William Connolley demonstrates once again why Wikipedia is an untrustworthy reference source

Wikipedia_ministryI saw this coming a mile away.

On Wednesday August 20th, Dr. Roy Spencer noted how John Cook’s well debunked 97% ‘consensus’ claim, based of statistical sleight of hand and pal review, was used as an example of propaganda techniques

Wikipedia Page on Propaganda Techniques Uses 97% Meme

Roy opined:

I wonder how long the example will stay there, without William Connolly to play gatekeeper. I also see “Hope and Change” is given as an example. Hmmm…sounds vaguely familiar.

Like a moth to a flame, William M. Connolley showed up in comments, and accused Dr. Spencer of adding the 97% example himself:

You’re fast. That example was added only a few days ago. Its almost like you did it, or someone did it and then told you. No? Seems like a pretty bizarre coincidence otherwise.

Having boobed the date, he later had to retract that statement:

> only a few days ago

A month and a few days. So, not so fast.

Connolley is equally fast it seems, because he immediately went into Orwellian 1984 Winston Smith mode and re-wrote the entry, simply because he himself believes in the 97% consensus meme. Roy writes today:

Censorship Alive and Well at Wikipedia

That didn’t take long. Less than 24 hours after I noted the use of the “97% of scientists agree” meme as an example of “propaganda techniques” on Wikipedia, the example has disappeared.

And who did the change? Well you know who:

07:29, 21 August 2014‎ William M. Connolley (talk | contribs)‎ . . (16,792 bytes) (-53)‎ . . (Undid revision 617361920 by 130.22.49.227 (talk) better to use a non-controversial example)

In science, citations are done on published works knowing that good or bad, they’ll be there in 10-20 years for the most part, except in cases where the work is so bad, it has to be retracted, such as the Lewandowsky-Cook Recursive Fury paper.

BBC_wikiwarsWikipedia, being at the mercy of thousands of Winston Smiths in the form of the banned and maligned William Connolley, is like a shape-shifting information portal at the will of the controlling Wikipedians. It might be good enough for a passing blog reference, but there’s no guarantee it will have the same meaning as a citation tomorrow or even an hour from now. With such shape shifting references at the mercy of often politically motivated editors, it certainly isn’t good enough for scientific publication citation.

Maybe that’s why there has been a movement at colleges to ban Wikipedia as a source, even going so far recently as to remove it from college dorm WiFi connections.

Zealots and activists like Connolley should never be trusted as editors, (his track record speaks for itself) and Wikipedia edit wars were even the subject of a study. Unfortunately, Wikipedia is not very good at self-policing such editing zealotry, and this is why Wikipedia will eventually fall by the wayside as a serious reference source.

 

 

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114 thoughts on “William Connolley demonstrates once again why Wikipedia is an untrustworthy reference source

  1. I wouldn’t know how to edit Wikipedia anyway. Looks like the IP address of the original 97% example there belongs to Joint Interagency Task Force South, Key West, that works drug interdiction.

  2. Movement at colleges? I work for a college system. Any student using Wiki as a reference gets a failing grade. You can use it to find the original source, but not as a final reference. But that is anecdotal, so there are probably some colleges that do accept it. More’s the pity.

  3. ” and this is why Wikipedia will eventually fall by the wayside as a serious reference source”

    You mean it hasn’t already?

    Whenever I see someone’s argument is based on Wikipedia as a source I know they are clueless. It is the same with the alarmists and their models, as soon as I see their claims are based on models my BS meter starts going off.

    Not saying I don’t go to Wikipedia, but only as a quick and dirty start to my research. I scroll down to the reference section of the entry and start following those links to what hopefully are actual sources. But even then I search other places for sources as a bias in a Wikipedia article will also lead to a bias in the sources referenced.

  4. “and this is why Wikipedia will eventually fall by the wayside as a serious reference source.”

    Will? Does anyone take Wikipedia seriously as a reference source anymore? May daughter’s university rejected any papers using Wikipedia as a source over 5 years ago. They accept sources taken from the lists of sources at bottom of Wikipedia pages. Wikipedia is useful for finding the source of the source of their information and then people should check that. And if they are studying one of the sciences, then strictly apply the scientific method.

  5. Using wikipedia in lecture material even to make a small point is very much deprecated. No way would it be accepted as a source in an essay or dissertation. That said, it’s very useful on most topics just not the contentious ones.

  6. Until the advent of the internet people like Connolley used to stand on street corners with sandwich boards. Oh for the good old days…

  7. I sometimes use it as a source list on a topic. However, I have discovered that I can find more pdf’s on my own faster than I can slogging through a citation list that seems not to include very many nonpaywalled papers.

  8. I agree with Dr Spencer – Wikipedia can be useful if areas of controversy are avoided, along with any biographies of the living or recently deceased.

  9. Wikipedia? A very handy starting point for further research. I thought WC had been banned from editing there? Clearly not. Sadly, it’s folks like him who give Wikipedia a bad name.

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

    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.

  11. “Zealots and activists like Connolley should never be trusted as editors,…”

    Remove the words “as editors” and you also have an accurate statement.

  12. I once read on the Wikipedia page how plug-in hybrids were going to save the earth by moving us all around without those evil CO2 emissions. I proceeded to go to another Wikipedia page to look up what percentage of electricity in the US comes from coal, and use that to make the caveat in the PHEV article that all you’re really doing is moving the emissions from the road to the power plant. When I attempted to edit the PHEV page, it wouldn’t let me use another Wikipedia page as my citation. I pointed out this idiocy in the discussion page.

    The next day both my edit to the PHEV page and my entry in its discussion page had been memory-holed.

