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A Colleague’s True Confession — “I Attempted to Edit Wikipedia”

David Klinghoffer

We’re experimenting with Facebook Live, allowing us to stream live video from within the offices of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. In an initial run, I chatted with colleague Nate Jacobson, our web designer, as he confessed to having attempted to edit the “Intelligent Design” entry on Wikipedia. This was about 10 years ago, long before we met him, and he devoted not less than a week to it.

The attempt failed. Nate caught an erroneous attribution of an opinion to Phil Johnson in Darwin on Trial. The editors declared the matter satisfactorily concluded when they had provided not a page citation to the actual book, but a link to a page at the National Center for Science Education website with the same falsehood. Wikipedia judged the error to be not an error when someone provided a web link as a “source.”

After we’d already wrapped up, CSC communications director Rob Crowther recounted war stories of epic battles simply trying to get Wikipedia to accurately state Bruce Chapman’s date of birth and other simple factual matters.

Forgive any inevitable technical glitches as we get accustomed to the medium. And yes, I know I need to speak up more loudly. Kudos to Nate for his raw candor in discussing a painful life lesson: When it comes to intelligent design and other controversial subject, you can’t edit Wikipedia!

For more, see “Meet the Cast of Characters Who Edit Wikipedia’s Page on Intelligent Design.”