VtWForum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:

Pages: [1] 2

Author Topic: Wikipedia still can't be trusted, I guess  (Read 2239 times)

Sekani

  • Baron
  • *****
  • Posts: 785
  • You don't care about any of this
    • sekani2.com
Wikipedia still can't be trusted, I guess
« on: January 22, 2011, 03:52:00 PM »

Found an article about why Wikipedia can't be trusted while stumbling around the interwebs, and it mentioned that the popular reference site is now ten years old. While I personally didn't care for the article that much, there was one paragraph which I found to be very interesting:

Quote
Wikipedia at 10 is really no more trustworthy than it was at two, five, or eight years old. However, the reality is that this is how the world prefers its information now: interpreted through the prism of belief and self interest. We get our news from web sites, blogs and television networks that, whether stated or not, have a point of view. It's not "The Truth." It's "His Truth. Her Truth. Your Truth." Why should we expect our new primary source to be any different?

This does tend to make a lot of sense when you think about it. Try writing a genuinely neutral article about any polarizing subject, like the Fox News Channel for instance. Could you do it? And if you could, would anyone bother to read it? It would probably be called biased for leaving out all of the juicy controversy that internet discussion venues thrive on.

Someone once told me that the truth is based heavily on what we already believe; anything that challenges those beliefs will not even be considered possibly true without mountains of indisputable evidence, and anything that confirms them will be taken as gospel with little to no effort. It would seem that modern-day mass media knows this, and has tailored their programming to cater to what their viewers already think is reality as opposed to what reality is. The blogosphere seems to have little trouble following suit.

Do you think in this day and age that there is any place for true objectivism and neutrality in the media, or does our society genuinely not care about the truth any more?

Red Dog Dragon

  • Baron
  • *****
  • Posts: 2001
  • Pink Pony is Best Pony
Re: Wikipedia still can't be trusted, I guess
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2011, 05:13:00 PM »

I think people just don't want to be disagreed with.

I can understand wanting to believe that what you think about things is the truth or at least a shared point of view, but at the same time if you cut yourself off from other opinions or points of view, you can easily fall into a trap.

How often do you read articles or see documentaries that avoid using words like "theory" or "opinion" and just assume whatever they're talking about is fact?

Yeah, I'm not a Christian, but it bugs me the hell out whenever I see a documentary that talks about the beginning of life, evolution, or how the world was a million years ago when everything they talk about is a theory but state it as fact.

It just gets worse when a topic becomes political.
Logged

Barryva

  • The Baron VonAwesome
  • Global Moderator
  • Baron
  • ****
  • Posts: 1051
  • Scourge of the 7 IRC's
Re: Wikipedia still can't be trusted, I guess
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2011, 05:28:22 PM »

Truth is relative.

I think Wikipedia when used properly is a good source of information, facts, statistics, general descriptions. It shouldn't be held up as law or the be all end all. But any information resource suffers from some sort of Bias. Even the Dictionary is just written by a group of people that "decide" which words are officially words.

Fox news channel chooses to be right leaning in there politics in order to pander to a right leaning audience, while MSNBC counters this by being a more liberal media outlet. CNN is the middle ground that tries to present the facts as is in an unbiased manner. At least in the 24 news channel market.

I don't think the Crowd sourcing nature of information gathering  should be held against Wikipedia. In fact how can it be argued as biased in one way or another when it is written by everyone?

Ken

  • Administrator
  • Baron
  • ******
  • Posts: 4152
    • Ken's Website
Re: Wikipedia still can't be trusted, I guess
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2011, 05:35:04 PM »

Indeed.

I am not religious, and I think (not believe) that the big bang theory is more accurate than anything else, so I am not annoyed when people say it as fact. In the case where we're no-where near finding out the answers to the universe, people are assuming on all sides of the argument.

And I live Wikipedia. Incredibly useful, while probably not 100% accurate all the times, there's no such thing as the perfect resource. Everyone's got their own opinion and views on facts, but wikipedia has been good to me in the past.

EDIT: Damnit Barry stop posting before I hit "Post"!

I think you summed up what I was getting at about wikipedia well. It isn't official but it's good enough.

Logged

Barryva

  • The Baron VonAwesome
  • Global Moderator
  • Baron
  • ****
  • Posts: 1051
  • Scourge of the 7 IRC's
Re: Wikipedia still can't be trusted, I guess
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2011, 05:47:55 PM »

GoheX i will leave your head when you take away the comfy couch and sexy waitress who is always ready with a fresh drink, and not a moment before.

