Wikipedia & Peer Review: Real Climate.Org Allowed To “Edit Or Delete” 5,428 Climate Articles

By Lawrence Solomon

THE NATIONAL POST – Canada’s Largest National, English Language Paper http://www.canada.com/entertainment/product/national-post-0x138c3b/topic.html

The Climategate Emails describe how a small band of climatologists cooked the books to make the last century seem dangerously warm.

The emails also describe how the band plotted to rewrite history as well as science, particularly by eliminating the Medieval Warm Period, a 400 year period that began around 1000 AD.

The Climategate Emails reveal something else, too: the enlistment of the most widely read source of information in the world — Wikipedia — in the wholesale rewriting of this history.

The Medieval Warm Period, which followed the meanness and cold of the Dark Ages, was a great time in human history — it allowed humans around the world to bask in a glorious warmth that vastly improved agriculture, increased life spans and otherwise bettered the human condition.

But the Medieval Warm Period was not so great for some humans in our own time — the same small band that believes the planet has now entered an unprecedented and dangerous warm period. As we now know from the Climategate Emails, this band saw the Medieval Warm Period as an enormous obstacle in their mission of spreading the word about global warming. If temperatures were warmer 1,000 years ago than today, the Climategate Emails explain in detail, their message that we now live in the warmest of all possible times would be undermined. As put by one band member, a Briton named Folland at the Hadley Centre, a Medieval Warm Period “dilutes the message rather significantly.”

Even before the Climategate Emails came to light, the problem posed by the Medieval Warm Period to this band was known. “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period” read a pre-Climategate email, circa 1995, as attested to at hearings of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works. But the Climategate transcripts were more extensive and more illuminating — they provided an unvarnished look at the struggles that the climate practitioners underwent before settling on their scientific dogma.

The Climategate Emails showed, for example, that some members of the band were uncomfortable with aspects of their work, some even questioning the need to erase the existence of the Medieval Warm Period 1,000 years earlier.

Said Briffa, one of their chief practitioners: “I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data’ but in reality the situation is not quite so simple. … I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago.”  

In the end, Briffa and other members of the band overcame their doubts and settled on their dogma. With the help of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the highest climate change authority of all, they published what became the icon of their movement — the hockey stick graph. This icon showed temperatures in the last 1,000 years to have been stable — no Medieval Warm Period, not even the Little Ice Age of a few centuries ago.

But the UN’s official verdict that the Medieval Warm Period had not existed did not erase the countless schoolbooks, encyclopedias, and other scholarly sources that claimed it had. Rewriting those would take decades, time that the band members didn’t have if they were to save the globe from warming.

Instead, the band members turned to their friends in the media and to the blogosphere, creating a website called RealClimate.org. “The idea is that we working climate scientists should have a place where we can mount a rapid response to supposedly ‘bombshell’ papers that are doing the rounds” in aid of “combating dis-information,” one email explained, referring to criticisms of the hockey stick and anything else suggesting that temperatures today were not the hottest in recorded time. One person in the nine-member Realclimate.org team — U.K. scientist and Green Party activist William Connolley — would take on particularly crucial duties.

Connolley took control of all things climate in the most used information source the world has ever known – Wikipedia. Starting in February 2003, just when opposition to the claims of the band members were beginning to gel, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. He 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. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn’t like the subject of a certain article, he removed it — more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred — over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley’s global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia’s blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement.

The Medieval Warm Period disappeared, as did criticism of the global warming orthodoxy. With the release of the Climategate Emails, the disappearing trick has been exposed. The glorious Medieval Warm Period will remain in the history books, perhaps with an asterisk to describe how a band of zealots once tried to make it disappear.

Financial Post
LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com

Normal 0 0 1 32 184 1 1 225 11.512 0 0 0

 Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and Urban Renaissance Institute and author of The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud.

http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2009/12/18/370719.aspx

Climate Gate: Wikibullies at work. Wikipedia allows RealClimate.Org to “Edit” or “Delete” 5,248 Climate Articles

From: Watts Up With That       – The 2008 Weblogs Award Winner – Best Science Blog

http://himaarmenia.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/wikipedia-logo.jpg?w=157&h=189

UPDATED: see stats below the “read more” line.

Lawrence Solomon at the National Post writes about a topic that WUWT readers have known about for a long time: How Wikipedia’s green doctor rewrote 5,428 climate articles.

