Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wall Street Journal uses POV fork to gives denialists an uncontradicted platform

(Sorry about the incomprehensible notes I accidentally published here earlier - I will now attempt a real post.)

Wikipedia prohibits content forks and Point of View (POV) forks in its articles, but the Wall Street Journal news section seems to think those techniques make the writing easier.  Content forks are multiple articles on the same subject, and POV forks are attempts to avoid the neutral viewpoint requirement of wiki by creating an article that just focuses on one side of an issue.

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal has an article called "Controversies Create Opening for Critics" about climate change denialists and their attacks on the IPCC.  I can only guess the refusal to discuss the mainstream position and counterarguments to critics is because the article is about the critics.  It contains the uncontradicted lies that claims about effects on African agriculture and Amazonian rainforests were found to not have a scientific basis.  The only "defense" of the IPCC is from Bjorn Lomborg of all people, who says warming is real but we shouldn't cut emissions.

A paragraph on the frivolous Texas lawsuit against the EPA's finding that greenhouse gases endanger Americans actually performed journalism by talking to both sides of the issue.  Too bad the rest of the article doesn't.

The remainder is expositions on the beautiful denialist theories of Christy, Lindzen, Soon, and Kukla (last one's new to me) on how they're right and everyone else is wrong.  Nothing at all is written about how their theories have gained no support and why they haven't.  An article that wouldn't make it through wiki sails the Journal.

Many denialists I debate on blogs have an open contempt for wikipedia, so much so that they refuse to go there to get the linked references that wiki provides.  I think neutrality and reality are the real problems they have with it.


  1. POV is the problem skeptics have with wikipedia. On climate issues, the "discussion" tab and the recent change history are often more informative than the article proper. If you're interested in *both* sides of the argument, it's quite rare that the main page reflects that. The main page reflects what RealClimate says; the discussion pages are where you look to find all the interesting minor views that WMC, Stephan, and a few of their friends won't allow to be added to the main page. And to find out what legalisms are being used to justify that. Come to think of it, wikipedia has essentially the same problem that the IPCC reports have - a general desire to show one specific particular view even when showing two would be more appropriate.

    The wikipedia page for "climategate" is a nice current example. Actually summarizing "climategate" is hard to do without making people like Phil Jones look bad, so there's just no article by that name. Instead, that name redirects to a page about the alleged "hacking" incident. Thus, any details anybody wants to add that are actually about "climategate" can be ruled off-topic or hidden away in some even *more* obscurely-named page. And all the effort that would otherwise have been invested in trying to make the page accurate first gets redirected into effort to change the name.

    On one level you kind of have to admire Connoley's persistence and creativity. His gang really does know how to use obscure rules to prevent other views from being presented! I guess they got a lot of practice with _Nature_ and such... :-)

  2. Consider me part of that gang, then, and proud of it. Non-scientific views do get discussed at wiki though, as do views of people like Lindzen and Pielke Sr., with the notation that they're generally rejected. That's how wiki handles science issues, whether it's vaccines, evolution, or cold fusion.


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