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Dr. dino
The controversiality of Wikipedia
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The burden of Sisyphus 


Creationism versus Wikipedia
Dr. dino


[The subject of creation],  [“Some considerations or The fraud of the century” (an essay)],  [The controversiality of Wikipedia],  [L. Ron Hubbard on the theory of evolution],  [Appreciations received],  [Christian friendly advertisements]

  
        
“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.”
        
    Proverbs 22:3  

This has been extracted from a more extensive Wikipedia overview that I had put together. Obviously there is a correlation between the Wikipedia going about's and that topic Creation(ism). For various reasons one should not take Wikipedia too serious. The main arguments are being folded out here.

 
Index:

     The phenomena known as ‘Wikipedia’
             - A general overview
        (Includes:  A summary; The vandalization problem; The ‘no guarantee of validity’ situation; The use of warning banners in Wikipedia; The Wikipedia courthouse, the ‘three-revert rule’ (getting outvoted) & tracking edits)
      - ‘Original research’ versus ‘authorities’  or  Wikipedia's questionable foundation
             (Includes:  Core content policies: ‘No original research’, ‘Verifiability’ and ‘Neutral point of view’;  A widely accepted standard: ‘Consensus’)
  How are controversial subjects dealt with on Wikipedia?
      - ‘September 11, 2001 attacks’
- ‘Creationism’
  The Swedish episode (my experiences editing on the Swedish Wiki)  (on different page)
 
Dr. Kent Hovind versus Wikipedia
  Fighting against injustices in the Wikipedia establishment  (on separate page)
   
     Dr. Kent Hovind versus Judge Margaret Catharine Rodgers (Wikipedia angle)
The situation in brief;  Judge Margaret Catharine “Casey” Rodgers;  When ‘Mr. Lankford’ was editing Wikipedia article “Margaret Catharine Rodgers” ... (May 2015) (Includes: 1) About user ‘BiologicalMe’ that reverted the edit of ‘Mr. Lankford’ 6½ hours later ...; 2) About administrator ‘HJ Mitchell’ that indefinitely banned ‘Mr. Lankford’ 30½ hours after he had made the edit ...);  User ‘LoneStar1776’ and ‘Wickedpedia’ (Includes comments on multiple accounts/sock puppetry);  Things to consider ... (Includes: 1) Wikipedia protecting (covering up for) official or federal government figures and supporting (promoting) a particular worldview?; 2) Is selectively making previous edits inaccessible for consultation an indication of premeditated cover-ups?;  Aftermath
Wikipedia article ‘Kent Hovind’
Action taken by Dr. Hovind against Wikipedia and RationalWiki (March-Apr 2015);  A “proposed deletion of the article” (A voting contest or a discussion?; Misinterpretations and signs of a flawed system; Indefinitely banned for giving an opinion? (administrator ‘JzG’) (Includes:  Reason: “Clearly not here to contribute to the encyclopedia”; Reason: “Abusing multiple accounts” (“Legal threat”; “Meatpuppetry”; General nature of people encountered on Wikipedia)); Suspicious behaviour by (anonymous) administrator ‘JzG’); Aftermath



 
Back to Main Index The phenomena known as ‘Wikipedia’

A general overview
    - A summary
- The vandalization problem
- The ‘no guarantee of validity’ situation
- The use of warning banners in Wikipedia
- The Wikipedia courthouse, the ‘three-revert rule’ (getting outvoted) & tracking edits
‘Original research’ versus ‘authorities’  or  Wikipedia's questionable foundation 
              - Core content policies: ‘No original research’, ‘Verifiability’ and ‘Neutral point of view’
- A widely accepted standard: ‘Consensus’