    That was maybe five years ago, and I haven’t tried editing a Wikipedia page, again, since.

  13. There was a report recently about a congress-critter editing his own wiki page to clean it up. How handy. And of course the Eurpoean “right to be forgotten” is used mainly by people to clean up references to usually true events such as convictions or political scandals.

  14. Many years ago I selected a non-political (I thought) subject I knew a lot about and joined Wikipedia to post a few good paragraphs correcting false statements on the subject (a subject I have been heavily involved with since the mid-1960’s).
    .
    All of my non-controversial, non-political contributions were soon “revised” by other posters until the article was pretty much back to where it started.
    .
    Wikipedia is a majority-rule view of the world where the majority are young and leftist.
    .
    As leftists they typically express their beliefs and feelings as if they were proven conclusions, and have no interest in debating or changing their beliefs.
    .
    Whatever they write becomes “correct” because they say so, and so does everyone they know, so it couldn’t be wrong.
    .
    They don’t think like scientists.

    If you assume “thinking” requires a conclusion to be based on facts, data, logic, and especially honesty, with the conclusion changing if the supporting data require a change, then you really don’t understand how leftists “think”, or Wikipedia, at all.

    I’d rather not mention the subject I contributed to, so no one will be tempted to read the wrong information still there.

    Once I realized Wikipedia was a majority-rule “encyclopedia, I have only used it to look up unimportant subjects, such as looking up Leave it to Beaver to see how many episodes there were.

  15. “Wiki” means “fast” or “quick”. And that’s exactly what wikipedia is… a quick reference guide.

    It’s a starting point for research, not the ending point.

  16. Now I cite Wikii articles quite often …. simply because they are written in verbiage that is more easily understood by those who are not well learned in the sciences. But I only cite specific verbiage within said article that I know is actual, factual, true and/or supported by factual evidence and observations.

    And my citing of an article does not mean, infer or imply that I approve and/or agree with 100% of the contents/context of said article or that I disagree with 100% of the contents/context of said article.

    And I do likewise for published papers on scientific studies, abstracts and/or other scientific literature simply because many of the more recent ones contain a lot of misinformation as well as silly, illogical and/or asinine conclusions.

    As the ole fellow said: “There is oftentimes a little bit of “good” even in the “worsest” of things.

  17. In political issue areas Wikipedia is next to useless due to the liberal lean of its editors. On non-political, technical matters, it can be quite useful and instructive – go read some of the entries describing math like Laplace transforms. But for lectures or scientific articles, cites should only go to the source material and only after actually reading and understanding the source material.

  18. For what it’s worth, Connolley’s edit was undone by another (brand new) editor less than 5 hours later. I’m going to keep my eye on this article at Wikipedia.

  19. Wiki has been made part of the “liberal” education system by prop specialists and Wiki Will is a proper gander if there ever was one.

  20. I don’t agree with the argument that using wikipedia for ‘non-controversial’ issues is safe. You only think it is safe because you are not that familiar with the subject, or the motive and character of the author(s).

    The entire global warming deception, orchestrated by those at the CRU and the
    IPCC, including Connolley, worked because most people didn’t know the science. Most people assumed the authors, especially since they were scientists, were rigorous, scrupulous and unswerving in their search for truth via all the facts. Most people assumed scientists wouldn’t use science for a political agenda.

    Since these were majority views, it was easy for people, like Connolley, to marginalize any who questioned them by scurrilous inaccurate personal attacks. Connolley likely orchestrated many of these on wikipedia, knowing ‘trusting’ people were accepting them as facts. It is one thing to know people are driven by fear and greed, it is anther thing entirely to exploit that information.

    Questioning everything, is the hallmark of science, but must be the hallmark of everything in today’s world. We might wish it was otherwise, but people like Connolley, make it a harsh reality.

  21. Citing Wiki as a *source* is as spurious as the citation “everybody knows” in common conversation, or “it is well known that…” in undergraduate papers. The Wiki article itself could have been written without reference to the “97% consensus” meme, but use of the meme brings the topic into current relevance by citing what is probably the most publicized example in history of the Logical Fallacy called “appeal to authority” (argumentum ab auctoritate).
    The hypersensitivity of Connolley to the perceived impugning of his beliefs reveals nothing about the meme, but much about the man.

  22. “Zealots and activists like Connolley should never be trusted as editors, (his track record speaks for itself) and Wikipedia edit wars were even the subject of a study. Unfortunately, Wikipedia is not very good at self-policing such editing zealotry, and this is why Wikipedia will eventually fall by the wayside as a serious reference source.”

    Wikipedia is secondary source material at best.

    If you want to use it, use it exactly as you would use an encyclopedia. read it to get the general
    idea.. then go to the references and collect the items referred to.
    Then go to the references in the references and collect those items.
    and so forth until you get to primary sources.

    Now you have a bibliography.

    Then begin reading.

  23. I was a college professor for 10 years–Geology and Math. Wikipedia was not acceptable in my classes…not so sure about other Professors. The only real use was as an example of bad writing for a college writing class. Provided students with lots of practice editing grammar and sentence structure etc.

  24. 97% believe Wikipedia is a great source of information especially when dealing with some of the most important scientists of our time such as Dr. William M. Connolley.

  25. I’m curious if Mr Connelly would suggest a ‘non-controversial’ example of propaganda. As far as I can tell, propaganda, by its very nature, is controversial.

    In any case, I’m not sure why an example being ‘controversial’ is grounds for disappearing it.

    Also, someone needs to get the info that the Cook 97% paper has been discredited to the Sci AM editors who claimed that the paper had been ‘naturally viciously attacked by skeptics and Cook ‘successfully defended it’.

