Jan 252008
  • The happiest nation in the world is Denmark.
  • Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli and Howard Cunningham are the only two characters to appear in every single episode of Happy Days.
  • The “Spruce Goose” is made of birch.
  • The longest non-coined and nontechnical word in the English language remains that grade-school chestnut, antidisestablishmentarianism. The longest technical term is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.
  • All of the gold mined in human history would fit in a single cube, 66 feet on a side.
  • Elephants, dolphins, chimpanzees, and orangutans know they are looking at themselves in a mirror.
  • The Indian chili Naga Jolokia is the hottest pepper in the world, measuring 1,040,000 Scoville heat units. That’s 130 times hotter than the hottest jalapeño.
  • William Henry Harrison, the ninth President of the United States, held the office for only one month. He caught a cold at his inauguration that developed into pneumonia and pleurisy, which killed him.
  • As of this writing, 271 planets outside our solar system have been detected. Almost all are gas giants like Jupiter.
  • Barbie‘s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.

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 Posted by at 8:00 pm

  7 Responses to “Oh, the things you learn at Wikipedia”

  1. Go finish reading your book.

  2. Gee, you know, your hair seems too thick for a bun…

  3. Yes, but can you BELIEVE any of that information?

    As an English teacher who tries (TRIES!) to teach research paper technique, I HATE, HATE, HATE Wikipedia. It’s just too iffy.

    A colleague of mine, who used to teach marine biology at a university, used to tell his students they were FORBIDDEN to use Wiki for their work. He’d then go and seed the Wiki articles they’d be likely to use with blatantly bogus (but wildly interesting) “facts.” These tidbits would end up, entirely unsupported, in his students’ papers. While I find this practice of his more than a little sketchy ethics-wise, it’s a really great cautionary tale for my own students, who are also forbidden to use Wiki in their research.

    That being said, I DID learn about the Boston Molasses Disaster from Wiki….

  4. Point taken, Mrs. Chili. It’s definitely a “grain of salt” site, and I would never use it for serious research (except perhaps as a jumping-off point). Still, I think it reasonably trustworthy for things unlikely to be contentious.

    (And yes, that’s definitely ethically questionable, what that marine biology professor did.)

    I’m amused by what I find sometimes (and I do go in and change things once in a while, though I’m hardly a regular). The second paragraph of the article on the movie Xanadu currently reads:

    “Xanadu stars Olivia Newton-John (fresh from her role in Grease), Michael Beck, and Gene Kelly…”

    A few months back, I edited it back to that from this:

    “Said by some to be the best movie ever made, Xanadu stars Olivia Newton-John (fresh from her role in Grease), Michael Beck, and Gene Kelly…”


  5. Interesting take on Wikipedia… Like Bo, I also take Wiki with a “grain of salt”. I also take every history book I ever read with a “grain of salt”. I also take every news story I read, hear, or see with a “grain of salt”. Documentaries, biographies, etc. Even though my classical education is in Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science (potentially all objective sciences) I treat science texts the same way.

    Therefore, I trust Wiki at the same level I trust every other source of information. I assume the writer of the information has some agenda and I attempt to sift through it an find fact and truth.

  6. A study a year or so ago compared Wikipedia to the Encyclopedia Britianica, and found that they were about the same when it came to accuracy. The EB had (please correct me if I’m wrong) approximately 3 errors per 100 articles, and Wikipedia had on average 4 errors per 100.

    So remember, while anyone can edit and deface any Wikipedia entry, they usually are quick to get corrected by the Wikipedia community. It’s not always full of huge errors, plus anyone can look at an entry’s history if they spot something that looks suspicious.

    Wikipedia can be used as a good starting point when doing research, but like anything, use SEVERAL sources to verify information.

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