We’ve known for some time that Wikipedia can’t be trusted to provide unbiased climate information. Solomon starts off by talking about Climategate emails.

The emails also describe how the band plotted to rewrite history as well as science, particularly by eliminating the Medieval Warm Period, a 400 year period that began around 1000 AD.

The Climategate Emails reveal something else, too: the enlistment of the most widely read source of information in the world — Wikipedia — in the wholesale rewriting of this history.

He then focuses on RealClimate.org co-founder William Connolley, who has “touched” 5,428 Wikipedia articles with his unique brand of RC centric editing:

All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn’t like the subject of a certain article, he removed it — more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred — over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley’s global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia’s blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement.

The Medieval Warm Period disappeared, as did criticism of the global warming orthodoxy. With the release of the Climategate Emails, the disappearing trick has been exposed. The glorious Medieval Warm Period will remain in the history books, perhaps with an asterisk to describe how a band of zealots once tried to make it disappear.

Wikipedia suffers from the same problem that climate science in general suffers from now. A few determined zealots have influenced the vast majority of the published information.

IMHO it is time for Connolley to step aside from Wikipedia, one person should not have so much influence over so many articles. At the same time, the number two person, almost as influential, is Kim Dabelstein Peterson. Here’s a National Review article on the kind of things Petersen has been doing in similar to the work of Connolley.

Additionally, there are many Wikipedia editors and contributors that do so anonymously, and I think that is terribly wrong. There’s no accountability, no quality control, and no recourse to people who falsify information, or mold it to fit a personal agenda. Wikipedia relies upon an honor system, and as we’ve seen from the Climategate emails, there’s no honor in some circles of climate science.

Here is another example:

The Opinionator
Posted: May 03, 2008, 2:53 AM by Lawrence Solomon

Connolley is not only a big shot on Wikipedia, he’s a big shot at Wikipedia — an Administrator with unusual editorial clout. Using that clout, this 40-something scientist of minor relevance gets to tear down scientists of great accomplishment. Because Wikipedia has become the single biggest reference source in the world, and global warming is one of the most sought after subjects, the ability to control information on Wikipedia by taking down authoritative scientists is no trifling matter.

One such scientist is Fred Singer, the First Director of the U.S. National Weather Satellite Service, the recipient of a White House commendation for his early design of space satellites; the recipient of a NASA commendation for research on particle clouds — in short, a scientist with dazzling achievements who is everything Connolley is not. Under Connolley’s supervision, Singer is relentlessly smeared, and has been for years, as a kook who believes in Martians and a hack in the pay of the oil industry. When a smear is inadequate, or when a fair-minded Wikipedian tries to correct a smear, Connolley and his cohorts are there to widen the smear or remove the correction, often rebuking the Wikipedian in the process.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales recently put out an appeal for donations here. He writes:

I believe in us. I believe that Wikipedia keeps getting better. That’s the whole idea. One person writes something, somebody improves it a little, and it keeps getting better, over time. If you find it useful today, imagine how much we can achieve together in 5, 10, 20 years.

In a perfect world, maybe. In a perfect world unicorns frolic in the park, free money falls from the sky, and people are honest and without bias 100% of the time. But when you have Wikibullies, such as Connolley and Peterson, your honor system goes up in smoke. Fact is Jimmy, your honor system is as corrupted as the peer review process is for climate science these days. In my view, don’t give Wikipedia another dime until they make some changes to provide for a more responsible information environment.

Making free reference information available to the public shouldn’t be a battle of wills between Wikibullies with an agenda and the rest of society.

Here’s where to write to complain to Wikipedia:

Wikimedia Foundation

Postal address

Wikimedia Foundation Inc.
149 New Montgomery Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
USA
Phone: +1-415-839-6885
Email: info(at)wikimedia.org
Fax: +1-415-882-0495  (note: we get a large number of calls; email or fax is always a better first option)

UPDATE: I’ve located Solomon’s source of information, an independent Wikipedia author tracker. Here is Connolley’s base statistics:

Click image for full report

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/19/wikibullies-at-work-the-national-post-exposes-broad-trust-issues-over-wikipedia-climate-information/

Vote Totals For the 2008 WEBLOG AWARDS – Best Science Blog:  

Real Climate’s Vote Total:   1,446 votes or 4.6 %                                                                                                                                              Watts Up With That Vote Total:  14,150  or  37.6%

http://2008.weblogawards.org/polls/best-science-blog/ 

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