  26. I instruct the students here to only use Wikipedia if they are having a problem coming up with search terms in the journal databases. Occasionally I get a student who hasn’t done enough background reading on a topic to even search for good materials (what are they teaching in High School these days?), and will use a wiki article as a starting point for their search terms. Other than that, any good search engine can provide a large list of enthusiast articles to give enough background for a real literature search, so Wikipedia has really outlived its usefulness at even that limited function.

    A few years ago, I looked up an entry for a band I used to like from the late 60s-early 70s and was amused to read the edit history tab to find a long standing argument between the lead singer and some editor hack who kept inserting a paragraph about the band’s demise being because of the untimely death of the lead singer and the lead singer posting back that he was indeed still alive and had performed on stage just that night. There must have been 10 instances of that in the article history. I used to use that entry as an example when I first started helping students evaluate sources – I wish I could remember which band it was now…I haven’t looked at it in about 7 years.

  27. Dagnabbit! Every time I see his name I’ve just got to spit. This time I was so incensed that I partially missed the spittoon. Now I have to clean the spittoon and the floor. I wish his name would go down the memory hole, or go where it really belongs— flushed.

  28. 07:29, 21 August 2014‎ William M. Connolley (talk | contribs)‎ . . (16,792 bytes) (-53)‎ . . (Undid revision 617361920 by 130.22.49.227 (talk) better to use a non-controversial example)

    Connolley justifies deletion of facts he does not like by demanding a “non-controversial” example of a propaganda technique. One wonders what that would be.

    Of course, justifying the deletion of facts that one does not like on the basis of a demand for a “non-controversial” example of propaganda techniques is itself a propaganda technique, and undoubtedly would be judged deletably controversial by the people employing it..

  29. What’s totally hilarious about this episode is that the comment itself is under the wrong section (should be appeal to authority rather than bandwagon) but actually contained no reference to CAGW or any climate topic whatsoever. It didn’t mention climate or climate scientists at all.

    Yet WC found it, assumed the implication, found it offensive and removed it . . . for entirely fraudulent reasoning. The statement made would be a perfect example of appeal to authority, there can be no controversy about that. So the comment should have been moved to the ‘appeal to authority section’ rather than deleted. WC’s assumption made the comment be about the CAGW camp’s use of propaganda and used this as his justification for removing it as a controversial comment.

    In doing so he basically admitted that the 97% citation is a meme and used as propaganda by the warmist camp.

    That is rich.

  30. In Connolley’s defense, it was partly discussions on Stoat that unearthed a couple of legit concerns about the surfacestations release two years ago, which we have since addressed. He treated me respectfully and politely, and did not delete anything I had to say. He even stepped back on a few of his original comments and allowed that he would withhold any conclusions about the paper until it was published.

    He may be a man of many sins, and I do not address such, but I personally found his treatment of me to have been reasonable and professional.

  31. “When I attempted to edit the PHEV page, it wouldn’t let me use another Wikipedia page as my citation. I pointed out this idiocy in the discussion page.”

    Wikipedia wants reliable reference sources. *drumroll*high hat*

  32. My faith in Humanity was somewhat restored when my daughter, whilst studying for her nursing degree, advised that they were told by the teaching staff to use Wikipedia with great caution, as it was apparently poorly edited, & strewn with errors & inaccuracies because the data & info was not provided by scientific or technically able people!

  33. This is true and defines other controversial realms but climate science is at the top.

    Anybody can get on the internet and within minutes, come up with dozens of studies that support CAGW theory.
    Another person, can find studies that appear just as authentic, that contradict this theory though not as many and especially not as well circulated.

    How does one know what to believe? Even climate scientists, authorities on the topic can’t agree and a large % of meteorologists, who specialize in observations/measurements of the atmosphere(using the scientific method) as a group, have a different opinion than climate scientists, who put more faith in models and theory.

    Turns out that you just believe what you already believed in most cases…….cognitive bias rules.
    However, with time(too long already in this case) both sides usually converge towards the truth.

    One side may already be closer to it……and both sides think it’s their side……….for now.

  34. I once tried to substitute the words “global warming” for “the theory of global warming” in a few obscure wiki articles and Connelly reverted them all withing 24 hours. He must have links to hundreds of wiki pages so that he gets notices of any change to them whatsoever.

  35. When the Malaysian airline was shot down over Ukraine, someone in the Russian government changed the entry to read that the Ukrainians shot it down. There is a wikiwatch style system which detects whenever governments try to edit or change information. Don’t know whether this could be extended to anyone affiliated with the IPCC.

    It’s an interesting question though whether left leaners tend to take over Wiki. This implies that properly objective democratic information isn’t possible. That’s a big call, I’m not sure whether it’s true or not. I reckon there is probably a way to make it better and close to objective, although it probably isn’t the case yet.

    Even in strongly left dominated fields, you can usually get weaknesses in an argument at least noted, even though it doesn’t necessarily lead to objective analysis. One example is climate sensitivity, when I looked it up, it did state that the whole idea depended on sensitivity being the same regardless of the forcing, in other words if its high for the sun its also high for c02. The article at least noted this concept, which skeptics tend to think is not necessarily the case, whereas most alarmist tend to think it’s a forgone conclusion. I have never understood why it has to be the same regardless of the nature of the forcing, and rejected this straight away. But at least wiki recognises that it’s a central assumption in the whole alarmist case. Note as of today there is still no citation which says this is so:

    From wiki:
    Although climate sensitivity is usually used in the context of radiative forcing by carbon dioxide (CO2), it is thought of as a general property of the climate system: the change in surface air temperature (ΔTs) following a unit change in radiative forcing (RF), and thus is expressed in units of °C/(W/m2). For this to be useful, the measure must be independent of the nature of the forcing (e.g. from greenhouse gases or solar variation); to first order this is indeed found to be so[citation needed].

