Instigator / Pro
25
1924
rating
97
debates
98.97%
won
Topic

THBT: WiKiPEDIA is a MORE RELIABLE SOURCE for INFORMATION than FOX NEWS

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Arguments points
3
18
Sources points
10
6
Spelling and grammar points
6
6
Conduct points
6
6

With 6 votes and 11 points ahead, the winner is ...

Fruit_Inspector
Parameters
More details
Publication date
Last update date
Category
History
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One week
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
5,000
Required rating
1000
Contender / Con
36
1593
rating
10
debates
80.0%
won
Description
~ 3,066 / 5,000

THBT: WiKiPEDIA is a MORE RELIABLE SOURCE for INFORMATION than FOX NEWS

DEFINITIONS:

WiKiPEDIA is "a multilingual online encyclopedia created and maintained as an open collaboration project by a community of volunteer editors using a wiki-based editing system. It is the largest and most popular general reference work on the World Wide Web. It is also one of the 15 most popular websites as ranked by Alexa, as of August 2020. It features exclusively free content and has no advertising. It is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, an American non-profit organization funded primarily through donations."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia

MORE RELIABLE [comparative form of] RELIABLE is "better suit[ed] or fit to be relied on; more worthy of dependence, reliance or trust; more dependable, more trustworthy "
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/reliable

SOURCE is "the person, place or thing from which something (information, goods, etc.) comes or is acquired."
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/source

INFORMATION is "things that are or can be known about a given topic; communicable knowledge of something."
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/information

FOX NEWS is "an American multinational conservative cable news television channel. It is owned by Fox News Media, which itself is owned by the Fox Corporation. The channel broadcasts primarily from studios at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in New York City. Fox News provides service to 86 countries and overseas territories worldwide, with international broadcasts featuring Fox Extra segments during ad breaks."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_News

BURDEN of PROOF

Wikipedia advises:
"When two parties are in a discussion and one makes a claim that the other disputes, the one who makes the claim typically has a burden of proof to justify or substantiate that claim especially when it challenges a perceived status quo. This is also stated in Hitchens's razor, which declares that "what may be asserted without evidence, may be dismissed without evidence." Carl Sagan proposed a related criterion – "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" – which is known as the Sagan standard."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burden_of_proof_(philosophy)

As instigator PRO bears the larger burden, however CON has a responsibility to affirm that FOX is more reliable than Wikipedia. PRO must show evidence that Wikipedia is more reliable than FOX. CON must show evidence that FOX NEWS is more reliable than Wikipedia.

PRO is requesting sincere and friendly engagement on this subject.
No trolls or kritiks, please.

- RULES --
1. Forfeit=auto loss
2. Sources may be merely linked in debate as long as citations are listed in comments
3. No new arguments in the final round
4. For all intents and purposes, Donald Trump may not be used as a source of information. Trump may be quoted but Trump's testimony or opinion must never be mistaken for reliable evidence
5. For all relevant terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the rational context of this resolution and debate

Round 1
Pro
Thx Fruit_Inspector,

THBT: WiKiPEDIA is a MORE RELIABLE SOURCE for INFORMATION than FOX NEWS

I.1  PURPOSE and INTENDED AUDIENCE
 
FOX provides a mix of cable television style news articles and Republican party political opinion designed to appeal conservative Americans and sell advertised products for multinational corporations including Proctor & Gamble, Amazon, Kraft, Pfizer,  and GM.  Last year, FOX was the most popular cable new network average 2.5 million prime time viewers.

WiKiPEDiA offers the world's largest encyclopedia to the general public regardless of politics or nationality - 55 million articles in 285 languages visited by 1.5 billion unique visitors per month., roughly one fifth of the world's population.    Alexa currently ranks WiKiPEDiA as the 13th most popular website on the internet, after Yahoo and before Zoom, compared to FOX's current rank at 201st.  WiKiPEDiA has no advertisers

II.1 AUTHORITY and CREDIBILITY

Ultimately, FOX News' authority falls on its recently formed parent company Fox Corp and that company's chairman,  Australian born billionaire Rupert Murdoch. 

