The Weiler Psi

Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics

Wikipedia: The Only Way to Win is Not to Play


This is the latest on a series of posts about editing on Wikipedia.  It begins here:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Also, see this article by Deepak Chopra

____________________________

This is my final post on trying to edit Wikipedia.  There is no point to this charade anymore.  After having taken a few days to reflect on what was happening, I’ve come to the same conclusion that many before me have reached as well:  It’s not worth the effort.  Wikipedia is systematically broken to the point that trying to edit it is a complete waste of time.  Wikipediocracy has compiled  A Compendium of Wikipedia Criticism.  It’s worth reading.  Rupert Sheldrake’s biography is no better than when I started and this is despite the efforts of numerous people.

Tumbleman was banned, Oh boy Chicken Again was banned, I was almost banned as was Lou Sander.  That is four people who were trying to edit the article to a neutral point of view.  Number of opposing editors banned or nearly banned?  Zero.

Once you start looking for this type of problem on Wikipedia, the floodgates start to open.

The Fairy-Tale Cult of Wikipedia, Wikipedia Woes – Pending Crisis as Editors Leave in Droves , The Acta Pauli blog and Wikipedia trolls, Snared in the Web of a Wikipedia Liar, The Decline of Wikipedia, Why Wikipedia Can’t Work, Tell a Lie Enough Times . . ., Yet More Problems With Wikipedia, Wikipedia Goes All-In on Transphobia, Wikipedia Bans 1,000 IP Addresses to Silence One Man, The Great Failure of Wikipedia and on and on and on.  And remember that there is also an entire organization dedicated to outing all the terrible problems of this Encyclopedia.  Wikipediocracy.

These articles, mostly culled from a quick search, go as far back as 2004, with many of the same problems recurring over the years.  My articles are merely the latest in a long line of similar criticisms of Wikipedia.

Wikipedia’s basic rule structure and philosophy of “anybody can edit” has produced a product that is so easy for ideologues to game that it is frankly useless to oppose them.  Ordinary editing only occurs on those subjects where ideologues don’t care and have left them alone.  Everything else is just a time sink.

I am a fairly good scholar and writer myself.  I have a bachelor’s in Spanish, which is basically an English degree in another language.  I’ve written over 200 articles for this blog, many of them researched, and learned a lot about sourcing along the way.  I have a heavily researched book at the publisher and  I am also very well read on parapsychology in general.  I have a pretty substantial library of science books that I’ve read to become better informed.

So imagine how I might perceive this:

OK, so Craig. CSICOP [link mine.] promote that is extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. That is not an unreasonable position. We cannot take every claim people make at face value; for a start many such claims are contradictory, so we need to ensure that claims are passed through a filter to determine what’s bullshit and what might not be. Now, to make extraordinary claims without such evidence is commonly done by humans. However, once someone’s claims have been assessed by the expert in this area, who point out obvious fallacies, those persons who continue to promote such unsubstantiated fantasies is all of these things: (1) immensely stupid or deeply immoral (depending on whether the claimant is being an idiot or trying to profit in some way despite knowing it’s wrong) (2) disrespectful of expert opinion (3) potentially harmful as regards the public understanding of science, and (4) potentially harmful to people with mental health issues. I’m sure you can appreciate that sometimes things get a little heated when people who take their time to point out that you are wrong and you respond with (1)(2)(3)(4) above. This btw, is how Wikipedia works too. Barney the barney barney (talk) 16:16, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

I’m being lectured to by someone who is speaking on a range of subjects he is almost completely ignorant about, but fancies himself to be an expert.  I am supposed to argue my points with this person?  And convince him with facts?  I actually made the attempt, but it turned out exactly as expected.  He comes into the discussion on Wikipedia as my equal and he has other, equally ignorant people to back him up.  Now imagine me trying to reason with a whole group of them and you’ll be able to see the problem.  Endless discussions that go nowhere and that I end up losing because the ignorant people agree with each other.  Voilá, a Wikipedia consensus.

All around the web people encounter truly bizarre situations on Wikipedia, such as this attempt by a scholar to get a correction past a 14 year old administrator.  

I’ve learned that Anonymous Dissident, who removed my links from the French and German articles on the Acts of Paul and Thecla, is 12 approximately 14 years old.  Wow, that’s pretty cool Wikipedia!  A 12 approximately 14 year old is able to eliminate a link to this site which is being published by people with PhDs.  Now I’m sure that Anonymous Dissident is very mature for the age of 12 approximately 14, but it does lower the status of Wikipedia considerably when scholars can’t even add a little insignificant link to your so-called encyclopedia.

One of the commenters on that blog put the problem very clearly:

The sheer number of people who have had bad experiences is very great, even though it is difficult to find material about this using Google. But even so, there are any number who report being attacked by trolls, of finding their attempts to contribute — and Wikipedia is designed to entice participation, to make doing so addictive — met with violence, of dishonest “administrators”, of no rational or sane way to resolve disagreements.

A stellar example of the kind of nonsense I have been putting up with is this attempt to get one single source removed.  My argument was simple:  There was an experiment involving Rupert Sheldrake and Steve Rose.  Rose believed that the results did not support morphic resonance and Sheldrake did.  The source being cited was Rose’s argument.  But Sheldrake also had a rebuttal to that.  To cite only Rose and nothing else amounted to cherry picking so Rose’s statement had to be taken in context to everything else.  I argued that Rose’s paper was therefore part and parcel of a primary source which is disallowed on Wikipedia.

What followed was a huge, bloated mostly off topic discussion that did everything but actually address the point I was making.  The skeptical position amounted to “no, we disagree” and that was about it.  Why didn’t they actually address the issue?  Because they didn’t have to.  On Wikipedia you don’t need to argue rationally or provide sufficient facts if other people have your back.  There is no authority that differentiates between nonsense and informed discussion.  Well, there is, actually,  It’s the RfC.  But figuring out which sources are legitimate requires an expert on the topic, not a bunch of people flying blind.  If you are not familiar with the nature of the whole parapsychology controversy then you’re probably not going to make a good decision.

There is an administrator on the page, but neither the talk situation nor the article itself have improved at all since he’s arrived.  It’s safe to say that he has utterly failed to make any difference.

I’m faced with a question: do I really care enough to battle into eternity with ideologues in the hopes of making a tiny change to a single article?  I look to former Wikipedia editor, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax, who had this to say about a similarly controversial article he’d been working on:

[The Wikipedia Arbitration Committee] knows that Wikipedia has problems. What they do is to blame them on “disruptive editors,” rather than on lack of functional structure, because it’s easy to ban a disruptive editor, difficult to change structure. In fact, they know that it is very difficult to change structure, because at various points, the Arbitration Committee tried. They were shouted down, and they had no spine.

