Wikipedia is better than Britannica

Posted 10 years ago by Evan Tishuk

It's probably old news, but with all the hubbub about Wikipedia, I found this tidbit from Nature.com apropos and interesting.

Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy of its science entries, a Nature investigation finds...Yet Nature's investigation suggests that Britannica's advantage may not be great.

In short, Nature went to great lengths to show that Britannica is only marginally more accurate than Wikipedia on science subjects. Oh, but Britannica is easier to read.

Editors at Britannica would not discuss the findings, but say their own studies of Wikipedia have uncovered numerous flaws. "We have nothing against Wikipedia," says Tom Panelas, director of corporate communications at the company's headquarters in Chicago. [yeah right] "But it is not the case that errors creep in on an occasional basis or that a couple of articles are poorly written. There are lots of articles in that condition. They need a good editor."

Anyone want to go 50-50 on some Britannica stock? Anyone? Anyone out there even use Britannica??

2 Comments

James Simons ~ 10 years ago

The real wierdness is that both encylopedias had at least a few facts wrong per science article. I liked what SEEDMagazine.com had to say about it.

"Wikipedia v. Britannica: User-edited Wikipedia is not substantially less accurate than Britannica when it comes to science articles, reports Nature. The expert-led investigation carried out by the journal showed that Britannica averages three errors per science article, whereas Wikipedia averages four errors per science article. The moral: Don't trust encyclopedias."

Visitor ~ 4 years ago

I had a discussion with my brother about this "question" (He called into question my referencing Wikipedia with regard to science and nature) He became so angry he said he ‘hated me.’ LOL! Apparently a sensitive issue (?). Regardless; knowledge as disseminated by human thinkers always represents..." grain of salt." Everyone has their bias and many who fail to broaden out their learning get locked into orthodoxy while at the same time parroting what they have heard verses applying themselves toward becoming educated in these regards.( ‘Heard it through the grapevine’ verses testing Wicipedia out themselves as to reliability or veracity)

As it concerns this particular discussion. I would say: Stop whining "peer reviewed" ones unless you can demonstrate sufficiently that Wicipedia is utterly useless (good luck). Accept that it’s all about information ( not just your own take on things.. or naivety as to the broad subjects discussed by Wikipedia) and the noble desire imputed to this entity.. Wikipedia.. to accumulate a more vast and all inclusive array of subjects and take into consideration many relative views.

About science and in the particularl: Physics inquiry and the understanding of nature I would encourage one to do some research and come to know that a large percentage of what is propagated as ‘fact’ in the realm of physics is not in any way proven as definitive. Indeed! This being the case NO encyclopedia can present much as to TRUE FACTS when providing information relative to these studies. It is correct to say that many physics statements ( stated as fact) are verifiably theory with no solid, tangible or absolute resolution(s). As a result of this reality it is more agreeable for Wicipedia to remain neutral ( allow for all theories to be discussed with the absence of a dogmatic approach) while presenting many sides of the story.

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