Wednesday, November 22, 2017

ID Supporter Has Wikipedia Page Erased

Okay, this is just snotty.  Günter Bechly is a palaeontologist who was at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany.  Recently, Dr. Bechly came out in favor of Intelligent Design.  For this crime, he has had his Wikipedia erased.  According to David Klinghoffer, at Evolution and Science Today (used to be Evolution News and Views):
Our distinguished paleontologist colleague Günter Bechly was erased from Wikipedia after he came out as a proponent of the theory of intelligent design. That, in turn, was after he had already been pushed out of his curator role at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany, for the same reason. The editors at Wikipedia obscured their treatment of Günter, a world-class expert on dragonflies, by claiming his heresy on ID had nothing to do with the decision to excise him. Instead, they innocently proclaimed that it was due to the realization that he isn’t “notable” enough for the online encyclopedia.

I’ve already pointed out the problems with this contention, and noted that the editors of Bechly’s page and of the grossly distorted Intelligent Design page itself make little effort to hide the ideological axes they grind. There’s little mystery about what happened to Dr. Bechly, or to another ID advocate, Walter Bradley at Baylor University, whose Wiki entry was shredded to near nothing. This is one way the scientific consensus on evolution is maintained, by threatening dissenters. For a scientist, having your accomplishments erased is the ultimate punishment. Wiki editors meanwhile indulge atheist nobodies with extensive biography entries.
Aside from Klinghoffer's usual histrionic bluster about silencing people who disagree with “Darwinism,” (Ken Ham, Henry Morris, John Morris, Stephen Myer, Michael Behe and, yes, even Klinghoffer, himself, have Wikipedia pages) the timing is very suspicious.  Additionally, if you thought he was well-known enough to have a Wikipedia page, why is he suddenly not so?  His page needs to be restored. This just makes Wikipedia look bad and smacks of censorship.

4 comments:

  1. As I understand it, the page was erased on the grounds that he is not of sufficient interest. His publication record (https://gbechly.jimdo.com/science/publications/) is undistinguished and highly specialised, and you should not be taking Klinghoffer's estimate of this (or any other) situation at face value without verification.

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  2. Wikipedia entries can be challenged on grounds of lack of interest. Wikipedia then contacts whoever submitted the entry, inviting rebuttal, before making an editorial decision. Exactly this happened to a page on which I'm mentioned,Scottish Secular Society, which survived to this challenge.

    I have checked out Blechly in Web of Science. His publications are highly specialised, mainly in obscure journals, and with most of them earning very few citations, if any. So it seems to me, on the merits, that Wikipedia's decision to remove Blechly was the correct one.

    Meantime, like other ID martyrs, Blechly may well have earned more publicity from this episode than he has in his entire professional career.

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  3. This may be an unfair criticism. While it is certainly true that he has published in what you and I would call obscure journals, they are almost all German or generally European and Web of Science has a somewhat US-centric focus. Furthermore, even if they have few citations to them, Thomson Reuters (and now Clarivate Analytics) always has had the philosophy of indexing what they felt were only the top 25% of journals in any given field. This is why you can find quite a few publications in Google Scholar that don't show up in WoS. Despite this, he does have 30 publications in WoS. Is it earth-shattering? No, it is Damselflies and Dragonflies of the Cretaceous. Nonetheless, his research seems solid, without a whiff of YEC. I vote he stays on the island.

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