Article: ‘Wikipedia is worthless and damaging’

You only need to read a few climate entries on Wikipedia to know this Spiked Online article rings true

We have watched how people like Wikipedia climate fiddler William Connolley rides shotgun on just about any climate related article on that website. As of a year ago Mr. Connolley has edited 5428 Wikipedia articles, almost all on climate and his zealotry earned him a suspension and banning for certain types of articles.  So, this Spiked-Online article, aptly titled, isn’t much of a surprise to WUWT readers.

Wikipedia: where truth dies online

Run by cliquish, censorious editors and open to pranks and vandalism, Wikipedia is worthless and damaging. 29 April 2014

A man knocks at your door. You answer and he tells you he is an encyclopaedia salesman.

‘I have the largest and most comprehensive encyclopaedia the world has ever seen’, he says.

‘Tell me about it!’

‘It has more editors and more entries than any other encyclopaedia ever. Most of the contributors are anonymous and no entry is ever finished. It is constantly changing. Any entry may be different each time you go back to it. Celebrities and companies pay PR agencies to edit entries. Controversial topics are often the subject of edit wars that can go on for years and involve scores of editors. Pranksters and jokers may change entries and insert bogus facts. Whole entries about events that never happened may be created. Other entries will disappear without notice. Experts may be banned from editing subjects that they are leading authorities on, because they are cited as primary sources. University academics and teachers warn their students to exercise extreme caution when using it. Nothing in it can be relied on. You will never know whether anything you read in it is true or not. Are you interested?’

‘I’ll think about it’, you say, and close the door.

News that civil servants in Whitehall hacked the Wikipedia entry for the Hillsborough disaster and inserted gratuitous insults about the men and women who died in the worst football-ground disaster in British history was greeted with predictable anger last week. This anger was directed at the anonymous vandals who posted the edits, rather than the organisation and website that facilitated the defamation. But, it must be said, Wikipedia is not blameless in this. It allows misinformation to flourish and provides it with a cloak of respectability. It is under-resourced and is unable to police itself adequately.

Wikipedia was launched in January 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger but was predated by an earlier Wales/Sanger project, Nupedia, also a free online encyclopaedia, but one that was written and peer-reviewed by experts. In its three-year life, Nupedia only produced 25 articles, with a further 74 in progress when it was shut down. The lesson learned from the Nupedia experiment was that this protracted process with meagre output would never produce a comprehensive and up-to-date online encyclopaedia. The experts and peer reviews would have to go.

Wikipedia has been a massive success but has always had immense flaws, the greatest one being that nothing it publishes can be trusted. This, you might think, is a pretty big flaw. There are over 21million editors with varying degrees of competence and honesty. Rogue editors abound and do not restrict themselves to supposedly controversial topics, as the recently discovered Hillsborough example demonstrates.

Read the entire article: http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/wikipedia-where-truth-dies-online/#.U1-aSqLqizd

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173 thoughts on “Article: ‘Wikipedia is worthless and damaging’

  1. But to be fair, Connelley only did it to save our planet. Just like Greenpeace, when it lied about the Brent Spar.

  2. Over the top. I find Wikipedia an almost entirely reliable source of info. True, it can be temporarily hi-jacked by people with agendas, but in my view equilibrium is almost always restored.

  3. I suppose it has to do with the topic, but I agree with Andrew that most topics tend to return to a factual basis over time. Certainly, the ones I have had any participation in were heavily reviewed in a reliable fashion. Those topics were mostly in history, so not much controversy there. Sadly, as is pointed out, other topics tend to take grief at times.

  4. There are subjects where i will use Wikipedia as a casual source. I’ve even edited a few articles for which I had some valuable information. However, environmental, energy and other ‘controversial’ subjects, including almost any large business, is the sandbox of misanthropes, tinhatters and other folks with emotional immaturities that largely serve to dilute any potential value the entity may bring. Their supposed rules are borderline pointless; an incorrect free magazine article by a ‘journalist’ is given more credence than a 1st person expert simply because it was ‘published’!

    I have seen several posts/replies lately here on WUWT using links to Wiki, regardless of the tone of the particular article linked should be automatically removed. Wiki is worse than useless, it is active malfeasance. It has 0 credibility.

  5. This coming from a wordpress blog? I dunno if I really want to put in the time and spend the libraries money to bring in other sources just to read something that is theory anyway…so the question is does it matter? I would say yes if you can prove their citations are intentionally in error..but would not go as far to attack and belittle people…if it is wrong you can fix it.

  6. Believe nothing – NOTHING – read or heard without verifying it oneself unless it Weltanschauung Congruent. Weltanschauung building begins in elementary school and every brick is laid on that foundation, course by course, and a half-baked course will crumble under weighty ideas like AGW or EMP or ID.

  7. A quote I read: “Teachers say not to rely on Wikipedia because they’re jealous it didn’t exist when they were at school”.
    I’ve found it highly useful despite it’s faults, far more so than Britannica ever was.

  8. Sure, it’s successful, but as entertainment.
    Wikipedia is to truth as American Idol is to singing.

  9. But Wikipedia says that the science is settled re: CAGW. So Connolley is just doing his best to help all of us.

  10. I have found some of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen on there….
    If you want what the majority believes…that’s the place to go

  11. I wouldn’t describe Wikipedia as worthless, but I would never use it as a reference and I rapidly begin to lose trust in anyone who does use a Wikipedia page as a reference during a discussion, presentation or such like.
    The references linked at the bottom of the articles are often reliable enough though, so as a ‘first pass’ Wikipedia has it’s use.
    True enough though anything written about gullible warming is generally useful as a cat flap in an elephant farm; I edited an article once (including references) and within a day it was back to sky is falling form.

  12. “if it is wrong you can fix it.”

    Guess again.
    What do you think all those little padlocks mean?
    You’ll find them on almost anything related to Irritable Climate Syndrome.

  13. I agree that “worthless” is over the top. Wikipedia is a great, fast starting point. I always cross-reference and verify elsewhere after that.

  14. I had an editor status on Wikipedia at one time. Mostly I just made grammatical corrections, thinking it would be appreciated. Once in a while I added a pertinent fact.

    Then I found out that a guy was doing like Connolley – trolling certain articles and changing them, as soon as someone posted anything. It was on what is now called a “controversial subject.” He was making sure that only one side of the controversy was being depicted.

    I posted a correction to some complete falsehood, complete with footnotes to peer reviewed papers. Peer reviewed papers? Peer reviewed papers? We don’t need no stinkin’ peer reviewed papers!! He edited it ALL out and put the original lie back in. Others in my circle kept trying to get the OTHER side of the story into it, and he kept wiping out entire sections and putting his side back in.

    Sound familiar?

    Someone found out his name – beyond the user name.

    Then here is what happened:

    I wrote to the editorial staff and complained about him, referring to his name. Nothing more, just his name. It was a name shared by probably 40,000 other people on the planet, if not more.

    I was immediately advised that I was henceforth and forever BANNED from EVER editing on Wikipedia again. No explanation, no nada.

    They were not INTERESTED in what HIS actions had been. As soon as I used his name, their minds went blank on what I had actually SAID.

    I requested some explanation. It took a while, but it turned out that I had broken some UNSPOKEN RULE to not reveal other people’s “personal information.”

    Someone’s NAME – alone – is personal information?????????

    No. Personal information is what is attached to that name, not the name itself.

    No warnings. No fixed-length bans like Connolley got. This was instant and FOREVER. As in NEVER. No avenues of appeal were presented to me. I had to search far and wide to find those.

    Anyway, long story short, Ifinally was allowed to argue my case with a higher editor, and over a period of three weeks or so, of increasing frustration with their obtuseness, they said they would basically suspend me for a period of time and then have me on probation for some longer period of time.

    I chose to tell them to go to hell.

    I am a GOOD man to have contributing to Wikipedia. I didn’t need that f-ing abuse from them, and I have never contributed again – even though my suspension and probation are now long since over.

    I will NEVER contribute again. I know a LOT about a LOT. And I never edited anything in without vetting it myself first. They don’t deserve me.

    Screw ‘em!

  15. WikiP’s contentious stuff is but a small proportion of its content.

    Even peer-reviewed papers cannot necessarily be trusted.

  16. Tell me about it. I must have posted twenty items about renewable intermittence on Wiki, many years ago, only for them to be whittled down to nothing or deleted completely.

    According to Wiki, wind power is not intermittent, and I was eventually banned as a site ‘vandal’ for claiming that it was.

    Ralph

  17. To be honest when it comes to climate science I have always found it to reflect the most current up to date thinking in the field. I wouldn’t have thought that was a bad thing.

  18. In my experience, Wikipedia ranges from good to extraordinarily good on most technical topics and topics not involved in the culture/PC wars. But a topic like climate change is not going to get good treatment – it will be slanted heavily in the leftist/socialist direction in Wikipedia.

  19. Wikipedia tends to be quite good for obscure, non-controversial subjects. But even here you have to be careful, as there is no quality control. When at High School I remember that Encyclopaedia Britannica had biases of it’s own, especially when dealing with subjects outside of the mainstream. The best way to really learn about a subject is to read the original articles, or at least a summary by somebody sympathetic to the subject
    One inconsistency of Wikipedia I found recently. The article on “Climatology” is listed under http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_science. The following is quite a fair description of the subject:-

    This modern field of study is regarded as a branch of the atmospheric sciences and a subfield of physical geography.

    Whether an “ology” or a “science”, it is very much an applied subject that draws on many other subjects.

  20. ShrNfr says:
    April 29, 2014 at 11:20 am

    “Those topics were mostly in history, so not much controversy there…”

    ——————

    “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

  21. It’s an acceptable place to start some basic research on casual topics, but should not be relied on under any circumstances for technical (science or engineering) issues. I have been in court cases in which my opposition experts cited Wikipedia as the source of information which supported their expert opinions. Our counsel tore them new orifices and the judge agreed – not a source of reliable information.

  22. @Joe Public at 12:00 pm:
    “Even peer-reviewed papers cannot necessarily be trusted.”

    Point taken. However, if they ARE peer-reviewed, they should have every right to at least be presented.

  23. It is not a “pretty big” flaw, it is fatal! Sadly, the first hit on a search is usually them which indicates that a lot of people are using them. Or they are buying the place in line from Google.

    I may go to Wiki for a quick peak. But I do not cite them except on very rare occasions.

  24. “It is under-resourced and is unable to police itself adequately.”

    That’s not the reason.

    Connelley should have been jumped on from a great height and had his admin rights removed FOR LIFE, a 6m ban from any editing of any subject and been kept a close eye on afterwards.

    Our Jimmy is complicit with the zealotry that goes on. He probably thinks aiding and abetting it is just ‘doing his bit for the cause’.

