Posted by: eseeders | January 23, 2009

How To Make A Historian Laugh

While examining my RSS feed earlier today, I noticed an interesting headline on the MSNBC website: “Wikipedia: Black and white and wrong all over”. The story behind this headline? In brief, WIKIPEDIA LIES! No shit Sherlock. The author of this story a one Helen A.S. Popkin was apparently not aware of this notion prior to a story “breaking” regarding Sen. Kennedy’s untimely “death” (he is very much alive btw). Fortunately she appears to have learned her lesson… one can only hope that all reporters are so lucky.

I always cringe when someone cites wikipedia as a source for relevant information. As a person with degrees in history and political science, I am quite familiar with all the terrible inaccuracies to be found on wikipedia. This is not to say that there are not worthwhile articles to be found on that particular site, I’m quite sure there are. Unfortunately, the overwhelming glut of bad content on there makes it difficult if not impossible to be sure that what you are looking at is in fact… well… fact.

So… the moral of the story? If you want me or anyone else with a sense of intellectual integrity to take you seriously… don’t cite wikipedia as your source for pete’s sake.

Edit – Adjusting word choice

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Responses

  1. When I wrote research papers, I found a good starting point to be wikipedia. Usually, it captures the gist of important information, and a lot of the times they have useful links to reliable sources (or sources pointing to reliable sources, or sources pointing to sources pointing to reliable sources, etc.). I would never cite wikipedia though. I’m not that dumb. I think.


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