Wikipedia: The Internet’s Devil’s Island.
Richard Gale and Gary Null, PhD
Progressive Radio Network, September 30, 2019
Institutional incarceration, isolation under torture — physical and/or psychological — takes many forms and shapes. During the course of modern European history, perhaps the most notorious and immoral prison was Devil’s Island, a French penal colony located on one of the smaller isles in the Salvation Islands off the coast of French Guiana. It is estimated that 80,000 prisoners, many who were charged solely for reasons of political conscience, passed through the colony during the century while the colony operated (1852-1953). Seventy-five percent died largely from inhuman living conditions, hard labor, and tropical disease. Only a small handful of prisoners managed to safely escape the island, such as Henri Charriere and Rene Belbernoit and later write their respective memoirs: Papillon and The Dry Guillotine: Fifteen Years Among the Living Dead.
Belbernoit’s subtitle to his book “Fifteen Years Among the Living Dead” conveys the horrors Devil’s Island’s inmates endured. The French state was unforgiving and unapologetic in what by today’s standards would be defined as extreme torture. Dysentery and malaria were rampant, and hard labor in the jungles exposed prisoners to the dangers of poisonous snakes and centipedes. Sanitation was absent and all were severely malnourished.
But the most famous prisoner on Devils Island, whose story would later become archetypal for illustrating the clash between tyrannical forces of power against progressive democracy and individual freedoms, was Captain Alfred Dreyfus. In 1896, Captain Dreyfus, who was Jewish by birth, was arrested as a spy and tried for treason. This was despite the lack of witnesses to testify against him and a personal testimony indicting another military officer as the real spy. The only court evidence against Dreyfus was a spurious document that was later discovered to be a forgery. Nevertheless, the institutionalized racial prejudice against Dreyfus and the institutional denial of his innocence sealed the captain’s fate. After being wrongfully declared guilty on two occasions, Dreyfus was sentenced to life imprisonment on Devils Island.
It finally took one courageous French novelist and journalist, Emile Zola — later, twice nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature — to implicate French army officers and then French President Felix Faure of anti-Semitism, corruption and a judicial cover-up that resulted in Dreyfus’ reprehensible sentencing in the most horrendous prison of its day. Zola risked his entire literary career by penning and publishing his accusations against the French authorities in a letter entitled J’accuse in a popular Parisian newspaper. The socio-political controversy that erupted over Zola’s charges of institutionalized anti-Semitism pitted the bigotry of the Catholic-leaning French military ranks and the reactionary French court against liberal social sentiments that were gaining strength in France’s move towards democracy. Yet because of his actions. Zola too was charged with criminal libel. Following a second conviction, Zola fled and entered exile in London. What became known as the Dreyfus Affair continued to rage against French conservative and progressive factions while Dreyfus wasted away off the coast of French Guiana.
The Dreyfus Affair provides an example of imprisonment solely on biased and prejudicial grounds. Many of the penal colony’s prisoners were there because of their beliefs, philosophies or activities that were deemed heretical and dangerous to radicalized and reactionary powers. Today there exists a virtual Devil’s Island, an islet that operates as an isolated gulag, within the nearly 6 million entry pages on Wikipedia. This archipelago of pages, which accounts for approximately 1,000 Wikipedia entries, largely concern alternative medical systems and natural health modalities, investigations in the field of parapsychology, genetically modified foods, toxic agricultural chemicals such as glyphosate, and opinions about vaccine efficacy and safety. In addition, many of our most popular and leading voices in the alternative medical community and activists who challenge the corruption in Big Agriculture, Big Pharma, and our federal regulatory agencies are penalized and sentenced without any judicial oversight. They are sentenced carte blanche by an invisible court to a virtual penal system. As long as the internet is operative, and Wikipedia is a functioning wannabe-encyclopedia, a large number of medical doctors, scientists and researchers, activists and natural health advocates, and even visionaries who dare to explore unexplained phenomena outside of the restrictive laws of Scientific Materialism, and in particular Skepticism, will have their personal character wrongfully shackled in Wikipedia’s prison without legal means of recourse for unwarranted libel and defamation.
This virtual isle’s pages have their own penal guards, editors within the Skeptic movement, who have been armed with undeserved administrative privileges by Wikipedia’s co-founder Jimmy Wales. What they have common is a shared faith in modern Skepticism. In effect, Wikipedia has been transforming segments of the encyclopedia into a cyber continent for Skepticism to promulgate its science-based xenophobia. Against all rules of editorial decency and objectivity, Skeptics are permitted to engage in character assassinations as if immune to the standards of law that the rest of society must adhere. Those who the Skeptics target to disparage and denigrate have no right to know who their anonymous accusers are. Nor are there any applicable and functioning means to appeal while their tainted biographies linger in a virtual solitary confinement. Not unlike the movie The Purge, Wales has intentionally green-lighted Skeptics to carry out its mission to persecute people whose theories and practices they disagree with it. These editors destroy reputations without consequences. None are held accountable. And the cancer of Skepticism continues to metastasize throughout Wikipedia entries.