    Misguided nobel [sic] cause corruption, like the rest.

  25. @Mike at 12:07 pm:
    “So what this is telling me is that Wikipedia seems to emply the same methodology of authoring as did The Bible.”

    This got a laugh out of me.

    You must have heard how many Connolleys they had at the Council of Nicea.

    St. Valentine Connolley is even reputed to have thrown a haymaker at Arius. (Yeah, THAT St. Valentine… same guy. He later had a good PR manager.) Arius’ party got none of its amendments through… Which is why we’ve had the form of Christianity that we’ve had.

  26. At my kids’ high school, the students are warned repeatedly that Wikipedia is not a valid reference source for any papers. Despite this, one boy in my daughter’s class repeatedly used Wikipedia because it was so easy. Knowing this and annoyed by this, one of my daughter’s friends set the boy up. Because he also did things last minute, the day before a paper was due, she edited all the Wikipedia entries relevant to his paper, putting in ridiculous falsehoods. Sure enough, that night, he did his research for the paper…

  27. ShrNfr says:
    April 29, 2014 at 11:20 am
    I suppose it has to do with the topic, but I agree with Andrew that most topics tend to return to a factual basis over time. Certainly, the ones I have had any participation in were heavily reviewed in a reliable fashion. Those topics were mostly in history, so not much controversy there. Sadly, as is pointed out, other topics tend to take grief at times.

    ———–
    ShrNfr:

    Those who control history control the present. Try reading Wikipedia articles to do with Islamic history, Balkans history, the Crusades, European colonialism, Chinese history etc. I haven’t checked the Armenian Genocide but no doubt that one is highly contentious as well.

    For many history articles, including some in the history of science, it is hard to find articles untainted, if not completely warped, by the biases of supposedly NPOV editors. I’ve only edited three articles, but in two cases, it was to correct egregious errors, one concerning the history of the Turbot War on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks (1995, Canada vs. Spain and Portugal) and one about a female botanist and entomologist. Just checked back and noted that the turbot war article apparently has ‘multiple issues”. I doubt I’ll bother with it again.

  28. Simon says:
    April 29, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    To be honest when it comes to climate science I have always found it to reflect the most current up to date thinking in the field. I wouldn’t have thought that was a bad thing.
    ===

    No. It’s ONE SIDE of the most current up to date thinking in the field.

  29. It’s not only climate where Wiki causes damage; their articles on fluoridation and much of science and history are ignorant nonsense. Hopefully there will be a challenge to Wiki.

  30. No disagreement. However, my experience with Wikipedia on purely mathematical subjects has been uniformly positive. Of course, this could change. That’s the problem.

  31. Andrew says:
    April 29, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Over the top. I find Wikipedia an almost entirely reliable source of info. True, it can be temporarily hi-jacked by people with agendas, but in my view equilibrium is almost always restored.
    ===

    No, it has been PERMANENTLY hi-jacked by people with agendas. That will only change when those people change their agendas, since the head honcho shares that agenda.

    For non controversial stuff like standard chemistry it is a useful quick reference.

    I generally use it as source for external references and virtually never link to it.

  32. Wiki is not that bad. It’s like a news story. You don’t just read a news story written by one news organization, do you? No. You read several, and form your own opinion. No single-source for anything should be seen as authoritative. It’s pretty easy to tell when a subject is controversial. You can’t child-proof the world.

  33. as a repository of DEFINITIVE knowledge – Wiki is pretty poor! But as a general collection of knowledge it’s not too bad. It has to be read the same way as any media item/article – i.e. with complete scepticism and followed by judicial checking and cross referencing before use of any contents by the reader!

  34. Latitude says:
    I have found some of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen on there….
    If you want what the majority believes…that’s the place to go

    Wikipedia is more of an opinion poll than an academic reference.

  35. Google used to artificially place Wikipedia results on top as a quick and reliable way of dealing with page fraud. Now their algorithms do a much better job of finding and presenting topic-specific specialty sources so I don’t waste time reading Wikipedia and trying to figure out how reliable the content is.

  36. I like Wikipedia as a source of sources when starting research.

    It’s important to realize that the goal of Wikipedia is to present what people write about a subject, not present facts about a subject.

  37. Come on now. Everyone knows Wikipedia is the place where you find track listings for your favorite old record albums. It’s a great resource to look up capital cities, check for celeb birth dates, learn the scientific name for honey badgers, etc. But only an idiot would look for anything more than that. I once did an experiment. I’d noticed that the entry for “Fascism” seemed to look different every time I looked at it. So I started checking it every Monday morning for a couple months. It was shocking how often that page was completely rewritten. The mumbo-jumbo that those yahoos continued to come up with was simply staggering. Wikipedia is often nothing more than a bunch of self-indulgent twits with way too much time on their hands, and way too much worthless education.

  38. I find Wikipedia quite valuable…for crossword puzzles…but often not as helpful as my fifty-three year old Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary.

  39. So what is a reliable source of information, NYT, Guardian, Media Matters, peer-reviewed journals, local gossip? I’m not sure there are any truly reliable sources of information out there, at least ones that are easy to access. Everyone has some bias or hidden agendas. That’s why we should maintain a healthy level of skepticism and fact check all sources of information before swallowing it wholesale.

  40. Isn’t part of Wikipedia’s problem is the anonymity of editing the materials? should would be editors provide their real names and verified before being accepted as an editor? And that they should use their real names anytime they edit?

  41. Wikipedia is useful to learn the NPOV worldview.
    After finding new information, I check back on the wikipedia to see what the NPOV says about it. Often, I find silence. Like on the private life of Karl Marx. And that’s interesting.

  42. Maybe Wikipedia should get a massive injection of funding from the Koch brothers, along with editorial control over the content. If they don’t do it, a guy like George Soros eventually will.

  43. Gary says: April 29, 2014 at 12:53 pm “[ … ] and way too much worthless education.”

    LOL, did you learn that on the Wikipedia, and how much worthwhile education have you?

  44. Steve Garcia – I wasn’t an editor, but what you say sounds familiar. I grew up in the same town as Jon Stewart. (I was older, didn’t know him.) Stewart’s wikipedia entry said that Stewart faced strong anti-semitism in town and at school because it was a WASP-y area. Balderdash, I thought, the town had a 10% Jewish population, many of my friends at school and in my neighborhood were Jewish, and anti-semitism was rarely seen or spoken. So I corrected the entry. But someone immediately reverted it, claiming their citation proved it. I looked at the citation, an interview, it just had Stewart making some jokey comments about his childhood, no mention of anti-semitism. I corrected the article again, it immediately got reverted by someone else. I didn’t care that much, so I let it go.

    I do find Wikipedia useful for many things, but any topic that touches on our Secular Religion – feminism, climate change, racism, ‘income inequality’ – is probably going to be useless. Except perhaps as a window on such thinking, though I see enough of that elsewhere.

  45. Most on-line stuff, be it Wiki or Fly Base or Climate sites, are okay if you have some judgement and a BS detector. Students usually have neither, which is why we really discourage the Web as a source for their work and projects.

    But I can’t tell you how many of my power point slides grabbed just before a lecture are from the web.

  46. Gary says:
    April 29, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Come on now. Everyone knows Wikipedia is the place where you find track listings for your favorite old record albums.

    Snap! Me too.
    And today, for some reason, I was looking up Plantagenet and Tudor kings of England.
    Of course you shouldn’t trust it for anything approaching controversial, especially climate stuff after that person. But it’s still a good place to start for many topics, or to remind myself about things I already do know.

    There is not, and never will be, anywhere, ever, one reliable source of truth, accuracy and honesty. You have to do some thinking for yourself.

  47. Wikipedia is crowd-sourced reality. Convenient but not reliable.

  48. Wikipedia’s reliability is inversely related to the politicization of the subjected of interest. For non-controversial issues it is pretty useful.

    What Wikipedia ought to do is stop allowing easy re-edits, but instead allow dissenting opinions/comments to be appended or linked. Where there is controversy, Wikipedia should not try to present an orthodoxy.

  49. I had an issue with the Wiki entry on Rammel’s pneumatic railway line in Crystal Palace Park SE London UK. For those that might not know after Joseph Paxton’s Great Crystal Palace that was built basically for British industry to show of its wares in Hyde Park in 1851. Any how once the exhibition was over the Crystal Palace was relocated to SE London . About ten years late an Engineer from the Isle of Thanet in Kent a formed a company that proposed using the power of the vacuum as a means of propulsion . There were terrible problems with traffic in London-the horse and cart type then but proposals to use Brunel’s recently built Thames tunnel at Rotherhithe as a model for further tunnels came to no avail as steam and coal propulsion was disastrous in long tunnels. So Rammel came up with a tunnel built in Crystal Palace park circa 1860ish which ran for 600 yards up a hill. A large pump would create a vacuum in which a standard carriage with a leather skirt would literally be sucked up the hill and then gravity would bring it back down again.

    This venture must have cost a small fortune for the investment company who later went on to provide the same propulsion principles for mail tunnels in London, Anyhow Rammels tunnel mysteriously closed soon after opening and was never used again, In the fire that destroyed the Crustal Palace in 1936 the plans showing where the tunnel was located was lost and the same for the duplicate plans stored in the British Museum they too a victim of a flood I believe, during the blitz. The tunnel was forgotten about until a BBC television local news programme call Nationwide ran a story in 1978 that a local woman walking her dog in a dilapidated park followed her dog and found an entrance into a tunnel where decomposed bodies in Victorian garb were said to be in a railway carriage, Anyhow this started a great mystery but no one new exactly where the tunnel was until circa 1991 when it was found during a very dry summer when a chap called (don’t laugh because he was a local lad from Deptford) The Marquis Du St Pont Empire, Anyhow using the police helicopter when it went out he took aerial shots and in that dry summer was able to see the outline of the tunnel . It was partially excavated showing the roof , which I witnessed about a year later.

    Okay back to Wiki: When I searched Wiki for this story I found their entry clearly stated that although this Marquis chap had searched the tunnel was never found. So I as an actual witness not to just the local news paper articles, the park exhibition and looking down to the roof that was exposed in the excavation, put in an entry with my name and email and that was there for a short time until by chance I revisited some months later and noticed it had been removed. I entered again and several times more as each time someone at Wiki took it upon themselves to remove my entry. Myself and some other chaps who were interested in the tunnel story also noticed what had happened and with me we bitterly complained to Wiki in the end I gave up as Wiki seems to have its agenda and that is that

    http://www.crystalpalacefoundation.org.uk/shop/transport/rammel-s-pneumatic-railway-2

  50. Wikipedia is just reliable enough to be not worth burning to the ground. I find it useful for explaining, for example, a term that a text book author was too lazy explain properly. It is also good for topics that are too banal to have large numbers of clueless fan-boys joining in the fun.

