The Weiler Psi

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

Wikipedia: Adult Supervision Required (not incl.)


This is part of a series of articles on Wikipedia.

The Wikipedia Battle for Rupert Sheldrake’s Biography

The Wikipedia Skeptics Problem

____________________________________________________

Here we are two weeks into working on Rupert Sheldrake’s Biography page on Wikipedia and it’s quite the wild ride.  The harassment is never ending.  The constant efforts to get The Tumbleman banned finally succeeded.  The Tumbleman has been banned for a week supposedly for creating a sockpuppet account that never appeared on the Sheldrake page.

He requested an appeal by a different administrator but the same one who banned him came back and denied his request.  This seems like a dirty trick to me.  He doesn’t need to create a secondary account to support himself because he has good arguments and citations.  He’s obviously being targeted because he wants to change the article from a skeptical point of view to a neutral one.

This also prevented him from participating in a hearing he requested regarding bad behavior on the Sheldrake page.  He is being attacked and hounded at every turn.  This was the fourth attempt to ban him and because it succeeded, ideologue skeptics on the site have made sure to cast him in the worst possible light.  I’ve read most of his comments and they have always been on topic and respectful, which is why all previous efforts had failed.

These same people have also tried to ban me, for supposedly recruiting people to the Sheldrake article.  (It’s OK for the Guerrilla Skeptics though, trust me.)  I have been branded a conspiracy theorist by those editors;  it’s my new title and it gets repeated over and over again.

I’m getting harassed beyond the walls of Wikipedia as well.  If you Google my name, (Ir)RationalWiki is at the top of my name’s search results.  That’s what you get when you use your real name on Wikipedia – Abuse.

All pretense of civil conversation is completely absent.  (The newest conversations are at the bottom of the page.) The ideologue skeptical editors mostly just insist they are right and everyone else is wrong.  That’s the basis of almost all their arguments.   What they haven’t done is argue about the article itself intelligently.  Not one tiny bit.  It’s even doubtful that between all of them that they know very much about the subject and they seem to be hiding their lack of knowledge behind some seriously aggressive behavior.  A regular pattern has been established: they continue to edit the article and defend their edits while avoiding any reasonable discussions that might change what they’ve done.  It’s a breathtaking abuse of the system . . . and there is no one there to stop it.

I’ve dealt with a lot of skeptics over the years and they vary wildly in how reasonable they are.  Some of them are quite decent and moderate -true skeptics.  Those conversations are quite pleasant and challenging because they involve sharing information and trying to understand how someone else thinks.

Others, however are the worst sort of ideologues.  With them, there is no dialog because it is all about winning.  I cannot learn from them because all they have are vague talking points and they don’t learn from me because everything I say is just a reason to argue back.  Nearly all of the skeptics I’ve encountered on Wikipedia fall strongly into the latter category.  The truth is secondary to their moral viewpoint – that people who believe in or even talk about PSI are morally wrong.  They are unable and unwilling to consider any viewpoint but their own and have a strong us vs. them mentality.  They are very polarizing and I’ve found myself having to hold back from being uncivil myself.  It’s hard to receive their constant rude and disrespectful treatment and stay calm.

Wikipedia is supposed to be a place of reasoned discussion and compromise, instead its an endless barrage of insulting behavior and dirty tricks.  Myself and other editors who disagree with them are  being ground down by this behavior; it will eventually work.  Arguing with these people is a colossal waste of my time and I don’t like it, nor can I keep it up indefinitely.

Tom Butler, an editor since 2006 provided me with this insight:

In their devotion to mainstream ideals, skeptical editors are well organized and help one another while more moderate editors are not inclined toward activism nor are they inclined to organize.

Reliable sources are required for every statement of substance; however, that rule is used to say that virtually all publications supporting the study of things paranormal are not allowed as references while virtually any publication negative toward things paranormal are allowed–This is a result of skeptic control of the encyclopedia.

Moderate editors are easily ran off, either by simply wearing them down with wiki-lowering or outright banning them.

If an editor is discovered to have more than the average experience in a subject, it is easy for skeptical editors to ban the editor from contributing to the article based on conflict of interest, it is true or not.

Editors are discouraged from using their real name. Without the need to protect personal reputation, editors are free to be as aggressive, mean spirited and deceptive as they wish. Thus, it is common to have a pack of college kids control an article by any means. If the identity is known, aggression toward an editor is likely to continue beyond Wikipedia.

Any off-hand comment by any authority figure can be taken out of context as a reference. Even if the scientist changes his mind and admits the phenomenon is real, the off-hand, negative comment will be available forever as a reference.

Understanding is changing very rapidly in the study of things paranormal, yet because of editing rules, articles will always be out of date. All the dominant editors intend is to not allow an article to show the subject in a positive light.

