A scary new study showed that WIKIPEDIA influences judge’s court decisions.
The researchers took 154 irish supreme court decisions that DIDN”T already have wiki pages and had law students write up pages on them, but only actually uploaded half of the new pages, randomly chosen. This study design let them show causation.
They found that, in subsequent court decisions, the cases that now had wikipedia pages were 21.8% more likely to be cited by judges in their decisions. And, to put the nail in the coffin, it was obvious from many of the judge’s writeups that they were directly paraphrasing the wiki page.
And while this is scary enough when we think of our legal system, think about the implications. Wikipedia covers jsut abotu every aspect of human life, and is almost always towards the top of the search rankings for a given topic. In the words of countless Uncle Ben’s, with great power…
Trial by Internet: A Randomized Field Experiment on Wikipedia’s Influence on Judges’ Legal Reasoning - July 27, 2022