. . . And that’s the real Wikipedia. A radically unreliable structure, massively inefficient — it can take weeks of work to get a simple change through, that should have been obvious from the beginning.  . . . That, essentially and long-term, filters out sane editors. . . . The cabal has been able to maintain the Wikipedia article in an obviously poor and confused state because it’s not worth going to RfC over hundreds of small changes.

Is it productive for me to try to edit?  Definitely  not.  There is no point in entangling myself in the mess that is Rupert Sheldrake’s biography page with the ideologues running the show.  I’ve already been run around in circles a couple of times and I don’t care for more of the same.  This leaves the other option of trying to learn the system in order to use Wikipedia policy against the ideologues by trying to get them banned or at least soundly rebuked.   Again, no.  I’m not interested in doing that. It’s not my idea of fun.  It seems mean spirited and ugly to behave like they do.

The last option is to try to go up the ladder at Wikipedia and see if I can get structural changes in place for this obviously broken system.  Here too, my answer is no.  It would end up becoming my life’s mission and given how deep the problem is and how long it’s been going on, it’s doubtful that I would accomplish anything anyway.  Raging against The Machine is a fools errand.  Wikipedia is not an important part of my life and that’s the way it’s going to stay.  I am not obsessive enough to want to take that on.

I am left with the knowledge that I am shut out of the topic where I have the most expertise.  As a result, I am not left with any appealing options for participating on Wikipedia.  So I will move on and Wikipedia will continue to deteriorate as a resource.  The problem is too big for me to deal with it.

It’s time to go outside of the box.  “How do we fix Wikipedia?” is the wrong question.  It can’t be fixed. So whatever happens, it has to be something else.

. . . The solution is to remove Wales from the equation, get rid of all the “administrators”/trolls/children, and get rid of the system where the REAL system administrators remain unknown. Instead, introduce a fair, sane, and transparent system of governance, run by responsible people who do so under their own names in an accountable manner. I fear that only the government can do this. Little as I like the idea, I suspect that it needs to do so. Wikipedia is a howling success at gathering information, because of its contributors. It is a terrible failure in most other respects.

I don’t have the answer, but there is at least one stopgap measure that’s been suggested:  I have heard several people mention that the Rupert Sheldrake Biography should be deleted from Wikipedia because it’s impossible for him to be treated fairly.  I find that hard to argue with.  Not having any article on Wikipedia has to be better for Rupert (and perhaps many other notable people) than being slandered like this.  And there it is:  The only way to win is not to play.

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62 comments on “Wikipedia: The Only Way to Win is Not to Play

  1. Annalisa
    December 9, 2013

    I can sympathize with a lot of what you are saying because I was once very active editing articles at Wikipedia, and one of the things I am most proud of was helping to bring the Parapsychology article to Featured Article status where it remained stable for a time. This was because, despite contention and differing worldviews, all of the editors at that time were interested in serving the greater goal of creating a really great article according to Wikipedia guidelines.

    I was at the Rupert Sheldrake article for a while, but had to let it go because there were too many trolls. Of course, the best way to get rid of trolls is to stop feeding them. I bet if the pseudo skeptics had no one to argue with for say a month, the majority of them would disappear permanently. I decided to let go of the article – temporarily- because the climate there is one where nothing is going to get done.

    In the meantime, there are over a million articles to edit on Wikipedia – many of them on parapsychological topics and now is a great time to join projects like WikiProject Parapsychology (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Parapsychology) because all the trolls are busy. ;-)

    • craigweiler
      December 9, 2013

      I’m afraid that I don’t share your optimism. I’ve never known the trolls to go away.

      • Annalisa
        December 9, 2013

        I’ve never known our kind to stop feeding them. ;-)

  2. Pingback: Wikipedia and the Pseudoskeptical Weaselword Wars | The Science of Reality

  3. obrlnews
    November 10, 2013

    Thanks Craig (or whomever) sent me this item on Wikipedia. Of course I am disgusted at the nasty, censorious and abusive nature of that forum. My own work has been directed over decades towards experimental investigation of the late Dr. Wilhelm Reich’s research, on the subject of the widely-ridiculed but rarely understood orgone energy research, and on his earlier investigations into human sexuality. I spent considerable time several years ago correcting many falsehoods and slanders against Reich appearing on their “Wilhelm Reich” and “orgone energy” pages, being sure to include citations and weblinks to the many published studies which have confirmed Reich’s work. These are not amateur-hour investigations, but have typically been undertaken by scientists with PhD or MD degrees, working either privately or in universities or medical schools. Nearly all such studies have been well controlled and showed high levels of statistical significance in their support for Reich’s conclusions. Some were double-blind as well, or better. My own quadruple-blinded study undertaken when I was grad student and instructor at the University of Kansas for example.

    Anyhow, I posted up a long list of such documentation, and erased the malicious statements — which were generated by the “skeptics” and even before CSICOP was founded. Within a month, virtually all the citations had been erased, and the slanders put back up. I made one more try at it, but once again, was defeated by what appeared then to be a highly organized group of sicko liars who sat on the Reich webpages, and having nothing better to do with their time, erased whatever they didn’t like, and scribbled in the disinformation they wanted everyone to see.

    You can review the published studies at the on-line Bibliography on Orgonomy, here:

    http://www.orgonelab.org/bibliog.htm

    My own publications on the subject can be reviewed here:

    http://orgonelab.academia.edu/JamesDeMeo

    The blackout on these findings has not been fully successful, and so there are many new publications on such subjects breaking out into smaller mainstream journals. The dam is cracking, in spite of the small army of wiki-scribblers and their slander-bombs. I don’t waste time with them anymore, but have put up my own warning about them, in the manner of a “XXX DANGER POISON XXX” sign, as one might find in a desert water hole that has toxic water. This is in a new book entitled “In Defense of Wilhelm Reich: Opposing the 80-Years War of Mainstream Defamatory Slander Against One of the 20th Century’s Most Brilliant Physicians and Natural Scientists.” Available in most on-line outlets.