. . . A final note: the Internet has given skeptics access to the public and they know how to make the best of it. By comparison, paranormalists are not well organized and their message is diluted by this lack of unity. An online search for virtually every paranormal subject brings Wikipedia at or near the top, making it a most powerful tool for social change. This has consequences since the skeptical groups are working to make pseudoscience seen as a danger to society.

In order to edit the article and make those edits stick, I would have to focus my attention not on good arguments, sources and cooperation, but on gathering my buddies together to figure out how to get every single ideologue skeptic on the page permanently banned or harass them until they left and then camp on the page and chase off everyone else who came by trying to change it.  That seems to be the recipe for success on Wikipedia. -, one these ideologue-skeptics are using to great effect.

Solving this problem would be relatively simple:  acknowledge expertise and reward those people who possess the requisite knowledge that ordinary anonymous editors often lack.  Grant scientific organizations God Rights over their specific scientific domain. It’s not especially difficult to vet experts, despite Wikipedia’s claims to the contrary.  Experts usually have email addresses that point back to organizations that they belong to.  They typically have a web presence and use their real names.  A vetting process would only involve contacting the real person in some way to be sure they were the same as who was editing.

People with expertise tend to be more even handed as a group.  They typically don’t have the time to engage in endless petty squabbling, aren’t generally interested in subjects beyond their expertise and have reputations to preserve. Also, expert explainers are usually fairly immune to the illusion of explanatory depth, which is the problem of thinking that we know more than we really do.  (Once you’ve had to explore a topic in great depth, you realize how much you don’t know and can apply that lesson to other subjects.)

The edits of such people and organizations should have priority over ordinary editors.

The truth about Wikipedia is that the editing process is batshit insane.  If Google did not put them at the top of search results in almost every category Wikipedia would have faded into obscurity by now, victims of their own lack of adult supervision.

And now for something completely different . . . by William Brinkman:

CSICOP teams up with Guerrilla Skeptics to form ‘Candle Tactical Teams

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17 comments on “Wikipedia: Adult Supervision Required (not incl.)

  1. Dan Booth Cohen
    October 15, 2013

    Beautifully said, Marcus.

    These tactics remind me of those used by the pro-Israeli group CAMERA. I once attended a talk on a Sunday night by a man who devoted himself to helping families whose houses were demolished by the Israeli military to rebuild or find alternative housing. The talk was held on a Sunday night in the basement of a suburban synagogue. There was a small audience, maybe 30 people in all. About 10 minutes in, a man stood up and began to harass the speaker, shouting “Liar!” and other insults. He stormed out after a couple of minutes. Immediately, another man stood up and did the same. Turns out about half of the audience were CAMERA plants whose purpose in attending was to disrupt and shout down the speaker. Their tactics succeeded. The meeting broke up is disarray. I was shocked that 15 people wanting to hear a talk were met by an equal number of CAMERA fanatics.These people are extremely well organized. I gave up trying to argue or oppose them directly years ago. For me,the fight against them mainly strengthened their resolve.

    In the past few years, my own capacity to work with telepathic fields and the consciousness that survives death has expanded way beyond my expectations. This is my full time job. I help people who are ill or suffering from emotional distress to heal and recover. There is no value for me to argue with skeptics about whether what I do is possible or impossible. I cannot fully explain or comprehend how it works, I simply use the gifts I have received to help other people and make a living for myself. That feels like more than enough.

  2. craigweiler
    October 15, 2013

    Hi Linda,
    I’ve edited out a duplicate phrase you put in your comment. Yes, you can contact me in private. craig @ weiler . com (remove spaces)

    I am getting the Wikipedia experience, but I’m not going to make a career of it.

  3. lifeisgoodccLinda Rampey
    October 15, 2013

    Oh Craig, I had asked if I could send this privately. Instead it published two of the same, not-the-final-edited-train-of-thought I ended up with. Please delete this off the site, if you would.

    Thanks,

    Linda

    • craigweiler
      October 15, 2013

      Hi Linda,
      I’ve included my email in a comment below. That is the way to contact me privately. I’ve deleted your comment.

  4. Commenter
    October 15, 2013

    1. Skepticism is good. What we see is “pseudoskepticism”, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoskepticism

    2. I think we have to be careful about the association between skepticism and atheism. While I am 100% atheist myself, I fully repudiate the pseudoskeptics like Dawkins and the Guerrilla Skeptics, and will defend your right religious, spiritual and paranormal investigation.

    • craigweiler
      October 15, 2013

      I absolutely agree. I very much make it a point not to confuse atheism and skepticism. Only about 14% of atheists fall into the category of ideologue skeptics.

