Intelligent Design Media

Do courts (or smart people) trust Wikipedia?

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Laughable idea. At Mind Matters News: Can you trust Wikipedia to decide your courtroom fate?

Should judges and lawyers rely on Wikipedia to guide court case decisions? Researchers devised clever test to see if they do. Meanwhile, U.S. courts have brushed it off:

The convenience of Wikipedia for quick searches via voice or keyboard input does not mean its information is accurate, reliable, or trustworthy. Wisely, many U.S. courts have tamed the impulse to resort to the Wikipedia shortcut. Some writers still push to elevate Wikipedia’s status as a truth source — hopefully the courts will never surrender to the notion of “democratic” truth posted by unknown wikiphiles.

Richard W. Stevens, “Can you trust Wikipedia to decide your courtroom fate?” at Mind Matters News

Wikipedia’s misrepresentations of ID may well be a norm, not an exception.

Takehome: Generally, American courts have pointedly — and very advisedly — rejected any reliance on Wikipedia as a source of facts in the courtroom.

You may also wish to read: Wikipedia’s bias meets a free-speech alternative. The famously free encyclopaedia’s pages on abortion, communism, and historical figures reveal a left-leaning bias. Wikipedia’s neutral point of view “is dead”, declares co-founder Larry Sanger, who is now launching a free-speech alternative.

14 Replies to “Do courts (or smart people) trust Wikipedia?

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Wikipedia is fine as long as you only use it as a pointer to more authoritative sources.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    If the topic is remotely ideological or political, you cannot trust it to not suppress inconvenient sources.

  3. 3
    chuckdarwin says:

    ID proponents are bitter with Wiki because it unapologetically calls out ID as pseudoscience. Its protestations nicely dovetail with ID’s persecution complex……

  4. 4
    jerry says:

    I recently watched the movie “Chariots of Fire” from 1981 and winner of best picture.

    I assume Wikipedia is a good source of information on both the movie and the 1924 Olympics which the movie is about. Wikipedia was very careful to point out all the fake stuff in the movie and there is a lot. But the main story was still basically true.

    Still enjoyed the movie and understand the literary license they took.

    But when it comes to anything political/ideological it is trash. One of the many themes of the Behe/Ramage discussion was the false accusations leveled at ID. Wikipedia is as guilty of it as anyone. For example calling ID pseudoscience is about as specious as one can get.

  5. 5
    relatd says:

    Seversky at 1,

    Oh my Darwin! I’m agreeing with Seversky!

    I need to lie down for a few minutes now…

  6. 6
    relatd says:

    CD at 3,

    Put a sock in it.

  7. 7
    AaronS1978 says:

    I studied the science of oxytocin and the neuroscience of free will for years

    When I first started back in 2014 I used Wikipedia as my first sources

    I found it sited very few, if any sources, that contradicted oxytocin being the end all be all of love. Many of its sources sited the envelope trust experiment which was debunked by the very scientific team that did the experiment originally. It even miss interpreted many of the original findings and supported much of Paul Zaks sensationalization of the hormone

    The last I checked it’s still not up to date with current findings. Ed Yong was an excellent source that has dismantled much of the stupidity around the hormone amongst many others.

    The neuroscience of free will it’s also painfully out of date, misinterprets several experiments and leans heavily towards the interpretation that we do not have free will. It often quotes Daniel Dennett’s criticisms of NOFW research but no one else short of one or two quotes from Alfred Mele. They have still not updated the page with current interpretations and findings for NOFW which is problematic given the no free will interpretation of Benjamin Libet’s experiment was based on an artifact which was debunked by Aaron Schruger.

    Any lay person reading these wiki pages would walk away with a grossly inaccurate misunderstanding of the subjects they just read.

    This has also been shown true with other issues. Evolution wiki sounds like it was written literally by Jerry Coyne, it even captures the snideness of his when discussing objections and criticisms for evolution.

    Wiki is garbage unless you what info on media, video games, cartoons, and shows

  8. 8
    relatd says:


    Don’t judge Wiki too harshly. I often use it to start research projects before going on to more credible, and better sources. If it is wrong about some things does not automatically make it wrong about everything.

  9. 9
    asauber says:

    I trust Wiki for rock band trivia, most of the time.


  10. 10
    AaronS1978 says:

    @9 yeah I would say that’s a good use of it

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    CD, I have seen far too much bias, agenda and slander at Wikipedia. Its rules and governance model are broken. I think it survives because defamation law in the US is a mess; otherwise it would have been sued into oblivion. Want of genuine objectivity, lack of balance, gross error, gross unfairness etc are fatal for what purports to be a knowledge commons. On some technical and apolitical topics it is useful, but once agendas and activists take over, it’s over. Wikipedia is broken and stoutly resists reform. That’s fatal. KF

  12. 12
    asauber says:

    In the Age of Lies, anything published should be understood/verified/audited as far as it is possible, before making commitments to believing whatever it is. This has always been the case, but the lies are in greater quantity now, so more diligence is required.


  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    AS, no society and no civilisation can survive lying becoming a norm. KF

  14. 14
    relatd says:

    Andrew at 12,

    The problem is this: anyone can post anything on the internet regardless of skill level. Since people can type on a keyboard, some think they can be authors but that ignores developing the skills needed to become an author of something worth reading. Bad fiction is bad fiction, but when it comes to books or articles about present occurrences or history, I have seen far too many examples of bad writing and bad research.

    The internet allows for the illusion that anyone can write accurate, well researched articles or books, quickly and easily. That is generally not true.

    There are standards of good journalism, doing research and checking facts.

    Real journalism requires review by persons competent in the field.

    Real book publishing requires review by competent editors and publishers.

    Of the hundreds of manuscripts I’ve seen, perhaps one in 100 is worth publishing. The same applies in Hollywood according to an experienced script editor I know.

    In my primary area of interest, military history, facts and related documents are critical. As far as “news reporting” today, I see too much trivia taking up most of the “news.” It is obviously more important to promote a political agenda, speak for or against certain political figures, provide information about the activities of celebrities, and a small amount of “actual” news that requires a good deal of death and destruction to qualify as newsworthy. And it is often overblown.

    Standards exist.

    Training is required.

    News stories about the present need to be vetted by competent, highly skilled persons. Historical stories and books require the same thing.

    It is very disappointing to see people attempting to post articles about subjects I know very well that are 80% accurate, sometimes less. That include unnecessary bias in the text. Or that contain false assumptions or just plain wrong statements.

    I think I should point out that some think that writing on the internet this way is OK. It is not. It can distort history, and for those who don’t have the necessary skill, give the impression that “anyone can do this,” and it’s quick and easy.

    I have stopped reading most internet sources with articles about subjects that interest me. They have not been properly vetted. They are written by people who are unaware of any standards that exist or perhaps don’t care. I reject this material as amateur and incompetent.

    WARNING: There are people who post on the internet who are highly skilled liars. So yes, the burden falls to the reader to determine that what he is reading is true and accurate in all details.

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