Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Attending a lecture can cause controversy?!?!

I recently got a comment from the founder of, Gregory Kohs, which appears to be a Wikipedia-style host for those who want to escape the Wisdom of the Crowds and also, a place for companies and non-profits to set up defacto advertisments and corporate websites.  I browsed the supporting blog, but find that the author has no clear understanding of what Wikipedia really is.  You can usually spot a crank when they start using loaded questions and other logical fallicies.

Today, I'll talk about just one part in his blog that really got me.  When Wikipedia says that it is "not a tool to support commerce," Mr. Kohs responds:

"Would we say that "Wikipedia is not a tool to support education"? Of course not, because hundreds of thousands, if not millions of students regularly use it as a basic primer on any academic topic under the sun.

Would we say that "Wikipedia is not a tool to support medicine"? Again, of course not, because hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people suffering from various ailments probably turn to Wikipedia as a first-line source of remedy and cure."

Wow.  Just wow.  Equating commerce to education and medicine is a weak anology (a logical fallicy).  A Wikipedia article detailing the Pythogrean Theorem is not the same as a Pepsi advertisement.  The difference?  Who profits from a student learning a key element of understanding geometry?  The student (the reader) and no-one else!  A webpage detailing how wonderful Pepsi is generates profit to Pepsi (the probably writer or third-party).  Same thing for medicine.  On the other hand, if a link on this Wikipedia article points to a chiropractor, then it would be deleted once found.

That's not to say that Pepsi cannot have a site on Wikipedia, and indeed, they do.  It details the history of the company, their marketing approaches, the rivalry with Coke, etc.  What you do not find is "Oh this stuff is awesome.  And if you drink it, maybe Angelina Jolie will think you're hot!"

Anyway, I can't wait for the lecture on Friday, even if some people hold sour grapes.

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