Political deletionism at Wikipedia
The reign of the Woke super editors
What content should be in an online encyclopedia like Wikipedia? One can contrast two extreme views on the matter:
Inclusivism: just about everything should be included that can be properly sourced. Human knowledge and culture is a vast domain and should be present in encyclopedias, whether it is obscure or fictional in nature.
Deletionism: the contents of the encyclopedia should be strictly controlled, and largely leave out many areas of human products, especially the obscure and fictional.
Gwern has an excellent defense of inclusivism, dating all the way back to 2009. The general take is that inclusivism is the bread and butter of getting volunteers interested, and deletionism removes people's incentives to contribute, and thus causes the decline of new editors that has plagued Wikipedia for a decade now. To this, I will add that deletionism also has a political purpose, and one might interpret some of the change in the Woke period (2014-now) to be in line with Woke take-over of use of this de facto policy in their favor. Consider some examples.
Jewish people are extremely over-represented in human achievement from about 1850 and forward. If we are interested in maximizing human achievement, we of course are interested in why this tiny group is so prolific, since if it was something modifiable, everybody could potentially benefit. So what gives? The most obvious idea is that Jews are smarter than other humans on average. At some point, practical intelligence tests were invented, and when they were used on Jews, they got very high scores. To some, this was embarrassing and has to be covered up. To others, this was not surprising at all, but expected. Why are Jews so smart compared to others? This gets us into the race and intelligence and genetics debate in general. Put on the glasses of an animal ecologist. He discovers a new subspecies of fish that is especially adept at swimming upstream. His first inclination is to look for reasons why that evolved, that is, there is an immediate assumption of genetic causes (adaption). A biologist does not start thinking about whether the fish's advantage is caused by special swimming skills taught in fish school. A reasonable anthropologist might use a similar approach to humans. Human behavior can vary extremely for cultural reasons, but many basic properties are still rather universal and fairly consistent over time. Scandinavians have been tall all the time human height has been measured in modern times, and pygmies short. Only an extremely irrational person does not think this large and obvious gap has mainly genetic causes, and was adaptive in some way. What about intelligence differences between humans? But here we find that social scientists essentially use the reverse principle: never even consider that some demographic gap is due to genetics. Steven Pinker named this The Blank Slate assumption, and Judith Harris called it The Nurture Assumption. (Incidentally, both Pinker and Harris are/were Jewish I think.) These books were about individual differences, not race differences, but the same principle applies. It's unwise to begin with a strong prior that's opposite of reality.
Strange as it may seem, Jewish intelligence became a taboo topic for the left, despite Jews generally being on the left (at least in the USA). I would guess that it is because it is a gateway meme. If Jews are smart, and that's why they dominate socially and economically, and their intelligence is due to genetic reasons, then perhaps this is also the reason why Africans/Gypsies/[your favorite ethnic underclass] do the opposite. That conclusion is of course strictly forbidden. Whatever the exact reason for opposing this research, there are long-running attempts to suppress such knowledge. For instance, there was an outrage in New York Times in 2019 when one writer referred to some science advocating the genetic position on Ashkenazi intelligence:
An earlier version of this Bret Stephens column quoted statistics from a 2005 paper that advanced a genetic hypothesis for the basis of intelligence among Ashkenazi Jews. After publication Mr. Stephens and his editors learned that one of the paper’s authors, who died in 2016, promoted racist views. Mr. Stephens was not endorsing the study or its authors’ views, but it was a mistake to cite it uncritically. The effect was to leave an impression with many readers that Mr. Stephens was arguing that Jews are genetically superior. That was not his intent. He went on instead to argue that culture and history are crucial factors in Jewish achievements and that, as he put it, “At its best, the West can honor the principle of racial, religious and ethnic pluralism not as a grudging accommodation to strangers but as an affirmation of its own diverse identity. In that sense, what makes Jews special is that they aren’t. They are representational.” We have removed reference to the study from the column.
Over at Wikipedia, the same censorship has been tried many times. In fact, the page about Ashkenazi intelligence was entirely deleted in 2020! This happened in the 8th attempt to delete the page (Wikipedia calls this Articles for deletion):
You can read the reasons proposed for deletion:
This article has been through the ringer as you can see from previous AfDs. Is it possible that an article should exist on this subject? Well, the topic is batted around like a football and has been for some time. Most recently, a New York Times columnist has been called out (or called in) for reinvigorating this subject: . This is why the subject is notable. Will you find this in the present article? No. More on why that is later, but suffice to say the article is completely skewed to a claim that there is a controversy over nature versus nurture here which is a much bandied-about focusing that misses the real thing going on: eugenics and racism dominating these discussions. Now, AfD is not WP:CLEANUP, but there are rare cases where WP:TNT is needed. This is one.
