We all rely far too much on Wikipedia without questioning the veracity of the source. As a reminder of the fallibility of the user-generated entries, Dan Nosowitz exposes the climate change denier Ken Mampel at PopSci:
“All I am is a contributor. I have no title, I’m just a Joe Blow,” says Ken Mampel, a currently unemployed 56-year-old living in Ormond Beach, Florida. He’s also largely responsible for the Wikipedia article about Hurricane Sandy. If it isn’t already, that article will eventually become the single most-viewed document about the hurricane. On the entire internet.
In an unpaid but frenzied fit of news consumption, editing, correction, aggregation, and citation, Mampel has established himself as by far the most active contributor to the Wikipedia page on Hurricane Sandy, with more than twice the number of edits as the next-most-active contributor at the time this article was written.
And Mampel made sure that the Hurricane Sandy article, for four days after the hurricane made landfall in New Jersey, had no mention of “global warming” or “climate change” whatsoever.
* * *
Late in the evening of November 1st, a new section appeared at the bottom of the Wikipedia page, titled “Connection to global warming.” It was the first mention of climate change the article had had, and laid out the response from climate scientists, mostly stating that climate scientists don’t really know if the hurricane was caused in part or whole by climate change. I emailed Ken, who goes by the name Kennvido on Wikipedia, to get a response, and he wrote back: “thanks deleted again and told them to go discuss Sandy on the global warming page.” I reloaded the page and confirmed: Ken had eliminated any discussion of climate change. A few minutes later, I reloaded and the section was back, only with a big block warning, telling me that “The neutrality of this article is disputed.” By 10:23, that warning read: “An editor has expressed a concern that this Section lends undue weight to certain ideas, incidents, controversies or matters relative to the article subject as a whole. Please help to create a more balanced presentation.”
By the morning of November 2nd, the section was gone again. The revision history shows an argument: “the existence of other views is solved by referencing them in RS, not deleting views one disagrees with,” says one contributor. Mampel continues to fight, and he’s not the only one: another user chimed in that the Hurricane Sandy page is “Not the place to push global warming when no evidence exists that this was a cause.” But by early afternoon, the article had a small paragraph in the “Meteorological history” section linking to a few articles that suggest a connection to global warming. Ken had been overruled…
[continues at PopSci]
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