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Wikipedia Breeds Unwitting Trust (Says IT Professor)

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the unlike-slashdot-which-is-100%-reliable dept.

The Internet 441

kingston writes ""As I say to my students 'if you had to have brain surgery would you prefer someone who has been through medical school, trained and researched in the field, or the student next to you who has read Wikipedia'?" So says Deakin University associate professor of information systems, Sharman Lichtenstein, who believes Wikipedia, where anyone can edit a page entry, is fostering a climate of blind trust among people seeking information. Professor Lichtenstein says the reliance by students on Wikipedia for finding information, and acceptance of the practice by teachers and academics, was "crowding out" valuable knowledge and creating a generation unable to source "credible expert" views even if desired. "People are unwittingly trusting the information they find on Wikipedia, yet experience has shown it can be wrong, incomplete, biased, or misleading," she said. "Parents and teachers think it is [okay], but it is a light-weight model of knowledge and people don't know about the underlying model of how it operates.""

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Wikipedia and research papers. (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061892)

"People are unwittingly trusting the information they find on Wikipedia, yet experience has shown it can be wrong, incomplete, biased, or misleading," she said. "Parents and teachers think it is [okay], but it is a light-weight model of knowledge and people don't know about the underlying model of how it operates."
And you could "s/Wikipedia/Encyclopedia Brittanica" on that statement and it would still be 100% accurate. Encyclopedias are summaries of available knowledge and nothing more. Wikipedia is just one example of an encyclopedia.

As any first-year college student can tell you, an encyclopedia is not meant to be an authoritative source, nor can it be used a primary source in a properly-written research paper. It is meant to be a starting point for research only. If you quote anything from an encyclopedia in a research paper, then you need to cite two additional primary souces, which must by definition be from scholarly books, journals or other information published from scholarly sources, which very clearly back up that material.

Wikipedia's achilles heal for scholarly research isn't that anyone can edit it (a statement which, in and of itself, is not 100% complete or accurate and deliberately misrepresents what Wikipedia is and is not), it's that it is an encyclopedia and nothing more.

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (5, Funny)

vil3nr0b (930195) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061958)

You mean going to a library and doing actual research is far more reliable than reading people's editable posts on the internet? Stop spreading your propaganda or the internet giants will come for you at night.

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (5, Insightful)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061990)

As any first-year college student can tell you, an encyclopedia is not meant to be an authoritative source, nor can it be used a primary source in a properly-written research paper.
Citation needed.
Seriously, I see third year college students who still don't know what plagerism is. You can't convince me that they all know better than to use an encyclopedia as a primary source.

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062112)

Seriously, I see third year college students who still don't know what plagerism is. You can't convince me that they all know better than to use an encyclopedia as a primary source.
They should. At least, if they're doing what they did back when I was a first-year college student. That is, beat into your head what is and is not acceptable as primary and secondary sources in a scholarly research paper. Along with what is and what is not plagiarism, formatting of citations, proper number of citations, paper structure (narrative vs. argument vs. comparison-contrast, etc.) ...

If you can't write a proper paper by the end of your first-year in college, you should just drop out because college is clearly not for you.

I see people on /. (4, Funny)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062164)

... who don't know how to spell "plagiarism."

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (1, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062166)

Seriously, I see fuckwits on slashdot who still don't know how to spell "plagiarism". You can't convince me that they all don't know how to use a dictionary.
Is that what you meant?

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (1)

jwisser (1038696) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062266)

Seriously, I see third year college students who still don't know what plagerism is. You can't convince me that they all know better than to use an encyclopedia as a primary source.
And I see +5 Interesting posters who still don't know how to spell plagiarism.

Seriously, any college student who doesn't know better than to use an encyclopedia as a primary source doesn't actually belong in college.

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (3, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062374)

Seriously, I see third year college students who still don't know what plagerism is.
They know what it is. They're just unwilling to define it.

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061996)

EncycBrit has its flaws, yes, but at least its article on Space is solid enough to write a decent paper.

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (5, Insightful)

JeepFanatic (993244) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062064)

As any first-year college student can tell you, an encyclopedia is not meant to be an authoritative source, nor can it be used a primary source in a properly-written research paper.
I think you give first-year college students too much credit. Having taught them for 5 years, I can tell you from first hand experience that MOST of them do not know the first thing about proper research or what makes for good source materials.

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (3, Interesting)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062334)

And why should they? It's your job to teach them isn't it? Why are we constantly expecting "students" to know things?

Besides, High School teachers have become so retarded over the years it's amazing that graduates know anything. My College Writing I professor was constantly complaining about the lack of grammar taught in lower grades (all my teachers taught was 'literature').

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (3, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062352)

5 years? You'd think those kids would be smart enough to give up after the first few years. Tenacious little guys, aren't they?

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23062426)

I think you give first-year college students too much credit. Having taught them for 5 years, I can tell you from first hand experience that MOST of them do not know the first thing about proper research or what makes for good source materials.

Then clearly the problem is those teaching them are failing. That'll be you!

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23062452)

You being their teacher, does not that compute to you not having taught them well enough?

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062088)

In fairness, Wikipedia tends to cover some topics in more depth, as they can afford more space than a paper encyclopedia. So it is easy to make the mistake of citing this in-depth article even though it is still only an "executive summary" of the topic.

---

Wikipedia itself has a "No Original Research" policy, of course, so if the article is good it should provide a reference for every fact you might want to cite.

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062200)

In fairness, Wikipedia tends to cover some topics in more depth, as they can afford more space than a paper encyclopedia...Wikipedia itself has a "No Original Research" policy, of course, so if the article is good it should provide a reference for every fact you might want to cite.
Yep. That's 100% correct, although not all entries meet Wikipedia's standards. Some will eventually, others might not ever.

Wikipedia is what it is. You can't fault Wikipedia for being what it is, you can only fault students who make the mistake of citing it as a primary source.

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062128)

The main flaw of traditional encyclopedia articles is that they're often written by a single author, with only minimal editing and peer review. And so the resulting article will inevitably be biased toward the views of said author (however respected he may be), with no recourse for other scholars who may disagree with its points. At least Wikipedia, for all its flaws, allows for some recourse from those with a different perspective or different arguments.

