Wikipedia bias and climate wars

Guest essay by Eric Worrall


A few days ago Dr. Willie Soon pointed out on the social media site Parler that it is impossible to remove the term “Denier” from the Wikipedia entry for Sallie Baliunas.

I should have stated more clearly the big problem in Wiki related to William Connolley; the tyrant at Wiki

None of us can correct for the entries calling us climate change deniers: start with Robert Carter and Sallie Baliunas.

Source: Parler / Willie Soon

Baliunas’ Wikipedia description contains the line “Baliunas is a denier in regard to there being a connection between CO2 rise and climate change, saying in a 2001 essay with Willie Soon …”

So I decided to perform an experiment. As a long standing if infrequent Wikipedia editor, I updated Sallie’s Wikipedia entry to read “Baliunas disputes there being a connection between CO2 rise and climate change, saying in a 2001 essay with Willie Soon …”, and added an explanation to Sallie’s talk page (a secondary page associated with all Wikipedia pages, where people can leave comments).

Removed the word “denier”

People who dispute the connection between climate change and CO2 find the word “denier” offensive, many climate skeptics believe “climate denier” is an attempt to link the concept of disputing the consensus to “holocaust denial”. Is it really necessary to use the term “denier”? By all means describe the views of other scientists of this position, but surely it does no harm to avoid using a term which the subject of the article might take to be a deliberate antagonism.

Wikipedia editor Hob Galding (Hob admits this is a pseudonym) changed the entry back the next day, and offered the following explanation.

They find it offensive? So what? I find their existence offensive, but I don’t expect them to do anything about it. They exist, I am offended, end of story. And they? People call them deniers, they are offended, end of story? No, they keep whining that people recognize them for what they are. They are still deniers. It is the correct term used for such people. It is the term used in reliable sources. —Hob Gadling (talk) 11:49, 12 July 2020 (UTC)

I responded with some examples demonstrating attempts to link disagreeing with the alleged climate consensus to holocaust denial.

Disappointed Hob. Is it the goal of Wikipedia to be deliberately provocative and offensive towards the subjects of Wikipedia posts, for the crime of holding an unfashionable scientific view? Is the penalty for having the wrong scientific theory to be smeared as being comparable to those who deny that NAZIs murdered millions of Jewish people? There are a number of examples of academics or prominent journalists comparing or linking the idea of “climate denial” to “Holocaust denial”:

“The deniers of climate change are cut from the same cloth as Holocaust deniers. They’ve never been to the death camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau, so what they haven’t seen does not exist. The global warming deniers—the Koch brothers, for example—see only what they want to see.”[1]

“Instead of dishonouring the deaths of six million in the past, climate deniers risk the lives of hundreds of millions in the future. Holocaust deniers are not responsible for the Holocaust, but climate deniers, if they were to succeed, would share responsibility for the enormous suffering caused by global warming.”[2]

“Almost everywhere, climate change denial now looks as stupid and as unacceptable as Holocaust denial.”[3]

Regardless of the original intent or meaning, the term “denier” in the context of “climate denial” has become inextricably associated with the NAZI holocaust, thanks to its use by prominent journalists and academics. Its use in Wikipedia, against victims who are powerless to remove this label, whose crime is to hold an unfashionable scientific viewpoint, is just a form of bullying. Eric Worrall (talk) 14:09, 12 July 2020 (UTC)

1.  Charles R. Larson, Professor Emeritus, Washington University

2. Clive Hamilton / Hamilton: Denying the coming climate holocaust

3. George Monbiot / Almost everywhere, climate change denial now looks as stupid and as unacceptable as Holocaust denial.

I obtained these quotes from a longer list published on WUWT in 2014.

