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Mr. Justice Wikipedia?


    On 27 July 2022 the Irish Times published two articles arising out of the publication of a paper by scientists (hereinafter ‘the scientific paper’) at Maynooth University and two US colleges. The first article outlined the findings in the scientific paper, the second article outlined the preliminary response from the judiciary:

    Wikipedia articles 20% more likely to influence legal reasoning of Irish judges, scientists find

    Research suggesting Wikipedia may influence legal reasoning of Irish judges ‘clearly wrong’

    In February 2023 it emerged that the scientific paper, having now been reviewed (possibly peer-reviewed), had changed its conclusions somewhat. This was reported by the Irish Times on 8 February 2023:

    Judges and academics in fresh row over research claiming Wikipedia used for judgments


    The scientific paper that claimed judges were using Wikipedia was written on 27 July 2022 and entitled “Trial by Internet: A Randomized Field Experiment on Wikipedia’s Influence on Judges’ Legal Reasoning” and is available as a PDF download on SSRN (click here).

    In response to the scientific paper, an Irish High Court judge and a number of Irish judicial assistants published a response written on 18 April 2023 and entitled “Academia by Speculation: Debunking the Flawed Science behind the Claim that Wikipedia Influences Judges“, which is available as a PDF download on SSRN (click here).

    Podcast Interviews

    On 26 April 2023, in Episode 26 of the Irish legal podcast “The Fifth Court” , the presenters interviewed Dr. Brian Flanagan, one of the authors of the scientific paper, and cross-examined him on some of the paper’s conclusions (click here for podcast episode).

    Shortly thereafter, on 10 May 2023, Episode 28 of the same podcast carried an interview with Mr. Justice Richard Humphries, the Irish High court judge who had led the argument against the findings in the scientific paper (click here for podcast episode).


    The whole point of sharing the source materials and the podcast interviews is so that you can draw your own conclusions.