Wikipedia hightlights pre-existing human issues (5, Insightful)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062174)

Headline says: "Wikipedia Breeds Unwitting Trust"

My first thought: s/Breeds/Highlights/

In general, I find most of the articles that complain about such-and-such a problem with Wikipedia stop too soon. It isn't that Wikipedia is often incorrect, or that Wikipedia articles lack verifiable sources, or that people are too quick to trust what's written in Wikipedia, or that Wikipedia is easily subverted by people with their own agenda. While those statements are all true, they're simply special cases of a far more insidious trend: People put too much trust in information.

Newspaper articles, scientific studies, engineering decisions, information in general suffers from all the same problems. How often do we see someone make a statement, claiming things are a certain way, but with no way to check on it? Just about every post on Slashdot, for starters. :) But we tend to want to accept such statements as truth, even when we know better. Humans seem to have an inherent, unconscious willingness to trust that domatic statements must be true.

Wikipedia simply highlights this problem.

Re:Wikipedia and research papers. (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062438)

In a world where companies can buy FDA approval and news organizations take corporate and government propaganda and air it verbatim, Wikipedia looks pretty good by comparison. But if articles like this encourage folks to have a generally higher level of distrust for all sources of information, that's a good thing, too.

it can be wrong, incomplete, biased, or misleading (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061904)

Just like newspapers.

Re: misleading, I could have had first post if the fancy new posting thingy worked, or if /. didn't pretend I just posted a comment when I didn't.

Re:it can be wrong, incomplete, biased, or mislead (3, Informative)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062234)

Just like newspapers.
Absolutely! Wikiality is exactly like newspapers in many ways -- and this is its primary flaw, and the point of this article. Newspapers have a powerful lobby and an agenda behind every news story. One that subtly uses semiotics and wordplay to manipulate emotion and how facts are perceived.

Wikipedians do exactly the same things. For all the talk of NPOV on every discussion page, it's little more than talk. Almost every music related page is essentially fan site, and spam too -- music is a commercial product, from an evil industry. For some bizarre reason people don't equate music promotion with spam. And there's music spam on most other pages too - e.g. "xyz" wrote a song about "Cyprus" or whatever.

And then there's the much noted cabals. Political pages, religion pages, controversial authors, you name it - there's groups working every hour of every day to ensure the facts are as they see them.

And then theres the Wikipedia admins... the real problem with the site. Some of them have been proven to be frauds, to have criminal convictions -- and yet they manipulate facts, they have their own little agendas, they block entire countries IP addresses, or the addresses of individuals they dislike (or who are protesting the nature of an article). "Vandalism" isn't necessary vandalism -- they've never actually defined that word. It's like "terrorism" is to a newspaper - a license to do what you like in the name of "truthiness". Would Galileo be a vandal, would Rosa Parks? Is Stephen Colbert?

What's non-notable and who has the right to decide, why even decide, what the problem if it's not very notable but not spam? This is just like the way news editors manipulate facts and decide who's flavor of the month.

And then there's Jimbo... good old Jimbo. His relationship with Wikiality, his "misunderstanding" of non-profit and commercial, and "expenses". And his much documented, and much flawed history. Not to mention his autocracy and views on Ayn Rand.

How is Jimbo different from Rupert Murdoch? I see very little difference. Well... other than Jimbo has so far managed to mislead people into thinking that Wikipedia is "open" and somehow "open source" -- when the reality is far, far from that.

Re:it can be wrong, incomplete, biased, or mislead (4, Insightful)

IkeTo (27776) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062436)

Wikipedia is actually much better than newspaper in this regard. When reading newspaper, you have no way to see the opinions of anybody other than the members of the editorial board of the newspaper. In Wikipedia, at least you can view the history of the article and the discussion page if the Wiki-page is heavy-handed by a group of people with a particular political, commercial or whatever stand. The only thing good about newspaper is that it is so obviously biased that nobody will trust it.

Yahoo answers is worse. (4, Insightful)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061926)

I wish I could filter out Yahoo answers from my entire online experience. Just about any question I've ever had for a non technical issue (e.g. Can I feed a hamster strawberries), is answered on Yahoo as : 1. Yep 2. Nope 3. Feed it motor oil 4. lolz, luzer! Yeah, the internet used to be 90% noise and 10% signal, and has improved drastically over the last decade to 99% noise! *sigh*

Re:Yahoo answers is worse. (3, Funny)

soupforare (542403) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062010)

Me too!

Re:Yahoo answers is worse. (1)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062276)

Many yahoo answers responses are "I have no idea". So why did you even bother to post?!?!

Re:Yahoo answers is worse. (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062416)

Magic 8 Ball told me to.

Re:Yahoo answers is worse. (5, Funny)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062038)

I wish I could filter out Yahoo answers from my entire online experience. Just about any question I've ever had for a non technical issue (e.g. Can I feed a hamster strawberries), is answered on Yahoo as : 1. Yep 2. Nope 3. Feed it motor oil 4. lolz, luzer!
Yahoo answers has been a real eye opener for me, and like wikipedia, I'm glad it exists, although not for the purpose for which it was intended.

See, I use Yahoo Answers as a barometer for ignorance. I check it once every so often to see if the human race is still, collectively, an arse-scratching bunch of chimps.

So far, Yes.

Last week on yahoo answers:

Cud I B prgnent?
Did u do it standing up???

Re:Yahoo answers is worse. (4, Funny)

dfedfe (980539) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062100)

Speaking of Yahoo! answers, this [yahoo.com] (the last one) is the funniest incorrect answer I've seen so far:

Question:
"What is the meaningof "corrolary" in this sentence?
------------------
As a result, oil demand becomes less and less responsive to movements in international crude oil prices. The *corrolary* of this is that prices would fluctuate more than in the past in response to future short-term shifts in demand and supply."

Answer:
"Comparable to corollary in a heart, central blood vessel. Could say "heart of the matter" or point.

The (point) of this is that prices..."

