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Sanger: Wikipedia is “Reliably Establishment”

I suspect many do not trust Wickedpedia but still, the platform does exist and it does have a huge influence. So, a thumbs up to Freddie Sayers of UnHerd who interviewed Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger about the platform he helped create.

The interview is just over 30 minutes long and worth watching in its entirety. Below are the key points, mostly paraphrasing and not quotations.

  • When Sayers asked whether we can trust Wikipedia, Sanger answered: “You can trust it to give a reliably establishment point-of-view on pretty much everything.”

  • When it first entered the public eye, it was “committed to neutrality” (around 2004). Different points of view were represented, even on hot-button issues. It was easier to participate in the discussion then.

  • Over the last 5 years, one cannot participate or edit, even on articles that are not “top tier”.

  • Wikipedia has a lot of influence so certain parties (using consultants) make sure an article says what they want it to say.

  • For example, Biden’s article contains very little on the Ukraine scandal and what is mentioned reads very biased. Other examples: eastern medicine is dismissed and the traditionalist view of Christianity is not fully “canvased”.

  • Now, Wikipedia is “reliably establishment … which is ironic, considering its origins…”

  • Journalism, reference content and textbooks should be neutral so that we can make up our own minds. If we just want to be told, if it’s “systematic”, then it’s propaganda. Sanger does think all media (generally) represents propaganda, including Wikipedia.

  • Sayers mentions the pandemic. Sanger hasn’t tracked what is on Wikipedia too closely but in effect says that its coverage is biased.

  • Sayers then asked what Sanger would like to see regarding the pandemic coverage since it is difficult to cover the variety of perspectives reliably on a developing situation. Sanger answered that it is difficult but it is “necessary” and “nobody said that neutrality was going to be easy”. Sanger elaborates by mentioning the experts who disagree with the mainstream narrative.

  • Sayers makes the distinction between “established facts” and an “encyclopedia of opinions”. Sanger points out that given the amount of expert opinion on the matter, the latter is all one can do if there is no agreement.

  • If only one version of the facts is allowed, then that gives a huge incentive to the wealthy and powerful “to shore up their power”.

  • Regarding the widescale censoring on social media, Sanger doesn’t think the law will step in but that if it does, then it might be worse. He thinks that a more “decentralized” internet will help, where tools are available for individuals to act.


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