Examples of Bias in Wikipedia

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The growing list of examples of bias and errors on Wikipedia. Please add to this, and also contribute entries to Conservapedia.

  1. Wikipedia allows the use of B.C.E. instead of B.C. and C.E. instead of A.D. The dates are based on the birth of Jesus, so why pretend otherwise? Conservapedia is Christian-friendly and exposes the CE deception.
  2. Wikipedia's entry for the Renaissance denies any credit to Christianity, its primary inspiration.
  3. Polls show that about twice as many Americans identify themselves as "conservative" compared with "liberal", and that ratio has been increasing for two decades.[1] But on Wikipedia, about three times as many editors identify themselves as "liberal" compared with "conservative".[2] That suggests Wikipedia is six times more liberal than the American public.
  4. Wikipedia's entry on abortion reads like a brochure for the abortion industry. Wikipedia denies and omits the results of 16 out of 17 statistically significant studies showing increased risk of breast cancer from abortion.[3] Wikipedia's entry also omits the evidence of abortion causing increased premature birth of subsequent children.[4].
  5. Initially a Wikipedia admin named "Nearly Headless Nick" deleted, without explaining his decision, an entry about Conservapedia. Later, in response to publicity, Wikipedia posted a new entry about Conservapedia. Wikipedia's entry is filled with obvious bias, numerous errors, out-of-date citations, and self-serving false statements.[5] For example, the Wikipedia entry made the absurd claim that Conservapedia says the "General Theory of Relativity" has "nothing to do with physics." Wikipedia's claim was completely false and unsupported by its citations. After this example was posted here, Wikipedia removed its error but has left other false and outdated claims in its entry, reflecting Wikipedia's pervasive bias.
  6. Wikipedia's entry for conservative physicist Edward Teller promotes the liberal attempt to blame him for the government taking away the security clearance of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Teller testified, "If it is a question of wisdom and judgment, as demonstrated by actions since 1945, then I would say one would be wiser not to grant clearance." Wikipedia first called this statement "damning", and after criticism here replaced its term with "problematic".[6] In light of how multiple spies leaked secrets under Oppenheimer's supervision in the Manhattan Project and spying even worsened afterwards, Wikipedia's spin on Teller's statement is unjustified bias.
  7. Wikipedia's entry for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a conservative group, features a rant against the group by a British journalist who was a former press officer for the leftist Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.[7] The only cited credential for the journalist is that he works for a television "programme-production company," and there is no citation for any of the factual claims in his intemperate and misleading description of the group, which were prompted by an independent criticism in England of the journalist's own work. After receiving a complaint about this, Wikipedia trimmed this rant but still kept most of it, reflecting Wikipedia's bias. Preserving this unpublished diatribe is against Wikipedia policy (e.g., NPOV), but it Wikipedia administrators insist on keeping it. Wikipedia's entry also features another liberal journalist's swipe at AAPS from ... 40 years ago!
  8. There is a strong anti-American and anti-capitalism bias on Wikipedia. In its description of the post-war Bell Trade Act of 1946, in which the United States gave the Philippines $800 million in exchange for some free trade provisions, Wikipedia omits any mention of the $800 million dollars and instead lambasts the "wrath of Father Capitalism."[8] The agreement was approved by popular vote on the Philippines, but the Wikipedia article omits that fact also.
  9. Wikipedia often uses foreign spelling of words, even though most English-speaking users are American. Look up "Most Favored Nation" on Wikipedia and it automatically converts the spelling to the British spelling "Most Favoured Nation." Look up "Division of labor" on Wikipedia and it automatically converts to the British spelling "Division of labour," then insists on the British spelling for "specialization" also.[9] Enter "Hapsburg" (the European ruling family) and Wikipedia automatically changes the spelling to Habsburg, even though the American spelling has always been "Hapsburg". Within entries British spellings appear in the silliest of places, even when the topic is American. Conservapedia favors American spellings of words.