WiKiPEDiA's authorship is a community of volunteers.  Nearly 130,000 active Wikipideans, meaning that number had made at least one edit every 30 days.  

III.1  ACCURACY and RELIABILITY

mediabiasfactcheck.com rates  FOX News as "MIXED factually and borderline QUESTIONABLE based on poor sourcing and the spreading of conspiracy theories that later must be retracted after being widely shared. Further, Fox News would be rated a Questionable source based on numerous failed fact checks by hosts and pundits, however, straight news reporting is generally reliable"

A March 2020 Pew poll found that FOX News viewers were remarkably less likely to correctly answer factual statements concerning the COVID-19 outbreak.  For example, FOX viewers were least likely to know that COVID-19 developed naturally and most likely to incorrectly suspect that the disease was manufactured in a lab, when compared against people who named 8 other news sources as their primary source of news.  

mediabiasfactcheck.com rates WikiPEDiA as "MOSTLY FACTUAL rather than High, due to some entries lacking comprehensive sourcing, however, several studies have revealed acceptable accuracy of information."

WikiPEDiA itself advises readers not to rely on  WikiPEDiA as a primary source of information but rather a synthesis of source material with links for further reading.  ". Wikipedia carries the general disclaimer that it can be "edited by anyone at any time" and maintains an inclusion threshold of "verifiability, not truth."   That is, any fact should be linked to confirming sources.    Wikipedia's popularity, mass readership, and free accessibility has led the encyclopedia to command a substantial second-hand cognitive authority across the world.

IV.1 OBJECTIVITY or BIAS

mediabiasfactcheck.com rates "Fox News strongly Right-Biased due to editorial positions and story selection that favors the right."

FOX News was the incarnation of FOX's longtime CEO Roger Ailes' memo to Richard Nixon in response to Nixon's request that the GOP buy or create a new television news network to counter the engage in a "brutal , viscous attack on the opposition."  Nixon's opposition being the Watergate Era journalism of the Washington Post and New York TImes.  From the beginning, FOX News was never conceived as an objective, truth-telling project but rather as an instrument to blunt the effectiveness of the Fourth Estate

mediabiasfactcheck.com rates WiKiPEDiA as least biased:  "When it comes to bias....most Wikipedia entries cover both positives and negatives and link to mostly credible sources of information to support their claims. Since bias varies from entry to entry and line to line, we rate them least biased as many perspectives are found on Wikipedia.

WikiPEDiA" intends to convey only knowledge that is already established and recognized.  It must not present original research. A claim that is likely to be challenged requires a reference to a reliable source."

  • FOX starts with a political objective  and organizes facts to forward that goal. 
  • WiKiPEDiA is a popular survey with links.
SOURCES


Con
Thank you for the proposed subject oromagi. We have heard a compelling argument in favor of the debate topic, and I hope to provide an equally convincing case for my position. I will present my opening argument in this round, then I plan to address PRO's arguments in Round 2.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources

If you have written a research paper, you have likely been exposed to the differences between these types of sources. Here is an accessible link that briefly explains them if anyone is unfamiliar. It should be indisputable that Wikipedia is a tertiary source. I think it would be accurate to say that a news outlet like Fox News is often a secondary source, and sometimes a primary source depending on the information being provided. Interviews, surveys, and footage of events as they happen are examples of how news outlets provide primary sources. Opinion segments of commentary on past events would probably be categorized as secondary sources.

In a scholarly research setting, Wikipedia is usually never considered to be an acceptable source. This would be true of encyclopedias as well. However, it can be a great place to start looking and find other primary and secondary sources. This means that when researching a subject, tertiary sources like Wikipedia are useful tools for finding reliable sources of information, but they are not reliable sources themselves. The next section of my argument will further emphasize this point.

So, in the context of scholarly research, one method of finding information is to use reference tools like Wikipedia in order to locate reliable primary and secondary sources of information - the category which news outlets like Fox News would fall into. While this distinction does not unconditionally declare Fox News to be a reliable source, I do believe that the difference of categories makes primary and secondary sources (such as news outlets) to be more reliable sources of information than tertiary ones. Exceptions likely exist, but I do not believe this debate qualifies as one of those cases. It should be reiterated that the debate is not about whether Fox News is a reliable source of information, but if it is more reliable than Wikipedia. Nearly every college writing guide and scholarly research field would seem to favor my position in this debate.

