On Wikipedia and Charity

Mark writes, regarding my most recent post on the LDS Hoffman scandal:

hm… Thanks, once again, for the effort and time you put into this. Just one complaint though:

PLEASE don’t use wikipedia to cite sources! I would also recommend using current, up to date, official LDS documents if you really actually want someone to rethink it. Everything else can simply be brushed off as, “Well that’s wikipedia.” or “Well that was a long time ago.”

While we as Catholics can argue history, most other people just don’t think that way, ya know?Just a suggestion.

“what criteria is used, I am not sure”
sounds like good meat for a new post. also, it’ll help your posts grow in charity, for sure. 🙂

pax et bonum.


First, on Wikipedia. I try to cover a lot of subjects, with as much information as I can, while still holding down an 18 hour/week job, and 5 third-year law school classes (including two tax classes, an ethics class, a critical race theory class, and Antitrust – so not easy “senioritis” classes, either). I take certain shortcuts, and Wikipedia is one of them. Still, I’m working on this. For example, the Stefan Aust quote here was something I’d originally found on Wikipedia, but traced to the NY Times easily enough. Besides that, the post in question references Wikipedia, sure, but then says, “And if you don’t trust Wikipedia…” and includes a second source, this time from an official LDS site. An earlier post included JoAnna’s link to the official LDS website as well. I’ll keep making an effort to get credible sources, but there will be times when I fall back to Wikipedia, and leave interested readers the responsibility of following up on it – either due to time restraints, or because Wikipedia puts it most succinctly.

Second, on rejecting information just because it comes from Wikipedia. I agree that someone can do this. But I think when presented with reason to believe x, they should at least find out that x isn’t true before rejecting it out of hand. The major claim Wikipedia was used for here was to say that the LDS First Presidency are all considered “seers, prophets, and revelators.” And since I realized that someone might dismiss it that way, I backed it up with another source. I feel like those two sources work best in harmony, so I left the Wikipedia link in.

Third, on a new post. I’m punting on this one. Defining the precise contours of what the First Presidency is and is not capable of is something best done by a person involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know the basics – they’re considered “seers, propets, and revelators.” If someone within the LDS Church wants to defend why that definition doesn’t protect them from accepting as authentic inauthentic documents, I’ll let them.

Fourt, on charity. This is a fair point. I was annoyed that Maggie accused me of manufacturing the scandal without bothering to type “Mark Hoffman” into Google. I continue to feel that it was an unbecoming move, although her follow-up comment is graceful and heartfelt. But calling her claim that I was manufacturing the scandal “batty” wasn’t any more charitable, either — I’ve fixed it. Thanks for pointing this out to me. If the problems you’re seeing with my posts being charitable are more widespread, please let me know. I sometimes word things more strongly than is necessary to convey my point — the best I can say is, “I’m working on it, please pray for me.”

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