Archive for Sunday, March 4, 2007

Educators wary of students’ citations from online encyclopedia

Lawrence school district blocks some interactive Web sites as questions about their usefulness arise

March 4, 2007


Comedian Stephen Colbert is a U.S. senator, and Lawrence has a sister city in China, according to, a free encyclopedia that invites anyone to post and edit information about anything.

Students frequent the site for basic facts or to cite it as a source for papers.

The regurgitation of inaccurate information, even in college classrooms, has some schools re-evaluating their Internet policies and some facing pressure to restrict access.

A history department at Middlebury College in Vermont made a move this month to ban as a legitimate citation.

In January, U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, introduced Senate Bill 49, which would require schools and libraries receiving federal Internet subsidies to block access to interactive Web sites such as Wikipedia as well as social networking sites such as and

The Lawrence school district, which subscribes to a free service called Squid, recently banned from all schools at the request of an elementary school.

Paul Dawson, assistant director of information technology services for the school district, said high school principals could decide whether to request the block.

"We don't want to be the Internet police," he said.

Linda Hyler, ninth-grade English teacher at Central Junior High School, allows her students to use Wikipedia, but she teaches them to be wary of its credibility.

"It's like I tell them, if it doesn't look right or smell right, it's probably not," she said.

Hyler was quick to mention that most sites and even printed encyclopedias can't be trusted either. She said printed encyclopedias are wrong 20 percent to 30 percent of the time, too. A student brought a book to her once, she said, that claimed the Grand Canyon was in Colorado.

"I try to make kids aware," she said. "Just because you see it in print doesn't make it so, and just because I tell you, it doesn't make it so."

There is little debate that social networking sites and offer any educational value.

But Kelly Barker, history and politics teacher at Southwest Junior High School, found to be a "great resource" when looking at political campaigns in his class, he said.

"I understand how YouTube can be a problem because there are videos kids should not be viewing," he said. "But from a teacher's standpoint, I think we needed to have a discussion before deciding it's not useful."

- Erin Castaneda is a journalism student at Kansas University.


Sigmund 10 years, 9 months ago

Wikipedia's Leader Jimmy Wales has blessed an identity fraudster who bamboozled journalists last year, by rewarding him with a full-time job and promotion to Wikipedia's politburo. Wales said he had no qualms with the deception. His comments follow an apology issued by The New Yorker magazine this week, after a bogus Professor who claimed to have four degrees, tricked a Pulitizer Prize winning journalist commissioned by the publication.

Sigmund 10 years, 9 months ago

Wikipedia's deception is that somehow consensus equals truth. It is a kind of Adam Smith, free market approach to reality. While this kind "invisible hand" works well for setting the price of hamburger in grocery stores, it is not real great when determining reality. This is one of the many objections to the Inventor of the Interweb's Oscar winning claim that "a majority of scientist believe that global warming is man made."

Am I the only one who becomes concerned when Hollywood's yearly popularity contest blesses a politician's view of scientific truth?

Dr. Michael Crichton is a writer and filmmaker, best known as the author of Jurassic Park and the creator of ER. So he too is no stranger to Hollywood. But he also graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College, received his MD from Harvard Medical School, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and he has taught courses in anthropology at Cambridge University and writing at MIT. Al Gore's street cred's don't even come close.

Dr. Crichton, perhaps better than anyone since Carl Sagan, has been able to popularize and spark an interest in science for the masses of non-scientist in society. And he has some warnings about the current trend of the democratization of scientific truth and the role of politics.

"I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance."

"My topic today sounds humorous but unfortunately I am serious. I am going to argue that extraterrestrials lie behind global warming. Or to speak more precisely, I will argue that a belief in extraterrestrials has paved the way, in a progression of steps, to a belief in global warming."

