Via The Wall Street Journal and NewsBusters comes word that a notorious censor of Wikipedia’s global warming entry, British blogger William Connolley, has been banned from editing the collaborative, open-sourced and “democratic” online encyclopedia.
The genius of Wikipedia is that it collects (mostly) good and accurate information on topics as obscure as the garra minoni, or as well-known as your home town or President Obama. And folks who contribute to Wikipedia’s site generally wish to be accurate, so they offer citations to other authorities and research to back-up the facts in their entries. The world, in other words, can check Wikipedia’s work.
But when Wikipedia is abused, it can be a harmful source of disinformation. Groups such as The Heartland Institute regularly check their Wikipedia pages to ensure a “troll” hasn’t hijacked the entry to spread lies. It is a constant and often frustrating battle, but it comes with the territory of being in the public sphere.
Connolley was a different breed of abuser. Apparently lacking a rewarding social life, Connolley was dedicated to scouring Wikipedia’s global warming entry (apparently daily) of any information that did not toe the radical alarmist line. And it is important to note that Wikipedia has established a bit of a reputation for not heeding calls from non-leftists for ideological balance — or even basic fairness — on the site.
So, in the words of The Wall Street Journal: “… it’s news that last week Wikipedia acknowledged it had been hijacked by global warming alarmists who squelched dissenting science.” The WSJ continues with more details about Connolley’s years-long obsessive crusade:
Mr. Connolley is a former Green Party candidate for [British] political office and until 2007 was a climate modeler for the British Antarctic Survey. He is also a missionary for the view that humans cause global warming, and over the years he used his power as an “administrator” on Wikipedia to rewrite the site’s global warming articles. He celebrated such controversial scientists as Penn State’s Michael Mann, of Climategate fame, and he presented even disputed global warming science as fact. He routinely deleted entries that presented competing views and barred contributors with whom he disagreed. He also smeared scientific skeptics by rewriting their online biographies.
All of this was an embarrassment for Wikipedia as it became more widely known, and last year it stripped Mr. Connolley of his administrator rights. He nonetheless continued his campaign, and last week Wikipedia’s group of seven dispute arbitrators banned him from the topic entirely. They also banned other posters who had turned Wikipedia into their global warming propaganda outlet.
Forgive the bolding of the passages from the quote above, but we cannot understate the importance of this victory for truth and open debate on climate science. As Newsbusters points out, Wikipedia is “the most popular source of written information in the world.” According to the respected web-traffic monitoring site Alexa, Wikipedia is the seventh-most trafficked site on the planet, with 13 million hits a day.
Fingers-in-their-ears alarmists like Connolley abused the leverage Wikipedia has in the marketplace of ideas to advance their own agenda and censor all others. To get a sense of the scope of Connolley’s treachery — including against scientists Heartland has featured at our five climate change conferences — Energy Probe executive director Lawrence Solomon relates this in December 2009. (UPDATE: The previous link is proving a bit balky, but NewsBusters has the relevant excerpt.):
[Connolley] 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.
All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles.
Kudos to Wikipedia for finally attempting to reclaim its reputation as a fair arbiter of “global knowledge” by giving Connolley and 15 other rabid censors the boot.
So, let’s celebrate! Now is the time for real scientists out there to get to work spreading the truth to the world on Wikipeda. Know this, Somewhat Reasonable readers: Heartland’s climate scholars will be among those who will attempt to correct a record long denied balanced views.