What should an article on this subject entail? It should entail mostly a focus on the intelligence of Ashkenazi Jewish people and all WP:PROMINENT discussions of such. I've pointed to what these are above, but our article is some sort of pseudo-academic jaunt through fringe literature as promulgated by the IDW-sorts and the evo-psychs. Meanwhile, nary a hint is here that the true context of this is antisemitism. The article is here to wave a flag: such discussions of race and intelligence cannot possibly be race realist in the WP:NONAZI sense because look at who benefits at this article? *wink*, *wink*
But antisemitism is antisemitism whether it is dressed up as "positive" comments or not  So here we are flubbing about with an article that is currently being babysat by an extremely suspicious account that arrived on the scene somewhat recently and fails the sniff test by my measure. I do not make this charge lightly. This is someone who is out to skew Wikipedia towards some rather political ends. You just need to look at their contributions to see this.
So it's time to start all over. We can write an article on this subject, but it should be draftified first. It should be worked on by good-faith contributors. And this thing as it exists needs to be removed from article-space pronto. jps (talk) 05:59, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
User jps (ජපස) is an extremely active Woke activist editor named Joshua P. Schroeder. It seems he is a failed academic, but he makes up for that by 10,000s of hours online combating his enemies, mainly by editing Wikipedia. He has accumulated an impressive 55,000+ edits.
Human genetic clustering
As anyone with a cursory interest in human genetics knows, one can group, relate and otherwise categorize humans by genetics, which results in various plots such as these:
If a topic is too prominent, one cannot really succeed in having the page deleted outright. However, a related tactic is to propose a deletion-rewrite. This way one doesn't need to go through the effort of reforming the article one sentence at a time against opposed editors. This approach was applied to the article on Human genetic clustering in 2020 with this justification:
This page is a confused, unreadable mess of original synthesis that does not cover the actual topic. It does not accurately reflect the body of research on genetic clustering and needs to be blown up and rewritten.
Human genetic clustering is, roughly speaking, an approach that uses cluster analysis to study patterns in genetic data; it is a set of methods to characterize populations within studies. The problem is that this article is (and always has been) solely about the clusters themselves with close to no text dedicated to explaining how clusters are determined or what the actual process is. Virtually every modern study of human population genetics includes some type of cluster analysis, and they will always find clusters, leading us to the current coat-racked article revolving around group differences, race, ethnicity, and genetics. The article's current structure (to talk about clusters rather than the clustering algorithms, their applications, and interpretations/results) is designed to be a battlefield of POV-pushing, which we see with its contentious edit history and frequent visits from socks and trolls. Its original creator was banned long ago for being a sockpuppet account of a user who edit-warred on race-related articles like race and intelligence so I believe this article was not created in good faith or with good understanding of the topic.
There is a good article to be written on the topic as it relates to algorithms, inference, and major findings related to population histories, but there is no version of the existing article that would make a good base for that. In summary:
This article does not actually cover the topic it claims to. Virtually none of the text is dedicated to clustering, and almost all of it is dedicated to discussions of group similarities/differences or arguments about race and genetics
It is basically unreadable, consisting of duelling blocks of quotes that leaves readers with less understanding of the topic.
The page was then duly deleted, and rewritten by user Millager. This user is enrolled in a course called Biology and Culture of Race (spring 2020), so it's obviously some activist editing. It means that some professor decided that the homework of this student was to rewrite this Wikipedia page in line with this professor's ideology. Who's the professor? It's a guy called Carwil Bjork-James who teachers anthropology, and who is also an avid editor (8000+ edits).
Race and intelligence
Many of the other deletion tactics are proxy wars over who controls the narrative about race and intelligence. So naturally, that page itself has been a constant source of battling. It was also proposed to be deleted. In fact, that was the 4th attempt. It actually succeeded, but the deletion was overturned based on some higher level review. That very rarely happens. Perhaps it will get entirely deleted in the 5th attempt. The deletion proposal said:
This is a serious and considered qtuestion as to whether this article should exist at all on Wikipedia.
The article Race and intelligence appears to be a notable subject because it is contentious and many people do talk about it. Indeed many people talk about this article. Nevertheless the notable aspects of the debate are twofold and are synthesised in this article to produce a debate on a contentious subject where all the information can be found elsewhere.
