Debate:Is Wikipedia biased?

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Debate.png This is a Debate page.
Feel free to add your own spin on the story. Please keep it civil!
Information icon.svg This debate was created by Storytellershrink.

Beleive me, I am well aware that the entire list Schlafly has composed is....ridiculous, but is it just a little bit biased? I think anything of wikipedia's nature would eventually become biased liberally, but by that same nature would eventually be equalized and conservatively biased as time went on, and eventually settle. I am interested in your opinion too. --*Gen. S.T. Shrink* Get to the bunker 01:23, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

NPOV vs. SPOV[edit]

Hey! Jellyfish, where is that talk page we were debating this? Anyway, I feel the whole "npov" thing biases wikipedia in the coverage of fringe ideas, cranks, and pseudoscience. It gives to much weight to the anti-science side of the discussion. Unfortunately, "science point of view" was rejected by the community. tmtoulouse frustrate 01:26, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

Well, something I have always been interested in are the articles that are obviously biased like the ones on Nazism or Hal Turner and rightfully so. Or is it rightfully so. Should there be a view in the article about a Skinhead in favor the skinhead or a man that raped babies like a devils advocate. Nothing can be completely unbiased but is it liberally or conservatively or truthfully or what? It's very interesting. --*Gen. S.T. Shrink* Get to the bunker 01:34, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

Isn't there a wiki out there that advocates "sympathetic view point" where they have multiple articles on the same topic? One of the Scientologist trolls at CP linked it... tmtoulouse frustrate 01:35, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Good goat, all of the wikipedia articles times a view for each Christians, Atheists, Liberals, Conservatives, Communists, Marxists, that would be too big. It also seems like it would turn into the set of articles on conservatives turning into conservapedia. --*Gen. S.T. Shrink* Get to the bunker 01:39, 25 June 2008 (EDT)


Of course it is biased, and probably towards "liberals." Naturally, not as much as Schlafly thinks, but the incline is still there. That's the nature of an online encyclopedia... the people who have the free time to donate to editing and working on articles are generally those who either (a) work on computers in some other capacity or (b) have a higher amount of leisure time than most people. These two groups will tend to be, by their very nature, exposed to a large amount of information or education. The former leads to liberalism (if I'm going to assume the absurd dichotomy Schlafly subscribes to) because, in general, it involves positions that are arrived at through a willingness to absorb new information and learn about the diversity of peoples. The latter leads to liberalism for much the same reasons, but can be empirically shown by virtue of studies that indicate that the more educated an individual is, the more inclined towards liberality they will be.

So yes, it's biased. As to whether this is a problem that is not dealt with sufficiently with policies like NPOV... that is a harder question.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 01:31, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

Well, in your comment "problem not dealt with" do you mean "Is it a problem?" Or "Is it a problem not being dealt with?" --*Gen. S.T. Shrink* Get to the bunker 01:36, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