 
Go back A general overview

 
Go back
A summary

A medium such as Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) and all its offshoots do add a very interesting twist to the information that is found on the Internet. Wikipedia has ‘earned’ credibility solely because of its popularity and the fact that in many searches with for example Internet search machines such as Google, Yahoo, Ask, etc. may present hits with Wikipedia first. The question is if this credibility is rightfully earned.
Wikipedia promotes itself as an open content encyclopaedia of some sort,but a kind in Sisyphuswhich any person –be it a fool or a literate– can contribute, write and actually alter information in virtually any article. And these edits you can get published instantly on Wikipedia. So, nothing that you will ever write on Wikipedia will be safe. You will have to monitor in eternity. On top of that you can even be anonymous. Well, how does that sound for an encyclopaedia? When in a real encyclopaedia it would be a requirement to be actually merited (having a proven expertise) before being allowed to contribute.
It has also been found that various individuals purposely seek to manipulate the flow of information for propagandistic reasons. Various outsets and uses for personal agenda's are effectively touched in the article “Political tricksters fouling up Web site” published on deseretnews.com on Saturday, 29 Apr 2006 (consult article here, pop-up window).

Probably in general the medium is fairly reliable, however controversial topics like religious and political issues. These should be subject to serious scrutiny. See, you can add even work together with other people and add twists to the information found on Wikipedia. It has been found that routinely various individuals monitor particular pages.

It can not be denied that Wikipedia and the likes are interesting initiatives. Because any ordinary person can contribute, information will be written down that otherwise may never have been transformed to text in some orderly and searchable format.
On the other hand you will encounter the problem that when you enter some information on Wikipedia that although the information would be correct and fully verified. Then it may still get persistently rejected by individuals if it would go against the general agreements that people have. For that reason topics that are subject to strongly opposite views and interpretations can turn very chaotic indeed.
Then if you would decide to get involved with editing/writing on Wikipedia you also have to live with the worry that any person at any time may be vandalizing your contributions. Indeed these are not very comforting premises to work in! I just fail to see that serious established and researches would be willing to spend much time on such a medium.

Information and various viewpoints can also be found in this discussion group:
     ‘The Wikipedia Review’
(external link) (last checked: 17 Apr 2015).
Then there is another site that examines the phenomena and its consequences:
     ‘Wikipediocracy’ (external link) (last checked: 17 Apr 2015).

 
Go back
The vandalization problem

A rather huge problem would be that you will not ever know for sure if you are consulting a vandalized article at the very moment that you are consulting it! The claim may very well be that vandalism gets corrected in some minutes or so, but may be already too long. Either way you can never, never, never be completely sure about the correctness of what you are reading on Wikipedia as you may be consulting a vandalized article prior to correction.
Take as an example this article here (external link) that had changed 2.5% into 25%. It took 1 hour 14 minutes to get it corrected. If you were consulting in this interim you would have been fed with false information.
A problem is though also that the vandals are many. This in essence denotes Wikipedia as an outright unreliable source of information.

You see, a true encyclopaedia does not and can not change information just like that in an instant (at a whim even) by some anonymous and usually unmerited individual! Alterations/improvements have to be looked upon by various prior to implementation. Any and all of these verification lines prior to publication are gloriously skipped in Wikipedia. This Wikipedia instead is about correcting after the fact. The effects of this can be quite hazardous.

 
Go back
The ‘no guarantee of validity’ situation

It would seem that Wikipedia itself is aware of some the problems, as it will not give you guarantees. This is made quite clear in their own General Disclaimer: “WIKIPEDIA MAKES NO GUARANTEE OF VALIDITY”. The article on it can be consulted here (external link) (last checked: 10 Apr 2013). It does provide for amongst other the following statements:
        
“Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here.”
        
And:
        
“None of the contributors, sponsors, administrators, or anyone else connected with Wikipedia in any way whatsoever can be responsible for the appearance of any inaccurate or libelous information or for your use of the information contained in or linked from these web pages.”
        
No guarantees and no one takes responsibility. This may suffice as a warning!

