Study: On Wikipedia, politically controversial science topics are vulnerable to information sabotage

The “William Connolley effect” gets quantified, apparently anything that is not “consensus science” is considered sabotage.

When researching acid rain, evolution, and climate change — cast a critical eye on source material


(Millbrook, NY) Wikipedia reigns. It’s the world’s most popular online encyclopedia, the sixth most visited website in America, and a research source most U.S. students rely on. But, according to a paper published today in the journal PLOS ONE, Wikipedia entries on politically controversial scientific topics can be unreliable due to information sabotage.

Co-author Dr. Gene E. Likens is President Emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and a Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. Likens co-discovered acid rain in North America, and counts among his accolades a National Medal of Science, a Tyler Prize, and elected membership in the National Academy of Sciences. Since 2003, he has monitored Wikipedia’s acid rain entry.

Likens explains, “In the scientific community, acid rain is not a controversial topic. Its mechanics have been well understood for decades. Yet, despite having ‘semi-protected’ status to prevent anonymous changes, Wikipedia’s acid rain entry receives near-daily edits, some of which result in egregious errors and a distortion of consensus science.”

In an effort to see how Wikipedia’s acid rain entry compared to other scientific topics, Likens partnered with Dr. Adam M. Wilson, a geographer at the University of Buffalo. Together, they analyzed Wikipedia edit histories for three politically controversial scientific topics (acid rain, evolution, and global warming), and four non-controversial scientific topics (the standard model in physics, heliocentrism, general relativity, and continental drift).

Using nearly a decade of data, Likens and Wilson teased out daily edit rates, the mean size of edits (words added, deleted, or edited), and the mean number of page views per day. While the edit rate of the acid rain article was less than the edit rate of the evolution and global warming articles, it was significantly higher than the non-controversial topics. Across the board, politically controversial scientific topics were edited more heavily and viewed more often.

“Wikipedia’s global warming entry sees 2-3 edits a day, with more than 100 words altered, while the standard model in physics has around 10 words changed every few weeks, ” Wilson notes. “The high rate of change observed in politically controversial scientific topics makes it difficult for experts to monitor their accuracy and contribute time-consuming corrections.”

Likens adds, “As society turns to Wikipedia for answers, students, educators, and citizens should understand its limitations when researching scientific topics that are politically charged. On entries subject to edit-wars, like acid rain, evolution, and global change, one can obtain – within seconds – diametrically different information on the same topic.”

The author’s note that as Wikipedia matures, there is evidence that the breadth of its scientific content is increasingly based on source material from established scientific journals. They also note that Wikipedia employs algorithms to help identify and correct blatantly malicious edits, such as profanity. But in their view, it remains to be seen how Wikipedia will manage the dynamic, changing content that typifies politically-charged science topics.

To help readers critically evaluate Wikipedia content, Likens and Wilson suggest identifying entries that are known to have significant controversy or edit wars. They also recommend quantifying the reputation of individual editors. In the meantime, users are urged to cast a critical eye on Wikipedia source material, which is found at the bottom of each entry.


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mike Bromley the Kurd
August 17, 2015 3:34 am

“global change”….OK, now even climate is left out. Therefore, the world cannot change AT ALL, or it’s “global change”? AGC. No longer a fuse designation. Talk about master obfuscations.

Reply to  jones
August 17, 2015 8:44 am

The sad thing is about William Connolley is that if you challenged him, saying that he was acting like George Orwell’s “Big Brother” I doubt he would see that about himself at all. He has very little insight into how wrong his actions are and what it is that he was found guilty of.
He has no shame, no moral compass – and now alas – no readers worthy of the name either.
There really is a truth in the saying “You can fool some of the people ……………………….

The other Phil
Reply to  Doug UK
August 17, 2015 1:12 pm

William has his share of flaws, but I don’t see the value in making over-the-top claims. What on earth lead you to believe he has no moral compass?

Reply to  Doug UK
August 17, 2015 2:14 pm

” I doubt he would see that about himself at all.”
When you say lacking a moral compass are you saying “very immoral” or just “amoral”? I myself get the sense that the esteemed Mr Connolley is an extremely “moral” man..In his own terms.
He feels he cares.
Like a good witch-finder he truly believes the oh-so-agonising flames are cleansing and so saving the evil witch.
Frightening individuals.

Reply to  Doug UK
August 18, 2015 1:16 am

To “the other Phil”
He has no moral compass because his very actions in altering facts to suit his agenda makes him blind to common sense and decency.
His actions are well documented – he was found guilty – he sees nothing wrong in what he did.
If he ever got into a position of power, then he would indeed be one of the “Frightening Individuals” as “Jones” suggests.
Thankfully he now exists in a backwater of the debate – more of a curiosity than any sort of player.

The other Phil
Reply to  Doug UK
August 20, 2015 7:52 am

Doug UK
Thanks for clarifying that you don’t know what the phrase “no moral compass” means.

August 17, 2015 3:46 am

umm…what about *scientifically* controversial topics? Wouldn’t they be edited more frequently anyway, compared to the entry on, say, the gravitational constant? Sounds like this guy has decided that any scientific topic you don’t agree with him on, you are politically motivated. And from what I’ve heard from people who worked in the acid rain field during the 10-year NAPAP project, the main finding was that acidified lakes were mostly natural in origin, and that pollution-caused acid rain was generally not to blame. I’ll bet this guy thinks that’s a politically motivated view, too.

Reply to  Roy W. Spencer
August 17, 2015 6:07 am

It’s my understanding that acid rain concerns involved more than just the naturally poorly buffered lake waters in the Northeast US. Impacts on vegetation and soils were also documented and analyzed. The Hubbard Brook watershed is one of the most studied forest ecosystems in the world ( and research there provides much information about acid rain effects. Gene Likens has had a long and distinguished career and isn’t just some uninformed guy with an agenda. Whatever political motivations he may or may not have, the conclusions of his research aren’t de facto invalidated. I’m a little surprised at Dr. Spencer assuming bad intentions when we don’t know why these controversial topics were chosen. Maybe it simply was a case of these three having the most editing.

Reply to  Gary
August 17, 2015 7:17 am

Gary, Roy actually has a point (as you do).
You might recall that circa 1981, back when we were only beginning to study acid rain, a National Academy of Sciences document stated that by 1990, there would be something like a 50% increase in the number of acidified lakes in the Northeast. Mr. Google can’t find the document, I’m afraid, too far back, so that is from memory. I was on a 1990 NAPAP panel, BTW, as a reviewer.
Come 1990, there was no change in the number of acidified lakes in the Northeast. The reason was that in 1981, scientists apparently thought that the only major cause of lake acidification was acid rain from sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants and industry (and to a lesser extent, nitrogen dioxide emissions from those sources and from vehicles).
When the research was done throughout the 1980s, it was found that reforestation (after logging in the late 1800s and early 1900s) in the Adirondacks had restored the natural low acidity of many of the lakes. With reforestation, you again had decaying leaves, and thus acids from the decayed leaves, which ended up in the lakes. So, yes, the lakes were more acidic that the researchers initially thought that they could be by nature (and more acidic than they were when there were fewer trees after logging), but when the science was done, the researchers realized, as Roy said, “that pollution-caused acid rain was generally not to blame.” These findings were not trumpeted by the Sierra Club or by EPA. The Acid Rain legislation passed in 1990.
Roy’s statement, limited to acidified lakes, is accurate and doesn’t deny that acid rain exists or that it caused environmental problems. At the highest levels in the Adirondacks, one type of tree (red spruce?) died off at a high rate, and to the best of my knowledge, no one has disproved that the original finding that acid rain was the cause. Some streams became more acid, with effects on fish, and soils became more acid. These were problems with a long time horizon, but they were legitimate problems nonetheless.
It is clear that the original fears, and the 1981 NAS document, were vastly overstated. This is why people are still cynical about how environmental groups and the federal government (EPA and Interior) far oversold what they supposedly knew, and what was factually accurate, to achieve their political goals. They did the same kind of exaggeration that industry certainly does, on the other side of environmental issues. At the same time, we can’t say that acid rain didn’t have any adverse effects, or that it wouldn’t have mattered if SO2 emissions stayed at the high levels of the 1970s and 1980s.
As often happens in DC, lying and exaggeration were standard procedure: a genuine but relatively small problem was made into a huge problem, as part of the standard operating mechanism to get things changed. Washington works like this when big stakes are involved. It happens on both the left and on the right. Yes, it is Orwellian. And unfortunately, it works.

Reply to  Gary
August 17, 2015 8:53 am

John, yes, mendacity in DC agencies is rampant. And the acid rain controversy got distorted by the media. My surprise is at Dr. Spencer’s out-of-character comment based on hearsay and supposition. Or maybe there’s a back story. I don’t think much doubt remains that sulfates from the Midwest added to the naturally acidic rain in the Northeast. How much and how harmful and how well mitigation worked is always open to reanalysis, as it should be.

Reply to  Gary
August 17, 2015 9:23 am

Acid rain on a micro-climate basis is very real and locally devastating. I have experienced it first hand. Feel free to do your own research regarding The Bunker Hill lead Smelter, Kellogg, Idaho

Reply to  Gary
August 17, 2015 11:02 am

Dr. Spencer’s comments, were completely accurate and many of the people pushing the acid rain scare were more interested in politics than in science.

Reply to  Gary
August 17, 2015 1:32 pm

Three thoughts for two commenters.
To Gary: Roy’s statement was a bit out of character. My guess is that, knowing the huge exaggeration about acidified lakes, but not knowing much more about acid rain in particular, Roy thought that the rest of acid rain research was probably as wanting as the part he knew about.(that natural acidity was largely responsible for the acidified lakes in the Adirondacks). So he extrapolated from that, I would guess.
The media blew all out of proportion the idea that many lakes were going to become acidic due to acid rain, I agree with you, but they couldn’t have done so without some speculative and exaggerated government documents as their sources. While acid rain from midwestern stacks must have contributed somewhat to acidification of lakes in places like the Adirondacks, I think Roy is correct that the most of the acidification came from local natural sources.
To BrianK: Yes, when you have low stacks in hilly terrain emitting SO2, you will get devastating local effects, because a large amount of the SO2 deposits locally. In the Adirondacks, that level of acidity didn’t happen, because the acidity was long range transport, which considerably diluted the impacts. You may recall the phrase from back in the day, “The solution to pollution is dilution.” That was the rationale for the tall stacks built at many power plants in the 1980s, to reduce local impacts below regulatory limits.
A very good example of local impacts is the Sudbury, Ontario nickel smelter. In the early 1970s, it emitted 10% of all the SO2 emitted in North America, and it did not at the time have tall stacks. GoogleEarth shows the ground in still orange for miles around the smelter, as a result of damage back in the day.

Reply to  Gary
August 17, 2015 2:59 pm

Gary, I most agree but Sulfur Dioxide emissions, which were mostly responsible for acid rain, have declined six-fold since 1980 and have been below the EPA’s “national standard” limits for ten years now.
The steep decline in Sulfur Dioxide levels is a good example of how successful we have been at reducing the levels of real pollutants in America and the developed world. Governments around the world should be concentrating on helping China and others to also reduce real pollution. Fixation on life-giving CO2 detracts from that effort and wastes dollars that could be far better spent.

Scott Scarborough
Reply to  Roy W. Spencer
August 17, 2015 5:53 pm

In REASON magazine, years ago, there was a story about a guy whose name is attached to the method of measuring the acidity of a lake (he invented the method). The Government was paying him to study the acid lakes of the Aterodacks (sp?). He concluded that the name I can’t spell is the Indian phrase for bark-eater which meant that when in that area there were no fish and you had to eat bark. And the acidity of the lake was due to the vegetation that grew around the lake. That is what his study said and he was immediately fired for it!

