Lazy Students Make Wretched Researchers: And Lazy Profs Make Lazy Students

An analysis of research papers written in first-year composition courses at 15 colleges reveals that many students simply copy chunks of text from the sources they cite without truly grasping the underlying argument, quality or context.

“The findings are not happy news for how writing is taught,” Rebecca Moore Howard, an associate professor of writing and rhetoric at Syracuse University, said here Thursday at the annual meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication. “[Students] are not selecting authoritative, meaningful sources and not reading them carefully. They are not, in a word, engaging.”

Howard’s presentation — with her co-principal researcher, Sandra Jamieson, professor of English, director of composition and department chair at Drew University — of the initial findings of the Citation Project could carry broad implications for how writing is taught at the college level, not just in composition courses, but across disciplines.

But really who does this surprise?  They’ve been told, many of them have, that Wikipedia is a legitimate research tool and if Wikipedia is anything at all it’s skimmed dreck.  They’ve also, many of them, been taught to be lazy and taught to regurgitate ‘for the test’.  Small wonder that thinking isn’t really a skill they’re developing.  Or thoroughness.

Finally the root of the problem lies in the fact that too many academics are more concerned with their own careers than they are with teaching.  Thereby setting the example for students that higher ed really isn’t about learning, it’s about getting by just so one can get ahead.

And – ironically- it’s all legitimized by ‘accreditation’.  Now how’s that for a scream?

Ours is the Age of Dilettantism: the Death of Facts

When historians look back at the beginning of the 20th century, when all of us now living have long been dead, they’ll, I think, describe it as the ‘Age of Dilettantism’.  And they’ll do it because our age relies on half facts and internet assembled philosophies and the Dreck of that dreadful monstrosity and bastardization of knowledge called Wikipedia.  Or, as NPR puts it more gently:

According to columnist Rex Huppke, there was a recent death that you might have missed. It wasn’t an actor, musician or famous politician, but facts.  In a piece for the Chicago Tribune, Huppke says facts – things we know to be true – are now dead.  Huppke says the final blow came on Wednesday, April 18, when Republican Rep. Allen West of Florida declared that about 80 members of the Democratic Party in Congress are members of the Communist Party.  “That was the death-blow for facts,” Huppke tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.

Politicians no longer care about facts.  Professors seldom now rely on facts (driven most often by ideology instead).  Students no longer care about facts- they’re happy to crop and paste from Wikipedia and call it research.  And the ‘average Joe’ already knows (or thinks he does) what the facts are.  His mind is made up and no mere fact will get in the way of that.

That is our age, the age of dilettantism.

“[Facts are] survived by rumor and innuendo, two brothers, and then a sister, emphatic assertion,” he says. “They’re all grieving right now, but we wish the best for them.”

Honestly, If You Need ‘Emergency Access’ To Wikipedia, There’s Something Wrong With You

First, let me hasten to say that this has NOTHING to do with James’ post other than that it springs from his title.  I’m all for people protesting whatever they want to as long as their protests are appropriate.  I.e., as long as their protests are for the benefit of others.

After all, Jesus protested the practices of extortion in the Temple by driving the greedy out.  Good for him.  Most protesters these days though only protest when they have some financial interest involved.  Seldom, rarely indeed, will you find anyone protesting purely on behalf of others.

Occupy isn’t protesting for others, those folk are protesting for themselves- so they can have more stuff.  And the folk protesting SOPA (Craigslist, YouTube, Wikipedia, Google) are doing it because they want to keep being able to sell advertising space on their sites or earning income from their sites.  Exactly, by the way, for the same reason that the proponents of SOPA are pushing for it to pass.  They have money to make and they don’t want their movies and music pirated (and frankly I don’t blame them.  When you steal content, you steal someone’s intellectual property- you are a despicable plagiarist).

But to return to the point- honest to goodness people stop acting like the world has come to an end because you have to get up off your lazy butts and go to an actual library if you need to look up a reference.  Good grief, how disgustingly lazy have people become?

Furthermore, there are other, and better, and far more accurate sources online than Wikipedia or Reddit (I don’t even know what that one is) or Boing Boing (again, I’ve never heard of it).

