Wikipedia® Continues to Destroy Intellectualism

By Shelomo Alfassa / August 31, 2008
reposted, with permission from:

I see it more and more. I will be at a party and people will start discussing an intellectual (or pseudo-intellectual) point. The person will be deep into discussion on the topic, then they will say something like, "you can look it up yourself on Wikipedia."

Wikipedia? Stop! is the "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" according to its official homepage. However, what Wikipedia has become is a Website built on an academic model resembling the likeness of junk-science. The whole idea of a free encyclopedia, built collaboratively, fails. This is because of the lack of (among many things), any sort of continuous project ownership, supervision, follow-up and of course, expertise.

Wikipedia mandates absolutely no citations, and often has material that has been cut and pasted (not always with permission) from other Websites. There are no guarantees of accuracy, no guarantees of truthfulness, and no guarantees-in any way, of the correctness of the material. Wikipedia defends its weak existence by declaring it has volunteer "experts," but anyone can become a pseudo-expert (read: traffic cop), and then wield the power of Wikipedia "authority" over editing. This sort of "moderation" has nurtured a cult of power-hungry nerds which wield words and opinions in a zealotious manner. When an innocent expert, a person truly educated and proven in his field goes to change something, it is often reverted back by the self-declared moderator - essentially the watch-dog of the perpetually erroneous article. There is no way around this, as persons complaining are often banned from Wikipedia!

In contrast, take the Encyclopedia Britannica for example, it was written over many decades and included the work of 100 full-time editors and over 4,000 expert contributors including top scholars and Nobel Laureates. The Encyclopedia Judaica took over four decades to write with thousands of people working collectively from the religious, historic, scientific, political and cultural community to ensure that the focus of each volume was accurate and facts were verified and cited properly.

The dream of a sort of intellectual-utopia written on every subject and theme, which could be accessed through Wikipedia, is as real as the Loch Ness Monster and Ponce de León's Fountain of Youth. In theory, Wikipedia was a positive idea, but like a time machine built in the garage by a nine-year old, it won't ever work. The experiment demonstrating the idea that strangers of the world would remain objective on practically everything and that these ideas and thoughts could be entered into a database that would function as some sort of comprehensive global encyclopedia has failed miserably.

What Wikipedia has become is a jumble of semi-truthful and somewhat factual statements mixed in a sundry of rambling assortment of doubtful factoids. To compound Wikipedia's flawed existence, is the open availability to include a healthy dose of subjectivity-the enemy of scholarly work. It is interesting to note that Wikipedia has now evolved into a formal foundation and this has the ability to keep the paychecks of the healthy and happy fat-cat owners rolling in as the epidemic of inaccuracy continues.

People are relying on the Wikipedia site as "intellectual;" they see Wikipedia as some sort of factual portal. This, even after numerous major universities and colleges have banned students from citing anything at all in Wikipedia. Why has Wikipedia been banned by some institutions of higher learning? Because Wikipedia is just a Website where anyone can write anything on. It is not an encyclopedia and the material on it is not primary research.

Sadly, too many of this generation remain estranged from conducting proper academic research or even owning real encyclopedias. These people remain estranged from finding accurate answers to their questions. It is too bad that people today don't know how to - or want to - conduct research on their own, but that is one must do if they want to present arguments, oral or written, and wish their work to be taken seriously. Everyone is being given equal opportunity to be being dumbed down from Wikipedia; it is only those diligent enough to desire truth which see the difference.

New York Times: A History Department Bans Citing Wikipedia as a Research Source

Wikipedia encyclopedia is banned at some colleges

*Wikipedia® and the Wikipedia logo are copyright and registered trademarks of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

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