[ RadSafe ] Article: Reliability of Information -- (not radiation-related, but of interest)

Richard L. Hess lists at richardhess.com
Mon Dec 5 11:17:29 CST 2005

At 11:25 AM 12/5/2005, John Jacobus passed along:
> >From the New York Times,

I find the Seigenthaler case to be troubling, but I am not sure that 
one case (and perhaps the many others like it) still invalidate the 
Wikipedia concept.

I have been favourably impressed with many articles on Wikipedia 
which were clearly written by people who were passionate about the 
topic. In areas where I have expertise, the articles I've read have 
been mostly correct with only minor discrepancies and who is to say 
that my version is more accurate?

We did have an issue here about six months ago when our already 
high-profile Member of Parliament garnered even more attention by 
switching parties (very rare in Canadian politics). The article about 
Belinda Stronach in Wikipedia was locked before she switched parties 
and the editors were having a struggle with someone who wanted to 
change it based on his opinions vs. what could be documented. 
Although, at the time, she was a member of the Conservative Party, 
the wannabe-author lauded her for having New Democratic Party 
leaning. When she switched, she went to the Liberal Party. The 
wannabe was not actually derogatory, but rather was painting a 
picture of the politician which did not stand up to scrutiny. It 
appeared to be a fantasy about what he hoped she would do politically.

I find the reliability of Wikipedia to be as good as anything else 
turned up in a Google search. After all, there are Web sites which 
are put up to deliberately mislead and mis-state the facts in order 
to bolster their point. I'm sure we all have our own examples of 
that, and this discipline is probably rife with them. I think we just 
raised the issue of Sternglass. Don't forget how Wasserman can use 
press clippings pre-Google in "Killing our Own" 
http://www.ratical.org/radiation/KillingOurOwn/ to state a case which 
appears to be totally meaningless, but is quite convincing as a first 
read considering all the footnotes. This book is sort of like the 
concentration of toxins up the food chain. He is at the top of 
selecting reports that meet his point of view and referring to them.

I think that overall Wikipedia is a hugely beneficial resource. While 
it is not the only tool that my family or I use, it is one of the 
five "first-look" icons on our desktops:
   - Encyclopedia Britannica (on disc)
   - Encarta (on disc)
   - Wikipedia (on line)
   - The Canadian Encyclopedia (on line)
   - Google (on line - we have yet to implement our local search 
options though we are
          all building an interesting collection of stuff in the 
"Info" share on our server. It's
          an electronic version of the traditional library "topic file."



Richard L. Hess                   richard at richardhess.com
Aurora, Ontario, Canada       http://www.richardhess.com/
Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm  

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