    However my own technical field (nothing to do with climate, more formal math) is rife with popular misconceptions to the point where the articles are so misguided you can’t actually even call them wrong. There is no hope of anyone correcting them because there will be a hundred times as many people restoring some variant of the original nonsense.

  51. I do link to Wikipedia, from time to time, but I always (almost) have referred to it as Wackapedia. I think it’s reliable for world record facts, similar to the Guinness Book. If you want to find the tallest tree or mountain in PA or the Long Jump records, it’s usually reliable, (I hope)…

  52. “trolling certain articles and changing them, as soon as someone posted anything. It was on what is now called a “controversial subject.” He was making sure that only one side of the controversy was being depicted.”
    Are you talking about Wikipedia or the public school system?

  53. Will Durant allegedly said “Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.”

    That kind of sums up how I feel about Wikipedia. It’s there but it is always subject to change without notice. I trust it about as much as I trust anything on the Internet. They couldn’t put it on the Internet if it wasn’t true, could they?

    PS: I’m a French model. Bon jour!

  54. Wikipedia has been a massive success but has always had immense flaws, the greatest one being that nothing it publishes can be trusted.

    “Nothing it publishes can be trusted”, but that doesn’t mean that everything it publishes is wrong.

    The problem is that for the average Wikipedia reader it is not readily apparent which parts of Wikipedia are correct at the time they are reading it.

    Nor is it always readily apparent which part is reflecting accurate, factual data and which part are reflecting opinion/bias.

    Caution regarding the usage of Wikipedia is well founded.

  55. At Wikipedia, I correct grammatical errors & rephrase sentences where necessary in subjects that interest me. Contentious subjects that Connolley might see as his vigilante duty to amend, are just not on my reading list. I go to other reliable sources & meanwhile, I hope for the day that the magic stool of retribution wings its way up the pusillanimous rectum of said silly Billy. Punish him in the orifice from whence he speaks. Damn hippy.

  56. Wikipedia is absolutely AWESOME!

    Yeah, zealot editors appear here and there. However, the footnotes at the bottoms of pages are there for a reason. Most of us have the capacity to weigh evidence and decide how much weight we want to put on a source that appears biased.

  57. In defense of Wikipedia’s overall process, it is more credible than the IPCC’s overall process because you can follow the edits and rewrites in real time on Wikipedia. The IPCC process is closed to real time ‘in process’ monitoring.

    On a parallel thought about trusting Wikipedia or anything . . . .

    I reminded of what an old mentor of mine used to say when I was at university some handful of decades ago. The mentor said, “If you are not your own intellectual defender, then you are not intellectually independent”.

    On yet another parallel thought . . . ..

    Intellectually Speaking => Verify first, then conditionally concur (or not) with quid pro quos, caveats, provisos and exceptions . . . . but never trust.

    John

  58. I always viewed Wikipedia as the consensus of the internet. And we know how dangerous that can be.

    It is good for things like historical dates, physical constants and the such. But, in the end, Wikipedia can only be viewed as the opinion of the last person shouting the loudest and longest.

    “Mr. Connolley has edited 5428 Wikipedia articles, almost all on climate and his zealotry earned him a suspension and banning for certain types of articles.”

    Mr. Connolley is not so much shouting his opinion as having a temper tantrum and hissy fit.

    Ya get what you pay for….

  59. Science on Wikipedia is focussed on “consensus science”. But in climate it gets worse, because I am certain the editors are themselves the people writing and peer editing the climate journals.

    A long time ago, I saw a paper being written apparently only to stop an edit by skeptics. In other words, if the “consensus” or “peer reviewed” science didn’t not support what they wanted it to say, the editors would just rewrite it.

    In contrast, around 2007 I tried to include a section on “the pause”. However, although I could show that the data showed a pause (skeptic science) and there were numerous newspaper articles to support its existence … the fact that the (skeptic science) data showed a pause, it was determined this was not “science” because the (consensus) scientists had not put it in any of their papers.

    In other words, the truth was whatever they wanted it to be, and the mere facts were not enough to counter them.

  60. My last straw with Wiki was this winter when the polar vortex became a public issue. The article was hijacked by global warming cultists using news papers and magazines as references. I promptly edited the entry with real citations and added caveats to anything that was cultist hysteria. The article was reverted back to the garbage version and locked later that afternoon. I then promptly wrote to Wiki to let them know that they had lost me as a donor and explained that the people they were letting hijack the climate articles would never have the financial means to make donations as most were residing in their mom’s basements with minimum wage jobs.

  61. @JohnWho says:
    The problem is that for the average Wikipedia reader it is not readily apparent which parts of Wikipedia are correct at the time they are reading it.

    Circular argument. If the average reader knew which parts of Wikipedia are not correct, the average reader would not have a need to use Wikipedia to begin with.

  62. If you look at the entry for Leathernecks http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leatherneck there is no mention of the wars with Muslim pirates and the need to protect marines from decapitation by their curved swords. They want to pretend that the US has not been at war with Islam since its founding, and not because we started it.

  63. “Wikipedia tends to be quite good for obscure, non-controversial subjects”

    Exactly. I’ve been reading a lot on oil and gas of late, and I’ve found it’s reliable for matter-of-fact entries. Want to know the properties of ethane? How many rockets Hamas launched into Israel every month of 2006? Formula relating horsepower to torque? Wikipedia is the way to go.

    But then you have the pseudo-academic stuff. Peak oil is just ridiculous – at various points it suggests it happened in 2005, or 2006 or 2009.

    Sometimes I’ve considered editing the peak oil article. But then I think, if it’s this way it must be because some people want it like this – people who probably have more free time and computer skills than I do. People who strongly believe in peak oil and see the Wikipedia article on the subject as their little kingdom. So I could add a sentence pointing out Hubert expected production to peak in 2000 at 35 million bpd, while today it’s 2014 and we’re at 80 million bpd; or I could say he estimated recoverable US oil at 150-200 billion barrels and we’re already at 210 billion extracted.

    But these things would get deleted, or I would get dragged into an edit war. It’s a waste of time.

    PS: that’s about the English-language version. The Spanish one is still rambling about the hyperinflation in Zimbabwe – which just happened to end five years ago.

  64. Like any source of information on topics that I know nothing about, wiki seems great. Sadly on topics that I do know a little bit about, wiki is uniformly biased and just plain awful, without exception.

    So for everything that I don’t know anything about, Wiki has been a great contrarian indicator, priceless actually.

  65. Wikipedia is pretty good for many topics unless they are political
    or controversial. I don’t trust it as the final source on anything but
    it is often a good source of information. Someone who is well rounded
    and understands science and economics can also tell in many cases
    where some things in Wikipedia should not be trusted.

  66. TJA says:

    [Wikipedia] want to pretend that the US has not been at war with Islam since its founding, and not because we started it.

    Yes. Winston Churchill wrote in his book, The River War:

    “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.”

    Islam delenda est.

  67. Mike says:
    April 29, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    So what this is telling me is that Wikipedia seems to emply the same methodology of authoring as did The Bible.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++==
    Showing your bias there sunshine. How about you fact check before posting dumbass one liners like that.

  68. I am an old car enthusiast. I have owned a number of vintage Lotus and MG sports cars i’m a bit vintage myself: I owned many of these cars when they were new. I’ve made a point over the years of collecting every bit of information I could about the cars I’ve owned, sales literature, magazine articles, even talking to factory employees on more than one occasion, so I know a little bit about my passion. The information on Wikipeadia about “my cars” is all pretty much incorrect, and clearly written by someone who knows very little. If Wikipeadia can’t get this simple topic right, how can it possibly be correct about serious topics like climate?

  69. I find it entertaining, following links to see where they go, but don’t find it very accurate. I often will read two or three related entries and will find contradictory facts. I’ve seen articles that are purposefully wrong, even ridiculous, and others that are simply incomprehensible.
    I won’t let my kids use it for school unless it’s to find sources.
    I think folks here are right in that it’s a decent source for such things as match, chemistry and information on obscure subjects, but that anything remotely disputed or controversial , beware.

  70. “Wikipedia has been a massive success but has always had immense flaws, the greatest one being that nothing it publishes can be trusted.”

    Nothing, whatsoever? If I found flaws in posts on WUWT should I then conclude that I should trust nothing on the site?

    Here was me thinking that WUWT encouraged critical thinking.

  71. JohnWho says:
    April 29, 2014 at 1:38 pm
    …….

    “Nothing it publishes can be trusted”, but that doesn’t mean that everything it publishes is wrong.

    precisely. the problem lies in the average person being able to distinguish what can be taken as fact and what needs some serious skepticism. There in lies the real danger: The presumption of accuracy by those least able to discern it. The average person EXPECTS accuracy. So they take it on face value, trust it, parrot it and even link it…. and humanity spirals down another level.

  72. John K. Sutherland (08:40:19) :

    While I am at it: we need a new word for the English language: WIKI-WISE, to mean woefully misinformed, profoundly ignorant of the facts, believing only what one is told to believe. Shades of Orwell again.

    Roger Knights:
    Wiki-Wacky

  73. I agree with Bill: “Wikipedia is pretty good for many topics unless they are political
    or controversial.” All the computer science stuff on WP that I’ve checked out is solid, and quite good, in fact. For example, skiplists.

  74. Genghis says:
    April 29, 2014 at 2:18 pm
    Like any source of information on topics that I know nothing about, wiki seems great. Sadly on topics that I do know a little bit about, wiki is uniformly biased and just plain awful, without exception.

    this should be speaking to you. Loudly…..

  75. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
    If Wikipedia was printed on paper….I wouldn’t wipe my arse with it.

  76. Like many of you, I suspect, I have a “library” at home with most of the textbooks I bought and more or less used at University, still sitting in dusty repose. Every once in a while I get one down to look up something or refresh what I believed I used to know about something. Most of my books are science textbooks, some pretty arcane (I still don’t know what the heck “transfinite arithmetic” is, even tho the book title screams it at me every time I go by, but I digress). I find Wikipedia to be no better nor worse than many of the textbooks in many topics. We’ve frequently assumed those $100 textbooks were sainted before release, but as one gets to know the content, truth slips a bit frequently.
    Recently I’ve added a few new textbooks on meteorology and atmospheric thermodynamics to help me get the big picture on a lot of these discussions, and an interesting thing pops out of them: global warming/climate change is as entrenched in glossy coated stock as it is in pixels – truth is as scarce in tome as it is in conversation.
    Wikipedia in many ways is no worse than traditional authority sources. As we’ve seen from “peer review”, vetted textbooks are not necessarily any better.

