Casey Luskin slams Wickedpedia in magazine article
The clowns who run Wickedpedia. Picture is courtesy of the Wikitruth website. "NPOV" stands for "Neutral Point of View," the name of one of the Wickedpedia content policies and a policy that Wickedpedia frequently ignores.
Discovery Institute attorney Casey Luskin slammed Wickedpedia in an article in Salvo magazine:
There’s one last tale to be told regarding the Kitzmiller lawsuit and the banning of ID. Wikipedia has developed a reputation for being a biased and inaccurate source, especially when it comes to controversial issues such as ID. After the ACLU banned Of Pandas and People from Dover science classrooms, one Wikipedia user dared to take seriously Wikipedia’s encouragement to be “bold when updating articles”: He added the Pandas textbook to a page listing banned books.
Anticipating the intellectual lure of banned ideas, Wikipedia’s editors then removed the Pandas textbook from the banned-books page and locked the page from further edits, alleging it had been “vandalized.” Pointing out that ID has been banned is called a Wiki-crime, and banned pro-ID textbooks apparently must be banned from pages listing banned books.
Actually, not one but several people tried to add Of Pandas and People to the Wikipedia list of banned books. I was one of them and I was the most persistent. The parts of the discussion page where this proposed addition was debated are here, here, and here. This is a good example of the "lawyering to death" that was described by radio talk show host Bill Greene --
If you come in with an alternative point of view, a cabal of politically correct, brown-shirted fascists immediately descends upon you and reverts your entry. . .they say that your entry just gives undue weight to a point of view, a fringe theory, pseudoscience, blah blah blah blah blah . . . . They have set up these rules . . . and they lawyer you to death with the rules. They hound you out. You either change over to their point of view, or you just leave. Or they ban you . . . Don't think it doesn't happen, because it does happen all the time.
The arbitrariness and capriciousness of the Wikipedians are incredible. One of the Wikipedians on the discussion page sounds like this:
Original research is not allowed here . . . you must have a reliable non-partisan source . . . original research is not allowed here . . . you must have a reliable non-partisan source . . . . click . . . click . . this is a recording.
Also, a blog had a debate over whether Pandas should be added Wickedpedia's banned books list and I participated in that debate. These debates make Alice's efforts to reason with the other characters in Alice in Wonderland look like child's play in comparison.
Eventually the Wickedpedians completely rewrote the whole banned books article in order to avoid adding Pandas to the list. I also made futile attempts to edit the Wickedpedia articles on the Discovery Institute and Cheri Yecke's biography. I now have no desire to try to add to or help Wickedpedia in any way whatsoever. Though Wickedpedia has a lot of good articles on non-controversial subjects, I would be much happier if Wickedpedia did not exist. For at least one school district, Wickedpedia does not exist -- Wickedpedia is blocked on all of that school district's computers. I hope that more school districts follow suit.
Here is an example of an exchange I had with the Wickedpedians on the discussion page for the banned books article:
The Wikipedia list of banned books features books from the American Library Association's "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books," not the 100 most frequently "banned" books. The ALA website says, "Each year, the American Library Association (ALA) is asked why the week is called 'Banned Books Week' instead of 'Challenged Books Week,' since the majority of the books featured during the week are not banned, but 'merely' challenged."  (emphasis added). Also, the ALA website clearly indicates that the designation "banned book" includes books that have been banned from school curricula but not banned from school libraries or other libraries -- e.g., the ALA website says, "Challenges . . . are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library." (emphasis added) An oral statement suggesting that students read Pandas was an official part of the curriculum in the Dover Area school district. In Kitzmiller v. Dover, a federal judge banned this oral statement. The judge's written opinion refers to this oral statement as a "curriculum change" 48 times. Also, "Curriculum Committee" appears 24 times in the opinion and "curriculum controversy" appears 9 times. There is no question that the judge banned the book from the curriculum -- even the mere mention of the book was banned from the curriculum. In contrast, most of the books that the ALA featured during Banned Books Week were not even banned but were only challenged, as was noted above. So ALA-listed books that were only challenged are accepted for the Wikipedia list of banned books while Pandas -- a truly banned book -- is excluded.
