PEN-FM-logo

Senior Wikipedia Editors Recommend that the Site Being Euthanized

Senior Wikipedia Editors Recommend that the Site Being Euthanized

Richard Gale and Gary Null PhD

Progressive Radio Network, November 22, 2019

 

Last year a senior administrator and editor on Wikipedia questioned the encyclopedia’s usefulness and proposed that Wikipedia was “on its death bed and that euthanasia is the best option in this case.”  The editor, Michael Hardy, noted, that at one time Wikipedia

“was impressive even while lots of confused apes wandered about chaotically. Then it reached a mature phase and functioned in orderly fashion for some years. Now dishonest cowardly bullies sanctimoniously preach about civility while bullying their betters, bullying honest participants, bullying knowledgeable and erudite participants, bullying generous participants, and the bullies have now achieved dominance. Maybe the culture will change so that it can be reincarnated some day. Or maybe something better will succeed it in the future.”  Michael Hardy (talk) 04:36, 28 August 2018 (UTC)

Another editor felt similarly,

“I agree with Michael. With the way Wikipedia is going, the project is doomed anyway. Good editors are bullied out, bad ones are catered to, the signpost and wiki projects are dead. So is RFA. Just put it down.” 170.121.246.249 (talk) 21:46, 29 August 2018 (UTC)

Wkipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales responded that

“It’s worth remembering that Michael is one of the most prolific members of the community who has been around for years. it’s really worthwhile to consider what sequence of events led to this disruption and to also recognize that longstanding trusted and valued community members who are feeling this hurt and upset may actually have a point worth hearing.”–Jimbo Wales (talk) 06:51, 28 August 2018 (UTC)

Yet aside from that Wales is largely silent and continued to follow his “hands off:” policy to allow editors to battle it out. Another editor, whose personal bio indicates he is part of the Skeptic community, which dominates much of Wikipedia’s content on non-conventional medicine and controversial subjects, piped in

“Wikipedia has exposed their actions as immoral, illegal, illogical or pseudo-scientific, and that attempts by these groups to edit articles are prevented by users enforcing anti-POV policies. It’s also the reason why it’s banned in countries that want to maintain strict control of their populations.” CommanderOzEvolved (talk) 07:56, 28 August 2018 (UTC)

This accurately restates our experience and a deep concern we have expressed during the past several years regarding factions that have hijacked large segments of the encyclopedia and use it for personal, ideological and political reasons and to discredit those they disapprove of. In fact, behind the scenes on Wikipedia’s Talk and Noticeboard pages exchanges can be very vicious and libelous. It is not uncommon to read altercations between editors accusing each other of libel in efforts to protect a page that abandons reason, objectivity and fairness.

In a heated editorial war over whether an entry on “Ancestral health” should be deleted, administrators who were determined to rule the Paleolithic diet as pseudoscience were charged with libelous language towards authors of scientific papers supporting this dietary regimen. There were also charges of misinterpreting the science in favor of their subjective claims. One editor identified the problem of cherry-picking medical research in order to favor a prejudiced stance similar to many of Wikipedia’s entries for other non-conventional medical therapies.

“This raises questions about the way research is conducted on health and nutrition. It seems that too much weight is put on research involving Western-style diets, without questioning whether all Western-style diets may actually cause heart disease… there should still be plenty of room to write a good article about this subject, as there is evidence for the general claims made, published in reliable journals.” Count Iblis (talk) 16:35, 28 August 2018 (UTC)

Another editor, by defending the scientists being quoted in the Ancestral Health page exemplifies the extent of disputes frequent on Talk pages

“It is absolutely true that you personally attacked those six users; apart from the original allegation, you also called them “deeply dishonest”, amongst other things, on your talk page. Therefore I have removed that section as a personal attack; I did that instead of the alternative action, which would have been to block you again. Please stop flinging accusations at other users, or that will be the eventual outcome.” Black Kite (talk) 18:16, 30 August 2018 (UTC)

It is certainly within Wikipedia’s means to remove libelous language from pages.  Senior administrator Hardy adds,

“Deleting material because it’s identified as libelous is standard procedure on Wikipedia, and happens daily.” Michael Hardy (talk) 00:07, 4 September 2018 (UTC) [1]