    • mtpitre
      October 15, 2013

      Good Point, I feel like the moderate skeptics and atheists get lost within the extremist on both sides. It is sad. I feel like moderates in general get overlooked by the polarizing extremists on both sides. We need to make our voices heard over these fanatics highjacking reputable movements for their selfish interest. Maybe then we can get a good intelligent discussion going on. This guerrilla skepticism reminds me a bit of the tea party.

      • craigweiler
        October 15, 2013

        Actually my personal experience is that the extremism is very one sided. Skepticism seems to draw in the people prone to extremism to a far far greater degree than proponents.

        I’ve definitely seen extremism among proponents, just not very much of it.

        While skeptical extremism seems to be tolerated among the more moderate skeptics, proponent extremism is absolutely rejected by moderate proponents.

        There is quite a difference between the two groups.

        • mtpitre
          October 15, 2013

          Actually you have a good point Craig. Based on my experience with the paranormal community I notice when there is fraud among us we go out of our way to denounce and reject the person from the community. I really don”t see that on the skeptic side though in my experience the few skeptics who want to be interested in paranormal stuff are usually afraid of going against the crazies because of backlash. It is like a us vs them theme. To me it seems utterly childish. If someone on the skeptical side wants to look at the stuff intelligently they are usually called names (IE woomiester) and are harassed by fellow skeptics. I have seen it many times IE (Quackbusters) I mean I think this is a problem in society in general. A small contingent of mentally ill people hijack ideas to make themselves feel powerful. Sometimes I wish we can as a society can just ship these people to island to argue amongst themselves and leave the rest of us to deal with ideas in a constructive manner

          • mtpitre
            October 15, 2013

            also Craig have you seen the latest Skeptico podcast? The host had new atheist
            book writer claiming we are all organic robots and their are no souls. Alex(Host) called the guy out on his lack of insight into the NDE research and other paranormal research. Well the guy was without words. He couldn’t explain his worldview and he got emotionally defensive. I see this a lot when you present pseudo skeptics with the proof they need. They take it as a personal attack and start calling people names because they don’t have proof for their position. I mean that guy made a fool out of himself and he is selling a frickin book on atheist materialistic ideas. In his book he says there is no god yet he discounts (No Rejects) NDEs and paranormal evidence because it doesn’t agree with his evidence. Let me go on record to say not all atheist and skeptics are like this. As you seen above Craig , there are atheist and skeptics who are interested and like this stuff. We need to get them on board before this gets out of hand even more.

            • Rupert McWiseman
              October 16, 2013

              ‘Skeptics’ are very fond of the tactic of yelling ‘show me the evidence’. My preferred way of dealing with these people on a face-to-face basis is as follows:

              When next confronted with a Dawkins-thumping ‘skeptic’ at a party or social gathering, who is backing you into a corner, playing the ‘show me the evidence’ card and getting aggressively, self-righteously sciencier-than-thou about it, remain calm and polite and ask the “skeptic”, “well, could I ask you your opinion of X researcher’s work” (preferably quoting a specific paper). Giving the impression that you value what the ‘skeptic’ thinks, because he or she is just SO VERY SMART.

              The ‘skeptic’, of course, is highly unlikely to have read the material in question, and will be simply parroting the platitudes of Richard Dawkins or James Randi. So they will either bluster and fumble and prevaricate – in which case you can politely remind them that genuine skepticism does actually involve studying the evidence – or they will try to bluff their way out by saying “oh, that’s all been debunked”. In which case you ask them who debunked it and in which peer-reviewed journal you might find this debunking. And of course the “skeptic” will be unable to provide this information and will eventually have to concede that “well, that’s what Richard Dawkins/James Randi/Richard Wiseman/Ricky Gervais/The Man in charge of my Skeptics-in-the-Pub Group thinks.”

              Please note that this should be done in a polite, respectful and non-confrontational way. It is not a question of ‘winning’ over the ‘skeptics’, it’s a matter of awakening the ‘skeptics’ to the reality that they are not skeptics at all, but fundamaterialists. Most of them are completely blind to the reality of this.

  5. autochris
    October 15, 2013

    I have yet to understand the wikipedia editing to contribute anything, its a bit over my technological knowledge. But I have come to the conclusion that there exist two kinds of science: Science and Historyless Science. A historyless science extract only the parts of its history that are to their advance and either denies or hide the other parts. Science on the other hand is aware of its history and does not try to hide it, but is clear on it. A skeptical scientist would in such regard in example say “Based on my physicalistic foundation I find it rather impossible that psychic experience are possible or rational, but I’m aware that other historical foundations for science exist which may explain it as possible and rational”. The historyless scientist would on the other hand maybe say “psychic experience is impossible and irrational and as such is must be pseudoscience”.

