Philippine government lawyers cite Wikipedia, lose appeal

Why the online encyclopedia isn't always a good idea

By Todd Harrison

On Tuesday August 31st, 2010

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This is not a fact!From the “Didn’t your high school teacher tell you about this?” file: the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in the Philippines recently lost an appeal because their argument cited a Wikipedia article.

According to a post on the Philippine Daily Inquirer website (h/t: Slashdot), the OSG was attempting to cast doubt on the testimony of an expert witness in a marriage annulment case. (The Pacific Rim nation’s government intervenes in annulments in an effort to, according to the post, “preserve and protect the sanctity of marriage and the family.”)

It was the ex-wife who alerted the court to the source of the OSG’s information. The decision called the evidence “unacceptable” and the attempt to use it “haphazard,” especially given the official resources available: “The Republic has access to government institutions, i.e., National Center for Mental Health, which has qualified psychiatric experts whose opinion it could have sought.”