In re Wikipedia: In comments, David Silbey calls attention to the following article that compares the reliability of the Britannica and Wikipedia on a select group of scientific matters: Jim Giles,"Internet Encyclopedias Go Head to Head," Nature, 438 (15 December 2005): 900-01. Fascinating results.
In re Bradford: At David Horowitz's behest, Eugene Volokh assures me that he has been in direct communication with Front Page Rag's"Professor X," that"Professor X" is who he is said to be (i.e., a historian at a midwestern flagship institution), and that"Professor X" – not Bradford – is the author of the articles at Front Page Rag. Had I been duped and used as thoroughly as"Professor X" was by William Bradford and David Horowitz, I suppose I'd also want my identity kept confidential. Evenso,"Professor X" ought to demand that Horowitz tell Front Page Rag's readers that Bradford has resigned – and resigned because he misrepresented his military background. Having milked William Bradford's story for his purposes, Horowitz still refuses to do so and says that he will not do so on"humanitarian" grounds. You remember his reputation as a"humanitarian," don't you?* Having used"Professor X" for his purposes, Horowitz has now dredged up a"Professor Y." Coming up:"Professor Z." Ahh, the courageous professorate! After demanding an apology from me, Horowitz calls me a"hyena." Did you ever hear a hyena apologize?
*If Horowitz the humanitarian believes in Bradford's integrity and cares about Bradford's future employment, Horowitz should give himself the salary cut I've recommended and hire Bradford as a fact-checker for Front Page Rag.
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Ralph E. Luker - 12/19/2005
For the record: call it "sanity." If I had your record for extremism, left and right, David, I'd be running away from it, too.
david horowitz - 12/19/2005
For the record. It's true I was brought up in a Stalinist household, but I have never, since I was seventeen, been a Stalinist as anyone with the most casual acquaintance with what I have written would know. The idea that I am a right-wing extremist is also laughable but perfectly understandable in someone like Luker whose posts about me are driven by irrational hatred and are indeed reflections of a political fanaticism: call it anti-Horowitzism.
Ralph E. Luker - 12/17/2005
Sorry, Grant. That's why I said "vaguely akin." If you don't recognize David Horowitz -- Stalinist come right wing extremist -- as a "political fanatic," that says more about you than either of us cares to say.
Grant W Jones - 12/17/2005
"Being called a 'political fanatic' by David Horowitz is vaguely akin to being called an anti-Semite by Der Fuehrer."
Aloha Ralph, I'm invoking the Argumentum ad Hitlerum rule:
"Argumentum ad Hitlerum: If you're debating someone, and they compare you or people who espouse ideas that you support to Hitler — you've won the argument."
Jacob paul segal - 12/17/2005
Its impossible to fully appreciate Horowitz without reading the man himself. To wit: Yesterday's blog comment on frontpagemag:
The election today in Iraq, the third since January, will create the most democratic regime in the history of Arab Islam and strike a devastating blow against the forces of Islamic terror -- and the international "progressive" left. Since the beginning of this war for Iraqi freedom, the international left, led by its American comrades -- has been against this war for freedom in Iraq. They have done everything in their power first to protect the monstrous regime of Saddam Hussein from its well-deserved retribution, and then to protect the Zarqawi beheaders from their just deserts. This is the most shameful episode in the post-Communist history of the left. Of course supporting the murderers of 100 million innocent human beings in the name of "social justice" was the work of the American and European and international left before that. The left never changes; since the its first revolt against the bourgeois revolutions of the 18th Century, which brought liberty and free markets into the world, the left has been a reactionary force seeking a return to the status societies of the Middle Ages (whose aristocratic hierarchies it wishes to replace with hierarchies based race, gender and class) and to the tyranny of pre-market economies. The left is an evil force. Its full-throated war against democratic America in the midst of America's war with radical, Jew-hating, Christian-hating, secularist-hating, women-hating,gay-hating Islam should be the final nail in its political coffin. But don't hold your breath.
Ralph E. Luker - 12/15/2005
Welcome to Cliopatria, David! Being called a "political fanatic" by David Horowitz is vaguely akin to being called an anti-Semite by Der Fuehrer. Your own exploitation of "Professor X" and Professor Bradford has played to this sad end. Tell your readers that Bradford has resigned and that, regardless of the tenure review processes last summer, he has done so because he deceived his peers about his military background. With Eugene Volokh's assurances, I have clarified the record at Cliopatria. You continue to refuse to do so at Front Page Rag.
david horowitz - 12/15/2005
We have been informed that Professor William Bradford has come to a settlement with Indiana University Purdue University Law School. He has also withdrawn his application for tenure and has resigned from the Law School. These decisions were made in good part because of the severe pressures upon his family which the conflict has caused. Among those pressures were accusations about his military record which, strictly speaking, were irrelevant to his case for tenure. As for the case itself as it stood within the law school -- the procedures that were corrupted, the due process that was not given, the public lies that were told by the university administration in its attempts to defend itself -- we stand by every word in our stories.
One Ralph Luker, an academic historian with no regard for facts, or evidence, or common human decencies has used the blog Cliopatria to conduct a personal vendetta against Bradford and me, and also against "Professor X" whose anonymity we have maintained because political fanatics like Luker are common in the academic universe and will launch witch-hunts and smear campaigns against those they disagree with, at the drop of the hat. Recently, Luker accused me of making up "Professor X." When we revealed Professor X's identity to Eugene Volokh a third party we trusted (and Luker did as well), Luker's reaction was typical. Instead of apologizing for falsely calling me a liar, he used the occasion to attack both me and Professor X, and to renew his attacks on William Bradford. The academy has become an ugly place and the crucifixion of William Bradford is just one example.
John H. Lederer - 12/15/2005
The same qualitative difference between immediacy and quality seen in Wikipedia and Britannica may be going on this morning. If you want information about the Iraqi election, the place is a blog:
which has Iraqi blogger/reporters reporting on the election from all over Iraq.
If you want a more processed story presumably of better quality, then MSM has much less information in a more coherent fashion.
WHich is better? Depoends on what your needs are. I would note parenthetically, that the considerable damge to the MSM's reputaion for accuracy over the last few years is an ominous loss of one of their few clear advantages.
It will be interesting to see how the NYT's story of a tanker from Iran with forged ballots plays out. It is hotly denied by the Iraqis. If it is inaccurate, where should one go for better coverage of the election?
John H. Lederer - 12/15/2005
Wikipedia already has an <a href = " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cory_Maye" on Maye </a> .
That may speak both to its strong points (currency) and its weak points (are all the facts in?).
John H. Lederer - 12/15/2005
There is some more information in discussion by Wikipedians on the results of the Nature study:
Glossing over the information there are suggestiona that:
1. Wikipedia articles are longer than Britannica articles which would mean they have a lower error rate per word
2. It is surprisingly difficult to measure the length of articles because of jumps, and different encyclopediae might include the meat of the information under different topic headings, e.g., you could have a long article on "cows" or a short article on "cows" with lots of "see Guernsey, see Brown Swiss, see Holstein", etc.
3. Wikipedia articles are not as well organized as EB articles, and thus their added length might just indicate authorial flatulence
All very interesting. Of course, the 500 lb gorilla is that Wikipedia is effectively "free" and Britannica costs a lot to produce, so roughly equivalent article error rates may well doom Britannica. Throiw in the incredibly fast growth of Wikipedia...