Re:Yahoo answers is worse. (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062382)

Oh, admit it. You troll the questions on Yahoo! Answers specifically so you can throw out ridiculous responses like that. I know I do. ; )

Re:Yahoo answers is worse. (2, Insightful)

antic (29198) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062384)

And what's going to change that for the better? Content (even crappy content) brings users and eyeballs mean advertising dollars. When one of the big players (Yahoo) is taking that path and producing some of the worst content, one can't have much hope!

Brain still required. (4, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061932)

Unfortunately, we've yet to perfect the wiki-based model where the reader doesn't have to bring their brain to the party.

Re:Brain still required. (5, Funny)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061988)

Unfortunately, we've yet to perfect the wiki-based model where the reader doesn't have to bring their brain to the party.
Although Yahoo Answers comes fucking close.

lol! (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062110)

Agreed. To the professor: welcome to the club. We get it already that you feel threatened, though there is nothing to feel threatened about. Thanks for looking out for the unwashed masses, they evidently need all the help they can get.

is there another option? (1)

archkittens (1272770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061936)

what about people who just read the references?

Trust Wikipedia? (3, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061940)

Deakin University

Sharman Lichtenstein

Uh-huh. Sounds like someone's already defaced the article...

Hmmmm.... (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061956)

I'm not sure I believe this story...

Everyone say it with me (4, Insightful)

pnuema (523776) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061960)

IT'S AN ENCYCLOPEDIA.

If you are using an encyclopedia for anything other than getting you started on your serious research, or satisfying a non-important curiosity, then you don't know what an encyclopedia is for. Apparently someone needs to tell this egghead.

Re:Everyone say it with me (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23062440)

Indeed, especially when you consider:

As with any source, especially one of unknown authorship, you should be wary and independently verify the accuracy of Wikipedia information if possible. For many purposes, but particularly in academia, Wikipedia may not be considered an acceptable source;[1] indeed, some professors and teachers may throw Wikipedia-sourced material away out of hand. This is especially true when it is used uncorroborated.

We advise special caution when using Wikipedia as a source for research projects. Normal academic usage of Wikipedia and other encyclopedias is for getting the general facts of a problem and to gather keywords, references and bibliographical pointers, but not as a source in itself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citing_Wikipedia

The problem is as usual that people assume Wikipedia is more than it has ever claimed to be, which says something about its success.

All systems have problems... (2, Insightful)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061964)

Professor Lichtenstein says the reliance by students on Wikipedia for finding information, and acceptance of the practice by teachers and academics, was "crowding out" valuable knowledge and creating a generation unable to source "credible expert" views even if desired.
Yes, that is one risk. But the current academic system is far from perfect. It creates an effectively useless intellectual caste system, and fosters an elitist culture. Valuable knowledge should be shared, even at the risk of adding chinks to its armour. That attitude is the one and same which has fostered a literate world, in which the common man can have this discussion and it be meaningful.

Who is a "credible expert"? (5, Interesting)

JerryLove (1158461) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061970)

When Wikipedia has been vetted by credible institutions as more accurate (at least outside pop-culture) then the "credible expert" Encylopedia Britannica, the trust may be unwitting but is it really unfounded.

Honestly, I find that individual experts make far more mistakes that Wiki, which is to a good degree peer reviewed.

The errors in school textbooks are well known and discussed; many still in existance after decades. So shy of hitting peer-reviewed in-field journals or, of course, doing your own research: whom, exactly, isn't "light-weight" knowledge... or, more to the point, who can be trusted more.

At least Wiki lets you go into the history and see all the editors, everythign else they've edited, what the differing opinions were, and a discussion on the topic at hand. I can't do that with my encylopedia.

Re:Who is a "credible expert"? (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062094)

Funny, most wikipedia articles that don't turn out to themselves be plagiarized from other sources are pure crap.

And on anything that might be interesting, you can be pretty sure the article's not accurate just because it's been hit at least once by the little Judge Dredds (they call themselves "administrators") running around the place shooting first and asking questions never.

"Crowding Out?" (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061978)

I don't think that the "crowding out" phenomenon is really going to happen. There will still be technical journals and medical textbooks. No one has a medical degree from Wikipedia. It's not designed as that solution. Nobody consults Wikipedia when their life is on the line. Nobody purely learns from only Wikipedia.

From the start of this article (which was a bad analogy) to the mention of Google Knoll, I'm not impressed with this weird suggestion that Wikipedia is supposed to be the de facto source of knowledge for anyone and anything. It's great to start there or to 'get an understanding' as the article mentions but it's the sources and subsequent sources you find that have the real information. It's at least second hand information from the masses designed to be more second hand information for the masses. Not for doctors or academia.

I judged a state science fair recently and came upon a bridge project which hand one reference listed--Wikipedia. I asked the kid why he had only used these five different types of bridges and he said because that's what was listed on Wikipedia. I pretty much gave him a horrible score based on that and pointed out that the Army Corp of Engineers provides all its publications free and recommended he check that out if he wanted better information.

If you're a parent or a teacher, take the time to explain this to your children. If you're a medical doctor or expert in your field, stop fighting new technology that increases general knowledge and relax.

Re:"Crowding Out?" (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062226)

Nobody consults Wikipedia when their life is on the line.
There's the pity. It would cull the herd and as a bonus we might have a lawsuit that would take the entire heap of crap down.

Remember it's the encyclopedia that anybody can edit - and probably did.

Re:"Crowding Out?" (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062338)

You put it very well. It's just a quick-and-dirty look up resource and not really meant to be authoritative. No one in a college setting will accept a wikipedia citation, for good reason, but can still be used to point you in the right direction if you really need it to.
I, for one, didn't really learn how to do proper secondary research using scientific journals until maybe late in my second year in college during a required "how-to" session at the school's library for an english class. I've learned a great deal since then, but I didn't grow up with it so I may have a different take on it in comparison to someone now in high school.

