02 December 2008

What Is Truth?

Philosophers have been trying to answer that question for millennia, and there are lots of opinions. Lots. There's an entire BRANCH of philosophy that focuses on this.
  • Metaphysics: what is real?
  • Epistemology: what is true?
  • Ethics: what is right?
  • Aesthetics: what is beautiful?
(ah, the benefits of a liberal arts education!)

However, in the modern world, and more specifically on the Internet, what really matters is what does Wikipedia think is true (and why should we care)?

MIT's Technology Review has a fascinating piece - that's spawned a vigorous debate - about this very topic.

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David M. Patt, CAE said...

Wikipedia says whatever the people who post the copy want it to say. It's not fact. That why we shouldn't care - unless we want to get into a never-ending editing battle with the authors.

Anonymous said...

Well, that's partially true. While Wikipedia is certainly community edited, the people who are doing the editing are, for the most part, sincere and knowledgeable. Witness the famous Nature magazine study measuring it to Britannica on scientific entries and finding the accuracy to be comparable.

The more interesting point, raised by the TR piece, is "how do you KNOW?"