• Fjordman: The Bias and Dishonesty of Wikipedia

EuropeNews 19 June 2012
By Fjordman

I cannot and will not respond to all of the negative writings about me or accusations against me. My time is limited, and may be more usefully spent doing other things. My initial instinct was to ignore the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, too, but on further reflection, it seemed necessary to clarify the record.

Tens of millions of people use Wikipedia on a regular basis. They have a right to know just how biased this source can be and sometimes is.

Because Wikipedia is continuously edited by numerous unpaid volunteers in many countries, it changes more frequently than, say, the Encyclopædia Britannica Online. The following Wikipedia citations all refer to entries as they existed on June 15, 2012. One may hope some of these will later be changed for the better.

I will mainly focus on the English and Norwegian language editions in this discussion. The Vietnamese, Kurdish, Esperanto or Azerbaijani versions may also have problems, but I haven’t checked them. And yes, these all exist. By the summer of 2012, Wikipedia had entries on Anders Behring Breivik in about 60 different languages, which probably pleases his grossly inflated ego immensely. He is a nobody who became a somebody through mass murder.

The English entry on ABB claims that "In his writings Breivik displays admiration for the English Defence League (EDL)” and "sought to start a Norwegian version of the Tea Party movement” in the USA, who want lower taxes and less government interference in the lives of individual citizens. As a matter of fact, the EDL are quite marginal in the manifesto, receiving only a handful of very short mentions in more than 1500 pages.

The single most extensive quote about the EDL there is actually extremely negative, denouncing them as pathetic and useless non-violent sissies. Yet Breivik’s denouncing the EDL in the mainstream media was transformed into a mantra of "Breivik was just like the EDL, who are a group of potential terrorists.” This is, to say the least, grossly dishonest.

Under the subheading "Writing influences,” Wikipedia listed among others the Freedom Party of Austria, the Swiss People’s Party, Winston Churchill, Robert Spencer, Patrick Buchanan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Geert Wilders, the Australian historian Keith Windschuttle, Charles Martel, Richard Lionheart and John III Sobieski of Poland.

To their credit, the Wikipedia community included a (very brief) reference to that fact that Breivik admired and wanted to copy the brutality and methods of the Islamic Jihadist terror network al-Qaida. It also stated in a single paragraph that Wikipedia was extensively quoted in the manifesto and that Breivik during the trial named the free encyclopedia as his primary source of education, but the entry did not elaborate more upon this.

It said much more about Breivik’s alleged ties or sympathies to Zionists, "far Right” Islamophobes, "national conservatives” or even the English journalist Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear, the popular BBC television show about cars which currently enjoys hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide. From reading this Wikipedia entry, one might get the impression that Anders Behring Breivik was the collective product of all European and Western forces to the Right of the Social Democrats who don’t kiss the boots of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Much has been written about Anders Behring Breivik and his relationship with the Internet. It is true that he was affected by visiting blogs, reading texts or news, seeing videos or playing computer games online. On a darker note, he used it during his terror preparations to buy equipment, weapons and effects for his self-made uniform, and also to send his so-called manifesto by email to hundreds of people. However, the Internet itself is neither good nor bad; just like telephones or books are not. Technical tools may change the manner in which human beings interact, but they ultimately reflect the complexities of human relationships and the human mind itself.

The American entrepreneur Jimmy Wales co-founded Wikipedia as a free Internet-based encyclopedia operating under an open-source management style, edited collaboratively by volunteers and amateurs in multiple languages. Despite its significant flaws, chief of which is the lack of professionalism, Wikipedia has over the past decade become one of the most popular websites on the entire planet and is sometimes openly credited as a source by the mass media. Jimmy Wales visited Oslo to participate in Wikipedia Academy 2012. He then stated that his creation simply reflects ordinary human beings and their culture, for better or worse.

Just to highlight how important the encyclopedia is considered to be, a number of senior representatives of national political and cultural life participated in Wikipedia Academy 2012 alongside Wales and Jarle Vines from Wikimedia Norway. One of them was Heikki Holmås of the Socialist Left Party, the Minister of International Development in the Stoltenberg government. The Arts Council Norway, the main governmental operator for the implementation of Norwegian cultural policy, fully financed by the Ministry of Culture, announced in 2012 that it had set aside money for training purposes to encourage certain state employees to edit entries at Wikipedia.

Knut Olav Åmås, debate editor at newspaper Aftenposten, warned in 2010 that the Arts Council, which controls substantial sums of tax payers’ money that is of interest to many people in key positions in the country’s cultural life, exhibits less and less independence from the Ministry. Åmås suggested that this was a desired policy by Minister of Culture Trond Giske and his successor Anniken Huitfeldt, both from the Labor Party.

While being more tightly controlled by the left-wing government, the Council has increased significantly in staff and budget. Its current director Anne Aasheim, a lesbian Feminist who previously was editor-in-chief of the left-wing newspaper Dagbladet, worked for years in senior positions at the state broadcaster NRK.