August 17, 2015 3:50 am

When researching acid rain, evolution, and climate change — cast a critical eye on source material
This is also valid for political stuff … especially information related to leftism’s … (and pseudo rightism’s …)

August 17, 2015 3:57 am

One topic as reported is incorrect, Continental Drift is now, and for many years, called Plate Tectonics. Name changed because some plates do not contain continental crust.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  johnmarshall
August 17, 2015 5:15 am

The real reason for changing the name to Plate Tectonics is very apropos of this article. Geology got a big black eye when they poohed poohed and pilloried Alfred Wegener for having and promoting such a ridiculous idea that the continents drifted relative to each other. The disproportionate anger and hubris of the ‘rigid’ geological ‘consensus’ in the 1920s and the death of Wegener in the 1930s, put this idea to sleep for another 30 years until it was “rediscovered” and re-named because of the embarrassment. I was a graduate student in the early 60s when this theory re-emerged and was hailed as the beginning of real geology. Don’t be B.S.ed about this.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 17, 2015 6:28 am

I always considered the name change to reference the activities that went beyond continental drift, e.g. subduction zones, new sea floor at rift zones, etc. OTOH, the proponents of the new theory didn’t go out of their way to note Wegener’s contribution. Perhaps if he were still alive then it would have been different. (Wegener died on a dogsled trek across Greenland.)
OTOH, I was in high school during the development of plate tectonics and wasn’t well aware of what geologists did to Wegener, so give more credance to Gary’s comments. The geologists then did set the standard for today’s climate science battles, but they didn’t have the financial motivation climate science does.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 17, 2015 12:20 pm

When you make a skeptical comment about a “climate change” or an “AGW” on a popular news site, most other commenters support you now. Green hoax has become a laughing stock among the unwashed masses. But when you make a skeptical comment about some equally controversial dogma engrained in college textbooks but not widely discussed beyond university campuses (such as Big Bang theory, organic origin of all petroleum, evolutionary differences in human IQ and behavior, etc.), you become a target of rabid, infantile insults mixed with painful explanations of the obvious (fools always take you for a fool if you disagree with something they have been indoctrinated with, so they presume that you don’t remember the multiplication table if you say, for example, that the alleged Higg’s Boson discovery hasn’t been independently confirmed, or that the red shift is not necessarily an indicator of distance).

Reply to  Alexander Feht
August 17, 2015 1:34 pm

I can’t resist asking what you mean by “evolutionary differences in human IQ and behavior, etc.”
Full disclosure: I expect the worst but remain hopeful…

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 17, 2015 5:31 pm

takebackthegreen writes “I can’t resist asking what you mean by evolutionary differences in human IQ and behavior, etc.”
Why oh why do you have to start another “nature versus nurture” thread? 😉
African bees. Africanized honeybees. Interbreed just fine. Behaviorally different. Genetic? Gotta be(e).
That should start it nicely.

Kevin Kilty
Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 17, 2015 12:57 pm

It wasn’t even so much the treatment of Wegener, whose theory was still full of holes, but that of people like Morley, who had more or less worked out the theory of plate tectonics by 1961, but was pooh poohed, only to have Matthews and Vine hailed for the same a mere two years later. Earth Science dogma changes in the blink of an eye.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 17, 2015 1:52 pm

When I was an elementary student many decades ago, a sharp eyed classmate in geography class noted how the Coast of South America fitted very nicely onto the coast of Africa..(chuckles and tee hees from the teacher). And again, taking a geology class before the ’60s, some student ventured how it seemed that “geologic features line up in various locations on continents, and doesn’t this imply that they were once co-joined?” The Prof mentioned (very kindly, in a syrupy voice) “if you advance this theory, you will be drummed out of geology”. And in another field, cosmology, the originator of the Big Bang Theory was vilified, scorned, and his work made the butt of jokes, by all the eminent cosmologists of the time. That is why, to this day, it is called the “Big Bang Theory”, and not, as it should properly be called, the “Georges Lemaitre Theory”…because scientists don’t want to be reminded of one of the biggest blunders in Scientific History, made by (supposedly) the top brains in Science. Do Scientists make errors? And is it possible that there are even errors in Science made in our time?

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 17, 2015 1:52 pm

There are some who can’t resist wetting their pants when they meet Fidel Castro.
Read Pinker’s “Blank Tablet,” look at the map of average IQ distribution by country, think.

Reply to  Alexander Feht
August 17, 2015 2:31 pm

I’m pretty sure I’d wet myself if I met a deceased person.
Rather than forcing me to read something, could you summarize the issue for me in a few words? After all, you brought it up and must be familiar enough with the hypothesis to give the short version.
And okay, I’ll think some more, although my thoughts will have to be random since you haven’t answered my original question. Here goes:
Measuring IQ is about as consistent, accurate and meaningful as “measuring” “global average temperature.”
“Countries” are social constructs, not natural gene pools that can in any way be related to evolution by natural selection.
H. sapiens has no subspecies. There are trivial variations in physical traits that are not robust enough to prevent either taxonomic identification or successful interbreeding across the population.

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 17, 2015 5:26 pm

takebackthegreen writes “I’m pretty sure I’d wet myself if I met a deceased person.”
Strange. I have met several dead persons. The first time was just a bit odd, noticing that she was not breathing but beyond that nothing noteworthy.

Reply to  Michael 2
August 17, 2015 10:54 pm

It was a J-O-K-E.
The truth is: I’ve seen and worked on more dead and dying people than I can count and I’ve never peed myself. I have, however, occasionally come close to vomiting when sharing poorly ventilated spaces with the colorful and exquisitely pungent substances the body releases after death–or while it is merely suffering intestinal distress…

Reply to  Alexander Feht
August 17, 2015 2:46 pm

Did you mean “The Blank Slate” by Pinker?
I’m going to speak plainly. The phrase you used reminded me of the rhetoric of those who believe race/ethnicity and innate intelligence are biologically related.
If that is your belief, can you just say so? If I’ve guessed incorrectly, I have no problem apologizing and dropping the question.

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 17, 2015 5:23 pm

takebackthegreen “…reminded me of the rhetoric of those who believe race/ethnicity and innate intelligence are biologically related.”
I am one that believes as you have described. I doubt I have a “rhetoric” about it. I just don’t see how it can be any other way.
“All men are created equal” is a religious proposition, not a scientific fact.

Reply to  Michael 2
August 17, 2015 10:41 pm

Here’s how it can be another way:
There are smart people with pink skin. There are very stupid people with pink skin.
Boom. Falsified.

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 18, 2015 11:44 am

takebackthegreen asserts “There are smart people with pink skin. There are very stupid people with pink skin. Boom. Falsified.”
You assume too much, specifically you assume the truth of your assertion and you seem to assume you are refuting someone else’s assertion which I assume must be “all pink skinned persons are smart”.
I have not encountered that assertion, but if someone makes it, and we can prove your assertion, then you are correct the first assertion will be falsified by proving the second.
Forces exist pushing intelligence up, but forces exist pushing intelligence down. Large brains have a huge metabolic cost and put such persons at some disadvantages, usually social and physical (almost the same thing). The greatest reproductive success comes to those that spend most of their time reproducing while maintaining at least a minimum level of success raising offspring. What it takes to actually do that depends to a large extent on where you are on Earth.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 17, 2015 2:08 pm

As to the Big Bang hoax, yes, it would be most properly called “Georges Lemaitre Theory” or, better yet, “Vatican Creationist Cosmology”; but it wasn’t Lemaitre, or Gamow, or many other prominent cosmologists who were shunned and persecuted — on the opposite, Fred Hoyle, Halton Arp, Narlikjar, Ratcliff, and many others, who criticized the Big Bang and proposed alternative theories fitting actual observations, were and are silenced and ostracized to this very day.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 17, 2015 3:04 pm

Yes, I meant “The Blank Slate” (Tabula Rasa) by Pinker. Not that I agree all the time with Pinker’s much too cautious approach.
If you seriously believe that race or ethnicity (or innate intelligence, for that matter) are somehow not “biologically related”, there’s no argument with you: you are an irrational ideologue. Everything that makes us what we are, how we behave, and what abilities we have, is “biologically related,” is genetically predetermined to a certain degree, and can be developed or suppressed by conditions and environment only to a certain, sometimes very limited, degree.
I need neither your approval nor your apologies, by the way.

Reply to  Alexander Feht
August 17, 2015 3:58 pm

Thank you for 1) confirming my suspicion; 2) providing a novel definition of “irrational ideologue.”
Absolutely, almost everything about us is genetically determined. That fact does not in any way suggest that race and intelligence are genetically linked. Or that IQ tests measure intelligence. Or that intelligence has a useful and universal definition…
Of course you are free to believe whatever racist dogma you choose, and free to believe that those who pity you are ideologues. No matter how much your beliefs embarrass those of us who are on the same side of the Climate issue, those beliefs shouldn’t affect anyone’s assessment of your statements regarding CAGW, and shouldn’t be used as ammunition by warmists to smear all of us on the opposing side.
Unfortunately, in the real world, both things happen.

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 17, 2015 5:14 pm

takebackthegreen wrties “Absolutely, almost everything about us is genetically determined.”
“Of course you are free to believe whatever racist dogma you choose”
You have provided the most defensible reason to be racist — genetics!
I am between the Tabula Rasa crowd and the genetic crowd. It is well established by recent research, though I am not going to cite it, that neurons attach and detach during early development up to about the age of 20 or so. Also, some genes are switches or triggers and can turn on and off.
Additionally there’s the huge mathematical recombination possible. Papa contributes any of 2^23rd-power chromosome combinations, Mama likewise, each child therefore has 2^46th-power possible combinations of chromosomes and that’s without gene jumping.
So while genes certainly influence the outcome I think maybe is not as predictable as high school genetics would have me think.
Your opposition to IQ testing mirrors that of my father, and your descriptions of it mirrors that of my father, obviously there’s a script out there to recite when the topic arises.
My high IQ manifests itself in many ways; most of which are not related to skills per se or even language. Problem solving is, in my opinion, the essential skill for Homo Sapiens.
I had two dogs. One was smart, probably an IQ of 6 or so, she could untangle her leash and it was fascinating to watch. She would stop, think for a moment, and then retrace her steps that got her tangled in the first place. But the Yorky was clueless. Border Collies are famous for their intelligence and vocabulary. These traits are aligned with breed, of course individual variation exists.
It is reasonable to suppose variations exist on human populations but it appears to be a forbidden topic. How did that happen?

Reply to  Michael 2
August 17, 2015 10:09 pm

I’m amazed by several things in your reply.
1) That no matter how clearly I state it, some people cannot understand the concept that “race” and “intelligence” can both be genetically determined, but NOT BE LINKED TO EACH OTHER. Even if there were correlation between the two traits, (all together now…) correlation does not equal causation.
2) That someone who professes to having a high IQ can read my comments and surmise that I oppose IQ testing. Please point out where I opposed IQ testing. Questioning a thing does not equate to opposing a thing. Very important principle to remember when discussing just about anything.
3) That you conclude that because two people who hold an opinion different from your own happen to make similar arguments that there must be a script to follow. Are you following a script when you espouse your opinions? Or do your ideas seem self-evident? Are they the result of research and thought?
I don’t believe it is forbidden to discuss genetics. (We’re discussing some very antiquated and foolish ideas about genetics right here and now…) If you meant to say that you can’t go to a public forum and assert that hair color and intelligence are genetically linked without expecting some angry push-back, then I agree.

