2011-07-12 18:08:43Skeptical Science on Wikipedia -- 1st Draft



After two days of fumbling with Wikipedia code, I have finished a draft of what will be Skeptical Science's entry into the world of Wiki. I've now gotten to a point where I'm ready to let people make suggestions for improvements. The site is not yet in Wikipedia's mainspace, but rather held as a sub-page of my user page, meaning for now only those who have the link are likely going to find it. 

I have included as many outside resources as I could find, but a veteran at Wikipedia has already urged me to find more and "better" ones before letting it go live. I haven't been able to find too much else worthwhile on Google but suspect that some of the people who have been here longer will know of things that I couldn't find. Consider finding additional outside sources to be priority #1 for this article.

Since it is a Wikipedia article, feel free to make small changes direclty in the article as you see fit (careful not to use your name if you contribute to SkS regularly), but it may be a good idea to discuss big changes here beforehand. And please remember the article needs read like an unbiased contribution to Wikipedia, and not a plug for the site. Neutrality is extra important when creating an article from scratch, as articles that read like mere advertisements are quickly deleted.

For this reason, it includes some information that is less than flattering. I believe this will help the article's chances of being accepted as a new entry. After it has been firmly established as a valid article, negative passages can be toned down or removed completely without putting the entire article in as much danger of being removed. So for the moment, I encourage the loyal contributors to SkS to put on their denier hats and not be hesitant to include sources that are critical of SkS, even if you believe the criticism is factually inaccurate.

So, at this point I'll stop my pompous lecturing and see what you guys think. I'll be interested to hear all suggestions for changes/additions/deletions.  


By the way, I just (now) remembered that John had given me a link to the media articles page on Skeptical Science which I see includes some great additional sources. I will go ahead and absorb those into the article tomorrow.

2011-07-12 19:32:59
Rob Painting

Looks good. I can't help with negative comments from other blogs, because I rarely bother with denier blogs.

2011-07-12 22:32:28
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley

looks good to me.  reference 14 has the wrong author, it should be Lubos Motl (I had a look at the SPPI report, very funny!)

2011-07-12 23:45:35Comment
Robert Way


maybe we should have one for the scientific guide to global warming skepticism too and link to it :P

2011-07-12 23:46:43Comment
Robert Way


Not sure if i want to call motl's commentary a rebuttal. That implies he was right

2011-07-13 00:12:14


"In April 2010, physicist Luboš Motl authored a 28-page report for the Science and Public Policy Institute containing a point-by-point rebuttal of all arguments present on the Skeptical Science website.[14]"

=> "In April 2010, physicist Luboš Motl authored a 28-page report for the Science and Public Policy Institute containing point-by-point counter-arguments to all arguments present on the Skeptical Science website.[14]"

"Cook has also been recognized for his conservative evangelical beliefs while maintaining his stance on anthropogenic global warming,[15] two positions that many people would consider conflicting.[16]"


"Cook has also been recognized for his conservative Christian evangelical beliefs while maintaining his stance on anthropogenic global warming,[15] two positions that some people would consider conflicting.[16]"

2011-07-13 01:01:39
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley

I'm not sure Lubos' article even amounts to counter-argument, in most cases they are just quibbling, however for the purpose of the article "counter-argument" is much better.

I don't know whether is is a national culture thing, but in the U.K. Christian evangelical beliefs seems pretty much orthogonal to views on the environment - I would have thought they are more likely to go together rather than being contradictory!  Strange world we live in!

2011-07-13 03:51:00comments
Dana Nuccitelli

It seems a bit odd to include the Alexa rank (in the right margin).  Alexa generally isn't considered a terribly accurate gauge of site traffic, plus it's not clear whether that's the global rank, or Australian, etc.

In the Smartphone app section you say "Along with software development company Shine Technologies, the site recently produced".  Saying "recently" probably isn't a good idea on a Wikipedia page, which will hopefully be there for many years to come.  Maybe replace with "in 2010".

Under Projects: "a feature highlighting the successful predictions made by scientists studying global warming" - if you're referring to the 'lessons from past climate predictions' series, they're not necessarily successful predictions.  I'd call it "a feature examining the accuracy of past predictions made by scientists studying global warming"

"as well as individual features to discredit the claims made by..." Lindzen Illusions etc. aren't necessarily trying to "discredit" their claims.  More like "evaluate" or "assess" their claims.  It just so happens that their claims are bogus :-)

I agree on changing the wording of Motl's article from "rebuttal" to "counter-argument".

Looks good overall.  Nice job.

2011-07-13 06:46:11


If I remember correctly, someone cited SkS last year or two years ago at the AGU meeting. If any of you has a reference could be worth adding it.

