Wikipedia has come of age. The online user-created encyclopedia is now influential enough that the federal government feels the need to doctor it up.I've always known the Wikipedia site was edited by "users," and as such, took their information with a grain of salt. But this is just ridiculous! More evidence of this administration's constant rewriting and watering down of science. Shaking my head.
In late August, someone with an IP address that originated from the National Institutes of Health drastically edited the Wikipedia entry for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which operates within NIH. Wikipedia determined the edit to be vandalism and automatically changed the definition back to the original. On Sept. 18, the NIH vandal returned, according to a history of the site's edits posted by Wikipedia. This time, the definition was gradually changed, presumably to avoid the vandalism detector.
NIDA spokeswoman Dorie Hightower confirmed that her agency was behind the editing. She said in an e-mail that the definition was changed "to reflect the science."
A little more than science-reflecting was done to the site. Gone first was the "Controversial research" section that included comments critical of NIDA. Next went the section on the NIDA- sponsored program that grows marijuana for research and medical purposes. The next slice of the federal editor's knife left all outside references on the cutting-room floor, replaced with links to government Web sites.
Then the battle began. Over the next few weeks, Wikipedia users challenged the site's neutrality and took out the more egregious propaganda. Each time, the NIH editor would return. The fight left the article in tatters. Folks wondering what NIDA does now get four basic, non-controversial sentences followed by 10 links to federal Web sites. And at the bottom of the page is a plea from Wikipedia: "This article about a medical organization or association is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it."