The two notable subjects are Race and genetics and the Heritability of IQ. Both those are notable subjects, but "race and intelligence" is a synthesis of the two. Because it is controversial it has WP:UNDUE visibility. It seems unlikely that anyone would argue that an article about "Race and prostate cancer" nor even "race and sickle cell disease" are notable articles, because although it is known that certain human populations have higher instances of these diseases, that fact is adequately covered in articles on the diseases themselves or asides elsewhere. Moreover in those two cases, the link between genetics and the disease is known and understood. In the case of intelligence, there is simply no evidence of a genetic link between race and intelligence. The very existence of this article appears to take sides on the issue - making a question out of an issue that is a non question. See for instance, Stop talking about race and IQ.
The article itself is written as bi-pole argument between two extremes, and all editors of the page appear to be broadly in agreement that this is not correct (even though they are not in agreement as to what to do about it). There have been recent edit wars as some want to remove clearly WP:UNDUE material at once, and other editors believe that would leave the page unbalanced and WP:POV and argue a complete rewrite is necessary instead. Editors from both sides of the debate have mooted deletion of the page as a possible solution as per this talk section. In view of the highly problematic article structure, which contains a lot of WP:UNDUE weight on just two extremes of the debate, there is no salvageable or mergeable content and WP:TNT is called for.
An objection to the above argument may be that the above is true, and yet there is a notable disagreement as demonstrated by the Rushton and Jensen material in the article, and that this gives the article notability. However there is heavy WP:UNDUE here, and we already have an article that discusses the debate, which is "Scientific Racism". See particularly section Scientific racism#Interbellum to World War II and on to the end of the article. This fully covers, and in a much more balanced manner, the notability aspect of the debate. That is, it discusses that there is a debate, and describes what it is.
Redirects are WP:CHEAP so I believe deletion and a redirect to Heritability of IQ would be the best solution here, or else a redirect to either Scientific racism or Race and genetics. A disambiguation page would also be a suitable solution. Sirfurboy (talk) 06:44, 3 February 2020 (UTC)
The above cases involve just deleting an entire page, either to keep it deleted, or to get it rewritten without the parts one didn't like. This is usually the second tactic to try, the first tactic consists of just trying to remove the parts one doesn't like. This can mean removing favorable book reviews of authors one doesn't like (e.g. Richard Lynn). This rather blatant attempt at the sister page History of the race and intelligence controversy provides a good example:
The editor is Generalrelative who described himself: "This user is of dubious and undisclosed gender, and uses they/them pronouns." (also previously claimed a PhD in history). This editor has 9600+ edits.
Sometimes, the attempt to get an entire article deleted fails, but one can at least get the most offending content removed. Consider the page on Nations and IQ. Back in 2016, Woke editors tried to delete it, but failed. But it was then renamed to the less offending Nations and IQ from the more informative Nations and intelligence. Most importantly, though, activist editors had the world IQ map removed. Obviously, a colored world map is the most obvious way to communicate national differences. But this was a bit too informative. By checking over the old versions, you can see that the world map was deleted already back in 2017 by editor Capitals00, who claimed to be restoring some consensus version. This justification is often given in falsehood, but the prior versions to this edit by him included multiple informative maps based on published science:
There have also been numerous pages that listed the national IQs, in the same way that Wikipedia has lists for PISA scores, GDP per capita and corruption. But these have all been deleted as far as I can tell. Again, the information was not to the liking of the Woke editors.
Cold winters theory
Related to the above was the page on cold winters theory. That's the theory that winter temperatures are related to the selection for human intelligence differences. Though this is a popular theory with many mentions in the academic literature, it was obviously a bit too spicy. Woke activist editor Maunus had the page deleted in 2016:
This theory is a fringe theory which is treated at the article about J. Phillippe Rushton who created it. The article was created by an editor who cited his own article in favor of the theory published in a journal with a reputation for publishing low quality racialist research without rigorous peer review. It did not cite any of the many works ridiculing or debunking the theory. The article is best redirected either to Race and intelligence (which is the wider context for the theory) or to J. Philippe Rushton where it is described as well as the main criticisms of it. Given the long history of POV pushing in this topic I fully expect this discussion to be affected by offline canvassing, as the appearance of a newly registered account within an hour of AfDing this article already suggests. ·maunus · snunɐɯ· 15:17, 19 November 2016 (UTC)
In this case, the page was changed to a redirect to Phil Rushton. This is despite Rushton not actually being the originator of that theory, that's Richard Lynn. It was eventually changed to Lynn.
Editor Maunus's real name is Magnus Pharao Hansen, a Danish anthropologist, who works with obscure matters of Amerindian languages.
A very common battleground is biography pages, especially of living people. Here the Wokes can choose between two tactics. They can either fill up the page with attack words (racist, sexist, classist, transphobe, far right, Nazi etc.) or they can have it entirely deleted. I don't know exactly what the thinking is on their side, but recently, they seem to prefer deletion. At least, one of them sent this taunting email:
From: WIkipedia Antifa Group <email@example.com>
Sent: 02 May 2022 16:19
To:firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Subject: We are deleting all your Wikipedia pages
Cofnas and Woodley's Wikipedia articles were deleted and now Dutton's:
The deletion proposals for Michael Woodley is here (2nd attempt). This was was also done by user jps. Nathan Cofnas page deletion proposal is here, by user Generalrelative. Dutton's page deletion is by user Psychologist Guy. That Woke editor has 33,000+ edits. At some point, two pages were made for myself, but they were also deleted.
If we have to speculate on why they prefer deletion, is that this means that Google will not have a Wikipedia page for the person, which means Google may instead list RationalWiki or some other attack site as the first hit. Since Wikipedia biographies at least must conform to some rules about what one can write, deleting them entirely and relying on off-Wikipedia attack sites is perhaps a more sensible way to defame someone.
For the people who are too prominent, one cannot have the pages entirely deleted. This is the case for Richard Lynn, but then editors will engage in removing all positive materials. For instance, here we have editor Generalrelative remove peer reviewed science in mainstream journal (PAID) because he doesn't like the author (Michael Woodley).
Mind you, Wikipedia does not have any policy that says if a person is bad/fringe, one can remove any mention of their work published in reliable sources (academic journals run by mainstream publishers are all presumed reliable). That's a made up policy with no basis in actual Wikipedia law. Yet, it has been widely used in the last few years, since admins will not enforce the rules against editors invoking this fake policy.
Wikipedia is an awesome project for humanity. For all its flaws, it is still great. Everybody keeps using it because it is great. It is a shame but not a surprise that it was ruined as a source of summaries of research on matters that have some relationship to current politics. Admins could enforce neutrality on these matters, but they don't. Admins are themselves probably quite Woke, as Jonathan Weiss points out:
The take-over of Wikipedia has been quite gradual. I would guess Wikipedia started out as a fairly libertarian project, hence the nerdy men involved. Over time, as it got popular, it attracted more leftists who are the people who most readily devote their lives to intellectual matters, but also to political activism. The result is that the editorship of Wikipedia and the admins became gradually more Woke over time, especially since the great Awokening. This is another instance of march through the institutions of communism. The list of acceptable sources is a particular clever way to enforce one's side. Wikipedia has a list of outlets that are appropriate and those that are not. Having a such list is sensible since some outlets are rather unreliable (e.g. spam websites). But one can always expand the list to include the outlets of the other political side, which is what happened on Wikipedia. The Wikipedia page about this stuff is Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Perennial sources (there is another one called Wikipedia:Deprecated sources, I don't know what the difference is exactly). Consider the following amusing contrast:
Both are obviously advocacy organizations, but one is bad and the other is good. You can guess which one.
What can really be done? You should probably not donate to Wikipedia (I am a previous donator), since it is at this point absurdly wealthy. Of course, every year they beg you for more money, but it is a lie, they don't need any money.
You cannot really combat the bias by editing yourself, as the admins will soon have you banned no matter how well you behave and stick to the stated policies. Remember, the admins (judges) are Woke too. I was an editor in good standing for more than 10 years before abruptly getting banned without any notice or even public reason given. If you do edit, under no circumstance use your own name. This will just make the editors come after you, and find any excuse to ban you for some personal conflict of interest (of course, their own conflicts of interests are never discussed).
Due to the prominent role of Wikipedia given by Google due to its 99.9% good content, Wikipedia will not go away. I don't think there is any way to topple it, or replace it with some less Woke alternative. There are plenty of these, most notably InfoGalactic, but they cannot succeed because the network effect favoring Wikipedia is very strong. A more amusing alternative is Deletionpedia which "is a radical inclusionist wiki for rescuing articles that have been discussed from Wikipedia's deletionism. It was started by Guaka on December 24th 2013 and so far we've rescued 91,250 articles.".
I would guess the most sensible action for non-Woke is to try to talk sense into Jimmy Wales. As mentioned in the video above, this avenue doesn't seem very promising either as it has been tried multiple times. Could one buy Wikipedia, like Elon Musk bought Twitter? I don't know, but that's a good idea. I suspect one will probably just have to wait until Wokeness generally subsides again. This will make the editor and admin demographics somewhat less Woke and maybe that is sufficient to reverse some of the damage. For now, one will simply just have to point out the issues with Wikipedia for politicized topics and rely on other sources. Greater openness about this issue would be helpful, so academic research showing the issues and popular science communicating these is welcome.