    While I don’t expect anyone to be convinced of the accuracy and authentic nature of Reich’s scientific discoveries if they have been persuaded by the slander which follows his name like a swarm of wasps, at least one should take note that the same people attacking and slandering just about every innovative scientific or medical pioneer today included the fore-fathers of the modern “skeptic” movement. While Sheldrake’s excellent book was merely tagged for burning by such people, in Reich’s case, not only did power-drunk agents of the Food and Drug Administration manage to ban and burn his books, but also arranged his death in prison on fabricated charges. The Nazis and Communists also banned and burned his books in Europe, and also tried to kill him, it is worth to note. I’ve written on all this in the above-mentioned book, and in my various research papers and books at the academia.edu website.

    • obrlnews
      November 10, 2013

      Eh, I thought the comment would allow for review prior to posting. One confusing sentence, I meant to say:

      The same people attacking and slandering just about every innovative scientific or medical pioneer today include some of the same older “skeptics” who also slandered Reich, and were fore-fathers of the modern “skeptic” movement, such as Martin Gardner.

      Also I like to use my real name, but our own wordpress blog doesn’t show it.

      Cheers,

      James DeMeo, PhD

  4. John Amenta (@jamenta)
    November 6, 2013

    Hi Craig. It was good to read this post of yours along with Deepak’s article at Huffington Post. I concur with both your assessments of Wikipedia, and ran into a similar experience myself and even managed to quickly get myself banned. I believe – especially regarding anything that touches on psi research, or challenges reductive materialism – a cabal of what I believe is Skeptic’s ideologues, have taken over and stamped out any opposition to their viewpoints in any related Wikipedia articles. You will find this true not only regarding Sheldrake’s bio – but past presidents of the Society for Psychical Research – such as the entries on Frederic Myers (although recently somewhat improved) and Ian Stevenson.

    The Wikipedia entry on “Paranormal” is outlandish and childish – and does a huge disservice to the amount of valid research that has been conducted in the last century – and it lumps all kinds of absurd phenomena in with “Paranormal” – to misinform and mislead ordinary readers.

    This kind of deliberate and tyrannical editorial control is a dangerous phenomenon – especially given the public visibility of Wikipedia, and knowledge being disseminated that turns out to be POV and misleading. I would go so far as to say some of the articles have been defamatory in character and these editors responsible for what they have been done be taken to court.

    But like you – I feel the effort – given how they have taken over certain parts of Wikipedia, would not be worth it – since such Herculean effort must be performed in order to clean these idiots off the roost they have made at Wikipedia. But somehow, my guess, is that the founder of Wikipedia knows whats going on – at least in regard to Atheism, Psi – and implicitly condones it. So I doubt much will be done until these dicks are challenged in court. Maybe they will eventually cross someone with deep pockets and have their nose rubbed into what they are writing about other people in a public domain.

  5. lucas lockie
    November 6, 2013

    “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”. Maybe it’s time to start new, wikipedia type project by and for the “open-minded”, with similar rules as the StackExchane network…

    • Benjamin David Steele
      November 6, 2013

      Thanks for saying that so directly and simply. That is the basic point I’ve been trying to get at, but obviously I was failing to communicate.

  6. Benjamin David Steele
    November 5, 2013

    It is good to put things in perspective. It isn’t as if there was a good ol’ days when information sources were more accurate. Physical encyclopedias are known for containing inaccuracies and biases. Wikipedia may fail at democratic process, but most encyclopedias don’t even try.

    The old system prior to Wikipedia was to have a single expert to write an entire encyclopedia entry, and all those who disagreed with him would have been ignored. That is more control than the even has been achieved on Wikipedia. This old school control didn’t lead to open-mindedness and fair discussion. Psi type issues would have received less attention in a mainstream encyclopedia relative to Wikipedia.

    It is like comparing our present racially biased society to slave societies in the past. We fail at racial equality, but societies in the past didn’t even try. As such, even with all of its failings, Wikipedia is still more accurate on average than the info you’ll find in an old set of encyclopedias.

    Our criticism shouldn’t be of Wikipedia’s attempt at democratic process but at its failure to live up to its own ideals and standards. The problem isn’t that we don’t have the tools at present, with or without regulation, to make a functional Wikipedia or something even better. Let us first use the tools we have before demanding more drastic solutions. Let us seek more democracy, instead of less.

    Democracy is always a work in progress. We sometimes forget how new of an idea it is. Even in the US, democracy is still struggling to be implemented on all levels of our society.. Even with more important issues than Wikipedia, we have a hard time finding a democratic process that can overcome the anti-democratic forces that always seek to undermine it. I sometimes question whether we have a functioning democracy at all in this country.

    The internet is even younger than democracy. With the internet, you don’t have just the complications of a country. It is an international organization. The problem if anything with Wikipedia is that it is too ambitious. The critics rightly criticize the failures but then offer even more ambitious hopes. We should remind ourselves that it requires many failures to move toward success. It took centuries to end slavery. We modern people with our instant technology have become too impatient with the slowness of social change.

    • craigweiler
      November 5, 2013

      I don’t think you have a good understanding of the situation. Errors and omissions in older print encyclopedias existed through human error in pursuit of the truth. They were innocent mistakes. They were not correctable except in later editions. Errors in Wikipedia exist due to willful ignorance and ideological biases even though they could be changed immediately. There’s a huge difference.

      • Benjamin David Steele
        November 5, 2013

        “I don’t think you have a good understanding of the situation.”

        I understand perfectly fine.

        “Errors and omissions in older print encyclopedias existed through human error in pursuit of the truth. They were innocent mistakes.”

        In response to this comment, I could say the same thing that you said to me: “I don’t think you have a good understanding of the situation.” But arguing about who has the least understanding isn’t overly helpful. I’m fine with you challenging me if you think I’m wrong. In this light, I’ll challenge you in turn, not because you are wrong but because I think a broader perspective would be helpful.

        When mainstream thinkers exclude psi topics and censor them in encyclopedias, it is just innocent mistakes, human error in pursuit of truth. But when mainstream thinkers exclude psi topics and censor them in Wikipedia, it is to be judged by a higher standard. Why?

        “They were not correctable except in later editions. Errors in Wikipedia exist due to willful ignorance and ideological biases even though they could be changed immediately.”

        Encyclopedias continuously for decades kept the same biased info in edition after edition. It was systemic bias controlled by a minority who intentionally excluded alternative thinkers like you. Encyclopedias today still have these same biases and, despite having electronic formats, they don’t correct what alternative thinkers like you would consider mistakes about psi.

        “There’s a huge difference.”

        I don’t see any huge difference. In both cases, a minority of mainstream thinkers control a mainstream media source in order to keep out alternative viewpoints and data. It sucks. You have a right to complain and criticize, but it is what it is.

