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I subscribed to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

It was difficult. I didn't much mind the $75 annual subscription price, but I've spent early 2024 weeding subscriptions out of my wallet—about $1,000 worth annually. Last week, I discovered I could watch March Madness this year for just $32, instead of $72--I was delighted for days.

"Finally," I started thinking, "I'm getting a handle on the online spending game. I'm no longer a slave to their algorithmic skullduggery. I'm no longer a digital victim. I am now the master. I sliced YouTube TV and took $72 from them. I axed away nearly $1,000 annually in online subscriptions. I am the man."

And then I was researching a man known as "Frederick Winslow Taylor," the father of Scientific Management.

I went to Wikipedia and got information to supplement the facts from information in my home library. Wikipedia didn't have quite enough, so I used the Google machine . . . and the Encylopedia Britannica entry appeared. I read it and was struck by the "crisper" facts.

For instance: (1) Wikipedia said Taylor conducted his time experiments in the 1880s. Britannica said he started in "1881." (2) Wikipedia said he retired in the early 1900s to write about scientific management. Britannica said he retired at age 45.

Minor things, but semi-relevant to my research.

I was impressed and again started to weigh whether I should buy a subscription, something I've considered for a long time.

Wikipedia Might be Accurate but It's Not Reliable

Studies have long shown that Wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica.

But it's not as reliable as Britannica.

It's not a paradox. It's simply true, for three reasons.

  1. "Accuracy" and "reliability" aren't the same thing. If asked if the weather outside is nice, I can reply, with 100% accuracy, "It's sunny," without mentioning the wind gusts and 20-degree temperature. The information is accurate, but it conveys nothing reliable. The studies that show Wikipedia is accurate look at the facts . . . they don't look at the omitted facts. [NOTE: This is my impression more than a fact, based on "the fact" that it's much harder to see what's missing than it is to judge what's there.]
  2. Whoppers. Anyone can edit a Wikipedia entry, so it's prone to big lies and wild inaccuracies. Yes, other Wikipedia users will correct it, but when? In two minutes? Two years? How do you know when you're wading in the remains of a troll or moron? You don't.
  3. Trump. Trump broke Wikipedia's brain. It joined the establishment media and sacrificed neutrality in the establishment's fevered desire to destroy Trumpism and then enshrine the COVID narrative, and now it has become simply another woke outlet of leftwing politics. Its founder, Larry Sanger, has long criticized Wikipedia for being biased, and the bias went off the rails in 2020. If you doubt this, spend some time (12 seconds ought to suffice) doing online searches about Wikipedia's bias. You'll get more hits than a boxer's heavy bag.

My Children are My Imaginary Readers

Regular TDE readers know that I try to present honest information. I have a large home library (3,000+ books) and subscribe to four journals that give me access to, collectively, over 100 years of their articles and essays.

The fact is, my kids read TDE (well, the ones who love me, anyway). When I write here, my children are my imaginary readers.

I don't want to mislead them. I want to be as honest as possible.

But the fact is, this is a blog, first and foremost. It's not investigative journalism, plus it will, like all writing, carry the author's bias. All writing, especially a blog, has its accuracy and reliability limits.

I don't need to compound those limits by citing an unreliable source like Wikipedia and I'm tired of cross-referencing Wikipedia against other sources, like the (relative to Wikipedia) reliable and accurate Citizendium and the Wikipedia counterpoise Conservapedia.

I'll now just refer to the Encyclopedia Britannica. It's a trusted source. I'm sure it has its academic bias, but at least each entry is written by multiple experts (sigh . . . the expert . . . more on that later), curated by editors, and updated by experts and editors.

It's deemed sufficiently accurate and reliable to be cited in college and university papers.

It's now deemed sufficient for TDE.