In recent months, left-wing activists have hijacked The Heartland Institute’s profile at Wikipedia, removing objective descriptions of our programs and publications and replacing them with lies, errors, and outright libelous claims. Our efforts to correct the site have been rejected by the editors of the self-described “free encyclopedia.” Can you help?
Supporters of Heartland will be surprised to learn that we “worked with the tobacco company Philip Morris to question or deny the health risks of secondhand smoke and to lobby against smoking bans,” that we “support climate change denial,” or that our decision to spin off our work on finance and insurance into the R Street Institute is characterized as the “resignation of almost the entire Heartland Washington D.C. office, taking the Institute’s biggest project (on insurance) with it.”
These are simply lies, meant to damage our reputation and effectiveness in the most important public policy debates facing the nation. But the editors of Wikipedia refuse to remove these libelous claims, and over time have allowed them to proliferate.
You can help! If you have experience editing Wikipedia articles, we especially need your help to restore fairness and objectivity to this article.
If you don’t have an account at Wikipedia, click on “Create account” in the upper right corner. It will ask you to choose a username and enter a password. Putting in your email is optional, but will allow you to retrieve your password if you forgot it.
When you make a change, be incremental. And keep an eye on your changes. If it is “changed back,” go to the “talk” area and convince the editors that your change is fair, objective, independent, and properly sourced.
A detailed critique of our Wikipedia profile has been posted on PolicyBot. But first consider these basic facts:
1. The Heartland Institute is an independent nonprofit research and education organization that addresses a wide range of topics, including school reform, budget and tax issues, health care reform, environmental protection, and constitutional reform. This profile ignores about 90% of what we do.
2. Heartland is highly regarded by its peers. We are endorsed by scores of think tank leaders as well as elected officials and civic and business leaders. Like hundreds of other “think tanks” with profiles on Wikipedia, we take a conservative-libertarian perspective on issues. Nearly all the sources in our current profile are left-wing activists who object to our philosophy. How is that fair?
3. We enforce policies that limit the role donors may play in the selection of research topics, peer review, and publication plans of the organization. Heartland does not conduct contract research. These policies ensure that no Heartland researcher or spokesperson is subject to undue pressure from a donor.
4. The left hates our views on global warming, and tobacco control, but our positions are well-documented, endorsed by leading scholars, and widely shared by other think tanks and advocacy groups. Why has Wikipedia allowed left-wing activists to fill our profile with their hate speech on these topics?
5. We have replied, repeatedly, to all of the false claims and accusations that appear in the profile. None of our replies and efforts to set the record straight is reported in the Wikipedia profile.
This PDF is a line-by-line critique of the Wikipedia site as it stood on February 12, 2016. If you choose to go to our profile and try to make changes, some of the facts reported there may be useful in your effort. Jim Lakely, Heartland’s communication director, has the URLs of many third-party sources you can cite to document changes you suggest. He can be reached at 312/377-4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or just Google and find independent confirmation yourself. Heartland’s work has been reported fairly in thousands of published articles and websites. Remember that Wikipedia doesn’t want to cite anything on Heartland’s own website.