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[Net-Gold] In Defense of Wikipedia

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  • David P. Dillard
    . Date: Mon, 31 Aug 2009 16:43:01 -0700 From: Richard Hake Reply-To: Net-Gold@yahoogroups.com To: Net-Gold@yahoogroups.com Subject:
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2009
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      Date: Mon, 31 Aug 2009 16:43:01 -0700
      From: Richard Hake <rrhake@...>
      Reply-To: Net-Gold@yahoogroups.com
      To: Net-Gold@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [Net-Gold] In Defense of Wikipedia




      ABSTRACT: In my post "Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood" [Hake
      (2009)] regarding "Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood: Paths
      Toward Excellence and Equity" [Cross et al. (2009)], I quoted from
      Wikipedia's entry <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constance_Kamii> on
      Constance Kamii. Michael Paul Goldenberg (MPG) (2009) objected,
      opining that the Wikipedia quote is "clearly written by someone with
      a Mathematically-Correct accent. . . . you'd think [Hake would] be
      very wary of citing obvious opinion pieces as if they were serious
      scholarship."


      Not to question the authority of a post that contains NO!!!!
      footnotes, but I disagree with MPG that the quote I gave from
      Wikipedia is "an obvious opinion piece" that's "clearly written by
      someone with a Mathematically-Correct accent." But if MPG is correct
      in thinking that the Wikipedia entry on Kamii is deficient, then
      Kamii, or one of her close associates, or even MPG, can edit the
      entry so as to correct any errors.


      *******************************************



      In my post "Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood" [Hake (2009)]
      regarding "Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood: Paths Toward
      Excellence and Equity" [Cross et al. (2009)], I quoted from a
      Wikipedia's entry <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constance_Kamii> on
      Constance Kamii. Michael Paul Goldenberg (2009) responded:



      "Richard Hake's post on the above subject included several citations
      from Wikipedia about Constance Kamii. Not to question the authority
      of a post that contains FOOTNOTES!!!!, but the Wikipedia article
      about Kamii is clearly written by someone with a
      Mathematically-Correct accent . . . . . . quoting that website as a
      source on anything even vaguely politically or socially controversial
      is something to be eschewed by serious scholars. That Professor Hake
      doesn't seem to realize this is, well, disappointing, coming as it
      does from someone who has been so critical of others for not
      following his personal rules for Internet scholarship. You'd think
      he'd be very wary of citing obvious opinion pieces as if they were
      serious scholarship. . . . . . . ."



      Not to question the authority of a post that contains NO (ZERO, "0")
      FOOTNOTES!!!!!, but I disagree with Michael Paul Goldenberg (MPG)
      that the quote I gave from the Wikipedia entry on Kamii is "an
      obvious opinion piece" that's "clearly written by someone with a
      Mathematically-Correct accent." On the contrary, I think the quote
      gives a reasonably accurate account of some of Kamii's many
      contributions to math education. As quoted in Hake (2009), according
      to Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constance_Kamii>
      [bracketed by lines "WWWWWW. . . . . "]:



      WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW


      One of her most cited papers (Kamii, C., & Dominick, A. 1998)
      proposed that the traditional methods of teaching one of the 3R's,
      arithmetic was actually harmful to learning mathematics. This paper
      was widely cited worldwide. These ideas influenced the NCTM standards
      which would be funded by the United States National Science
      Foundation to create several curricula cited as exemplary by the
      Department of Education and widely adopted by local, state, and
      federal education agencies by the 1990s and 2000s by consensus based
      decision making. While the NCTM and many other groups composed of
      educators and psychologists saw that Kamii's research resonated with
      their own experiences with children, groups such as Mathematically
      Correct, composed largely of practicing mathematicians with no
      elementary classroom experience, were horrified that many of the
      NCTM-inspired texts such as "Investigations in Number, Data, and
      Space" omitted standard arithmetic methods.



      The teaching of procedural knowledge, as the main purpose of
      mathematics classes, was challenged by Kamii's research. Interviews
      and assessments with students who had learned arithmetic as a set of
      procedures demonstrated profound conceptual misunderstandings about
      place value and number magnitude.