  77. “Wikipedia is pretty good for many topics unless they are political
    or controversial.”

    Nope, unless you consider how Gracie Allen felt about Mary Livingstone to be controversial:

    “her close friend Gracie Allen”
    vs.
    “[George Burns] and his wife and performing partner Gracie Allen loved Jack Benny, but merely tolerated Mary, whom they disliked”

  78. I agree with the comments here that Wikipedia is a useful starting point for research into a subject 99% of the time. The trick is to completely ignore the articles and jump straight to the footnotes. There’s generally a number of credible, if occasionally one-sided, sources sited.

  79. A local politician in England was arrested the other day for quoting that passage by Churchill in a speech. According to Fox News, “Paul Weston, the chairman of the Liberty GB party, is facing the potential of two years in prison for breaching a dispersal notice delivered to him as he gave a speech with a megaphone in front of Winchester Guildhall in Hampshire.

    The paper quoted a spokesman from his political party as saying Weston was addressing passers-by and quoted an excerpt about Islam from Churchill’s “The River of War,” which was written in 1899, when he was 25, during his time in Sudan.”

    I’d have linked to a CNN report too, but they don’t seem to have any record of this event. Google had 58K hits, in everything from “sheikyermami.com” to the Beeb. But it never happened for CNN. Funny that.

  80. “I would say yes if you can prove their citations are intentionally in error..but would not go as far to attack and belittle people…if it is wrong you can fix it.”

    And then they’ll fix it back. :)

    • those rotten litttle [snips]….. Man must be some form of compulsive disorder to correct one theory with another. Some people believe it all to be factual I guess instead of anaylyzing many theories they just want the one that supports the agenda they represent would be my guess.

  81. “Nothing, whatsoever? If I found flaws in posts on WUWT should I then conclude that I should trust nothing on the site? Here was me thinking that WUWT encouraged critical thinking.”

    Take nothing someone says at a blog at face value. Check it out yourself. That’s critical thinking. On a great many things Wikipedia is accurate with and a valuable resource. If you extrapolate that into thinking that every article can be trusted to be accurate you’re setting yourself up.

    Trustworthy means that you don’t need to verify the facts. Wikipedia is not trustworthy. Not a bad first stop to figure out where to look though.

  82. Wikipedia is simply pushing self interest. They lose fewer rational donors than they would activists if they allowed facts into issues dominated by activists not truth seekers. They would be punished by an AstroTurf campaign if they allowed skeptics to post and eventually end up the same as that Clippers guy.

  83. I think that the whole problem with Wikipedia is with the over romanticised notion of NPOV, when there is no such thing. We knew this was a problem back in the days of Ward Cunningham’s original wiki c2.com and its spinoff, Richard Drake’s, why wiki I propose an alternative:

    Stated Points of View
    ================
    In which two or more sides of a debate are given freedom to present their case separately with the caveat that they state their axiomatic assumptions. Free editing of each point of view is allowed, but objections and edits to the arguments of POV-A may only be raised by people holding the same axiomatic assumptions. Other points of view, including criticism of POV-A, are to be presented on the pages of POV-B, along with the assumptions stated for the differing point of view.
    Advantages are that more people are able to contribute more material, and more points of view, and more data can be harvested than with NPOV. Experts may contribute according to their point of view without being overwritten by non-experts who disagree with them.

    Example: the wikipedia pages on the mental health condition “Dissociative Identity Disorder” are primarily dealing with the debate as to whether or not the condition exists. Those who do not believe it exists cite papers by those who do not believe it exists and those that do believe it exists cite their sources. NPOV enforces a stalemate position in the debate, leaving the site devoid of actual content material on the subject itself. Those who do have real content to contribute on the actual topic itself are closed out by the debate. What is lost is the possibility of harnessing the encyclopaedic knowledge of the variety of subtopics that could be written about by those who would write stating that they know it exists, have lived with the condition, and know how to successfully treat the condition. This knowledge is censored by those who have limited knowledge of the topic but remain editorially to keep the debate, and only the debate front and centre. The net result being that, if you actually want information on the topic in hand, wikipedia is of very little use to anyone researching the topic.

  84. Paul Coppin says: April 29, 2014 at 3:30 pm “I still don’t know what the heck “transfinite arithmetic” is, even tho the book title screams it at me every time I go by, but I digress.”

    No, tell me it ain’t so! Alexander Smbat Abian’s 1956 The Theory of Sets and Transfinite Arithmetic? John Baez addresses Abian’s crackpot index as I recall.

  85. Wikipedia necessarily has flaws like any other relatively free and open system such as democracy or capitalism. But democracy and capitalism are better than the alternatives. So is Wikipedia. The key is to understand the flaws.

  86. @Patrick B

    “In my experience, Wikipedia ranges from good to extraordinarily good on most technical topics and topics not involved in the culture/PC wars.”

    Agreed. I find Wikipedia good enough on technical and chemical and engineering matters, plus the Engineering Toolbox which is amazing. It is obvious after reading a short time that the matters of climate and social science impact and non-Western cultural perspectives (noble savage gardens of Eden) are topics of ‘importance’ to some like-minded crowd who bother to insert themselves into each conversation often with extreme prejudice which is what Steve suffered (thanks for the long note, Steve).

    It is another proof that the world is run by those who show up. Showing up at WUWT makes the world a better-resourced place. Carry on, everyone.

    And they never edit which I choose to write.

  87. Sure. I have personal experience with this.

    I have tried on several occasions to provide background data and correct errors on articles in my field (I am an academic) only to see some “captaincrunch123″ angrily torpedo the changes without more justification than “it’s just your word”,… which is a bizarre charge when you are, for instance, simply correcting the date of a reference.

  88. “Nothing, whatsoever? If I found flaws in posts on WUWT should I then conclude that I should trust nothing on the site? Here was me thinking that WUWT encouraged critical thinking.”

    ***********
    If you find flaws on WUWT you are free to comment about them here and offer sources for your position. What you can’t do is broom the comments you disagree with — which is standard practice on Wikipedia’s climate change-related topics.

  89. Using Wiki is just like any other form of research – just because something is written down doesn’t mean that it is true. The whole point of research is to use multiple sources and form a view based on your own judgement.

    It is immensely useful, as others have pointed out for non-controversial subjects. I use it all the time for things like episode guides for TV shows, lists of books by authors, quick fact checks (like “what is the atomic weight of X?”) etc. Mind you, on the atomic weight question, if it was for a scientific paper I would verify elsewhere as well. But for general purposes, it is a wonderful resource, easy to find, and free. It is also a starting point for finding primary sources, albeit a far from comprehensive one.

    It is useless for politics or politically charged subjects like science controversies. It may also be less than reliable for things like specialist hobbies (such as old cars, mentioned above), not least because these are areas where people have strong opinions. So, if I want a list of films by Hitchcock, there is a pretty good chance that the Wiki list will be correct. If I want to know how good they were, not so much.

    The problem is not that some things in Wiki are wrong, or at least debatable. That goes for a lot of stuff in books and journals as well. The problem is that people ought to be learning at school what research is, and how to critically use resources, including Wiki.

  90. Wikipedia suffers from what I call the “Encyclopedia Syndrome.”

    It infests all encyclopedias, all on line “help” programs, all automated telephone system menus, and so on.

    It works like this.

    You walk into “ANY” library (LOC etc), and you go to the “reference” section, where encyclopedias and other esteemed “reference” works are (OED) etc. are kept.

    You reach up on the shelf and you grab “ANY” volume of “ANY” reference work, and you take it to a table, and sit down, and open it “ANYWHERE.”

    So you start reading “WHEREVER” you are; and you can read for hours, and learn all kinds of wonderful stuff about things you didn’t even know existed..

    ……””””” BUT !!! “””””….. I f you go back to the reference section, and pull the specific volume, that “SHOULD” contain material on the subject you are interested in; maybe alphabetically or Dewey systematized, or whatever, and take that to your table and look through alphabetically or whatever; you will “NOT” find anything at all that is directed to answering what you wanted to know.

    The on line help menu, will have “NOTHING” about your specific problem, and the phone answering menu, will have “NOTHING” related to your reason for calling.

  91. “No, tell me it ain’t so! Alexander Smbat Abian’s 1956 The Theory of Sets and Transfinite Arithmetic? John Baez addresses Abian’s crackpot index as I recall.”

    @ John Huffman – Yeah, that’s the one. Mine is 1965… maybe a little dyslectic there? :) (understandable after spending a few minutes looking at that book). Anyway, it had a lot to do with why I cuddled up to chaos theory and went into biology, lol. The only Baez I remember from back then was Joan… :)

  92. We all seem to have a problem with believing something told to us by someone we know, or are acquainted with; but we are quite willing to believe something written by someone else totally unknown to us.

    I know a school teacher, for many, many years who is constantly asking me stuff.

    But she simply will not believe ANYTHING I tell her.

    Last night, she asked me about growing potatoes in a 5 gallon bucket. I described to her exactly how I grew a barrel full of potatoes from one plant, when I was a kid.

    She showed me a U-toob video of some guy wrestling with trying to explain the system , with the buckets. I explained how I did it ,as a kid.

    She will follow the advice of the Toobie, and ignore my advice. For that, she can buy, and waste her own buckets.

  93. Even on the subjects you might assume were the most uncontroversial it is well worth checking the “talk” page. There are often vicious edit wars and personal battles going on under the most apparently benign surface.

  94. Several years ago my grandson was researching peanut butter for a school assignment and he included a line from Wikipedia that said something like “peanut butter is a favorite food of homosexuals.” By the time I checked it the next day the line had been deleted, but it was there when he was doing his assignment.

  95. John is Joan’s cousin at UC Riverside and author of This Weeks Finds in Mathematical Physics. Heaven only knows what is “chaos theory” to cuddle with and avoid for biology. The Mathematics Geneaology Project shows Abian’s apparent middle name as Smbat. I learned of Abian at about the same time as Archimedes Plutonium.

  96. I once tried to expand and correct the Peter Gleick Wikipedia page in the Heartland document theft section. I introduced the probability that the “Strategy Memo” was forged by Gleick using data from the authentic stolen documents. This isn’t mentioned in the sanitized version. I was polite, clinical, added references to posts which came directly from Heartland’s Joe Bastardi, discussed the PDF creation metadata to explain that the strategy doc was written in the Pacific time zone, not in the Central time zone, outlined the Gleick “anti-science” verbiage that Heartland would never use, and how that and the mention of Gleick by name, triggered Steve Mosher’s fingering of Gleick as the probable author. I more clearly described the identity theft that allowed Gleick to steal all the other mundane finance documents. My changes were disappeared in one day. I pretty much knew they would be, but I was just proving a point to myself.