Ken

  • Administrator
  • Baron
  • ******
  • Posts: 4152
    • Ken's Website
Re: Wikipedia still can't be trusted, I guess
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2011, 06:18:01 PM »

I'll take that as a compliment, good sir.
Logged

Eurymachus

  • Friar
  • **
  • Posts: 54
Re: Wikipedia still can't be trusted, I guess
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2011, 06:26:48 PM »

It is all about degree's of confidence and the importance of the usage of the information you are taking. Wikipedia is generally accurate to a reasonable degree. As an example I'd give the US population. In conversation, its going to be used in a relatively throwaway manner and accuracy really isnt too important, in such a case I can give the rough figure of 300 million. Now if I'd been writing a report in school say I would want to look up the figure Wikipedia and get a more exact number. Now if I was writing a thesis on demography at university, I would damn well go to the US census and check their methodology, margin of error and information collection etc etc. The point being, just be sensible, if what you are writing is going to be read by hundreds of thousands of people do double check. Nevertheless Wikipedia is an invaluable tool for all sorts of people.

Oh and Red Dog, not to nitpick but you are making something of an error. Theory in the colloquial sense does not mean the same as it does in the scientific sense. Taking as a given the fact that all science is open to change if we find simply one contrary observation. Theory in scientific parlance is basically as close to fact as we get. We have a theory of gravity or the theory of evolution and these are almost perfect explications of our current set of observations. As for the examples you give, evolution is pretty a "theory" and as such pretty much fact. The origin of life, or abiogenesis is a fiercely debated field with lots of interesting hypotheses but no "theories" as of yet and as for how the world was a million years ago, well their are some certainties and some uncertainties, so a mixed bag.
Logged

Barryva

  • The Baron VonAwesome
  • Global Moderator
  • Baron
  • ****
  • Posts: 1051
  • Scourge of the 7 IRC's
Re: Wikipedia still can't be trusted, I guess
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2011, 06:43:15 PM »

In conversation, its going to be used in a relatively throwaway manner and accuracy really isnt too important, in such a case I can give the rough figure of 300 million. Now if I'd been writing a report in school say I would want to look up the figure Wikipedia and get a more exact number. Now if I was writing a thesis on demography at university, I would damn well go to the US census and check their methodology, margin of error and information collection etc etc. The point being, just be sensible, if what you are writing is going to be read by hundreds of thousands of people do double check. Nevertheless Wikipedia is an invaluable tool for all sorts of people.


Please clarify, 300 million what? I Don't understand this statement.

I Do agree though that if i was writing a paper for school I would not use Wikipedia it self as a source/reference, at least with out qualifying that I found "X" on Wikipedia and stating that its should therefore be taken with a grain of salt.  But most entry's on Wikipedia cite their sources, so it could be considered as a source of aggregating sources.

Eurymachus

  • Friar
  • **
  • Posts: 54
Re: Wikipedia still can't be trusted, I guess
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2011, 07:00:53 PM »

Quote from: Eurymachus
  As an example I'd give the US population. In conversation, its going to be used in a relatively throwaway manner and accuracy really isnt too important, in such a case I can give the rough figure of 300 million. [quote/]

300 million being very roughly the US population. Which is perfectly sufficient for the purposes of a conversation. It is a very very rough figure but perfectly appropriate in some situations. For example if someone said which country has the great population, the US or the UK. I'd use the rough "fact" that the US is 300 million, and the UK 60 million and derive the correct answer. Despite them being incorrect when you use the rigourous definition of a "fact".
Logged

Sekani

  • Baron
  • *****
  • Posts: 785
  • You don't care about any of this
    • sekani2.com
Re: Wikipedia still can't be trusted, I guess
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2011, 07:21:41 PM »

It is all about degree's of confidence and the importance of the usage of the information you are taking. Wikipedia is generally accurate to a reasonable degree. As an example I'd give the US population. In conversation, its going to be used in a relatively throwaway manner and accuracy really isnt too important, in such a case I can give the rough figure of 300 million. Now if I'd been writing a report in school say I would want to look up the figure Wikipedia and get a more exact number. Now if I was writing a thesis on demography at university, I would damn well go to the US census and check their methodology, margin of error and information collection etc etc. The point being, just be sensible, if what you are writing is going to be read by hundreds of thousands of people do double check. Nevertheless Wikipedia is an invaluable tool for all sorts of people.
I agree completely with this. While you won't see any glaring inaccuracies most of the time, what you will see frequently are slants and viewpoints (like Barry pointed out). The question I'm posing more in particular is would we rather have these biases as opposed to true neutrality?
Pages: [1] 2