Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Accuracy and Orthodoxy on Wikipedia

Historian Timothy Messer-Kruse attempted to improve a Wikipedia entry on a historical subject he has been researching for a decade. Unfortunately, all he has on his side was the evidence.
"Wikipedia is not 'truth,' Wikipedia is 'verifiability' of reliable sources. Hence, if most secondary sources which are taken as reliable happen to repeat a flawed account or description of something, Wikipedia will echo that."
I go to Wikipedia, and so do you.  Most of the time, it's about good enough for what we need, isn't it? But you have to feel for a historian who does the work, corrects the accepted story with convincing new evidence -- and then sees the accepted story restored just because it's the accepted story.

Not that this only happens on Wikipedia, of course, but Wikipedia does seem to have raised it to the level of epistemology.  (Just checking I know what I'm saying, I google "epistemology" -- and the Wikipedia entry comes up first. It tells me what I need. Circular or what?)
H/t Cliopatria.
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