Good job Dawei.

2011-07-13 07:36:55
Andy S


Yes, that was Robert Simmon of NASA Earth Observatory at last year's AGU. Unfortunately, he only included the mention of SkS in his slides, not in his abstract, so it's no use as a Wiki reference. He rated SkS below RealClimate but above his own NASA division in terms of reliablility of information on climate change. I have a set of his slides (there are some nice pictures); if anyone wants a copy, please email me agskuce@gmail.com


PS to Dawei, you spelled "Monckton" wrong. Great job!

I suppose that we can't help but reference Lubos (The Unredeemable Czech). I think Dawei is right in that this has to be fair-and-balanced even if that's a false balance to pass muster with the Wikipedia potentates.

2011-07-13 07:40:50Comments on Wikipedia draft
John Cook

Love the mention of SkS - some people use SS which has slightly Godwin's Law overtones. I'm trying to make SkS ubiquitous by using it everywhere. This helps!

Rather than say "165 articles" which will go out of date soon, should you instead say "at least 160"? Or is it better to be specific and update regularly?

Perhaps "Most articles have been translated into several languages, and are split up into three levels of technical depth" should be "Many articles have been translated into several languages, and are split into up to three levels of technical depth."

Perhaps better to be more specific with iPhone launch which was in February 2010.

 What do you think of adding that the app is free? Eg - "Shine Technologies offered to develop the application completely free of charge and the application is free to download"

Is it worthwhile mentioning the Android app or Nokia app? The Nokia app won an award too (http://www.skepticalscience.com/Talkin-bout-the-Skeptical-Science-phone-apps.html)

"that serve to give a much more in-depth analysis of a particular topic" - lose the 'much', sounds more neutral without it.

With the Guide, should you include a reference with a link to http://sks.to/guide

"co-written by Cook and Haydn Washington, was published" ->  "co-authored by Cook and Haydn Washington, was published by UK publisher Earthscan"

I'd characterize Ove Hoegh-Guldberg as an ocean scientist or marine biologist, not just a biologist.

This is nitpicking but technically Lubos didn't "author a 28-page report for the Science and Public Policy Institute" - he "blogged a detailed critique of SkS that was subsequently republished by the SPPI in a 28-page report".  

This is predictable but I find the comment on evangelical Christianity/climate as "two positions that many people would consider conflicting" a controversial statement. Of course *I* don't find a conflict but I'm not Robinson Crusoe there - numerous evangelical groups  have supported climate action.

Overall, excellent job! I think the tone is pretty good - perhaps even make it a bit more critical of SkS?

2011-07-13 10:50:08


Thanks guys for your comments. I believe I have made every change that was suggested.

I have also had a couple more experienced Wikipedians check it over, and according to them it looks good. Although they did warn that, being a climate change article, it could be attacked by skeptics right out of the gate.

SO.....I am going to put the site live into the mainspace of Wikipedia tonight. I will be checking it regularly over the next few days, but it would be great if any other SkS contributors who are familiar with editing Wikipedia could help me out, and just revert any obvious vandalism that you see.

I should also pass on the warning that was given to me: if you do keep your eye on the article, be careful not to get into an editing war or use any aggressive language with skeptics. This has been such a problem lately that there is currently a probation in place on all climate change-related articles on Wikipedia. I haven’t read it in detail but believe it’s something like anyone who gets into an editing war or otherwise violates Wikipedia's editing guidelines can have their account immediately banned.  

Thanks again for the thoughts. And remember just because it's going live doesn't mean changes can't be made, so feel free if you read it again and see something you don't like or that should be added. I expect the article will change and grow a lot over the next few months, and hopefully help to increase the site's exposure in the world.

2011-07-13 11:02:58


...annd, we are live. Love it.


By the way, if any of the translators here would like to translate it for the other language Wikipedia sites, that would be great. Having multiple languages may help it seem noteworthy. The translations need not be exact or as long as the original English.

If you're not familiar with creating Wikipedia pages you can just write your translations of the text here and I can create the pages myself. Let me know.

And by the by the way, I found this as part of my random Googling. I had never heard of this site, but it is very good!

2011-07-13 16:16:51Looks good, Dawei, well done
John Cook


To be precise, I *read* Inhofe's speech, not heard it but that's just nitpicking to the nth degree! :-)

2011-07-13 16:40:08


Hah, alright, I'll make that correction later. I'd do it now but doing so might be seen as evidence that I am collaborating with you, which could be bad.

2011-07-14 16:43:04I wouldn't even bother making the change
John Cook


Forget I mentioned it - unless you're making other changes at a later date - really not that big a deal

2011-07-14 18:34:15
Paul D


What about the Firefox addon?