I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Attack ads in Cheri Yecke's Wikipedia bio

As everyone knows, Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia and should not be used for political campaigning. However, Wikipedia is being used for just that by the presence of attack ads in the bio of Florida K-12 education chancellor Cheri Yecke, who is campaigning to be the state's next education commissioner. Her Wikipedia bio says,
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Cheri Pierson Yecke, Ph.D. is a politician who is best known for her role in an attempt to teach creationism in science classes . . . .

Advocacy for intelligent design and Teach The Controversy

In July of 2003 during her term as education commissioner, Yecke proposed that the Minnesota Science Standards included the technique favored by intelligent design proponents to Teach The Controversy in science curriculum. She cited the pro-intelligent design Santorum Amendment as supporting her effort.[The versions of the Minnesota Science Standards circulated by Yecke contained language used by the pro-intelligent design Teach The Controversy campaign which casts doubt on evolution while offering intelligent design as a competing theory. The version that was circulated among the public did not include these revisions. PZ Myers and other critics of intelligent design deemed the move an attempt to misinform the public in order to sway the committee decision in favor of intelligent design using public opinion.

In her campaign to be Florida's next education commissioner, Yecke has attempted to groom her reputation online. In June 2007 she disputed the accuracy of the newspaper article which said she supported including intelligent design in Minnesota science curricula in 2003, and hired the internet information-scrubbing service ReputationDefender to remove any association of Yecke with intelligent design online. Wesley R. Elsberry, marine biologist and critic of intelligent design whose blog The Austringer had referenced the article linking Yecke to the Teach The Controversy method of promoting intelligent design was contacted by ReputationDefender in June 2007. They requested that he remove a quote from Yecke on the issue of teaching creationism and intelligent design on the grounds that she disputes the quote in the original newpaper article. In considering the request Elsberry has asked for proof that the newspaper article did indeed quote Yecke inaccurately, going so far to contact the original reporter. Readers of blog then provided links to archived recordings of Twin Cities Public Television broadcasts from 2003 showing Yecke saying that teaching intelligent design was a decision local school districts could undertake and teaching intelligent design is supported by the Santorum Amendment. Elsberry says her statements in these broadcasts are consistent with the quote Yecke disputed and tried to remove in the newspaper article. PZ Myers, who had commented extensively on Yecke's support of intelligent design in the past, Myers described the recent effort by Yecke to distance herself from intelligent design as an attempt to "whitewash the past and silence her critics."

The above attack-ad material violates the Wikipedia verifiability rule -- quoted below -- by using blogs (Elsberry's and Myers' blogs) as sources:

Anyone can create a website or pay to have a book published, then claim to be an expert in a certain field. For that reason, self-published books, personal websites, and blogs are largely not acceptable as sources.

What is worse is that the bloggers on the cited blogs -- Elsberry and Myers -- arbitrarily censor blog visitors' comments.

The above attack-ad material also violates the Wikipedia rules for biographies of living persons:

We must get the article right. Be very firm about high quality references, particularly about details of personal lives. Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material — whether negative, positive, or just highly questionable — about living persons should be removed immediately and without discussion from Wikipedia articles, talk pages, user pages, and project space.

An important rule of thumb when writing biographical material about living persons is "do no harm". Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a tabloid, and as such it is not our job to be sensationalist, or to be the primary vehicle for the spread of titillating claims about people's lives.

The attack ads in the bio have some serious factual errors. For example, as for calling the Santorum Amendment "pro-intelligent design," neither version of the amendment (there are two versions -- one in the original Senate bill and one in the House-Senate conference report) says anything about intelligent design. As for the statement that the "[t]each The Controversy campaign . . . casts doubt on evolution while offering intelligent design as a competing theory," the Teach the Contoversy campaign does not offer intelligent design as a competing theory. As I have said many, many times on this blog, there are also non-ID criticisms of evolution, e.g., criticisms concerning co-evolution, the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction, and chromosome counts. None of these three criticisms questions the effectiveness of the Darwinian mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection. As for oral statements that Yecke made on Twin Cities Public Television, oral statements should not be taken as seriously as written statements because a statement's author has virtually no time to reconsider the statement when it is oral.

It is hypocritical of Elsberry to complain about the vandalization of his own Wikipedia bio. The above attack ads count as vandalization too, and furthermore, Elsberry censors blog visitors' comments that dispute his charges against Yecke.

Darwinists have a big history of hijacking Wickedpedia for their own partisan purposes. Wickedpedia has been called a "Darwinist grudge factory".
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