東京外大 2007 大問1

[1]  LOS ANGELES ― "You do not get to choose whether or not an article on you appears in Wikipedia, and you have no veto power over its contents. The article can cast you as a genius or an imbecile, a respected scientist or a crackpot... a vandal could replace a page, any page, with total gibberish. The page on Einstein might have a statement inserted to the effect that he was a Nazi collaborator, or that his theories have been totally discredited, or that he was a silicon-based life form from Proxima Centauri1)".... Wikipedia does not operate by your rules but by its own conventions; I suggest you learn to accept it... . I can assure you resistance is futile." *1


[2]  This was the lecture I received from anonymous Wikipedia "editor" KSmrq while I was in the midst of trying to bring some semblance of accuracy and neutrality to the "Bernard Haisch" article that another "editor" had posted a few days previously. I put "editor" in quotes because anyone can be a self-appointed editor. KSmrq's user page says: "Although I do have personal history, interests, education and professional experience, I feel no compulsion to share them with the world on this page." Now that inspires trust and confidence! *2


[3] All it takes is a click of the mouse on the "edit this page" box and you too can add or subtract anything you want from virtually any article (a handful are blocked, e.g. George W. Bush), identity and relevant knowledge optional. Congratulations. You are now a Wikipedian. *3


[4]  But wait. If the article happens to be about you or your work, you are supposed to refrain from clicking on "edit this page." Instead, if there are problems, you should click on the discussion page and politely argue your case there, in the hope that some other self-appointed editor will consider the merits of your case and fix things for you.*4


[5] The belief among Wikipedians is that somehow, through a process of group trial and error, something credible will emerge by and by. *5


[6] This is not always so, as a widely reported 2005 case showed. John Seigenthaler Sr., founder of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University and a former assistant to Robert F. Kennedy, discovered in September 2005, via a tip from a friend, that for the previous four months his entry in Wikipedia had included the following statement, inserted by an anonymous editor: "John Seigenthaler Sr. was the assistant to U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the early 1960s. For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven." *6


[7] An Op-Ed  article that Seigenthaler published in USA Today detailed his frustrating and failed attempts to track down the source of this statement. The perpetrator eventually came forward with an apology and an explanation that it had been a joke gone bad. *7


[8] Some might view this as an example of the worst that could happen and proof that the system did eventually root out the misinformation. *8


[9] I disagree. Something as obviously wrong as this will be fixed sooner or later. What is more deceptive are the negative slants and biased cherry picking of facts that can paint a quite inaccurate portrait of something or someone. This is as hard to fix as a flat tire in a blizzard. And if it does get fixed, it could change again five minutes hence. *9


[10] Unfortunately, telling yourself that it really doesn't matter what Wikipedia says is not a realistic option anymore. Wikipedia is growing rapidly in its number of articles and users, and for many people Wikipedia will be the first and only source they'll see. *10


[11] Of course, Wikipedia will have its facts straight when it comes to the Pythagorean theorem or the periodic table. But that does not translate into accuracy and unbiased articles on more subjective or controversial topics, especially people. *11


[12] To be sure, the rules ― which amazingly are also freely editable ― state that there are policies, such as a "Neutral Point of View" that "editors" should follow. Some do and some don't, but most of them are quick to edit your edits if you dare to correct facts or misinterpretations about yourself. Wikipedia editors are judge, jury and prosecutor. *12


[13] What brought about my Wikipedia battle? As part of my mainstream career in astrophysics, I did a National Aeronautics and Space Administration sponsored research and served for 10 years as one of the scientific editors of the leading journal in that field, the Astrophysical Journal. But simultaneously I edited the Journal of Scientific Exploration, which attempts to provide a scientific forum for critical discussion of unorthodox topics, such as occult phenomena and analysis of UFO reports, some of which had mundane explanations. I did this as an unpaid public service. *13



[14] I discovered in June that a Wikipedia editor had written an article on me that concentrated almost solely on the latter topics while virtually ignoring the 100-plus scientific papers I had published. It was a draining editing battle to try to coax the article into something halfway reasonable, which was helped by the decision of the "editor" to drop out of Wikipedia. But the article could again be rewritten by another anonymous editor. Of course, you too might decide to edit my article. Please refrain. *14


[15] As for me, Oscar Wilde once said: "The only thing worse than being talked about... is not being talked about." It's a small consolation. *15


ロサンゼルス 「ウィキペディアにあなたに関する項目が掲載されるかどうかをあなたは選ぶことはできません。また,その内容に関して拒否権もありません。その項目は,あなたを天才とすることも,ばか者だとすることもできます。また,尊敬される科学者とすることも,頭の変な人とすることもできます。心ない人間がページを,どんなページであっても,まったく訳のわからない話と置き換えてしまうこともできます。アインシュタインのページに彼はナチの協力者であるとか,彼の理論はまったく信用できないものになったとか,彼はプロキシマ=ケンダリウスから来たシリコンでできた生命体だったとかいう趣旨の言葉が書き込まれるかもしれません……。ウィキペディアは,あなたのルールではなく,ウィキペディア自身のルールで運営されています。あなたがそれを認められるようになることを提案します。……あなたに保証しますが,抵抗は無駄です」

*2:これは,他の「編集者」が数日前に掲載した「バーナード=ハイシュ」の項目を,私か少しでも正確で中立的なものにしようと奮闘している真っ最中に ウィキペディアの匿名「編集者」KSmrqから受け取ったお説教だ。私か引用符つきで「編集者」と書くのは,誰でも自称編集者になることができてしまうからである。 KSmrqのユーザーページに次のように書かれている。「私も確かに個人的な経歴,関心,教育や専門的経験はありますが,それをこのページで世界の人々と共有しなければならないとはまったく思いません」これが信頼と自信とを生み出しているのだ!








*10:残念なことに ウィキペディアに晝いてあることなどたいして重要ではないと自分に言い聞かせることは,もはや現実的な選択ではない。ウィキペディアは急速に項目とユーザーの数を増やしており,多くの人々にとってウィキペディアは彼らが見ると思われる最初で唯一の情報源であろうからだ。