        I’m not trying to be negative. I’m trying to be realistic. If you really want to change the way these things work, it appears a new strategy is required. Regulation wouldn’t work because the same type of mainstream thinking that controls encyclopedias and Wikipedia also controls politics.

        It would be nice if an alternative could be created to Wikipedia. If there is enough support for alternative views, organizing an alternative-version of Wikipedia should be possible. Even conservatives have organized their own alternative. Why not psi advocates and those of a similar mindset? Conservatives didn’t require any regulation to create their Conservapedia.

        In this age of the globalized internet, competition is a bigger factor than ever before. Those old encyclopedias had near monopolies on presenting the info. That is no longer the case. Anyone with enough support and motivation can challenge the established media. A good example of that is The Young Turks.

        It is, of course, up to you about what you want to do. I’m not a political saavy person nor am I overly motivated about trying to organize people. But I do admire people who can do this kind of thing. Grassroots organization is the only way the establishment can be challenged. If Wikipedia has simply become a new kind of establishment, I’d say it is time for some new grassroots organizing.

        • Tom Butler
          November 5, 2013

          The old rules do not really apply here because you cannot compare an online to the public anything with proprietary hardcopy. The issue is information and what is best for our society. That is the approach the skeptical community is taking. They know that, if they can vilify a class of concepts by calling them pseudoscience, then they can effectively suppress the public’s access to information about those concepts.

          Wikipedia is a tool for clearly defining pseudoscience and what falls into that category. The skeptical argument is effective because some governments, including the USA and Russia, officially consider pseudoscience a danger to the success of the country. By extension, subjects that include pseudoscience are seen as a danger to society.

          I study what the editors call a “fringe” subject and have seen the effectiveness of the propaganda. Parapsychology in general has relatively little access to funding (none from the government as far as I know) and mainstream scientists fear to associate with the study of things called pseudoscience because of pressure that is at least in part due to the success of the skeptic’s campain.

          All of the arguments in Wikipedia I have seen and have been involved in have concerned whether an article about a subject deemed a pseudoscience is to receive fair explanation–not favorable, because we understand the imbalance between mainstream and emerging science, but reasonable “this is what it is” explanations. We feel the public should at least know about these subjects without the vilification.

          Wikipedia is so structured that a cadre is able to control content. I think none of us want laws to be passed to kill Wikipedia. I personally do feel that the public interest is at stake and the rules for what has become a very effective propaganda machine needs to be modified so that a more balanced view is presented. The need for modification of the rules has been very evident for years, yet there have been no change. I feel the only solution may be to kill the beast to make room for competition.

          We do that with monopolies, we do that with unfair trade practices, we do that with fraudulent companies and individuals. This is no different.

          • Benjamin David Steele
            November 5, 2013

            “The skeptical argument is effective because some governments, including the USA and Russia, officially consider pseudoscience a danger to the success of the country. By extension, subjects that include pseudoscience are seen as a danger to society.”

            That is precisely why skeptics promoting regulation would be a major fail. How does a particular segment of pro-psi skeptics (probably a small minority at best) plan on taking over the major governments of the world in order to regulate an international organization?

            Unfair trade practices effects the self interest of powerful people such as corporations. Oppression of psi debate doesn’t effect the self interest of many powerful people, and if anything it is in line with the self interest of particular powerful people.

            A direct attack will usually fail when your numbers are small and you are out of power. A more Taoist or Jujitsu approach is necessary in such a situation. I don’t know what that means in this situation, but it will require a lot more subtle nuance and creative thinking in the planning process. The aim is how does one change society from below when one lacks power above.

            • Tom Butler
              November 6, 2013

              I do not know what “pro-psi skeptics” means. It seems like an oxymoron.

              Nothing I said concerned taking over a country?? The point is that freedom to study and share concepts is potentially restricted by policies that have been successfully promoted by mainstream skeptics. Take a look at “Why Has There Not Been More Study of the Paranormal?” (http://atransc.org/research/research_funding_nsf.htm) and “Anti-Constitutional Activities and Abuse of Police Power by the FDA” (http://www.orgonelab.org/fda.htm). Wikipedia has been an important tool for promoting the view that these subjects are dangerous to society. From where I work, it looks like things will only get worse for frontier subjects.

              • Benjamin David Steele
                November 6, 2013

                I don’t feel like arguing with you for I don’t find that a fun game to play.

                I get the sense you’re just being disingenuous or snarky. I’m sure you know what I meant by “pro-psi skeptics”. It is a skeptic who supports or even advocates for research and education about psi. If that is an oxymoron, then the author of this blog is an oxymoron.

                I didn’t say you said anything about taking over a country. I was talking about control and/or influence in terms of politics. This is the only way regulation could be enacted. Besides, it isn’t as if the anti-psi people have necessarily taken over Wikipedia. They’ve merely gamed the system. You don’t need to take over something if you know how to manipulate it to your favor.

                That is what makes these people so politically saavy. Slaveholders were a minority and yet they knew how to game the system in order to create a slave society in the US. In that case, they did take over. But another example would be corporate lobbies that don’t have to take anything over in order to have massive control and influence over policies, bills and regulation.

                Mainstream skeptics are politically saavy. They haven’t literally taken over our society. Presidents and most politicians can’t even admit to being atheist even when they are. Still, mainstream skeptics have great ability to control and influence key areas of the media and education, not entirely take it over but they have positioned themselves as insiders or have developed relationships with insiders.

                Why do you think these people would be less effective at gaming regulation than they are at gaming Wikipedia along with other media outlets and similar organizations/institutions? And why do you think people like you will be more effective at gaming regulation when proven not to be effective in gaming all these other things?

                I’m not arguing about being right. Actually, I wish I were wrong. What I’m trying to do is point out some serious challenges and ask questions.

  7. David Rosen
    November 5, 2013

    Yes Wikipedia is a sign of the times. If it’s on the internet IT must be true. Never mind that the internet has huge inaccuracies. Yes wiki’s third party verification is good to stop original non- sourced writing into an article, but when newspaper and magazines are the primary source for verification we are in trouble. These sources are trying to sell copies of their publication. So they of course are slanted.

