TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Wikipedia Becomes Internet Force, But Faces Crisis

Re: Wikipedia Becomes Internet Force, But Faces Crisis

timeOday (
Sat, 17 Dec 2005 11:42:25 -0700

Danny Burstein wrote:

> In <> (Thor Lancelot
> Simon) writes:

>> In article <>, Dave Garland
>> <> wrote:

>>> The exercise revealed numerous errors in both encyclopaedias, but
>>> among 42 entries tested, the difference in accuracy was not
>>> particularly great: the average science entry in Wikipedia contained
>>> around four inaccuracies; Britannica, about three ...

>> I'm astonished that a 25% difference is considered "not particularly
>> great".

> I'm shocked that finding "four major errors" (out of 50) [as stated in
> the original article] in both Wikipedia _AND_ in the Encyclopeadia
> Brittanica hasn't led to people ripping the latter to shreds.

> The EB is supposedly a solid and accurate reference work. Yet here
> it's got an eight percent "major error" rate.

It's not EB that's out of whack, it's your expectations. Even recent
studies of peer reviewed scientific papers in top journals found
significant error rates:

"No fewer than 11.6% and 11.1% of the statistical results published in
Nature and the British Medical Journal (BMJ), respectively, during
2001 were wrong. A whopping 38% of the papers in Nature contained at
least one such error, as did 25% in the BMJ.

Of course, these error-finding reviews aren't perfect either. Had a
different group of experts evaluated those same 50 EB articles, they
would have found some number of errors different than 8, maybe more
and maybe less.

And at some point they'd get down to arguing over which were "errors,"
and which were likely true but not certain, and which were true but
misleading to the public, and on and on...

And finally they would run out of energy and time, and try to shape
their findings into something comprehensible, useful, and as
informative and accurate as possible. That's how research works.
Nobody has a direct line on The Truth. The harder you look, the more
you find.

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