  36. I often use it for generic descriptions of things and to find further research info from the source links.
    it does serve a good purpose if used correctly, the problem is the ease at which it can be used incorrectly.
    often the talk pages also lead to MANY links not included in the actual article and other avenues of research.

  37. @Ken Hall 8/21 6:56 am
    [My] daughter’s university rejected any papers using Wikipedia as a source over 5 years ago. They accept sources taken from the lists of sources at bottom of Wikipedia pages. Wikipedia is useful for finding the source of the source of their information and then people should check that.

    Several people have mentioned that while you should not use Wiki text as source material, using their list of references is a good place to start. While I don’t disagree, I caution that one of the most pernicious practices of misinformation is in the selectivity of the facts presented. While nothing said or written could be identified as false, the misinformation is in what is NOT said or written. What source materials SHOULD be in the Wikipedia entry that are not or have been deleted? What facts have been made “unfacts” by the Winston Smiths of today?

    “It’s not enough to be able to lie with a straight face; anybody with enough gall to raise on a busted flush can do that. The first way to lie artistically is to tell the truth — but not all of it. The second way involves telling the truth, too, but is harder: Tell the exact truth and maybe all of it…but tell it so unconvincingly that your listener is sure you are lying.” — R. A. Heinlein, “Time Enough for Love”

  38. dccowboy ” As far as I can tell, propaganda, by its very nature, is controversial.”

    It’s probably best to use historical examples to avoid controversy. Conflicts that no one really care about any more. It’s much easier to be objective then. For example the way a faction within the Russian labor party at one meeting managed to get a majority and immediately named themselves the majority faction, the Bolsheviks, might fit in as an example of a bandwagon. It certainly worked.

  39. Jimmy Wales was asking me for money the other day. I said I would send some cash if he could make the place more honest and less tribal. He said no way. Perhaps tribal is part of the business plan, well Billy C behaves like it is.

  40. Wikipedia can be used to get the references as a search start but Google does it better.
    Forget politics, history or science; even pop culture is covered less well than sites that specialise.

    Wikipedia cannot be used to learn about non-controversial subjects.
    Either you know they are non-controversial and therefore know more about the subject than Wikipedia.
    Or you don’t know they are non-controversial and can’t trust a thing you read on Wikipedia about it..

    Wikipedia is as dead as Microsoft Encarta. Its day has passed.

  41. Tim Ball says:
    I don’t agree with the argument that using wikipedia for ‘non-controversial’ issues is safe. You only think it is safe because you are not that familiar with the subject, or the motive and character of the author(s).

    I completely agree! Every time I look up in Wikipedia something I really know well, as non-controversial as it could be (for example, concerning Russian grammar, translation, Siberian geography, biographies of people I personally knew, or rather elementary theory of music), I notice bias, omissions, errors, limited and ideologically controlled choice of sources, general unreliability. Why shouldn’t I suspect, on the basis of these observations, that Wikipedia is unreliable when I look up things I don’t know yet?

    Wikipedia reflects the prevailing character of our society: it is fundamentally dishonest, and Willam Connoley is the most reprobate example of this dishonesty.

  42. I use wikipedia as a reference when I think my audience trusts it implicitly. It’s very satisfying to use a wikipedia reference to hoist a believer on his own petard,

  43. Google “Anthony Watts” and your first entry is a Wikipedia link ? In short don’t trust the Google search engine, as it is run by alarmists. Ask.com and Bing.com actually returned the WUWT home page as the first link (at least it did for me).

  44. I use the Wiki mostly for filmology – it’s very useful when watching some obscure movie on the tv, to see who is playing whom, and what the plot line is if you missed the start. It’s also very useful on obscure historical figures, like Chinese or Roman Emperors or little known writers.

    I’d never use for information on any subject of the least controversial nature. Any of us who know a subject in detail can fault the entries on that topic. Learning many years ago that living people were often unable to correct entries on themselves, however demonstrably faulty, was an early eye-opener about the attitude of editors and owners of this dangerous juggernaut.

  45. Wikipedia is a good source for non-political topics. For political topics it is useless. Sadly, with each passing year the list of “non-political” topics gets shorter.

  46. Wikipedia is particularly untrustworthy for biogs of skeptics. But it is not only the political subject that the Left have tampered with. The aim of the hard Left is to destroy all forms of education. To this end, even the CreepyMedia articles on mathematical subjects have often been subtly tampered with to mislead those who use them.

    I do not use CreepyMedia for any purpose whatsoever, and I strongly advise others to avoid it altogether. It is of no value, and is actively harmful.

  47. I edit over there, so let me say a few things about Wikipedia.

    It is not authoritative.
    It is not a democracy.
    It is not open to original research.
    It is not subject to the Eurpoean “right to be forgotten.”
    Anything asserted but not sourced is open for deletion.
    Anyone can edit any page, except pages that are locked.
    Anyone can use anything posted, for any purpose, as long as original sources are credited.
    When an article is posted or edited, a notice goes to everyone who has asked to follow that page, and they might weigh in on the subject.
    Some editors are more equal than others.

    It’s a good place to start, as long as you remember where it’s coming from. Same with the BBC — Verify.

