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Jacy Reese (born Jacy Anthis)?

October 26th, 2019
giving  [html]
Yesterday I noticed that Wikipedia:Jacy Reese doesn't mention anywhere that until recently he went by Jacy Anthis. Thinking this was an oversight, I looked up the relevant section in the Manual of Style and saw:

In some cases, subjects have had their full names changed at some point after birth. In these cases the birth name should be given in the lead as well.

So I edited the page to add it, changing it from:

Jacy Reese is a writer, social
scientist, and co-founder of Sentience Institute.


Jacy Reese (born Jacy
Anthis) is a writer, social scientist, and co-founder of Sentience

Then I thought to look at the talk page, to see whether maybe there was a reason it didn't already give a birth name. It turns out there's been extensive discussion on this, as people keep noticing that his birth name is missing, adding it, and then others removing it for not being verifiable. Looking back I see:

The people adding his birth name are doing it because it's "obvious", sometimes giving citations of his earlier use of "Jacy Anthis", and the people reverting it are pointing out that Wikipedia's rules for Biographies of living persons are really very strict. These rules began after the Seigenthaler biography incident where someone put false information in Seigenthaler's wikipedia article, and are a sensible response to how false information about someone on Wikipedia can be very damaging.

After my edit was reverted I looked around to see if I could find better sources for this, and found:

  • A 2015 Animal Charity Evaluators Facebook post saying "In our most recent blog post Jacy Anthis summarized his essay on how the Animal Rights movement can use confrontation, consumer action and triggering events to help non-human animals," and linking to a blog post that now has a "Jacy Reese" byline:

  • His 2015 speech at the EA Global conference which uses the name "Jacy Anthis":

  • git commits under github.com/jacyreese with "Jacy Anthis" as the author:

  • The peculiar #metoo story of animal activist Jacy Reese, which says "During his sophomore year at Brown, Reese, who then went by his full name, was expelled from the university after being accused of sexual misconduct" and links to a letter he wrote to the school paper. While the HTML version is signed "Jacy '15", the archived print version is signed "Jacy Anthis '15":

  • The above are sources I found that link the two names, but there's also a pattern where in late 2015 we move from many references to "Jacy Anthis" and none to "Jacy Reese", and then suddenly it's the opposite.

Reading Wikipedia's policies, however, none of these meet their definition of a "reliable source" for this information. Taken together you could argue that they're sufficient evidence, but that would be original research and Wikipedia (reasonably!) does not allow that. A post like this one also wouldn't be considered reliable, since it's self-published. It sounds to me like the various editors who have reverted this change have been correct to do so.

It's interesting this minor fact that, to several people including me, has seemed like an obvious omission, doesn't meet Wikipedia's standards for inclusion. But if Wikipedia had less strict standards it would be very hard to keep out false information.

Comment via: facebook, lesswrong

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