  8. Pingback: The Rise and Fall of Militant Skepticism | Intent BlogIntent Blog

  9. Sandy
    November 4, 2013

    Here’s yet another article about Wiki’s failings:

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1310.8508

  10. badsciencewikipedia
    November 4, 2013

    Yes, the 12-year-old Randies-from-Boise rule the roost at en.Wikipedia. I tried removing inaccurate science from en.Wikipedia, but I would get arguments that it was sourced, for example, from what I suspect is a very young house-bound editor. He can’t read the sources he is using; and, when he copies and pastes buzzwords from the sources and includes them in the articles, other equally ignorant editors simply verify that the buzzwords are in the cited source and in the en.Wikipedia article, so this means it is reliably sourced. It means nothing of the sort; but, you are correct that these editors are too ignorant to argue with. We don’t have a common ground; I have a limited background in science, and they don’t have any. When I discuss problems with the science in an article (C4 plants don’t open their stomata at night), they respond with wild guesses (CAM plants do, so surely C4 plants live in deserts and must also, so surely the source must say that they do, so surely you have to be wrong says User:Cwmhiraeth, one of the least knowledgeable and most prolific science writers on Wikipedia).

    However, since neither the editor writing the science article, nor the editor promoting it to be on the main page to get viewed 7000 times a day, have any background in biology outside of en.Wikipedia, the encyclopedia is slowly but surely rewriting evolutionary biology and taxonomy and dropping its poop onto the top of Google searches to replace science.

    You can’t win by discussing the bad science with en.Wikipedia editors, because they have no science background. You can’t discuss that “An,” when used as an abbreviation discussing the composition of a basalt means “Anorthite,” not “ammonium nitrate,” with an editor with no background in geology.

    Anyone with any knowledge will wind up quitting; because you can’t answer someone with whom you have no common ground. You can’t speak about science to a completely scientifically ignorant 12-year-old.

    (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Randy_from_Boise)

    • craigweiler
      November 4, 2013

      the encyclopedia is slowly but surely rewriting evolutionary biology and taxonomy and dropping its poop onto the top of Google searches to replace science.

      That was priceless!

  11. badsciencewikipedia
    November 4, 2013

    Reblogged this on en.wiki bad science and commented:
    Well, it is probably the only way to win; but, meanwhile, the bad science, bad biographies and idiocy that en.Wikipedia keeps showing up at the top of Google searches.

  12. Pingback: The Rise and Fall of Militant Skepticism

  13. Benjamin David Steele
    November 4, 2013

    @Anthony McCarthy

    “You only have any level of reliability of information through . control of its content.”

    I’m not against control. I’m not an anarchist or anything. My point is that, besides authoritarian countries, the government doesn’t normally play the role of what is allowed to be published. Censorship and democracy don’t play well together.

    “Controlling against inaccuracy in an ENCYCLOPEDIA! isn’t fascistic,”

    The idea being bandied about here is regulating a private international organization that has volunteers from around the world. The only way to do this would be through an international government agency that, in having the power to regulate, would have the power to censor.

    Such an agency would have many several potential problems. It could face regulatory takeover by private industry that would use it to eliminate or decrease competition. It might develop mission creep, slowly increasing its regulatory power. If it gained control of regulating all the world’s internet, it could become the most powerful political institution in the world. And, yes, power corrupts.

    “it’s preventing inaccuracy, defamation, ideological distortion, lies, etc. In order to put that requirement of real reference works of real reliability in terms of fascism vs. democracy is to fail to distinguish between the truth and ideological spin. The truth has an absolute power which transcends its political use, it is real whereas non-truth is not real and pretending it is will be, to some extent, harmful. In some cases, it will be very harmful.”

    I merely pointed out the obvious. Someone brought up regulation in terms of fascism. Yes, authoritarians of all stripes love government regulation. That isn’t news. If you bed down with authoritarians, you might not like the regulation you find in the morning.

    Truth has absolute power, eh? That sounds like an extremely ideological statement. Many extremists, fascists or otherwise, have argued against ideology. They too claimed that they were simply seeking truth, the public good or whatever. I’m not worried about truth. I’m worried about those who would decide which truths and views of truth I’m allowed to see.

    “There is nothing fascistic when a real general editor of a reference work protects the reliability of that reference work by avoiding false assertions being inserted in it. That’s called responsibility, not fascism. Wikipedia has built in irresponsibility due to the ideological bias of its creators, some kind of absurd idea that the truth is the product of some kind of consensus and not actually exercising informed choices and control. I don’t think it can be fixed, certainly not with people who care more about their ideology than the accuracy of Wikipedia.”

    Wikipedia is a private failure. No government created Wikipedia. No government is needed to create new organizations to compete with Wikipedia. Creating a powerful international regulatory agency potentially capable of censorship and propaganda would not encourage truth. If Wikipedia fails because of the fault of those who manage and edit it, then that is what is supposed to happen in a free market. Now, if you want to argue there isn’t a free market and that we should try to increase the freedom of those to challenge Wikipedia by developing new competing organizations, that is something I’d be all behind.

    Let truth claims compete in an open and fair way. The problem with Wikipedia isn’t that it isn’t being regulated. It is being massively regulated. The problem, rather, is that it isn’t being regulated by those and in a way some would like it to be. Those people could organize in order to create a new model and regulate it in a way they deem better.

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  17. mtpitre
    October 31, 2013

    Hey guys (sort of off-topic) Have you seen these two scientifically beautiful research into ghosts paranormal?http://www.worlditc.org/
    and http://www.thescoleexperiment.com/ I looked at the evidence and it blew me away. Imagine the implications when mainstream scientists can build tech to talk to ghosts and beings on the other side clearly. Imagine the useful information we can get from these beings to help our world. It still peeves me that materialist scientists reject the implications for such research. Our technological capabilities will jump so quickly with beings from the other planes giving us imprints for new technologies.

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  19. Mark
    October 30, 2013

    At the risk of opening up a rough can of worms, here, I will say that I have fascist tendencies. Because of that, I like this idea of the government getting involved and oppressing this bad behavior of the people who run Wikipedia. Indeed, The New York State Legislature will be considering legislation, in 2014, I believe, that will require websites to take down anonymous comments about an individual or organization if the individual or organization wants the anonymous comments taken down. Though it does not go anywhere near far enough I believe that this would be helpful to all alternative movements.

    • craigweiler
      October 30, 2013

      Wow, if that were at the Federal level that could wipe out half of Wikipedia.

      • Benjamin David Steele
        October 30, 2013

        If fascism were implemented at the federal level, probably way more than j4ust half of Wikipedia would be wiped out. It would be nearly impossible for smething like Wikipedia to arise at all in a fascist society, much less continue to operate. The ideal of Wikipedia is a technological institution of democracy, but fascism is the complete opposite of democracy.

        Your complaint seems to be not that attempts at democracy are bad but that failed attempts should be remedied and improved.