  10. Wikipedia distorts the youthful acceptance of deism by Benjamin Franklin by never acknowledging that he later abandoned it. Wikipedia fails to admit the significance of how Franklin, near the end of his life, proposed the saying of prayers at the Constitutional Convention for divine intervention and assistance in the proceedings,[10] an act contrary to the teachings of deism. Wikipedia also omits any acknowledgment of Franklin's praise of Pilgrim's Progress in his autobiography.
  11. Wikipedia's entry on the Intelligent Design court decision in Dover[11] distorts and omits the key facts that (i) the judge awarded over $2 million in attorneys fees to the ACLU's side (not $1 million),[12] (ii) the judge copied over 90% of his opinion from the ACLU's briefs,[13] and (iii) his opinion relied heavily on another decision that was subsequently reversed on appeal.[14]
  12. Gossip is pervasive on Wikipedia. Many entries read like the National Enquirer. For example, Wikipedia's entry on Nina Totenberg states, "She married H. David Reines, a trauma physician, in 2000. On their honeymoon, he treated her for severe injuries after she was hit by a boat propeller while swimming." That sounds just like the National Enquirer, and reflects a bias towards gossip. Conservapedia avoids gossip and vulgarity, just as a true encyclopedia does.
  13. Edits to include facts against the theory of evolution are almost immediately censored. On Conservapedia, contributions that meet simple rules are respected to the maximum extent possible.
  14. Wikipedia removed and permanently blocked a page identifying its many biases. Wikipedia omits any meaningful reference to political bias in its 7000-word entry Criticism of Wikipedia.
  15. Wikipedia claims about 1.5 million articles, but what it does not say is that a large number of those articles have zero educational value. For example, Wikipedia has 1075 separate articles about "Moby" and "song".[15] Many hundreds of thousands of Wikipedia articles -- perhaps over half its website -- are about music, Hollywood, and other topics beneath a regular encyclopedia. This reflects a bias towards popular gossip rather than helpful or enlightening information.
  16. The Wikipedia entry for John Peter Zenger links to an incorrect Wikipedia definition of "Philadelphia lawyer", which Merriam-Webster defines as a lawyer knowledgeable in "even the most minute aspects of the law." Wikipedia claims the term comes from the Zenger trial, but Merriam-Webster puts the first use of that term at over 50 years later. Wikipedia is simply unreliable.
  17. Often key facts are missing from Wikipedia entries in favor of meaningless detail. Wikipedia's entry about Indentured Servitude is massive, but it omits any reference to Bacon's Rebellion, which was the turning point for the use of indentured servants in the New World!
  18. Unlike most encyclopedias and news outlets, Wikipedia does not exert any centralized authority to take steps to reduce bias or provide balance; it has a "neutral point of view" policy but the policy is followed only to the extent that individual editors acting in social groups choose to follow it. For example, CNN would ensure that Crossfire had a representative of the political right and one from the political left. In contrast, Wikipedia policy allows bias to exist and worsen. For example, even though most Americans reject the theory of evolution,[16] Wikipedia editors commenting on the topic are nearly 100% pro-evolution.[17] Self-selection has a tendency to exacerbate bias, as in mobs, where there are no restraints. Gresham's Law reflects the problem in economics of bad money driving out good in the absence of corrective action. As a result, Wikipedia is arguably more biased than CNN and other information sources.
    The above paragraph was posted on the Wikipedia entry for "Wikipedia", under bias, but its editors then illustrated their bias by replacing the above with this: "Ojective [sic], or neutrally biased, articles present different opinions as equally legitimate regardless of validity, while unbiased articles focus on accuracy and validity. For example, the evolution article is not objective because it does not present creationism, a counter argument to evolution, as a valid scientific theory. However, this does not make the article biased because evolution is an accepted scientific theory. CNN's Crossfire, on the other hand, was considered objective ... because it had representatives from the political right from the political left."
  19. Wikipedia has many entries on mathematical concepts, but lacked any entry on the basic concept of an elementary proof until this omission was pointed out here.[18] Elementary proofs require a rigor lacking in many mathematical claims promoted on Wikipedia.
  20. The Wikipedia entry for the Piltdown Man omits many key facts, such as how it was taught in schools for an entire generation and how the dating methodology used by evolutionists is fraudulent.