The latter. Most people think, and I agree, that an encyclopedia should be as unbiased as possible. What degree of bias is acceptable is an individual assessment, I think. WP is biased, but how biased is too biased? How effective is NPOV and other policies like sourcing policies?
Naturally, this is not to say that CP is a good idea in return. WP attempts to the best of its ability in most cases to be free of bias, minimizing it. Whether or not they do so sufficiently is no reason to try to create an echo chamber, where a particular bias is pursued aggressively.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 02:17, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
This is very true. I certainly don't understand how you combat perceived bias in an encyclopaedia by starting a whole new one with an explicitly declared bias. I do seem to recall that back when Conservapedia was first started they did have a big debate about whether it should have a Conservative bias or be neutral. I can never find it when I think to look, so maybe I imagined it. I think they never actually made a decision, so the rule because "whatever sysops say, goes" which considering who many of the sysops are results in the disaster we see today. Of course, the fact that it was called "Conservapedia" in the first place is kind of an invitation to systemic bias. -- 02:25, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Well, a part of me thinks that while Conservapedia started as an answer, it sees itself as neutral. And I think I see what you mean. They took the approach of "two wrongs make a right", or more acurately "one percieved wrong and a wrong make a right". While normal people see WP as perhaps a great invention with the slight possible flaw of bias, Andy saw it as something flaunting a particular bias and loving it, so he thought, "I'll do it too". Though in all fairness that is exactly what we do. I think the only real difference between CP and RW is the same difference between FOX NEWS and The NY Times. We admit we're biased. --*Gen. S.T. Shrink* Get to the bunker 02:33, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
To be honest, I am not sure there is much need for RW absent mockery of CP. RW has seemed to me to be entertainment, rather than information. Obviously there is a lot of information here, but most articles and interest revolve around the lulz of CP. So we're biased, but that doesn't really matter so much. No one is (or should) read RW to get a balanced perspective on things like religion or the Flood. They should read RW to get a snarky and humorous perspective from hyperliberal trolls who mock idiots recreationally. An article about the Flood for information's sake should be as neutral as possible, and RW certainly doesn't try for that any more than CP does.
But then, I'm a comparable newcomer, and while I've read most of RW, I am far from being one of the leading voices in the mobocracy. Maybe other RWikians disagree with the site's intent, which is reasonable enough.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 03:22, 25 June 2008 (EDT)\
I would imagine myself being much newer than you, but thats neither here nor there, whatever the hell that means. I just would prefer it if the site didn't drift into the satire territory of Uncyclopedia or goat forbid something like Encyclopedia Dramatica. Those are great, but they are their own. This site has always seemed like it was created with the same mindset Assfly had when he made CP. Lets respond to a great travesty. And thinking anything remotely like him scares me a little. The main difference does seem to be that we admit we are biased as a mofo, not an encyclopedia and not meant to be taken seriously. We are a mobocracy, and CP is...well....the best thing to say would be a communistic theocracy, drifting into a dictatorship. Like cuba. But I've always been a fan of Che. I guess Andy is Fidel. Ramble.... --*Gen. S.T. Shrink* Get to the bunker 03:30, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
You shouldn't be scared of thinking like Schlafly. You described yourself why none of you here really think like that: RW is not an encyclopedia. It's an online discussion of rationality, with some satire of irrationality thrown in for entertainment value (a formal term for "lulz"). When you all take yourselves seriously, (as in the Expelled:Leader's Guide rebuttal, for example, which is really good), the bias disappears in favor of, what else, rationality. And I think that's how it should be here. OneForLogic 14:39, 9 July 2008 (EDT)

Almost certainly, but probably not as Schlafly and Co. think[edit]

Wikipedia is a really, really fabulous endeavour. As someone who works from home, in front of a computer for hours a day I've often found myself wasting hours of time on random walks starting at an article I've needed information from and following link after link in to the minutiae. Recently, I found myself reading and marvelling that almost every model of guided missile that has ever been devised by man has its own wikipedia page. Incredible that there are people who know about these things, and care enough about them to spend several hours of their life crafting and maintaining a page about a missile designed to blow up tanks that was obsolete and decommissioned in the 70s.

But, here's the thing. How the fuck would I know if these pages were written with, for example, an anti-Raytheon bias? I have no clue, because I'm not an expert in the field. I don't know if some crank is obsessed enough to talk up the killing power of competitors missiles, while writing that all Raytheon missiles blow up while your loading them, leading your nation's inevitable conquest by halberd bearing forces of Vatican City. I bet there's instances of micro-bias littered throughout wikipedia, and if I had to make a prediction as to if these add up to form some overall bias, what I'd guess is that wikipedia's overarching bias is towards the positive. That is that for any given article, the odds are that it is written to accentuate the positive of the subject at the expense of the negative. While I can't back this up with raw data, I guess that self-selection of authors ensures that most articles are written by enthusiasts, and it takes a really controversial subject for detractors to get involved (For example, I suspect the entry on Hitler doesn't exactly paint him in a warm and glowing light.)

I'd hazard that in fact the entries that Schlafly insists are liberally slanted are actually fairly balanced, simply because he highlights the controversial topics that get attention on both sides. Since wikipedia, unlike Conservapedia, has such useful features as arbitration, tagging for biased material, and recourse for people who feel abused by those in positions of power, things tend to reach a mutually agreeable conclusion for all sides. The majority of cases Conservapedia complains about are in fact ridiculously biased creationists attempting to insert material in to articles that have no good cause to be there, since they do not represent the opinion of any significant group. -- 01:52, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

It will obviously be biased towards the opinions and prejudices of the sort of people who are likely to devote their free time to writing an on-line encyclopaedia. The more interesting question is "What sort of biases would one expect such a group to demonstrate?" --Bobbing up 15:02, 9 July 2008 (EDT)

Random shit that does not fit with any of the headers so far[edit]

