Further to Wikipedia is a reliable source. – yrs, Easter Bunny (“Controversial,” we repeatedly find, means only that some powerful lobby doesn’t like the information presented. It often has nothing to do with whether the information was accurately or adequately sourced),
On Wikipedia, politically controversial science topics vulnerable to information sabotage
As society turns to Wikipedia for answers, students, educators, and citizens should understand its limitations when researching scientific topics that are politically charged. On entries subject to edit-wars, like acid rain, evolution, and global change, one can obtain — within seconds — diametrically different information on the same topic, say authors of a new report.
Thank lazy students and lazier teachers.
The authors note that as Wikipedia matures, there is evidence that the breadth of its scientific content is increasingly based on source material from established scientific journals. They also note that Wikipedia employs algorithms to help identify and correct blatantly malicious edits, such as profanity. But in their view, it remains to be seen how Wikipedia will manage the dynamic, changing content that typifies politically-charged science topics.
To help readers critically evaluate Wikipedia content, Likens and Wilson suggest identifying entries that are known to have significant controversy or edit wars. They also recommend quantifying the reputation of individual editors. In the meantime, users are urged to cast a critical eye on Wikipedia source material, which is found at the bottom of each entry. More.
Unfortunately, while these are constructive suggestions in principle, they aren’t going to help that much. For one thing, anyone familiar with the scandals currently dogging peer reviewed journals will suspect, as does a commenter here, that the fundamental problem today is the lack of respect for fact in general. A lack of respect that results in ongoing scandals at the journals.
As a result, consensus science is not the answer Likens and Wilson hope it will be.
These days, on some topics, one would be better off searching at Retraction Watch than Wikipedia.
Peer review works! 64 Springer papers retracted (Is this, like, click farms for science? Anyone remember “skeptic” Michael Shermer’s defense of peer review?)
If peer review is working, why all the retractions?
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