CRF Blog

Which Has More Bias? Wikipedia or the Encyclopædia Britannica

by Bill Hayes

Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge looks into Which Has More Bias? Wikipedia or the Encyclopædia Britannica.

Zhu and Greenstein took a database of terms developed by University of Chicago economists Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse Shapiro to examine newspaper bias. Gentzkow and Shapiro studied speeches in the 2005 Congressional Record to scientifically identify the top 500 unique phrases used by Democrats (e.g., tax breaks, minimum wage, fuel efficiency) and Republicans (e.g., death tax, border security, war on terror), rating each according to political slant.

Zhu and Greenstein then identified some 4,000 articles that appeared in both Encyclopædia Britannica and Wikipedia, and determined how many of each of these code words were included, in an effort to determine overall bias and direction.

They found that in general, Wikipedia articles were more biased — with 73 percent of them containing code words, compared to just 34 percent in Britannica. [more]