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  • I found it on Wikipedia, the eBay for facts

Comments Nov 1, 2006 8:52 am

For several years I've been enjoying the Victorian mysteries of Anne Perry, and I recently decided to recommend her books to my students in an English composition class. Since many of my students are in a nursing program, I thought they might be interested in her inclusion of medical practices in her novels. I wanted a chronological list of the two series that I am most familiar with, and when I didn't find it on Anne Perry's home site I checked Wikipedia. I clearly recognize that it is in no sense an authoritative site, and I always dissuade my students from using it as source material (in fact, I never allow it), but I thought, "how badly can they mess up a chronological list?" The list is certainly there, but along with it is a fabricated biography of Anne Perry, accusing her to be a participant in the bludgeoning death of her best friend's mother. I took the information to class as an example of why it's important not to consider Wikipedia a reliable authority. I investigated the murder story and was able to get the real facts from real authorities. No, Anne Perry may get some inspiration from her personal past, but hitting a woman on the head  45 times with a brick is not a part of her M.O.

Reply to at 8:52 am Dec 11, 2006 8:36 pm

The film Heavenly Creatures depicted the Parker-Hulme murders and that's basically when Anne Perry had to admit that she was Juliet Hulme. She was afraid at first that her career would be ruined, but it hasn't put much of a dent in her book sales.

Reply to at 8:36 pm Jul 23, 2009 10:32 pm

It occurred to me that - possibly - the reason that Wikipedia wants an online source is not because the physical book is less valid, but that the online source can be linked and therefore users of Wikipedia can check that source and decide for themselves whether or not to believe the statement in question.  This is purely conjecture on my part, but seems reasonable.

Reply to at 10:32 pm