Thursday, April 20, 2006


Wikipedia is a fun tool, which interestingly is still free to edit for all... well before they get banned for editing Bush's page to say "Bush is a war criminal! And also smells of poo!". Actually, if I was going to launch a mass attack on wikipedia, I suspect I would change all the pages to mention something involving excretion. Because that's the kind of guy I am.

It's often been remarked that there is a lack of admiration for expertise in wikipedia, but I think this is a more widespread problem, something that has appeared in the media too. Basically, something is fair and balanced if you have two people saying opposite things about a contentious issue (where a contentious issue is anything where someone shouts loudly enough). This is, of course, ridiculous. The creationist debate is one, where the voice of someone who knows nothing (or close to noting) about science, is equal to one who knows a lot. I suppose given the chance, the scientist could disprove the creationist's claims, but often they are phrased in a popular enough way that they seem reasonable, despite having no basis in evidence. No scientific journal takes the claims seriously, but the media do, because some people say it.

I suppose I am biased, being of a scientific bent myself, but the huge difference is that real science is peer reviewed and checked many times before being made public, and afterwards will still be subject to critisism. Creationists know their claims cannot get through this process, so instead appeal to those without the technical knowledge to notice the flaws in their reasoning.

Incidentally, to wikipedia's credit, the article on evolution, while mentioning the controversy, gives it no real support.


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