Original post by AntheusQuote:
Original post by Way Walker
One thing I find helpful is to look through the talk page and revision history to get an idea of the maturity, stability, and biases in each section.
While that's fine, it suffers from one flaw - the most mature, stable and unbiased article might be flat out wrong.
That's not a flaw, that's half the point. A mature, stable, unbiased article may be wrong, but the way it goes wrong is probably different from the way a young, chaotic, biased article.
The other half is that a mature, stable, unbiased article is less likely to be wrong (or "is likely to be less wrong" if you prefer) than a young, chaotic, biased article. If the two disagree, my money's on the former. Will I lose sometimes? Sure, but I'll make money on the whole.
One of the first pieces of advice one of my graduate advisors gives to students is to always check the information given in a paper.
Sadly, academia cares little about credibility these days, especially graduate and under. Whole high schools have replaced their materials with wikipedia for teaching material.
Before computers were common, we learned how to look things up in Britannica. Using encyclopedias in the classroom is hardly new.
It's also about going with the times. You know students are going to use it, so design the curriculum with that in mind. Instead of looking integrals up in the CRC, we used Mathematica in my Calc courses. Even when doing things by hand, I'm more likely to get an integral from Wolfram Alpha or Wikipedia than to track down a copy of the CRC.
So, I disagree that the trivial knowledge has no real value. For example, Wikipedia will generally give you enough information on a numeric algorithm to understand it enough to use it (say, to understand what might be going wrong when you're running a minimization in LAMMPS). It's not enough to work in the field itself, but it's usually enough to see how another field relates to yours.