We need to draw a very clear distinction between skepticism as a skill in critical thinking and Skepticism as a belief system that carries many of the defining qualities of a cult. As in most cults, modern Skepticism has its gurus (eg, Michael Shermer, James Randi, Steven Novella, Paul Offit, Richard Dawkins, etc.). It is extraordinarily intolerant of views that oppose its blind faith in a strict scientific materialist interpretation of reality and that disregards and undermines the value of subjective experience such as intuition. In fact their criticisms can verge on paranoia and conspiracy. And Skepticism supports missionary activities that are given the task to condemn the heathen while promoting its reductionist doctrine, such as Susan Gerbic’s Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia. Therefore, Skepticism as a social movement is at great variance with healthy psychological skepticism. For example, it is perfectly reasonable for a parent whose teenager is on psychoactive drugs and attempts suicide to suspect that the drug may be partially responsible. A parent may proceed to do homework, investigate the scientific literature, and would readily discover that there is in fact a confirmed correlation between SSRI drugs, such as Prozac and Zoloft, and relapses into depression and anxiety that have been shown to contribute to violent behavior. The parent may also very likely discover the large body of evidence in the scientific literature that some of these drugs have been shown to be no more effective than a placebo in clinical trials. With this new knowledge, the parent would have every right to question those medical authorities who argue SSRI’s are perfectly safe.
Skepticism is a very closed-minded and authoritarian network of organizations, publications and smaller radicalized militant groups who share a superiority complex. They believe their interpretation of scientific data is the final word and therefore their authority ought to surpass any and all contrary views. As stated above, this is especially the case for medicine, health, the treatment of disease, and theories about the mind and consciousness. Whereas a healthy skepticism attempts to eliminate bias, Skepticism finds comfort in the unquestioning complacency and laziness of believing only in its own ideological convictions and opinions. In our opinion, Wales and his cadre of Skeptics, and by extension the entire Skeptical movement, represent a very dangerous faith-based dogma that is breeding a scientific culture of intolerance, bigotry, and an authoritarianism that is inimical towards individual human rights, in particular the freedom of choice on health matters. We witness this especially in the arena of the heated vaccination mandate debates. The most ardent and rabid pro-vaccine advocates are found among the Skeptics.
Mr. Wales operates a hybrid of the late 19th century French judicial system. He has institutionalized prejudice and there is no counterbalance or deterrence to correct Skepticism’s abuse of power. Today there are hundreds of Captain Dreyfus-s lingering without any efficient means for appeal in Wale’s penal colony. In conventional courts of law, jurisprudence demands a day in court and a jury of peers. If found guilty, the option to appeal is available. When we consider how Dreyfus was unlawfully and cruelly treated by the French court, or the psychotic trials led by the Inquisition centuries earlier, we can better appreciate how Wikipedia and the Skeptics act as a law unto themselves: as prosecutor, jury, judge and executioner. This has always been a danger when ideological zealots are handed power. Most Skeptics who administrate and continue to expand their presence on Wikipedia keep their identities anonymous. Very rarely do they convey a professional knowledge about the subject matter they edit. They are not doctors or medical researchers. Groups such as Susan Gerbic’s army of editor trolls are more often than not recruits from Skepticism’s rank-and-file who find a purpose in advancing Skepticism’s fanatical mission to destroy the reputations of medical theories and practices outside of Skepticism’s pro-pharmaceutical purview. Fortunately, since we started putting out these exposés on Wikipedia and Skepticism, numerous people are being educated about the systemic rot within Wikipedia and Skepticism’s threat to public health.
British religion scholar Andrew Harvey has remarked, that “fierce truth is very hard to speak in America.” People are absolutely terrified of the truth at the moment. Yet “finding ways to tell this truth,” Harvey continued, “is the name of the game and to keep on telling it because the lies raged against it are now hysterical.” Zola found his voice, as have climate activists not beholden to Al Gore’s capitalist green solutions to sustain the status quo as the Earth continues to get hotter; nor the thousands of parents of vaccine injured children speaking up against a medical regime that has every intention to remove the democratic protections of “personal consent” from state-sanctioned medical interventions; and the numerous progressive journalists and scholars who have found the courage to speak against government and corporate corruption and untruths.
Eventually, Dreyfus was brought back from Devil’s Island and declared innocent. He was fully exonerated and knighted with the Legion of Honor. So too did Zola return from exile and receive amnesty. Later speaking about the Dreyfus Affair, Zola said, “The truth is on the march, and nothing shall stop it.” We now see clear signs that more independent investigators and journalists are starting to take a harder look at Wikipedia. It is just a matter of time before a tipping point is reached and the darker side of Wales and his Skeptic agenda finally reaches the mainstream media and Wikipedia will sit on the hot seat alongside Facebook and Google. At the end of the day, what can be done? Every American institution, for and non-profit, have final arbitration boards, most often a Board of Directors. Wikipedia’s Board has the power and fiduciary responsibility to put a halt to Mr. Wale’s and the Skeptics’ unprofessional biases and the hyper aggressive personal attacks against hundreds of thousands of physicians and clinicians who endorse and practice complementary and alternative medicine. However, we are also aware, that with few exceptions, the majority of large corporations in the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries, Wall Street and Silicon Valley, intentionally refuse to be held accountable for their crimes against humanity. Wikipedia needs to be held to a higher standard because people’s lives are at risk.