It would help... (4, Insightful)

Phoenix-IT (801337) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061986)

If we had more than one major encyclopedia online that was supported by advertisements or Federal funding to source information from it would be a boon for everyone. I mean, if they'll spend thousands for hardly used encyclopedias for public libraries, there must be a way to make that information more available in the age of the internet. This may already exist, but if it does, I haven't seen it. Perhaps other publicly available sources of information need to be more vocal about their existence?

Academic Acceptance? Where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061998)

I attended four different High Schools, and one University (so far)... NONE of them has ever accepted wikipedia as a source.

However... I do tend to read the wiki entry on any subject I am assigned to write about. I can't cite wikipedia, but it generally includes links to reputable sources.

I would try to get attention by saying 'mod me down' but since I am posting as A/C (lazyness) I doubt anyone would buy it. Thanks anyways.

No way would I let fellow students operate on me (2, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062000)

I read the wikipedia article on neurosurgery and performed the operation myself.

Re:No way would I let fellow students operate on m (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062372)

I just stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. Less aggravation.

And where does other data sources come from? (1)

jr76 (1272780) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062012)

Now, i'm not saying wikipedia is always correct or the best for everything, but every single data source has a slant. History is written by the winners and is never like it truly has been. Encyclopedia's have had individual companies, maybe with a team, who could have been just as incorrect as wikipedia, with actually fewer eyes reviewing it. The same can go for any academic book out there. So, while any person off the street can edit it, so can anyone correct it, and I see more eyes reviewing a subject as better than less, so this trust is somewhat founded. It's not like academic experts aren't reviewing the bad edits or corporate edits on subjects and correcting them to what they should be (as numerous articles have been posted here), so what is so bad about this model? Personally, I believe it is better to have more eyes on a subject towards a consensus in a debate manner than just a handful of people researching and understanding a subject and just dishing it out to us like manna from heaven.

Oh, really? (2, Interesting)

Mycroft_514 (701676) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062446)

Sorry, but by it's own admission, Wiki is not edittable by everyone. And the includes some GLARING errors. Sometimes it is good, sometimes bad. Let's look at an example:

John Kerry is a whole article. There are good sections of it, but more biased towards John than against. I dropped in to check it out and found 2 errors in the article. These were errors of fact, not opinions. The article is locked from edits, except by certain editors, so I went to the discussion page and entered the 2 errors there.

I was "told" by the editors that I was wrong, and that I had no place entering that data. I persisted, and then found and gave them a cite for one of the facts - John Kerry's own website and some of the few military documents he posted there. The second error was so damming to his campaign that he removed the documents from his site, and posted a restriction so that the documents in question were also purged from the wayback machine! (The misssing documents prove that he lied about his discharge status, but only if you know how to read them.)

It was after citing the website that the editors corrected one of the factual errors. The other is still wrong to this day, but there is no way to cite it to correct it until the day when John Kerry releases his full military records. (Don't hold your breath).

This is an idiot's analogy (5, Insightful)

mhamel (314503) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062014)

I would not accept having a brain surgery by somebody trained on wikipedia for sure. But I would not accept a brain surgery by anybody who has been trained by reading just one article from any book. Even if the book is recognized by the experts.

But, if I am to get a brain surgery, I will certainly go to wikipedia to have a basic understanding of what is going to happen to me. I'll also follow the links I get from there. And read whatever information I can get. It will make me capable of asking questions the next time I meet my doctor and certainly understand better what he will tell me.

I know some doctors prefer patients that do not ask questions. It just goes faster. But I think it is part of the doctor job to do what he can for the understanding of it's patient. They very very often do not. I think those doctors have a bad attitude, not their patients for asking questions.

Re:This is an idiot's analogy (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062262)

Yeah, I thought that framing was pretty ridiculous. Even more so since you don't actually need 1/2 the training any brain surgeon must go through (college electives, geography, etc.) to do brain surgery. And ditto your comment about doctors whose patients ask questions.

If I had seen the article sooner, I would have f/p'd with:

'if you had to have brain surgery would you prefer someone who has been through medical school, trained and researched in the field, or the student next to you who has read Wikipedia'
If you had to avoid sounding like a dumbass, would you prefer to make false dichotomies, or blow goats?

More complicated (3, Interesting)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062020)

The concept of "blind trust" as applied to public, but not professional sources, isn't new... and it certainly existed long before Wikipedia.

However, with the advent of the internet, the same fads that would have come and gone in the real world, seem to have gained a staying power that is truly incredible to behold.

I think that part of the reason is that the Internet finally gave any individual the ability to distribute "media"... wherefore previously economic barriers would have prevented the dissemination of information by most independent individuals. With this barrier gone, any cook can make a claim, and as long as the claim is ridiculous enough to attract attention, it is also certain to attract a following.

For instance, how would one explain the "Autism/Vaccination" fiasco? Talking of blind trust, here we have literally hundreds of thousands of people, who willingly and knowingly ignore multiple large-scale peer-reviewed studies, only to put their faith into something that can only be described as an internet fad, started by some really sad an unfortunate parents, looking to place the blame for the tragic condition that befell their child.

The question is - what is there to be done about this. To be honest, I think that the situation can go both ways. We could slowly mature in our understanding of how the Internet works, and accept it as a public forum, with all the positive and negative implications that come with such a place. Or we could continue down into the rabbit hole of collective ignorance, into a future that I, for one, would not want to experience... a future where truth is no longer a function of fact, but a function of how many supporters an idea has.

The Professor Lacks Understanding (5, Insightful)

wrw3 (152058) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062030)

The analogy of the brain surgery is pretty light-weight, inappropriate, and jejune for a professor. The professor's position is a bit arrogant, suggesting I don't know enough to use the right tool for a given job. Also, no sensible person expects Wikipedia to be The One Tool, nor does anyone with experience and judgment rely upon one source, especially on the Internet. Sounds like the professor could learn a thing or two.

Re:The Professor Lacks Understanding (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062252)

I have nothing to add other than to say that any post containing the word 'jejune' deserves to be modded up.

