Wiki Witch of the West

Predictions Revisited and Climate Change: News and Comments

The Wiki Witch of the West

A pingback comes from Lamont County Environment, which I guess must be Lamont County, Alberta, Canada, where birds throng in summer on the nature reserve of Beaverhill Lake. http://lce.folc.ca/2010/06/11/propaganda-history-and-global-warming/

That item quotes my recent Tradecraft of Propaganda post http://calderup.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/tradecraft-of-propaganda/ and also the entry about me in Wikipedia. Added comments defend me from a perceived bias in Wikipedia. But that entry really isn’t too bad, compared with three years ago, when it first picked up on a climate prediction of mine made in 1980.

Here’s the story told in a plain-text email sent in April 2007 to CCNet (Cambridge Conference Network) run by Benny Peiser of Liverpool John Moores University, who’s now director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

THE WIKI WITCH OF THE WEST STRIKES AGAIN

Dear Benny

It’s one thing to be held to account for daring predictions made nearly 30 years ago, another to have them perversely rated. Last year a blogger on the Vanity Fair website, Jim Windolf, reported that he had found in a junk shop “a worn-out copy of The Book of Predictions, a compendium of ‘4,000 exclusive predictions’ edited by the family team of David Wallechinsky, Amy Wallace, and Irving Wallace”. Among the gems from 1980 for his readers to chortle about, Windolf picked out the following:

British science journalist Nigel Calder wrote that, by 2000, ‘the much-advertised heating of the earth by the man-made carbon-dioxide ‘greenhouse’ fails to occur; instead, there is renewed concern about cooling and an impending ice age.”

A thought policeman who uses Wikipedia to promote the man-made global warming hypothesis has now added that quote to my biography, with the comment: “After his prediction was proven wrong, Calder participated in the polemic documentary film The Great Global Warming Swindle. He also co-authored The Chilling Stars.”

Proven wrong, forsooth! As 20-year forecasts go, mine was rather good, wouldn’t you say? “Global warming” did indeed come to a halt in the 1990s, as I first pointed out on German TV in 2002. Only a few of us talked about a cooling at that time, and I must admit that back in 1980 I failed to foresee the extraordinary intervention into climate physics, by governments and gullible media. It made most people unobservant about the changing trend. But “renewed concern about cooling” is now commonplace, which moderates any forecasting error in that respect. An example this month: http://www.thenewamerican.com/tech-mainmenu-30/environment/942

As for the impending ice age, it ranks with your next NEO impact – without human intervention it’s bound to happen. We don’t know when, but if anyone needs reminding that the next glaciation could in principle begin any time soon, concern is still freely aired in Russia, which has been relatively immune to IPCC brainwashing: e.g. http://english.pravda.ru/science/earth/106922-earth_ice_age-0

Just because I’m a sceptic, Wikipedia elects to focus on the 10% of my writing that happens to deal with the climate. In my accounts of general relativity, astrophysics, particle physics and solid-Earth geophysics (for example) I show my readers what real physics looks like. It’s all very different from the computer games of the climate modellers.

But we know about the Wiki Witch of the West, don’t we, Benny? “Peisers [sic] crap shouldn’t be in here,” said William Connelley, as Lawrence Solomon reported last year. http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NjU1ZDBhOGExOWRlNzc5ZDcwOTUxZWM3MWU2Mjc5MGE=

Except about the incipient cooling, I’m an incorrigible optimist. Perhaps the popularity and generally benign intentions of Wikipedia will work in our favour, if hopeful readers and hard-working editors alike rebel against its corruption by the prejudice of one administrator. In The Wizard of Oz, if I remember rightly, Dorothy’s solution was a bucket of water.

Your fellow Munchkin

Nigel Calder

My remarks to Peiser elicited expressions of concern from another Wikipedia editor, and I was able to adjust the entry a little. I had no objection to being held to account for my forecast.

The Wiki Witch was unmasked, as in the quote above from Lawrence Solomon of Canada’s National Post, and later in a fuller account by Solomon http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2009/12/18/370719.aspx Here’s an extract.

One person in the nine-member Realclimate.org team — U.K. scientist and Green Party activist William Connolley — would take on particularly crucial duties.

Connolley took control of all things climate in the most used information source the world has ever known – Wikipedia. Starting in February 2003, just when opposition to the claims of the band members were beginning to gel, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. He rewrote Wikipedia’s articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug.11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world’s most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period.

All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn’t like the subject of a certain article, he removed it — more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred — over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley’s global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia’s blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement.

But although we Munchkins might be tempted to sing

Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicki Witch! Ding Dong! The Wicki Witch is dead.

– I still advise caution in using Wikipedia on any contentious subject, not just climate change.

Two closing notes.

William Connelley was prominent in whipping up complaints to the regulator Ofcom, about Channel 4’s “The Great Global Warming Swindle”.

The Book of Predictions was published in 1981 by William Morrow & Co. and my forecasts, submitted at the request of the editors, are on pp. 67-8. Some of them were so much rasher than the climate forecast that it will be salutary to return to them on this blog, under Predictions Revisited.


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6 Responses to Wiki Witch of the West

  1. Alan Simpson says:

    Nigel, wikikpedia is a biased joke. Worms like Connelley pretty much own it, don’t lose any sleep.

  2. Richard111 says:

    I read a blog post over a year ago where a contest was being held to time how long an entry would survive on wikipedia. The entry was a valid peer reviewed paper that contradicted some awg claim. The record was nine minutes from post to deletion!

    I have never been back to wikipedia by my own choice.
    There are other encyclopedias on the web.

  3. Pointman says:

    Just a thank you note.

    You’re a voice of reason in this period of Post-Normal Science. All great mass delusions go the way of Lysenkoism and Eugenics – into the dustbin of history but not before they’ve cost lives.

    Pointman

  4. Solomon’s stuff is drivel; inevitably, because he doesn’t understand wikipedia. See http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/01/04/a-childs-garden-of-wikipedia-p/ if you’re interested.

    [And if you're wondering why I'm not replying to you at WUWT where I found your comment, its because I'm banned there. AW doesn't like people who can demonstrate that he's wrong.]

    Anyway, like AW, you seem to have trouble with, and understanding, wiki. You wrote “Tussles with Wikipedia about my entry have gone on for so long in ding-dong fashion that I’ve had to give up”. But the history of your wiki article is free for all to view (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nigel_Calder&offset=&limit=250&action=history). There’s no real sign of edit warring, beyond a rather minor episode back in 2007. Nor is there any sign of anyone identifyably you trying to do anything.

    If you think there is anything wrong with your article, particularly simple factual information, you should just edit it.

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