  48. Mosher is perfectly correct on the issue of how to use Wikipedia. There have been at least two studies on the reliability of Wikipedia and the results were that for “neutral” topics it has about the same (slightly greater) error rate as Encyclopedia Britannica. For debated issues, the information online is at the mercy of the most recent “editor,” and that includes a diversity of topics, many far removed from climate. However, even printed literature contains such hazards. The biases simply shift at much slower rates, which often leaves entire generations with biased ideas. If you doubt this, research the history of literary criticism of – say – Rudyard Kipling. Many topics cannot support a “neutral discussion,” if only because the opposing views take an “if you are not with me, you are against me” stance. Nothing less than abject surrender is satisfactory to either side and until they retire or die, very little progress in understanding will occur.

  49. DuckDuckGo (duckduckgo.com) is an excellent search engine that does not track your searches like Google, etc. And yes, ‘Anthony Watts’ can be found along with his rugby player namesake.

  50. However, even printed literature contains such hazards. The biases simply shift at much slower rates, which often leaves entire generations with biased ideas.

    An enlightening aspect of Wikipedia, very non-1984-ish, is the “View History” tab in which is (theoretically at least) possible to compare the total edits between any two version. Coupled with the “Talk” tab, there can be some understanding of the issues involved. The View History is not perfect and not easy to search. But it is a foundational strength of the technology that deserves preservation and improvement.

  51. Always have a laugh when people link to Wikipedia and SkS when discussing climate change. Wikipedia is an “ok” starting point, but you do need to do some more indepth research to get to the truth. But IMO, you won’t find that truth online, too easy to manipulate.

  52. Once you have an open edit you destroy the trustworthiness. Get a subject you are well versed in and hear how the media reports on it and what appears in the multi media genre. No I didn’t mention politics for good reason!!!

  53. I don’t have a W-anything, in my favorites list, and I’m not about to type a W-anything on the line.

    But it frustrates the heck out of me, when I use my search engine to find something, and I click on what purports to be the home page of some establishment, that I am looking for, only to be shunted to wiki. And usually, I am shunted to a reference to something that was not even the subject of my search. So search engines are partly to blame for the wiki menace.

  54. Sure. The quality of information in Wikipedia is atrocious, not so much for its degree of accuracy but for its arbitrariness. One entry could be acceptable while the next one could be a complete delusional fabrication.

    Those of us in the academia who have tried to correct the most blatant errors (for instance, fixing an incorrect reference) have been repeatedly torpedoed by “captaincrunch27″ and similar aptly named data sheriffs.

    However, it must also be said that there is a civil war going on in Wikipedia and some entries eventually show a degree of maturity rare on any reference text and that the aforementioned captaincrunch27’s do not remotely have.

  55. At least three climatologists have already commented here, saying don’t trust Wikipedia. That tells you something.

    Tim Ball says:

    Questioning everything is the hallmark of science, but must be the hallmark of everything in today’s world. We might wish it was otherwise, but people like Connolley make it a harsh reality.

    Exactly. I’ve often commented that I’ll go to Wikipedia for cosmology and quantum physics. Anything in between, I don’t trust them.

  56. Too much ownership at wikipedia. The irony is that the editors who claim ownership are using this very argument to revert everyone else’s changes.

  57. When I do an internet search with intent to find significantly corroborated info then I do a search using several different engines to get lists of sources. Out of curiosity I will also occasionally see what Wikipedia says.

    It takes patience to get a balanced and corroborated view of the validity of info. Perhaps Wikipedia is for the impatient who will take quickly obtained info at face value.

    NOTE: WC has yet to receive relevance on any of my corroborated info screenings.

    John

  58. I use Wiki often; for area’s of biological and chemical sciences that I am unfamiliar with it is a very useful resource, especially since more and more original references and reviews are being used in its pages.

  59. Wikipedia is about as democratic as a banna republic. Connolleys unbaning proves that. When he was banned for life, there is a long debate and a large vote involving many wikipedians. When he was unbanned his friends put quickly forward the measure and voted him back with little discussion under the cover of night. It was over and done with before anyone knew it was happening.

    That is pretty much how Wikipedia operates in a nutshell.

  60. JohnWho says:
    August 21, 2014 at 7:26 am

    @ rogerknights:

    How about “Wiki’d down” as in “dumbed down”?
    ======================================
    Just shorten it to “Wiki’d”

  61. Subjects that should have real citations or references – the Wikipedia entries for them have nice collections. Wikipedia itself hammers editors (article authors) for “sources”; they want real citations to back-up any kind of statement or assertion. They don’t want your opinion (no matter how erudite or decorated), and more importantly they do not want to see or hear about your “original research” – which is explicitly banned. That bears some thought.

    Writing and editing on Wikipedia, in & of itself, is not hard. Though I am a long-time and slightly rabid supporter of WordPress … I much prefer the Wikipedia editing-system for content creation & modification. Wikipedia themselves have considered more-sophisticate & ‘cooler’ editing-facilities … and they quickly saw the error of their momentary infatuation. It is so easy, efficient and effective, even many academics are capable of participating. That’s a joke, son.

    That William Connelly appears to be some kind of ‘case’ isn’t any definitive reflection on Wikipedia … any more than the fact that no small number of scientists (and an even less-small cohort of academics & scholars) are likewise various kinds of ‘case’, is a reflection on the journals that publish their work, or the schools that shelter them. Indeed, all of these institutions go out of their way and are proud, to harbor specimens who are ‘visible & notorious cases’. Just mind the rules that don’t bend…

    The authors of our peer-review literature include many who will ‘see’ Connelly’s antics-anty, and ‘raise’ him every time. Stickler for consensus, science isn’t.

    Connelly is a known-known, and therefore among the least of our worries. And remember, even more so than in peer-reviewed literature, his every creative move is meticulously recorded for posterity. Literally, every keystroke.

