Before we begin let me state up front that I have nothing to do with any of the alleged editing.
As of this writing, there is no Scott Wolter Wikipedia page, and I can’t recall ever having seen one. America Unearthed does have a Wikipedia page, and it fairly describes the show as a “pseudo-documentary,” which Wolter would understandably disagree with. The America Unearthed Wikipedia page, I learned, also links to my blog as the only example of “one blog site” that was “critical” of the show and its host. It links back to my piece on Scott Wolter’s non-existent honorary master’s degree, which explains why so many angry people have been arriving on that blog page to yell at me for “attacking” Wolter. I’d like to think I’m not the only person in the world to have written anything critical of the show.
Doug Weller is a skeptic and rationalist who is an administrator for Wikipedia. Creationists, ancient astronaut speculators, and alternative historians have criticized him for editing Wikipedia entries to remove false or misleading claims. (See, for example, this discussion on the white supremacist Metapedia.) Even though these speculators have no degrees in the relevant fields, they feel Weller should not be allowed to edit material about their claims because he does not have a degree in archaeology or history.
Thornton and several conservative websites accuse Weller of falsely claiming to have been an archaeologist, but I am not aware of this claim. It seems to be due to confusion about the fact that Weller runs an archaeology website.
Thornton also accused the Cherokee of removing references to the Creek in Georgia in order to undermine Wolter’s (and, though he doesn’t say it, his) claim that the Maya gave rise to the Creek. The article claims this was part of a concerted effort on the part of the Cherokee to attack Scott Wolter and delegitimize America Unearthed. (Keep in mind that Examiner is not a real newspaper but a “citizen journalism” site with fewer quality control measures than Wikipedia.)
The extensive changes to Wikipedia were designed to give the impression that the Cherokees had always lived in Georgia. This was done because the Eastern Band of Cherokees planned to participate in an effort to discredit the premier [sic] of America Unearthed, “Finding the Mayas in Georgia.” [sic] It is not known who edited these articles. It could have been US Forest Service personnel, archaeologists, who are allied with the Cherokees, or members of one of several New Age cults that are obsessed with all things Cherokee.
Thornton also failed to disclose to his Examiner readers that he is the originator of the idea that the Maya were responsible for the Track Rock site in Georgia. Instead, he pretends to be a mere “columnist” reporting disinterestedly on the “scandal” at Wikipedia. Thornton is, of course, revealing volumes about his conspiratorial thinking.
This is not the first time Thornton has accused the Cherokee and the Forest Service of a conspiracy against both Wolter, again failing to disclose his own role. In December, he wrote another lengthy Examiner column claiming that the Forest Service cut down trees to block Wolter from accessing the site and created their own online video to refute him. He linked the video to the KKK because the KKK linked back to it! He failed to note that the Forest Service was responding to Thornton’s own “theories,” which he published, again in Examiner, the previous year.
“There has never been an explanation from this federal agency as to why it is so interested in proving that the Mayas did not come to North America,” Thornton wrote in December. It’s not a negative, Thornton: They’re trying to disseminate the known facts, as determined by actual archaeologists rather than angry conspiracy theorists, in order to inform the public of the truth.
Thornton ironically and risibly accused Wikipedia of failure to disclose its conflicts of interest and bias against alternative views. He specifically accused Weller of monopolizing control over how issues affecting alternative history are presented and for not being an archaeologist. But I’m still not understanding: It’s OK for Richard Thornton and Scott Wolter, dilettante speculators both, to “rewrite” history based on coincidences, fabrications, and their own feelings, but the sacred job of editing Wikipedia must be reserved for credentialed professors? Given that actual archaeologists disagree with Thornton and Wolter (which is what the Forest Service wanted people to know), this seems like a ploy to avoid editing since few professionals have the time to review every Wikipedia page everyday for alternative history nonsense.
It is also probably the reason that Thornton airs his ideas on the unedited Examiner rather than anywhere where they might be exposed to critical thought.
After some additional research, I learned some relevant information:
- Doug Weller is an American citizen who lives in England, and he holds a degree from Yale. Thornton and Wolter are therefore wrong to imply he is British, not that this would be relevant anyway.
- The two articles on Wikipedia that Thornton claimed were maliciously edited to remove references to the Creek at the time that America Unearthed premiered were not changed in the way Thornton claimed, according to the page histories the two articles.
- Neither article was copied from the New Georgia Encyclopedia as Thornton claims, as a comparison to that work shows.
- Here is the link to the discussion about deleting the Scott Wolter Wikipedia page. It makes clear that Wolter was upset that neutral viewpoint reporting gave the correct impression that his research was not supported by science: "I will not have my name or research questioned based on fraudulent research." (The fraud being Richard Nielsen's disagreement with him.)