How Easy it is to Destroy a Reputation – RussBaker 2/13/23


Part 2 of a Series

In Part I of this series, I talked about the tremendous power and influence of Wikipedia — and its cultural bias — in shaping how we think.

In Part 2, I focus on a problem that can affect anyone looking for solid information on anything — but especially when you want information to help you judge the reliability and character of individuals whose views may diverge from those of the establishment.

While Wikipedia has value, it is riddled with factual errors. (To get a whiff, go here, here, here, and here.) One researcher described the tenaciousness of an error:

It’s been corrected, but keeps coming back, and… it’s creeping into scholarly work. To make matters worse, these scholarly sources are now being cited by the Wikipedia article — so that, in effect, the article is citing itself, in support of its own erroneous claims.

That’s not surprising considering that anyone — regardless of any credentialled expertise — can contribute whatever they wish, without peer review; this includes individuals with a grudge, multinational corporations, and government agencies with agendas.

Wikipedia claims to be self-correcting by an army of volunteers, yet errors abound on the most basic facts.

But there’s a more subtle thing going on: creating a false impression about the subject, perhaps deliberately, by the complete omission of critical facts while including many details of far less importance that can affect whether the reader reacts positively or negatively.

And something even worse, as you will see below. …

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