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 18, 2015 1:18 pm

takebackthegreen writes “no matter how clearly I state it, some people cannot understand the concept that race and intelligence can both be genetically determined, but NOT BE LINKED TO EACH OTHER.”
I suspect that is true of most assertions and most people, but of course, I have just added to the clutter of assertions.
So long as there’s a one-to-one correspondence one does not need to be a causal factor of the other in order to be predictive. In such cases one is a proxy for the other, mere correlation but still meaningful provided the mapping is sufficiently reliable.
“correlation does not equal causation.”
Agreed. CO2 is correlated with some climate change; that by itself does not equal causation.
“That you conclude that because two people who hold an opinion different from your own happen to make similar arguments that there must be a script to follow.”
If three out of four persons express themselves with nearly identical language then yes, I assume the existence of a script, just as you might assume the existence of Koch Brothers behind every denial.
“Are you following a script when you espouse your opinions? Or do your ideas seem self-evident? Are they the result of research and thought?”
Yes to all. I follow scripts AND some of my ideas seem self evident but of course that seeming could have been planted. Sometimes I accept a planted idea and then do some research and thought, which is what I am doing right here right now.
When I play chess, the opening moves are “book openings”. I don’t need to think much about it and neither does my opponent. All openings were scripted hundreds of years ago.
When I have a discussion on a blog, I like to punch through the script as quickly as possible since we both know how it must go. Only when the script is exhausted can we have a meaningful conversation.
“I don’t believe it is forbidden to discuss genetics.”
“Because our salaries were paid entirely from such funds, this meant I was being fired.” bottom of Page 15
“it was my forays into intelligence and race that started to agitate him. Likewise fair, or at least understandable, because the Center’s existence depended on pleasing federal granting agencies, and talking about the role of intelligence in schools was not politic.” (same source, page 12)
“Sociologists tended to treat job requirements and rewards as reflecting only the arbitrary tastes of employers because they assumed, wrongly, that virtually anyone could perform virtually any job. Not so job analysts. They dealt in the nitty-gritty realities of work, whereas sociologists were invoking neo-Marxist imaginings about class oppression, which was somehow being systematically enforced in the myriad hiring decisions in different settings and industries by thousands of employers who were competing with one another for competent help. For sociologists, jobs were nothing more than bundles of rewards, though they weren’t much more than that for vocational psychologists either. ” Page 11. The entire article is a fascinating read.
My own experience is anecdotal of course. I’m a geek; socially outcast, reproductively challenged and 97th percentile on standardized tests. I can do anything except play basketball where I cannot sink a ball if my life depended on it. I can mentally calculate the parabolic trajectory needed but my body just doesn’t cooperate. Put me in front of a computer and it’s a different story, a ballet figuratively speaking. I taught myself the General Macro Assembly Programming language (GMAP) for the Honeywell DPS8 mainframe.
And so on. You are not my equal. You might be superior although statistically speaking probably not. A belief in equality is as religious as believing in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy (as commonly depicted).
“We’re discussing some very antiquated and foolish ideas about genetics right here and now”
I see. What makes an idea foolish? How about “not politically correct”?

Reply to  Michael 2
August 18, 2015 3:10 pm

Thanks for sharing.

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 18, 2015 3:28 pm

Takeback, I appreciate the serendipity of opening a new page prodded by responding to your orthodoxy.
The PDF I found while looking for something else has turned into a goldmine, the holy grail of “what is intelligence”. I remember over the years seeing several mentions of these ideas (in particular the “g” factor probably in Scientific American “Mind”) but as quickly squashed by powerful forces.
“Right now, if you venture outside the field of intelligence, it is like stepping into Alice’s Wonderland. Everything is topsy-turvy. True is false, and off with your head if you say otherwise. Simply reciting the evidence is not enough when popular wisdom is diametrically opposed, especially when so many people are so emotionally invested in it” (Page 33)
This is very similar to global warming orthodoxy. Government grants, political correctness, taboos.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 17, 2015 4:01 pm

Last time I checked, Fidel was still alive (regrettably).
How old are you?

Reply to  Alexander Feht
August 17, 2015 4:30 pm

Quibbling at a joke? Sigh…
It didn’t seem as funny to say “diminished capacity,” “vegetative state,” or “rumored to be brain dead, but pose-able for pictures.”
And I’m 49 years old. Thanks for asking. I’m a Capricorn and I’m allergic to bee stings.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 17, 2015 4:11 pm

Race is not determined by genes?
And saying so makes one a racist?
You must be out of your mind, if you ever had one.

Reply to  Alexander Feht
August 17, 2015 4:41 pm

“Race is not determined by genes?
And saying so makes one a racist?
You must be out of your mind, if you ever had one.”
Of course skin color is genetically determined.
No. Saying that skin color and intelligence are LINKED makes you a racist. (Please read more carefully.)
Use of personal insults makes you rude.
This seems like a good point for me to check out of this digression. You can have whatever last word you wish.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 17, 2015 4:17 pm

Even so, in 1948, my 5th grade teacher told us about the continental drift theory and pointed out how obviously the coastlines fitted together. I also remember my sister drafting thesis maps of Gondwanaland and Pangaea for Geology grad students in the 60s. I have long wanted to be named US Ambassador to Gondwanaland. (I speak all the indigenous languages!)

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 17, 2015 4:36 pm

What, exactly, is measured by IQ, nobody knows exactly. Certain ability to quickly make logical connections between various pieces of presorted information, perhaps. What is known (supported by thousands of independently reproduced experimental results), however, is that IQ is genetically inherited on the individual level, and cannot be made substantially higher by education throughout the life of the individual.
In my opinion, Dr. Carson would certainly make a much better president than Mr. Obama, and I would certainly vote for Dr. Carson. Are race and intelligence genetically linked somehow? Not on individual level, obviously. Statistically, if you look at the whole population, at various parts of the population, etc. — yes, they are linked.
Does it make me a “racist”? Only in a fool’s ideologically poisoned mind. I assess people on individual basis, taking into account, first of all, what they do and think, not how they look externally. In this sense, I am truly “color blind.”
But if a man, white or black, pays too much attention to his hairdo, for example, usually (statistically) it means that this person pays insufficient attention to the internal content of his cranium. Which makes me 99% sure, dear anonymous “takebackthegreen,” that you attend hairdressing saloons much more frequently than I.

Bellator Deus
Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 18, 2015 9:15 am

Actually the cultural practice of “cousin marriage” has been linked to lower IQ. Cultures that practice this are often geographically located. Therefore in fact there is a valid reason behind some geographical distribution of IQ. Beyond this, other cultural practices affect IQ scores, and cultures are geographically distributed.
Therefore, there is a correlation between geographical locations and IQ (correlation). This is an indicator for investigation of cultural practices that affect IQ (causation).

August 17, 2015 3:58 am

Big deal. This is Wikipedia we are talking about – the first source for school students. If it matters to you., join the editors and use your elbows like we do.

Reply to  Chris
August 17, 2015 6:45 am

You understate the reality. “Science” reporters/distorters, politicians, and the general public are all influenced by Wikipedia. And didn’t Lenin say something like, “If we get them young, they’re ours forever”? School students have no sophistication when they’re being propagandized by adults.
It is a big deal when we move into the realm of political propaganda. Sensibles do use their elbows, but the shadowy Wiki editors have sharper elbows.

D.J. Hawkins
Reply to  Jeffrey
August 17, 2015 11:04 am

Re Lenin; I think it’s actually the Jesuits. “Give me a child until he’s seven, and I’ll show you the man”, attributed to St. Francis Xavier.

Reply to  Chris
August 17, 2015 8:39 am

If you try to fix the Wikipedia climate change information, the bureaucrats will use their authority to beat you away so you don’t bother their echo chamber.

The other Phil
Reply to  AnonyMoose
August 17, 2015 1:10 pm

It is sad to see such misinformation. You’re obviously not a regular editor of Wikipedia, nor particularly knowledgeable about how it works. What qualifies you to pass judgment on what happens there?

Reply to  The other Phil
August 17, 2015 1:13 pm

What qualifies you to pass judgment on what happens there?

25,000+ biased and prejudiced “edits” by Connelly the past years … Then, when caught, he continued under other names, and by “guiding” other editors.

Reply to  AnonyMoose
August 18, 2015 12:24 am

Poor Phil, I have EXTENSIVE experience editing Wikipedia for many years and everything he stated is true, following the rules 100% does not prevent you from being banned or your changes removed.

The other Phil
Reply to  AnonyMoose
August 18, 2015 2:20 pm

Anyone with experience in Wikipedia would know how silly it is to suggest that the bureaucrats are guarding the climate change articles. There is a position at Wikipedia called “bureaucrat”. It bears no resemblance to that claim, and is a giveaway the persons not familiar with Wikipedia.

Reply to  AnonyMoose
August 18, 2015 4:34 pm

Strawman argument, he was referring to the administrators not the literal title and certain admins are guarding those articles.

The other Phil
Reply to  AnonyMoose
August 20, 2015 7:58 am

Sorry, but it is not a straw man argument. If you use the term bureaucrats when you mean administrators, you are making it clear you have minimal experience with Wikipedia. Your knee-jerk support makes me wonder how much experience you have. Can you cite an example of someone following the rules and getting banned? In fact, I can but it is much less common than you suggest, and I’ll be surprised if you can list a single example.

Reply to  AnonyMoose
August 21, 2015 9:42 pm

Phil, I understand you lack the ability to communicate with people but it was clear to everyone except you and your strawman argument that he was using “bureaucrat” as a pejorative and not the explicit title in the Wikipedia organization.

Reply to  AnonyMoose
August 21, 2015 9:52 pm

Phil, you don’t know who I am but if you want me to embarrass you on this subject please let me know. What I stated is not debatable and being intellectually dishonest about it does not help your argument. I could factually correct every single controversial article relating to climate change on Wikipedia following their policies 100% and not only would all of my factually correct, fully cited and sourced information from a Neutral Point of View (which none of the articles currently are) be reverted but my account would eventually be banned. This has happened repeatedly. I can always get around it but it is not worth my time since no one else knows how to do this properly and apparently does not care. The information currently on Wikipedia is propaganda and the administrators are making sure it stays that way. Wikipedia is used by computer illiterates and morons anyway.

Michael 2
Reply to  Chris
August 17, 2015 11:13 am

Chris says “join the editors and use your elbows like we do.”
It is permitted to use a few more words and explain who is “we”.

Reply to  Chris
August 17, 2015 3:18 pm

I cannot just join Wikipedia and work in my own evidence-based expertise. If it is a controversial topic, there are cult-like adherents policing all attempts at revision.
This is the Connolley story exactly.

Reply to  Chris
August 17, 2015 5:52 pm

So, those with the most elbows or the biggest elbows are the most correct?
So, those that have lots of free time (no real job) get to slant reality.
Scary scenario.

The other Phil
Reply to  DonM
August 20, 2015 8:05 am

The Wikipedia model is deeply flawed. Yet it works surprisingly well given the challenges. Controversial subjects, such as climate change and Middle Eastern politics lay bare the flaws. However, what’s the alternative? Scientific American and CNN? Do you have a better approach?

Reply to  DonM
August 22, 2015 4:42 pm

Nope, no better approach.
Except that an outright and ongoing acknowledgement that there are significant subject entries that, overall, are intended to persuade, rather than inform.
Per the subject article, average number of edits per day (per Wikipedia entry) could be helpful information for some one that is looking for protection from elbow slant; there could be a slant factor provided in the heading of the Wikipedia entry.
I know this will not be done … but since you asked, I had to come up with something.

Reply to  Chris
August 17, 2015 9:50 pm

As a 12-year (I think) Wikipedia editor on the controversial Gun politics in Australia page I firmly believe in the value of Wikipedia. I use ‘we’ to mean all independent Wikipedia editors that while having a viewpoint, try to use the standards of WP:NPV, WP:RS and others as our guide. Sometimes that needs elbows and hard words, to get through to a conspiracy nut or a decent person who edits as a political correctnik. My mission is to keep the overall framing balanced, with a historical and real perspective rather than pandering to emotionalism or moral posturing.