 
Go back
The use of warning banners in Wikipedia

You can come across all sort of signs (banners) on Wikipedia in where one becomes aware of the subjectivity and unreliability in particular sensitive/controversial articles. There is:
Wikipedia banner:  Controversial topic under dispute

The Wikipedia articles themselves also may have such a banner informing the visitors of a particular article about some situation. You may come across this:
Wikipedia banner:  Accuracy disputed

And you may also come across this one:
Wikipedia banner:  Article locked because of vandalism

 
Go back
The Wikipedia courthouse, the ‘three-revert rule’ (getting outvoted) & tracking edits

Being an editor/writer on Wikipedia may turn a very frustrating business, as you may end up spending most of your time reverting and battling/arguing with opponents. However if you have to fight against the general opinion you are likely to get outvoted. Another huge setback of the Wikipedia set up as you can factually get outvoted! You see, they have this three-revert rule. It means that you have 3 chances to revert an edit, if you do more then you will get an 24-hour ban. If you persist after that the ban may turn more permanent. Technically thus you will get outvoted if you are alone and have at least 2 persons that you are up against.

Wikipedia has a whole system (a jungle basically) of guidelines, boards, ruling commissions, appeal, and so on. If you are getting caught up in disagreements with opponents and issues that need settling you can assemble a jury of some sort to come to some kind of solution or ruling, or you may request for the interference of such an Administrator. It all functions pretty much as some sort of courthouse. The question is if one actually wants to get involved in all that. It doesn't really matter though if such a justice sort of system intelligently has been put together. If you have few people that excel in good judgment you will either way not get very far in resolving quarrels! Generally it is rather easy to become such an Administrator. You just be active for a while cleaning up vandalism, then you get some people in favour of you, and then you can get voted. It is that easy. My experience has been that if you edit in more controversial sort of article, that you may find yourself 90% of the time battling with opponents.

The Wikipedia edit database. Interesting is that any previous version or edit is accessible in the database of Wikipedia. You just go to to the ‘history page’ (each article on Wikipedia has such, the link is somewhere at the top on each Wikipedia article). Here now you can in the greatest detail see what edit was made, who performed it, when it was done, and often a short note what the edit was about. This in essence means that you can track anything that ever was written on Wikipedia. If the editor was unregistered it will instead identify the user by its IP.

 
Go back ‘Original research’ versus ‘authorities’  or  Wikipedia's questionable foundation

(all quotations in the below from Wikipedia are of 3 August 2008, if not mentioned otherwise)

 
Go back Core content policies: ‘No original research’, ‘Verifiability’ and ‘Neutral point of view’

Now, Wikipedia names as its cornerstone pillars (“core content policies”):
      ►  No original research (link to article) (all external links)      
  Verifiability  (link to article)  
  Neutral point of view  (link to article)  
Each of these articles do also point out:
        
“Jointly, these policies determine the type and quality of material that is acceptable in Wikipedia articles. They should not be interpreted in isolation from one another, and editors should familiarize themselves with all three.”
        

I received the following response on some talk page on Wikipedia’: “We have to go with what the verifiable, reliable sources say, whether or not its accurate. That's Wikipedia policy.”. This sort of adds an interesting twist in regards to turning Wikipedia into an objective and for all reliable encyclopaedia. So, what is the actual status quo on this?


a) No original research

A usual argument exercised for this is the Wikipedia rule ‘No original research’ that says:
        
“Wikipedia does not publish original research or original thought. This includes unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position. This means that Wikipedia is not the place to publish your own opinions, experiences, or arguments.”
        
It continues with saying:
        
“Citing sources and avoiding original research are inextricably linked: to demonstrate that you are not presenting original research, you must cite reliable sources that provide information directly related to the topic of the article, and that directly support the information as it is presented.”
        
In the section ‘Reliable sources’ in the article it states further:
        
“‘Original research’ is material for which no reliable source can be found. A reliable published source that supports the material in the article is the only demonstration that the material is not original research. Even with well-sourced material, however, using it out of context or to advance a position not directly and explicitly supported by the source is original research”
        
Reliable sources being:
        
“In general the most reliable sources are peer-reviewed journals and books published in university presses; university-level textbooks; magazines, journals, and books published by respected publishing houses; and mainstream newspapers. As a rule of thumb, the more people engaged in checking facts, analyzing legal issues, and scrutinizing the writing, the more reliable the publication.”
        