An Apparent Paradox

To accept PRO’s argument that Wikipedia is a more reliable source of information than Fox News, it must first be established that Wikipedia is in fact a reliable source of information. As discussed in the previous section, scholarly research settings typically disqualify tertiary sources from being considered a reliable source of information at all. Also, consider this from Wikipedia:

“Wikipedia is not a reliable source. Wikipedia can be edited by anyone at any time. This means that any information it contains at any particular time could be vandalism, a work in progress, or just plain wrong. Biographies of living persons, subjects that happen to be in the news, and politically or culturally contentious topics are especially vulnerable to these issues. Edits on Wikipedia that are in error may eventually be fixed. However, because Wikipedia is a volunteer-run project, it cannot monitor every contribution all the time. There are many errors that remain unnoticed for days, weeks, months, or even years. Therefore, Wikipedia should not be considered a definitive source in and of itself. "


PRO’s argument asserts that Wikipedia is a reliable source of information. If this is correct, then Wikipedia’s content is dependable and trustworthy per the debate definitions. Considering the above quote, we should then accept as true that Wikipedia is not a dependable and trustworthy (“reliable”) source of information.

So to accept the premise of the debate - and to vote in favor of PRO’s argument - is to agree that Wikipedia is reliable in informing us that it is not reliable.

Sources



Round 2
Pro
WiKiPEDIA is a MORE RELIABLE SOURCE for INFORMATION than FOX NEWS

I.2  PURPOSE and  INTENDED AUDIENCE
 
  • CON does not dispute that FOX is an instrument of the American Republican party beholden to a large number of corporate advertisers for income
  • CON does not dispute that WiKiPEDiA publishes independent of any international political or corporate interest
    • VOTERS should assess whether a project of hundreds of thousands of volunteer independent researchers and encyclopedists balanced by hundreds of competing individual interest is not more likely to deliver objective information than state or corporate controlled sources
II.2  AUTHORITY and CREDIBILITY

  • CON does not dispute that FOX's authority ultimately derives from the  private interests a single carpetbagging billionaire
  • CON does not dispute that WiKiPEDiA has no ultimate authority beyond the voluntary and entirely public checks and balances and uses by billions of users worldwide
    • VOTERS should decide whether authoritarian approaches to journalism are more  credible or more likely to promote freedom of speech than democratic systems

III.2  ACCURACY and RELIABILITY

  • PRO's III.1 pointed out that WiKiPEDiA itself warns users against over-reliance on WiKiPEDiA as a "definitive source in and of itself"
    • CON repeats PRO's point but ignores the overall argument that WiKiPEDiA is nevertheless more accurate than FOX, which we saw was rated as "borderline questionable"
    • Let's agree that no source is immune to error and so entirely reliable.  
    • VOTERS should assess which is preferable:
      • A source that is cautious about accuracy and warns users  up front about its limitiations
        • but mostly  gets its facts straight
          • or
      • A source that calls itself "fair and balanced" and "most trusted" but in fact is consistently rated as the least accurate news network, and regularly misreports and sensationalizes stories.
        • FOX News president Roger AIles actually once falsely claimed "that in 15 years [FOX has] never taken a story down because it was wrong" which got the Washington Post noting that some false stories (like the Washington Monument tilting after an an earthquake) never get taken down or retracted.
IV.2 OBJECTIVITY or BIAS

  • CON does not dispute that FOX News was created to manufacture right-bias and subjective reporting
    • VOTERS should consider whether any source that prioritizes political bias can be more reliable than a source where bias is regularly challenged and considered
I.CON.2 PRIMARY, SECONDARY, & TERTIARY SOURCES

