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>>>>I've been refered to Wiki and found it lacking. Didn't realize it was editable.

Wyne: As I said, Wikipedia is only as good as the people who do the editing. Some articles are extremely thorough and up-to-date, and some are lacking. To see how to edit, go to (for example): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_transformation. At the top of the page, there are several tabs. One says "Edit this page". Simply click on it to make changes.

It's certainly possible for multiple people to disagree on the content, and then there can be something of an "editing war" as people change the content back and forth. (You tend to see this primarily on topics related to religion or politics--big surprise). But eventually some level of equilibrium is generally reached as multiple parties end up with a compromise that most can live with (or perhaps some just give up in frustration--your choice).

It may be a while before Wiki replaces (or at least stands beside) Nature and the New England Journal of Medicine as a a recognized peer-review forum, but there's no reason it can't get there eventually. (If nothing else, it's a facinating process to watch it grow and evolve. The home page of wikipedia.org says that there are over 1.3 million articles in the database. Wow!)

>>>>Theoretical science needs (IMHO) to be vetted over and over until proved beyond doubt (ok so sometimes decades between theory and acceptance). Is there a better way? I can't say because I tend to have a jaded, cynical view on most things, except 'science fiction' that is at least plausible.

Hey, if you don't like the quality of what you see (or content is lacking), fix it! That's the beauty of Wiki. It may be more along the lines of Discover magazine at this point than Nature; but, like Discover, it certainly has much more ability to reach the masses than does Nature. Millions of people every day read parts of Wikipedia. I know I look there at least several times a week for information. And, unlike printed media, it is updated daily. The only reason information will get stale in Wikipedia is if the "subject matter experts" don't keep it current.

Mark.
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And don't be discouraged if you're not a specialist yourself - start with the condensed versions and fill in the scientific gaps by using online resources like Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org) or the Google search engine (http://www.google.com) or even (perish the thought) books.

Having waded through a number of condensed Graduate thesis statements, I agree that it is quicker than the entire paper. I do however, take exception to your "perish the thought books" comment. While there is a wealth of information out there on the highway, many travellers have not received training on validating that information. While Wikipedia may provide a quick overview, is the writer experienced in the field? How much of today's research is invalid/erroneous? If the science is based on shaky conclusion is it still good science? I tend to look at the printed materials where peer review will strip away the false science. Then again I am not a scientest, only a bean counter with a logical mind married to an engineer-trained teacher.

Now, having said all that I think this board is a great idea and aptly named. Remember the final chapter and the 'house of books'.

WineFool
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>>>>While Wikipedia may provide a quick overview, is the writer experienced in the field? How much of today's research is invalid/erroneous? If the science is based on shaky conclusion is it still good science? I tend to look at the printed materials where peer review will strip away the false science.

WF: The intriguing thing about Wikipedia is that it is editable by anyone, not just the original author. This allows knowledgeable individuals to correct factual errors after the article has been published. So there can be just as much peer review this way as in the formal manner (perhaps more). As for peer review (in general) "stripping away the false science", that may be asking too much.

What a peer review often does is strip away anything that's not "conventional wisdom" (or science). Once upon a time, "everyone knew" that the earth was round and was the center of the universe, and anyone disagreeing was labeled a heretic. Likewise, many influential scientific papers have been pooh-poohed by the "experts", until decades later, when it was determined that the heretical idea was right after all. ("Dark matter", for example, was ignored or ridiculed in the '70s, when it was proposed, before finally being accepted by most cosmologists in the '90s (with the addition of "dark energy", and then confirmed just in the last year or so.)

Wiki, in concept, is marvelous. In practice, it's only as good as those knowledgeable people who take the time to review/correct it. But even then, it's subject to the same limitations of vision as "official" publications are. (And, occasionally, clashes of egos.)

Mark.
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Wiki, in concept, is marvelous. In practice, it's only as good as those knowledgeable people who take the time to review/correct it. But even then, it's subject to the same limitations of vision as "official" publications are.

Mark,

Thanks for the update. I've been refered to Wiki and found it lacking. Didn't realize it was editable. Most of the research I tend to do is either plant (viticulture specifically) or chemistry based (oenology) ...old fields where proof exists and sometimes there are new ways of doing things to explore. (ie uses of various composts to revitalize ageing plants or what is it we smell in xxx compound)

Theoretical science needs (IMHO) to be vetted over and over until proved beyond doubt (ok so sometimes decades between theory and acceptance). Is there a better way? I can't say because I tend to have a jaded, cynical view on most things, except 'science fiction' that is at least plausible.

WyneFool
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>>>>I've been refered to Wiki and found it lacking. Didn't realize it was editable.

Wyne: As I said, Wikipedia is only as good as the people who do the editing. Some articles are extremely thorough and up-to-date, and some are lacking. To see how to edit, go to (for example): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_transformation. At the top of the page, there are several tabs. One says "Edit this page". Simply click on it to make changes.

It's certainly possible for multiple people to disagree on the content, and then there can be something of an "editing war" as people change the content back and forth. (You tend to see this primarily on topics related to religion or politics--big surprise). But eventually some level of equilibrium is generally reached as multiple parties end up with a compromise that most can live with (or perhaps some just give up in frustration--your choice).

It may be a while before Wiki replaces (or at least stands beside) Nature and the New England Journal of Medicine as a a recognized peer-review forum, but there's no reason it can't get there eventually. (If nothing else, it's a facinating process to watch it grow and evolve. The home page of wikipedia.org says that there are over 1.3 million articles in the database. Wow!)

>>>>Theoretical science needs (IMHO) to be vetted over and over until proved beyond doubt (ok so sometimes decades between theory and acceptance). Is there a better way? I can't say because I tend to have a jaded, cynical view on most things, except 'science fiction' that is at least plausible.

Hey, if you don't like the quality of what you see (or content is lacking), fix it! That's the beauty of Wiki. It may be more along the lines of Discover magazine at this point than Nature; but, like Discover, it certainly has much more ability to reach the masses than does Nature. Millions of people every day read parts of Wikipedia. I know I look there at least several times a week for information. And, unlike printed media, it is updated daily. The only reason information will get stale in Wikipedia is if the "subject matter experts" don't keep it current.

Mark.
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