Digital dissent

I follow several electronic newsgroups to ensure I stay at the front of my research interests. The ever challenging issue of science on Wikipedia cropped up today with an unusually heated debate on the accuracy of information on a page and whether one of the sources cited was accurate in this instance versus ‘in general’. The debate was over a particular instance of arthropod classification – Arthropods include the insects so, by default, include most species of living things. In this case the debate was about possible mistakes in a supplying database that had resulted in the accidental/unintentional appearance of what seemed to be two new genera. Here is the link to the dispute:

Why am I posting this?  Simple, most of my students use Wikipedia as a definitive source of information for their essays.  I keep telling them it isn’t. It is the opinion of the person willing to put 1) most time in and 2) who has editorial control of the page.  To me, the example above is one I will be using to illustrate my assertions 🙂



About Alastair Culham

A professional botanist and biologist with an interest in promoting biological knowledge and awareness to all.
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One Response to Digital dissent

  1. patparslow says:

    A great example, illustrating your point extremely well. It amazes me people don’t appreciate the impact of ‘dominant voices’ in debates, and how digital communication can both help and hinder.

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