Then pointing out:
        
“Material that is self-published, whether on paper or online, is generally not regarded as reliable”
        
The rule promoted:
        
“Wikipedia articles should rely on reliable, published secondary sources. All interpretive claims, analyses, or synthetic claims about primary sources must be referenced to a secondary source”
        


b) Verifiability

As found phrased in the respective Wikipedia article:
        
“The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—that is, whether readers are able to check that material added to Wikipedia already has been published by a reliable source, not whether we think it is true.”
        
The ‘No Original Research’ article adds the following comment:
        
“This policy and the verifiability policy reinforce each other by requiring that only assertions, theories, opinions, and arguments that have already been published in a reliable source may be used in Wikipedia.”
        


c) Neutral point of view

These 3 points are found in the respective Wikipedia article, the introduction phrase however is how it appears in the article ‘No Original Research’:
        
“The inclusion of a view that is held only by a tiny minority may constitute original research. Jimbo Wales has said of this:
        
        
If your viewpoint is in the majority, then it should be easy to substantiate it with reference to commonly accepted reference texts;
        
 
If your viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents;
 
 
If your viewpoint is held by an extremely small minority, then — whether it's true or not, whether you can prove it or not — it doesn't belong in Wikipedia, except perhaps in some ancillary article. Wikipedia is not the place for original research.”
 
Jimmy Wales (nicknamed ‘Jimbo’) is the founder of Wikipedia. Per this it could be perceived that Wikipedia may have been created with the intent to distribute false information and this with permission. After all the rule ruthlessly exercised is “whether it's true or not, whether you can prove it or not — it doesn't belong in Wikipedia”! With this it adjusts itself to commonly accepted opinion, sort of to majority vote. All that what is required to get something implemented and accepted in Wikipedia is to get it referred to or mentioned in some sort of reputed reliable source. This reliable source can be dead wrong, nonetheless this is the only material you are allowed to use!
What follows here is that you only have to see to it that accordingly all criticism towards the thus far accepted/established standard does not get accepted/approved for publication in “peer-reviewed journals and books published in university presses; university-level textbooks; magazines, journals, and books published by respected publishing houses”. All what is left then is “mainstream newspapers”. Thus if you control the textbooks and also the media you will have it made, now you can actually start poisoning the planet with misinformation! We may have to start realizing that in fact the Wikipedia concept actively supports and promotes such a scenario by its own rules!

 
Go back A widely accepted standard: ‘Consensus’

In addition there is also this thing referred to as Consensus (article, external link) that says about this:
        
This page documents an official English Wikipedia policy, a widely accepted standard that all users should follow. When editing this page, please ensure that your revision reflects consensus.”.
        
Reaching a consensus is obviously considered a vital ingredient on Wikipedia:
        
“Developing consensus requires special attention to neutrality - remaining neutral in our actions in an effort to reach a compromise that everyone can agree on.”
        

The ultimate outcome of such would still be a general agreement amongst Wikipedia members/editors, rather than correctness. Question is if an encyclopaedia (worthy of that name) should be composed of or be subjected to such submissions.

Go to index

 
Back to Main Index How are controversial subjects dealt with on Wikipedia?

I picked 2 very different issues as examples which nonetheless both are considered controversial. The overtone however that is present in the treatment of the subjects addressed in these articles does go into one particular direction as if the arguments had been settled already. The question is in how far this approach affects the objectivity. Objective approach would be concerned about to not at forehand decide anything for the reader. As in you present the information, reference material, sources, provide for various options, and then let the reader decide upon this.

 
Go back ‘September 11, 2001 attacks’

Main 9/11 article:  ‘September 11, 2001 attacks’  (article, external link) 
9/11 conspiracy theories article:  ‘9/11 conspiracy theories’  (article, external link)

Indeed these September 11, 2001 attacks (often referred to as 9/11 or twin tower incident) are considered highly controversial. The reason why I bring it up here is solely to examine how these happenings have been dealt with on Wikipedia. Is it objective? Have all angles involved with this received appropriate attention? And so on ...