  • On the higher interest articles Wikipedia generally maintains a bias towards facts and rationality but on the less edited ones minority POV pushers (e.g. creationists) thrive and multiply. - Icewedge (*bleet*) 02:56, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
  • I don't think WP is biased as such but it does contain biases. Some subjects have been hijacked by a special interest groups and tend to defend their positions quite vociferously but they are not all inherently one thing or another. The main problem of any encyclopedia is how it deals with the human race - politics, religion & history - where there are several sides to an issue and facts are interwoven with different belief systems and ideologies. Generally the winner or dominant POV is reflected in the interpretation no matter how hard they try to be objective, it's human nature. However, the nature of WP as something that anyone can edit means that minorities can try to rewrite history in their favour just through sheer determination. While the NPOV will tend to moderate their influence it will not remove all the bias. One just has to read it like any book; be aware that the author may have their own agenda. Jollyfish.gifGenghisunbelieving 14:57, 25 June 2008 (EDT)


Wikipedia is not biased. It may contain lies, wrong or minority POVs, errors, but it is not biased. Besides, it is my default search engine now. (Editor at) CP:no intelligence allowed 15:23, 25 June 2008 (EDT)


Yes, it is biased. Reliable articles, class-A and better, are generally, but not always NPOV. The more religiously oriented and pseudoscientifically oriented the articles are, the more likely it is that the individual article is heavily biased towards the topical group. Some articles, such as regarding Roman Catholic Church and Jehova's Witnesses, are never NPOV, and will never be. The problem is that skeptical investigation is sometimes frowned upon, and that Wikipedia for large parts are often not living up to its own policies. Rursus dixit (yada³!) 08:35, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
So what?--Alola, my name is Delibirda! (talk) 12:04, 20 January 2020 (UTC)

A federation of POV encyclopaedias[edit]

Wikipedia tries not to be biased. Does it succeed? To some extent yes, to some extent no. No one can ever be totally free from all bias, or completely neutral. You can try to be neutral, you may do a better or worse job of doing so, but you'll never succeed completely.

What then is the answer? I suggest a federation of POV encyclopaedias. So you can have a liberal encyclopaedia, a conservative encyclopaedia, a Jewish encyclopaedia, a Buddhist encyclopaedia, a Lutheran encyclopaedia, a Marxist encyclopaedia, an environmentalist encyclopaedia, etc. Readers should be able to easily see two or more POVs side by side, on the same screen.

If they are all free content, you could have a tracking feature, which downloads articles and their history from another encyclopaedia. So for example, I could copy the article "Abortion" from Wikipedia to some POV encyclopedia, and it would mark the revision copied, and then edit it to suit that encyclopedia's POV. Then, if an update happens on the original article, the POV encyclopedia would be notified, and be able to either incorporate it (with or without modifications), respond to it, or ignore it, and mark that revision as processed.

This could be well combined with WikiTrustWikipedia, so we don't copy from upstream / another POV every random edit someone makes, but only those which are likely to survive the editing process. Don't want to notify downstream every time someone vandalises upstream. (((Zack Martin))) 08:53, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Yes and No[edit]

Quite simply, the reason Wikipedia seems biased towards liberals is more because of the simple fact that reality is biased towards liberals. Facts, logic and reason tend to be liberal tools, while appeals to pathos and general fear-based manipulation tend to be the weapons conservatives use. Because of this, when compiling a fact-based encyclopedia, it will naturally have a liberal bias, because liberals tend to be more correct about reality. The only way to remove a liberal bias is to remove facts, logic and reason, and if you remove those, it is no longer an encyclopedia, but a propaganda tool. --PosthumanHeresy (talk) 18:27, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

Is that you Bill Maher? What are you doing here? In all seriousness though, smug people like you are the reason people hate progressivism... (talk) 18:33, 28 April 2013 (UTC)
Liberals are notoriously biased themselves, and not necessarily in favor of reality. This OP is filled with hubris, without actually backing up why reality has a liberal bias, liberalism =/= your reason fetish. Oxyaena Harass 19:47, 20 January 2020 (UTC)

yes, 'd how...[edit]

Articles on polítics, for example: are much more descriptive of Russian and Chinese (or non-western) dictatorships than of the American, British on any westerner one.

This article, for example:, or the article about Chekism. Obviously biased against Russia. There are no NSA State, or OSSism equivalent articles with the same wittyness...

Can someone add the details for the above comment. Anna Livia (talk) 17:47, 20 January 2020 (UTC)

Bias in Wikipedia[edit]

The amount of bias will vary across Wikipedia - from the 'effectively zero' (many 'statements of fact' - apart from various on the 'Dormant pages' list which are out of date, those awaiting specialist experts (or even 'persons with sufficient interest') to pass by and similar) to those which are variously contentious (antidisestablishmentarianism anyone?), and a proportion of 'ongoing events.' There will be a range of biases on display and they may vary between different language Wikipedias. Anna Livia (talk) 17:47, 20 January 2020 (UTC)