Whitewashing wiki

There’s an interesting case of this recently. The prime examplar appears to be this edit which removes

For many years Spencer, along with [[John R. Christy]], has maintained an atmospheric temperature record derived from satellite microwave sounding unit measurements, commonly called the [[UAH satellite temperature dataset|"UAH" record]] record (see also [[satellite temperature record]]). This was once controversial as until the late 1990s the satellite record erroneously showed a net global cooling trend, at odds with the [[radiosonde]] and [[surface temperature record|surface record]]. A number of corrections (mostly minor) have been made since been made bringing the UAH “lower troposphere temperature” data closer to agreement with other temperature records. The most significant correction, demonstrated in a 1998 paper by [[Frank Wentz]] and Matthias Schabel of [[RSS]], was to correct for orbital decay of the MSU satellites.<ref>{{cite journal|last=Wentz|first=Frank J.|coauthors=Matthias Schabel|journal=Letters to Nature|date=13 August 1998|volume=394|pages=661–661|title=Effects of orbital decay on satellite-derived lower-tropospheric temperature trends|doi=10.1038/29267|issue=6694}}</ref><ref>http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalreport/sap1-1-final-execsum.pdf</ref>

(disclaimer: I wrote that text, of a close version of it, so I’m fond of it). For anyone familiar with the GW debate this just just the Bleedin’ Obvious, but it was removed with the comment Removed original research in violation of WP:NOR. This brings on the main theme of this post, which is the abuse of wikipedia’s policies by whitewashers. The main problem is [[WP:BLP]] which is the “Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons” policy. In theory, this is a noble attempt to do the obvious, but actually its a charter for people with an axe to grind to remove stuff they don’t like from the pages of people they do like. NOR (No Original Research, originally brought in to stop the physics cranks) isn’t so bad, in that its less often abused, though its clearly being abused here.

BLP is a bit of a stick to beat people with – it certainly was in [[ARBCC]] – and its easier to remove critical material than non-critical, thus leaving inbalance. For marginal figures in the real world – and people like Spencer or Watts or McI are pretty marginal in the real world, there isn’t much mainstream coverage of them – its hard to write a decent bio without violating the letter of the policy.

The current whitewasher is [[User:JournalScholar]]; to anyone used to usernames, this one is a red flag from the start. And the M.O. – blank denial of any problems – is suspiciously familiar. JS is currently indef’d; but see How not to edit wikipedia for quite what that means, and another example. There’s also discussion of the block at [[WP:ANI]] which is also interesting (notice the troll Collect popping up, as he usually does, do defend any septic). Update: the ANI report is now closed so JS may just stay indef’d, if he isn’t careful. Update: he wasn’t, and its now over, and even over-er.


* Other examples abound, but predictably enough people are removing Ryan’s lies about his marathon time; see also Porkies.


  1. #1 thefordprefect
  2. #2 DirkH

    What do you mean with “troll collect pops up to defend any septic”? I don’t know enough about wikipedia editing to make sense of that.

    [Oops sorry. I'll update the post with a link to the user -W]

  3. #3 rdb

    Peter Watts’If You Meet Neil DeGrasse Tyson on the Road, Kill Him. may amuse, though with less Orangemarlin style than some of his posts.

    [Is that OM? I didn't know. I looked for some connection, but didn't see it -W]

  4. #4 rdb

    I doubt it is OM, different health problems, location, I meant more the language that would offend some Wiki sensibilities than the polite bullshit.

    [Ah, I see. I could have been persuaded... Regardless, it was of interest, and its on my Reader feed for a trial period -W]

  5. #5 P. Lewis

    It seems Wikipedia may have a problem in identifying who is and who is not a credible source… LOL!

  6. #6 Eli Rabett
  7. #7 P. Lewis

    Oh my giddy aunt!

  8. [...] 2012/09/06: Stoat: Whitewashing wiki/A> [...]

  9. #9 Doug Proctor

    Weird. The removed portion is not a reason to punt the UAH satellite data, it is just an explanation of why earlier data required to be corrected. Corrections are not important (Hansen has done lots of that), the reasons for doing the corrections are what count. The remaining difference between the UAH satellite data and the Hansen data is significant, however the prior corrections are immaterial today. If there are additional corrections to be done, to whichever database you use, that is worthy of note. But this is historical.

    I don’t know why anyone would gain from removing the note of prior corrections, warmists or skeptics alike.