Someone spoke up in support of my point;

On 20 January 2020 Wiki5537821 changed “skeptic” to “denier” without explanation in the edit summary. It would be nice to see one. The reference later in the paragraph to a 2002 article, which should be linked to here rather than the current dead link, says things like “that exceedingly small positive trend is probably not the result of human activities”, i.e. Ms Baliunas believed there is warming and “probably” is a skeptical remark not a denial. Hob Gadling has re-inserted “denier” without seeking consensus first, and so far doesn’t have it — although I’m not interested in the WP:LABEL aspect that Eric Worrall seems to be alluding to, I agree that the earlier wording was better. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 15:02, 12 July 2020 (UTC)

“Hob” provided the following response;

I don’t think “capitalismmagazine” is a reliable source for scientific subjects. —Hob Gadling (talk)

15:30, 12 July 2020 (UTC) Boo hoo, poor anti-science loons, being compared with anti-history loons. See here: the section “no neutral POV” is pretty much the same as sections in Talk pages about climate change deniers. Like identical twins!As I said, we say what reliable sources say, and they call it “denial”. Denialism is a thing, and climate change denial is a big part of it. Don’t blame Wikipedia for common usage. Wikipedia does not pander to fringe groups: we do not call evolution “just a theory” because creationists are offended if we don’t, and we do not claim acupuncture is science because quacks are offended if we don’t. Read WP:LUNATIC.Climate change denial is not just “unfashionable”. That is not how science works. It is indefensible. If you want to be treated like real scientists, behave like real scientists. Do not just steal e-mails, cherry-pick quotes, cherry-pick data, cherry-pick studies, cherry-pick scientists, accuse innocent scientists of fraud, harrass them with legal shenanigans, bribe politicians, and so on. All the despicable methods deniers use have earned them the word “denier”. Instead, do real research, without any dirty tricks, and publish it in bona-fide scientific journals. (Of course, this will not work, since you are wrong and the data are against you, but it would be the honest way to do it, the way that does not get you called “denier”.) —Hob Gadling (talk) 15:30, 12 July 2020 (UTC)

Maybe this story will have a happy ending. The Wikipedia community might ultimately decide that “denier” (aka “holocaust denier”) is too loaded a term to use to describe a scientist who disagrees with their colleagues.

But as Hob explained, Wikipedia community guidelines have a backdoor clause which provides cover for those who enjoy using loaded language and revel in repeating academic insults. Under the rules, “Hob”, hiding behind the anonymity of a pseudonym, is allowed to use nasty pejorative terms in Wikipedia, providing a “reliable source” (as defined by the Wikipedia community) has already used such terms in public to attack the target of their slur;

BLPs [biographies of Living Persons] should be written responsibly, cautiously, and in a dispassionate tone, avoiding both understatement and overstatement. Articles should document in a non-partisan manner what reliable secondary sources have published about the subjects, and in some circumstances what the subjects have published about themselves. Summarize how actions and achievements are characterized by reliable sources without giving undue weight to recent events. Do not label people with contentious labelsloaded language, or terms that lack precision, unless a person is commonly described that way in reliable sources. Instead use clear, direct language and let facts alone do the talking. BLPs should not have trivia sections.

Read more:

Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia’s parent organisation) states “Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.”.

However as Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger points out, one of the core policies designed to support this ideal, the policy of Neutral Point of View, died out a long time ago, and was replaced by “the utterly bankrupt canard” of avoiding “false balance” (h/t Charles).

Wikipedia Is Badly Biased


Wikipedia’s “NPOV” is dead.1 The original policy long since forgotten, Wikipedia no longer has an effective neutrality policy. There is a rewritten policy, but it endorses the utterly bankrupt canard that journalists should avoid what they call “false balance.”2 The notion that we should avoid “false balance” is directly contradictory to the original neutrality policy. As a result, even as journalists turn to opinion and activism, Wikipedia now touts controversial points of view on politics, religion, and science. Here are some examples from each of these subjects, which were easy to find, no hunting around. Many, many more could be given.

Read more:

Wikipedia’s apparent betrayal of their founding ideal will likely be their downfall. As editors become bolder in venting their personal prejudices, under the guise of avoiding “false balance”, a growing number of Wikipedia’s target audience will become alienated by Wikipedia community’s intolerance.

“Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.” – without the bullying and hate speech.


By Eric Worrall
(Source:; July 12, 2020;
Back to INF

Loading please wait...