Talk:Russell's teapot

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Image (of teapot)Edit

Artistic depiction of a teapot in space

Back in July I added an image of a teapot in space to illustrate this article. I thought it both made the article more visually appealing and instantly conveyed the general idea of the argument ("A teapot? In space? Is this real?"), but last month User:Deacon Vorbis removed it with the comment "not a useful image". Now User:Hyacinth has requested that an image be added to the article. So, let's have a discussion. Why do you think that this article should or should not have an image? —Remember the dot (talk) 05:17, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

A rendering of a teapot in space does nothing to convey the general idea of the argument. You have to read the article before you know what the point of the image is, and by that point, it does nothing to further illustrate the argument. If anything, it only serves to confuse the issue, as a picture of a teapot would provide evidence of its existence, contrary to the point of the argument. Moreover, images are not supposed to make an article more "visually appealing"; they're supposed to illustrate the topic of the article; this one did not. I've also removed the request as being unrealistic. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 05:24, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
By that logic, shouldn't we remove the images from the article God too, since a reader might take a picture of God as evidence of the existence of God, confusing the issue? The same would go for the hypothetical Planet Nine. I am of the opinion that images of things that may or may not exist are helpful for describing the concept to the reader because they visually convey facts like "Russell's teapot is a hypothetical teapot in space" and "Planet Nine is a hypothetical planet in our solar system". The presence of artistic depictions as main images in a variety of articles seems to indicate that the majority of Wikipedians agree. —Remember the dot (talk) 05:46, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
No. First of all, WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS. But more to the point here, images of deities are fine, because they're depictions of how various cultures have imagined those deities. The image of Planet Nine isn't merely decorative – it does convey some information, because it shows the orbit of Neptune in the image, so gives some indication of the distance from the Sun that the planet is hypothesized to be. Et cetera. Russell's teapot isn't a thing that does or doesn't exist; it's a thought experiment/philosophical argument. If you want an image, it has to depict the argument itself, not the arbitrary object that the argument makes use of. I suppose this is possible, but I'd be hesitant to think there's a good way of doing this. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 15:15, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
It's a thought experiment/philosophical argument that exists within in a culture or cultures, much like a diety. Hyacinth (talk) 23:19, 14 December 2019 (UTC)
I don't think there's much point discussing this with Vorbis. He's clearly made up his mind and that's an end to it. The image was appropriate and illustrative but all you're doing now is feeding his ego. The encyclopaedia anyone can vandalise. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:43, 10 February 2020 (UTC)
For the record, the article looked like this before the image (File:Teapot in space.jpg) was removed a month ago. I'm unsure about the issue. While "not a useful image" might apply, that criterion would remove images from a lot of articles. MOS:LEADIMAGE is the guideline. Johnuniq (talk) 06:07, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
Yes, the image does decorate the article. That's not an argument in favor of it. Decoration is not encyclopedic. If it were, we'd add random pretty pictures to every article.
The image of a teapot with stars in the background does absolutely nothing to increase a reader's understanding of the subject. My gut reaction to the version with the image is that I must have taken a wrong turn and ended up at an article about something I can't quite remember from "Hitchhiker's..." or Space Balls, rather than an article about a philosophical thought experiment. - SummerPhDv2.0 06:18, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
So the image caused you to associate the phrase "Russell's teapot" with the idea of a teapot in space. It sounds to me that accurate information was communicated, and you also immediately grasped the absurdity that Russell was going for when he chose to make a space teapot the focus of a thought experiment. —Remember the dot (talk) 08:01, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

If you can't imagine what an image that could be placed on this page might look like you've forgotten about modern search engines. See: [1]. Hyacinth (talk) 01:21, 27 January 2020 (UTC)

I just want to amend what I said below on this topic as I've given it more thought and have been reading the recent comments: I think it would be a good idea to add a picture of a teapot in space. I just don't think we should replace the picture of Russell that is currently in the Info box with such a picture. But adding a picture somewhere in the article would make the article more visually appealing and I think increase the overall quality. One point regarding the "modern search engine" comment: remember that just because an image is online doesn't mean you can grab it and insert it into a Wikipedia article. Wikipedia needs to be more concerned about users doing that than most other sites (e.g., Facebook) because most cites make each user login and click on an agreement relating to intellectual property. So if I post an artist's image on my Facebook page or Twitter feed without her consent she can't sue FB/Twitter she has to sue me but with Wikipedia because it's a crowd sourced cite there are no registered users to sue and an artist could end up suing the Wikipedia foundation. So if someone does use an image make sure it is either from the wikipedia commons (although I've looked and didn't like any of the pictures on the topic currently there) or that you get permission and fill out the appropriate Wikipedia form if you bring in some new image, otherwise it will quickly be removed by an Admin, Wikipedia takes IP issues really seriously. --MadScientistX11 (talk) 16:51, 27 January 2020 (UTC)


