Saturday, May 03, 2008

Wikipedia Bias - Richard Warman

Richard Warman is a controversial figure in Canada, but you wouldn't know that from his Wikipedia entry, which is little short of a hagiography. Only by clicking through to the discussion page would you become aware that his entry has been subject to frequent editing and re-editing, with the hagiographical tendency winning through because its advocates are official Wikipedia editors.

It's not as though the controversy is only known to a political fringe. Here's a clip of an interview on the very, very mainstream Mike Duffy show, filmed in the foyer of Canada's Federal Parliament building, in which Duffy discusses with Mark Steyn Warman's serial complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, a body that has mutated into one of the principle weapons used by Jihadist sympathisers to attack free speech in general, and criticism of Islamism in particular, in Canada.

Warman is suing a group of prominent Canadian bloggers for libel, a group that includes Ezra Levant, Small Dead Animals and Five Feet of Fury. There's no mention of this in his Wiki entry. Equally, if you turn to Ezra Levant's Wikipedia entry there's no mention of Warman there. There is, however, the following section, titled Support and Criticism:

Ezra Levant has been lauded by a wide-ranging group of Canadian citizens, particularly libertarians and free speech advocates. Notably, the Ezra Levant case has attracted the attention of organizations such as PEN Canada, the Canadian Association of Journalists, Egale Canada, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association—all of whom have called for reform of the commissions.

Proponents of the Human Rights Commissions have also asserted their belief, that the commissions have done well in promoting social justice in Canada, and the efforts by both Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn to undermine them, could have negative effects for all Canadians.
The second of those paragraphs is completely duplicitous - the CHRC is attacking Steyn and Levant, they are just responding to those attacks. Reading through the discussion page for Levant's entry it becomes clear that there has been a sustained attempt to link Levant with far-right groups and that at least one Wikipedia editor has been complicit in this campaign of deceit.

Levant is Jewish and these groups are, by and large, anti-Semitic. It's an absurd and dishonest piece of defamation by association based on the fact that Levant supports the right even of fascist groups to free speech; it's like saying that Peter Tatchell is an Islamist because he supports the right of the Muslim Council of Britain to make grotesquely anti-gay remarks (and he asks them to accept his right of free speech in return, something they haven't rushed to do).

I'm going to highlight some other examples of Wikipedia's bias in future posts - it has become endemic. I've been a big supporter of the project, but this bias seems to have become institutional and means that, except for technical and scientific subjects that do not relate either to climate or evolution, Wikipedia cannot be used as a reference with any confidence at all.


Mac the Knife said...

Climate, evolution and passive smoking. One of the Wiki editors is a heavy-duty tobacco control activist, or at least openly sympathetic to their 'cause'.

The overarching problem, is that we really can't be sure that anything on wikipedia is uncontaminated. It's a terrible shame, because it was a brilliant idea.

Anonymous said...

I've recently experienced a Wikipedia bias issue while trying to edit a page that was clearly biased about a living individual. It seems, contrary to their mission statement, that certain people or "editors" seem to OWN pages and no matter what an outsider tries to edit it is deleted. I contacted Wikipedia via their complaint portal and complained that editing was not done democratically with "truth" as a mission and my answer was "We are not a democratic organization nor do we care about truth"!! Yes, they really wrote that to me. They said that as long as a statement is "verifiable" it is admisable" meaning as long as it was written somewhere else (regardless of veracity) it is a "verifable" statement it is the duty of the aggrieved person to seek out the origins of the misstatement and get it corrected. Yeah right. Not easily done when the statement is from a BLOG! Wikipedia was a brilliant idea but it is now dominated by editors with clear personal agenda who have linked up somehow and have agendas to promote. Sad.