Friday, December 16, 2005

Science: Wikipedia as accurate as Brittanica in peer-reviewed study of 42 scientific topics

As bashing Wikipedia has become fashionable lately, Nature observes:

Two weeks ago prominent journalist John Seigenthaler, the former publisher of the Tennessean newspaper and founding editorial director of USA Today, revealed that
a Wikipedia entry that ran for four months had incorrectly named him as a longtime suspect in the assassinations of president John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert.

Such errors appear to be the exception rather than the rule, Nature said in Wednesday's article, which the scientific journal said was the first to use peer review to compare Wikipedia to Britannica. Based on 42 articles reviewed by experts, the average scientific entry in Wikipedia contained four errors or omissions, while Britannica had three.

Of eight "serious errors" the reviewers found -- including misinterpretations of important concepts -- four came from each source, the journal reported.
"We're very pleased with the results and we're hoping it will focus people's attention on the overall level of our work, which is pretty good," said Jimmy Wales, who founded St. Petersburg, Florida-based Wikipedia in 2001.
If you're dumb enough to use Wikipedia as your primary source on a controversial topic about which the as-close-to-objective truth is essential, then you deserve to get duped by whatever jerk out there is manipulating articles for fun or bias. For an up-to-date quick reference to augment your cultural literacy (not your research paper or government intelligence report, mind you), there will probably never be a better resource.

2 comments:

Kyle said...

And people who quote it as some kind of authority should always be ignored...

Anonymous said...

I love wikipedia, even when it's wrong.

Check out this joint wikipedia/google search thingy
I made for a home page.