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Any fool can change the Wikipedia

Dr. Conspiracy

Dr. Conspiracy

The Wikipedia is a wonderful source of information. It has a self correcting mechanism that allows a tremendous body of knowledge to be amazingly accurate. But the quality of the Wikipedia varies depending on the expertise of the authors and editors, and sometimes vandals can insert totally erroneous things for mischief, and sometimes things are changed for purely political reasons.

One very useful, but little known, feature of the Wikipedia is the History tab that lets you browse through past changes to the pages.

Today while I was browsing edits, researching possible political propaganda inserted by someone promoting one of the conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, I ran across an example of some false information in the Wikipedia that was there just for a moment.

In the article on Sun Yat-Sen, the first president of the Republic of China, I found the following:

Sun Yat-sen was born on [[12 November]] [[1866]], to a cantonese peon peasant family in the village of [[Cuiheng]], [[Zhongshan|Xiangshan]] county , [[Guangzhou]] prefecture, [[Guangdong]] province (26 km or 16 miles north of [[Macau]]). The chinese of the middle Yangtze are the real chinese, cantonese are freak mutants from MARS! When he died in 1925, the name of Xiangshan was changed to Zhongshan, Sun’s Japanese name when he was living in Japan.

Wikipedia: Sun Yat-Sen History

It is a particularly useful technique, when looking at controversial topics, to view the Discussion and the History pages on the Wikipedia articles to detect changes made recently to support a particular political view.

Here is another example of Sun Yat-Sen Wikipedia vandalism.

and here is an example of another bit of vandalism.

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6 Responses to Any fool can change the Wikipedia

  1. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy February 25, 2009 at 10:29 pm #

    Another case of political manipulation at the Wikipedia: the NBC crowd might have a problem with rising Republican star Bobby Jindal (whose parents were not US citizens). How to solve his NBC problem, just change the Wikipedia article to say his parents were naturalized the same year they arrived in the US (ignoring the 5-year residency requirement to apply for naturalization). It has been fixed now.

  2. avatar
    mimi February 26, 2009 at 5:55 am #

    Also of note, the wikipedia entry for Phil Gramm was edited on Feb. 12th to remove the reference to UBS. On Feb 11, 2009, this blip was included in Gramm’s entry:

    Gramm is a vice-chairman of [[UBS AG|UBS]] Investment Bank, a financial services company, and massive benefactor from Gramm’s financial positions while he was in the Senate, based in [[Switzerland]].

    But… the Enron reference remains intact.

    I didn’t fix it. I don’t know how to. Apparently Enron was enough for old Phil.

  3. avatar
    William Cooper November 16, 2009 at 8:42 pm #

    Can’t really trust Wikipedia as a reliable source of information. Btw, Dr. Conspiracy, I like the well you put info together, Natural Law v. Common Law. Nice info, going to really look into common law.

  4. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy November 17, 2009 at 7:51 am #

    Common law is key to the thinking of the courts in historical citizenship cases. As a starter, I would suggest reading the decision in Lynch v. Clarke and US v Wong.

  5. avatar
    dunstvangeet November 17, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    I’d also look at U.S. v. Rhodes (1866). This was one of the cases that U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark (1898) took a look at and quoted favorably.

  6. avatar
    welly April 17, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    well thats teh reason for citations