The English Wikipedia entry on me by mid-June 2012 was extremely negative and biased. The opinions of known ideological enemies were presented as the gospel truth. It matter-of-factly referred to Eurabia as a "conspiracy theory” and contained several outright falsehoods about my person. For example, it claimed that the Norwegian police "called me in for questioning” and that I "agreed” to have my premises searched. I did no such thing. They couldn’t call me in for questioning, since neither they nor the press had any idea who I was.

I did not agree to have my flat ransacked, and I still question the legality of doing so to a witness with no criminal record, given that the police didn’t have a shred of evidence that this person had committed a crime. Unfortunately, I apparently cannot try the legality of their action in a court afterwards because the Supreme Court has ruled against this. Which means that the Norwegian police, without having permission from a judge, can ransack the flat of a person who is not charged with anything criminal, and confiscate whatever they want, and that person cannot contest this decision in a court afterwards because by then the damage has already been done.

For the record: the report from my questioning written by the police themselves, which I later signed, clearly stated that my lawyer and I did not approve of my premises being searched. Therefore the account published in Wikipedia is a lie, plain and simple.

The entire entry reads like a case study in character assassination. There are almost too many things about my profile there to criticize, but take this quote as an example: "Norwegian historian Vidar Enebakk has criticised the way he thought Fjordman misused academic research for political purposes. Øyvind Strømmen argues that Fjordman’s essays fulfill all the criteria of Roger Griffin’s definition of fascism. The Norwegian professor Arnulf Hagen claims that there was much to suggest that Fjordman had a Wikipedia account which made 2000 edits.”

Let’s start with the final claim first. Arnulf Hagen, a technology professor at NTNU, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in the city of Trondheim, claimed that Wikipedia has been manipulated by "right-wing extremist networks.” He did point out some real flaws in the Wikipedia model, for instance that a tiny percentage of its anonymous users are responsible for a vastly disproportionate number of edits or entries there.

In a magazine published by the labor unions (LO), which cooperate intimately with the Labor Party, Hagen suggested that I have operated within a vast right-wing extremist network in the Wiki-world under the nickname Misheu, and there edited more than two thousand articles. That’s definitely a very interesting theory. The only problem with it is that is has absolutely no basis in reality whatsoever and is 100% fabricated. I never had anything actively to do with Wikipedia at all under any name until well after the Breivik case, when I first contacted them to request that a few statements on their extremely hostile entries on me be edited. I didn’t even know how to log in there.

That fact didn’t prevent Mr. Hagen from publishing several articles about this issue and being interviewed about it by the national broadcaster NRK. Curiously, nobody asked me about the matter even though quite a few journalists have my email address.

In another venue, Professor Arnulf Hagen, again without having the tiniest shred of evidence, stated that the American author Bruce Bawer writes at the blog Gates of Vienna under the pseudonym The Observer. For the record: I know who The Observer is, and he is an ethnic Norwegian.

Wikipedia suggests that Eurabia is a "conspiracy theory,” despite the fact that those wring about this subject can back up every single claim using publicly available sources. I am also routinely refereed to as a "conspiracy theorist” in the mainstream media in multiple countries, despite the fact that they find it hard to pinpoint exactly what I have written that is factually wrong. Yet here we have a case where a respected academic at a noted national university simply invents things out of thin air, thereby implicating named individuals in a vast conspiracy. He had these claims published with nary a single critical question asked by established journalists.

It says bad things about the state of modern academia when an established professor, who is supposed to know a thing or two about sources and doing critical research, fails so utterly and publicly in this task. I hope Hagen is better at his job under normal circumstances. If not, perhaps he should consider finding a different line of work.

As for the second claim, in the Norwegian, English and German entries on me, writer Øyvind Strømmen is referenced as an objective scholar saying that I am a "Fascist.” Under relevant literature in the Norwegian entry for "Eurabia,” Strømmen is listed along with the far-Left and pro-Islamic Swedish activist Andreas Malm, who writes for the Socialist newspaper Internationalen. Yet, incredibly enough, Bat Ye’or’s book from 2005 is not mentioned.

By comparison, Strømmen’s entries in English and Norwegian were entirely positive, simply praising him for his "insights” into "conspiracy theories utilized by the far-right, anti-Islamic groups in Europe.” The entries in both languages contain hardly a single critical word about him, despite the fact that a substantial number of people do not agree with Mr. Strømmen and some seriously question his alleged credentials as an academic "expert.” The difference is that the political Left, who appear to control Wikipedia, like him, but not me.

I pointed out to the encyclopedia that Strømmen has no stronger academic credentials than I do and is highly politicized. If his opinions about me can be cited on my Wiki profile, it is only fair and balanced that I be allowed to state my opinions about him, too, which have been quoted in the press previously. They ignored this plea.

As for the third claim, the researcher Vidar Enebakk from the University of Oslo, who has acted as a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge in England on the history of science, in September 2011 wrote an essay in the newspaper VG concerning the articles I have published on the Internet about the history of science, from geology to quantum physics.

