Neutrality Policy

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Neutrality Policy

Published: August 17, 2006, 11:44 am
Author: Cutler J. Cleveland

In the interests of encouraging the broadest participation, of assisting people in making up their own minds about controversial issues, and of increasing the likelihood of articulating the whole truth about all subjects, the Encyclopedia of Earth adopts the following policies regarding neutrality and fairness.

  1. Neutrality. Encyclopedia of Earth articles shall, when touching upon any issue of controversy, be fair and insofar as possible neutral. Following are some examples of what is meant by neutrality in Encyclopedia of Earth:
    • Controversy. The Encyclopedia of Earth recognizes two classes of controversy; "scientific controversy" and "values controversy." Scientific controversy describes differences in opinion of scholars on the interpretation of scientific data. For example, the regional changes in weather caused by increases in greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere is a subject of scientific controversy. Values controversy describes differences in opinion on values-based decision-making about the environment. For example, whether taking and action to preserve or protect an endangered species is worth the economic or societal costs of such actions is a values controversy. When touching upon any issue of controversy, the distinction between scientific and values controversy should be recognized, and every different view on a subject that attracts a significant portion of adherents shall be represented, with each such view and its arguments or evidence being expressed as fairly and sympathetically as possible. This entails, among other things, that:
      • No Advocacy The Encyclopedia of Earth itself shall not advocate positions on environmental issues; it shall also be both non-partisan and non-sectarian.
      • Language. The Encyclopedia of Earth shall not use phraseology or tone that elevates or deprecates particular perspectives or people holding a particular perspective.
      • Dialectic. The Encyclopedia of Earth shall attempt, iteratively if necessary, to represent fairly and sympathetically the arguments of different disputants against each others' positions.
    • Balance. Where there is a need to apportion limited space, space on areas of disagreement shall be apportioned roughly in proportion to their representation (1) among experts, when a dispute exists mainly among scholars; and (2) among the interested population, when a dispute exists mainly among the general population. When a dispute is equally a scholarly and a popular dispute, separate articles will be written to describe each dispute neutrally.
  2. Uncertainties and Assumptions: The Encyclopedia of Earth shall recognize uncertainties in data, interpretation, and understanding, as well as other reasons for different perspectives on a subject, such as assumptions made.
  3. Inclusion. As access to the broadest array of knowledge has many salutary effects, the Encyclopedia of Earth shall be strongly disposed to include rather than exclude content.
  4. Exclusion.
    • Harm. When some content both has no discernible and unique benefit to the advancement of knowledge, and has significant potential to harm the health or moral character of individuals, of human society at large, or of the environment, it may be excluded.
    • Broad consensus. To be grounds for exclusion, the harmful nature of some content must be affirmed, or likely to be affirmed, by the majority of the world’s educated population, regardless of political or religious views.
    • Examples. Paradigm examples of excluded content are bomb-making instructions, pornography, and Holocaust denial.


Cleveland, C. (2006). Neutrality Policy. Retrieved from