Encyclopedia: Which One?

Sep 2015
15
United States Citizen
#1
Hello everyone, "Historum" was the best place I thought to ask this question as I know there are many historical experts on this message board.

The problem I've had for a long time now is this: it's so easy to find information on the internet, but I don't know how much of what I'm reading is factually accurate... Since I use the internet so much to learn new information the thought that I've been learning incorrect information on the internet has left me feeling deeply anxious because this would mean that most of my knowledge may be completely wrong... :crying::crying::crying:

I thought my solution would be reading an encyclopedia that's been verified to contain accurate information. I just found out that Britannica has an online encyclopedia. I'm not concerned with the amount of content in the online Britannica Encyclopedia, but I'm extremely concerned with the factual accuracy of the content. In other words, I need quality over quantity.

I'd really appreciate hearing advice from the knowledgeable members here!
 
Sep 2015
1,397
England
#2
The wikipedia, despite what the usual egotists appearing on the public discourse often say, may be pretty good. All pages can be contested and by anyone (which might mean some compromise).
 
Apr 2016
4
Europe
#3
I hope this helps:
- use multiple encyclopedia's and compare the information you find in each of them.
- check if the lemma is signed by an author. Quickly google the author, in best case he/she is an expert on your topic.
- It is better to use a 'specialized' encyclopedia than a general one. If you're into the crusades for example, use Encyclopedia of the Crusades instead of the Brittanica.
- an extensive bibliography might indicate a better lemma, but this isn't necesarily the case.
 
Jun 2012
2,913
Brazil
#4
Megas Basileus gave very good advices, I will repeat this advice
It is better to use a 'specialized' encyclopedia than a general one. If you're into the crusades for example, use Encyclopedia of the Crusades instead of the Brittanica.
specialized encyclopaedias are better than those having general content Cambridge Histories books is interesting because they cover varius topics but every books is specialized in the topic of title the problem is that they were no cheap.
 
Jul 2010
2,776
Oregon
#5
Wiki can be useful but always check the sources they used for the article. (which is good advice for most non-primary sources)
Britannica had a great reputation back in the days before the internet but no idea about them now.
 
#6
Google Books will often provide a good way of checking specific facts. Often you can't read the whole book, but if you want to peek at a specific section of say a Cambridge History of Wherever, you can often get lucky and have a preview available of the page you are looking for.
 
May 2015
1,063
Sunderland
#7
Hello everyone, "Historum" was the best place I thought to ask this question as I know there are many historical experts on this message board.

The problem I've had for a long time now is this: it's so easy to find information on the internet, but I don't know how much of what I'm reading is factually accurate... Since I use the internet so much to learn new information the thought that I've been learning incorrect information on the internet has left me feeling deeply anxious because this would mean that most of my knowledge may be completely wrong... :crying::crying::crying:

I thought my solution would be reading an encyclopedia that's been verified to contain accurate information. I just found out that Britannica has an online encyclopedia. I'm not concerned with the amount of content in the online Britannica Encyclopedia, but I'm extremely concerned with the factual accuracy of the content. In other words, I need quality over quantity.

I'd really appreciate hearing advice from the knowledgeable members here!
This is where you're going wrong. It is your responsibility and yours alone to determine the facts.
I suggest you Google 'What is an 'encyclopedia', you will find lots of entries.
Now Google 'How to use an encyclopedia', again there will be loads of stuff.

Or you can skip those two steps and simply ask: who wrote it, when did they write it and why did they write it.
 
Jan 2015
5,030
Ontario, Canada
#8
Wikipedia is the most useful I think but try and check the sources at the bottom of the page to see if it seems to clear out. Or if you can find the source makes sure to check if it is true and if the information cited is within the proper context or interpreted accurately.
 
Mar 2016
47
Lithu-friggin-where?
#9
Wikipedia can be used only as a heavily edited reference book for a quick familiarization with the needed topic and nothing more. After that if you are still interested in the topic you follow Megas Basileus advice and start gathering info from multiple sources, comparing, criss-crossing, analyzing (preferably with primary source documents somewhere near you).
All that and a constant inner voice reminder - "I know that I know nothing" - should do the trick...
 
Sep 2015
1,397
England
#10
'People look to encyclopaedias to give them an adequate introduction to a topic that interests them. Many expect an encyclopaedia to omit nothing and to include consideration of all controversial aspects of a subject. Encyclopaedia makers of the past assumed that there was a large public willing to read through an entire encyclopaedia if it was not too large. In the 18th century, for example, there was a good market for pocket-size compendia...'
 

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