August 17, 2015 3:59 am

Whenever I need to find some facts on some obscure molecule, Wikipedia has been unfailingly accurate. Often, such an effort simply refreshes my memory, and I find that the facts of the chemistry in question are exactly as they were when I was in graduate school. Apparently, advanced topics are out of reach to the greenies and activists.
It is often said that an environmentalist go to any length and make any sacrifice to save the planet, with the exception of actually taking a science course. Heaven forbid they should learn anything about their favorite subject.
This habit of theirs ensures that huge tracts of Wikipedia science is out of reach and inaccessible to them, and will remain so far into the future.

Reply to  TonyL
August 17, 2015 9:15 am

Re: “often, such an effort simply refreshes my memory”
I had exactly this experience only a couple of days ago.
I decided to investigate a molecule called etizolam.
According to wikipedia it has amnesic properties.
They are correct on this point.
Following an ill-advised practical experiment, I had to look it up and refresh my memory all over again.
Wait a minute – what was I just talking about?

Reply to  indefatigablefrog
August 17, 2015 11:18 am

I think you were talking about old age and memory loss.
But I forget.

Ian Macdonald
August 17, 2015 4:00 am

I have been a Wikipedia editor almost since it was set up. I have occasionally contributed to climate and energy topics, and found that anything which does not fit in with the ‘official’ Connelly line is deleted, often within minutes. Even if it is verifiably sourced.
I also note that many of the cites on renewable energy pages violate Wikipedia’s rules on self-quoting, in being taken from the vendors’ own publicity material, or from activist groups which are known to be financed by the equipment vendors. For those not familiar with this concern, Wikipedia typically requires references to be from persons or bodies not engaged in selling or promoting the described products because of the danger of its pages being used for advertising purposes. Yet, that is exactly what is taking place here.
In terms of news outlets, it is forbidden to quote from The Daily Mail, the Sun, The Express and other publications which they would regard as sensationalist and therefore of questionable reliability. Yet, it is self-evidently permissible to quote from The Guardian, since a substantial percentage of all climate cites come from exactly that sensationalist rag. Pity there isn’t a WP:DOUBLE_STANDARDS tag.
It gets worse, though, because many climate/renewables pages carry items which were once thought to be correct, but have since been shown to be in error. (Hockey stick, Vostok ice core interpretations for example) Any attempt to correct these errors is reverted if the edit would cast doubt on the official propaganda.
If there is a positive side, it’s that when anyone expresses doubts that climate ‘science’ could be a scam I will suggest they take look at the edit histories of some of these pages, and at the sources of the references. The fact that this is going on, is some of the best available evidence that corruption is involved.

August 17, 2015 4:08 am

If you’ve any doubt that Willy and his Wiki minions are still riding editorial shotgun on any vaguely GW topic, try correcting one and then time how long it takes for it to be rolled back.

August 17, 2015 4:09 am

When politics pollutes science,
Then there’s no science at all,
It’s a jumble of confusion
That holds us in its thrall,
With Wikipedia the plot thickens
As it is edited carelessly,
The content presented
Not based on scientific integrity.

Reply to  rhymeafterrhyme
August 17, 2015 1:30 pm

I like the rhyme: –
Magnificent – and explains, I guess, why my poetic efforts, striving for rhyme soon enough alienated even me.
Bravo Bard!

August 17, 2015 4:09 am

The problem here is that by looking only at changes the paper is a blunt instrument.
It spots where the controversy is. But it knew that in advance. So no real knowledge is added.
It would now be useful to question the people who make the edits to Wikipedia in order find out why they dissent.
Is it based on reason, observation or faith?
I suspect there would be a difference between sceptics of dangerous climate change and sceptics of evolution. But this paper cannot find that difference.

Reply to  MCourtney
August 17, 2015 6:06 am

“Is it based on reason, observation or faith?”
… or political agenda.

Reply to  pochas
August 17, 2015 1:38 pm

August 17, 2015 at 6:06 am
“Is it based on reason, observation or faith?”
… or political agenda.
pochas good fellow,
I’m sure you know that – here – faith is quite close to the political bit.
Not synonymous – there are some who espouse faith – but whose motives are filthy lucre – or, worse, Power.
But that may be reason – if ‘we’ can get governments to give us billions of [spondulix] filched from the poor, the old and the infirm – that’s a damn good reason to espouse this cause.
Not my thinking.
Nor, I think, yours.
But some think so – and green-tinged governments are giving them the said spondulix in billions . . .

Reply to  MCourtney
August 17, 2015 12:02 pm

I wouldn’t count acid rain as one of the Holy Trinity. CAGW, Evolution and GMOs are the big three and it is exceedingly rare to find anyone who is correct on all three (broadly speaking):
CAGW: nonsense
Evolution: fact
GMOs: a good thing
The author of the paper is typical. Because he is lulled by his correctness on other issues, he is unable to question what he knows about CAGW and lumps its skeptics in with creationists, etc.

Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 17, 2015 6:18 pm

?Evolution = Fact?
Tell me about viral evolution; tell me there are no competing theories; tell me we do not need to waste any more time and money addressing the differing possibilities and I will accept that I am keeping myself ignorant of the truth.
Evolution is a big concept with lots of associated big concepts to explain the first big concept. You seem to think of evolution as the simple notion that was explained to you in 7th grade; There is more to it that the simple image of the fish transitioning from water to land and into upright man.
If you have blind faith something (evolution) then it is not the antithesis that you think it is.

Reply to  DonM
August 17, 2015 11:15 pm

There’s no need for an inexpert person such as myself to tell you anything at all. I referred above to a beautifully written book that elegantly and comprehensively discusses everything you mentioned and very much more. If you read it, you will look back on your comment and marvel at how much you didn’t even know that you didn’t know.
I don’t remember anything from 7th grade, to be honest. And I officially rejected blind faith around age 14.

Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 18, 2015 4:50 pm

I haven’t read the book yet (and I probably won’t … my guess is that it is written to persuade rather than inform so I am not interested … kinda like portions of Wikipedia).
Without looking at the book, I will give you 2:1odds for $100 that it doesn’t answer the question: which came first virus or single cell? did the single cell kickstart the virus, did the virus kickstart the single cell, was it a separate co-evolution thing?
I will trust that you won’t go back to the book before you take me up on it (Actually, I trust that you won’t take me up on it … as such maybe I was wrong in thinking that you are afflicted by the blind faith of your belief system).

Michael 2
Reply to  DonM
August 18, 2015 5:41 pm

DonM asks “which came first virus or single cell?”
Inasmuch as a virus needs the assistance of a cell to replicate, it cannot very well have preceded the cell.

Reply to  DonM
August 18, 2015 6:41 pm

It’s interesting when someone decides to avoid a book based on pure guesswork. Why would someone deprive himself of an opportunity to learn? Especially when the expert also happens to be a vivid and energetic writer?
In this particular instance, the book is amazingly informative about a wide range of scientific disciplines. If being informed by an expert in a scientific discipline causes your understanding of the discipline to alter, is that a bad form of persuasion? If you feel that everything you “know” now is 100% correct and unalterable, and needs to be shielded from further learning, then that’s a different discussion.
Your assumptions about me are comical. Does this seem dogmatic? I don’t know whether viral primacy is addressed in the book or not. And I don’t know why it matters.
I also don’t know why one of mankind’s greatest scientific achievements, accomplished by an amateur botanist, remains so misunderstood and feared by certain religious types. I mean, the Catholic Church–not exactly a hotbed of radical thought–officially accepts the fact of evolution. I think it was good ol’ JP2 himself who made it doctrine. It’s just silly at this point. It is hundreds of times more boneheaded to not accept the fact of evolution than it is to believe in CAGW.
If you disagree, take whatever sentence you are about to type in response, and instead type it into Google and you are guaranteed to find a source that authoritatively addresses your objection, which is around 75% likely to be based on a misunderstanding of what evolution actually IS in the first place. I wholeheartedly accept the fact of Evolution and have done a fair amount of study on the subject and I’m not ashamed to say I still need an occasional refresher about the finer points.
Thanks for a mostly civil discussion. Anything I can say has already been said so much better by others, that I’m going to return to my seat at the back of the class now…

Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 18, 2015 5:54 pm

Let me guess. ‘Take back the Green’ is a reference to the fact that you’re a full blown card carrying watermelon that somehow found undeniable proof that CAGW is a fraud, and now wants to ‘reclaim’ environmentalism from the scammers. But of course you haven’t given up on all the other left wing sacred cows, so you talk down to anyone who holds an opinion different then yours as leftists are inclined to do.
Perhaps instead of preaching to the heathens you might try listening. You don’t need to change your opinion, just try to understand what your opponent is saying.
Many of these topics are controversial BECAUSE they have no proven answer. ^¿^

Reply to  schitzree
August 18, 2015 7:43 pm

Well who doesn’t love a good “let me guess” session about themselves, especially when its tone is just short of hostile?
Opposition to GMOs is one of the top concerns of the radical left. Since I said I’m pro-GMO, how does that make me… whatever you think I am (I know its something bad…)?
And yes–thanks for asking–I absolutely had a change of mind regarding CAGW. I was wrong due to ignorance; I decided to educate myself; and I changed my view based on newly acquired information and appeals to logic.
Is there something wrong with that progression?
Let ME guess… your real problem with me is behind door #3: Evolution. If so, I’m waving the white flag on the topic in this comment section. You can bring a horse to water but you can’t teach an old dog how to change a lightbulb. Or something like that.

Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 19, 2015 12:53 pm

“And I don’t know why it matters….”
It matters because it is integral to your premise that “evolution” is fact. Portions of Evolutionary Theory are accepted outright; portions are in flux; portions are fairly controversial (and I mean within the community of scientific experts, not within the spectrum of religious/atheistic zealots)

Reply to  DonM
August 19, 2015 8:38 pm

Evolution and religion are separate subjects. You can’t shoehorn religion into a discussion of science. It doesn’t belong.
Among scientific experts, there is no controversy about Evolution.
Follow scientific principle. Read. The. Book. Every question or doubt you’ve been taught is answered.
If you won’t acknowledge evidence, what is the point of further discussion?

Reply to  MCourtney
August 17, 2015 3:23 pm

Since we have never observed macro-evolution, those doggedly supporting macro-evolution are either sold by a superficially compelling logic/reason case, or are faith-based believers.
Sceptics of evolution are simply being reasonable and awaiting the scientific evidence: observable, repeatable, and in a form this is disprovable.

Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
August 17, 2015 4:13 pm

No. You are not being reasonable. You are willfully keeping yourself ignorant of the truth. The experimental, predictive, falsifiable truth.
Read “The Greatest Show on Earth.” It clearly and plainly lays out the overwhelming evidence for evolution by natural selection. It is also a beautifully written book about science and the scientific method.
Please don’t live another day in ignorance of this fundamental body of knowledge about the living world.

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 17, 2015 5:04 pm

takebackthegreen says “Please don’t live another day in ignorance of this fundamental body of knowledge about the living world.”
Why? Consider a chicken farmer. Does it matter whether chickens evolved over millions of years ago or were poofed into existence magically 6000 years ago or yesterday or maybe we’re all in “the matrix” and don’t actually exist this very moment?
It might, for some purposes, but not I think to the chicken farmer or the automobile mechanic or even the billionaire tycoon.
Quite frankly quite a lot of mischief is permitted and permissible in a pure evolution scenario (ie, no Supreme Being to orient my moral compass).
In other words, it matters only for whom it matters; and why does it matter to those for whom it matters? I have no idea; maybe your insight will help.

