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Wikipedia:Avoid blanket statements

This issue could have been a part of the Wikipedia:Cite your sources debate, but there seemed to be more to it than just intellectual honesty. For me the issue appeared in the Montgomery County disambiguation page. The effects in that particular article are very much of a "so what?" importance, but in other circumstances or on a larger, broader scale it can certainly have a bearing on the reliability and credibility which outside users attach to Wikipedia. In turn, it addresses the even broader questions about the reliability of anything we find on the internet.

In the Montgomery County article the writer said that of the 18 Montgomery Counties in the United States, most are named after Richard Montgomery. This is a blanket statement. It may very well be true, but is it reliable? We have only that person's word to go on. It took ma a half-hour to verify that it was true for that county in Missouri; others have questioned that eponym for the counties in Florida and Pennsylvania. Who knows about the rest? I strongly believe that a person that makes a comment using words like "all" or "most" has a responsibility for the intellectual rigour of that statement. Without that we become participants in the perpetuation of error.


A response from the writer who had originally changed "some" to "most":

In fact, I had personally checked that it was true for all the ones I had entered. It hardly took a half hour for each one for me: I had just done a Google search on "Montgomery County named" and looked at all the listings. I don't think it took as much as a half hour for me to check the totality of all the counties!!!


Since research had been done to verify this, it would have been a good idea to describe the research done and sign it.



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