Better analogy (1)

archeopterix (594938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062342)

The analogy of the brain surgery is pretty light-weight, inappropriate, and jejune for a professor. The professor's position is a bit arrogant, suggesting I don't know enough to use the right tool for a given job. Also, no sensible person expects Wikipedia to be The One Tool, nor does anyone with experience and judgment rely upon one source, especially on the Internet. Sounds like the professor could learn a thing or two.
Would you prefer reading a jejune analogy or be killed by Hitler instead?

One Question.. (1)

coKestar (859984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062048)

who charges more?

One of the more flaim-bait worthy stories here? (1)

Tominva1045 (587712) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062050)

Wow, it's very difficult to not compare the bad idea of going to Wiki for some kinds of unbiased information to coming to some very biased anti-microsoft tech news sites for microsoft news. So I won't avoid making the comparison.

citation needed (1)

dfedfe (980539) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062054)

Wikipedia has this very useful system whereby one can actually provide a "reference" for statements (it is so useful that some scientific journals are considering requiring that submitters include these "references," too).

My point is that it is not a problem with Wikipedia; it is a problem with accepting unsourced statements.

But there is also the issue that Wikipedia is often right and we humans tend to approximate the probability that a source provides correct information and trust any new information from that source per that probability. A side effect is that if one fails to continue to verify the verity of a fact, one continues to use an old estimate of the trustworthiness of the source. But this is not Wikipedia's fault.

As others have pointed out, more or less: shouldn't the school be teaching the students instead of complaining that the students don't know important things?

I distinctly remember learning about proper sources way back in elementary school, and then in middle school, and in high school.

High perch (2, Insightful)

unchiujar (1030510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062058)

Blabla ivory tower blabla better than tho commoners blablabla I am more important blablablabla.

Whatever (5, Insightful)

corby (56462) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062066)

Because nobody ever believed stuff they read on the Internet before Wikipedia came along?

How is Wikipedia the cause of this problem? It seems like Wikipedia might be part of the solution. Unlike most of the unsourced data you find on the World Wide Web, Wikipedia actually has a framework that encourages citing references and sources.

old idea (1)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062068)

Old idea, old news... This has been discussed (or at least I've already known it and teach others) not to trust Wiki. I directly link and relate it to the COI, or COST OF INFORMATION. If I have to PAY for information like a journal or subscription, I will hold the people accountable because of that premium. But Wiki is "FREE" so if I read something wrong, I laugh and keep going...

People who plan for malice take advantage of Wiki's "open" model and hack it up for their own agenda.

BTW, So Does Newpaper and TV, but I don't pay for them... TV is free and newspapers I rairly purchase, it is usually in the breakroom.

All of this kinda goes with the saying "I read it on the internet, so it MUST be true."
20 Years ago when the "internet" was a collection of colleges and DARPA machines, yes... Today, not so much, garbage in - garbage out.

Re:old idea (2, Insightful)

Snowmit (704081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062310)

Old idea, old news... This has been discussed (or at least I've already known it and teach others) not to trust Wiki. I directly link and relate it to the COI, or COST OF INFORMATION. If I have to PAY for information like a journal or subscription, I will hold the people accountable because of that premium. But Wiki is "FREE" so if I read something wrong, I laugh and keep going...
Better yet, if I read something wrong on wikipedia, I can CORRECT it and keep going.

There are degrees of trust (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062072)

The example about brain surgery is bogus.

Most people who look up wikipedia information don't act on it. Those who do will not invest much of their time or money based purely on what wikipedia tells them - if they do, they won;t do it a second time.

Most of the information discovered is trivial: how many pints in a gallon, or some such. Users don't use wikipedia to decide what investments to make - at least the rich ones don't.

Therefore asking if people "trust" the answers is the wrong question. A better one would be "how much of your own money would you stake on the answer being correct?" Ask that and you'll get a much lower response.

Personally I'd like to see educators "seed" wikipedia with answers that cover the course work they set. The information they place in the relevant topics would be correct, but use catch-phrases so they can detect who is lazy and merely plagiarises someone elses work.

Edumacated (2, Interesting)

Hack_Fetish (1245056) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062074)

Im a 2nd year electrical engineering student at one of the top universities in Canada and in some of my programs, they now specify a minimum number of references and at least half of your references for something have to be from a peer reviewed journal and no more than one from wikipedia. Some of this seems to be out of genuine concern for making sure your information is correct. But with Wikipedia having been proven to be nearly as accurate as Encyclopedia Britanica (http://science.slashdot.org/science/05/12/15/1352207.shtml?tid=95&tid=14) and here (http://slashdot.org/articles/07/07/24/0114228.shtml) the rest of it seems to come from a group of people who are scared whitless that nobody will ever be forced to read their life's work. I've also been driven violently angry by spending an order of magnitude more time hunting through poorly setup journal databases for what should've been an easy find as actually doing the assignment.

Anyone Can Change An Entry (1)

Skeetskeetskeet (906997) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062082)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abe_Vigoda#Career [wikipedia.org]

Easy enough...

"He regularly challenges Chuck Norris to a rematch of a famed cage match he felt he was cheated on in 1982, claiming Chuck had paid off the referees. Even at 87, Abe claims he can still kick Norris' ass ."

News? (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062092)

I've been saying this for years and I'm not even a professor. I automatically discount the validity of any person who quotes wikipedia as a source but I give them the respect of at least looking to see what the people have said in the article that they link to.

Not alone (3, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062106)

"People are unwittingly trusting the information they find on Wikipedia, yet experience has shown it can be wrong, incomplete, biased, or misleading,"

As opposed to what: Newspapers? Schools' history books? It's a bit silly to criticize only Wikipedia and none of the other sources accepted by schoolteachers.

Re:Not alone (2, Interesting)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062430)

I got a REALLY nasty look from another teacher when I was substitute teaching one day as I complained that people believed the world was round during Columbus's time in front of a class. As a sub, they DIDN'T like me questioning them on their authority.

Newspapers and TV News (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062130)

Someone should explain to this guy about the relatively new inventions of the newspaper and TV news. Both have "crowded out credible sources of information". The most trusted guy in American used to be Walter Cronkite. Although I had no reason to distrust Walt, he wasn't a primary source of information.