Reply to  Michael 2
August 17, 2015 9:21 pm

I agree with you whole-heartedly. If you are not interested in knowledge, don’t acquire that knowledge. I’m sure you would also agree that you cannot then assert that the knowledge does not exist, or offer opinions about the quality or quantity of that knowledge.
Where we disagree: I believe that if you rely on the existence of a Supreme Being for your moral compass (meaning that without an SB to guide you, you wouldn’t be a moral person) that doesn’t speak very highly of your nature. I know there is no Supreme Being, yet I don’t rape or murder or enslave others. I’m also able to recognize the problem with only one of those deeply immoral acts having made it into the Big Ten…

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 17, 2015 11:03 pm

takebackthegreen writes: “If you are not interested in knowledge, don’t acquire that knowledge.”
Catch-22 exists. How can one decide NOT to acquire knowledge without first acquiring the knowledge? But I presume you refer to a personality trait of curiosity, a willingness and desire to find out what can be found out.
“I’m sure you would also agree that you cannot then assert that the knowledge does not exist”
Agreed, and yet you proceed to do exactly that, assert that no Supreme Being exists when that is not a thing that can be known.
“I believe that if you rely on the existence of a Supreme Being for your moral compass (meaning that without an SB to guide you, you wouldn’t be a moral person)”
That is the usual misinterpretation. I assert that a particular supreme being serves as the “north pole” for moral compasses. This is a requirement for civilization. It is not my idea; I learned it from a summary ascribed to Rosseau. Marxists supplant a transcendental supreme being whose moral compass alignment power is measured in hundreds or thousands of years, with mere humans whose moral compasses change direction every generation and with each Marxist quite certain of his own morality.
“that doesn’t speak very highly of your nature.”
Whereas you have no permanent alignment whatever for your moral compass. How impressive is that? Anyway, I think you exaggerate the importance of you speaking highly of me.
“I know there is no Supreme Being”
A fish knows there is no such thing as “water”. A thing has to be externalized, turned into an object that can be touched, seen, smelled, measured. But if you are immersed in it, then it is not so easy to measure it, the very instruments you would use are also immersed in it, hence no “differential”.
Consider a voltmeter. Does it measure voltage? No. It is calibrated in volts, but it measures a current induced by a differential. If there is no differential, there can still be volts but you won’t be able to measure it.
Supreme Beings exist because they must exist.
(1) By any definition, somewhere on Earth is someone that is supreme — jumps higher, runs faster, holds breath longer. By any definition, somewhere in the universe is a being that is supreme. (2) To assert that the universe does not contain a thing, the entire universe must be searched and only then can it be known that the thing does not exist.
But to search the universe, you must have a precise definition of what you are looking for.
So you must define what you believe does not exist. After you have done that, I will probably agree that what you have created has no existence in reality or Newtonian space. It is also trivial and futile because the number of non-existing Supreme Beings is probably pretty close to infinite; while the number of supreme beings is merely large.
“yet I don’t rape or murder or enslave others”
Are you seeking a prize? I suggest for your consideration the “Stanford Experiment”. It doesn’t take long for the herd to decide any or all three are appropriate and vital in some situations.
It would be nice if everyone, or nearly everyone, had a moral compass pointing in the same direction.
Rosseau recognizes that many supreme beings, such as a Josef Stalin or Julius Caesar, are mortal and when they die so goes their power to align societies’ moral compasses. Obviously what is needed is an alignment that is immortal and not too misaligned from what a society actually needs in that region.
“I’m also able to recognize the problem with only one of those deeply immoral acts having made it into the Big Ten.”
Plain to see something is attracting your moral compass — but if not a Supreme Being, what? I suggest it is the Herd or the Hive. In that Hive is a Queen. All morality exists to serve the Queen. Memes emanate outward like pheromones, and vulnerable people subscribe to these memes without conscious choice and can hardly resist even if they had a mind to resist, because resistance itself is denounced more strongly than anything else (hence the calls for death penalty for heretics or deniers).
As to the “big ten” I presume you refer to the ten commandments of Judaism. It has rules on all three and exceptions for all three, a trait common to essentially all moral codes. Consider the Democrats philosophy of no death penalty. It has a few gaping holes: Climate deniers and unborn children where it isn’t even a penalty; it’s a wart. How about a year in jail for killing two ducklings? On whose moral compass does this make sense?

Reply to  Michael 2
August 18, 2015 11:22 am

Almost every declarative sentence in your comment is shockingly wrong. (I recommend “The God Delusion” if you are confident enough in your beliefs to hear them dissected.)
However, I know the outcome when Reason butts heads with Faith. So I leave you to it and hope it brings you all the happiness in the world.

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 18, 2015 5:52 pm

takebackthegreen writes “Almost every declarative sentence in your comment is shockingly wrong.”
Such a thing is not possible. Let us use logic and reason:
If you can identify or observe a difference between two persons as to any particular measure, it implies the existence of a least and a most within that realm. It is true whether the thing measured is people or mathematics (or just about anything else).
Only in the unique case that two objects are identical is there no slope, no least and no greatest.
Perhaps your objection is to the philosophies of Rosseau and the social necessity of some force to align everyone’s moral compasses.
“I recommend The God Delusion if you are confident enough in your beliefs to hear them dissected.”
Consider a Venn Diagram. On it is a small spot called “truth”. Everywhere around it is a vast realm of “not truth”. I wonder how much of my life I should devote to “not truth”? The answer is: Only as much as needed to discover whether I have drifted from “truth”, and how far, and in what direction, for a suitable course correction.
This book you recommend seems to explore some of this “not truth” and is probably not very useful. It might be entertaining so I’ll look for an excerpt to see if it is going to hold my attention. But if it is just one person’s opinion about another person’s opinion, well, we get that every day for free right here.
“However, I know the outcome when Reason butts heads with Faith.”
So do I but I still play chess. 😉 What makes it worth playing is the way each game is played. You have a great deal of faith in the non-existence of a thing whose non-existence cannot be proven. I find it fascinating how much faith is displayed by the modern atheist.
But as I have written before, it may well be that if you provide a suitable definition of the thing you believe does not exist, very likely I will agree that it does not exist while you, in turn, have basically no information on what I know to exist and thus cannot challenge it. There is no “butt heads” except with the strawgod of your belief system.

Reply to  Michael 2
August 18, 2015 6:50 pm

I prefer “antitheist.”

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 18, 2015 9:25 pm

takebackthegreen “I prefer antitheist.”
Well there goes that argument! Anti-theist accurately describes Dawkins; a mirror image of theist. You have beliefs, they are what they are and the motivation for those beliefs is probably immune to mere words on the internet as are my beliefs.
You might even be pedantic; I express that with approval.
As to the strength of belief and resistance to logic, I know well about that and it seems not to be confined to “left” or “right”.

Reply to  Michael 2
August 18, 2015 11:10 pm

Arrgghh. This really is my last cigarette. I mean comment. Seriously.
It’s just silly to say atheism is a faith-based position. There is a great body of evidence against supernaturalism and not a single bit in support of it. The reasons theism is wrong could fill a book. Which it has. Which you refuse to read. See the endless loop forming?
I know what it would take to change my mind. Faith, by definition, cannot respond to evidence or lack thereof.
Look. I spent my first 15 years immersed in Missionary Baptist boot camp. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover at least a dozen times. I probably know your arguments better than you. (I can definitely state them more clearly.)
So call me selfish (“You’re selfish!”). But I gain nothing from this discussion, other than the enjoyment of civil discourse. I’ve done what I set out to do. I mentioned the names of two books that can introduce you to a better understanding of our amazing universe. Discussing nonsensical mythology that is immune to reason is nothing but a waste of what I know is my one and only lifetime.
I honestly and sincerely wish you all the best, no matter what path you follow. Please don’t take my lack of response to any future comments as agreement or disagreement.

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 19, 2015 5:27 pm

I appreciate your responses. As I’ve written elsewhere, sometimes one must push through the scripted parts to get to “genuine”.
takebackthegreen writes “It’s just silly to say atheism is a faith-based position.”
More precisely, it is silly to say that atheism is anything at all. Despite that, It has dogma, websites, evangelicals, foundations and even a temple in New York City. The word has been co-opted, taken over, hijacked. You, for instance, write several things asserting knowledge that cannot be known by the simple rules of logic except by careful definition in which case we would be arguing a straw-god anyway whose non-existence is a-priori established by the invention thereof.
When I say I know things for sure, I mean Descartes sure. For brevity I’ve just deleted two stories to illustrate. I will simply declare that I know some things for sure that to me say Dawkins is wrong and no purpose is served by reading books of error.
Now then it will likely happen that some of Dawkin’s objections are things easily agreed to, but his motivation seems to be hate toward and destruction of his enemies.
You have been gracious to identify your religious background, I will reciprocate. I had no religious background but became a Mormon when old enough. Atheism is inadequate to explain life or anything (since it is nothing). Because I chose Mormon I am unlike most that were raised in it; I have a distinct sense of what is actually part of the religion versus the ever-increasing cultural baggage clinging to it. I won’t defend the baggage and I might defend or argue the dogma if it seems useful to do so. To satisfy your dwindling curiosity, I’ll remember in writing how I sat on a big black rock composed of cone shells that obviously lived in an ancient sea. I was in the mountains at 7,000 feet elevation and the rock was astonishingly hard, I tried to chisel out a fossil but failed. So I took a serious interest in geology after that which is still one of my many inadequately pursued hobbies. I don’t get into arguments with friends that think the Earth is 6,000 years old — except in the case of imagining that god can or will magically “fix” human mistakes. Even if he can, there’s no indication that he will, so I *act* as though God is a passive observer which so far as I can tell is close enough to the truth. What gets done is what I do.
But let us explore your last and final words:
“There is a great body of evidence against supernaturalism and not a single bit in support of it.”
I have many bits in support of it. Your mileage obviously varies. But I don’t argue Michael Shermer and generally consider debunking the more obvious scams socially useful.
“The reasons theism is wrong could fill a book. Which it has. Which you refuse to read. See the endless loop forming?”
I see no endless loop. What I see is a man that hates a particular religion or cluster of religions, but out of that springs just another religion. It is also a way to be famous; I mean, who else could make a living by NOT being something? Too funny!
“I know what it would take to change my mind. Faith, by definition, cannot respond to evidence or lack thereof.”
And presumably so does the supreme being. The implication is that he doesn’t particularly care to change your mind, and if he doesn’t care, then it isn’t my job either.
“I spent my first 15 years immersed in Missionary Baptist boot camp. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover at least a dozen times. I probably know your arguments better than you. (I can definitely state them more clearly.)”
You have my sympathy and you are doubtless correct about your ability to quote the errant bible which you were taught is inerrant. It is unlikely you know my arguments because I seldom “argue”. I assert that I know some things with certainty; I have been cautious in saying exactly what I know.
“I gain nothing from this discussion, other than the enjoyment of civil discourse.”
Same here. Enjoyable discussion requires to discuss topics that require thought and explanation. It is mentally simulating and I often have to turn to resources as I prepare a response. It can take all day as this one has.
“I mentioned the names of two books that can introduce you to a better understanding of our amazing universe.”
My library consists of 900 books; half of them science fiction and half science facts. Pretty much every book ever published by National Geographic Society. Textbooks galore. One of my favorites is a little black book on physics published by the Russians.
Mostly absent from my library is anything on sociology or psychology. I’ll look at such stuff for entertainment now and then in Scientific American (which, IMO, isn’t much of either).
“Discussing nonsensical mythology that is immune to reason is nothing but a waste of what I know is my one and only lifetime.”
THAT, my friend, is why I don’t read Dawkins. It is a waste of time. He debunks things I already believe are fictions for the most part and very likely asserts as fact things that cannot be known at all (as you do) or which I know to be otherwise.
You cannot “know” that this is your only life. That is a thing that cannot be known. Also probably not knowable is whether there IS a next life or what it will be like, so I endorse acting like this is your one and only life and making the most of it. That also is Mormonism by the way; how you choose to live your life right now is laying the foundation of your next.
As for discussing nonsensical mythology, I suspect you and pretty much everyone does so regularly. I loved the books, and the movies, “Lord of the Rings”. Through mythology important concepts are explored and social values conveyed. I turn to mythology and science fiction frequently as a way to express difficult concepts with less chance of miscomprehension. Parables and metaphors oh my!