Get over yourselves ya lazy gits!  Stop acting like if one site goes down the Mayans are right.  There are lots of sites that ought to go down now and forever (and the porn ones just top the list).  If wikipedia’s darkness is a crisis for you, there’s something seriously wrong with you.

So, to make you feel better (you bloody, feckless, dimwitted sots), here’s an award that you most certainly deserve:

Wednesday The Internet Will be a Better Place

Wikipedia is going dark! Darn it, it’s just for one day. But still, one day is better than none.

Good riddance.

Do not try to look up “Internet Censorship” or “SOPA” or “PIPA” on Wikipedia, the giant online encyclopedia, on Wednesday.  SOPA and PIPA are two bills in Congress meant to stop the illegal copying and sharing of movies and music on the Internet, but major Internet companies say the bills would put them in the impossible position of policing the online world.  Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, now says his site will go dark for the day on Wednesday, joining a budding movement to protest the two bills.  “This is going to be wow,” Wales said on Twitter. “I hope Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday. Tell everyone you know!”

Wow, what a self important prat that Wales guy is. Does he really think if Wikipedia isn’t available the whole world will be in mourning and Congress will be deluged? I suppose, thinking about it, that he may be right. After all, there are a lot of teens who don’t know how to read a book and a lot of dilettantes who can’t manage to track down accurate research. Both groups depend on Wikipedia for their entire source of information. Plus, there are the armies of aluminum foil hat wearers who festoon wikipedia with misinformation or who distort entries just because they can.

Given the state of intellectual activity these days, a lot of folk will miss wikipedia. I won’t be one of them. I don’t use it unless I’m looking for a loony inaccurate blotch of nonsense. And that doesn’t happen often.

So again, Wikipedia, good riddance. May you remain dark.

Still More Proof of the Pointlessness of Wikipedia

According to Christian

Well, I guess when you’re an intellectual lightweight and your fans are even less intelligent, this sort of shenanigans only makes sense. It seems that Palin’s fans, upset at the rest of the world for laughing at Palin’s version of Paul Revere‘s Midnight Ride, are now attempting, en masse, to change the Wikipedia entry for Paul Revere to make it match Palin’s F-minus version of history.

Yes, completely unsurprising.

Oh Wikipedia, Justin Bieber’s Fans Have Mauled You!

And just think, I didn’t even know Beliebers could read or type.  Evidently they can, and they’ve taken out their rage on Bieber’s competition…  With gusto!

Hell hath no fury like anti-Justin Bieber fans and anti-Justin Bieber fans scorned.  Just minutes after Esperanza Spalding, the unexpected winner or the Grammy for Best New Artist, took the stage for the award, a digital war broke out on Spalding’s Wikipedia page.  The citizen editors added a line noting Spalding’s win. For the next thirteen minutes, a battle raged on the page between Bieber fans and Bieber anti-fans. “BIBER 4 LYFE!” appeared at the top of the page. It was stricken from the record and “HaHa Justin Bieber, you’re just a little boy with no Grammy for Best New Artist” appeared in its stead.  The sparing went back and forth until finally a Wikipedia clampdown went into effect and the page was locked from anonymous editors.

Just imagine what people who hate David Friedrich Strauss do to his page!  Oh Wikipedia, how silly thou art and what refuge you provide for the sillier.

Wikipedia Can’t Be Trusted

Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky was once in...

trotter

Donald Vance writes

I present for your enjoyment a startling example on why one should approach Wikipedia with a peck of salt. I was reading the article on Trotsky when I found the following gem:

On 20 August 1940, Trotsky was attacked in his home in Mexico with an ice axe by undercover NKVD agent Ramón Mercader.[69] The blow was poorly delivered and failed to kill Trotsky instantly, as Mercader had intended. Witnesses stated that Trotsky spat on Mercader and began struggling fiercely with him. Hearing the commotion, Trotsky’s bodyguards burst into the room and nearly killed Mercader, but Trotsky stopped them, laboriously stating that the assassin should be made to answer questions.[70] Trotsky was taken to a hospital, operated on, and survived for more than a day, dying at the age of 60 on 21 August 1940 as a result of severe brain damage. He also had the second biggest penis on record behind Joe McCarthy being 15.2 inches on record.[71] Mercader later testified at his trial:

Look carefully at that next to last sentence. Note the footnote reference. The article in the footnote is linked, but a brief perusal brought no mention of tumescent appendages to light.

