Is the Wikipedia page on Intelligent Design biased?

This is the time and place for that argument.

I can see several reasons why some-one might consider the Wiki page on ID to be biased:

  1. It refers to ID as “pseudoscience”. But ID is pseudoscience, as can be seen by its total lack of testable hypotheses, so referring to it as such is not bias. Failing to inform readers that ID as pseudoscience would be bias.

  2. It refers to ID as an argument for the existence of God, whereas IDers claim otherwise. But this is backed up with references to IDers equating the designer with God. Not going along with the DI’s pretence is not bias.

  3. It includes as much or more information on arguments against ID as it does on arguments for ID. This could be a sign of bias, but it could also be justified. If an idea is deeply flawed, pointing out the flaws is not bias.

  4. It omits some subtopics. There is no reference to the Kansas hearings, for example, only the Kitzmiller case. Likewise, some arguments used to support ID are omitted (e.g. Axe’s protein space calculations), but it seems to me that the omitted ones are largely arguments against evolution, not in favour of ID. Ewart’s module hierarchy idea is an exception. Choice of subtopics could show bias, but again that would need to be supported.

But any evidence for bias should really be provided by those who have claimed bias. So let’s see what we get…

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IMO the page is biased in its framing of those who oppose ID as “critics.”

The reality is that IDcreationists deserve that label, as they are mere polemicists who only criticize those who actually do science–while refusing to advance or test a scientific ID hypothesis themselves.

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This would be due to Wikipedia’s policy on “Due and undue weight”:

Neutrality requires that mainspace articles and pages fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in the published, reliable sources.

(My emphasis)

Also relevant to Wikipedia’s treatment of ID would be this policy:

Taking these policies into account, it can easily be argued that the article is not biased, but simply follows Wikipedia policy by describing a ‘Fringe’ viewpoint in a way that gives due weight to the overwhelming scientific viewpoint that ID is nonsense on stilts.

Whether Larry Sanger’s opinion is well-informed depends not only on his familiarity with Wikipedia’s NPOV policy, but also on whether he is familiar with just how thoroughly ID has been debunked.

This is in fact covered on the article’s Talkpage, with the posting of a Arbitration Committee ruling relevant to the matter:

Arbitration Ruling on the Treatment of Pseudoscience

In December of 2006 the Arbitration Committee ruled on guidelines for the presentation of topics as pseudoscience in Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Pseudoscience. The final decision was as follows:

  • Neutral point of view as applied to science: Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, a fundamental policy, requires fair representation of significant alternatives to scientific orthodoxy. Significant alternatives, in this case, refers to legitimate scientific disagreement, as opposed to pseudoscience.
  • Serious encyclopedias: Serious and respected encyclopedias and reference works are generally expected to provide overviews of scientific topics that are in line with respected scientific thought. Wikipedia aspires to be such a respected work.
  • Obvious pseudoscience: Theories which, while purporting to be scientific, are obviously bogus, such as Time Cube, may be so labeled and categorized as such without more.
  • Generally considered pseudoscience: Theories which have a following, such as astrology, but which are generally considered pseudoscience by the scientific community may properly contain that information and may be categorized as pseudoscience.
  • Questionable science: Theories which have a substantial following, such as psychoanalysis, but which some critics allege to be pseudoscience, may contain information to that effect, but generally should not be so characterized.
  • Alternative theoretical formulations: Alternative theoretical formulations which have a following within the scientific community are not pseudoscience, but part of the scientific process.
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Is Wikipedia biased?

Of course it is. It could not be otherwise. Everything is biased.

Daytime is a period biased toward high illumination. Nighttime is a period biased toward low illumination.

Wikipedia does have standards. The whole point of standards is to produce a bias – in this case a bias toward a more useful public encyclopedia.

We casually throw around the charge “bias”. But it is just the way that the world is.

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Okay, maybe I should have elaborated that it could be argued that the article isn’t biased in a meaningful and/or problematical way.

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Mostly, Wikipedia puts forward a dominant-consensus view. It shouldn’t be surprising that it does that. If Wikipedia had existed a few hundred years ago, it would be arguing that the Divine Right of Kings was a well-supported principle. A bit before that, and it would be discussing the controversy over how, not whether, to punish witches. And slavery would be accepted as OK, with some crackpots such as Quakers who didn’t accept it described as extremists. In most cases in science Wikipedia is a bulwark against pseudoscience and crackpottery. In some cases, such as whether there is lots of junk DNA in the genome, Wikipedia reflects the dominant consensus among genomicists and molecular biologists and in doing that, is wrong.

I wasn’t criticizing your post. I was objecting to the frequent attacks of “bias”.

When I look up something in Wikipedia, I generally expect to find opinion – usually a range of opinion. I don’t go to Wikipedia for definitive answers, because there usually aren’t any.