  97. The *process* of Wikipedia is corrupt, and not open. They claim openness, but they are not open about who has what power and what and why decisions are made.

    The portion that we *do* hear about how that happens is hair-raising.

    It is not only not a trustworthy source, it’s not a *source* at all. Also, seriously, tell me what subject worth referencing is non-controversial. I almost laughed out loud at the suggestion history wasn’t controversial.

    If Wikipedia *was* free and open, it would at least be better. Probably not great, but better. Half-measures are fatal.

  98. Wikipedia has been an entirely selective online clique of disinformation virtually since its inception. Way back in the day I decided to contribute and corrected a few incorrect entries– I was and am an expert in the field they involved (not climate). The level of hostility I was greeted with for correcting said information was appalling, and pretty much ended any desire to contribute further on my part. Having seen what it has evolved in to, it’s quite obvious that sort of thing is by design.

    Which is somewhat ironic considering the several hand-wringing beg-a-thons they hold every year.

  99. Know what is more useful than complaining about the quality of wikipedia?

    Improving it.

    Citing a few examples of controversial topics being host to long edit wars does not chance the huge amount of useful and often fascinating information available there.

    If you go into a page about a well known controversial topic and don’t know that it is controversial and base your entire opinion about said topic on whichever version of the page is available at that time… you’ve probably got better things to do than surf wikipedia.

  100. Wikipedia is actually really valuable as a quick reference for uncontroversial topics, like chemistry. It’s pretty good for technical details on dry historical topics, too. On more modern technical topics, it will at least give you an idea of where topics are going and a few references. Anything that involves a product that a company is currently producing is either an add for that product or a campaign against it (depending on who cares about more). Controversial topics are mostly good for a laugh, but beware that you can stumble onto a topic that you didn’t know was controversial.

  101. Gary … you beat me to it. The “Fascism” page was my first thought as well.

    I also started noticing the changes several years ago. And I recognized the intent …. to not allow a rational debate from a libertarian point of view … that being Fascism’s common roots with Socialism. Socialists need to blur the distinct line between Corporatism and Capitalism to keep painting Fascism as right wing. They don’t want anyone pointing out the main similarities between Socialism, Fascism and Communism ….. Authoritarianism …. Central Government Planning and the subjugation of the Individual to the State.

    Most people would never imagine how much political importance a simple definition can carry.
    Most people miss the incredible irony of Putin’s recent use of the word.

    Anybody that’s curious can visit the Wiki page and click “View History.”

  102. I too have found it fatally flawed on controversial subjects. I have tried to correct serious errors and add balance to such articles on several occasions and have had my edits reversed in the time it took to reload the page to verify the edit was correct. Totally useless on controversial subjects except for a quick look at the references. Often it is the easiest starting point to get to good reference articles.

    I do occasionally use wiki for situations where I already know the info is accurate and they often have useful visuals (diagrams and images) that are useful. They also generally provide good info on things like Newtonian physics and basic science/math such as refreshing your memory for the formula to calculate the surface area of a triangle or some think like a physical constant such as Pi to 12 decimal places.

    I use them as a quick look source but always double check the info. In some areas they are useful because you know they are providing propaganda from a specific point of view and in that regard it helps get your head around the bazaar views some folks have about controversial subjects. Even history articles can be fatally flawed if they touch on controversial on politically incorrect world views. For example any article that deals with some third world dictator invariably inflates their reputation and ignores their crimes, while blaming every conceivable problem on the west, colonial powers or the U.S. and ignoring other forces involved in the event.

    Its most valuable reference source for me is a quick way to look up key words dates, names etc. associated with what you are researching so you can do searches on those key words independent of wikipedia and their bias. Sometimes the major hurdle to using search engines is knowing the right key words to search on, and wiki ofter includes many of the major phrases and words you need to search to get to the unbiased info.

    They usually seem to be accurate with highly important issues like the names and birth dates of movie stars and their latest movies /sarc.

  103. Wikipedia is moderately useful for a quick take on the trivial and non-controversial, but it is absolutely untrustworthy as a source otherwise. In other words, look at Wikipedia if the answer doesn’t matter, but ignore it if it does. The less you know, the better it looks, which is why the victims of our current educational system like it so much. Well that and general laziness.

  104. @MAC at 1:02 pm:
    “Isn’t part of Wikipedia’s problem is the anonymity of editing the materials? should would be editors provide their real names and verified before being accepted as an editor? And that they should use their real names anytime they edit?”

    MAC, I suggest you look at my horror story about real names. I didn’t OUT a erson. I used his real name in what I assumed was a secure venue (my complaint of Connolley-like behavior) – and they BANNED ME FOR LIFE, when his real name was KNOWN to them on the in=side anyway, and no one outside Wiki high-level editors saw it.

    They consider real names as “personal information”. As long as they do that, most of the Connolleys can operate in obscurity.

    And US? We get banned for life, trying to undo the wrongs the agenda people put into Wikipedia.

  105. In many ways reading Wiki is like reading your local newspaper. The reporting of an event you know something about is usually not only wrong but wrongheaded in a deliberately beligerent way.

  106. @MAC –

    At the same time, I compltely agree with you on using real names. I think that EVERY Wiki edit should have a Wiki footnote as to who put it in. They HAVE that information already.

    Giving anonymity to editors is THE problem. There is no need for that anonymity. If someone puts information into Wikipedia, then the world should have access to WHERE THE INFO CAME FROM.

    Britannica – EVERY entry has initials of its authors, with a key in the Index for who is what set of initials.

    Why NOT Wikipedia?

    WHY would they even CONSIDER anonymity a good idea? It is just an open invitation to abuse.

    Witness Connolley.

  107. For what it’s worth, Wikipedia’s flaws can be viewed as the digital age version of an old problem. Back in the late 70s I did a masters degree in library science, and in the required “introduction to reference sources and services” course I read an article by a long time critic of the Encyclopedia Britannica by the name of Harvey Einbinder in which he updated his Myth of the Britannica. One of the “flaws” in the editorial policies of the Britannica that he pointed out was that sometimes their methods for choosing experts to write articles lead to the publication of articles that were questionable in their objectivity. Following up on one of the suggestions in Einbinder’s article, I examined the main article on Czechoslovakia in the then current version of the Britannica 3. The author of the article was a well regarded professor at a well regarded university in Brno, and it was generally excellent. The problem was that while the article covered events into the early 1970s, a person reading it got no hint that there had been a “Prague Spring”, or an invasion by Warsaw Pact troops in August of 1968.

  108. @kwinterkorn at 1:17 pm:
    “What Wikipedia ought to do is stop allowing easy re-edits, but instead allow dissenting opinions/comments to be appended or linked. Where there is controversy, Wikipedia should not try to present an orthodoxy.”

    They DID make some effort to address the “controversial subjects” like CAGW. But all they ended up doing was put a header on those, telling the reader that it is a controversial subject. They did NOT make any tangible effort to weed out the Connolleys or to rein them in.

    Your suggestions are pretty reasonable and would be a foundation upon which to build. In the Wiki board rooms, who knows how loudly it all would get shouted down.

    1. I’d like to see the entire upper portion of controversial subjects in a red font. That would draw attention to it. The way it is now, a reader is scanning DOWN and would often miss the alert as it is done at present. (HOLY SH**!!! They do NOT even have such a warning on Global warming!)

    2. I like the idea of NOT trying to present an orthodoxy on controversial subjects. There is one side, and there is the other. There is no middle ground. The readers should be allowed to KNOW that.

    3. For controversial subjects they should have right and left sections.columns for that subject. PRO and CON. Every editor would have to declare for one side or the other. Alternatively, once one edited on one side, that editor would NOT be allowed to edit on the other side. (There are ways to sneak around that, of course. Simply have two people work together – one posting on HIS side while the other trolls the other side.***)

    4. ANY edit made on either side would be allowed to be challenged. Sandbaggers/plants might be used to edit in opposition to the stated position of that side, so a mechanism would be necessary to bar such plants. Anyone found “guilty” of planting “wrong-side” edits (supportive of the other side) would be banned. For LIFE.

    *** This is why I think the real names of editors of EVERY edited passage (including virgin entry information) should be known.

  109. @ZombieSymmetry at 1:41 pm:
    “Yeah, zealot editors appear here and there. However, the footnotes at the bottoms of pages are there for a reason.”

    I want to grab you by the cheeks and say, “DON’T YOU EVER SAY THAT!”

    Do you not know that the footnotes don’t appear by magic?

    They are inserted by that editor who last handled that passage – AND HE DOESN’T HAVE TO PUT IN ANY FOOTNOTES AT ALL! If he wants to say the sky is DOWN, and he leaves off the footnote – then what? Do you accept it?

    Don’t you understand? If there is a sentence that has no footnote, do you accept it – just because there is no footnote? If 90% of the article has no footnotes, and you only look at the footnotes, you are only able to back check 10% through those links/sources.

    What about the OTHER 90%?

  110. Like most people, I have some direct experience with news reporting. In my 61 years I have never seen a news article that was absolutely correct, where I actually knew the facts of the case. I have talked to many people about this and they have told me the same experience. From that meager sampling I feel safe in concluding that few articles published in the news are 100% factually correct. This isn’t necessarily malicious. In talking with my local small town journalist, the problem is not lack of desire or effort; it’s that he has no idea what I am talking about and so gets the terminology and facts jumbled up. Journalists must write what makes sense to them, and if they can’t speak the language or follow the logic, corruption of the truth is inevitable. I suppose that’s why there is such a thing as a press release. So at least what is released is intentional, even if it is one-sided.

    When sampling a population to determine some representative characteristic, there is some finite probability that the random sample represents the “truth.” The more random samples taken, the more likely the average of the samples represents the truth. I see lots of comments here about “Wikipedia is good for such and such, but where I am an expert, the information is atrocious.” So there you have it. Where one is not an expert, the information seems OK; but where one is an expert, the information is atrocious. Based on these samples, I would say that the probability is high that a great deal of the information in Wikipedia is atrocious. Not only is it atrocious, it is sneakily so. It is well-written atrociousness; like any good fiction, it looks extremely plausible, so it isn’t readily apparent that, in fact, it is atrocious. This isn’t just bad, this is really bad. It is a corruption of the worst kind. Just like “97% of Climate Scientists” (whoever they are) agree. Just like the drug advertisements on television, “Recent polls show that 90% of doctors recommend brand X over brand Y.” And that’s true: the advertiser gets to pick the pollster and the doctors, so you *know* it is not a lie.

    Not to be too picky, there are subjects that are without controversy. Math, for example. I find the same differential calculus taught today that I was taught, which was the same that my father was taught eighty years ago. Wikipedia might be unreliable in math, but I don’t know where it is. Mathematics can be proven.

