Posted by: GoRight | March 8, 2010

The Anatomy of Dishonest Editing

Anyone who works on Wikipedia’s coverage of the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) and Climate Change topics will easily recognize the clear and systemic bias that is at work there.  The science itself, at least the “mainstream” parts of it, is certainly represented there (albeit in a skewed fashion which leaves legitimate scientific challenges even from peer-reviewed sources shut out).  More importantly, however, is the manner in which the articles are almost entirely scrubbed of any balanced discussion of the social and political aspects of the topic, as well as any mention of legitimate scientific studies or data that don’t fit with the predetermined storyline approved at the IPCC.

These latter points are significant from a Wikipedia policy perspective because of something called [[WP:WEIGHT]].  This is a core policy of Wikipedia which says that the content of a topic should reflect what reliable sources (i.e. [[WP:RS]]) have to say about that topic in relative proportion to how it is covered in those sources.  In other words, aspects that are discussed a LOT in the underlying sources should be more prominent within the encyclopedia than those things which are barely mentioned.

From this context readers need to understand that some sources are (legitimately) more reliable than others for some things.  Newspaper articles are generally considered reliable enough for the social and political aspects of the topic but peer-reviewed sources are generally considered more reliable when discussing statements of “scientific fact”.  The reason is that, in theory at least, these sources will have undergone a much more rigorous level of review and fact checking than will the typical newspaper article.  Moreover, the review will have been conducted by the author’s so-called scientific peers who have the proper academic and subject matter expertise required to make good judgment calls regarding the current state of the  science in those areas.  Given the recent Climategate revelations it is important, however, to stress that this is how it is supposed to work in theory (but that is a lengthy post for another day).

One of the ways that the content of Wikipedia is successfully skewed by the AGW disciples is by making reasonable sounding, but inherently faulty, arguments regarding the relative weight of any material which is viewed as being counter to their central dogma.  The standard mantra concerning the science of Climate Change is that the science is settled.  There is no debate.  The subject is closed.

Anyone who follows the subject closely knows that there is plenty of contradictory and in some cases downright skeptical science out there but you never hear about it, and especially not on Wikipedia.  In the case of Wikipedia the primary reason is the use of the [[WP:WEIGHT]] policy to argue that any such inconvenient scientific studies, data, or facts are fringe views (i.e. [[WP:FRINGE]]), at least as judged by the AGW disciples, which are then scrubbed from the articles on that basis.

Of course this practice runs completely afoul of the neutral point of view (e.g. [[WP:NPOV]]) policy which states that all such minor but significant views should be fairly represented within the articles in proportion to their relative weights.  This seems reasonable enough but the rub comes in when it comes time to make the editorial judgment about what is significant.  In the eyes of the AGW disciples nothing which is contrary to their dogma is considered to be significant enough to include.  Your mileage may vary on whether they are correct, or not, and mine generally does.

I’ll highlight some other ways that these editors seek to control the content of these pages using, or rather misusing, Wikipedia’s own policies which are, if applied correctly and fairly, generally pretty sound.  It is only when a group of determined fanatics is able to misapply those policies that the AGW disciple’s clue bus ends up skidding off the road.

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Responses

  1. spot on mate, look at the current hoohaw over reliable sources, it`s a joke

  2. Nice Blog. You express this point well.

    You might be interested in the “No Wikipedia” logo.

    Best Regards
    Tom Moriarty
    Climatesanity

  3. […] Pedia watch – dishonest editing at wikipedia […]

  4. Great work – look forward to your ongoing articles!

  5. […] more here – An anatomy of dishonest […]


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