But the best reason why you should at least consider what Dr. Crichton has to say is that Jurassic Park won 3 Oscars and Al Gore has only one.

davey 10 years, 9 months ago

Unfortunately schools have chosen to create a system that "protects" our children by filtering websites students are allowed to visit. I think there are certainly websites students should be blocked from visiting in our schools. However, I feel that we should teach our students how to evaluate information found on the internet rather than simply blocking their access. When students walk out the school doors they are removed from the protective environment without the skills to critically analyze digital information. Instead of blocking access we should be teaching them the skills they will need outside of the classroom to analyze information found on the internet. In addition, Senator Ted Stevens has introduced a bill to block social networking sites in schools and libraries. I think this is a grave mistake. Many of these interactive social networking sites are tools teachers can take advantage of to engage students. With blogs, wikis, personall web pages, podcasts, youtube, and online discussion forums students are free to post their thoughts, opinions, and even assignements. This can remove the barriers of the classroom walls and allow students to post for a world-wide audience. I think students would be much more engaged if they were allowed to post their work for world-wide review (and even for parents to read) rather than simply handing in assignments for the teacher to grade. These tools also allow students to communicate with kids from other classrooms in different states and even in different countries. If students are allowed to debate online with kids from different countries they would be more likely to be engaged. After all, what would be more exciting for students....handing a paper about Germany's role in World War II to the teacher....or submitting that same paper to a social networking site for students in Germany to read and respond??
Teachers need to take advantage of every tool to engage their students. These are the tools of the 21st century and students are going to use them when they leave the classroom regardless.

Tyson Travis 10 years, 9 months ago

I sort of agree with "Davey," we should be teaching our kids to critically evaluate information, rather than ban their access to it. I've got a problem with an online encyclopedia that lets any Tom, Dick, or Harry post entries without any accountability for the accuracy of their material. That's how the so-called "urban legends" get started, it's merely an elevated form of passing along gossip. Since Wikipedia's posters don't have to pass muster for their own personal qualifications or the depths of their research, I'd suggest that teachers like the one posting above allow their students to surf Wikipedia to get their thought processes started and see what's available, but only allow Wikipedia citations in papers and the like if the information is confirmed by at least one or more corroborating sources. Respected institutions like the NY times have gotten in recent trouble when their editors didn't insist on thorough confirmation by their writers before publishing. The teachers can make this a learning experience, teaching how to crosscheck information responsibly before you write. By the way, I thought there was A Grand Canyon in eastern Colorado, not THE Grand Canyon, it's on the Arkansas River, and has one of the world's highest bridges over it. Isn't there also A Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in the National Park? Sorry, haven't had time to check it out, will have to surf Wikipedia.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 9 months ago

"a majority of scientist believe that global warming is man made."

It's not just a majority, Sigmund. With the exception of a few on Exxon's payroll, it's nearly EVERY climate scientist who believes that global warming is to a very significant degree man-made. And you're reliance on Chricton, who has absolutely no training or expertise in climate science, shows that you are a fool to believe Exxon's hype.

ronwell_dobbs 10 years, 9 months ago

Don't underestimate Americans' desire for "truth" and "facts" to be those that SEEM right. After all, Steven Colbert's new word "truthiness" was voted Word of the Year last year.

compmd 10 years, 9 months ago

I'd like to know wtf kind of book states the the grand canyon is in colorado.

My beef with wikipedia comes in at the college level. For students that have access to vast libraries of books and papers, the only reason to use wikipedia is laziness. Elementary and high school students might not have the same reference materials available to them. However, when I see graduate students solely citing wikipedia, I'm a little worried.

I think the best case of wikipedia vandalism took place in the shooting of Weird Al Yankovic's music video for "White and Nerdy." When he says "I edit wikipedia" he actually put "YOU SUCK" on the entry for Atlantic Records.

Jamesaust 10 years, 9 months ago

Here's a wikipedia article about Sen. Ted Steven's (better known for his dogged insistence on wasting taxpayer money on the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere") reference to the Internet as a "series of tubes."

(Perhaps the loony-tune Senator is just afraid of the internet's ability to make fun of stupidity?)