    Wikipedia takes or allows the positions that we see on climate-topics, because both science and government back & sanction those positions. I happen to disagreed with them; I am skeptical of the “official” societal position on climate … but it is unrealistic to expect Wikipedia to buck both the Ivory Tower and City Hall.

  62. A bit of historical perspective might be in order here; back in the late 70s when I was a grad student in library science we were given a reference assignment to choose one of Dr Harvey Einbinder’s (a scientist who wrote a popular book called “The Myth of the Britannica”, and several followup articles on the same subject) criticisms of the Britannica’s editorial policies, and try to find an example where it lead to the sort of problems Einbinder claimed. I examined the result of an editorial policy of choosing local authorities, and found that the main article on Czechoslovakia in the Britannica 3 at the time had been written by a professor at a university in Brno, and contained no mention whatsoever of the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion that ended the Prague Spring.

  63. Plenty of people here saying that Wikipedia can be useful for non-controversial subjects. I would recommend first checking the “talk” page of any subject as what may, on the surface, seem uncontroversial can generate as much bitter infighting and edit wars as any article on the Middle East.

  64. @Ted Clayton

    Indeed, reference and citation are being forced down the throats of (some) editors but this is based on survival instinct (internal wars) not on comprehension of what it means to use a reference. For instance, it is common to find that the referenced material HAS NOT BEEN READ and, rather, it has simply been used to justify the editors’ views based on a headline or a single line in an abstract or conclusion. Consequently, referencing in Wikipedia has some “link value” but near zero content value.

    And, yes, the notion of using references comes from academia, indirectly attempting to gain some credibility from this established method of literature review. Wikilords are amusingly and tragically unaware that the use of references is just as incompetent in the academia itself where blatant fallacies survive for decades due to a failure to read the cited material.

    If you have the time, look up the “discussion” pages that have not been nuked out of existence. You will find the most bizarre abuse imaginable as editors try to justify their incomprehensible “reasons” for censoring whatever they dislike.

  65. Wikipedia and Google are two of the most powerful forces in today’s digital society. I use them as a to find entries on whatever topic that is on my mind and then as the first source of information. I know that I must not trust Wikipedia as the last word, the final say, the ultimate judge of all matters but greatly appreciate that thousands of well meaning people have assembled a huge reservoir of historical, technical, geographic and biographical information for my quick and easy access and they provide a sizeable list of links to original data sources at the end of most entries.
    I have read and appreciate the numerous examples of distorted and agenda driven entries in the comments above. And, I also appreciate the position of those involved in higher education. But as an old man who for the first 55 years of his life had to rely on limited, old and hard to find entries in a my set of encyclopedias and often had to make long and difficult trips to the library and then thumb through index cards, and then look through dusty, dark shelves to find the tidbits of information I needed, I am thrilled to be part of the age of Google and Wikipedia.
    The only force of greater power is the system that brings these two tools to my home, the internet.
    It is a wonderful world we live in today.
    There have always been bad guys messing with us. William Connelly is one of many today. But look, we know all about him today and can cleanse our lives of his vendettas. In the 30s and 40s I mostly didn’t know who were the bad guys messing with my quest for information. That lead to me cast lots of dumb votes and hold incorrect options.
    Without the internet and all the tools and sites we use today, where would be climate skeptics be in our quest of information and efforts to spread our point of view? Wikipedia is far from perfect but not a total loss to us. And another and increasingly powerful internet source, You Tube is wide open for us and spreads our work far and wide.
    I would love it if a group of global warming skeptic climate scientists would set out to work every day to present a balanced scientific perspective to our topic via Wikipedia. Just as they have created such a great document in the NIPCC (both hard copy and on-line), I wish they would tackle Wiki and Google search results. Rather that complain, enter the cyber battle, please.

  66. I’m not ashamed to use Wikipedia. It quickly provides me access to subject summaries and material that is either inaccessible or not able to be accessed in a timely fashion. Why dig through references and articles for a two-minute blog reply? How can I justify buying a paywalled paper to verify a source for one or two facts?

    In many ways, it’s like using a book review to evaluate a book. You haven’t read the book yourself, but you can learn enough to know what the book was about. You can also gauge if it is worth the investment of your time and money to read the book, or if you’ve saved both by reading the review instead.

    And if all you needed to know was a lead character’s occupation for a trivia question, why not just read a review? Many times, reading the whole book makes no sense.

    Wikipedia shows up quickly on Google, because Google knows people likely only want to refresh their memories on a few facts, or glance at a subject, garner some factoids. They’re likely not looking for books for their reading list, or to study an internet-posted 328-page treatise to get the gist of some minor movement in the art world.

    Wikipedia is the McDonalds of facts, quick and easy, safe and comforting. I’m reading here comments from those who insist it’s not acceptable dining without a proper wine list, none of that peasant-grade Bulgarian and Aussie dreck. If you can’t see the problem with your own perspective, you’ll never understand why Wikipedia will remain popular and trusted.

  67. Stargazer says:
    August 21, 2014 at 12:43 pm
    DuckDuckGo (duckduckgo.com) is an excellent search engine that does not track your searches like Google, etc. And yes, ‘Anthony Watts’ can be found along with his rugby player namesake.
    ———–
    Having never previously visited this site I tried it with “climate change” as the search phrase.
    I was immediately overwhelmed with a flood of information on marches , conferences , announcements from Greenpeace ,and speeches by politicians and the great and the good of the academic world.
    Just one mention of any sceptical input to the general argument. The impression is of a vast and overwhelmingly popular movement aimed at tearing down and rebuilding the global economy on strictly green lines.
    I realised at that moment that all resistance is futile . For me “ze war is over”.

