'Design' Proponents Accuse Wikipedia of Bias, Hypocrisy

( [email protected] ) May 09, 2007 03:56 PM EDT

Discovery Institute, an organization that promotes the field of intelligent design (ID), has posted a series of comments on its website accusing Wikipedia moderators of being unfairly biased against their view.

The author of the criticisms, Casey Luskin, a California attorney and co-founder of the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center, expressed his frustration with the sources cited from Wikipedia’s database as well as the group in charge of the online encyclopedia project for pushing their own agenda against ID theory.

“So what’s the purpose of the ‘encyclopedia’ page?” questioned Luskin in an earlier posting. “Is it intended to inform people about what intelligent design actually says or simply to publicize to the world what some critics want it to be, and what they think is wrong with it? It appears the primary aim is the latter.”

One of the disputes that is currently going on involves a ban of one of the pro-ID contributors from the web database. Wikipedia moderators will not allow the user’s contributions, because they claims that the ID proponent offer disruptive POV (point of view) statements and has made subjective submissions about what ID is.

Specifically, moderators did not accept the submission that intelligent design is a “theory.” Instead, they said, it should be treated only as a belief that the world was created by some sort of designer, and that the hypothesis does not stand up to scientific models that would allow it to be called a “theory.”

“You obviously have no understanding of what a scientific theory is,” read a moderator response on the Wikipedia site. “Please read Wikipedia's article on this subject, ‘Theory.’ Something can be a scientific theory and also a fact. Please do not make any more such contentious edits on subjects you have an incomplete understanding of.”

Luskin is now accusing the people behind the internet encyclopedia of hypocrisy, however, and noted that they are not “the blameless, objective scholars they claim to be.”

“Promoting a ‘point of view’?” continued the IDEA Center co-founder. “Their hypocrisy is incredible! The editor is clearly banning people because they disagree with his ‘point of view.’ It seems clear that only certain ‘points of view’ are acceptable on Wikipedia when it comes to intelligent design.”

In his most recent post, Luskin looks specifically at a misrepresentation put out on Wikipedia that skews what the “real data” looks like.

According to Wikipedia, in a 2005 Harris poll, ten percent of adults in the United States view human beings as "so complex that they required a powerful force or intelligent being to help create them." The site then mentions that the Discovery Institute has more favorable polls, but that they are unreliable because they have expressed interest in the outcome of the results.

“This post looks at merely two sentences out of the long Wikipedia entry on intelligent design,” expressed Luskin, “and finds inaccuracy, misrepresentation, bias, and hypocrisy.”

The first problem he cited is that the poll had two responses that both favored ID thought, but only one was used for the 10 percent result. The “actual results” would show that around 74 percent of Americans believe there is a creator.

Secondly, Luskin noted that the poll the site used was misrepresented in that it had actually been used to show favor for teaching ID in schools, which reveals inconsistency in its usage. The contributor also only provided partial information from the poll, which had several other statistics in favor of ID.

As a final note, Luskin directed attention to a reference in the article to Paul Kurtz, a leading atheist activist and co-founder for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

“The Wikipedia authors are so biased against intelligent design, they’re willing to cite a heavily biased source in order to allege a bias on the part of ID-proponents,” concluded the California lawyer. “Chances are, they didn’t even notice the logical hypocrisy in what they did.”

According to its own definition on the site, Wikipedia does mention that critics see the web-based encyclopedia as being possibly unreliable and inaccurate. It also mentions that, for the most part, it is roughly as accurate as other encyclopedias.

On the web: newest Discovery Institute response article in full.