I’m suspecting that most of people who complain about Wikipedia are pro-ignorance.

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HI Neil

The more political the argument the less accurate Wikipedia is IMO. The article is a blatant misrepresentation of much of ID. Intelligent design and macro evolutionary theory are highly politicized topics as they lend support to opposing worldviews.

Well, that’s the quickest confirmation of a hypothesis I’ve seen today.

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I’ll take it that you disagree.

There’s no point in complaining about accuracy, when we have no standard by which to judge accuracy.

It is interesting that the very people who started the war against evolutionary science are complaining that it has turned into a battlefield.

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Yes! The question, in a world where one has, in practice, to adopt some amount of relativism, is all about standards. Of course, any Holocaust denier is going to find Wikipedia’s coverage of Holocaust denial “biased.” Likewise for creationists, whether OEC, YEC, IDC or otherwise.

Any coverage of ID Creationism from an evidence-based, reason-based point of view is going to be perceived as “biased” by the BS merchants responsible for IDC. And the kind of crazy postmodern extreme relativists whose views are frequently echoed by the ID Creationists would argue that indeed, all versions of everything are all “just points of view,” and that even the selection of standards for judging points of view are themselves only expressions of points of view. But if we do have standards which include such things as plausibility and evidentiary support, it is obvious that any reasonable portrayal of ID Creationism will make it look bad. How could it be otherwise?

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There are plenty of ways to judge accuracy. Quantity of misrepresentation is a measure of inaccuracy.

I don’t have a problem with the battlefield as constructive argument is fine. I simply am making a statement on Wikipedia which can be very useful in discussions with a low level of political content like the profile of a cellular protein.
Lets not forget this war has a long history. :slight_smile:

Speak of the devil and feel his breath.

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If Time Cube did not exist, someone would have to invent it. :wink:

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I think it could be argued that ID advocates see the article as a “misrepresentation” because it does not represent ID as they see it. This is in fact a feature, not a bug, as Wikipedia explicitly sets out to represent topics so as to “provide overviews of scientific topics that are in line with respected scientific thought.” Given the wide variance between how ID presents itself and how the scientific community views it, it is hardly surprising that ID advocates have a hard time recognising themselves, and this is not in the least bit Wikipedia’s fault.

I would also point out that to the extent that the ID-evolution issue has become politicised, it is entirely the ID Movement’s own fault. Given their abject failure to win any significant scientific support, they have turned their hand to trying to use politics to insert their views into the classroom: at the local school board level (remember Dover), State (so-called ‘Academic Freedom’ bills, based upon model legislation created by the DI) and national (the Santorum Amendment). Likewise, the DI’s output, especially ENV, tend to resemble political polemics, far more than it resembles serious scientific discourse.

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I’m afraid you’re committing the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy there. Just because the Time Cube happens to fill this evolutionary niche does not mean that some other batshit theory could not have filled the same niche, the whole thing is completely contingent, and simply a fluke caused by that particularly batshit theory coming along just as the Worldwide Web was opening up and finding the niche unoccupied. :wink:

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I think that the Kansas hearings may not be mentioned because they turned out to be somewhat of a damp squib, both because the scientific community boycotted it, and because Dover overshadowed it. This means that, unlike Dover, there has been comparatively little in the way of ongoing coverage – books, retrospectives, etc. I don’t know if even the DI bothers to even talk about it anymore. This feeds into the Wikipedia policy that issues should be given due weight “in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in the published, reliable sources.” If most prominent, reliable sources talk about Dover rather than Kansas, Wikipedia is supposed to follow suit.

Likewise I do not think that Axe’s and Ewert’s views appear to have garnered much, if any, prominent coverage.

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What exactly have they misrepresented? Please provide at least one example of a misrepresentation on that page.

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The Kansas hearings have a separate page on Wikipedia, which AFAICT is not mentioned or linked from the ID page.

(Yes, I know I could change that…)

True - and neither of them has a Wikipedia page. More bias against ID…

Yes, I know, I was an editor on both articles a decade ago. :slight_smile:

If the Kansas hearings would have been mentioned, it would be as part of the ‘History’ section (as it doesn’t really fit anywhere else in the article). I assume that, due to its lack of lasting influence or prominence, it wasn’t considered of sufficient importance to ID’s history to be worth mentioning.

:slight_smile:

Probably because neither of them have any prominent coverage outside the ID echo chamber or blogs devoted to documenting/opposing ID. We can call this “bias” if we wish, but the alternative would be to allow everybody to make Wikipedia articles about their pets (write a blog about your pet, and write a Wikipedia article citing the blog as your source).

I think the best way in analysing the “bias” of these rules is to ask the counterfactual of what would happen if this rule was eliminated? Elimination of WP:Notability would allow articles on personal pets, eliminating WP:Verifiability would turn Wikipedia into a gossip rag, etc, etc.