    I have seen (based on controversial subjects that I know something about) that the Wikipedia insistence on NPOV does kill a great deal of accuracy. On the other hand, NPOV does seem to enforce some degree of dispassionate civility in the article, and that is arguably a good thing. Is there a way to have both accuracy and dispassionate civility? Apparently not on controversial and/or uncertain subjects, where actual human beings are involved.

    – BillR

  111. Wikipedia is a waste of time and bandwidth, like most media outlets and blogs, unless you have a working BS detector in your mind. Google et al. seem to suffer from the same kind of problems, but less acutely. Learn how to learn early in life.

  112. ShrNfr says: “…the ones I have had any participation in were heavily reviewed in a reliable fashion. Those topics were mostly in history, so not much controversy there…”

    HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

  113. I rarely refer to Wiki. I tend to Google specific aspects of a bigger issue and then build a picture from the Google references. I never rely on just one Google reference. In view of a couple of the horror stories above about Wiki I will stop using Wiki altogethr

  114. @dbstealey at 2:30 pm:
    “Yes. Winston Churchill wrote in his book, The River War:

    ‘How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property …‘”

    For argument’s sake, I’d point out that when this was published (1899) the world was a far different place than today. Not many countries (mostly, but not quite only. northern Europe and the U.S.A., Canada and Australia) were up to snuff with England. Therefore the first few points Churchill brought up were applicable to many countries in the world, not just Muslim ones.

    I would point out that progress in those areas Churchill picks on (and others) is not uniform around the world. Some must always be ahead of the pack. In 1899 England was one of those. To point at those who were behind in “the race to civilization and progress” as if their lack of development was sinister is pompous, arrogant, and pathetic in its hubris. To point at nations covered in sand with 12 inches of rain (if that) a year and pick on their agriculture is absolutely infantile. Comparing them to the rainy British Isles in agriculture is patently ridiculous. Of COURSE their agriculture was stilted. Churchill only throws those things in to pads his arrogant attitude with the obvious. And he would have certainly known it was bullshit. But it pandered to the anti-Islamists.

    The last bolded passage – about women being owned by men – He could as easily aimed his darts at 90% of the world in 1899. America was 2 decades more before having women’s suffrage. Men in almost every country were sovereign behind closed doors. It was well into the 1970s before even America began protecting spouse abuse and spouse rape. And America was clearly not targeted by Churchill for the return of British dominance.

    Basically, what Churchill laid out in this passage was racism. And who among us here can stand up and say America was racist free in 1899? England might have been, but even today – against Pakistanis and other brown-skinned folks – England has its racists, as does Germany and France – and it ain’t dead in the good old US of A. If someone wants to quibble about the phrase “absolute property”, argue it with women who were beaten all throughout the 1900s in households around the world.

    Churchill was just “bomfoggering” in this passage, filling the air with the sound of his voice, even if it was only in black and white. His disdain for “improvident habits” could have been cause for invading the East End or many a pub in England or Ireland – not to mention any rugby or soccer stadium, on into the 21st century. His attack on “slovenly systems of agriculture” could have applied to most of even the agricultural world. The Ukraine and Belarus, as well as Poland, Hungary, Romania, France, Spain, etc., etc. could have qualified for English invasion, by that standard – as they were mostly using sickles for the harvest, and horses and oxen for farm wagons and plows. “Sluggish methods of commerce” – now THERE is a reason to invade and to hate! Perhaps a merchant overcharging his neighbors might qualify to see Gurkas on his doorstep in Brighton.

    No doubt Chhurchill made the same cries for empire in India, against the Hindus, except with different specifics. If not, were not Indian girls still given over in marriage due to the father’s wishes? Did the girls volunteer to be chattel for strangers?

    What a man of his time! A hater of anything not British – the man who as much as any oversaw (and thus had great responsibility for) the demise of the British Empire, and yet he stands astride history as a valiant warrior. As a young man he and his kind strode like colossi over a mostly brown-skinned empire that was truly an empire, and to do so he had to have the mental state of a murderer and tyrant, like the rest of the British aristocracy and military elite (And yet, somehow they frittered it all away, under his watch). And to the Empire wasn’t wives who were seen as “absolute property” but men, women and children alike, as long as their skin wasn’t white. It was okay for British to have virtual brown slaves, but not for brown to enslave brown. It was in his ascendancy that the empire crumbled, and yet he is never given blame enough. Nor for the scores of thousands killed because of the manufactured and artificial reasons he gives above – made right by might, by skin color and by stealing countries right and left, at the point of a gun. The British Empire was not built on its civility, but on its butchery. Better to kill a brown head of household than to let him have ownership of his wife – when the British did the same thing, but based on color, not gender.

    Who were the barbarians? The nation stealers or those with too few guns? Is it more civilized to invade or to have poor agriculture?

    And who can look back from 2014 and project backward today’s standards of civilization onto the past? Look to the lectures of Hans Rosling to see how far the backward people in the world have risen since the heel of Empire was broken. And are still rising. Many of the top countries in income are former colonies (not even counting the USA).

  115. @dbstealey –

    BTW, that Churchill passage was not in any way about the USA being at war with Muslims. It was solely about Britain’s wars with Muslims.

  116. Merovign says: “The *process* of Wikipedia is corrupt, and not open. They claim openness, but they are not open about who has what power and what and why decisions are made…It is not only not a trustworthy source, it’s not a *source* at all…I almost laughed out loud at the suggestion history wasn’t controversial…”

    Almost? Okay, I checked out the Wankerpedia article on the Plymouth Colony. It’s history, right? Non-controversial, right? There is not a single reference in the article about the failure of Plymouth colony’s early communism and its replacement with private ownership. One of the defining moments of American history has been wiped from the books in a single swipe of some anonymous leftist’s mouse. Wankerpedia is a propaganda mill and practices censorship. You can’t trust it as far as you can throw a live bull up a silo.

  117. Wikipedia has been effectively described, analyzed, and eviscerated here. All that’s left is a tart ad hominem — Wikipedia combines the murder holes of a medieval castle with the sociology of junior high school.

    How’d I do?

  118. The only thing accurate in your statements above are the Churchill quotes. Why the blithering about racism when Churchill is discussing a religion? Do you even know what a race is? The rest of Churchill’s statement is spectacular in accuracy of description to this day. By your meandering, emotional writings I surmise you must be quite the Wikipedia editor.

  119. Mike Jonas says:

    Wikipedia necessarily has flaws like any other relatively free and open system such as democracy or capitalism. But democracy and capitalism are better than the alternatives. So is Wikipedia. The key is to understand the flaws.

    The key is to fix the flaws before they lead to the abyss. Entropy, if it’s not actively fought, it wins.
    Things fall apart. Free speech goes, totalitarianism comes.

  120. In Soviet Union you could find very good books and articles on non-controversial subjects like mathematics, basic engineering, or chess theory. It doesn’t mean that everything else wasn’t a lie, or that most of the truth wasn’t suppressed.

    The same with Wikipedia.

    The same, I dare say, with the modern derivative of “universal suffrage” that is still aggrandized as the “best possible” social structure, in spite of its total and obvious failure.

  121. Outside of the subjects of edit-wars, I’ve often found Wikipedia to actually be more accurate and complete than many academic journal-articles and newspapers. Used with caution, tracing every claim cited back to its source first, Wikipedia is outstanding.

    In politically sensitive topics where the articles are not subject to edit-wars, I’ve found Wikipedia to be better than most other sources, though that may have more to do with the low quality of those other sources. I’ve also seen generally non-sensitive topics on it go crazy due to edit-wars between different fandoms. I think a good look at the talk-page can tell whether an article is reliable more reliably than peer-review.

  122. I find it really useful as a baseline to know what questions to ask to get more specialised information on subjects am not familiar with. Yes one should be cautious on believing any single source. After all would you trust Hadley on climate studies without reservation?

  123. If one goes into detail, one would find lots of links to the IPCC and schools refuse to let students use it for a resource. Might As well watch MTV or TMZ for more and better 5 second blimps of worthless information.

    Nothing beats a library card And real research.

    Paul

  124. i did an experiment many years ago on a well used news site where i would post increasingly obscure incorrect information. It was always corrected by someone the longest period was 2 days before correction. So i have full faith if anyone posts nonsense on any well used site it will be corrected or if blocked another voice will appear on another site.

  125. It looks like an assumption that Wikipedia is unique in being open to abuse by people with an agenda…

    As an earlier commenter mentioned, it is open to pranksters and sometimes people with political agendas, like warmists… However, in the main, such edits do not last for long…

    I am a practitioner of the Alexander Technique, not everyone knows what this is, but plenty do…

    Encyclopaedia Brittanica NEVER mentioned it.

    So a complete fail, and it was permanent.

    I will continue to make my small annual financial contribution to the Wiki Foundation…

    It is a force for good.

  126. It is becoming a sort of Inquisition.

    A lot of people involved with organized skepticism (e.g. those who run Skepticon) probably see nothing wrong with it, as it supports their views and paradigms quite nicely. They would be honestly surprised and ask, “What’s the big deal with Wikipedia, they’re doing GOOD for the world. And besides, what are YOU doing for the world?”

    Organized skeptics tend to be mostly atheists, rationalists and materialists (i.e. brain and mind are one). I don’t dismiss those views, there is nothing wrong with them, and there is evidence to support them.

    But you can see where the fanatical versions of those views will lead: trust only those with materialist credentials because anything else is superstition. So because A is false, (sometimes an assumption) B must be true (because A is at war with B). Because religion is bad, atheism is good. Because the religious right are AGW deniers, the atheist left must be AGW proponents. Fallacies galore.

  127. Wikipedia is quite useful but only when used intelligently. The sources listings at the bottom are generally great timesavers in finding reputable information. And finding out whether there is controversy about an article is easy, click the talk page. You can find the alternate view there fighting the good fight to fix the bias.

    It’s also useful in ways that are not generally appreciated. For instance, it functions as a pretty good translating dictionary. In the left hand column, you can find the same article in the other language versions of Wikipedia. A click there and you can get the appropriate name in one of several other languages. As the non-english versions grow, the translating dictionary gets better.