Flap Doodle 10 years, 9 months ago

How's about Richard Lindzen, professor of meteorology at MIT: "We are quite confident (1) that global mean temperature is about 0.5 degrees Celsius higher than it was a century ago; (2) that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have risen over the past two centuries; and (3) that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas whose increase is likely to warm the earth (one of many, the most important being water vapor and clouds). But--and I cannot stress this enough--we are not in a position to confidently attribute past climate change to carbon dioxide or to forecast what the climate will be in the future. That is to say, contrary to media impressions, agreement with the three basic statements tells us almost nothing relevant to policy discussions. One reason for this uncertainty is that, as the report states, the climate is always changing; change is the norm. Two centuries ago, much of the Northern Hemisphere was emerging from a little ice age. A millennium ago, during the Middle Ages, the same region was in a warm period. Thirty years ago, we were concerned with global cooling ...Science, in the public arena, is commonly used as a source of authority with which to bludgeon political opponents and propagandize uninformed citizens."

Jamesaust 10 years, 9 months ago

I guess we could all use Conservapedia instead:

Among the fun entries: "Second Estate": The Second Estate was a social level in pre-revolutionary France. It consisted of the nobility, about 2% of the population, yet it controlled 20% of the land and paid very little taxes, much like welfare mothers in modern America.

And "gravity": The considerable disagreement between scientists about the theory of gravity suggests that, like evolution, the theory will eventually be replaced with a model which acknowledges God as the source of all things, the Prime Mover, and the only real fundamental force in the universe.

bill_priff 10 years, 9 months ago

Wikipedia doesn't say that Lawrence has a sister city in China (, and it hasn't said that at least for the last month (I didn't have the patience to go through all the edits). Wikipedia did say that Lawrence was home to a secret society called "Mamma Knowz" ( for about 20 mins. last month.

Maybe schools should block the LJW from classrooms because this article is clearly incorrect.

compmd 10 years, 9 months ago


I got some great laughs out of Thank you.

My favorite part is the claim of one million page views on the home page, and upon scrolling to the bottom, seeing the count at 255,151.

After reading a few articles in there, I would be far more afraid of a website like that taking off than wikipedia.

Scott Tichenor 10 years, 9 months ago

Well, Lawrence now has three sister cities because I just added Tonganoxie as a new entry, and, well, why not? I have editing rights over that page just like everyone else on the planet.

Problem is, there's so much inaccurate, silly and just plain wrong information on Wikipedia that it's somewhat of a joke to tell the truth. I added incorrect entries to a musical page that competes with my web site 18 months ago. The information is still there. Lots of people know it's incorrect. No one cares.

Welcome to the new reality brought to us by the web.

Mike Blur 10 years, 9 months ago

I disagree with Ms. Castaneda's assertion that has no educational value. Myspace is increasingly becoming an outlet for unsigned bands/artists to make themselves known to the world. In the neverending educational process we call "life" myspace is an asset.

Just check out the "deadwood derby" section of Nearly all bands listed have a myspace page (those that don't have their OWN website) and the user can listen to any band, and check out what they look like from the comfort of home!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 9 months ago

"Science, in the public arena, is commonly used as a source of authority with which to bludgeon political opponents and propagandize uninformed citizens."

And the occasional minority opinion is used to create "controversy" where none really exists in order forestall action that vested economic interests don't wish to see taken.

Mike Blur 10 years, 9 months ago

Nugget, Tongie is not a sister city through Sister Cities International. Abusers like you that think it's fun to vandalize wikipedia are what's wrong with the internet. I reverted your edit; if you choose to add it again, I will ask an administrator to semi-protect the Lawrence page where only trusted editors (like myself) can edit the page.

Mike Blur 10 years, 9 months ago

Shoadower, I contribute to wikipedia in a positive manner; and I do not vandalize like so many anonymous idiots do. Check out my editing history (subwoofer on wikipedia.)

