Original research and neutrality issues

Original research and neutrality issues

Here is the most recent section of the Talk page for the Wikipedia article titled Perceptual Control Theory. A competent and reasonably temperate wikipedian with the user name Grayfell identifies specific issues to be addressed. I responded on 2 January (my user name is Bn).

Wikipedia defines itself and lays out its ground rules and advice in a set of meta-articles with titles of the form “Wikipedia: <Title of meta-article>”. User Grayfell is helpful in defining Wikipedia terms of art like NPOV (“neutral point of view”) by links to these. Do follow the links as you read his constructive criticism. Then please help make the article better. It is not a good thing for it to have any appearance of being one person’s hobby-horse.

I have previously raised this need, e.g. on CSGnet in 2012.

That section of the Talk page is as follows:

## Original research and neutrality issues

@Bn: Hello. I originally found this article by reviewing external links to the Slate Star Codex blog, which had a minor spam issues previously. After your revert attracted my attention to it again, I have been looking over it more closely, and I see a number of serious problems.

I preface this by saying that identifying some issues is not an endorsement of the rest of the article, it’s merely intended to be a starting point.

The article uses a very positive tone to describe PCT, which fails WP:NPOV. Having the lead imply that this model is efficacious, using terms like “extremely high”, “vanishingly rare”, using the word solution… these fail WP:TONE and potentially WP:PEACOCK. None of these terms are forbidden, but they need to be evaluated in context, and in context, they are non-neutral.

The first subsection, #The place of purpose (intention) and causation in psychology appears to be original research. Citing a source from 1924 is just one red flag that this section was written by a knowledgeable editor attempting to provide an overview they personally thought would be helpful. Obviously this is a reasonable starting point, but it’s not really enough. The issue is that we need to summarize reliable sources in almost all cases. This includes context. For almost all content, sources must directly mention “perceptual control theory” or an uncontested synonym. Any sources which do not use this term should be supported by sources which directly explain the connection to this topic. A very brief summary of background issues based on unrelated sources may be acceptable, but it is never ideal. When background information is necessary, one good solution is to start with links to other Wikipedia articles. Category:Mental processes and Category:Concepts in the philosophy of mind might be helpful.

Also, the title of this subsection is unwieldy, to say the least. Sections should be clear and simple. It will only confuse readers to try and explaining secondary topics like this. This article is not about “the place of purpose (intention) and causation in psychology” nor does PCT have a monopoly on explaining this “purpose”. It is therefor not appropriate for the section to bypass other explanations of this based on WP:OR. Start with what reliable, independent, secondary sources are saying about PCT and work backwards.

I could go on, but perhaps this should go to a noticeboard to that other knowledgeable editors can weigh in. Grayfell (talk) 00:36, 25 November 2020 (UTC)

I've made a start by subordinating the "place of purpose" discussion within the history section, because it really does have to do with historical roots and does not belong as a kind of preface. 'terms like or replacing "extremely high", "vanishingly rare",' etc. or equivalent can be quoted from RS or cited to passages in them to make clear that they are not the product of some editor's enthusiasm. I've asked others to weigh in. Further developments may be delayed depending on ongoing circumstances.

Bn (talk) 19:54, 2 January 2021 (UTC)