  128. “So what this is telling me is that Wikipedia seems to emply the same methodology of authoring as did The Bible.” Implying of course, that one manuscript was copied and translated incorrectly, over and over again, like the culturally-insensitively-named children’s game, Chinese Whispers.
    However, as Steve B seems to imply, the New Testament is actually very well attested as a historical document. Many early, geographically widely dispersed translations agree almost completely with the Greek version, of which there exists an astounding number of early manuscripts (100-300AD), all of which are consulted for modern translations. There are lists of manuscripts going back quite early, mentions of 4 gospels, etc etc, substantially the same list as was ratified at the synod of Hippo Regius 393 AD, and it’s hard to argue against them being written by people who were there at the time, on the basis of archaeological discoveries agreeing with the documents. The criterion of membership in the NT very early on was apostolic authorship – in other words, the books had to be written by an eyewitness.
    Arius, incidentally, accepted the same books in the New Testament as his opponents – the argument at the council of Nicaea didn’t even touch on the list of books.
    Wikipedia, however, in my experience, can only be trusted in areas of knowledge where there is general agreement and little controversy. In areas where there is controversy or people who have an ideological bias have a vested interest, it tends to be taken over, particularly in areas like climate science, where the people who run Wikipedia agree with the factually wrong point of view. Have a look at the pages on the history of Israel and Palestine to see the shenanigans that go on!
    What I find even more troubling is bias in Google in the area of climate science. Google tends to throw up a lot of climate believing sites when one is looking for a particular piece of information, even when you put in the name of the skeptic site you want. This doesn’t happen in too many other google queries – usually you get what you’re looking for pretty quickly. Still, it keeps us all on our toes.

  129. Curiously, Wikipedia lacks an entry for the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect.

    Wikipedia is untrustworthy because it explicitly refuses to be guided by a search for truth, and furthermore it cultivates a disdain for the very idea of truth. The whole is governed by an adolescent ethos that colors every topic area, engendering innumerable distortions and perversions of the truth that persist merely because they’re au courant.

    Wikipedia’s fundamental contradiction is this: it appeals to a rebelliousness of spirit and an idealistic egalitarian notion that everybody is an authority on some little thing; however, the only exercise of intellectual authority that Wikipedia fully condones on its pages is the citation of an authority published elsewhere. There is no maturation, no development of intelligence, no path towards wisdom. The Wikipedia knowledge-function remains locked in a perpetual adolescence, forever rebelling against what it must inevitably become, in short, one might say it’s a travesty of the commons, a pastiche of all human knowledge.

    What Wikipedia does best–aggregating keywords and references for further searches–can be and has been done pretty well by robots. Unless it radically alters its raison d’etre, it risks becoming a joke that nobody finds amusing.

  130. 4 eyes says: April 29, 2014 at 9:56 pm “I tend to Google specific aspects of a bigger issue and then build a picture from the Google references. I never rely on just one Google reference. In view of a couple of the horror stories above about Wiki I will stop using Wiki altogethr”

    Long ago I stopped using G00gle by default. There are a plethora of search engines, general and specialized.

  131. “News that civil servants in Whitehall hacked the Wikipedia entry for the Hillsborough disaster and inserted gratuitous insults about the men and women who died in the worst football-ground disaster in British history was greeted with predictable anger last week.”
    The Independent carries an article showing that UK government removal of “undesirable” information from Wikipedia was already rife under Tony Blair’s labour government:
    “Wikipedia articles about Cherie Blair and Muslim terrorists ‘altered by government computers'”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/wikipedia-articles-about-cherie-blair-and-muslim-terrorists-altered-by-government-computers-9304542.html

    The BBC gives other instances:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27203371

  132. Wikipedia wears dozens of different hats, quite well. A relative few, it wears as hoodwinks.

    I would not go along with trying to ‘take down’ or denounce the big Wiki, ‘across the board’, though I’ve been actively resisting various of its foibles, for many years.

    A more serious fundamental issue with the Wiki phenomenon, is the reemergence of the old ‘lumpers & splitters’ battlefront, which divided & discredited science in the past. There are several other systemic problems; some persistent, others transient.
    =====

    Many websites – such as eg Whats Up With That – could benefit from being more like the Wikipedia website, in certain ways.

    WUWT, eg, contains a great amount of information, but despite efforts by Mr. Watts and his helpers, vast realms of content live silent, invisible lives in the Library basement and outlying warehouse. Stuff just does not make it to the public eyeballs.

    The classic wiki-wiki is very good at ‘leveling’ content-visibility & accessibility. Its weakness is, it does so at the cost of all organizational (hierarchical, etc) structure. In recent times, Wikipedia has robustly expanded their Category system for providing structure to associate related content.
    =====

    I would say, that more valuable than a new Climate Organization (as recently tabled), would be exploration of new structuring & presentation techniques, aimed at better-‘revealing’ what is already in the possession of WUWT, et al.

  133. Nullius in Verba. On climate change, especially not from the Royal Society. Wrote a book about the general topic. Wikipedia is to be as trusted as Nature or Science, for example the Marcott affair, or the government, for example the EPA on carbon pollution and polar bears.

  134. I never read a Wikipedia article without at least scanning through the “Talk” page. It’s almost better than the article at times. Or at least entertaining. :)

  135. Well, yes, useless for politicized topics. For non-politicized topics like math, physics, astronomy, it’s good enough for starters, and often provides good links for further study. Problem is, the list of such non-PC topics is shrinking….

  136. My anecdotal comments certainly aren’t research, but… if the topic is not so controversial, then I find wikipedia to be a great place to learn… given the sting of the hot-topic edits and rewrites, I seldom admit that any of my information is sourced from wikipedia, lest I be ridiculed for using it. The other day, I collected lists of CAGW-damning quotes from CAGW-authorities (like Ottmar Edenhofer, IPCC official: “we redistribute, de facto, the world’s wealth by climate policy” and “This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy, anymore.”) I found that some of the internet’s lists were quoting sources out of context. I expended about half an hour on one case, and as I was finishing up on what really happened, I stumbled across the wikipedia entry on the subject, and found it to accurately deal with the misquote. I need to follow “Scotty the Red”, who advises that users read the ‘talk’ pages of wikipedia as well as the central article – that, probably, will alert the user to how controversial the topic may be. My advice is that you should read the wikipedia article on the subject as part of your first-pass research, take notes from all of the sources (not just those mentioned in wikipedia), and then independently research those notes… Several times now, my habit of avoiding wikipedia has caused me to waste a considerable portion of time doing my own searches, only to find (later) that wikipedia had already summarized and indexed all the sources that I found by myself. Topics that are ‘cold’, politically, like the definitions of units-of-measure, and physical constants, all seem to be well represented in wikipedia entries.

  137. I have used wikipedia when checking out “Hurst exponent”, “Verhulst distribution”, etc., and I’ve even used it to check historical information, but when

    ShrNfr says: “…the ones I have had any participation in were heavily reviewed in a reliable fashion. Those topics were mostly in history, so not much controversy there…”

    it remided me of the Mitch Daniels/Howard Zinn dispute :

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/353881/mitch-daniels-vs-peoples-history-john-fund

    /www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-a-palermo/mitch-daniels-howard-zinn_b_3677477.html

    History is no less contentious than “climate science” . Reading about the
    Mitch Daniels controversy motivated me to do my own reading of various presidential biographies- and to form my own opinion rather than rely on the biases of history professors past. As a bonus, it gives one the godlike power to raise the rankings of some presidents, like Hayes, Grant, Filmore, and Taylor higher than the “wikipedia” consensus that they rank at the bottom, and drop others like Jackson and Woodrow Wilson (anyone who thinks “The Birth of a Nation” was a good movie deserves the bottom) to the depths where Herbert Hoover and James Buchanan are justly ranked.

  138. I like comparing the entries from old encyclopedia sets, and I encourage my children to do so also. I have sets from the 20’s, 40’s, 50’s, 70’s, and online sources. It would be a worthwhile project to put these old sets online. I am sure kids these days would be surprised to know what people knew back then, before the internet and before the boomers came and made everything in their image, and after their own likeness. (:

  139. “reductio ad Wikipedium”

    a logical fallacy which assumes the form of “Wikipedia (or other wiki
    reference) states X; therefore X must be false”;

    Given Wikipedia’s (undeserved) poor reputation for accuracy, this
    logical fallacy is often mistaken for a valid argument. Also known as
    reference snobbery.

    Just because it appears on Wikipedia doesn’t mean it’s not true.

  140. Alberto Zaragoza says:
    April 29, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    PS: that’s about the English-language version. The Spanish one is still rambling about the hyperinflation in Zimbabwe – which just happened to end five years ago.

    I also found the Spanish version of wikipedia more biased that the English one.

    If you look for tantalum in the Spanish version (tantalio), in the production section says:

    Producción
    El tantalio se extrae del coltán (columbita + tantalita) cuyo mayor productor es la República Democrática del Congo, con cerca del 80% de las reservas mundiales estimadas.

    (It says that the main producer is the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    If you go to the English version, it says that:

    The primary mining of tantalum is in Australia, where the largest producer, Global Advanced Metals, formerly known as Talison Minerals, operates two mines in Western Australia, …

    And for Congo it says:

    Coltan, the industrial name for a columbite–tantalite mineral from which columbium (i.e. niobium) and tantalum are extracted,[34] can also be found in Central Africa, which is why tantalum is being linked to warfare in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). According to an October 23, 2003 United Nations report,[35] the smuggling and exportation of coltan has helped fuel the war in the Congo, a crisis that has resulted in approximately 5.4 million deaths since 1998[36] – making it the world’s deadliest documented conflict since World War II. Ethical questions have been raised about responsible corporate behavior, human rights, and endangering wildlife, due to the exploitation of resources such as coltan in the armed conflict regions of the Congo Basin.[37][38][39][40] However, although important for the local economy in Congo, the contribution of coltan mining in Congo to the world supply of tantalum is usually small. The United States Geological Survey reports in its yearbook that this region produced a little less than 1% of the world’s tantalum output in 2002–2006, peaking at 10% in 2000 and 2008.[31]

    Some people still want to keep alive that silly urban legend that says that the Congo civil war is our fault because we need that Tantalum for our mobile phones.

  141. Same goes for feminist topics. There are incredible similarities between climate alarmism and feminism.

  142. Wow! This reads like an undeleted, unsupressed concatenation of edits on the topic of “Wikipedia” in the Wikipedia!
    How cool is that!

    Seriously, tho: I agree, mostly, with a lot that has been said. I’ve written an original article or two, and edited a few more for grammar, spelling, accuracy, adding more info, etc. I don’t really bother anymore. While I love the idea/ideal of Wikipedia, the reality is that it is a rigged game. It goes to GREAT lengths (read the lengthy verbiage re: policies for editors, conflict resolution, etc.) to appear objective and academic. From what I’ve seen, that is mostly a smoke-screen for the fact that “certain animals are more equal than others” when push comes to shove. And I was surprised at just how quickly the shove comes. Like the “S.I” : when you least expect it.