Reply to  Michael 2
August 19, 2015 9:42 pm

You cannot say what Dawkins does if you haven’t read him. That’s embarrassing.
Question: What does the Book of Mormon say about why my Native American ancestors had red skin?
(And why is the Book so excruciating to read? Joseph Smith– I mean God– was a TERRIBLE writer. Just awful.)

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 19, 2015 9:51 pm

takebackthegreen commented… whups, after saying he wasn’t going to.. snark snark…
“You cannot say what Dawkins does if you haven’t read him.”
Careful reading of my comments points to a list of quotes attributed to him.
“What does the Book of Mormon say about why my Native American ancestors had red skin?
Absolutely nothing. There’s a lot of speculation of course but I don’t defend speculations other than as an item of historical interest. That speculation arises for the same reason the bible is so poorly understood; people don’t digest the words they see for their plain meanings. Seriously, how big could Zarahemla be if the king of it could speak to all the people from his rooftop?
For instance, lately I have become intrigued by the theories of a fellow in Amsterdam that thinks it is the lost history of the Kazars in the vicinity of what is now the Ukraine. I have to admit the theory has a lot going for it as it addresses most of the critiques of the B of M, most notably the use of watchtowers — useful in flat land — and the presence of mountains for hiding robbers. There is such a place exactly in the Caucusus mountains, narrow neck of land — it is quite remarkable actually with vast prairie to the north. Needless to say my Mormon friends won’t touch that theory with a 10 cubit pole.
“And why is the Book so excruciating to read?”
Different tastes for different people I suppose.

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 20, 2015 7:34 am

takebackthegreen “why my Native American ancestors had red skin?”
Occasionally I put “Native American” on documents requesting that information. I am a native of America; not a native of anywhere else. In recognition of which the Census Bureau still uses “American Indian” so there’s no mischief or confusion.
But I don’t like “Indian” since I deal with Indians from India. So I find myself occasionally stuck. But I am also pedantic; “Native American” means almost nothing. What exactly do Sioux have in common with Quileute? Nothing at all, near as I can tell. Where are the Mound Builders? Extinct, and not because of Europeans. The Quileute seem to be a branch of the Haida which is a branch of the Athabascan group of western Canada all of whom are about as “red” as me. I mention that one because my grandmother took me to LaPush as a child and several times since and I think something rubbed onto my soul. All of the Haida group artwork (whales, eagles, ravens) is bold but also magical in a way I cannot explain even to myself. The Hopi is very different but somewhat similarly expressive, capturing something of life in that landscape that a photograph does not capture or convey. I have artwork and ceramics of both which I value highly.
When I was younger I believed, as many did, that the Book of Mormon explained and described all of North and South America. It makes so such claim, but that is what everyone seemed to believe. Since then I realize its claim is very limited geographically, a few days’ walk spans its entire world, and might not even be the Americas. By its own word the group became extinct.
Arguing these points is sometimes interesting but fails to change my mind on the important thing, the supreme being. If there isn’t one, then all holy books everywhere would seem to be pointless. If there is, then knowing that with certainty “moots” all these holy books. Don’t need ’em and I see “holy” in many places sometimes unexpectedly so, or missing where it ought to be.

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 18, 2015 6:19 pm

takebackthegreen recommends “The God Delusion” by uber-atheist and strong believer Dawkins.
Yes, it is very entertaining to a pedant such as I. I won’t buy the book but some quotes are here:
Dawkins says: “Do not indoctrinate your children. Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with you.”
Of course, this sentence is indoctrination and Dawkins is doing your thinking for you! How funny is that? Just don’t disagree with Dawkins!
“Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong.”
Indeed, but I wonder why Dawkins does not consider implanting his own kind of faith any less harmful?
Quoting Isaac Asimov: “Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold.”
So what exactly is atheism but your own security blanket?
“[God is] a vindictive bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser , a misogynistic, homophobic racist, an infanticidal, genocidal, phillicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
Seems to me Dawkins’ straw-god isn’t very friendly. Perhaps he, and you, and I, will choose a different one.
“Let us remind ourselves of the terminology.”
Define the terms then announce it doesn’t exist. Classic strawman.
“A god who is capable of sending intelligible signals to millions of people simultaneously, and of receiving messages from all of them simultaneously, cannot be, whatever else he might be, simple. Such Bandwidth!”
Big deal. Cisco routers do this routinely, it is called multicasting.
“The atheist view is correspondingly life-affirming and life-enhancing, while at the same time never being tainted with self-delusion, wishful thinking, or the whingeing self-pity of those who feel that life owes them something.”
I love it when an atheist defines atheism. Perhaps you don’t get the joke? Atheism is simply “not theism” and therefore cannot have a definition, or properties, of its own. The moment you start assigning properties to atheism, it has become just another “ism”, one of thousands!
I note also that most atheists are Democrats, the class of “life owes them something”. I find it amusing, almost ironic.

Bellator Deus
Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
August 18, 2015 9:29 am

A problem with natural selection being the causative factor for evolution is that natural selection is itself poorly defined. When defining natural selection as “survival of the fittest” that was removed from the “On the Origin of Species” in later editions. The reason is that “survival of the fittest” is a tautology, e.g. (a) why did a sub-species survive? It was the fittest. (b) How do we know it was the fittest? Because the sub-species survived. Natural selection has been poorly defined as not having a predictive factor, therefore it is a non-scientific term in the context of evolution.
Currently the best definition of evolution is: “Biological evolution is defined as the change in allele frequencies (where alleles are versions of the same gene that differ in their base sequence) within populations” (Freeman and Heron, 2004). This definition is the best current description of evolution. It is not however predictive, it is descriptive. Now it is inferred from that, that the best set of alleles within a population describes why sub-species within a species survive as the environment changes. And this is apparently true. However again this is a tautology, e.g. (a) how do we know a particular set of alleles is best? Because the sub-species survived. (b) Why did the sub-species survive? Because it had the best set of alleles.

Reply to  Bellator Deus
August 18, 2015 10:41 am

The Theory of Evolution is absolutely predictive. Examples abound. See the story of Xanthopan morganii praedicta.

Michael 2
Reply to  Bellator Deus
August 18, 2015 10:55 am

Bellator Deus writes many things. His point is unclear.
“(a) why did a sub-species survive? It was the fittest. (b) How do we know it was the fittest? Because the sub-species survived.”
Precisely. You seem to have some difficulty with this concept. It eliminates trying to find out exactly what about the species that made it fittest as a factor in observing that it must be fittest since it exists.
The concept is widely applicable. The fittest religion is the one that dominates a region. You can speculate as to why, or what makes it fittest, but you start with the observation itself.
Evolution requires two things: Variation at each generation, and a mechanism to select from those variations one to survive to the next generation. Speciation (evolution) is therefore greatest at times of environmental stress.

Reply to  Michael 2
August 18, 2015 11:03 am

“Evolution is greatest at times of environmental stress.”

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 18, 2015 5:39 pm

takebackthegreen, still arguing with a generalist, writes (in response to Michael 2’s claim: Evolution is greatest at times of environmental stress.) “No.”
I suggest for your reading pleasure this page:
“The punctuated, or rapid change periods, were presumably the result of major environmental changes in such things as predation pressure, food supply and climate. During these times, natural selection can favor varieties that were previously at a comparative disadvantage. The result can be an accelerated rate of change in gene pool frequencies in the direction of the varieties that become the most favored by the new environmental conditions. It would be expected that long severe droughts, major volcanic eruptions, and the beginning and ending of ice ages would be likely triggers for rapid evolution. In such stressful situations, populations would be expected to initially diminish and become isolated. Genetic drift would then potentially speed up the rate of evolution. If by chance nature favored successful adaptations, the population would again increase in numbers as a radically changed species.”
Supreme science for supreme (human) beings 😉

Reply to  Michael 2
August 18, 2015 6:46 pm

“Can be” ≠ “is.”

Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
August 19, 2015 7:51 am

takebackthegreen sez (August 17, 2015 at 4:13 pm):
“No. You are not being reasonable. You are willfully keeping yourself ignorant of the truth. The experimental, predictive, falsifiable truth.”
I don’t understand this response. I noted that I have not yet come across experimental, predictive, falsifiable truth, and I am told two things: one, that there is such evidence and so evolution is true, and two that it is unreasonable for me to hold this “experimental, predictive, falsifiable” criterion.
Pick one: am I being unreasonable, or scientific?

Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
August 19, 2015 10:17 am

There is an error in your question. I didn’t say you were unreasonable to use those criteria. I think you are admirable for it.
I said you are unreasonable to be “awaiting the scientific evidence: observable, repeatable, and in a form this is disprovable,” when staggering amounts of interdisciplinary, rigorously scientific evidence have been available for many years. It is unreasonable to refuse to consider it or even acknowledge its existence. (Note: From this point on, you can never claim to not have been told about it.)
You also deprive yourself of amazing stories. Brilliant scientists. Ingenious experiments. Fundamental discoveries.
All that–all the energy, all the time, all the mental gymnastics–just to remain uninformed about something that even the Pope himself–and therefore every Catholic on Earth–accepts and views as compatible with his/her mythology.
PS– As a young Missionary Baptist, I was taught that God considers Catholics to be drunken and idolatrous Mary worshippers who are all going to Heck. So… maybe not the most compelling example for my argument above. Just thought you might care more than I do about what the Pope thinks.

Michael 2
Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 19, 2015 6:02 pm

takebackthegreen “PS– As a young Missionary Baptist, I was taught that God considers Catholics to be drunken and idolatrous Mary worshippers who are all going to…”
I chuckle in fond memory of Walter Martin’s “Kingdom of Cults”. My own religion gets extra special treatment. I kinda miss him; since then rather a lot of fire-and-brimstone seems to have gone out of the Baptist religion. I mean, if you are going to believe something be committed to it.

August 17, 2015 4:15 am

I hope someone is keeping screen shots of some of the “better” (more egregious) global warming entries. Our descendants will scarcely believe that the same generation that rapidly advanced in so many areas of science went all delusional doomsday cult over CO2. History is so going to mock this nonsense, it could fill a museum.

Reply to  Notanist
August 17, 2015 4:18 am
The other Phil
Reply to  jones
August 17, 2015 1:17 pm

Somehow, I’m doubtful that the New York climate Museum is going to be filled with examples of the absurdiyt of some of the warmists.

Reply to  Notanist
August 17, 2015 2:19 pm

I just want you to know “Phil” that I do forgive you.
It really isn’t your fault.

August 17, 2015 4:24 am

Salt should always be available when dealing with Wikipedia , while Connolley and his sock puppets are still very much with us.

Reply to  knr
August 17, 2015 3:24 pm

Mind the dietary salt, however.
oh, wait – that scientific consensus just changed, didn’t it?

August 17, 2015 4:41 am

[…] Likens adds, “As society turns to Wikipedia for answers…

Society may be turning to Wikipedia for answers, but it is with an increasingly jaundiced eye.
Several different commenters in previous threads have mentioned that using Wikipedia is a no-no in most high schools and colleges nowadays, and using Wikipedia gets the student’s work a markdown or complete disqualification.