  68. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DuckDuckGo

    (bold added)

    DuckDuckGo also emphasizes getting information from the best sources rather than the most sources, generating its search results from key crowdsourced sites such as Wikipedia and from partnerships with other search engines like Yandex, Yahoo!, Bing, Wolfram Alpha[3] and Yummly.[4]

    *smirk*

    BTW, I was trying a DuckDuckGo search, it complained the page required Javascript and gave me a “non-JS” version link. I was searching for “duckduckgo revenue”. Wikipedia was the third result.

  69. The thing about DuckDuckGo is not that it’s a super search engine, but rather it doesn’t keep a record of what anyone searched for. So when the Secret Service wants to know which enemies of the state have been searching for “Obama SAT score,” DuckDuckGo doesn’t know. It’s a privacy thing, not a quality thing.

  70. If anyone want to understand the Wikipedia bias

    Go to the page of Fidel Castro. He is called a Leader.

    then go to Pinochet page: He is called a Dictator.

  71. From AlexS on August 22, 2014 at 2:31 am:

    Go to the page of Fidel Castro. He is called a Leader.

    then go to Pinochet page: He is called a Dictator.

    Pinochet assumed power after a military junta overthrew the government, and was very brutal. Dictator is appropriate, search results for “pinochet” show that to be a widely used term for him.

    Castro is referred to as a leader, uncapitalized, used as a description.

    How does that show bias?

    • Castro and Pinochet both came to power through a violent military overthrow of the existing government. The difference is one is considered right and the other left.

      Only a dunce would not see the bias in their descriptions.

  72. There is no such thing as a noncontroversial topic. Except maybe Abe Vigoda’s date of death.

  73. A bit harsh. I find Wikipedia very useful for reading plot summaries for science fiction books and comic book superhero origins.

  74. 97%

    it’s one of those disingenuous numbers,
    when you see it, you just know the rest
    of the story whatever it is, will be rubbish.

    About 117,000,000 results
    have a look through for a good laugh
    many of the 97% stories are hilarious.
    On page 9 for instance …..
    “McLane Stadium 97% complete with 8 weeks ’til kickoff”
    “Golden North Vanilla 97% fat free”
    “Slaughter and May is to keep on 97 per cent of its qualifying trainees”
    “Hebrew National 97% Fat Free Beef Franks 11 oz”
    ….. but best of all on page 9 is this “Tweet”
    from that great advocate, Barking Obarmy
    “FACT: 97% of scientists and NASA accept the science of climate change.”

    On page 17 of results, it is revealed that …..
    “Survey finds 97% of GPs prescribe placebos” (in the UK)
    and …
    “97% of all new mobile malware is targeting Android”
    and …
    “The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency has just
    released details on its new conventional loan product,
    and it’s a good one. 97% Conventional loan with
    2% Down Payment”. Whooeee !
    and … according to “eMarketer” …
    “97% of female internet users planned to use
    social media while watching the Academy Awards.”

    Yes Siree, it’s mostly all Bull$h1T this “97%”

    https://www.google.com/search?&q=97%

    As for William Connolley ….. Meh !

  75. John Coleman says:
    August 21, 2014 at 9:58 pm
    Wikipedia and Google are two of the most powerful forces in today’s digital society.

    Yes whole heartedly agree. Denigrating Wikipedia because of corrupt and/or dishonest and/or stupid individuals is rediculous. If that was the case we would have to abolish democracy itself since it is teeming with corrupt and/or dishonest and/or stupid politicians.

    Or to go further, why not ban or demean the dicipline of science since it is working so poorly in the case of Climate science.

    Fight the Connelys and their mis-information not the incredible information tools we now have instantly at our fingertips

  76. Beyond the editing of wiki pages, Connolley often tries to rebut arguments in comments by giving references to wiki pages, claiming they give the “correct” view on the topic. A quick check of the edit history will reveal Connolley’s dirty paw prints all over the page.

    Self-referencing. The man appears to have a huge ego and no shame.

  77. Brute says @ August 21, 2014 at 8:38 pm;

    Indeed, reference and citation are being forced down the throats of (some) editors …

    I was hoping for more along the lines of ‘at the point of a bayonet’, but I’ll settle for ‘forced down their throats’.

    Wikilords are amusingly and tragically unaware that the use of references is just as incompetent in the academia …

    The moon-landing was a Hollywood production? Microelectronics are voodoo-props? Operating System and Internet software comes off the Harlequin Romance press?

    Technical and scientific progress & achievement builds on successive layers of verified citation & reference. The system is subject to imperfections & even occasional corruption … but it put a live human being on the moon. It transplants human hearts from cadavers, to save lives.

    We know there are downsides & costs to Democracy, and even the very concept of Freedom itself … but I’m not signing on to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  78. John Coleman makes some profound points. The way that the internet has changed the world is akin to how harnessing electricity changed it……. only in a different way and much faster.

    I have learned 10’s of thousands of things, in an instant. Used sources to make house repairs, diagnose and treat medical conditions, save money……my wife uses it to spend money, so we come out even (: email 5 siblings that live thousands of miles apart and one hundred parents of children that I coach in chess……with one email(15 years ago, calling that many on the phone would take days).

    Like with everything powerful that can be used to accomplish good, there will be those that attempt to use it for bad and sometimes, be successful.

    I remember the days when we only had 3 tv stations to choose from and chuckle when somebody says there’s nothing on tv.
    It’s all relative………Compared to the internet, where you type in whatever it is you want to see, hear(music), learn about or be entertained by, 1,000 channels on tv today, is nothing!