      The influence of Kamii's research remains wide as parents across the
      United States continue to grapple with mathematics curricula that ask
      students and parents to construct their own mathematical concepts
      rather than simply be taught the same methods that were taught to
      today's parents.


      WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW



      I wonder if MPG or others might be willing to indicate the errors of
      commission or omission in the above quote?



      If, in fact, Goldenberg is right and the Wikipedia entry on Kamii is
      deficient, then Kamii, or one of her close associates, or even MPG,
      can edit the entry so as to correct any errors.



      Those who dismiss Wikipedia entries as a mere "opinion pieces," may
      not be aware that a study by Nature [Giles (2005)] indicated that
      Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy of its
      science entries. While it's true that Kamii's work may be
      politically or socially controversial so is "evolution" - would MPG
      dismiss <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution> as a mere opinion
      piece?



      Nature's claim of comparable accuracy of scientific entries in
      Britannica and Wikipedia was disputed by Britannica (2006), but
      Nature's initial formal response [Nature 2006a), an editorial Nature
      (2006b), and point-by-point rebuttal [Nature (2006c] suggest that
      Nature's claim was correct.



      For background information on Wikipedia see, e.g.:



      a. the Wikipedia (2009) article on "Wikipedia";



      b. the popular articles by Marshall Poe (2006) in the Atlantic and
      Stacy Schiff (2006) in the New Yorker;



      c. "Wikipedia: The Missing Manual" [Broughton (2008)]. Broughton
      <http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/au/3087> "has been a registered
      editor at Wikipedia since August 2005, with more than 15,000 edits by
      the time he wrote this book."



      d. Skeptic Daniel Loxton's (2009) "Fix Wikipedia: make the people's
      encyclopedia a science-based resource." Loxton wrote: "Is it Worth
      Paying Attention to Wikipedia? Yes, it absolutely is. This is a
      shining opportunity for the skeptical movement. Wikipedia is among
      the most important public sources for almost any scientific,
      pseudoscientific, or paranormal topic. A Wikipedia article is almost
      always the number one Google hit for that subject. Amazingly, any
      grassroots skeptic . . . .[there are some exceptions as indicated by
      Hafner (2006)]. . . .. can make responsible improvements to that
      source at any time, easily and for free."



      e. Physicist Michael Nielsen's (2008) appraisal: "Wikipedia is a
      second example where scientists have missed an opportunity to
      innovate online. Wikipedia has a vision statement to warm a
      scientist's heart: 'Imagine a world in which every single human being
      can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That's our commitment.'
      You might guess Wikipedia was started by scientists eager to collect
      all of human knowledge into a single source. In fact, Wikipedia's
      founder, Jimmy Wales, had a background in finance and as a web
      developer for an 'erotic search engine', not in science. In the early
      days few established scientists were involved. JUST AS FOR THE
      SCIENTIFIC COMMENT SITES, TO CONTRIBUTE AROUSED SUSPICION FROM
      COLLEAGUES THAT YOU WERE WASTING TIME THAT COULD BE SPENT WRITING
      PAPERS AND GRANTS. [My CAPS.]. Some scientists will object that
      contributing to Wikipedia isn't really science. And, of course, it's
      not if you take a narrow view of what science is, if you've bought
      into the current game, and take it for granted that science is only
      about publishing in specialized scientific journals. But if you take
      a broader view, if you believe science is about discovering how the
      world works, and sharing that understanding with the rest of
      humanity, then the lack of early scientific support for Wikipedia
      looks like an opportunity lost. Nowadays, Wikipedia's success has to
      some extent legitimized contribution within the scientific community.
      BUT HOW STRANGE THAT THE MODERN DAY LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA HAD TO COME
      FROM OUTSIDE ACADEMIA. [My CAPS.]"




      Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
      24245 Hatteras Street, Woodland Hills, CA 91367
      Honorary Member, Curmudgeon Lodge of Deventer, The Netherlands.
      <rrhake@...>
      <http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~hake/>
      <http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~sdi/>
      <http://HakesEdStuff.blogspot.com/>



      A paper that does not have references is like a child without an
      escort walking at night in a big city it does not know: isolated,
      lost, anything may happen to it. On the contrary, attacking a paper
      heavy with footnotes means that the dissenter has to weaken each of
      the other papers, or will at least be threatened with having to do
      so, whereas attacking a naked paper means that the reader and the
      author are of the same weight: face to face.
      Bruno Latour (1987)



      REFERENCES [Tiny URL's courtesy <http://tinyurl.com/create.php>.]
      Brittanica. 2006. "Fatally Flawed - Refuting the recent study on
      encyclopedic accuracy by the journal Nature," Response to Nature
      (2005); online at
      <http://corporate.britannica.com/britannica_nature_response.pdf> (836
      kB).



      Broughton, J. 2008._ "Wikipedia: The Missing Manual," O'Reilly;
      publisher's information at
      <http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596515164/?CMP=ILC-MMh0me>.



      Cross, C.T., T.A. Woods, & H. Schweingruber, eds. 2009. "Mathematics
      Learning in Early Childhood: Paths Toward Excellence and Equity,"
      Committee on Early Childhood Mathematics; National Academies Press;
      online at <http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12519#toc>.



      Giles, J. 2005. "Special Report - Internet encyclopaedias go head to
      head - Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy
      of its science entries, a Nature investigation finds. " Nature 438:
      900-901, 15 December; online at
      <http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7070/full/438900a.html>.



      Goldenberg, M.P. 2009. "Re: Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood,"
      Math-Teach post of 27 July 8:31 PM; online on the OPEN! Math-Teach
      archives at
      <http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=6798420&tstart=0>.



      Hafner, K. 2006. "Gowing Wikipedia Refines Its 'Anyone Can Edit'
      Policy," New York Times, 17 June; online at
      <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/17/technology/17wiki.html>



      Hake, R.R. 2009. "Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood," online on
      the OPEN! AERA-L archives at <http://tinyurl.com/luayng>. Post of 27
      Jul 2009 16:02:41 -0700 to AERA-L, Math-Teach, Net-Gold, & PhysLnrR.
      Abstract only to AERA-A, AERA-B, AERA-C, AERA-J, AERA-K, ARN-L,
      Biopi-L, BioLab (rejected), Chemed-L, EvalTalk, LearningSciences,
      Math-Learn, NaturalMath, POD, PsychTeacher (rejected), RUME,
      SClistserv, STLHE-L, TeachEdPsych, & TIPS.



      Latour. B. 1987. "Science in Action - How to Follow Scientists and
      Engineers Through Society," Harvard University Press, p. 33.
      Publisher's information at
      <http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/LATSCX.html>.



      Loxton, D., 2009. "Fix Wikipedia: make the people's encyclopedia a
      science-based resource," online at
      <http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/09-07-22#feature>.



      Nature. 2006a. "Encyclopaedia Britannica and Nature: a response," 23
      March; online at
      <http://www.nature.com/press_releases/Britannica_response.pdf> (20
      kB).



      Nature. 2006b. Editorial: "Britannica attacks," . . .and we
      respond," Nature 440: 582 (30 March; online at
      <http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v440/n7084/full/440582b.html>.



      Nature. 2006c. point-by-point rebuttal to Brittannica (2006); online at
      <http://www.nature.com/nature/britannica/eb_advert_response_final.pdf> (28 kB).



      Nielsen, M. 2008. "The Future of Science: Building a Better
      Collective Memory" APS News, 17(10). The full version appears on
      Nielson's blog at <http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/?p=448>. Note the
      responses and counter responses following Nielsen's essay.



      Poe, M. 2006. "The Hive: Can thousands of Wikipedians be wrong? How
      an attempt to build an online encyclopedia touched off history's
      biggest experiment in collaborative knowledge," The Atlantic, online
      at <http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200609/wikipedia>.



      Schiff, S. 2006. "Can Wikipedia conquer expertise? " New Yorker, 31
      July; online at
      <http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/07/31/060731fa_fact>.



      Wikipedia. 2009. Article on "Wikipedia"
      <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia>. See especially "The
      Wikipedia Community" at
      <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia#Wikipedia_community>.




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