Critiquing Wikipedia

Much of what you can come up with on Wikipedia is plain bullshit.

People on the internet will even sight Wikipedia articles as if they are somehow authority.

(See here) a Wikipedia article that explores the Fair Tax issue. Actually, this article does a pretty good job of discussing many of the issues about Fair Tax. However look at the graphic labeled "Effective Tax Rate Comparison Chart". Under this chart, everyone gets a tax cut.

But the proponents of the Fair Tax claim it will be revenue neutral!

If everyone "gets a tax cut" then we would be adding, again, to the national deficit!

I will not wander into how the graph must be simplistic, that it could never explore how the "typical" taxpayer probably itemizes because of home mortgage interest, tithing to their church, might lower their tax obligation, but let us stick with the standard deduction. Please note the graph claims to be for a married couple with two children. (See here) where I explore (prove) that an "average" American family, married with two children, earning $43,00 a year, will actually pay over $2,000 in extra taxes under the Fair Tax then they do under the current system. The graph shows this taxpayer would pay less!

Let us apply a little common sense to this issue. Proponents say the measure would be revenue neutral, however the graph shows everyone either paying the same or paying less. It even shows the lowest income levels benefitting from the Fair Tax which probably indicates the person behind the graph failed to consider the effects of the Earned Income Tax Credit which such a low wage earner (married with two kids) would qualify for under the current tax system.

Perhaps the graph contained in the Wikipedia piece I linked to will disappear. This is the strength and the weakness of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an ever shifting mess. It is infested with special interests that can authoritively use the inclusion of their version of things to prove it is factual while it has no basis in fact. Evidently, even the "peer review" process offered by Wikipedia did not prevent a graph full of fiction from winning acceptance.

A picture beats a thousand words. A graph used to prove the point of the words serves as a picture. The picture, the graph, is full of shit. The words of the article ain't too bad. But blogs capture and display the graph to prove their point while escaping the complete offering of all the words.


Blogger Lethal_Poison said...

Wikepedia is a peer edited site, which makes it a whole lot more accurate then just about any "text" book written and not subjected to live progressive, real time peer review.

Is there a chance for "some" of the entries, particuliarly ones with little popular interest to be "B.S."? Yes, but on the other hand, how is a text book, or an encyclopedia article written on the same subject any more accurate?

Because its published by Encyclopedia Britannica, McGraw-Hill or Rand McNally?

10/23/2006 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

Actually, the controversial subjects which attract a whole lot of interest are the ones that most quickly turn to mush.

Search "global warming" on Wikipedia for example.

10/23/2006 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Lethal_Poison said...

Global Warming is a hotly debated topic, with followings on either side. I would expect that to turn to mush until a clear concrete scientific law is obtained.

You cant really define something, that isnt defined correct?

Yes, it seems global warming is a fact, and I believe it to be, but as long as there are 100's of scientists, and rightist funded groups denying its existance, or the level of its impact, this is largely going to be partisan, with any meeting of the two becoming "mush" as you say.

If youve even gotten into a debate with someone who believes the opposite of you on it, youd easily be able to pick up on this.

Its like when the battle of abortion goes into "what the definition of a living being is". Who is really going to actually win that with a hard concrete argument, when the definitions are different for both arguments?

10/23/2006 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

Well, in the case of "Fair Tax" we are talking about Grade School math. 2 + 2 = 4. The graph I referred to is where someone only had to do the math and then graph it out. Evidently someone did the math with either some mistaken assumptions or in a deliberate attempt to mislead.

Either way, the graph was included in the Wikepedia piece on the subject. The peer review/editing did nothing to prevent it from being displayed.

10/28/2006 08:20:00 AM  

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