        A fascist’s solution to a failed attempt at democracy is to get rid of democracy. You don’t need to solve the problems of democracy if they no longer exist. It is like how anarchists, objectivists and right-libertarians would like to solve the problems of government by getting rid of government. Or like how hardcore atheists would like to sole the prob0lems of relgion by getting rid of religion.

        Such extremist calls for a final solution bring out the moderate liberal in me.

        • Mark
          October 30, 2013

          Well, I guess you could call me an extremist, because I HAVE argued, in the past, and continue to argue, that democracy is bad and should be done away with, but, in the post that you’re referring to, I was making a more specific argument that certain behaviors that are not, currently, being oppressed should be oppressed, like the behaviors of the people who run Wikipedia.

        • craigweiler
          October 30, 2013

          I think what we’re talking about here is regulation, not fascism. Regulation is vital for a healthy democracy because it prevents extremes and small numbers of uncivilized people ruining things for everyone else.

          • Mark
            October 30, 2013

            Yeah, you’re probably right. Sorry for taking us off on a tangent, Craig. My apologies.

            • craigweiler
              October 30, 2013

              No worries.

          • Benjamin David Steele
            October 30, 2013

            Well, Mark was talking about regulation specifically in termss of his own fascism. In the context of a fascist state, I’m against regulation. But in the context of democracy, I’m all for it. Context can be quite important sometimes.

            There are many relevant contexts to consider.

            In another comment, I mentioned cultures of trust. There are some ideologies and some systems that don’t require a culture of trust. Authoritarianism, force, threats and punishment will do the trick.

            Howeer, democratic governments and systems necessitate a culture of trust. Wikipedia doesn’t fail for lack of regulated. It is well regulated internally. If you created government regulation, the same kind of peson who is good at gaming the Wikipedia system would also be good at gaming the political process. Wikipedia is just the microcosm of the same kind of democratic failures we see, for example, in the United States.

            Without a culture of trust, any and all regulations will always fail democratic purposes. The question that must be asked is: Why don’t we have a democratic culture of trust in both social institutions like Wikipedia and in governments like the US? Discussing anything else while ignoring this is just twiddling our thumbs.

            • Anthony McCarthy
              November 4, 2013

              What a silly issue. You only have any level of reliability of information through . control of its content. Controlling against inaccuracy in an ENCYCLOPEDIA! isn’t fascistic, it’s preventing inaccuracy, defamation, ideological distortion, lies, etc. In order to put that requirement of real reference works of real reliability in terms of fascism vs. democracy is to fail to distinguish between the truth and ideological spin. The truth has an absolute power which transcends its political use, it is real whereas non-truth is not real and pretending it is will be, to some extent, harmful. In some cases, it will be very harmful. There is nothing fascistic when a real general editor of a reference work protects the reliability of that reference work by avoiding false assertions being inserted in it. That’s called responsibility, not fascism. Wikipedia has built in irresponsibility due to the ideological bias of its creators, some kind of absurd idea that the truth is the product of some kind of consensus and not actually exercising informed choices and control. I don’t think it can be fixed, certainly not with people who care more about their ideology than the accuracy of Wikipedia.

          • badsciencewikipedia
            November 4, 2013

            It does, but I don’t think it is the answer for en.Wikipedia. “Wikipedia is a private failure.” People need to keep pointing out its failures, its inaccuracies. People need to call Google to task for allowing awful articles from Wikipedia to replace good science as top search engine results.

  20. Jordan Wm. Burrill
    October 29, 2013

    Hi Craig!
    After reading your detailed email regarding the near impossibility of saving Wikipedia – I have to agree, Once the hysterical, reactionary materialists have stealth-fully infected an organization, this malignancy is nearly impossible to end to bring the organization back to health. TED, Wikipedia and the Scientific American magazine are examples that (hopefully), other organizations will eventually learn to inoculate themselves from this intellectual infection – no matter how deceptive and virulent the attempts to infect them are.
    I do take exception to the CSICOPS illogical use of the Carl Sagan-est quip that ‘extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence’. These pseudo-skeptics are the ones that need to provide the evidence. In informal logic, It is fallacy to try to prove a negative, because you can never be sure if you are dealing with an open or a closed system – especially with the findings of the ‘entanglement’ of so many systems previously thought to be separate. When most all cultures (from prehistory to now), believe in dimensions beyond ours, psi and even divinities – these beliefs are the norm and nearly universal. The actual ‘extraordinary’ beliefs – that require ‘extraordinary’ evidence are that psi phenomena, etc.. are not possible!
    The hysterical materialists are the ones being illogical and disingenuous – not the open-minded researchers finding the evidence. For example; Dean Radin’s double-blind tests showing strong evidence of pre-causal cognition.
    Best Wishes!
    Jordan

  21. Ninshub
    October 29, 2013

    Hi Craig. This is my first comment on your blog. This is another great article you’ve written (hope you include the wiki stuff in your upcoming book!).

    It would appear to me the only sensible thing to do from this point on is just to keep or spread the word out there that Wikipedia is not to be trusted, because of its editing policy. Maybe something else will eventually emerge and grow to replace it.

  22. Linda Vazquez
    October 29, 2013

    We Lights need to keep our energy for those who understand (and stick together) versus waste it on the lower frequencies…most of which appear will never get to a higher level/dimension/vibration – that’s why they fight the Light/Truth.

    Namaste –
    Linda

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  23. marcustanthony
    October 29, 2013

    IMHO you have made the right decision, Craig. I certainly wouldn’t play this game. It looks like a recipe for insanity to me. I think people like Rupert and Dean Radin are doing a great job focusing their energy where they do. They don’t waste too much of their personal time fighting people. And when they do stand up to critics they know how to back off and retreat into their own lives without getting entangled in the drama of all this psi war stuff.

    Personally, I think you are better off your creative energies on something that brings you happiness and a sense of fulfillment. Why do anything if it doesn’t bring you joy? I reckon it would want to have a pretty decent payoff if it creates undue suffering.

    I’m writing a little bit on this subject myself on my blog, as it seems rather topical.

    Marcus

  24. Tom ButlerTom Butler
    October 29, 2013

    Another great essay on Wikipedia Craig.

    There probably is no realistic fix for Wikipedia. I feel the founders are pretty happy with it as it is, and ironically, freedom of speech makes it allowable for it to be used to suppress thought.

