Revipedia’s interests. Any reader will think, “Gee, Revipedia sounds like a good idea, but what proof is there that it’s really truth?” I thought of one idea while brushing my teeth.

Anyone who steps into Revipedia’s office to apply for a job, purchases stock, becomes an editor, or is affiliated with Revipedia in any way has a bias about Revipedia. So, Revipedia adopts a policy where as soon as a new relationship is established Revipedia is the first to create a Revi entry on the person and fill it with as much truth, dirt, and ugly reality that it can possibly dig up. The person is free to dispute the claims, but Revipedia will not take sides on the issue. It can do this before any other news outlet even catches wind of the new relationship. This not only makes Revipedia totally trustworthy, but it incentivizes bad people to stay away.

This idea may also discourage funding, but the only funding that Revipedia needs will come from people who want to further the mission, which fails as soon as one person is treated differently. This makes Revipedia totally secure and reliable, which creates a good precedent for Revipedia: funding only comes when Revipedia is truthful.

I always say you need to make fun of yourself before anyone else does. It renders your opponents’ weapons useless and makes them an open target. So even if the idea doesn’t apply to Revipedia, it’s decent advice anyway.


Written by xout

August 18, 2010 at 12:36 pm