As I was typing my last post yesterday, I was looking for an accurate, relatively brief description of Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. I first checked Wikipedia and searched for "multiple intelligence," and the entry that is online gives a very brief, sketchy rundown of the main ideas, but most of the post was spent blasting away at Gardner. More and more I and my students have found entries on this public-built encyclopedia that are perhaps questionable (most are fine, though). This is a problem when information, often of a technical nature that one would prefer to find written up by an expert in a formal, peer-reviewed medium, can be entered by just about anyone. I have to be careful to warn students to not blindly accept information found on Wikipedia and the Internet as a whole. If one wants to use a source that has not gone through peer review or is not supported by known experts in the field, or is written up in what is supposed to be a neutral forum of knowledge but clearly has a personal bias built into it (as is the case with the multiple intelligence example), then readers need to be able to make the distinction between what is valid information and what is questionable information. This is a difficult decision to make if you are a nonexpert, which of course is normally the case of the users of Wikipedia and similar online sources of information (it is unlikely experts would be looking up the information in the first place). This is a growing problem educators and researchers will need to address in this age of massive amounts of information: How legitimate is the information being used by today's students, since there is a rapidly increasing number of questionable and downright faulty sources that are being used?
I need to mention, to their credit, Wikipedia does allow online edits and rebuttals to entries, and this particular entry for multiple intelligences is tagged as one whose "neutrality" is "disputed."