    The biggest problem, as I am aware of, with a historyless science is that it contribute to an inefficient research practice. An example of it is the development of medical nosology; the science of medical classification, which is yet to be fully scientific and have clear solutions to the said-to-be medical problems. Much history has been discarded on the way or hidden, which have made it difficult for future researchers to get the full picture of it. This may lead to disaster as starting from the beginning in understanding a though-to-be new phenomenon when existing research has been done in the past on it.

    The historyless scientist is as such not only an obstacle in one field of science, but contribute to the historyless practice in other scientific areas as well, and make our tax money disappear in scientific projects which are restarted once again.

  6. Susan Hopkinson
    October 15, 2013

    Much love and light to you. Be strong and live in your truth. Warmest regards, Susan

  7. matt cumberland
    October 14, 2013

    It”s a short and slippery slope from ideology to idiocy. R.A Wilson

  8. marcustanthony
    October 14, 2013

    This only reinforces my understanding that you cannot argue with ignorance, and you cannot fight the darkness. Those who fight the darkness get swallowed by it. Leonard Jacobson put it best when he said that one should be mindful of whom/what one engages. If you look into the ocean you discover the eternal within yourself; if you gaze upon a flower you discover the beauty within yourself. But bring your attention upon the irresponsible projections of others, and you risk getting lost in that madness.

    A central issue is that this problem (the presence of militant skepticism and how to deal with it) cannot be solved at the level of mind at which it is created, to paraphrase Einstein. Argument and debate tend to lock people into the mind – or the ego, if you prefer. Soon it degenerates into “I am right and you are wrong”; “I am smart and you are fucking stupid and don’t know shit”.

    This is just seems to be the nature of mind, regardless of whatever worldview it holds.

    For you (Craig) you have to ask yourself if it is worth it to sacrifice your own peace of mind to engage these people on their turf, under their rules. Is there a way to do it while remaining at peace with yourself? I call this remaining “in presence.” Or is the very nature of the process so ego-based that being dragged into the darkness is inevitable? Are you better able to employ your gifts elsewhere in the world?

    Most people with a spiritual, intuitive awareness realise that there is something beyond the mind and its battles for power and control. There is a place beyond mental construct and thought. Diehard skeptics don’t know that, without exception (otherwise they wouldn’t be militant in their approach to knowledge and understanding). That means you can let this all go, and still find a place of peace and awareness. I’m not saying that you SHOULD do that, just that it is something wonderful to keep in mind. For the skeptic, once the illusion of control over knowledge evaporates, their entire world crumbles. That’s one of the reasons why they are so fear-based, so angry. They are one logical argument or piece of evidence away from worldview extermination. That can’t be a very peaceful place to be. And it explains the madness in their methods, and why they cannot see their own madness.

    I’m not against working in the world and in science and popular media. I do so myself. I simply recommend that those who do such work not make the mistake of grounding their sense of self in that mental game. Instead ground yourself in the body, in presence. THEN go out and engage others. This will give you a strong foundation of peace – silent power, if you like. It will also help keep in mind that all this will pass, and that militant skeptics are on the wrong side of truth and the wrong side of history (skepticism in general does have a place, does have much to offer, but only when it is employed by a balanced mind).

    All the best with it, Craig. I don’t think I would like to be part of this Wikipedia game.

    Marcus

    • craigweiler
      October 14, 2013

      There is no way on God’s green earth that I’m going to keep doing this for a long time. As I said, it’s not fun. But doing it does provide me with some insight into the Wikipedia process so that I can explain what’s going on. It’s proven a better teacher than reading about what other people have done. There isn’t much literature of any sort about tangling with the really hard core ideologues.

  9. mtpitre
    October 14, 2013

    He Weiler Psi, love you article. I would not worry about the skeptic/atheist movement. It is starting to fall apart. Have you heard of all the sex scandals and coverups within the movement. Apparently, arch skeptics like Benjamin Radford covered up sexual harassment to fellow skeptic/atheist women. The list of those accused of sexual harassment keeps piling up with James Randi’s organization not firing a now misogynist pig DJ Grothe from the the organization after a skeptic women said he some sick sexual stuff to her. You can check it out for yourself. Also after with Richard Dawkins mild pedophilia comment I highly doubt this movement is in any condition to get organized about wikipedia. Looking at the comments at Rupert’s Wiki page, there a lot more people both pro psi and neutral on our side than skeptics. Believe me Weiler we are already winning this war. Funny thing it didn’t take long before the skeptic movement started imploding on its own BS.

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This entry was posted on October 14, 2013 by in parapsychology, Skeptics and Skeptic Arguments, Wikipedia and tagged , .
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