Also, Wikipedia's list contains the following entry: "Rage" from The Bachman Books by Richard Bachman, pseudonym for Stephen King self-imposed ban after the Columbine Shooting." That is hardly a "banned book" for purposes of this list.
Also, the list is only supposed to include books that have actually been banned or challenged and not books that have the potential to be banned or challenged. Comparing Pandas to books that have the potential to be banned or challenged is specious. If any school district is dumb enough to use a bible as a text in a science class and the bible gets banned as a result, then the bible should be listed as a banned book. Those are the rules.
The Wikipedia list of banned books has lots of books that look like they shouldn't be there -- but that does not change the fact that they were challenged or banned. For example, I saw the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary in the list, and I found that the ALA does list this as a challenged book.
Also, the ALA said that its records showed that the Pandas book was challenged in 1993 , qualifying the book for the ALA list (though not the top 100) even without considering the Kitzmiller decision.
My last Pandas entry (which was censored) to the Wikipedia list contained the disclaimer "some claim that this is not really a "'banned book,'" followed by a link to a debate on the issue. That is an NPOV (neutral point of view) statement. It is not -- as has been falsely claimed -- an OR (original research) statement because it does not contain my personal views or a link to my personal views, except for my personal view that a significant controversy exists. Those who are not satisfied with the link I gave are free to add other links, including links to their own personal views (because I gave only one link, I felt obligated to give a link to an open debate on the issue). Larry Fafarman 10:39, 2 October 2006 (UTC)Nice piece of original research, which we do not allow here. Do you have some relibale non-partisan sources that state that the book is banned? -- Kim van der Linde at venus 18:45, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
An entry that is accompanied by a disclaimer stating that the entry is disputed or controversial should not count as "original research." Only entries that are presented as absolute truth and undisputed should count as original research. The No Original Research article says: "The prohibition against original research limits the possibility of an editor presenting his or her own point of view in an article." It is of course desirable to avoid cluttering up Wikipedia articles with long discussions and debates of controversial issues, but this can be avoided by links to external websites -- these links take up very little space in Wikipedia. The No Original Research article says that the three content-governing policies of Wikipedia -- NPOV(neutral point of view), Verifiability, and No Original Research -- are complementary and should not be viewed in isolation from one another. The above statement views the latter two policies in isolation at the expense of the NPOV policy. Furthermore, it is unreasonable to require verification that a book is banned because the Wikipedia list includes ALA-listed books which have only been challenged. Larry Fafarman 12:26, 2 October 2006 (UTC)Larry, your whole reasoning still is original research, how you want to twist it. Come up with that reliable non-partisan source that conforms that the book is banned and we talk further. And yes, maybe we have to delete many entries that are just challenged books, I would be in favour of that-- Kim van der Linde at venus 12:30, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
Here is a fair and sensible proposal I made that was rejected:
There is a very simple solution to the controversies here. Anyone who thinks that a book on the list does not belong there can simply add the comment "this entry is disputed," or something like that, and add a very brief statement why and/or add a link or links to external websites containing personal views or debates about the issue. Since the websites are external, there is no suggestion that Wikipedia endorses the viewpoints that are presented in them. Other readers can add their own links. Using external links avoids cluttering up Wikipedia with long discussions and debates on controversial issues. I assert that any personal views that are clearly identified as such and that do not take up a significant amount of Wikipedia space do not violate the No Original Research and Verifiability policies of Wikipedia.
Of course, entries that clearly do not belong should not be added in any case. For example, if the Wikipedia list were just a copy of a list of the American Library Association, an extraneous entry should not be added with the note that the ALA should have included the book in the list. But that is clearly not the situation here.
That is the Neutral Point of View (NPOV) way of doing it.
As for my call for edit-war tag team members, the Wickedpedians engage in tag team edit warring themselves.
"I'm always kicking their butts -- that's why they don't like me."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Labels: Wikipedia (new #1)