  • CON argues that in the rarefied environment of scholarship, primary sources are considered more reliable than tertiary sources.
    • PRO notes that such a statement is overly broad and does not consider that most informational needs and sources are not scholarly
      • For example, a Civil War general's diary might be more reliable than an encyclopedia for confirming maneuvers or assessing troop morale but would be far less reliable than an encyclopedia for  getting an accurate  death count, which numbers are notoriously unreliable in the immediate aftermath of battle but generally pretty accurate once the government has counted its burials
    • Traditionally, there has been an information gap in the time between the news story and the history books.  PRO contends that Wikipedia uniquely addresses this gap- more accurate and more broad than daily news but far more timely than than the history books, while also documenting the evolution of the story, the timeline of the facts as they were understood
      • For example, a video of a police shooting is a primary source but it doesn't contain any information about context, or important precedents of facts or antecedents of facts.  The video does not offer toxicology reports or annual police brutality statistics.  The primary source is ignorant of all kinds of information and inherently more biased and so less trustworthy
        • Better than any other source of information, WiKiPEDiA is regularly updating and re-contextualizing major events and quickly becomes a far more reliable tertiary source than any one primary source
II.CON.2 AN APPARENT PARADOX

To accept... that Wikipedia is a more reliable source of information than Fox News, it must first be established that Wikipedia is in fact a reliable source of information. 
  • False, we are comparing relative reliability of two entities.  No absolutes are warranted
    • To accept that a bloodhound is bigger than an terrier, we don't need to establish that bloodhounds are big
  • That WiKiPEDiA projects a higher standard for reliable sources than just itself improves WiKiPEDiA's reliability relative to FOX
SOURCES




Con
As originally stated, I will now address PRO’s arguments in this round. I want to make a brief observation about PRO’s opening argument. Here are the points that were made:

  • PURPOSE and INTENDED AUDIENCE
  • AUTHORITY and CREDIBILITY
  • ACCURACY and RELIABILITY
  • OBJECTIVITY or BIAS
PRO also stated:

“CON argues that in the rarefied environment of scholarship, primary sources are considered more reliable than tertiary sources.”

I would hardly consider the scholarly evaluation of sources a “rarefied” practice. At the time of writing this, if you search the phrase “evaluating sources” in Google, the first result is a library research guide from Brock University Library. PRO made are a word for word match with four of the five points in this library research guide. Regardless of whether or not this is the origin of PRO’s headings, the fact is that these points are the same ones used for a scholarly method of evaluating of sources. If this scholarly method is restricted to such a rarefied environment, I wonder why it is the same method PRO considered to be the most persuasive argument in this debate.
 
I.1  PURPOSE and INTENDED AUDIENCE
While advertisement can create bias, the relationship any television station has with advertisers is voluntary. PRO offered no evidence to substantiate the claim that Fox is “beholden” to corporate advertisers.

It should also be noted that Wikipedia is not completely independent of monetary influence. This article claims that “Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales has been accused of agreeing to edit a page on the online encyclopaedia in exchange for a donation.Regardless of whether this claim is true, it shows that advertisements are not the only source of monetary influence that can affect an organization's bias.

II.1 AUTHORITY and CREDIBILITY
PRO has offered no evidence that Rupert Murdoch is a carpetbagger.

Evaluating authority and credibility goes far beyond simply identifying the chairman or CEO of a company and then hurling unsupported accusations at their character. While Wikipedia has a number of volunteer editors and authors, Wikipedia is also owned by a parent organization, the Wikimedia Foundation, which also has a CEO, Jimmy Wales. Both Fox News and Wikipedia operate under hierarchies of authority. But as our library guide showed, evaluation that only involves identifying hierarchies is incomplete. The author of the actual information is also important. In this, Fox News prevails. Journalists are paid employees who meet the company’s standards of qualification and are publicly identifiable. Wikipedia can have any number of anonymous editors revising information at any given time. The credentials of contributors for Fox News can be easily found. This is not as easily done with an anonymous Wikipedia editor.

III.1  ACCURACY and RELIABILITY
While we could get into percentages of accuracy and the bias of fact-checking organizations themselves, there have only been two substantial arguments made about Fox News:
  • Roger Alles made a single false claim
  • A Pew poll summary gave opinions about people based on their primary news outlet
I stated the last point this way for two reasons. One, the poll was taken between March 10-16. The pandemic was declared on March 11. Knowledge about the virus was limited for everyone, and we all know far more now than eight months ago. Two, the survey also claimed that participants who said a vaccine would not be available for at least a year answered correctly. Given recent news, Pew’s evaluation of what is “factual” may not actually be factual. If a vaccine is made available before March 10, 2021, the study is in error in its evaluation of participants’ answers. It would also be Fox viewers who would have been correct on that question.

