Monday, December 28, 2009

Beware the Jabberwock Wikipedia, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Connolley took control of all things climate in the most used information source the world has ever known – Wikipedia. Starting in February 2003, just when opposition to the claims of the band members were beginning to gel, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. He rewrote Wikipedia’s articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug.11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world’s most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period.
I've been meaning to post about this for a bit. The ClimateGate emails have exposed Wikipedia as being entirely unreliable regarding climate change. Entirely. Anthony Watts has been all over this for a while, but the situation is essentially a politically motivated editor at Wikipedia rewrote history via thousands of Wikipedia articles. The Wikipedia "system" broke down, as corrections to these articles were blocked, and the people correcting them were banned from Wikipedia.

Computer Security folks look at "Resource Poisoning" attacks as some of the most interesting - if you can convince a critical mass of users that something is untrustworthy, it will collapse.

Wikipedia has suffered a massive and public failure of transparency. The only question is which other bits of Wikipedia are as untrustworthy?

Via TJIC, who offers some insight into how the system is gamed to produce a certain result.


kahr40 said...

As with so many other things: shit in, shit out.

Anonymous said...

What? You mean a dictionary that can be altered by anybody can lie to me?!?! Say it ain't true!

I like your blog. Keep up the good and interesting work.

Anonymous said...

Here is Wikipedia's response to my concerns about the Connelly issue and my reluctance to give them money:

Thank you for raising your concerns on this issue. I am sorry to hear that this is affecting your plans to donate to Wikimedia and hope you will take this message into consideration.

All Wikipedia content is determined by a consensus of Wikipedia users involved in the article's development, and not by any single user. The site takes no political position on disputed issues, and encourages users with a diversity of viewpoints to contribute to a work that best reflects the knowledge available on a topic. This model produces some very high-quality work, as you may see by looking at some of our Featured Articles at .

However, when a particular topic is the subject of heated debate in the wider world, an article may be unstable or fail to reflect that quality standard, as users with particular viewpoints all attempt to incorporate their knowledge. Coming to a consensus version that best represents the unbiased truth is a difficult process, which may take some time and suffer setbacks along the way.

Currently, the English Wikipedia has over 1500 "administrators", volunteer users with access to some advanced site functions. All of these users have equal authority and are responsible for overseeing each other's work; their privileges may be revoked for certain violations of site policy. Several months ago, Dr. Connolley had his administrative privileges revoked by the site's Arbitration Committee for violations of policies regarding dispute resolution.

If you feel that there are factual or other issues with an article on climate science (or any other topic), you are encouraged to raise these with other editors on the discussion page, to cite supporting sources, and to present your concerns in a calm and reasoned way. If, despite following editorial norms, you are met by an unreasonable response that is unresolved by discussion, then editorial dispute resolution provides a wide range of approaches to help ().

I hope this is of help, and best wishes for the new year.

Yours sincerely,
Kate [last name withheld]

NotClauswitz said...

Wikipedia lies. Consensus is not the goal they seem to suggest is required.

Anonymous said...

Take wikipedia with a great big grain of salt!

I wonder how we will look back on this whole affair in ten, twenty years. We'll probably wonder how so many people could have been so gullible.


Eagle said...

I suppose it's time to change the entry on "Earth" from "MOSTLY harmless" to "inane ape descendants".

Anonymous said...

Interesting... this reminds me of a George Orwell book where history is rewritten.

I can't say I trust them.

TOTWTYTR said...

Wikipedia has long been known to be liberally biased. During President Bush's administration articles were routinely edited to show him in the worst light. After that was revealed Wikipedia promised to make editing harder to do and do more reviews.

I use it for non critical things like biographies of artists, stories about movies, researching the dates of historical event.

I don't use it for critical facts or political disagreements.

Nor do I donate to them, as their founder seems to want.