In yesterday's Style section of the Washington Post there was an article by Monica Hesse, "Can You Handle It? Truth, Better Yet: Do You Know It When You See It?" The main thrust of the article is how people believe things even when they hear them denied, and how misinformation is everywhere, especially on the internet in Wikipedia and blogs, and so forth. But, what concerned me more than this obvious, point, is that students are apparently seriously using only the internet, especially Wikipedia, and abandoning libraries and the reading of books in droves.
I am more aware of this than usual, being in the middle of grading term papers, and seeing ones with nothing but websites with incomprehensible names as sources. Quotes from students in the article make it clear that many find it annoying when a professor demands that they use a book as a source, and many think Wikipedia is a fully sufficient source, and many never set foot in a library. Yes, Wikipedia does not do too badly compared to Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 4 found errors for every 3 in EBO, but Wikipedia remains subject to interested parties manipulating it for truthiness or wikiality, with the resulting misinformation getting spread far and wide and widely believed. Just how many people think that Iran is out to get nuclear weapons and that al Qaeda was involved in 9/11? And if you read Wikipedia entries about guns, they look like they were written by John Lott or his buddies.