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Wikipedia Shreds the Truth

David Klinghoffer | @d_klinghoffer

shredded

Alerted to our 2018 Censor of the Year announcement, Tyler O’Neil at PJ Media talked with me and he offers a rollicking summary of what’s wrong with the online encyclopedia that puts the truth through a shredder. You might wonder, is there any subject on which you can trust Wikipedia? Of course there is.

All the same, Klinghoffer did not say Wikipedia was worthless. “You can rely on Wikipedia for things that nobody cares about. If you want to know the population of Peoria, you can absolutely trust Wikipedia, but for anything that people are invested in and care about, you can’t trust it,” he said.

Whenever you look up a controversial issue on Wikipedia, take the results with a grain of salt.

Not to pat myself on the back, but that gets to the heart of the problem. As soon as it’s a subject that gets people riled — specifically, the sociological slice with enough time on their hands to monitor Wiki articles around the clock — then you know you can’t trust what they say. Conversely, the less anyone cares, the more you can trust this ubiquitous information source.

O’Neil has fun with the process of “editing” Wikipedia.

PaleoNeonate, a self-described “agnostic with naturalist pantheistic tendencies, who has long ceased to believe in the supernatural,” proved quite vigilant in preventing any change to the [intelligent design] page. On October 27 at 6:41 p.m., a user removed the word “religious” from the entry calling ID a “religious argument.” At 6:43 p.m., PaleoNeonate put “religious” right back in.

In the debate over whether or not [Günter] Bechly’s page should be removed, editor “Jo-Jo Eumerus“ made the final decision to remove the notable paleontologist. This editor described himself as “a currently 23-year old male from Switzerland,” and included a graphic of himself as a wizard “from a time 500 years ago.” He admitted having been “diagnosed with Asperger syndrome” and “sometimes [has] problems with society due to this.”

“It’s crazy that this is the authoritative source of information for everyone who uses the Internet,” David Klinghoffer told PJ Media.

Wikipedia markets itself as a people’s encyclopedia. “Anybody can edit it — that’s true for about two minutes,” Klinghoffer said. ”The pseudonymous editors of Wikipedia are on hair-trigger alert for any pages that they care about. They’re there within two minutes or less and they revert your change. You can’t beat them.”

Meanwhile, as if on cue, a reader writes in to us, who has apparently not been following our coverage of Wikipedia or the COTY award. He notes:

I don’t consider Wikipedia to be authoritative, but it’s the first stop for a lot of us trying to figure stuff out. I paused my YouTube video viewing of Ben Stein’s “Expelled” documentary, & looked up Wikipedia’s articles for “Intelligent Design”, “Stephen C. Meyer” (which are both locked to editing) & “Discovery Institute” (which can be edited). If the “Expelled” documentary is accurate, then it might be worthwhile for you to try to get those articles corrected.

Do you think so? He’s referring to the fact that the ID page is under “semi-protection,” a quasi-lockdown status against “disruption or vandalism.” Disruption or vandalism is what they evidently call trying to correct misleading or dishonest language. Should I laugh? Should I cry? You decide.