Lawrence Solomon – he of the imaginary legion of top scientists who deny climate change – has launched an attack on the credibility of Wikipedia, complaining especially that Wiki has the temerity to acknowledge climate change and to censor unfounded counter arguments.
Unfortunately, Solomon pegs his own case to the reputation of the notoriously unreliable Benny Peiser, leaving the Wiki editors looking admirably clever.
Solomon’s principal complaint appears to be that while Wiki’s climate change entry offers a reference to Naomi Oreskes landmark Science article (Beyond the Ivory Tower: the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change), it doesn’t accord any attention to the contrarian “research” put forth by Peiser.
Apparently, Wiki explained to Solomon that Peiser’s work was rubbish – that he “not only had been discredited but had grudgingly conceded Oreskes was right.”
Solomon snorts: “I checked with Peiser, who said he had done no such thing.”
Well, what Peiser says on a particular day appears to be a moving target. But had Larry spent five minutes on Google, he may have discovered this: Peiser admits he was 97% wrong, an excellent roundup of Benny’s bungling, courtesy of the rather more thorough Tim Lambert over at Deltoid.
Solomon’s argument that Wiki shouldn’t be edited seems to boil down to a complaint that he, personally, doesn’t like what he reads, complaining further about Wiki’s posts on issues such as Roe vs Wade and Intelligent Design. He concludes: “Wikipedia is the people’s encyclopedia only if those people are not conservatives.”
Well, I am sure that if he looked up “conservative” – in any publication – he would not find a definition that demanded obeisance to fictional scientific concepts. It’s true that Wiki dismisses Intelligent Design, saying: “No articles supporting intelligent design have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, nor has intelligent design been the subject of scientific research or testing.”
But the Encyclopedia Britannica (hardly famous for left-wing radicalism) takes a pretty similar line, ripping apart the thin fabric of “Intelligent” logic and concluding: “intelligent design appeared incapable of generating a scientific research program, which inevitably broadened the gap between it and the established norms of science.”
One other point: Solomon also complains that Wiki is impolite about Fred Singer (PLE-E-E-E-EASE see “No apology is owed Dr. S Fred Singer and none will be forthcoming” for background on THAT scoundrel ). Well, I don’t know if Singer believes in Martians – or if Wiki ever said as much – but “kook” is entirely too nice a word to describe the man. And again, the editors at Wikipedia deserve credit – and a little gratitude – for keeping “a hack in the pay of the oil industry” out of a serious argument about climate science.
Wikipedia is an open-access information source – and by all the evidence, a damn good one. Sure, it gets hammered occasionally when agenda-driven fiction writers like Solomon try to bend the truth to their ideological beliefs, but all in all, we might all be pleased that editors like William Connolley are standing at the gate, deciding, quite correctly, that, “Peisers crap shouldn’t be in here.”