What does the wider community think? Should this article include an image? —Remember the dot (talk) 16:10, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

I've removed the RFC tag since this is too vaguely worded. If you notice, I wasn't even completely opposed to the idea of having an image, just the image that was there. I think it's a bit early for an RFC, but if you really want one, we should figure out the scope before actually starting it. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 16:20, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
The whole point of an RFC is to solicit ideas. For example, people might show up and say that they want a diagram of the solar system that includes a teapot instead of a close-up of a teapot, or they might imagine an entirely different kind of image that could work. So unless you already have a specific compromise in mind, please don't remove the RFC tag again. —Remember the dot (talk) 08:08, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
While RFC participants can, and sometimes do, offer novel suggestions, the point of an RFC is not to have an open-ended brainstorming session; it's to settle a content dispute. That's best done with specific options. If the question stays as "Should this article include an image?", and then people just say "yes, it should have an image", that's no help in resolving the dispute. If someone is objecting to the way an RFC is started, the best step forward would be to resolve that objection, not to just try to restart it unchanged. That being said, I could have been a bit more active in suggesting an alternative, so here goes: "Should the lead section have the image of the teapot in space? See § Image above for a copy of the image and some previous discussion." That keeps the scope of the question as narrow as the ultimate dispute that arose here. We can start this in a brand new section, "==Lead image RFC==" complete with a "===Discussion===" subsection that gives anyone with other ideas a place to suggest them. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 13:54, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Thank you for making a specific suggestion. Your proposed wording is fine. Would you like to start the RFC this time? —Remember the dot (talk) 06:28, 5 December 2019 (UTC)
I agree this is not a helpful wording for an RfC. My answer -- well outside the bounds of the question -- is: Sure, if you can find or create an image that adds to understanding of the topic. The teapot is space one is not helpful in this regard as this article is about neither teapots nor space. Had Russell chosen a ball-bearing in the sea, little would change about the article, including the fact that an overly-literal image would not be helpful. - SummerPhDv2.0 20:07, 27 November 2019 (UTC)

An image conveying the topic of the article might consist of two figures, each pointing up at the same location in space, one of them with a speech bubble containing a teapot followed by an exclamation point, the other with a speech bubble containing a teapot with an X drawn over it, also followed by an exclamation point. Largoplazo (talk) 13:44, 30 November 2019 (UTC)

Perhaps a teapot with a big question mark over it. Perhaps a cartoon with a person pointing to a black space in a diagram of the solar system saying, "There's a teapot there. We know this because no one has proven it isn't there," and another panel with a different speaker quoting or paraphrasing Hitchens's razor or Russell. Hyacinth (talk) 01:04, 13 December 2019 (UTC)
Perhaps a depiction of the orbit of the teapot, which is specified as part of Russell's analogy. Hyacinth (talk) 23:22, 14 December 2019 (UTC)

Other options that should be considered are no image, or move the existing/add another image of Bertrand Russell to the top of the lead. Personally I agree that the legacy "teapot in space" image does not promote an understanding of the topic. VQuakr (talk) 01:26, 13 December 2019 (UTC)

I would say include the image above. While I understand and agree that the article is indeed about a philosophical argument and not about a literal teapot in space, the teapot in space is still central to the analogy and something Russell expects the reader to imagine and consider, so featuring an illustration that relates to this seems appropriate. It also seemingly fits the intent of WP:LEADIMAGE by giving readers visual confirmation that they've arrived at the right page — the idea of a spaceborne teapot likely being both memorable and recognizable. (See also articles like Pinocchio paradox, Sorites paradox, etc.). ╠╣uw [talk] 19:00, 13 December 2019 (UTC)

I agree that the article benefits from a picture of a teapot in space. It is exactly relevant to the concept. The image provided is excellent. The fact that the image is well done and therefore "pretty" should not be a mark against it. I agree that it is as relevant as images of God. (Also, there are certainly ball bearings in the sea, so that argument was off target.) Eperotao (talk) 06:21, 23 January 2020 (UTC)