    Wikipedia is publicly funded, though. It must be a very large database requiring considerable server space. Perhaps the only way to counter Wikipedia is to make it an embarrassment in our society to be known as a contributor. That is best done with articles such as yours. Sooner or later, the negative will reach critical mass and Wikipedia will not be able to pay the rent.

    Another way to counter Wikipedia is to make it an embarrassment to use it as a reference. I occasionally see scientists include a Wikipedia article in the list of references. That should be sufficient to discount their entire report.

    A third way of countering Wikipedia is to have articles on the Internet that show up with the same search strings. For that to work, people need to support the articles with links and citations to get them high enough on the search tools.

    You are right that it is a waste of time to try to edit in Wikipedia. Credit to you for trying because now you know from personal experience.

    All else, we bring on ourselves for not being more proactive.

  25. Owen
    October 29, 2013

    Craig, I have an idea that might give you closure and make the internet one tiny bit better. You should post to this blog a version of what Rupert Sheldrake’s biography Wikipedia page should be. Write it in the Wikipedia style. Make it concise. Make it fair and balanced. Provide citations.

    Embarrass the rogue editors by example. Show them the page from a troll-less alternate universe.

    • craigweiler
      October 29, 2013

      Thanks for the suggestion. I do have an article on Rupert here: http://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/rupert-sheldrake/
      In addition to that he has a pretty accurate and neutral version on his website.
      If you look at versions of his Wikipedia page before June of this year you can also find more balanced versions.
      These ideologue editors have no idea what neutral looks like, so it would go right over their heads.

  26. Nan Evans Bush
    October 29, 2013

    This is the Wiki voice of the fundamentalisms and ideological logjams now infesting civilization–Goths and Visigoths swarming over the cyber hills, taking no prisoners. It will take time, conviction, solidarity, unimaginable patience–and possibly social evolution– to rout them.

  27. mtpitre
    October 29, 2013

    Man these wiki trolls sound like rampant 12 year olds well actually that is not far from the truth. These pseudo skeptics no matter their biological age are big cry babies. I mean I am all for true blue neutral skeptics but these fanatics give genuine scientific skepticism and science in general a bad a name. These guys are not even technical science guys. They pop science guys. I really want to know the motivation of these guys. Why would you distrust something that would further science and if it doesn’t let science sort it out. Why are they so adamant at debunking things they have no expertise in? I just wish I knew their motivation for their actions. What are they fearing?

    • craigweiler
      October 29, 2013

      Most ideologue skeptics had strong religious upbringings, which they rejected as adults. Beyond that, I have no idea.

      • Jordan Wm. Burrill
        October 29, 2013

        Hi Craig!
        I think that is part of the answer. Someone who has been the victim of a rigid, legalistic, judgmental and fear-inducing religious up-bringing will eventually rebel against this emotionally toxic burden by emotional denial – of ANYTHING that could lead to possible evidence for what they still secretly can’t stop fearing may exist. They still DO believe in the deity they were taught – and that is what makes them so hysterically militaristic in trying to stamp out any reminder of this submerged fear.
        That is why the founder of Analytical Psychology, Carl Jung considered atheism to be a neurosis.
        An atheist group sued the city of New York, because part of the memorial to 9-11 was a piece of the original steel structure that (to some ), resembled a ‘cross’. They claimed that just having to look at it made them feel dizzy, nauseous and physically ill.
        Another example is the life history of the ‘infamous’, Alistair Crowley.

        Best Wishes!
        Jordan

    • Mark
      October 29, 2013

      See, here’s somewhere where I disagree with many on the paranormal side. I don’t think that the pseudoskeptics are motivated, at their core, by fear. They may fear some things, but I think that the main motivation for pseudoskeptics is anger. They are super arrogant, and angry that anyone would dare think that there is a chance in hell that the pseudoskeptic position might be wrong. I think that it really is as simple as that for most pseudoskeptics.

      • craigweiler
        October 29, 2013

        I agree with everything you’re saying except that I think it’s both fear and anger, not one or the other.

        • marcustanthony
          October 29, 2013

          Yes, fear and anger tend to go hand in hand. It is my intuitive sense that many hardcore skeptics are angry at God – or at least the story of God they were sold as children. When they realise that much of what they were told is a fantasy, they violently reject all similar and related ideas. Of course this is illogical, but trauma doesn’t work via logic. One traumatic experience is enough for the mind to generalise against all similar concepts – e.g. the young man who is terrified of women because his mother beat him.

          But I wouldn’t try to tell skeptics this, though!

        • Mark
          October 29, 2013

          Yeah, I’ll agree, to an extent. I posted that I think that fear might be a part of it. Maybe I should be a little stronger on this. I’m pretty confident that fear is a part of it. Fear, not of being wrong, (because pseudoskeptics are too arrogant to think that there is any possibility of being wrong) but fear of “losing the battle,” so to speak. There may be a few other fears in the mix, as well. However, I think that these fears are only minor, and I stand by the statement that I believe that the main motivation of pseudoskeptics is anger.

  28. Benjamin David Steele
    October 29, 2013

    That is depressing.

    Wikipedia is a symbol for how the en entire internet is supposed to work for the public good. Average people working together are supposed to be able to produce something greater than any single person could do alone. However, when the standard is brought down to the lowest common denominator, the entire process becomes defunct. I’d hate to think this is inevitable.

    It reminds me of the research on cultures of trust. In countries that have cultures of trust such as Japan, agreements are commonly made without any legal documents. People put their honor before all else and to betray one’s honor would be social suicide.

    The internet, on the other hand, is no single national culture. There is no common culture among contributors. So, even if some people come from cultures of trust, a minority of people who don’t can’t ruin it for everyone else. The only way it could work is if those who manage Wikipedia demanded that a culture of trust be implemented and punished those who refused to play fairly and honestly.

    This should be possible, but apparently those with the most influence at Wikipedia don’t value a culture of trust. They simply want to win. Only someone very high in the organization could turn it around at this point.

    • marcustanthony
      October 29, 2013

      There are pros and cons to different cultural takes on agreeing and disagreeing. In individualistic cultures you get deluded and arrogant people shouting “”You are wrong! I know best!” In Confucian cultures people are often too intimidated to share their opinion, so widespread cultural delusions often go publicly unchallenged. I wouldn’t call Confucian cultures “trust”-based. In my experience, having lived in East Asia for over decade, it creates widespread mistrust in public discourse and human intention – because the truth is often not spoken. People are chronically suspicious of others’ intentions.