  79. Wikipedia is just one of countless info sources on the internet. It is an option to include or exclude in info corroboration and searches. Unless it dramatically evolves, it is one of my lesser choices for info corroboration and search.

    John

  80. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    August 21, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    I’m not ashamed to use Wikipedia. It quickly provides me access to subject summaries and material that is either inaccessible or not able to be accessed in a timely fashion. Why dig through references and articles for a two-minute blog reply? How can I justify buying a paywalled paper to verify a source for one or two facts?

    —————-

    I agree. It’s a fantastic resource; you have to know its limitations, but you have to know the limitations of ANY source of knowledge on the Internet, even wattsupwiththat.com.

  81. Why are you guys being so hard on William Connolley? He is really really funny – a total crackup. Oh wait… maybe I’m thinking of William “Billy” Connolly, the Scottish comedian. My bad. Never mind.

  82. philjourdan said on August 22, 2014 at 10:50 am:

    Castro and Pinochet both came to power through a violent military overthrow of the existing government. The difference is one is considered right and the other left.

    Only a dunce would not see the bias in their descriptions.

    Starting from Private Window (no tracking), ignoring obvious repetitions (e.g. Wikipedia entry info in box with Wikipedia entry in results), occurrences in first page of search results of applicable descriptions “dictator” (incl. dictatorship, dictatorial) and “leader” (incl. leadership), for “augusto pinochet” and “fidel castro”, includes word in URL’s:

    https://duckduckgo.com/html/

    Pinochet
    dictator: 10
    leader: 1
    Castro
    dictator: 5
    leader: 9

    Google
    Pinochet
    dictator: 12
    leader: 1
    Castro
    dictator: 2
    leader: 5

    Yahoo
    Pinochet
    dictator: 5
    leader: 1
    Castro
    dictator: 3
    leader: 5

    Bing
    Pinochet
    dictator: 5
    leader: 1
    Castro
    dictator: 3
    leader: 4

    Obviously the Internet is biased against Pinochet, and all four search engines are biased against Pinochet as evidenced by their not balancing out the use of the inflammatory term in their results.

    However, consistent across all search engines, only Encyclopedia Britannica described Pinochet as “leader” on the results pages, thus Encyclopedia Britannica is obviously biased for Pinochet.

    Due to such obvious and blatant bias, Encyclopedia Britannica must therefore be ruled an untrustworthy source. Only a dunce would not see the bias in their description.

    • Why you would rely on the opinions of search engines? They can never be wrong, right Kadaka?

      I see why you never ask any questions. You do not like the answers. But feel free to go tell your “leader” Castro that gee, some sites on the internet are liberal.

      As if anyone would be surprised about that – except you perhaps.

  83. kadaka,

    What, exactly, are you trying to prove? That Wikipedia is not a nest of communist snakes? Good luck with that endeavor.

    Castro is a leader of thieving and murderous rabble, and Pinochet was a dictator who cleaned his country of such rabble (including Soviet-paid Cuban mercenaries).

    Compare per-capita income in Cuba and in Chile. (Oh, I forgot, blessed inhabitants of the communist paradise don’t need any income.)

  84. From Alexander Feht on August 23, 2014 at 10:49 am:

    kadaka,

    What, exactly, are you trying to prove? That Wikipedia is not a nest of communist snakes? Good luck with that endeavor.

    No, tovarisch, just showing the nature of the charges. In this case, Wikipedia is only guilty of saying what nearly everyone else says. You would have to be a dunce or a totalitarian to consider that some sort of crime, which is the level of this charge of bias.

    Are we ready to condemn a man for echoing the consensus view to avoid a fight? Wikipedia has their Neutral Point Of View, they don’t partake in active controversy. As shown, the consensus is Pinochet was a dictator, Castro is usually referred to as a leader. Wikipedia may be plagued with leftist editor-dictators defending their claimed territory, but in this case I must give them a pass.

  85. I think we are all better off having a Wikipedia whether one agrees with its contents or not. The best attributes of Wiki are that it has rules to promote neutrality in controversial subjects and they label pages that tend to be excessively controversial.  

    While clearly identifying the mainstream view, Wiki has a tendency to provide opposing views in context and often provides a separate section for criticism. Also the best pages cite references. I would rather go to Wiki for an overview rather than rely only on selective and potentially misleading information that I see so often in ideological blog posts.

    To give an example of nuance and completeness I recently offered my opinion in a discussion about the definition of ‘global warming’ in the context of suggesting a more precise construction of the title of the following interesting article:

    “Varying planetary heat sink led to global-warming slowdown and acceleration” 

    I proposed it should be changed to “Varying planetary heat sink led to surface warming slowdown and acceleration”

    Since I suspected that the authors were using, in my opinion, an imprecise definition of global warming,  I consulted Wikipedia to check my facts and found the two following nuanced definitions:

    (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming)

    “Global warming is the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of Earth’s climate system.”

    “Despite the oceans’ dominant role in energy storage, the term “global warming” is also used to refer to increases in average temperature of the air and sea at Earth’s surface.”

    Although I prefer one of the two definitions, I did appreciate the additional clarification.

    • katatetorihanzo

      It is not a surprise that you approve of the bias and distortions imposed on Wicki by C0nn0ley and his accomplices.

      There could not be a more clear demonstration of propaganda than the two erroneous definitions of global warming you found on Wicki.

      Global warming is – and only is – an increase to global average surface temperature anomaly (GASTA).

      Global warming stopped about 17 years ago and warmunists are trying to pretend that global warming has not stopped by trying to pretend that global warming is not an increase to GASTA. The bastardised Wicki is promoting that untrue pretense.

      Richard

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