[WikiEN-l] Age fabrication and original research

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Wed Oct 7 00:32:09 UTC 2009

Gregory Maxwell wrote:
> On Sat, Oct 3, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Ken Arromdee wrote:
>> The idea that a newspaper article that quotes the date from the primary
>> source is going to do any more sanity checking than you would...  isn't true.
> [snip]
>> In this context, the secondary source is "I found a reference to a newspaper
>> article which quotes the date".  It's not going to discuss the conflict the
>> way you describe--it's just more acceptable because it better fits the rule.
> So I went to some effort in a previous message to slam newsmedia as a
> secondary source.  It usually isn't in any meningful way.  But the
> problem there is the misguided belief that it is, not the preference
> for secondary sources.
> I don't know how it is outside of the US, but primary education in the
> US places news media (and encyclopaedias!) as high quality sources of
> digested information. When I first got access to a university library
> (along with journals, and specialist reference works) it was a
> incredibly eye opening experience for me. I expect that as more
> references works become accessible online along with open access
> journals people will recognize that newspapers are not usually good
> secondary sources and the norms on Wikipedia will change... but that
> will take time.

That's an interesting observation.  News media and encyclopedias are 
easily accessible sources, but the people who depend on them don't even 
take the next step of going to popular weeklies like "Time" which at 
least goes beyond the immediacy of the daily newspaper.  Those who have 
used a university library know what you mean, but one can't escape the 
fact that the majority does not go to university, and that a significant 
proportion of those who do attend a post-secondary institution do their 
best to avoid going to the library, and only attend there under severe 
duress.  Having open access to journals is only a part of the battle; 
grokking there importance also needs too be better communicated.


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