The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #139115 Message #3190930
Posted By: GUEST,Grishka
19-Jul-11 - 04:50 PM
Thread Name: Editing Wikipedia
Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
When I wrote
My point is that if we cannot trust any single source, we cannot trust the majority either.- my stab at aphoristic speech obviously went amiss.
In prose: when we are researching about a topic for which we have no single source that we believe trustworthy, we may be tempted to consult all available sources and follow the majority of them. This strategy is not too bad, but it can fail, as my example of the "You'll Have to Swing It" lyrics (16 Jul 11 - 04:24 PM) demonstrates.
For this demonstration I used Google for counting correct and wrong sources, not as a source by itself. Jim Dixon (16 Jul 11 - 05:04 PM) argued that my method was too sloppy, so I refined it.
But nevertheless, we can make reasonable sure of some facts without trusting any single source entirely. Assume we have a number of sources, then we must try to judge:
- Is the article written in a style suggestive of either first-hand knowledge or profound research?
- Does the author claim to be sure?
- Would the author or publisher suffer a substantial loss of reputation when publicly proved wrong?
- Is there any hint that one has copied from the other? Equal wording, equal mistakes in other respects, equal ideological orientation etc.
- If a source can be presumed to have a particular interest or tendency, which sort of inaccuracy would it benefit from?
Many independent sources help a lot indeed.