Saturday, April 22, 2017

Wikipedia's Wild Goose Chase

A cautionary tale...

On April 20, The Australian featured, on its front page, a feel-good story on Yazidi refugees now settled in the NSW town of Wagga Wagga - Yazidi survivors ring in new year, new life (Simon Benson).

An information box titled 'The Yazidis' accompanied the story. Under the sub-heading 'Religion', were these words: "Yazidism, combining elements of Islam, Christianity and Judaism."

Intrigued at the reference to Judaism, I thought, What's this, another lost tribe?

So I started digging. First port of call: Wikipedia. Under 'Yazidis', I read as follows: "The Yazidis are an ethnically Kurdish religious community or an ethno-religious group indigenous to northern Mesopotamia who are strictly endogamous. Their religion, Yazidism is linked to ancient Mesopotamian religions and combines aspects of Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. [27][28][29][30][31]"

These words, I concluded, would seem to have been the source for The Australian's "combining elements of Islam, Christianity and Judaism."

Next port of call: Wikipedia's footnotes - 27-31.

27 took me to a book called The Ethnically Diverse City, which, on the face of it, had everything to do with urban planning, not Yazidis.

28 took me to a mere heading, Yezidism in Europe... and that was it.

29 took me to The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion & Social Justice. No reference to Yazidis! Still, I persevered, and googled the book online.This is all it had to say on Yazidi religion: "The Yazidi Kurds have been tied to the 'sevener' sect [of Shi'ism], but also represent an ancient heterodox religious sect linked to Zoroastrianism and Sufism." (p 404)

30 took me to a Guardian backgrounder Background: The Yezidi by Fred Attewill & agencies, which claimed that "Their religion, whose origins are shrouded in eastern prehistory, is highly syncretic... It combines elements of Zoroastrian, Manichean, Jewish, Nestorian Christian and Islamic faith." Jewish! Eureka! So I looked up Fred. Was he, perhaps, an authority on obscure Middle Eastern faiths? Alas, no, merely an editor at Agence France-Presse.

31 took me to Who, What, Why: Who are the Yazidis? which said merely that they "revere both the Bible and Koran," that their faith is "linked to Zoroastrianism," and that they "share many elements with Christianity and Islam."

Burning questions:

1) Seriously, would you trust Wikipedia as far as you could throw it?
2) Who slipped "Judaism" into the Wikipedia entry, and why?
3) Where did Fred get his "Jewish" from?

See my last post on Wikipedia, Wikipedia Warning (11/3/17)

1 comment:

Grappler said...

Wikipedia in regards to Palestine is completely subverted.