  21. Wikipedia's article on Feudalism is limited to feudalism in Europe and did not mention the feudal systems that developed independently in Japan and India until this defect was described here.[19]
  22. Wikipedia's article on the longest-serving and most powerful Maryland official in its history, William Donald Schaefer, contains about 1900 words, but over two-thirds of those words (1400/1900) are devoted to silly gossip, outright vulgarity and National Enquirer-type material.[20] 406 words, which is over 20% of the entire entry, is devoted to a silly dispute Schaefer had one day with the local newspaper!
  23. Wikipedia's article about the late Senator John Tower includes a mean-spirited story whose only point seems to be to indicate the degree of his ex-wife's bitterness toward him. The article spells his wife's name incorrectly, and cites no source for the item. The item has been in that state since it was first inserted in May 2006.[21] No real encyclopedia would print such silly gossip.
  24. Wikipedia's entry for the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) reads like an advertisement for vaccine manufacturers, including unsupported and implausible claims about vaccination.[22] Unsupported claims featured there include "Vaccine makers indicated they would cease production if their proposal for the NCVIA was not enacted" and "concern that the NCVIA may not provide an adequate legal shield." Wikipedia's entry omits references to leading pro-parent websites concerning vaccination,[23] and instead Wikipedia's entry lists pro-government and pro-vaccine-manufacturer websites. Wikipedia's entry even includes this entire paragraph, which is unsupported and is little more than an advertisement for drug companies:
    Public health safety, according to backers of the legislation, depends upon the financial viability of pharmaceutical companies, whose ability to produce sufficient supplies in a timely manner could be imperiled by civil litigation on behalf of vaccine injury victims that was mounting rapidly at the time of its passage. Vaccination against infectious illnesses provides protection against contagious diseases and afflictions which may cause permanent disability or even death. Vaccines have reduced morbidity caused by infectious disease; e.g., in the case of smallpox, mass vaccination programs have eradicated a once life-threatening illness.
  25. Wikipedia displays an obsession with English social distinctions, such as obscure royality, and with unexplained academic distinctions earned in the English college system, such as references to "double first degree." The entry on Henry Liddell illustrates this extreme form of Anglophilia that characterizes many entries in Wikipedia.[24]. That entry fails to tell us when Liddell was dean of Christ Church, Oxford and has a grammatical error in its first sentence, yet describes in painstaking detail four obscure royal titles for Liddell's relatives and his "double first degree" in college. The casual reader of that entry wouldn't even notice a buried reference (well after a description of all the royal lineage) to Liddell's primary claim to fame: his daughter Alice inspired Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The arcane English descriptions in many Wikipedia entries may be due to its copying, verbatim, passages from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. This copying was not disclosed in the debate in late 2005 about whether Wikipedia was as reliable a resource as the Encyclopedia Britannica.[25]
  26. Robert McHenry, former Editor-in-Chief for the Encyclopedia Britannica, wrote about Wikipedia's bias and included this observation:[26]
    One simple fact that must be accepted as the basis for any intellectual work is that truth – whatever definition of that word you may subscribe to – is not democratically determined.
  27. Bob Schmidt observed on the Illinois Review:[27]
    I just spent some time in Wikipedia checking if my recollections of its bias are correct. The bias is much worse than I had remembered.
    I looked only at topics on business and information technology. Clearly there are enthusiasts for certain vendors who are spending a large portion of their time hyping technology in a way that makes their vendor look good in comparison to other vendors.
    They will set up a set of criteria for the definition of a product that their product will meet. They conveniently omit from the criteria anything that would detract from their favorite.
    In short, Wikipedia is not objective. It is accurate only within its selective use of facts that are convenient to promote a predetermined outcome.
    Even for just one area of knowledge, it would take a major time consuming effort for a person or group to have an impact on reducing the bias and improving the accuracy of the entries.
