Fri, 15 May 2009
Two people so far have written to warn me that I would regret this once the space aliens come, and I have to go around undoing all my changes. But even completely leaving aside Wikipedia's "Wikipedia is not a crystal ball" policy, which completely absolves me from having to worry about this eventuality, I think these people have not analyzed the situation correctly. Here is how it seems to me.
Consider these example sentences:
There are four possible outcomes for the future:
In cases (1) and (3), both sentences require revision.
In case (4), neither sentence requires revision.
But in case (2), sentence (a) requires revision, while (b) does not. So my change is a potential improvement in a way I had not appreciated.
Also in last week's article, I said it would be nice to find a case where a Wikipedia article's use of "known to man" actually intended a contrast with divine or feminine knowledge, rather than being a piece of inept blather. I did eventually find such a case: the article on runic alphabet says, in part:
In the Poetic Edda poem Rígþula another origin is related of how the runic alphabet became known to man. The poem relates how Ríg, identified as Heimdall in the introduction, ...
I gratefully acknowledge the gift of Thomas Guest. Thank you!