Sources on the Debate

Author: Nikunj_sanghai ,

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  • Nikunj_sanghai
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    Nikunj_sanghai
    Hey guys sometimes while reading reporting or news articles or documented historical events, I encounter websites or news agencies providing conflicting reporting or description of events, what do people think about reliability of the sources? especially wikipedia, I recently found a wikipedia page grossly misinforming about a particular incident, when I dug official sources. 
    So in general do you guys feel wikipedia as a credible source?  
    About the first part what do you feel if the sources contradict each other? 
  • RationalMadman
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    --> @Nikunj_sanghai
    Use any source you want, just make sure you understand how others see them. The highest rated debaters often used Wikipedia as sources in their debates.
  • oromagi
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    --> @fauxlaw @Nikunj_sanghai
    Well, anybody's who read a couple of my debates knows I'm a Wikipedia freak.  In fact, some of IRL friends have a nickname for me that's a play on the word wikipedia, I'm that bad about reading wikipedia all the time.  People talks about all the things that science fiction predicted that haven't yet arrived but Wikipedia does a pretty good job as a first draft on the  Encyclopedia Galactica or the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  I have been thinking about making wikipedia only sourcing a requirement for some types of debates on politics and current events.  Yes, the entries are subject to poor authorship in encyclopedic terms in the short run but in the long run as these entries keep getting honed and improved and fact checked and challenged time entries are emerging that are an improvement on any prior Encyclopedic effort ever.  The abundance and clarity of general knowledge available free to anybody with internet accesss is  unparalleled and ahead of any other project for setting a global standard for information.  I do occasionally do some editing on Wikipedia- I mostly just stick to improving grammar and clarity- I haven't ever actually added a new source or added a new factual assertion.  Yeah, I'm a big fan.

    I've seen fauxlaw express his discontent w/ Wikipedia on multiple occasions so we should solicit his wisdom here.
  • fauxlaw
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    Yes, oromagi is correct; I have a particular disdain for wiki. My generation is familiar with the hard-copy version, the encyclopedia, of which wiki is merely the online version [although several of the more famous encyclopedias have online versions, themselves]. Both encyclos and wiki claim to be compiled by "experts," though the term is dubious. What is an expert, and how does one qualify? By making the claim with a string of academic letters. Yeah, I have PhDs; one in history; one in English Lit. I am by no means an expert in either field; I just know more than most, as does anyone else with an advanced collegiate degree, we presume. However, I also know that the term, encyclopedia, is coined, claimed to have a Greek etymology. The truth is ironic, considering the subject matter. Some dimwit transliterator in the late 15th century combined what had been two Greek words, enkyklios  and paedia, meaning, independently, circular, or recurring ['re-edited periodically' in its new guise], and education. Encyclopedias, by that erroneous  combined coinage, have been around ever since, existing now, for reference, as wiki. For general knowledge, it's a handy reference. For scholarly work, which I consider debate to be, it is strictly benign last-resort information. As wiki often references scholarly sourcing, it is best to ignore wiki and go to the better sources, with verification that the info obtained actually does speak scholastically to one's subject.
  • fauxlaw
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    --> @RationalMadman
    Wiki = lazy sourcing. I couldn't care less about "rating."
  • RationalMadman
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    --> @fauxlaw
    I actually agree with you on this one. I don't use Wikipedia much at all in my debates (only when it really is the best source for an 'overview' quote).
  • fauxlaw
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    --> @RationalMadman
    I will admit that there are rare occasions when wiki appears to be the only legit source. Indicative of the fragile state of knowledge. Hell, we managed to lose the library at Alexandria, due only to the fragile state of paper, and an idiot Roman who tossed a still-smoldering joint. At least wiki is protected from that.
  • RationalMadman
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    --> @fauxlaw
    I'm more of a 'pattern and theory' intelligence type than the 'fact memorising machine' intelligence type and the fragility of knowledge and how the sources are maintained is part of why I am so happy to have been naturally inclined to this form of using my intellect.

    While I know less than the latter type, what I spot helps me 'piece together the puzzle' so much faster and with less effort than them. For instance, let's say you know that group X had a rivalry with group Y and later on you were curious why group Z had a certain attitude or habit. You go to Wikipedia and it wrongly portrays Group X but correctly explains that Group Z were allies of Group Y. You then can begin to understand more even if records are harmed about group X (not entirely but partially) and that's all I need, generally speaking. Do I need to know every number of every factor involved? No.
  • Nikunj_sanghai
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    --> @oromagi
    But when we had the China debate you sourced Expert opinions from Academic references, isn't it a huge downgrade when you dive from reading academic research to wikipedia. 
  • Nikunj_sanghai
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    --> @fauxlaw
    True one might not be an expert in History or Eng literature because the fields are frankly too broad to comprehend, but the topic of your dissertation , the dissertation you presented infront of the review committee, you surely are an expert in that. I agree with one portion of your comment though , How does one qualify is very difficult to ascertain. 
  • fauxlaw
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    --> @Nikunj_sanghai
    On your last point, yes, qualification as an "expert" in a field is rather loose, and I am certainly not going to claim my expertise in either history or English lit, unless one considers a sheepskin [a degree - not sure if you use that same idiom] as a badge of expertise. I do not. But, thank you for yoor kind words.