Some days ago, Jimmy Wales answered a Change petition asking him to drop Wikipedia standards of evidence in order to make woo look respectable. Wales’ answer was formidable:
No, you have to be kidding me. Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back to check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful.
Wikipedia’s policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals – that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately.
What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of “true scientific discourse”. It isn’t.
I applaud and admire Wales’ stance. And that’s why I am writing this.
Unlike Wikipedia in English, the Spanish version is run by a mob that gives credit to pseudoscience, conspiracy theories and the paranormal (whatever that is). You can check out the acupuncture, Deepak Chopra, Rupert Sheldrake entries or any other of their ilk.
They are slightly less than propaganda.
No Guerilla Skepticism
This issue was detected back in 2007, when the Spanish Wikipedia editors purged any references to skeptic webpage El retorno de los charlatanes, which has unflattering posts about, literally, hundreds of topics ranging from charlatan Alejandro Jodorowsky to the fraudulent Triodos Bank -which belongs to the anthroposophy sect-.
Spanish speaking skeptics thought Wikipedia would become a more welcoming place for evidence-based collaborations when Jimmy Wales himself tackled homeopathy. We were naive.
The Spanish Wikipedia crew answered with tone policing and ad hominem attacks. We are entitled to an encyclopedia as good as the Encyclopaedia Britannica, or at least that’s what we thought and asked for.
So there goes the whole having an evidence-based web-encyclopedia in Spanish concept down the toilet. I guess Susan Gerbic and Jimmy Wales can start crying right now.
It’s not about me
I can actually go and read English Wikipedia or the Britannica. But this is not about me, or my fellow skeptics. The Spanish Wikipedia is one of the largest Wikis, generating 9% of the website’s traffic, and Spanish is a language with over 405 million speakers. It is about all of them, us.
It’s about providing all of us with accurate and evidence based information (or like I call them, facts), whether you like what is being said or not. I would think that’s what Jimmy Wales has in mind, and the Spanish Wikipedia crew are just not delivering.