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Tommy McKearney did not upload his details to the Wikipedia website and points out that there are several inaccuracies contained on that page. He suggest that readers take a look at the view taken by the Financial Times on Saturday 14 February 2009 (reprinted below) in relation to details contained on Wikipedia

Wisdom of nerds
Published: February 14 2009 02:00

Never a man overburdened by modesty, during his stay in Davos, Gordon Brown compared himself to Titian, the Venetian painter, when he was 90 years old. The parallel? By that age, the 16th-century master was long-established, but felt he was still learning his craft. David Cameron, the Conservative leader, tried to score a cheap point this week by claiming Mr Brown might have been like Titian at 90 - but the maestro had died at the age of 86.

All we know with certainty is that Titian died in 1576. His birth date is unknown. He may have been over, or under, 90 years old when he finally kicked the paint can. But one of Mr Cameron's apparatchiks decided to settle the argument. He went to Wikipedia - the online encyclopedia that anyone can alter - and edited Titian's vital statistics. Rather than changing his date of birth - the contentious issue - he killed him off a few years early - before he painted a final dramatic Pieta , in fact. Be thankful the virtual airbrusher did not try to claim an endorsement to boot.

Many, including Tories, have enthused about Wikipedia in the past - and not just for its convenience in correcting history's little mistakes. So long as readers are aware of Wikipedia's limitations, it is a useful tool. There is certainly no better place to find lists of Jedi Knights, once among the site's longest and most tedious entries.

The real problem is far broader. Wiki-enthusiasts cite the "wisdom of crowds" as a reason for the accuracy of the encyclopedia. They claim that, just as a market finds prices for goods based on our differing opinions of what they are worth, so a crowd can establish what truth is. But whereas prices are reliant on opinions and values, facts are either true or false.
Any attempt to turn mob opinion into the test for truth is pernicious. That a thought might be popularly believed does not make it true. The earth did not stand still because Galileo fell out of favour, and evolution has not been disproved by the faith of believers. The wisdom of crowds can only be conventional.

Published: February 14 2009 02:00. Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009



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