They tell me you are wrong, and sometimes you are

Wikipedia. But your wrong does not stand long, with your thousands of assiduous editors jumping in and correcting false or misleading information as soon as it appears.

And they tell me you are wicked, Wikipedia, that you trick information seekers, and bias them into your politically-motivated, left-wing mind-control. But I looked for it, and I don’t see it.

Whom may the online seeker of free and reliable information trust?

I did a little experiment to find out. My hypothesis was that, regardless of political convictions, knowledge providers should be able to agree on a subject as dry and well-documented as the prolific philosopher and writer John Dewey.

I therefore compared the treatment of the same–and I naively thought un-controversial–subject at Wikipedia and two other free, online encyclopedias: “the encyclopedia you can trust,” Conservapedia, and a newer presence whose political leanings seem humanistic, New World Encyclopedia.

THE FINDINGS: Predictably enough, since it is many years older, the Wikipedia article is thousands of times larger than its fellows. Wikipedia also seems to have balanced opinion on the man’s philosophy and its implications and applications. Its bibliography is vast and, to my cursory testing, accurate.

The conservatives behind Conservapedia had an especially short, dismissive post of John Dewey. While Conservapedia claims to be “trustworthy” its article is the most biased, focusing not as I expected on putting forth a summary of Dewey’s life and philosophy, but instead reviewing immediately how wrong and un-Christian he was.

Ironically, Conservapedia quotes Dewey and inadvertantly sort of hoists themselves on their own petard. Dewey is reminding the reader how from a scientific point of view, religious orthodoxy hurts the progress of mankind:
From an article at conservapedia, quoting Dewey in 1924 (snarky emphasis mine):

Those traditionalists and literalists who have arrogated to themselves the title of fundamentalists recognize of course no mean between their dogmas and blank, dark, hopeless uncertainty and unsettlement. Until they have been reborn into the life of intelligence, they will not be aware that there are a steadily increasing number of persons who find security in methods of inquiry, of observation, experiment, of forming and following working hypotheses.

At the New World Encyclopedia, the bias seems the other way. Their positive portrayal of Dewey is maybe a quarter of the size of Wikipedia’s, but to my reading seems biased in Dewey’s favor and that of world peace.

So until a better free encyclopedia emerges, I’m going to encourage my free-information seeking friends to wiki-up first, then do the New World, and conserve their skepticism for Conservapedia.

One response to “They tell me you are wrong, and sometimes you are”

  1. OR! you could phone, email, IM your local area librarian and she/he could accurately forward you correct/current/relevant information…we’ve gone 2.0 too 😉

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