It could be divided in 2 fields. We have the official government supported version and we have the one that is usually referred to as the conspiracy version. We find that the main 9/11 article on Wikipedia primarily focuses on and factually adopts the official version as the only correct one. Only a small notice is found about the conspiracy version in this article. I print this little section here below in full (quotations are of 18 November 2007). See chapter ‘3.4 Conspiracy theories’:
        
“Conspiracy theories
        
        
  Various conspiracy theorists have emerged as a reaction to the attacks suggesting that individuals inside the United States knew the attacks were coming and deliberately chose not to prevent them, or that individuals outside of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda planned or carried out the attacks.[136] These theories are generally not accepted as credible by political leaders, mainstream journalists, and independent researchers who have concluded that responsibility for the attacks and the resulting destruction rests solely with Al Qaeda. A number of 9/11 opinion polls have established that there is disagreement in the general population as to the veracity of the mainstream account.”
        
Interesting is that it says: “These theories are generally not accepted as credible by political leaders, mainstream journalists, and independent researchers who have concluded that responsibility for the attacks and the resulting destruction rests solely with Al Qaeda.”. Now how true would this claim be? There is no reference material given that would support this evaluation. A link however is provided for another article on Wikipedia that addresses the conspiracy theory version: “Main article: 9/11 conspiracy theories.
Often the use of the word theory implies that a flavour is given to this so that it is generally believed/accepted that it would have emerged from someone's imagination and therefore can not be considered to have any truth contained in it. The article linked to is sort of build around and presented as such. Nonetheless there are many supports from experts and researchers to various claims made. The way it is presented in this Wikipedia article is a direct invalidation to the credibility of various nonetheless valid arguments.
That which is interesting is that various pertinent and factually supported information is not implemented or referred to in the main Wikipedia article regarding the 9/11 incident. Instead these are relayed separately and mixed into the 9/11 conspiracy theories article, and thus their credibility are effectively being invalidated. The folding out of happenings as presented in the main article could easily be perceived as the one that is government approved.

Strictly taken what actually determines which is the true conspiracy version, the officially endorsed version or the one that is purposely presented as being the conspiracy version? Then who decides which is to be either of these? Realizing with this that the one that is presented as the conspiracy version will automatically be perceived as the rather nutty version and will by habit and by the far majority not be given much credibility. These are interesting aspects to the issue in regards to the actual representation of something.

It is my intent here to simply draw the attention to that the way something is presented already may influence how you are going the regard that which is addressed. In my opinion adding phrases like “These theories are generally not accepted as credible by political leaders, mainstream journalists, and independent researchers who have concluded that responsibility for the attacks and the resulting destruction rests solely with Al Qaeda.” reflect a state of mind that is already set and one stops looking. It thus opposes the intent for creating an objective encyclopaedia. If there are various facts that have come forward in research then they should not get mixed in with conspiracy theories stories and thus also be regarded as non-valid or even non-existing.
You may however study these articles and make up your own mind about this. Realize however that it bears no relevance here if the conspiracy theories would be true or not. That is not the issue that I address here. It is the presentation of the various materials I am bothered about.

 
Go back ‘Creationism’

Main article:  ‘Creationism’  (article, external link)
Controversy article:  ‘Creation-evolution controversy’  (article, external link)

The first paragraph of the main article reads:  (quotations are of 18 November 2007)
        
“Creationism is a religious belief that humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe were created in their original form by a deity or deities (often the Abrahamic God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam), whose existence is presupposed.[1] In relation to the creation-evolution controversy the term creationism (or strict creationism) is commonly used to refer to religiously-motivated rejection of evolution.”
        
When it comes down to it, in regards to how it is defined in the above, it does not make creationism into something you can work with in a serious manner. It is simply not very workable as you have put it into a box. A box that received a label that directs amongst other to a preconceived idea. This preconceived idea being that this collection of 66 books (bible) tell the only true version of the events and thus should be taken as that by which everything has to be measured. After all here creationism is put as something that is “commonly used to refer to religiously-motivated rejection of evolution”.