I will also here address PRO’s criticism of the paradox I mentioned since it directly involves reliability. Here is a more explicit statement from Wikipedia:

“…although Wikipedia articles are tertiary sources, Wikipedia employs no systematic mechanism for fact checking or accuracy. Thus, Wikipedia articles (and Wikipedia mirrors) in themselves are not reliable sources for any purpose.

My argument is ultimately not about where Wikipedia is compared to Fox News on a scale of source reliability. My argument is ultimately that Wikipedia cannot even be categorized as a reliable source for information. It cannot even be placed on the scale of reliability because it doesn’t belong there at all. Accuracy and reliability are not the same thing. Even if Wikipedia is accurate, it is not reliable. So it is not just colleges and scholars that agree with me. Even Wikipedia itself says it is not to be categorized as a reliable source “for any purpose.” It seems then that PRO is alone in trying to argue that Wikipedia should even be categorized as a reliable source.

The analogy also fails. It would be like saying that in our comparison to see which dog is bigger, PRO has brought a camel and is trying to convince us it’s a dog. There is a category error.

Sources will be linked in comments.
Round 3
Pro
WiKiPEDIA is a MORE RELIABLE SOURCE for INFORMATION than FOX NEWS

I.3  PURPOSE and  INTENDED AUDIENCE

  • CON does not dispute that FOX is an instrument of the American Republican party
  • CON concedes advertisers can create bias and asks for specifics but so long as PRO and CON agree that FOX editorial opinion demonstrates preference to non-journalistic influence while  WiKi prefers no political or corporate influence, the point is proved
  • Jeffrey Merkey's claim of bribing Jimmy Wales in 2008 lacks credibility
    • Consider the source- Merkey remains one of WiKi's most famous trolls- he'd been permabanned 3 years earlier for "personal attacks, legal threats, harassment, disruption" and new-alts have been regularly banned since- even as recently as this summer
    • WiKi has published all bans and interactions with Merkey, including the fact that his bio was never protected from editors
    • CON has failed to show any monetary influence on WIki
II.3  AUTHORITY and CREDIBILITY

  • CON disputes "carpetbagging" but concedes  that FOX's authority ultimately derives from a single billionaire
  • CON argues that a non-profit CEO with no fiscal or editorial control over authorship is just as authoritarian an influence over factual reporting as direct government intervention
    • That's like arguing that a democracy is just as authoritarian as a dictatorship because both have a top exec
      • As we've seen with the COVID story, FOX is willing to misinform and therefore endanger it viewership to justify the current administration's  inaction and with no internal checks or corrections of facts
      • The advantage of WiKi is that it doesn't claim its own authority but rather points to sources like the CDC and WHO for COVID information.  WiKi may not be immune to misinformation but any misinformation is constantly subject to challenge and correction (unlike FOX)
III.3 ACCURACY and RELIABILITY

There have only been two substantial arguments made about Fox 
  • CON misses the point.  What's more trustworthy?
    • A source that cautions readers that all media is fallible and should be cross-checked
      • or
    • A source that inaccurately calls itself "most trusted" and denies ever getting the fact wrong
    • There are hundreds of articles written about the inaccuracies of FOX  with no parallel to WiKi.
IV.2 OBJECTIVITY or BIAS

  • CON still does not dispute that FOX  was created to manufacture right-bias and subjective reporting
I.CON.2 SOURCES

  • CON objects to the word "rarefied" as a substitute for addressing the point
    • PRO's argument is not confined to academia.  We are talking about getting accurate, non-biased information generally
      • CON has applied a general rule about primary vs tertiary sources without ever showing evidence that academia prefers FOX  over  WiKi as an unbiased source 
      • CON failed to address PRO's point that may primary, first person on the spot reports are inherently less informed than the tertiary sources that collate sources and document more objectively later
  • CON dropped PRO's information gap argument
II.CON.3 AN APPARENT PARADOX

