Internet encyclopedia erases entry for notable paleontologist after he advocates intelligent design
By Julie Borg
(WNS)–Wikipedia has deleted a paleontologist’s page because he weighed Darwinism in the balances and found it wanting.
In 2006, Günter Bechly, a highly respected and well-known paleontologist, devised a clever plan to show the public that scientific evidence clearly weighs heavily in Charles Darwin’s favor. In preparation for a worldwide celebration commemorating the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Bechly carefully designed an exhibit in which he placed a balance scale piled high on one side with books advocating creationism and intelligent design. The other side held only a lone copy of Darwin’s book. Of course he rigged the scale so Darwin’s manual weighed its side down while the books on the other side appeared featherlight. The message was clear: Darwin’s scientific evidence far outweighed any arguments skeptics could pose.
But then, a funny thing happened on Bechly’s way to the celebration. He read some of the books he had placed on the light side of the scale, and they opened his eyes to the incongruencies and impossibilities of Darwinian theory.
Nine years later, Bechly committed an unforgivable sin in the world of secular academia: He publicly criticized neo-Darwinism and proclaimed his support for intelligent design. Soon after, the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany, pushed him out of his job as curator. Bechly then became a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, but that wasn’t the end of his censorship story.
Despite Bechly’s numerous professional accomplishments, including a sizable list of scientific publications and the notoriety of having numerous species named after him, a group of anonymous editors at Wikipedia decided to erase his page from the internet encyclopedia because he is not “notable” enough.
“His turn to fringe creationist views does not seem to be notable at all, and cannot be covered without mainstream sources giving it an adequately neutral point of view,” one of the editors wrote on a Wikipedia discussion page. Other editors who tried to defend Bechly clearly understood the maneuver as censorship, noting “if he hadn’t changed his stance this wouldn’t even be an issue. The ones shouting ‘delete’ are just out to censor anyone who thinks differently.”
David Klinghoffer, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, noted that people commonly think Wikipedia disseminates objective information, but the expertise and fairness of the anonymous editors remains questionable. For example, one of the editors most influential in the decision to erase Bechly’s page identifies himself as 24-year-old Jo-Jo Eumerus, who also goes by “Septimus Heap,” after the popular juvenile fantasy series.
“It’s a mad world, a funhouse world, where the notability of a paleontologist of Günter Bechly’s stature is uncontested one day but, following his admission of finding ID persuasive, suddenly and furiously contested,” Klinghoffer wrote. “Such is the alternative reality of Wikipedia.”