Mike Blur 10 years, 9 months ago

If I wanted to be really mean, I could contact my friends that work for Sunflower Broadband and find out "nugget's" actual identity by having them check the logs to see who was on IP address at 2:56 PM (the time "nugget" made his/her wikipedia edit)....but I'm really not that mean.

Mike Blur 10 years, 9 months ago

By strict wikipedia definition, shadower, I have been a registered user for more that 4 days (a couple years is more like it) and beyond that, I've built up credibility that transcends anyone's definition of "trusted editor."

If you wanna call BS on my wikipedia edits, go ahead, but you better have evidence to back it up.

I have never posted anonymously anywhere--and I truly believe that if we all unmasked ourselves, the internet would be better off. Accountability is what it's all about.

Any further questions you have, shadower, contact me directly through my myspace page (my email address is there--click on my name.)

Mike Blur 10 years, 9 months ago

"shadower" said: "your credibility is fast disappearing."

Thus spake the anonymous twit.

Heck even Joel Mathis introduced HIMSELF to ME when we first met!

I have more "cred" in the brownish fibers of my dirty underwear than any anonymous "shadowers."

Get real with yourself. I'm off to the Brewery.

sourpuss 10 years, 9 months ago

Good god, I just tell my students that Wikipedia is not a legitimate source to cite, but can be a place to start (as many articles have references you can head to). If people cite Wikipedia in their papers, it is just points off, pure and simple. You can learn by listening or by experiencing. Granted, listening often hurts less.

Wiki is good to get the quick skinny on something, I just get ticked off because it is always at the top on Google, because of all the internal links, and pushes more legitimate information down the page. Otherwise, it is harmless. We all live in a shared reality anyway, like tax cuts are good for the economy, and Iraq will become a stable democracy...

ASBESTOS 10 years, 9 months ago

"It is a kind of Adam Smith, free market approach to reality. While this kind "invisible hand" works well for setting the price of hamburger in grocery stores, it is not real great when determining reality."

Sigmund I think that needs to be written down somwhere in a book with the title of "Wisdom".

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 9 months ago

Wikipedia is almost certainly more accurate than Fox News, Drudge, Rush Limbaugh or almost any other of the favorite "information" sources of the wingnuts on this forum.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 9 months ago

If you're diagnosed with cancer, and told that without treatment you have six months to live, you'll likely get another opinion before undergoing a chemotherapy regimen that will be long and painful.

But assuming you had the time and money to get 1000 different opinions, and 998 of them said you need the chemotherapy, and two of them said you don't, what you you do?

Scott Tichenor 10 years, 9 months ago

If I wanted to be really mean, I could contact my friends that work for Sunflower Broadband and find out "nugget's" actual identity by having them check the logs to see who was on IP address at 2:56 PM (the time "nugget" made his/her wikipedia edit)....but I'm really not that mean.

Oh, please, exercise your freedom to do so Mr. retired rock star that appears to know three chords on guitar. And oh, my, you know what an IP address is! I'm so impressed. My 15 years of programming experience are simply shaking in their boots. If you want to monitor the Lawrence page on Wiki pages everywhere be my guest. I'd say from your attitude, you're well suited for the gig.


jonas 10 years, 9 months ago


This was one of the good ones I found almost immediately.

Fox news From Conservapedia Jump to: navigation, search

Fox News was started in 1996 in response to the other cable news channels which all had obvious liberal biases. Because of this, Rupert Murdoch decided to start a real new channel which would tell the truth. The success of Fox news over every other news channel is because it is fair and balanced. [1] It has many people on it who work to spread truth such as Sean Hannity who is a great American. [2]. Fox News is best because instead of just telling you what to think, they only report the news unbiased and then allow the viewer to decide. [3].

In 2005 the White House selected Tony Snow from Fox News to be the new White House press secretary which was a great honor for Fox because it showed how well it was presenting the real truth instead of the fake liberal version. [4]

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