According to him, the range of my writings is impressive, their contents "scarily good,” although he did admittedly have some reservations about some of my interpretations.

Enebakk does not agree with my political views at all, but he was nevertheless fair enough to evaluate my writings on science and found them well-informed.

As for being politicized, history-writing is probably always politicized, but has become extremely so over the past decades under Multicultural and Marxist pressures. I am simply making a modest attempt to add some sorely needed counterbalance to what I consider to be anti-European propaganda, and can always document what I write. Far too many myths about alleged European Christian evilness and Islamic tolerance and scientific progress are allowed to remain unchallenged today.

In 2009 and 2010 I published A History of Astrophysics and Cosmology, A History of Geology and Planetary Science and A History of Beer. These three essays alone amount to more than 74,000 words, or a full-length book. All of this was published for free. I didn’t receive a single cent for doing this and didn’t ask for any, either. I have written very extensive historical essays about the history of European music, mathematics, optics, Indo-European linguistics, superstring theory and chocolate. I’ve spent years researching how Europe and the Islamic world used the Greco-Roman cultural legacy differently. Again, all published online entirely for free.

Scientific history is not a marginal part of my production but has been purposefully ignored by Wikipedia. I have written more about astronomy and astrophysics than I have about radical Feminism, but one would know nothing about that from reading their entries. I sent links to these and other essays of mine that can be found on the Internet on the so-called Fjordman Files to Wikipedia Norway. I was answered by John Erling Blad. Yet they deliberately chose to ignore them, despite the fact that I could easily document all of my claims. This amounts to a crystal-clear violation of Wikipedia’s own stated principles, presumably for political reasons.

The Norwegian Wiki entry under "political debate” said that I declined a challenge by Abid Raja, a politician of Pakistani descent, for a debate in August 2011. At that point I had needed a few weeks off to recover from the inhuman media pressure against my person. I also didn’t like the bullying "You’re going to participate in my media stunt or I’ll call you a coward” attitude. That was all the entry said under political debate, even though I could easily document that I have published quite a few texts in the press after this. Again, this fact was willfully ignored.

A suspicion that this is done for ideological reasons is strengthened by statements made to the mass media. The public broadcaster NRK, Norway’s equivalent of the BBC, stated that Wikipedia needs help to increase patrolling and keep "right-wing extremists” away. Jarle Vines, the leader of Wikimedia Norway, warned that even the boundlessly evil Fjordman has tried to manipulate the entries. Ironically, Mr. Vines highlighted the goals of being "objective,” fair and "balanced.” I contacted Wikipedia regarding my entry and a couple of others precisely because I found them seriously lacking in terms of being objective, fair and balanced.

"There is no lack of people who share Breivik’s opinions among users of Wikipedia,” says Jarle Vines, especially on controversial topics such as Islamophobia. Harald Haugland, a member of the Wikipedia administration, thinks there is reason to believe that like-minded groups concentrate on the English version, which has many more readers. He warns against using the encyclopedia as a primary source of scholarly knowledge, however.

Suggestions have been made that people who "sympathize with Breivik,” by which they seem to mean anybody who thinks that Islamic Jihad and the spread of sharia are greater threats than Islamophobia, have launched an assault on Wikipedia. Yet their entry on "Islamophobia” in languages such as English, German, French, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Danish presents Islamophobia as a serious problem that could threaten world peace, indicating a very substantial and possibly systemic Wikipedia bias in favor of Islam and Multiculturalism.

The Islamic convert Anne Sophie Roald, a professor in History of Religion, has indicated that Islamophobia was recognized as intolerance at the Stockholm International Forum on Combating Intolerance in January 2001. The conference, attended by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Secretary General Ján Kubis and representatives of the European Union and Council of Europe, adopted a declaration to combat "genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia” as well as all forms of discrimination.

This program to combat Islamophobia in any way, shape or form has over the past decade been institutionalized at a pan-European level in the CoE and the EU, in cooperation with Islamic organizations. These are not empty words.

Notice that this conference about combating opposition to Islam took place before the attacks of September 11th, 2001. It did not happen in response to any particular event; it was part of an ongoing process at the highest levels of European policy-making, the UN and other organizations to clamp down upon any criticism of Islam.

When compiling his manifesto or compendium, Anders Behring Breivik made extensive use of Wikipedia, which he briefly suggested might be a battlefield. Yet as these examples demonstrate, Wikipedia arguably suffers from a substantial bias towards the very forces Breivik professes to hate, which reminds us once more of how clueless Breivik has often been.

What conclusions can be drawn from this? I'm not suggesting that no one should ever use Wikipedia under any circumstances. With caution, I occasionally do so myself, at least as one of many sources, when searching for simple factual information about subjects that are not politically charged. However, the more politicized the subjects or individuals involved become, the less reliable Wikipedia becomes as well.

Wikipedia should be treated in the same manner as the BBC. The BBC is fine as long as one is interested in cars or the colorful sex life of some rare beetle on Madagascar. One just shouldn't rely on it for information concerning ideology, politics, culture, religion or world affairs.