  • Please do not include the pretty picture. As has been pointed out, images on Wikipedia are there to illustrate the topic not to decorate the page, and with this specific example an image would be the antithesis of the concept. The teapot is a metaphor for the unknowable. As for the picture of Planet Nine (mentioned above), I helped to create the "artist's impression" and was horrified that it was subsequently used as the infobox image because, as we all know, stupid people see a 'realistic' picture like that and think that it adds credence to the idea (they think it's "maybe not so hypothetical after all"). I also supplied diagrams of the orbitals that Batygin and Brown used in their analysis, along with the tentative orbit of the hypothetical planet which they predicted. Using the orbital diagram in the infobox would be pure reportage, which is what Wikipedia aspires to. Instead, I was outvoted and we now have a pretty picture decorating the infobox instead. Go figure. Considering that I'm the artist, a bonafide "artist's impression" would probably be a picture of empty space, with a caption that read "at the time of writing the artist does not find the evidence for a planet particularly compelling". nagualdesign 03:52, 14 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Please include the pretty picture. Russell clearly choose a teapot for his example instead of something else (say a pencil) to make it a bit humorous and so memorable. The picture of a teapot in space perfectly illustrates the idea in the spirit it was put forward. Per WP:LEADIMAGE, this image gives readers visual confirmation that they've arrived at the right page. It is not likely that anyone seeing it will think it is an actual teapot in space. Attempting to illustrate this broad concept of epistemology ("What makes justified beliefs justified?") that this analogy really only addresses one aspect of is problematic. Pictures with question marks or thought bubbles and such will not make the reader understand this better in my opinion. Richard-of-Earth (talk) 20:26, 23 January 2020 (UTC)
  • Yes, please include the picture. Lead images break up the wall of text that articles otherwise become, they ensure that the user has reached the right page, and raise the perceived quality of the article. I have zero issues with having a picture of Russell as well, but most articles, including this one could do with more pictures, not fewer pictures. GliderMaven (talk) 23:59, 24 April 2020 (UTC)

Burden of proofEdit

As, Russell argues with his fictional/hypothetical teapot, the burden of proof lies with the editors who make the positive assertion that most people who will read this article are too stupid to understand it. I don't have to prove to y'all that no one has ever looked at this article and assumed that the topic was real simply because there was a picture in the article because that would require me to spend years reading minds while time traveling. Hyacinth (talk) 23:28, 24 April 2020 (UTC)

New ImageEdit

Having read the concerns of users who said the old image didn't actually describe the concept, I have created and put up a new one that I hope covers these concerns. MarshallKe (talk) 17:30, 22 August 2021 (UTC)

Utah Teapot?Edit

As a graduate of the U, I'm not in the habit of removing references to the teapot that the university is known for over much else, but I seriously doubt anyone would confuse Russell's teapot and the Utah teapot. I don't think it's a necessary link. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pow2clk (talkcontribs)

I agree. Hatnotes are for people who might have wound up in one place when what they're looking for is somewhere else. There's no reason why a search would lead someone looking for the Utah Teapot to Russell's Teapot, Chester teapot, Teapot Dome, or I'm a Little Teapot. Largoplazo (talk) 03:17, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
These are the redirects for each:
The only one that might be typed while looking for the Utah teapot is "Teapotist" that actually links here. I do not find it likely enough warrant the hatnote. Perhaps we put Utah teapot in the see also section? Richard-of-Earth (talk) 06:57, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
I agree that the hatnote was more of a distraction than a help. I just removed it. —Remember the dot (talk) 07:12, 10 January 2022 (UTC)

"Tooth fairy agnostic" listed at Redirects for discussionEdit

  An editor has identified a potential problem with the redirect Tooth fairy agnostic and has thus listed it for discussion. This discussion will occur at Wikipedia:Redirects for discussion/Log/2022 January 10#Tooth fairy agnostic until a consensus is reached, and readers of this page are welcome to contribute to the discussion. Richard-of-Earth (talk) 06:52, 10 January 2022 (UTC)

Argumentum ad ignorantiamEdit

Isn't Russell's teapot basically an example to illustrate the informal logical fallacy, appeal to ignorance (argumentum ad ignorantiam)? It seems that there should be a mention pointing out this. SpaceEconomist192 10:35, 10 April 2022 (UTC)