by Denyse O'Leary
Recently, there have been some serious problems with widely consulted Wikipedia entries on major intelligent design figures that read like poison pen letters. The trouble is, anyone can edit a Wiki entry. This problem is hardly likely to be confined to the intelligent design controversy, as a recent scandal and ban on school use has spotlighted.
As Financial Times put it, Wikipedia's celebrated "openness" has
drawn charges of unreliability and left it vulnerable to disputes between people with opposing views, particularly on politically sensitive topics.
That's a polite way of putting it, for sure. One of ID math guy WIlliam Dembski's colleagues at Uncommon Descent went to a good deal of trouble to ascertain facts and post a long correct entry. But it could go corrupt again as long as anyone with a grudge can edit it. So if it doesn't smell right at certain points, that's probably why.
Recently, I wrote to a friend regarding some bad entries for Bill Dembski:
The current Wiki entry would euthanize about forty squirrels in my back alley, two dozen skunks, four foxes, and eighteen full size raccoons. Maybe a coyote as well. And three dozen tomcats and 200 rats.
As a textbook editor, one of my functions was "bias reviewer" - specifically, it was my job to flag tendentious material. But Wikipedia has no such oversight. Now, a founder of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger, is bringing out a competitor that will feature traditional control devices like editors. As he says,
The latest articles don't represent a consensus view â€“ they tend to become what the most persistent 'posters' say.
Yes, exactly. And people with a grudge, for whatever reason, will be far more persistent than people who just want to set down some information and go live their life and be happy.
Apparently, Sanger left after a year, frustrated by the failure of Wkipedia to grasp the need for qualified editors.
Is ID an unusual case? Probably not. Teachers and professors should not, in my view, encourage students to use Wikipedia entries at this point. Many students are not nearly skilled enough to detect even the most obvious bias and the teacher cannot be everywhere and know everything.
Jimmy Wales at Wikipedia had a great idea - in theory. In practice, allowing malicious posters to publish distorted accounts, presumably on the theory that the friends of the maligned will rush to correct them, is simply irresponsible. Entirely lost to view is that the system should benefit the user, not the poster - and the user just wants a neutral account of ideas and events. We traditional editors always knew that.
Incidentally, I have reason to believe that the competitor encyclopedia will feature a supervised entry on the intelligent design controversy written by a knowledgeable insider. People who want to launch personal attacks on the ID guys are still free to do so, of course, but not to pretend that they are encyclopedia entries.
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of the forthcoming The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Harper 2007).
No Pingbacks for this post yet...
|<< <||> >>|
Evolution has become a favorite topic of the news media recently, but for some reason, they never seem to get the story straight. The staff at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture started this Blog to set the record straight and make sure you knew "the rest of the story".
A blogger from New England offers his intelligent reasoning.
We are a group of individuals, coming from diverse backgrounds and not speaking for any organization, who have found common ground around teleological concepts, including intelligent design. We think these concepts have real potential to generate insights about our reality that are being drowned out by political advocacy from both sides. We hope this blog will provide a small voice that helps rectify this situation.
Website dedicated to comparing scenes from the "Inherit the Wind" movie with factual information from actual Scopes Trial. View 37 clips from the movie and decide for yourself if this movie is more fact or fiction.
Don Cicchetti blogs on: Culture, Music, Faith, Intelligent Design, Guitar, Audio
Australian biologist Stephen E. Jones maintains one of the best origins "quote" databases around. He is meticulous about accuracy and working from original sources.
Most guys going through midlife crisis buy a convertible. Austrialian Stephen E. Jones went back to college to get a biology degree and is now a proponent of ID and common ancestry.
Complete zipped downloadable pdf copy of David Stove's devastating, and yet hard-to-find, critique of neo-Darwinism entitled "Darwinian Fairytales"
Intelligent Design The Future is a multiple contributor weblog whose participants include the nation's leading design scientists and theorists: biochemist Michael Behe, mathematician William Dembski, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, philosophers of science Stephen Meyer, and Jay Richards, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson, molecular biologist Jonathan Wells, and science writer Jonathan Witt. Posts will focus primarily on the intellectual issues at stake in the debate over intelligent design, rather than its implications for education or public policy.
A Philosopher's Journey: Political and cultural reflections of John Mark N. Reynolds. Dr. Reynolds is Director of the Torrey Honors Institute at