Since the beginning of the year, among readers of HBD-related blogs there’s been an increased interest in trying to improve articles related to race and intelligence at Wikipedia. The appeal of this is easy to understand, since very few books or articles written for a popular audience accurately present the scientific consensus about this topic. (Some pop-science books about it, such as The Mismeasure of Man, are infamous for the amount of misrepresentation they involve.) On the other hand, while peer-reviewed journals and academic textbooks often do present this consensus, these generally aren’t accessible to lay people. Wikipedia is the most commonly-used source of information in the world, so if it can accurately represent how this topic is presented in the professional psychology literature, it’s providing a service that’s provided almost nowhere else.
However, there’s a problem. Many of these new editors don’t realize that contributing to any topic at Wikipedia requires more than just knowledge about the topic itself–it also requires an understanding of how to conduct oneself there. This is especially true in articles on controversial topics, and race and intelligence is the ninth most controversial topic at Wikipedia. Over the past few months, several of these editors have come to me for advice about how to make a positive difference in this area, so I’ve decided to write up some of my advice for them in a blog post here.
One point needs to stated before anything else: The most useful thing anyone can do on these articles is keep watch over them, and undo vandalism when it happens. The largest problem with most of the articles is that they aren’t being watched by anyone who cares about them. This means that people can remove chunks of sourced material without giving a reason, or add material without a source, and the changes often won’t be undone.