      • Benjamin David Steele
        October 29, 2013

        I wasn’t arguing that cultures of trust necessarily correlate to cultures of truth. However, the former seems quite possibly a prerequisite for the latter. You may be correct that there is a type of suspiciousness that can arise in a culture of trust, but what I’m concerned about is results. Countries with cultures of trust such as Germany and Japan tend to have more potential for a type of collective creativity because there is a greater willingness for and idealization of self-sacrifice. Research has shown such societies have more large global corporations, more civic participation, less government corruption, etc.

        • Tom Butler
          October 31, 2013

          In Wikipedia, the very democratic rule of the majority translates into the tyranny of the majority and becomes clear-cut bullying (http://ethericstudies.org/viewpoint/wikipedia_bullying.htm). I would not eliminate Wikipedia if it could be made less of a tool to suppress new ideas. But I doubt that can happen.

          Right now, Wikipedia’s success keeps other websites from developing. There are many niche wikies on the Internet that would flourish in an environment that regulated Wikipedia. Citizendium (http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Main_Page) is a good example.

          The culture of trust exists, but it is based on a sense of danger. An example of how we humans react to an unrealistic sense of safety is how head injuries have increased for bicycle riders sine helmets have been required: “….an unintended consequence: riders may feel an inflated sense of security and take more risks.” It is that sense of danger that makes city street roundabouts work.

          A person’s name is involved with honor, reputation, respect .. all things that involve our self-worth. When you take the sense of potential consequences to a person’s reputation away by allowing screen names, you remove the social inhibitions that makes a person a good citizen. It is self-regulating for most of us. We all behave when the camera is on.

          So this has nothing to do with political points of view or regulating people. It is about maintaining balance between the needs of individuals and the community. Whatever political point of view that is, we will always see bullying on the Internet while screen names are allowed.

          • Benjamin David Steele
            October 31, 2013

            However, if creating such regulation required I align myself with fascists and their agenda, I would decline because I might not like where they go with it. My enemies enemy isn’t always my friend. I just get the sense that some people aren’t thinking out the possible implications and consequences. Too many political movements and revolutions have gotten sidetracked or coopted because of dangerous alliances.

            Wikipedia is already self-regulated, but that regulatory process has been taken over. This happens on the federal level with regulatory takeover. Happens all the time, actually.

            Besides, Wikipedia is an international organization. It would require a transnational regulatory agency controlling all of the world’s internet. Imagine if these same types took over that regulatory agency.

            The one thing that this incident proves is that these people who are taking over Wikipedia are more politically saavy than the rest of you fighting them. They know how to do politics… ruthless, cynical realpolitik. They know how to game a system, how to manipulate people, and most importantly they are driven to do so. They have the will to do anything they have to gain and maintain power.

            If this is made a political fight, it isn’t your side that is likely to win. They are more likely to find a way to regulate you than you are to find a way to regulate them.

            You can’t fight and win against them on their same level, no matter how well-intentioned you are. If good intentions were all it took, then all the regulation we already have would be solving all our problems. The world doesn’t lack regulation, not that I’m against regulation. What the world lacks is effective regulation as it lacks effective democracy.

            I’m just saying we need to not be knee-jerk. We need to think carefully and strategically. Thin boundary types like psychics aren’t known for being politically well organized. It is sort of like what they say about liberals and herding cats. Those taking over Wikipedia are good at gaming the system because they are good at dealing with boundaries, how to create and maintain them in order to keep their opponents out.

            There is a danger of what Jung called Enantiodromia. When a a thin boundary type becomes frustrated by boundaries, it is easy for such a person to want to go to the opposite extreme and make their own boundaries. The danger is this is that it is touching upon deeply unconscious forces in the psyche. Rational decisions usually don’t follow. This is what happens with disgruntled liberals when they become cynical. The first neo-conservatives were originally progressives. Before the Cold War, Reagan was a Progressive Democrat and union leader.

            This is why I begin to worry when I see otherwise liberal-minded people begin to agree with fascists. There is a very old pattern at work here. History has taught me caution.

          • Benjamin David Steele
            October 31, 2013

            “In Wikipedia, the very democratic rule of the majority translates into the tyranny of the majority and becomes clear-cut bullying ”

            The even greater danger is misinterpreting the problem. Solving a problem that doesn’t exist while ignoring the problem that does will lead to disaster. Those who have taken over Wikipedia aren’t a majority or at least there is no evidence they are. It is just a tight group who are acting systematically and forcefully. It doesn’t take a majority to game a system.

            If the majority ruled in America, we wouldn’t now have a corporatocracy. Most Americans have been disenfranchised for most of our history. In fact, most Americans still feel disenfranchised and don’t think voting matters and there is no evidence it does matter on the federal level because how the system has been gamed.

            I don’t know the answer. I just know that one should be careful about what one uses against others such as regulation because it will inevitably be used against oneself eventually. That is the dark attraction of power. Sometimes forcing your will onto others might be necessary, but I would be sure it is done through democratic process with fail-safes for it to be easily undone again through democratic process, but in reality few things can ever be undone. Unintended consequences can sometimes be worse than the original problem.

    • badsciencewikipedia
      November 4, 2013

      “… those with the most influence at Wikipedia don’t value a culture of trust. They simply want to win.”

      It is interesting that the worst science articles I can find on en.Wikipedia, those which are copied and pasted buzzpots of nonsense, result from editors seeking to win a contest on Wikipedia, the WikiCup. Racking up points, the most clueless editors scrape the web of four or five sources, gathering jargon, as if by spreading it over their articles, a coherent piece of infomation will grow; then the editors score points for the unweeded garden and, finally, put the collaged invasion of words on the main page to get thousands of hits and become the top result returned to the unaware, as a Google search result.

      The four or five sources used in these bad science articles are random, not the most important sources, often blogs, and once I found a main page “hook” sourced to a sixth grader’s incomplete PowerPoint.

      I am always told that, when I remove bad science, “It is sourced,” even if the source included percentage of a mineral and the Wikipedia article made it into percentage of fertilizer. There is a lot of fertilizer on en.Wikipedia, but they are fertilizing the weeds, and there are too many editors who cannot tell a flower from the dungheap they just scored points with.

  29. Roger Pearse (@roger_pearse)
    October 29, 2013

    Well said. My own evil experiences with the Mithras article (now irretrievably broken) and the way in which “senior” wikipedians allowed an obvious ignorant troll to run off all the contributors and poison it with hearsay taught me that it is a waste of life to try to add value; indeed all you do is make nonsense look well-researched.

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This entry was posted on October 29, 2013 by in Psi Wars, Skeptics and Skeptic Arguments, Wikipedia and tagged , , .
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