Use Wikipedia?  Well there’s just something wrong with ya, isn’t there…

Oh Sarah, Sometimes Speaking Without Thinking is a Very Bad Idea

Sarah Palin at the Time 100 Gala, in Manhattan...

Image via Wikipedia

Because when you do, people, well they do horrible things, like take you seriously!

Well, that didn’t take long. Earlier this afternoon the Wikipedia entry for “blood libel,” the word on the tip of everyone’s tongue today after Sarah Palin’s controversial use of the word, was hacked to include a photo of Palin. The entry was quickly fixed, but not before we took a screengrab of Palin’s photo, used as the entry’s main pictures under the title “Antisemitism.” Palin made headlines today for using the word, typically reserved for discussions of Jewish persecution, in a video she released in response to the shooting rampage in Arizona.

Yes, Sarah, when you speak before you think (especially when you clearly don’t have a clue about the meaning of a phrase you’ve used), people make you pay for it (and they also prove the utter and complete idiocy of Wikipedia because of the ease with which it can be manipulated and information defaced).

Wikipedia and Limbaugh Belong Together

Rush Limbaugh at CPAC in February 2009.

Rush Limbaugh fell for a hoax about a federal judge based on an erroneous Wikipedia entry, according to the New York Times. The paper reports that, on his Tuesday show, Limbaugh spent some time discussing Roger Vinson, a District Court judge for the Northern District of Florida. Vinson had recently announced that he was likely to allow a full hearing for a challenge to the federal health care bill. Limbaugh told his listeners that the judge was a longtime hunter and amateur taxidermist, and that he had once killed three brown bears and mounted their heads above the entrance to his courtroom–in order, Limbaugh said, to “instill the fear of God into the accused.” “This would not be good news” for supporters of the health care law, he added. Unfortunately, none of that information is true. It came from a Wikipedia user called Pensacolian–Vinson’s court sits in Pensacola, Florida–who, on Sep. 13, updated Vinson’s page to include these sentences: “Vinson is an avid hunter and amateur taxidermist. After a 2002 hunting trip during which he killed three brown bears, Vinson had their heads mounted over the door through which defendants must pass to enter the courtroom. The heads were later removed following complaints by local defendants’ rights groups.” The information was removed on Tuesday afternoon. Pensacolian named as the source for this information a news article which the Times found did not exist. The paper also spoke to Vinson, who corrected the record.

I guess that just shows that the people who believe Limbaugh are also likely to believe wikipedia, like their mentor does.  Even if what wikipedia peddles is a pile of rubbish and articles can be altered by aluminum foil hat wearing Floridians.

Or maybe I’m being too hard on Limbaugh.  Maybe it wasn’t really Wikipedia’s fault.  Maybe all the drugs he took while an addict destroyed the part of the brain that makes reasoning possible.

Wikipedia: The Latest Propaganda Tool

A peace movement poster: Israeli and Palestini...

No surprise here- Wikipedia is the most easily manipulated ‘source’ of misinformation available today.

Joel reports

The next battle in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be fought on the pages of the internet site Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia which anyone can edit. Abed A-Nassar, chairman of the Association of Palestinian Journalists, has already begun preparing for the conflict, calling on Palestinian institutions to make Wikipedia pages more pro-Palestinian. His call follows a recent article in Haaretz on a class organized by settlers to teach supporters how to register and edit Wikipedia pages, in order to make them more representative of the ‘Zionist’ viewpoint. — Palestinians prepare to battle ‘Zionist editing’ on Wikipedia – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

Then Joel observes

This is in response to a concerted effort by Israel to ‘correct’ Wikipedia. If anyone wants a crash course on the methods of revising history and media intimidation, just watch…

When truth and Wikipedia collide, the truth usually loses.