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edit index Pseudopedia/Cases
<< see Pseudopedia

Cases in Point

A few cases (of many, many) so far documented to illustrate the General and Policy Criticisms:

"Priests Roamed"

"Following the devastation in Lisbon in 1755, priests roamed the streets, hanging those they believed had incurred God's wrath."
This false sentence was, until recently, within the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake article (on Wikinfo as well as Wikipedia), and caused an uproar when it was included in some Washington Post news coverage by reporter Jose Antonio Vargas regarding recent Tsunami in Asia. What is striking is not that there was a false sentence on Wikipedia, for some would say falsities are as ubiquitous as hyperlinks on that "largest Wiki" in the world; what is striking is the resulting conversation about the sentence (see the Lisbon earthquake talk page, the Signpost/2005-02-14/Misinformation_on_Wikipedia fake news page, and it's talk page, all archived on Wikinfo). Particularly telling are Theresa Carpinelli's cogent statements and arguments against Wikipedia, such as:

"I am not a contributer to Wikipedia, nor do I wish to be. But I have used it, and my son has used it quite a bit. As a user, therefore, and the primary educator of my son, I feel I have a perfect right to ask for sources, not change the article myself."
The treatment of newcomers like Carpinelli, who have the simplest suggestions, is often a growing series of personal attacks. In this case, the attacks got ugly, only because she expected that an Encyclopedia was a place to go to get correct information on a subject. The Wikipedians she found, though, ridiculed her for not becoming a wiki-editor herself, if the error was so important, and eventually, created the "fake" news article about the incident, one which is heavily slanted toward Wikipedian policy and practice, as well as being an unconvincing defense of the false sentence as having come from elsewhere. This is only one of many examples, and only came to light because of Carpinelli's dilligence in trying to uncover the truth.

"Now that [the false sentence] has been published in the Post, it has been picked up by many more outlets than it would have had it remained on the less-than-credible Internet sites." - Carpenelli
Concordantly, had the false statement never been posted on Wikipedia, indeed one of the "less-than-credible" websites, this chain of events would never have occured. So, it is one thing to allow the posting of any Point of View by internet denziens, and it is quite another to call that process an encyclopedia on par with Encyclopedia Britannica or others. Because of cases like this, it is irresponsible for Pseudopedians to promote The Pseudopedia as anything other than what it actually is.

Who coined 'Dynamism'?

Dynamism, according to Pseudopedia:
First version ((:en:User:Pratyeka|Pratyeka), 15 Sept, 2004):

#REDIRECT vitalism (philosophy)

Second version ((:en:User:Tmh|Tmh), 3 Oct, 2004):

Dynamism is a point of view that embraces multiculturality, individual choice and the open society, even if it means uncertainity of the future and losing the privilege of the state to plan the society.

The terms original inventor and the forerunner of the dynamist movement is Virginia Postrel, a libertarian activist.

== Links ==
*[], Virginia Postrel's site

Third version ((:en:User:Polynova|Polynova), 4 Oct, 2004):

Dynamism is a term coined by libertarian pundit Virginia Postrel to describe her social philosophy that embraces cultural change, individual choice, and the open society. She contrasts dynamism with what she calls "stasis" — that is, government regulation and conservative resistance to change.

Postrel explains these terms in detail in her book The Future and its Enemies (ISBN 0684862697).

== Link ==
*[], Virginia Postrel's site
Let us consider the article Dynamism on Wikipedia, to demonstrate how false information can be propagated. The three Wikipedia revisions, to date, are provided in the box to the right. Compare to the GetWiki version by "Proteus", starting on 10 November, 2004, heavily modified from their revision of 4 October, 2004 (which has since been corrected using Proteus' text).

Now, imagine you were a young student doing research in Philosophy. You would have come upon the topic of Dynamism, and would have liked to know more. Perhaps you would try to Google it out, perhaps with "(Google:dynamism%A0coined|dynamism coined)". The 22 March, 2005 result (4 months after the corrected Wikinfo version was created) from Google is evidence that the text from Wikipedia is propagated across many sites. If you didn't know any better, you would probably accept the answer as given by so many official-sounding websites. The only problem, other than the first versions of article being an advert for Postrel's book, which is apparently against Wikipedian policy, is the answer given in the now replicated text is wrong, very wrong, and could not be more wrong unless "Dynamism" were defined as a type of cucumber.

Many of us can accept that there is false information, non-verified, inauthentic, highly questionable, false information all over Wikipedia. A wiki with so many hundreds of thousands of pages is bound to get some things wrong. The problem is, that because Wikipedia has become the "AOL" of the library and reference world, such false information and incorrect definitions of terms become multiple incompetences, propagated to millions of potential readers world-wide. There are countless articles like this on Wikipedia, many of which will never be corrected, either because of the powerful Groupthink effect throughout, or because the errors will simply never be found and pointed out.

We must ask: How many students have relied on false information from Wikipedia? Is the fact that it's a Wiki relevant to the question? Furthermore, if a non-Wikipedian student or philosopher were to try to update the Wikipedia article, the revisions would quite likely be reverted (especially those who Wikipedians consider enemies), and that outsider would then become yet another "problem user".

Wikinfo, with a major portion of its content imported directly from Wikipedia, is not immune to this criticism, either. However, some "Wikinfos" are committed to finding such falisity and rooting it out, and correcting or modifying Wikipedia articles before they are saved on Wikinfo, as should editors on other encyclopedic wikis importing Wikipedia content. So, in effect, The Pseudopedia, as a huge GFDL content provider, exports as much ignorance via XML as it does fact.

Proliferation of Spoof Articles

By December 2005, Wikipedia's reputation for containing a high proportion of factually wrong or slanted articles was further cemented by the news that a high profile article was spoofed by its author. Similar news has come to light about prestigious scientific journals, as well. In the wake of this, Wikipedians have poured on the Public Relations effort, all in a vain attempt to capture more audience and counter the bad news. Further, dozens of related spoof articles have appeared, and the administrators are under growing pressure to find a way to Peer Review, or otherwise verify, the factual statements in Wikipedia articles. With nearly 4 Million articles at this time, that will be quite a challenge.

The Sinbad Hoax

A telling example of the vandalism and false information on Wikipedia is the widely reported death of actor/comedian David Adkins, also known as "Sinbad," on March 14, 2007.

In fact, Adkins had not died. The supposed death of Sinbad was inserted into his article by an anonymous user, and the article wasn't noticed or corrected for 72 minutes. In the subsequent 36 hours, the article was edited more than a hundred times by many different users, including many vandals. It was subsequently protected from editing. By March 16, the hoax had been reported by more than 200 news sources in several countries. weblink and on the morning of March 16, the Drudge Report linked to the Associated Press article as "WIKIPEDIA Falsely Reports Sinbad's Death..."

Some Wikipedians held up the fact that the error was corrected within 72 minutes as a victory, while one user noted that this is five times longer than the "15 minutes of fame" promised by Andy Warhol weblink and that it was nothing of which Wikipedians could be proud.

Wikipedia spokeswoman Sandra Ordonez told the Reuters that numerous Wikipedia users, assuming that the correction was vandalism, switched the text of the article back to indicate that Sinbad was indeed dead. She claimed there are "various checks and balances" to ensure correct information on Wikipedia, but didn't explain what those chacks or balances were. weblink

Some content adapted from the Wikinfo article "Critical_views_of_Wikipedia/Cases" under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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[ last updated: 12:16pm EDT - Mon, Sep 22 2008 ]
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M.R.M. Parrott