BIO 102:  The Natural World

Wikipedia Exercise


According to’s description of itself:

There has been controversy over Wikipedia's reliability and accuracy, with the site receiving criticism for its susceptibility to vandalism, uneven quality and inconsistency, systemic bias, and preference for consensus or popularity over credentials. Information is sometimes unconfirmed and questionable, lacking proper sources that could legitimize articles. However, a 2005 comparison performed by the science journal Nature of sections of Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica found that the two were close in terms of the accuracy of their articles on the natural sciences. (

The reference to “consensus…over credentials” refers to the fact that anyone can edit the entries in Wikipedia, without submitting their content to any kind of review.  As a result, the information contained in the website may not be as reliable as that found within a peer-reviewed journal.


The following claims about the health benefits of common foods and drugs can all be found within Wikipedia.  For any 3 of these claims, use the Giovale Library webpage to find a peer-reviewed article that supports the claim, refutes the claim, or suggests that more research is necessary to determine if the claim is accurate.  Include a citation for each article you find, as well as a brief explanation of why the article does or does not support the claim made in Wikipedia.


1)      “Green tea enthusiasts have claimed it to be useful for… preventing/treating cancer.”


2)      “It now seems clear that regular consumption of up to 1-2 drinks a day does reduce mortality, due to a 10%–40% lower risk of coronary heart disease, especially for those over the age of 35 or so.  Originally, the effect was observed with red wine. Compounds, known as polyphenols, are found in larger amounts in red wine, and there is some evidence that these are especially beneficial.”


3)      “Marijuana is far superior to the best available drug, Compazine, and smoked marijuana is clearly superior to oral THC [for controlling nausea associated with chemotherapy].”


4)      “Glucosamine plus chondroitin has no statistically significant effect on symptoms of osteoarthritis.”