Monthly Archives: January 2012

Vatican Plagiarizes Wikipedia

The Vatican used Wikipedia to obtain biographies for new cardinals. They then sent those bios to the press.

There’s nothing wrong with using Wiki for background information, but it seems really strange that an organization like the Vatican couldn’t have put together short biographies for the press. They could also have abstained from sending any biographies at all. Research is, after all, one of the functions of the press.

What I really don’t like is that the Vatican didn’t bother to properly attribute the biographies until after the fact. Wikipedia is available to most people for information, but it isn’t fair to take the information they offer and act as if you have no responsibility to the author to admit where you got it.

Ultimately, this is just amusing:

In the kind of language not normally used by the Vatican, a Dutch archbishop, William Jacobus Eijk was described as being “one of the most talked about religious men in the country”.

This was because of his “strong leaning towards conservatism, especially with regard to abortion and homosexuality,” the biography said.

A Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said his staff had no advance notice of the names of the new cardinals and had been in a hurry.

They actually passed out biographies about their new cardinals that said things like “‘one of the most talked about religious men in the country'” and “‘strong leaning toward conservatism, especially with regard to abortion and homosexuality’.”

Your staff was in such a hurry, Father Federico Lombardi, that you couldn’t bother to put together original biographies for 22 men? Or, at the very least, cite Wikipedia as your source?

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I’m back!

Hello world!

It’s been a month since I wrote last. Oops. So much for writing nearly every day (which was my goal…). I suppose I should explain what happened – my boyfriend came to visit me and I had final exams, then I drove the 17 hours back to Minnesota and spent two and a half weeks with Brandon at my house, then he left and I had to readjust to not being around him all the time. In addition to that, during the past month I have not been online much at all – there hasn’t been a lot to spur my desire to write on my blog.

I want to suggest that you read this article. Mental health has been a big topic in the secular movement lately. A few brave people suffering from mental illnesses, like depression, have been speaking about their experiences, and a snowball seems to be forming. A happy snowball of people willing to share their difficult experiences of living with depression. It’s a happy snowball because the more people admit that they have dealt with or are currently dealing with mental illness, the more we can break down the stigma attached to it.

There are several people in my life that suffer from depression. I love them very much. It is very difficult to watch depression take its toll and know that I am powerless to stop it for them. I can support them, of course, and I do my best, but I don’t think most people realize that depression isn’t just being sad or being sad on steroids. You can’t just “cheer-up” a depressed individual. It’s hard to watch your loved ones go through it, and it’s even harder knowing that what they are going through is a million times worse than what you feel watching it.

Depression is quite a serious illness. It can impair your ability to function in social situations as well as in professional and academic situations. I’ve seen depression destroy a woman’s drive to succeed and tear down her knowledge of herself. I’ve seen it prevent people from taking chances on things they really should go for. I’ve also seen it prevent people from being open and honest about their experiences because they are afraid of the stigma attached to their illnesses.

Mental illness is not an issue that should be examined just by the secular community. Everyone needs to be educated about the reality of mental illness so we can tear down the stigma and negativity attached to these issues and lessen the burden that sufferers deal with. The diseases are bad enough by themselves, we don’t need to pile societal pressures on top of them.

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