  28. Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, admitted the following understated bias in an interview in 2006:[28]
    "I would say that the Wikipedia community is slightly more liberal than the U.S. population on average, because we are global and the international community of English speakers is slightly more liberal than the U.S. population. There are no data or surveys to back that." [Conservapedia editor: why not? Wales admitted that only about 615 editors are responsible for over 50% of the edits on Wikipedia.[29] Why doesn't Wikipedia survey these editors? Is this deliberate indifference to bias?]
  29. Many people know how a prominent Tennessee journalist John Lawrence Seigenthaler was defamed for four months on Wikipedia before it was corrected. He described and criticized this in USA Today, concluding with the following:[30]
    When I was a child, my mother lectured me on the evils of "gossip." She held a feather pillow and said, "If I tear this open, the feathers will fly to the four winds, and I could never get them back in the pillow. That's how it is when you spread mean things about people."
  30. What most people don't know is how many Wikipedia editors savaged Seigenthaler afterwards on a Wikipedia talk page for publicly criticizing the falsehoods about him:[31]
    "Mr. Seigenthaler's attitude and actions are reprehensible and ill-formed," said one typical comment. "[He] has the responsibility to learn about his own name and how it is being applied and used, as any celebrity does on the Internet and the world-at-large. Besides, if there is an error whether large or small, he can correct it on Wikipedia. Everyone fails to understand that logic." Another wrote: "Rather than fixing the article himself, he made a legal threat. He's causing Wikipedia a lot of trouble, on purpose."
  31. The cofounder of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger, described "serious and endemic problems" in Wikipedia in a document entitled "Toward a Compendium of Knowledge" (Spet. 2006). Sanger observed that Wikipedia editors do not enforce their own rules consistently or effectively and that it has become an "arguably dysfunctional community" unattractive to traditional experts. Sanger declared the Wikipedia community's response to the Seigenthaler incident to be "completely unacceptable."[32]
  32. Wikipedia's errors spill undetected into newspapers. A Wikipedia entry falsely stated that Rutgers was once invited to join the Ivy League. Although that false statement was eventually removed from Wikipedia, it was not removed before the Daily News relied on it in this story:
    "You don't have to define your college with your football team, but Rutgers long ago decided to give it a try. Back in 1954, when it was considered a 'public Ivy,' Rutgers might have joined the fledgling Ivy League and altered its destiny. But the school declined the offer - arguably the dumbest mistake in its history. Ever since then, Rutgers has scrambled to prove itself worthy of playing football with the big boys." — Bondy, Filip. "They Can Finally Say They Belong Here", New York Daily News, 2006-11-10, p. 92. Retrieved on 2006-12-13.

References

  1. http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=444
  2. Compare Liberal Wikipedians with Conservative Wikipedians
  3. http://www.jpands.org/vol8no2/malec.pdf
  4. http://www.jpands.org/vol8no2/rooney.pdf
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservapedia
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Teller
  7. The version criticized above; the note left by dpbsmith on the article's discussion page; the current version.
  8. This phrase was removed from Wikipedia only after this criticism was posted here. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_Trade_Act
  9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Division_of_labor
  10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Deist_thinkers
  11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District
  12. ACLU
  13. Id.
  14. Id.
  15. Simply search "Moby" and "song" together on Wikipedia.
  16. http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_publi.htm
  17. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Evolution
  18. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elementary_proof
  19. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feudalism
  20. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Donald_Schaefer
  21. John Tower, revision as of Jan 25
  22. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Childhood_Vaccine_Injury_Act
  23. http://www.909shot.com/
  24. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Liddell
  25. http://news.com.com/Study+Wikipedia+as+accurate+as+Britannica/2100-1038_3-5997332.html
  26. http://www.opendemocracy.net/media-edemocracy/wikipedia_bias_3621.jsp
  27. http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2007/01/conservapedia_w.html
  28. http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2006/04/email_debatewales_discusses_po.html
  29. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/02/12/bias_sabotage_haunt_wikipedias_free_world/?page=2
  30. http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2005-11-29-wikipedia-edit_x.htm
  31. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/02/12/bias_sabotage_haunt_wikipedias_free_world/?page=3
  32. http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/citizendium.ars