Some folks over at the Pala Alto Research Center have created a new tool for Wikipedia users.  It provides a dashboard at the top of an article indicating the activity of the top editors of that page.  Although the community at large does a good job at policing Wikipedia content, information on controversial subjects can change daily and sometimes be questionable.  This new tool provides a way to see who those top editors are and drill down into the discussions that have been taking place in the background.  Though the specific edit information was available, this tool’s summary makes it much easier to see who the main contributors are and provides a glimpse of the edits over a timeline.

Take for example,the entry on Lunar Effect which I blogged about yesterday.  There is not an overwhelming amount of activity (190 edits) compared to an entry on something like Barack Obama (16,000+).  Regardless, you can see that a single user has provided 47.9% of the edits and see that person’s entries.  You can also link to that user’s page and see ehat else they have been editing.  It helps you as a reader assess the bias that may have crept in.  In this case, the user has identified himself in a profile and contributed to a variety of subjects.  In this particular article he has contributed specific content and cited sources as well as made typographic edits of other submissions.  I have no reason tobelieve any bias from this user other than he wants to get the facts right.  Of course this is just my opinion.  You should always do your own research before deciding.

source: MIT Technology Review

Side note:  You can get hours of fun and frustration looking over the edit history of a Wiki entry for a topic that brings all the nuts out like 911 Conspiracy Theories.

Brian Dunning at compiled a list of his 10 Most wanted: Celebrities Who Promote Harmful Psuedoscience or as I prefer to call them – Douche Bags.  I wasn’t going to lower myself to that type of ad hominem attack but I’ll let Brian take the high road and I’ll take the one full of expletive-laced name-calling which IMHO is what these people deserve.

I don’t really much care what celebrities say unless they have already earned my respect regarding a given topic.  Unfortunately, their opinions carry an ENORMOUS amount of weight with many many people and the stupid, uninformed things they say actually do cause great harm.  Don’t believe me?  Well, I’ll give you one example: Jenny McCarthy has been a boost to the efforts of the anti-vaccination folks and her activism has resulted in lowered vaccination rates.  Vaccinations are only truly effective if a very large percentage of people are vaccinated.  If enough are not, the disease that we’re trying to eradicate (or at least control) can mutate and rebound.  Every time a parent is convinced by Jenny (or her buddy Oprah) to skip vaccinations, they put not only their own children at risk, but everyone else as well!  Actually, calling these vermin douche bags is an insult to douche bags.

Anyhow, Brian does a great job with his list of Top Ten celebrity shit heads, so please check it out.

p.s. for more info on vaccination, please visit Dr. Steven Novella’s Science Based Medicine Blog.