But you see, in regards to what generally is referred to as creationism, it is not about this preconceived idea. In fact this bears or rather should not bear any relevance whatsoever! You simply should regard the facts that one has and then draw an evaluation based on these. You are not supposed to try to fit these facts into an already established preconceived idea. Be it creation or evolution. The way however one generally goes about things is to try to fit things according to the belief or preconception one already has. When you have done so you have introduced boundaries into your research. This in essence then also has turned evolution into evolutionism. Considering this evolution has become (in practice) as religious as creationism.
Accordingly we could denote that ‘creation vs evolution’ equals ‘creationism vs evolutionism’.
The -ism turns it into a doctrine, system or principle. This would then be looked upon as a sort of belief system and practiced from a preconceived frame of mind. The word creationism received this flavour of not being credible solely because of the choice of the word. Evolution is not addressed as evolutionism so then why is creation addressed as creationism, or rather why do we not use evolutionism? Either way the word choice (-ism) does place it on a level of predetermination.

The first paragraph of the controversy article reads:
        
“The creation-evolution controversy (also termed the creation vs. evolution debate or the origins debate) is a recurring political dispute about the origins of the Earth, humanity, life, and the universe,[1] between those who espouse the validity and superiority of a particular religiously-based origin belief (i.e., creationism), and the scientific consensus, particularly in the field of evolutionary biology, but also in the fields of geology, palaeontology, thermodynamics, nuclear physics and cosmology.[2] Within the scientific community and academia the level of support for evolution is overwhelming,[3] while support for biblically-literal accounts or other creationist alternatives is very small among scientists, and virtually nonexistent among those in the relevant fields.[4]
        
So it says: “Within the scientific community and academia the level of support for evolution is overwhelming”, which probably is fairly true, but why is that? It is also persistently claimed that the evidence in favour of evolution is overwhelming, but this is rather a matter of presentation, not of fact. It continues with: “while support for biblically-literal accounts or other creationist alternatives is very small among scientists, and virtually nonexistent among those in the relevant fields”, which is not actually true.
Strictly taken there is no evidence for evolution. For the larger part it is based on a complex system of assumptions that in their turn are interpreted and presented in a particular way to confirm the preconception. This card house of assumptions does not fall apart if an inconsistency is uncovered. Simply a re-interpretation or a new assumption is put in its place. However so-called mainstream scientists will tell you otherwise. That which I wish to draw attention to is that one should investigate and analyze how this system actually works and which criteria are being exercised! In essence you can not provide hard evidence for evolution and not either for creationism. It can also be seen as an utopia to use the often by evolutionist forwarded argument as if the facts fit best and confirm the evolutional view of things. This is simply a matter of how one goes about in regards to the presentation. The presentation can make people to adopt and believe about everything! Presentation has in essence and it its practical use seldom any relation with hard fact.

The focus should also be more on examining how one actually goes about things and not to just fold out the different systems of preconceptions that are in use. Also it should not be entirely based on what some mainstream scientist claims or says. The general agreement should also not be the determining factor. We should not have people or other dictating what is to be true to us through means of this kind of persuasion. This alternate view of how to look upon this is not offered in these Wikipedia articles. When going through the articles it becomes clear that a decision has already been made if it be evolution or creation, if it be a young earth or an old earth, or if it be Intelligent Design or just all a coincidence. These matters practically and factually may not be so obvious as many seem to believe or rather as we are told. Some may understand what I try to relate about here. Many, far too many questions and aspects have not been explained adequately with the proposed answer evolution. Also far too many arguments from these creationists are being washed over simply because they may not confirm the evolutional view of things. This is a simple reality. With this evolution-creation controversy we find ourselves on very shaky ground. Where then does the objectivity display itself in these Wikipedia articles about these matters? Again it is the presentation that bothers me.

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Back to Main Index Dr. Kent Hovind versus Judge Margaret Catharine Rodgers

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