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How “Notable” Do You Really Have to Be to Merit a Wikipedia Entry?

David Klinghoffer

Günter Bechly

Yesterday we reported that Wikipedia editors erased the entry for distinguished paleontolgist Günter Bechly, a proponent of the theory of intelligent design. They claimed no bias against ID but, so they asserted, were simply concerned that the scientist wasn’t “notable” enough.

Well, how “notable” do you really have to be to merit a Wikipedia entry? Judge for yourself.

I experimented by searching for names of random ID critics. Some you’d expect to be featured – Jerry Coyne or Kenneth Miller, for instance. Fine. But a team of bloggers for the now moribund site Panda’s Thumb? Yes, they are there including such luminaries as Wesley R. Elsberry. Read his entry and tell me, honestly, if you think he’s more “notable” than Günter Bechly? It indicates that Elsberry is a marine biologist, but his LinkedIn biography seems to have been updated more recently. It gives him as being currently employed as a programmer for a company offering “property management software solutions.” I suppose that’s notable if you’re a property manager.

Glenn Branch, professional Darwin flak and deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, has an entry. Stop laughing. This really surprised me, though — we find Lauri Lebo, who as a local newspaper reporter for the York Daily Record, in York, PA, covered the 2005 Kitzmiller trial. She is currently “spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania State Education association.”

Oh, and as her biography notes, her husband, Jefferson Pepper, is also on Wikipedia. He is a “singersongwritermusician, recording artist and social/environmental activist,” residing in York Haven, PA, I assume with Ms. Lebo. If you’re one of the benighted few who haven’t heard of Mr. Pepper, here he is on YouTube with sort of a whiny punk version of “This Land Is Your Land.”

Maybe this is the place to indulge and point out that my own Wikipedia entry is absurd. It features a person called Larry Yudelson (no entry) as the leading authority on me, “charg[ing] that Klinghoffer is paid to promote his ideas by his employer, the Discovery Institute…” Let that sink in: I’m “charged” with being paid by my employer.

That’s Wikipedia for youa source that countless people turn to thinking they’ll get objective information about controversial subjects like ID, for goodness’ sake.

Photo: Günter Bechly, in a scene from Revolutionary: Michael Behe and the Mystery of Molecular Machines, via YouTube and Discovery Institute.