Wikipedia’s Bias and the Murray Gell-Mann Effect

Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park, coined the term after meeting the famous MIT physicist Murray Gell-Mann to describe the act of feeling skeptical as you read a magazine or newspaper article about an area in which you have expertise and then completely forgetting that skepticism as you turn the page and read about something you know less about.

Murray Gell-Mann was an American physicist who received the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles, discovering and naming “Quarks” he developed the “Strangeness theory” and the “Eightfold way theory”.

The story is that at a dinner party Michael Crichton overheard Murray Gell-Mann ponting out this skepticism, and discussed it with him, after that he decided to use the famous scientist’s name to imply greater importance to himself and to the effect, that it would otherwise have.

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward — reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

Michael Crichton

Media carries with it credibility that is totally undeserved.

In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say.
In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all.
But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.

Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton, the full talk.

Wikipedia is the largest and most influential encyclopaedia in the world,

But unfortunately it does not have an effective neutrality policy.
Articles written about political and religious controversial points of view are blocked for open editing, and are highly manipulated by an elite of journalists who are in charge of determining the “Consensus” they see fit independently of the actual consensus of editors and users.

Wikipedia’s algorithm ponders more weight to people who write and edit more articles: journalists; and their followers, generally more journalists who represent a very specific point of view.

Even when the editors of this controversies try to keep a neutral tone to convince all readers that the articles are fair, examples of the contrary are embarrassingly easy to find. (See the link to Larry Sangers article below).
The control of the narrative of this issues by this groups severely damages the possibility inclusion of points of view different from the opinion of this elite. In many cases the contributions and expert wording of scholars who directly research issues and carefully argument their conclusions need to pass through this journalists/activists censorship and opinion, manipulating and in many cases re-wording them before being incorporated.

You would think that scientific issues would not have this problem, for every issue you can list all the peer reviewed studies, the studies that were successfully replicated and what are their conclusions, but politicised science articles (climate, race, sex) suffer from the same activism as other political and religious issues.

A huge flaw in Wikipedia is the policy to have a single article for each issue whose consensus is determined by a biased referee, making it impossible to be neutral. Competing articles for the same issues and pondering their importance by the number of contiubutors, editors and users will genuinely reflect consensus and would be.

Maybe you have not noticed it, and these are two possible explanations:,
1.- Because the Murray Gell-Mann effect.
2.- You are a part of the echo chamber that this activists are trying to reach.

Larry Sanger, Wikipedia’s Co-Founder, wrote a very good article with examples of this problem.


The idea that monopolies are consequences of a free market is an economic fallacy that was promoted by Karl Marx and is still widely accepted today.
With free markets (laissez-faire) there would be no laws to prevent businesses to enter into any industry. By definition, coercive monopolies can only form under statism, i.e., through government intervention into the economy by: special franchises, licenses, subsidies, and legislative actions, which provide privileges to specific organizations, individuals or groups. [1]

In the United States, utility companies have been granted a franchise for exclusive distribution of electricity over specific territories. [2]
PanAm airlines used political influence to prevent competition.[3]
In 1913, the American Bell Telephone Company was granted a government sanctioned monopoly. [4]
In the United States, AT&T functioned as a government-granted monopoly from 1913 until 1984.

The viciousness of the antitrust laws.

Under antitrust, no businessman can objectively comply with the law. For example, if a businessman charges prices higher than his competitors, he can be tried for “price-gouging” or “intent to monopolize.” If he charges the same price as his competitors, he can be tried for “collusion.” If he charges less than his competitor, he can be tried for “unfair competition.” [5]

No private enterprise can establish a coercive monopoly, because it is precisely the freedom of the market that would break it up. In the 19th Century attempts were made to corner the market in various commodities and, invariably they ended with the failure and the bankruptcy of the man who had attempted to establish a private monopoly.
A coercive monopoly can be established only by law. That is by means of a special government privilege granted to one producer or one company.
If you look into their history, both in the USA and in Europe, you will find that there has never been a coercive monopoly that had been created by collusion or conspiracy of free enterprises on the free market. It has always been created by an act of government.

Ayn Rand

The sources of almost all monopolies and oligopolies are direct and indirect government intervention.
The only law that you would need to reduce the extent of monopoly is to guarantee free trade.

Milton Friedman

The doctrine of “social responsibility”, that corporations should care about the community and not just profit, is highly subversive to the capitalist system and can only lead towards totalitarianism. [6]

FEE Foundation for Economic Education
Clichés of Progressivism #41 – “Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company Proved That We Needed Anti-Trust Laws to Fight Such Market Monopolies”


[1] Nathaniel Branden, The Vision of Ayn Rand, p.375
[5] Ayn Rand, Capitalism The Unknown Ideal