II.CON.2: To accept that a bloodhound is bigger than an terrier, we don't need to establish that bloodhounds are big
  • That WiKi projects a higher standard for reliable sources than just itself improves WiKi's reliability relative to FOX
PRO has brought a camel and is trying to convince us it’s a dog. There is a category error.
  • CON is arguing by analogy that WIki is not a source of information at all, when 1.5 billion users have already established that WiKi is the most popular source for information history
    • PRO is arguing that one particular mutt makes a better pet than one particular bloodhound and CON is arguing that in the world of dog shows, my mutt isn't technically any breed of dog
      • CON's specific categorization of sources according to academic value ignores the popular use and value of information generally.  VOTERS should recall PRO place no such stricture on our common definition of SOURCE or INFORMATION in spite of CON's attempts to confine our argument to such.
CONCLUSION:

  • VOTERS should assess whether a project of thousands of volunteer independent researchers and encyclopedists balanced by hundreds of competing individual interest is not more likely to deliver objective information than state or corporate controlled sources
  • VOTERS should decide whether authoritarian approaches to journalism are more  credible or more likely to promote freedom of speech than democratic systems
  • VOTERS should assess which is preferable: a source that warns users  up front about its limitations but works hard to self-correct or source that call itself most accurate but is consistently  rated ad the least accurate source of news
  • VOTERS should consider whether any source that prioritizes political bias can be more reliable than a source where bias is regularly challenged
    • Thx to CON for an excellent debate
    • Thx to VOTERS for their kind consideration
      • Please VOTE PRO


Con
I would also like to thank oromagi for thought-provoking debate.

In response to PRO’s Round 3 arguments, I will simply rephrase my rebuttals from Round 2 because I do not believe they have been effectively addressed.

PURPOSE and  INTENDED AUDIENCE
We agree that paid advertisements can create bias. However, it is not necessary to say that they do create bias. If an advertiser tries to influence Fox in a way they do not approve of, they can terminate the partnership with that entity.

I was not making a definitive claim that Merkey’s accusation was true. It simply shows an example of how Wikipedia is not immune from possible monetary influence. Also, note that PRO has failed to show any actual examples of monetary influence on Fox News. The Hitchens’ razor quote from the debate description seems to apply to PRO’s argument here: “what may be asserted without evidence, may be dismissed without evidence.”

AUTHORITY and CREDIBILITY
PRO seems to be trying to paint the picture that Rupert Murdoch is maliciously editing every article and video that is produced by Fox News, while Wikipedia has no real hierarchical structure of authority, and their CEO has no say in anything that goes on. Unless PRO seeks to question the reliability of Wikipedia, consider this excerpt:

“The term [CEO] refers to the person who makes all the key decisions regarding the company, which includes all sectors and fields of the business, including operations, marketing, business development, finance, human resources, etc.”

PRO’s superficial evaluation of Fox based on the single factor of identifying the CEO is incomplete. It would be far more valuable to identify the author of the actual information and verify their credentials. Fox wins out over Wikipedia on this subject.

ACCURACY and RELIABILITY
  • PRO misses the point. Which is more a reliable source?
    • A nationally recognized news outlet
      • or
    • A source that literally says of itself, “Wikipedia is not a reliable source”
My Argument
Clearly the analogy is getting out of hand. Let me be clear that I never said Wikipedia is not a source of information. I said that it cannot be categorized as a reliable source for information to any degree. Also, we are not talking about “getting accurate, non-biased information generally.” To assert this is to completely change the debate. Per the debate description, we are determining which source is “more dependable, more trustworthy,” not which is more accurate or unbiased. Accuracy and bias are only two factors in determining reliability. And the information gap is simply the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. This was addressed in Round 1.

I cannot stress the heart of the issue enough. The only way that PRO can win this debate is by proving that Wikipedia is incorrect in its definition of the phrase ‘reliable source,’ and that Wikipedia is wrong in providing this information about itself:

"Wikipedia employs no systematic mechanism for fact checking or accuracy. Thus, Wikipedia articles (and Wikipedia mirrors) in themselves are not reliable sources for any purpose."