…students, educators, and citizens should understand its limitations when researching scientific topics that are politically charged.

So apparently, students and educators have understand its limitations for quite some time.

Reply to  H.R.
August 17, 2015 11:22 am

The problem is that most of those schools would not blink at a citation of Encyclopedia Britannica, yet, depending on the entry, Britannica contains some remarkably biased “information,”

The other Phil
Reply to  Duster
August 17, 2015 1:22 pm

Do you have any evidence that this is true? While a middle schooler might be allowed to use Encyclopaedia Britannica as is, I can imagine any self-respecting high school or college permitting its use. Most places counsel its use in the same way they counsel advice for Wikipedia. A good starting point never a good ending point. Do you have counterexamples?

Jim Berkise
Reply to  Duster
August 17, 2015 5:57 pm

Other Phil, back around 8:21 this morning I pointed out that way back in the 70s when I was in library school a physicist by the name of Harvey Einbinder wrote extensively about the politics affecting entries in the Britannica. I specifically cited “Politics and the new Britannica”, The Nation 220:11:342-4 (1975). I don’t have any current information, but back then the Britannica 3 article on Czechoslovakia was written by a professor at a university in what was still Warsaw Pact Czechoslovakia, and the article, covering up to around 1973, made no mention of the 1968 invasion. People doing this kind of information work professionally are taught never to count on a single source for anything more controversial than the boiling point of water at sea level.

The other Phil
Reply to  Duster
August 18, 2015 2:26 pm

Jim Berkise
I urge you to reread my question. I asked for examples of high schools or colleges permitting citations to Encyclopedia Britannica. I don’t see how your post responded to that question.

August 17, 2015 4:42 am

As a young man developing an interest in several sciences, I was cautioned to always ‘consider the source’ of any statement when deciding whether to accept it with reservations or to reject it. Behind any statement someone feels moved to utter (including my own) there is always a motive. Often motives are driven by someone’s ego, financial interest, or political affiliations. In these cases veracity becomes less important.
The difference between Logic and Rhetoric is that Logic seeks to establish a Truth regardless of what others believe; Rhetoric seeks to make people believe something regardless of whether it is True.
If we had a tool to reveal a writer’s motivation, we could be spared a lot of grief.

Reply to  tadchem
August 17, 2015 12:11 pm

There is a major problem with “Consider the source.”
People on both sides of an issue falsely rely on that maxim to discount opposing views and maintain their ignorance. “If the experiment was funded by Monsanto, it must be false.” “If the study was performed by UC Berkeley faculty, it is biased and wrong.”
It is better, although much more difficult, to teach people how to evaluate whether an experiment is well-constructed and valid or not, regardless of funding source.

Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 17, 2015 1:43 pm

takeback old soul,
You are right.
But that may be beyond middle-schoolers : –
“to teach people how to evaluate whether an experiment is well-constructed and valid or not, regardless of funding source” may need a pre-university level of education if it is to be done reasonably well – let alone reasonably honestly!
Thanks for your comment.

Reply to  Auto
August 17, 2015 2:02 pm


Reply to  takebackthegreen
August 17, 2015 3:29 pm

It would be better in public education to not teach specifics, such as “we are destroying our environment.”
It would be better to teach generalities of intellect.
Logic, and reason, and rhetoric: and how each is different from the other.
Debate. Scandal of ulterior motives, science of persuasion (Cialdini, etc.).

Michael 2
Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
August 17, 2015 5:18 pm

TheLastDemocrat writes “It would be better in public education to not teach specifics, such as “we are destroying our environment. It would be better to teach generalities of intellect.”
False dichotomy (IMO). Both are essential. One must possess tools, and one must possess something for the tools to work on, or no reason exists to possess the tools.
So what comes first? Another bad question. In my opinion, the way to approach Auto Mechanics is to go out to the shop, introduce the student to the tool and the object the tool works on at the same time.
Same with computer programming. It used to be programming “Hello world”. It was the first thing a person learned — tool and application concurrently.
Some students will memorize vast quantities of information without ever developing skill, or reason, to process that information. Others have excellent thinking ability but fail to put anything in there to think about.

August 17, 2015 4:49 am

Ironic that Wikipedia tends to show up near the top from the major search engines. Wasn’t Google going to “fix” their algorithm to show only “reliable” entries for things with “consensus,” like AGW? Does this mean they’ll have to bump Wikipedia down a few spots? \sarc

Reply to  Jeff
August 17, 2015 11:08 am

Google is part of the left wing echo chamber.
To them boosting Wikipedia’s placement on search results is a form showing only reliable entries.

The other Phil
Reply to  Jeff
August 17, 2015 1:25 pm

Actually, Google did recently refine their algorithm. There is some indication that Wikipedia hits are taking a hit. See

DC Cowboy
August 17, 2015 5:07 am

In other words, don’t trust wikipedia as an authoritative source of accurate information. The idea of presenting some form of information about the ‘edit rate’ for entries is potentially useful tho. It would give readers an idea of how potentially ‘reliable’ the information is. I would think that the higher the edit rate, the lower the value to the reliability of the information.
I lament the creep of use of the term ‘consensus science’ into the lexicon of Scientists. As far as I’m concerned the phrase ‘consensus science’ is a contradiction in terms nad has no place in scientific conversation. As soon as I hear the phrase, my estimation of the scientist that utters it retreats. Science is “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” I fail to see what part ‘consensus’ plays in that definition.

August 17, 2015 5:45 am

Ah, Wikipedia… home to such gems of knowledge as the Bicholim Conflict, the murderous intents of Gaius Flavius Antoninus, the Australian aboriginal deity Jar’Edo Wens, or the rise to fame of the hat-collecting maid from Cameroon, Peggy Parish.
What’s that? You haven’t heard of them? Well, this little collection represents some of the longest running Wikipedia hoaxes. The Peggy Parish edits were made by a couple of (in their own words) stoned sophomores after eating chicken from a drive-thru McDonalds one night. That hoax made its way into academic literature. The Bicholim Conflict was an elaborate 4500 word article that was a featured article at one stage in it’s five year existence before being deleted. Jar’Edo Wens survived over 9 years before being deleted.
Randall Munroe sums it up best:

August 17, 2015 5:54 am

Blast From The Past:
The Mpemba Effect. Hot water freezes faster than cold water.
The Wikipedia entry:
They claim that is a poorly understood phenomena.

Further investigations will need to decide on a precise definition of “freezing” and control a vast number of starting parameters in order to confirm or explain the effect.

The truth is simple, boil water, drive off gasses, freezing point goes up.
They take a guess at it.

Dissolved Gases: Cold water can contain more dissolved gases than hot water, which may somehow change the properties of the water with respect to convection currents, a proposition that has some experimental support but no theoretical explanation.[2]

Worse, look up reference [2], above. It is this!
American Journal of Physics 74 (6): 514
Actually there is a theoretical explanation, it is called Colligative Properties. In this case “freezing point depression” and “boiling point elevation”. Very well known to anybody who has used antifreeze in their car, observed how cold seawater must be to freeze, or taken a chemistry course.
In Fact: There is a Wikipedia entry on it!
Such Fun.

August 17, 2015 5:57 am

You can add Vaccination, Homeopathy as well to that list and anything on Israel.

Reply to  rosross
August 17, 2015 11:09 am

Pretty much any subject on which left wing dogma differs from reality.

Reply to  MarkW
August 18, 2015 12:14 am

So funny. Truth generally comes out and the world is not divided into this silliness of Rights and Lefts – a very American disease actually.

Dodgy Geezer
August 17, 2015 6:07 am

…Across the board, politically controversial scientific topics were edited more heavily and viewed more often….
Er… that’s what ‘contoversial’ MEANS!
@tadchem …If we had a tool to reveal a writer’s motivation, we could be spared a lot of grief….
We have. It’s called a brain, running an app called ‘critical faculty’. It’s a heuristic system, so it needs proper set-up and training, which can often take many years.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
August 17, 2015 8:00 am

Aka a BS meter.

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
August 17, 2015 9:09 am

Sadly Geezer, while most standard human operating systems come with a trial version of it pre-installed, today’s end users are mostly unaware of how much more efficient their processing would be if they upgraded to the full program and set it to auto run in the background every morning when they relaunch. *grin*
It blows my circuits that Critical Thinking courses are not a mandatory requirement in schools today.

Reply to  Aphan
August 17, 2015 10:18 pm

“Critical Thinking” does not mean what you think it does. And it is mandatory in most institutes of higher education, but like most vocabulary developed by Marxists, it is deliberately obfuscatory.

August 17, 2015 6:15 am

The scientists of the 1500s were just as sure of their geocentric cosmos as we are of “the standard model of physics”. To think even our “standard model” is the final, true word is simply to repeat their error. Some day (perhaps not in even my grandson’s lifetime) that will change.
I’d like to see on a wikipedia page something tracking the frequency of edits. I’d also like to see something archival: what it was changed from.
But absolutely nothing will ever remove the user’s burden of double-checking. Regular readers here see that, for climate science, even such august publications as Nature, Scientific American and National Geographic cannot be taken at face value.
And in pre-Internet days we used to say, “Ya can’t believe everything you read in the papers”. The e-version holds.

The other Phil
Reply to  mellyrn
August 17, 2015 1:34 pm

mellyrn, Those features already exist. For example if you go to the Wikipedia article on global warming, click on view history, you’ll be brought to this page:
That’s a list of the most recent 50 versions of the article. Click on the number 500 to see the 500 most recent, click on older to see older versions. Click on the radio buttons to see the changes between any two versions.
This also the frequency tool although it is not working at the moment.

August 17, 2015 6:23 am

Wikipedia is only taken seriously by computer illiterates who do not comprehend that anything on it can be edited at anytime by anyone with an Internet connection. It is the most unreliable source on the Internet but apparently no amount of facts and education will ever stop it from being the go to source for morons.

The other Phil
Reply to  Poptech
August 17, 2015 1:37 pm

I wasn’t sure whether this was true but you put it in bold so I guess it must be true.

Reply to  The other Phil
August 17, 2015 6:24 pm

I don’t know how to post in bold … you’ll never be able to trust anything I say.

Reply to  The other Phil
August 18, 2015 12:22 am

How Wikipedia works is not a debatable subject.

Reply to  The other Phil
August 18, 2015 6:10 am

Anyone can learn to post in bold on WUWT. Check the “test” page on the top nav bar.
Where’s a good quote page at Wikipedia? I want to add “Wikipedia works – Poptech.”

Reply to  The other Phil
August 18, 2015 1:23 pm

I am not surprised Ric is a dishonest Wikipedia shill.

Reply to  The other Phil
August 20, 2015 2:01 pm

You can believe me now

August 17, 2015 6:34 am

I think most people know that Wikipedia is, at best, a layman’s land. I use it all the time – to look up rock bands from the 70s, to find out who played in Super Bowl IV, when did so-and-so die, stuff like that. As for anything beyond that? Forgetaboutit. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people laughed off forums for using Wiki as a resource.