Like a Jedi Mind Trick (1)

Ilan Volow (539597) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062142)

The Internet can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.

Re:Like a Jedi Mind Trick (1)

OrochimaruVoldemort (1248060) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062168)

you don't need to see his credibility

hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23062146)

any book in the library can be just as biased, incomplete, and inaccurate as wikipedia... so too can be any writing from any scholar that is found in a public university. Most folks know that you shouldn't base your opinions and come to conclusions with only one source... even most of those kids that quote wikipedia... duh.

I encourage it. (5, Interesting)

Ginger_Chris (1068390) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062152)

As a teacher (11-18) I actually encourage the use of wikipedia as a first stop for information gathering. It gives me a really good way into explaining words such as 'bias' and 'reliable' to students. As long as you explain the things wrong with the website I don't understand the fuss. To be fair, information found on wikipedia is a lot more accurate than the majority on information on the internet. Most pupil's don't even bother reading the information they find, they just copy and paste it (leading to post-grad level work in year 7 student homework). You pretty much have to spend an entire lesson explaining how to gather information and the pitfalls. Wikipedia isn't banned because it's a bad website, it's banned because teachers don't explain how to use it properly.

Re:I encourage it. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062304)

Most pupil's don't even bother reading the information they find [snipped] it's banned because teachers don't explain how to use it properly.
In that case why don't you ban apostrophes too?

Strawman (5, Insightful)

kentrel (526003) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062176)

Isn't the professor presenting a Straw man argument here? Nobody would ever compare an encyclopedia to a long course of hands on training and intensive work.

(Many surgeons train for 3 or 4 years AFTER they become a doctor before they get to be considered proper surgeons by their peers)

Professor Lichtenstein (or Lichy to her friends?) assumes that all of us blindly trust wikipedia. I don't. I don't know anybody who hasn't doubted the truth of a wikipedia article. She already knows the solution - don't let students cite wikipedia, so its hard to see what her problem is?

Is she mad that people are contributing their knowledge for free, while she expects to be paid? What a terrible blow Wikipedia has inflicted on our poor starving experts.

From the "say anything" for publicity department.. (1)

BladeMelbourne (518866) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062178)

Associate professor at Deakin? How prestigious.

I would trust peer reviewed Wikipedia articles backed up with other sources; over biased Deakin lecture power point slides (that can't be contributed to) anyway.

"Those who can, do. Those who cannot, teach. The rest understand binary and work at Deakin U."

Students dare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23062182)

A couple of years ago when I was working on my final project for my electronics degree, I was very much aware that any mention of wikipedia in my references would destroy my grade. As such even if wikipedia gives good information, you still have to follow the references elsewhere, and check on the information to find a decent reference. All students SHOULD know not to trust wikipedia.

Sing that same old tune, /.ers... (2, Insightful)

kwub (1237296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062188)

...but it still isn't going to keep people from making these assertions. Wikipedia has changed nothing but the scope of information covered by encyclopaedic content. The ignorant sods who considered Brittanica and World Book a reliable source twenty years ago are the same geniuses that quote Wikipedia on research papers. Rampant prejudice specifically directed at Wikipedia exists only because of gross misunderstanding of its peer review format and a general bias against the great evil that is (*GASP*) technology.

Confusion: Research is not Citation (5, Informative)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062218)

*Someone* (either those who are against or those who are for Wikipedia here, or both) does not understand the difference between research and citation. Wikipedia is an excellent research tool, and the professors are wrong to say otherwise - but you cannot cite it as a source, and a student would be foolish to do so.

You can research a subject by entering it into Google, but you wouldn't cite the Google results page in a paper. Instead, you read what the results say, find out where they got their information from, and trace the facts back to an authority you can safely cite.

With Wikipedia, these authorities and the facts are handily edited, summarized and cited neatly at the end, but it works the same way as the Google search.

I think I can see the origin of this confusion. When I was in high school, the teachers were paranoid about us plagiarizing stuff from somewhere, and therefore were leaning on us to mention every book we'd so much as seen the cover of during research. This was because the books were all primary sources.

Once you research on the web, you're dealing with secondary sources (or further than that), and these should *not* be cited as they are not authoritative on their own.

So right, and yet so wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23062222)

He's so right, and yet so wrong. The problem of inaccuracy has been with us from the beginning. Plenty of Respected And Accredited[tm] people with fancy titles have turned out to be dead wrong, making stuff up, plaggiarizing, and so on and so forth. Walk into any bookstore and pick a couple random books. Most aren't learned or terribly accurate. In fact, most are crap. So the problem isn't wikipedia. It isn't any more or less trustable than any other popular publication.

The problem remains, and, as I see it, is part of a greater problem in that we fail to instill the proper attitude regarding this. Compare Feynman's writings on people's failures to grasp proper use of Scientific Method. It's something we expect people will pick up by themselves. Same thing here: We expect people will figure out by themselves that not everything that is written is necessairily true, accurate, or right.

I see the proliferation and success(!) of the Intelligent Design movement as a good example of the failure to do this. We the scientists have failed to come up with a formal study of methods and means that should've filtered most of the crap out the first minute it popped up. Now what are we going to do about it? Discuss.

Sour grapes (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062258)

The Professor is just upset because the number of elephants in his class has tripled in the past six months.

What a maroon! (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062260)

As I say to my students 'if you had to have brain surgery would you prefer someone who has been through medical school, trained and researched in the field, or the student next to you who has read Wikipedia'?

As someone who uses wikipedia quite frequently, I would like to answer "what a stupid question that is" and ask the idiot professor "if you had to have brain surgery would you prefer someone who has been through medical school, trained and researched in the field, or the student next to you who has read the encyclopedia Britannica?'

I'd also ask him, if you were on a desert island with two people who were not medical doctors and suffered appendicitis, would you rather have your surgery from the one who has read the wikipedia article on appendicitis or the one who can't read?

But since the professor doesn't trust wikipoedia I looked him up in the Uncyclopedia [uncyclopedia.org] , which actually has a news item on the subject today [uncyclopedia.org] .

The topic is proof that a PhD is not proof of intelligence. I have known some very intelligent PhDs and some moronic ones, and discovered that the morons always add "PhD" to the end of their name, while you may know the smart ones for years before discovering that they have ever been through grad school. My money says this guy puts "PhD" in his written signature.

Re:What a maroon! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062358)

Cite?

It's never been about wikipedia (1)

mcstudent (1272792) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062270)

I left college for about a decade, and in that time, the rise of Wiki and other, far more dubious intenet sources, has done surprisingly little to change how research skills are taught. It used to be "Find it in print." Now it is "find it somewhere other than Wikipedia." As far as I can tell, Wikipedia bashing from the ivory tower is a poor and easy substitute for doing a good job educating students about how to do quality research, and why it matters. Wikipedia can be integrated responsibly provided knowledge seekers are vigilant, as they should be with any source.
The fight over Wikipedia has become a proxy battle between the democratization of information and the entrenched authorities on knowledge. Instead of spending so much time and effort in attempting to destroy the reputation of Wikipedia, perhaps the public would be better served by these same authorities making a case for critical thinking skills. The dangers of a poor understanding of credibililty have far more dangerous implications than the professor's grasping analogy; WMD, Saddam Hussein planned 9-11, Yellowcake Uranium, "We do not torture," and just about anything aired on Faux News.

As an aside, I wrote a "well researched" paper for a 'No Wikipedia' professor that detailed the global benefits of the undeniable US victory in Vietnam. When he declared the factual foundation of the paper pure crap, I pointed out that it was researched and cited meticulously, and as per his rules (no Wikipedia) the research was considered sound. It was quite cathartic.

Re:It's never been about wikipedia (1)

pcguru19 (33878) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062434)

All works are written from a given perspective. Only in the US is the American Revolution not called "The Colonial Inssurection". What's important is can someone reason their own argument and then go out and find sources that support that belief. Too often, opinions and papers are written the other way around.

Critical Thinking is the skill missing from colleges. It was missing before wikipedia.

What a 'tard (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062278)

If anything, Wikipedia teaches kids not to have blind trust in self-proclaimed experts, both on the Internet and off. The "trusted expert" gimmick has been used to lie in advertising and politics since the beginning of mass media. It's so damn obvious, you have to seriously question the intelligence and/or agenda of anyone parroting the "Wikipedia is full of lies!" meme. (Yes, I'm laughing at you, Andrew Keen [typepad.com] .)

Tools of knowledge (1)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062280)

wrong, incomplete, biased, or misleading

And of course nobody has ever received info with these qualities in a University.

I can perform brain surgery (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062284)

I stayed at a Best Western hotel last night, I can do anything.

It's the dismal tide, I tell ya. (2, Interesting)

dominion (3153) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062288)

This is why every middle school (or at least high school) should have a class on Wikipedia as standard curriculum. How it works, how to contribute, how to verify, standard procedures, etc.

Wikipedia (or at the very least, open, collaborative knowledge) is not going away. It's stupid to keep complaining about how kids don't know how to use it properly, let's start teaching them the proper way to use it.

Blind Trust? (5, Insightful)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062290)

"fostering a climate of blind trust among people seeking information"

Funny, when it comes to Wikipedia, there's no end of people telling us how we can't trust what we read, and we need to be careful what we use it for, and check the sources. Even Wikipedia itself is honest about telling you that an article lacks sources, is biased or may not be reliable.

It's with every other source that people give their blind trust to - whether it's other encyclopedias, books, the media, or, evidently, University Professors.

If Wikipedia has made people be careful of what we read, that's a good thing. I only wish people would engage their brain more often, and use that sceptism with every other thing they read or hear.

Here's an idea... (5, Interesting)

Internet Ronin (919897) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062292)

If they've got such a problem with it, maybe they shouldn't charge $90 for their textbooks. Or thousands of dollars for their expertise.

Wikipedia doesn't thrive because we don't care about standards of evaluation; Wikipedia thrives because curious, thirsty minds seek answers they can afford and are available. I can, with my cell phone, answer just about any question I have, and Wikipedia is the easiest way to go about it.

If there's a tremendous worry that Wikipedia is somehow destroying academic integrity, I'm going to need a free, web-based solution, that has the support of a developer community that cares enough to write a website that formats the whole kit-and-caboodle for my iPhone (or for your Treo, or Blackberry for that matter) that allows me to, at a few concise clicks, satisfy my thirst for knowledge. I'm sick of hearing all the griping about Wikipedia, because it's whole purpose is to fulfill the job we're allegedly paying all this money at institutions for: procurement of knowledge. And these hooligans are trying to give it away for free... preposterous. Sometimes I don't want to know the nuances of the issue, I'm just trying to find who the NBA's scoring leader was, or what, for purposes of the article I'm reading, *is* a Boson Particle.

I can't read a book every time I've got a question, I'd literally do nothing at that point. Hell, I barely have the time to use Wikipedia to answer my question. I've got a lot of questions but having a phone on me with Wikipedia access means more of my questions get answered. Until there's a substitute that these people (charging thousands upon thousands for their answers in the form of collegiate education) can provide that helps me with that problem (my insatiable curiosity) Wikipedia's a gamble I'm willing to take. If something sounds unreasonable, I'll try and verify it elsewhere, but it doesn't particularly matter, it wasn't too long ago that Professors and Academics were up in arms about any internet sources; who knows who and what I can trust on the web.

I just want my questions answered people.

Of course! (1)

_14k4 (5085) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062314)

Didn't we, not too long ago, think that the sun revolved around the Earth? Whatever we have at the time we write what we write is just that - wrong or not. It is up to the user to *cough*trust but verify...

That's not to say I won't go do some brain surgery after reading an article about it, but in reality, an encyclopedia is great for refreshing my memory on stuff I already know.

Ivory Tower Mentality (2, Insightful)

Lodragandraoidh (639696) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062324)

There is a certain tyranny of expertise - particularly in academia. No matter how well researched, thought out, or tested a particular product is (whether it be object or manuscript), it will be snubbed unless the author/inventor has 'Doctor' after his/her name.

