Commentary Magazine


Contentions

The Anarchy of Wikipedia

Michael J. Lewis makes a fair point about Wikipedia: we have all used it as a short-cut from time to time, and, provided that information from it is checked and cross-referenced, it has its legitimate uses. But he does not go far enough in commenting on its accuracy.

The site is the repository not merely of inaccuracy but of disinformation on a vast scale. It is a minefield for those whom Nietzsche called “die Halbgebildeten,” the half-educated. According to Tom Gross, Wikipedia recently deleted an entry that claimed “the bones of Palestinian children” were one of five ingredients used by Jews to make unleavened bread for Passover. Though the editors promised to be more vigilant in the future, it is troubling that an Islamist version of this ancient anti-Semitic blood libel could be posted on this most popular of online resources for any length of time at all.

By chance, I discovered that the entry about me also included hostile, anonymously authored material. At my request, it was removed without question by the editors of Wikipedia. But what if I had not noticed it, or had been dead or otherwise unable to lodge a protest?

I am alarmed by the notion that authoritative reference works such as Britannica have been replaced by a “people’s encyclopedia” based on a primitive form of epistemological and moral relativism. Some people know more than others, and works of reference are there to disseminate the knowledge of the few to the many. In the realm of truth, Wikipedia has replaced democracy with anarchy.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.