Yet removing a page can only be done if the editors in control are objective and hold no personal ideology outside of the encyclopedia’s original mission which is to reach a consensus of fairness. And this is not the case for pages on alternative health. Our research indicates that many of the leading administrators who have destroyed Wikipedia’s credibility when dealing with medical subjects espouse the Skeptic dogma, and it is no secret that believers in modern Skepticism have waged a ferocious campaign to falsely discredit all alternative medical practices and portray them as a risk to public health. Unfortunately, Wikipedia’s co-founder is a Skeptic himself. Skeptics are on record publicly stating their intention to maximize Wikipedia’s global reach to promulgate their message of radical scientific materialism. In essence Skeptics refuse to acknowledge the tens of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific literature that there is proof of safety and efficacy in much of complementary and alternative medicine.

This is only a small sampling of what goes on behind the curtain and out of public view. There are numerous additional examples. Editorial chaos runs so deep that the majority of Wikipedia’s senior editors who once held idealistic views of the encyclopedia bringing the accumulation of human knowledge to the world are no longer contributing to Wikipedia. What remains among senior administrators are many ideologues who have found a global platform to advance ulterior motives. Increasingly, Wikipedia has become a savage socio-political motivated project rather than a depository of reliable information and knowledge. For example, no respectable encyclopedia, such as the Encyclopedia Britannica, Bartleby, the Columbia Encyclopedia, Scholarpedia, etc., has permitted fringe movements such as modern Skepticism and the New Atheism to create and define specific categories under the headings of “pseudoscience,” “quackery,” “fringe science” and “fringe theories.” This is the language commonly used by Skeptics, not by scholars or experts writing in a legitimate and reliable encyclopedia. Once such derogatory labels are accepted and institutionalized as legitimate, as has Wikipedia, the doors open wide for accusing any theory, medical practice, or therapy as nonsense, as well as those who advocate such theories and practices.

We may ask the question. Is it possible that Wikipedia is one of the most dangerous projects to have been launched on the planet? Certainly, there is much valuable information and knowledge on Wikipedia, as long as it is not socially and politically contentious subjects that have a direct impact upon the public. The scandal is that the WikiMedia Foundation takes no responsibility for the misinformation and libelous accusations found on its pages. There is no system of deterrence. Unlike normal politics, there is an implicit deterrence factor of two parties calling each other out in legislative battles and in courts of law. However, the Foundation’s failure to protect those who are subjected to scorn, undue prejudice, deception and gross misreporting is simply business as usual and people’s reputations and livelihoods are injured and even destroyed with impunity.

Some senior Wikipedia editors believe they can act above the law and act with extrajudicial hubris. Anonymous Skeptics function collectively as judge, prosecutor and jury and act unilaterally on their own whims. For years, permitting editors to remain anonymous rather than being required to register their real identities and resumes of expertise, has been hotly debated on Wikipedia pages. Inevitably, honest editors argue in favor of registration; many editors with ulterior motives prefer the current policy of anonymity. Jimmy Wales continues to side with those who want to keep their identities and background, if any, secret. Consequently many health-related pages are written and edited by people with no experience in the medical and health fields and do so for the sole purpose of defaming alternative medicine and ruining the lives of its leading voices.

Why would anyone with a serious life-threatening health condition visit an electrical engineer, plumber or computer nerd for diagnosis and treatment?  Obviously they wouldn’t. But for the countless people and patients who visit Wikipedia in search for accurate health-related advice, they are unknowingly being propagandized by ignorant, unqualified and biased individuals. For this reason, it is not simply that Wikipedia is an unreliable medical resource, but it is morally corrupt by enabling anonymous Skeptic bigots to wrongfully, and perhaps even criminally, mischaracterize alternative medicine as quackery and therefore to be avoided at all costs.

Wales has enabled Skeptics to act as if there is no consequence for their words and actions by hiding behind the Internet Decency Act. Wikipedia is the perfect example for why this Act needs to be reevaluated and revised in order to protect those who are victimized by rogue internet giants such as Wikipedia, Google, Facebook and Twitter. Although we fully support free speech, laws should not protect the executioners of slander, libel and malice from being brought before a judge. Thus far, Wikipedia has managed to escape such a fate.

 

NOTES

[1]  The complete exchange between Wikipedia administrators, editors and Jimmy Wales can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Jimbo_Wales/Archive_230#A_true_%22Appeal_to_Jimbo%22