    Forget any complaint I might have as being sour grapes due to my brilliance being challenged. A friend of mine who is a professor from Manhattan who has been active in Republican party fundraising and has run for office several times himself in the island where registered Republicans are in the extreme minority. There was a Wikipedia article on him. He edited it for several biographical inaccuracies. This SHOULD be good, right?

    Nope. His edits were erased and he was told they were not being allowed because he “was not an expert on X___ Y____” The fact that he _is himself_ Mr. X____ Y____ in the flesh apparently mattered not one whit. Maybe Wiki bosses are psychic, and KNOW that he failed in the Delphic imperative to “know thyself?”

    Great resource for checking out the order of titles in a book “series” and other similar stuff, though!

    I’m not going to say _anything_ about what we all know gets trashed by the time you come back to the keyboard from refilling your coffee mug. . .

  143. Some years ago , Nature carried an article on Wikipedia . The Nature editors asked a range of respected scientists to evaluate Wikipedia in the area of their speciality . If I remember correctly , the collected opinions were remarkably favourable : Wikipedia came out surprisingly well in that survey . Does anyone remember this piece ? I myself use Wikipedia a lot and find it very valuable and informative but I do realise it can lead the unwary astray , especially in controversial areas .

  144. A couple of years back I received an email “A Personal Message from Jimmy Wales” asking for money for Wikipedia. Since he had sent me a “personal message” I sent a “personal message” back.

    I replied asking that my message should be passed directly to Jimmy Wales. I explained that I thought the harm done by Wikipedia with its misleading climate change coverage outweighed whatever good it did in other areas and therefore I would not be donating. I mentioned Connolley’s editing antics.

    I received a reply stating:
    – Jimmy Wales is not involved in the day-day running of Wikipedia (and presumably he would not be seeing my email).
    – The Connolley issue had been addressed.

  145. Ah, Wikipedia. I am going to paraphrase Gene Spafford’s comment on the
    ancient Usenet:

    Wikipedia is like a herd of performing elephants — massive, difficult to redirect,
    awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind-boggling amounts of excrement
    when you least expect it.

  146. Steve Garcia says:
    April 29, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    I generally enjoy your posts, Steve. Here’s another passage to get you more wound up. Churchill continues his rant against Islam, in A History of The English Speaking Peoples:

    It [Islam] has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science – the science against which it had vainly struggled – the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.”

    It might yet.

    And Gen Pershing also had a tough fight on his hands. But he eventually made the Philippine Islamists cry “Uncle!”

    They’re not the only ones who were fed up and disgusted with Islamics:

    One cannot but ponder the question: What if the Arabs had been Christian? To me it seems certain that the fatalistic teachings of Mohammed and the utter degradation of women is the outstanding cause for the arrested development of the Arab. He is exactly as he was around the year 700, while we have kept on developing. Here, I think, is a text for some eloquent sermon on the virtues of Christianity.

    ~~ Gen. George S. Patton,
    in his autobiography, ”War As I Knew It”

    Islam delenda est.

  147. For the Wikipedia detractors, what is your alternative? For general knowledge on a given subject that you are curious about, what do you do? I can’t imagine that peer-reviewed and governmental sources are well liked after Climategate. Is it just “some source that agrees with me” or “a source endorsed by my favorite blogger”?

    Wikipedia is fairly reliable on history, observational science, and other general information.

  148. “Adam Smith says:
    April 29, 2014 at 1:06 pm
    Maybe Wikipedia should get a massive injection of funding from the Koch brothers, along with editorial control over the content. If they don’t do it, a guy like George Soros eventually will.”

    He (Soros) already has: http://www.wiki-rath.org/thesorosconnection.html (via OSI)
    One could quote “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when at first we practice to deceive”…

  149. “Chris R. says:
    April 30, 2014 at 1:07 pm
    Ah, Wikipedia. I am going to paraphrase Gene Spafford’s comment on the
    ancient Usenet:

    Wikipedia is like a herd of performing elephants — massive, difficult to redirect,
    awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind-boggling amounts of excrement
    when you least expect it. ”

    Reminds me of a scene from “musicdotes”, a book about music and musicians, and the various humorous (and other) circumstances that occurred in the world of music….

    Sir Thomas Beecham was conducting Aida, which involved lots of live (and occasionally LARGE) animals….some of them elephants…although the cast and crew did their best, they were not particularly up to the task of staging and performing the opera (it really IS difficult), and in the course of events, an elephant relieved himself onstage…
    Sir Thomas Beecham (to the orchestra): “By my word, gentlemen, a critic”….

  150. “Zeke says:
    April 30, 2014 at 8:43 am”

    There was an interview of Bill Gates, years ago, where he was asked what was the most difficult thing about developing En Carta, the M$ encyclopedia from days of yore. He surprised the interviewer by replying that the most difficult problems were POLITICAL, not technical, as every country has their own idea as to who invented (did, whatever) what first, where, etc., etc.

    Years ago there was much ado about the Heaviside layer, which England seemed to support and no one else did… (even made it into “Cats”)….I doubt anyone even knows nor cares about that now…
    We have four encyclopedias now (including an older Brockhaus from before the German reunification, which my son refers to as “ancient history”)…would love to have a few
    Brittanicas to go with them…
    Really interesting to the the changes as time goes on…probably cheaper to just buy atlases :)

  151. Here’s my take on Wikipedia. For openers, I agree with the complaints about climate-related issues. And I’d extend that complaint to articles about controversial subjects in general.

    If your crap detector is working, and if you already have some background knowledge on the subject at hand, you can find some of the biases and Wiki-style character assassinations, under the veneer of journalistic pseudo-objectivity. Some years ago, I read their article about the Global Warming ‘controversy’. I was surprised to see the claim that a certain ‘Joe Skeptic’ had accepted money from Big Tobacco.

    What does that have to do with the truth or falsity of AGW? And if it was relevant, for the sake of balance, they could have mentioned that at one time, the Gore family — including Big Al himself — grew tobacco. But nooo! Mentioning that fact wouldn’t be Politically Correct.

    That said, Wiki is reasonably accurate about most NON-controversial issues. For this category of articles, it’s as accurate as the average newspaper. Moreover it’s not too difficult to spot garden-variety trolling. The spelling and grammatical errors are a dead giveaway.

    I do not like the Wiki’s articles about non-controversial, technical subjects. Too long! And too much arcane vocabulary! Having Dysfunctional Sensory Integration, and being reasonably well-informed about the condition, I was curious about what Wiki had to say on the subject. The article was classic Psychobabble. If I wasn’t already knowledgeable about DSI, I would not have been able to make heads or tails of the article.

    My general impression is that the technical Wiki authors are writing for the approval of other experts, and that they give short shrift to the concept of imparting useful information to The Great Unwashed. (That’s us.)

    I have done a little Wiki editing — mostly in the area of health and fitness. Some of my content was edited over by other contributors. However my basic points remained intact. In my limited experience, the system worked as it was supposed to.

    And no, I’ll never edit a Global Warming-related Wiki article. I have better things to do with my precious time than writing engraved invitations for the Connolleys of this world.

    By the way, Encyclopedia Britannica is now online. Their technical articles are shorter, and better written. My understanding is that EB use is free if you don’t visit very often.

  152. Wikipedia is a good source of leads Quality varies, even on non-controversial technical issues.

  153. “would love to have a few
    Brittanicas to go with them…”
    Do I have a deal for you my friend.
    Would you like those books delivered by the ton or the tonne?

  154. “Rick says:
    April 30, 2014 at 6:19 pm”
    Which side of “the pond” are you on? I’m in beautiful downtown Deutschland, missing the Britannica
    I grew up with (my sister got that one :( )….

  155. It is fairly easy to detect some entries in Wikipedia that should be read with caution or fear. But some entries contain subtle sabotage. I once wanted to check a detail about a computer sorting algorithm. I think it was Shell sort or Heap Sort, but I’m not sure. Something looked suspicious. An order check had been changed. Something like “greater than or equal to” had been changed to “greater than”. Anyone that copied the doctored algorithm might get correct results with many test cases before the evil deed was detected.

  156. Jeff says, “Years ago there was much ado about the Heaviside layer, which England seemed to support and no one else did… (even made it into “Cats”)”

    True to form, and amusingly, the 1959 Britannica has a good biographical entry on Oliver Heaviside, but there is no entry about him in the 1959 Americana — here, Heaviside is only mentioned under the entry for Arthur Edwin Kennelly, and this column plainly says that Heaviside announced the layer 6 mos. after Kennelly.

    I must admit, wikipedia does have a nice photograph of Heaviside. Perhaps I will be able to compare the entries later. Cheers, and I am sure you would give a good home to one of these “ancient history” sets.

  157. SilverBear says: “I don’t know squat about Jimmy Savile, but since I just came across this story, I’m linking it. Again: NOT RESEARCHED, I don’t vouch for the website, and if it’s BS, I apologise.”

    Possibly true, but the link is basically a long ad hominem article: “we should hate Israel because Jimmy Savile is a molester.” Okay, he’s a putz. He was also a BBC employee until he got caught. There’s some evidence that BBC covered up his behavior. No evidence that Israel covered up for him at all. The link, as you may have suspected, is a smokescreen. Objective: to take the focus off the BBC, in my opinion.

  158. omegapaladin says:
    April 30, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    For the Wikipedia detractors, what is your alternative? For general knowledge on a given subject that you are curious about, what do you do? I can’t imagine that peer-reviewed and governmental sources are well liked after Climategate. Is it just “some source that agrees with me” or “a source endorsed by my favorite blogger”?

    There have been some sensible suggestions in the past, all vehemently rejected by the adolescent core group in charge of Wikipedia. I’m somewhat vague on them, but they include, IIRC:

    Ability to allow experts to weigh in and “certify” articles they approve of.

    Having dueling articles on controversial topics.

    Better ways of countering rogue editors.

    My idea: Hand over curatorship of articles to experts after five years.

  159. Wikipedia is at its best as a source for terminology, links, and collections.

    But as an authoritative source, it’s no better than rumor.

  160. @Steve Garcia
    There wasn’t any Saint Valentine present at Council of Nicea, I think you confuse him with Saint Nicolas that slapped Arius in front of Constantine the Great and the Roman Emperor threw Saint Nicolas, the Bishop of Myra at that time, in prison. The funny thing is that according to the Greek wikipedia article for Arius, Arius was absent from the Council of Nicea :p

  161. I find that Wikipedia is really god and exact on general superficial information on topics that is not controversial, and then you have to go somewhere else if you really want to go into depth on the subject.

    On controversial topics however Wikipedia is totally unreliable. Like on Climate topics.
    Another totally unrelated such example to show the point is circumcision. here the Wikipedia article is taken over by pro circumcision forces and the article resembles a propaganda piece for circumcision of baby boys.

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