I used to think the institutions of higher learning were composed of open minded people - until I went to school. With rare exception this is not the case - dogma wins out over discourse. The unwitting student stumbles into this minefield of vested interests - the teacher actively attempts to suppress the heretical concepts, or more commonly brushes them under the rug with little comment and much condescension.

While professors challenge their students to think critically and with an open mind, they should also take that same advise to heart.

I'm surprised at how many people defend Wikipedia (3, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062328)

I'm surprised at how many people here are defending Wikipedia. When I first discovered it, I thought it was a great project. Now, I think it's not-so-great.

The problem I see is not factual inaccuracies (they exist but are comparatively easy to correct), but lack of rigor and a tendency to transparently pass-through the authors' biases.

When I say "bias," I am not necessarily referring to political opinions or prejudices. Those are examples but not, even, the most common. A bias is simply something that inclines one to think a certain way without realizing why, and especially without taking the trouble to consider and refute contrary propositions. For instance, Wikipedia's proponents (defenders? apologists?) are fond of saying that Wikipedia's open model makes it less biased than, say, a copyrighted encyclopedia. That's a biased statement itself -- it fails to consider, for example, the possibility that authors may be more inclined to rigorous fact-checking when they're being paid for their efforts, or the possibility that some opinions may be just wrong in spite of having vocal proponents who insist on getting a free soapbox in the name of "balance".

Finally, a rebuttal to the defense that "it's just an encyclopedia." Would you consult an encyclopedia, any encyclopedia, where 50% of the articles were known to be utterly false? Would you tolerate a 25% error rate? The question I pose is, what error rate really is acceptable and does Wikipedia exceed that rate, or not? My experience is a sample size of about 20 articles and in that sample, the rate of error or omission is about 20%. For me, that's far too high -- but I admit that's a biased analysis. ;-)

This is all good (1)

stringwraith (1205886) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062336)

24Hr news spews out increasing volumes of unqualified content. Daily tabloids spew out sensationalistic headlines with tunnel vision content. Wikipedia is doctored by those who wish to influence. Eventually , even the dumb-asses will get it. THINK FOR YOURSELF , it's healthy to be sceptical.

correlation doesn't imply causality (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062344)

And in this case the causality actually goes in reverse order. It is because this generation is not trained in logical thinking and are trained to make judgments based on the majority opinion of their peers that they are so blindingly trusting of anything that is written.

a couple of ideas (1)

Clueless Nick (883532) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062366)

well, one of them is rather dumb, but still:

how about each wikipedia article having a prominent counter of the edits and rollbacks it has received since posting?

how about giving readers the chance to rank the article on, say, three criteria: authenticity, clarity, depth (OK, these were off the top of my head).

would that allow some people to judge whether they should trust the article?

As a student (1)

publicopinion5 (1262126) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062368)

Wikipedia does far more good than harm. The problem isn't using Wikipedia as a source, but using it extensively. For example, I just gave a presentation on gages for my Mechanical Engineering lab. The lab writeup said something about a piezo-reisistive pressure sensor, and I had no idea what that was. I went to wikipedia because it took about 2 seconds to get there, and it told me that it uses semiconductors whose resistence changes depending on the force exerted on them, and that can be used to calculate pressure. Instead of taking a long trip to the library to search from some book on pressure gages, I found my answer to a very small part of the presentation in about 20 seconds so I had more time to work on the rest of the presentation. This is what Wikipedia is perfect for.

blind trust ain't a wiki problem, folks (2, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062432)

Blind trust is a human problem and has been around since the beginning. Allow me to burn some karma by bringing up a few examples:

1. Religion. We start in on kids from the moment they spring from the womb, filling their heads with all sorts of bullshit. And why shouldn't they believe it? Mother and father are telling me it is so! The priest, the teacher, the shaman, all confirm what they say. How could I believe otherwise? Sure, it looks like bread and wine but the priest waved his hands over it, mumbled some magic words in latin, and now I know it is the flesh and blood of my lord and savior. The priest promises this ritual cannibalism will bring me to heaven. He also tells me that what we do together is not a bad thing, not a sin, even when he touches me there, even when it hurts.

2. Cultural bullshit. Take a look at any intractable ethnic problem like Jews and Palestinians, Catholics and Protestants, Yankees and Red Sox fans, you're looking at the product of trusting kids being fed a steady diet of their parents' bullshit. By the time they're having children of their own, they've taken the bullshit for their own and pass that ignorance along as a treasured tradition. "Damn them Jews, damn them Arabs, they wronged us years ago!" God forbid the kids might grow up to devise a solution to the problem, endless bloodshed is so much more productive.

I could go on and fill more pages so I'll just leave it at the news media. It's been said that Americans are the only people on the planet who believe their own government's propaganda. I'm sure there are probably a few out there more gullible but we're certainly the biggest and most embarrassing. Government spokesmen will come out and make bald-faced lies and the so-called journalists do not call them on it. Gullible sheeple will watch the news and take the denials as truth. "Who could have possibly predicted that a hurricane could have hit New Orleans? I certainly have to give the President that. I'm sure no one ever brought the possibility up to him, not even as the hurricane was bearing down on the city and NOAA issued warnings of chaos and destruction on a biblical scale." A false statement made with great certainty and not contradicted by the so-called journalists will be taken as fact by the contented, unthinking audience.

Ok, so we can't question religion with science, we can't point our fingers and laugh when bible-thumping morons insist that Noah's Ark is a true story. So we can't beat the priests over the head with science. But then we get politicians setting policy on matters that fall under the jurisdiction of science and they use religion as the guideline? They use pure politics in their calculation and not only ignore but suppress the scientific evidence? "Hey, I think putting a power drill through someone's skull might be harmful." "There are some scientists who would dispute that." "Well fuck me, I don't have a counter to that!" And where is the outrage in all of this, where are the villagers with pitchforks ready to cast the liars out on their asses? I don't even hear crickets, they're probably home watching America's Next Celebrity Suicide.

So we're supposed to be outraged that people might not do their own BS check when reading Wikipedia? Folks, if that were our only problem in this country, we'd be doing fine.
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