Reply to  Gary
August 17, 2015 10:26 pm
Gary Pearse
August 17, 2015 6:50 am

Of course the famous Dr. Likens is using that apparently most common of psychological distortions ‘transference’. He of course means the consensus guys are the good guys and sceptics are the guys ruining wikipedia. Wikipedia was doomed from the start when basically anyone could edit ‘controversial’ stuff. It is an invitation to bullies and miscreants to control the discussion. Likens would argue that it was sceptics in this role, but the resources, numbers, political support and perceived peerlessness of the consensus made it no contest.
The gatekeeper Wikipedia administrator Connolley made, IIRC, over 4000 edits of global warming (doesn’t this guy have a job) and with international attention to his zeal, he was removed as an administrator who routinely violated his privileged position to ‘settle’ disputed edits and he was limited to one edit a day. Is this guy that indispensable to the science, truth and the dictionary that he wasn’t barred entirely. It’s not as if he couldn’t be replaced by one of hundreds of zealots. He could even set up a committee to do the editing and then appoint a friend to make the edits he wanted. If there is a paper trail, I’m sure that this is what happened – narcissistic OCD types who don’t “suffer fools gladly” don’t give in that easily. His Wikipedia entry is very kind to him, mentions the controversy but mentions the ‘suffering fools’ cliche as an antacid.
Likens would have made a contribution, perhaps if he had mentioned this world record-breaking editor in his study – nearly all the surviving edits are most likely WC’s.

August 17, 2015 7:17 am

I studied Geology in the 90’s and Economics over the past few years, both thankfully at an Australian University that still holds high the basic tenets of scientific endeavour.
At no stage was reference to ANYTHING like Wikipedia acceptable.
This is why.
What’s that saying? “When I want to make up something, I write it on Wikipedia.” Haha

Jeff Alberts
August 17, 2015 7:24 am

I treat Wikipedia kinda like the History Channel, back when they showed stuff other than Ice Road Morons, and their ilk. Generally the article you’re viewing may be true, but the details are often wrong.
I’m reminded of a particular HC program where one “expert” said that a 688 Attack Sub weighed 6900 pounds. Sure, he mis-spoke, but no one during the interview, or in the editing room, noticed anything wrong with an attack sub that weighed little more than a pickup truck.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 17, 2015 8:11 am

now I am curious and don’t trust wikipedia to check it lol
what is displacement (not weight) supposed to be, maybe 6900 tons ?

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  dmacleo
August 17, 2015 6:59 pm

I don’t know what it is, but it’s certainly not 6900 pounds. And yes, the “expert” said weight, not displacement. Gotta love experts.

Michael 2
Reply to  dmacleo
August 19, 2015 9:24 pm

“usually the displacement is the weight of the boat and the weight of everything in the boat while you are sailing. This includes people, food, beer, rig, etc.”
Pretty close to the same thing especially for a submarine.

August 17, 2015 7:44 am

I encourage people to never use Wikipedia as a primary source. I also encourage them to put the a “No Wikipedia” logo on their blogs. You can find the “No Wikipedia” logo in various sizes here…

Reply to  tommoriarty
August 17, 2015 7:54 am

+ 100

August 17, 2015 8:09 am

you often can learn a lot from the talk/edit pages and sometimes its more informative than the article itself.

Jim Berkise
August 17, 2015 8:21 am

There’s nothing fundamentally new about this problem; way back in the “late print era” a physicist by the name of Harvey Einbinder wrote a book and several articles pointing out primarily political influences on the content of the Encyclopedia Britannica. After reading his “Politics and the new Britannica”, The Nation 220:11:342-4 (1975) I tried following up on one of the problems with the Britannica editorial policy he described; The main article on Czechoslovakia in the Britannica 3 current in the mid seventies was written by a professor at a university in Brno, and a person reading it would find no hint that the Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968 had ever happened.

Reply to  Jim Berkise
August 17, 2015 11:03 am

And that is why Wikipedia is nearly as reliable as Britannica. No encyclopedia should be employed as a primary source.

Jim Berkise
Reply to  Duster
August 17, 2015 3:10 pm

And no single source should be counted on to be reliable. There’s a joke in the library profession to the effect that a reference librarian answers a question by citing two reliable sources that disagree, and then helps the client understand why they disagree.

August 17, 2015 8:57 am

The last time that I looked up a climate related issue on wikipedia, I discovered that a graph was presented showing rising insurance payout costs for weather related events.
To the mind of an uninformed or ideologically motivated person, that graph may look like proof of a violent shift in the world’s climate.
However to a non-ideologically motivated person with three or more connected neurons it should immediately raise the questions – Is this graph adjusted for inflation/GDP? Does this graph reflect the increase in insured value of property? What do graphs for insurance payouts for non-weather related events look like? etc etc.
Obviously, presenting such a graph without mentioning these issues is sheer sleight of hand. Or perhaps sheer stupidity. Later I discovered that Pielke Jr had had his trousers shredded by the warmist/leftist attack dogs for attempting to draw attention to the more obvious and sensible interpretation of such graphs.
Consequently my faith in wikipedia on climate issue is now zero.
I wasn’t born yesterday and I know bullcrap when I see it.

The other Phil
Reply to  indefatigablefrog
August 17, 2015 1:44 pm

Let’s see if I understand your rationale. There are almost 5 million articles on Wikipedia and you think almost every one of them is completely worthless because you found one item, interestingly, a factual one, but one that could lead to an incorrect inference. Therefore everything else is wrong. Do you apply this syllogism to any other source of information?

Reply to  The other Phil
August 17, 2015 1:58 pm

Nope, I did not say that every article is worthless. I did clearly state that my faith “on climate issues” has been harmed. I use wikipedia all the time for a variety of purposes. I have no complaint about the otherwise generally fair and unbiased description of topics and current debates in many areas of science. But, the experience described above and several others have lead me to conclude that it can in certain politically sensitive areas be hijacked and used as a tool for the dissemination of one exclusive agenda.
Even when that purpose is achieved by presenting misleading information.

Reply to  The other Phil
August 17, 2015 4:23 pm

So, Frog, you think everything that TheotherPhil says is untrue? He’s said millions of things and you base your assessment on one comment? Do you every apply your syllogisms to yourself?

The other Phil
Reply to  The other Phil
August 17, 2015 4:29 pm

Fair enough, I read the “faith in Wikipedia” sentence to quickly and missed the climate issue reference. I agree that all articles in Wikipedia on climate issues ought to be viewed very skeptically. But I think that rule applies to articles in the New York Times, CNN, and even in refereed journals. Wikipedia articles are worse than some and better than others.

Reply to  The other Phil
August 18, 2015 12:27 am

They are all effectively worthless because the website is completely unreliable. Wikipedia is broken by design and nothing more than “truth” based on who edits last.

August 17, 2015 10:20 am

Yep, they consider editing REAL FACTS and SCIENCE into these entries to be sabotage. Connelly specifically was sitting on the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period entries, which he wanted to say that human activities caused these climate changes. Any intrusion of real world facts or alternative, more likely explanations were immediately reversed by him. Trolls sit on every subject related to this political agenda-based climate change scam.

August 17, 2015 11:46 am

Standard model in physics is a very controversial subject.
Which shows that even the critics of Wikipedia are dogmatic and narrow-minded when it comes to the textbooks they believe. I never use Wikipedia, it’s a bad joke for neurotics.

August 17, 2015 12:34 pm

I find Wikipedia indispensably useful when trying to research and explain the differences between, say, Supergirl, Power Girl, and Super Girl; and discussing why any version of the former appearing on CBS this coming season will be unlikely to appear on CW’s “Arrow” even though Power Girl and GREEN Arrow *have* appeared together in other media.
I think. I could be remembering wrong. I’ll have to check. As I say, Wikipedia, the “go to” source for such questions.

August 17, 2015 1:29 pm

You can find a list of episodes for all the Leave it to Beaver shows.
Other than that, Wikipedia is a left-wing biased majority-rules database.
— Why would anyone waste their time there?
Many years ago I volunteered to share my 40 years of experience as an audiophile to correct ridiculous statements made about audiophiles there … and had my very reasonable, logical words deleted before the day was over.
If Wikipedia is really the favorite website for students, our economy is doomed !

Michael 2
Reply to  Richard Greene
August 17, 2015 5:35 pm

Richard Greene “Why would anyone waste their time there?”
Why would anyone try to explain? Those that do, do; those that don’t, don’t. I use it quite a lot. It is particularly effective in mathematics and electronics; fields that don’t have much controversy. It is a bit less useful for history and pretty much useless for climate science.
“Many years ago I volunteered to share my 40 years of experience as an audiophile to correct ridiculous statements made about audiophiles there … and had my very reasonable, logical words deleted before the day was over.”
I’ve had similar experiences. Personal experiences don’t count unless you (1) write up a blog page and then (2) cite the blog page. Maybe then it will “stick”.
Otherwise, write your blog page and let people come to it, which they will if they are seriously searching for the kind of information you have.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Michael 2
August 20, 2015 2:14 pm

I had to check Wiki to see what audiophile means.

August 17, 2015 4:28 pm

Wankerpedia is useless for serious research. You may realize it’s been warped in matters of climate science and a few other areas, but you never know which additional subjects may have been tampered with. Try to find the communist roots of the Jamestown Colony. “Let those who do not work not eat” has gone down the memory hole. People who lie about one thing will lie about others. The delusion lies in the very nature of the wiki concept.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
August 20, 2015 2:12 pm

Great idea, but not going to work for a particularly amoral age.

August 17, 2015 4:54 pm

A year or so ago a Wikipedia search of Arrhenius would have brought up his greenhouse effect predictions, along with some more of his more outlandish ones such as farming in Siberia, crops in the Arctic, ect, but now those mysteriously are missing.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  jl
August 17, 2015 7:11 pm

You should see a doctor about that. 😉

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 18, 2015 5:27 pm


Chuck Bradley
August 17, 2015 10:33 pm

You have to be careful of even basic information in Wikipedia, although I agree that most of it is correct. Many years ago, I noticed the article on Heapsort had been vandalized by changing an algorithm that worked to one that worked only about 99.999% of the time.
It can be hard to find the truth about a controversial subject, but it is easy to find a view that is wrong by checking the history of changes. The side that tries to pretend there is no serious controversy is almost always wrong on the facts as well.

August 18, 2015 3:56 am

“Wikipedia’s global warming entry sees 2-3 edits a day, with more than 100 words altered”
Sounds like “settled science” to me.

August 18, 2015 9:40 am

Do they burn books in Millbrooke also? Shameful

Reply to  Resourceguy
August 18, 2015 9:40 am


Jean Demesure
August 18, 2015 10:11 am

Gene E. Likens is the same acid-rain-is-killing-us doctor who accuses acid rain of making rivers and streams more… alkaline :
You can’t make this kind of stuff up. With a professionnal alarmist, head he wins, tail you lose.

Danley Wolfe
August 21, 2015 3:24 pm

While Connelley was editor / moderator on Wikipedia / global warming he had a relentless attack on Roger Pielke Sr’s page which was in fact benign. An editing war took [place] for years over the term “nuanced” as used in the phrase “…Pielke holds a nuanced view on climate change…” this went on and on and on and on with changes made/ deleted and made/deleted etc. etc. Connelley was unprofessional and professionally disfigured people trying to make edits typically in the form of character assassinations

August 30, 2015 7:11 am

Call me naïve. I expected that with electronic storage prices falling, scanners, OCR, and an abundance of cheap,otherwise unemployed labor, that old articles would rapidly be added to the on-line, ixquickable archives. But, instead a lot of material,especially “controversial” material disappears.

August 31, 2015 1:55 pm

As someone who got banned from Wikipedia over trying to keep Scienceapologist there in check (and saw first hand in how politics and science don’t mix at all), I will attest that Wikipedia is a medium used to push agendas.
It’s not just in Climatology, it’s other fields that can’t prove with hard evidence A/B/C that allows a lot of wiggle room for “facts” (with me it was about Scienceapologist trying to remove the Intrinsic Redshift article). Climatology is one of those fields with too much wiggle room, but being protected by special interests so their articles are write protected even.
It’s a war of ideas there, and one side wants to simply censor data, not share and fact check, instead. -_-

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights