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Wikipedia Co-Founder Says Site Has Become ‘a Kind of Thought Police’

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: July 12, 2021
Wikipedia has become a de facto form of thought police, whose one-voice leftist/democratic narratives pose a serious threat to democracy, says co-founder Larry Sanger.
Wikipedia has become a de facto form of thought police, whose one-voice leftist/democratic narratives pose a serious threat to democracy, says co-founder Larry Sanger. (Image:Amina Filkins via Pexels)

Larry Sanger says the online crowd-contributed encyclopedia he helped found has cleverly masked its change into a form of thought police that has “de facto shackled conservative viewpoints with which they disagree” as a neutrality principle Wikipedia extols as one of their Five Pillars policies. 

In a lengthy June 30 article on his website, Sanger notes that ostensibly, Wikipedia is “very earnest about its neutrality.” 

“But what does ‘neutral’ mean?” Sanger asks. “This is easy to misunderstand; many people think it means the same as ‘objective.’ But neutrality is not the same as objectivity. If an encyclopedia is neutral about political, scientific, and religious controversies—the issues that define the ongoing culture war—then you will find competing sides represented carefully and respectfully, even if one side is ‘objectively’ wrong.” 

“From a truly neutral article, you would learn why, on a whole variety of issues, conservatives believe one thing, while progressives believe another thing. And then you would be able to make up your own mind.”

Sanger analyzes whether Wikipedia’s editorship meets the standard of neutrality in a case study analysis of four main topics:

On all four issues, Sanger finds what can only be described as a systemic effort to spin the information Wikipedia’s articles sell as factual to fit left-wing, pro-Democrat, establishment narratives almost always at the stark exclusion of Republican, conservative, or dissenting viewpoints. 

In his summary analysis of articles related to both of the efforts to impeach the former President, Sanger concluded “Wikipedia took the Democrats’ side against Trump, period. The articles are so biased, in fact, that it is fair to call them ‘propaganda’.”

On the matter of the Hunter Biden scandals, Sanger theorizes about what should be found in Wikipedia’s entries if the publication were as in line with its editorial principles as it purports, “A neutral handling of the many confusing accusations would not imply that Biden was guilty of anything. But it also would not clear him of all charges. Rather, it would present enough detail about the accusations and the purported evidence for them, leaving nothing important out; then it would explain in some detail how Biden was defended by Democrats and his allies.”

“That much is the least that one would expect to find in a neutral treatment of the scandals. Is that what we see in Wikipedia?”

“Not at all,” Sanger concludes as he goes into details of the Campaign section of the Ukraine scandal, calling the text on its face “An obviously one-sided whitewash which takes Biden’s side throughout.”

‘Reliable sources’

In his inspection of how Wikipedia handled the Biden family scandals involving too-close-for-comfort dealings with Chinese Communist Party officials, Sanger notes that Wikipedia uses a system of “reliable sources” to determine what media outlets can be cited for information on the site at all, in effect blacklisting centrist, conservative, or non-establishment sources. 

The reliable sources list outright bans media outlets such as Breitbart, InfoWars, and Natural News. It labels as “depreciated” publications such as Daily Caller, Daily Mail, The Epoch Times, Gateway Pundit, LifeSiteNews, Newsmax, and One America News Network, noting that “use of the source is generally prohibited” although it “may be used for uncontroversial self-descriptions, although reliable secondary sources are still preferred.”

Included in a separate class of “generally unreliable” sources which should “should normally not be used, and it should never be used for information about a living person,” are Daily Wire, The Federalist, Fox News talk hosts, International Business Times, the Post Millennial, Project Veritas, and New York Post.

When it comes to Chinese Communist Party media outlets, Baidu Baike, CGTN, and Global Times are also classified as depreciated, while official Party broadcaster Xinhua News Agency is graded as “no consensus.”

By comparison, virtually every leftwing mainstream outlet is whitelisted as “generally reliable.”

‘Wikipedia debunks everything the establishment debunks’

Sanger also found in a brief analysis that when it came to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, “You will not be surprised to learn that Wikipedia debunks everything the Establishment debunks,” placing any and all other viewpoints wholesale into a “COVID-19 Misinformation” page.

Among the pro-establishment narrative Sanger decries are notions about the supposed natural origin of the coronavirus, masking being an effective measure for combatting disease, lockdowns serving as effective tool for saving populations from sickness and death, and vaccines being “safe and effective.” 

“Let us be clear on something here,” Sanger states sharply as he sums up his concerns with what Wikipedia has become. “You might support Wikipedia’s approach to Covid-19; but you cannot maintain that it is neutral. A neutral approach would acknowledge and fairly represent alternative views on the origin of the virus, the efficacy of masks, the effectiveness and defensibility of lockdowns, and the effectiveness and safety of the Covid-19 vaccines.” 

“You might maintain that the articles are better without such an approach; but then what you are saying is that you prefer the articles’ Establishment bias to a neutral approach that would let the reader decide.”

As Sanger opines the encyclopedia has revolutionized itself into a de facto form of “thought police,” he laments that his brainchild has become “an opponent of vigorous democracy.” 

“Democracy requires that voters be given the full range of views on controversial issues, so that they can make up their minds for themselves. If society’s main information sources march in ideological lockstep, they make a mockery of democracy. Then the wealthy and powerful need only gain control of the few approved organs of acceptable thought; then they will be able to manipulate and ultimately control all important political dialogue.”