Sunday, February 28, 2010

Don't trust Wikipedia when it comes to climate issues

When you are researching on the Internet, Wikipedia has become the "place to go" for most research.  However, when it comes to climate issues, particularly those related to Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), Wikipedia can't be trusted.  This has been well documented by several researchers -- if you make a change to an AGW article which mentions climate skeptics favourably, the change will be reversed quickly.

Climategate: the corruption of Wikipedia – Telegraph Blogs
If you want to know the truth about Climategate, definitely don’t use Wikipedia. “Climatic Research Unit e-mail controversy”, is its preferred, mealy-mouthed euphemism to describe the greatest scientific scandal of the modern age. Not that you’d ever guess it was a scandal from the accompanying article. It reads more like a damage-limitation press release put out by concerned friends and sympathisers of the lying, cheating, data-rigging scientists

Which funnily enough, is pretty much what it is. Even Wikipedia’s own moderators acknowledge that the entry has been hijacked, as this commentary by an “uninvolved editor” makes clear.

Unfortunately, this naked bias and corruption has infected the supposedly neutral Wikipedia’s entire coverage of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) theory. And much of this, as Lawrence Solomon reports in the National Post, is the work of one man, a Cambridge-based scientist and Green Party activist named William Connolley.

The American Spectator : Wikipedia Meets Its Own Climategate
.... the use of Wikipedia itself to inflame the political debate by permitting activists to rewrite the contributions of others. All by itself, that surely is a contributor to online incivility.

The issue that I am particularly thinking about is "climate change" -- or global warming as it was once called (until the globe stopped warming, about a decade ago). Recently the Financial Post in Canada published an article by Lawrence Solomon, with this remarkable headline:
How Wikipedia's green doctor rewrote 5,428 climate articles.
Solomon draws attention to the online labors of one William M. Connolley, a Green Party activist and software engineer in Britain. Starting in February 2003, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. I continue with a two-paragraph direct quote from Mr. Solomon's article:
[Connolley] rewrote Wikipedia's articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug. 11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band [of climatologist activists]. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world's most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band [of activists] especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period.

All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn't like the subject of a certain article, he removed it -- more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred -- over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley's global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia's blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement.
Lawrence Solomon: Climategate at Wikipedia - FP Comment

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