PEN-FM-logo

To the Board and Officers of the Wikimedia Foundation:

To the Board and Officers of the Wikimedia Foundation:

According to Wikipedia’s own editorial rules, which all editors and administrators must abide by, no biography of a living person (BLP) can be used for personal attacks, animus and character assassinations against the subject.  In effect no one involved in editing Wikipedia can use another human being as a punching bag, especially someone with his or her hands tied, blindfolded and gagged and then repeatedly beaten by anonymous individuals at their pleasure.  Regrettably, this is exactly what Wikipedia has become due to the Foundation’s insistent silence.

With thousands of examples, I provide the case of Dr. Gary Null.

During the past month there has been an enormous activity, including attacks, against Gary Null on his Wikipedia Talk pages. In addition his BLP has become increasingly worse with almost a doubling of references citing prejudiced and otherwise disqualified sources. Especially egregious is the treatment of editors who attempted to introduce fairness, balance and objectivity to his BLP but were overruled by senior editors and administrators who rather chose to accept only negative and derogatory information on his page.  Several editors directly stated that efforts to defame Dr. Null were improper by any measure.  Nevertheless these editors were either ignored or blocked, or in effect censored. Those editors who had negative input and relied upon questionable and dubious sources were permitted to edit under the draconian watchful eye of administrators such Guy Macon. Guy (help!), and BullRangifer.  Each has displayed repeatedly extreme bias against Dr. Null and other advocates of complementary medical practices.  Their sources, in turn, have been discredited as personal opinionated blogs, notably that of Dr. Stephen Barrett and his Quackwatch website.  

Let me remind you that Dr Null did not create his Wikipedia page nor has he personally posted to it. Rather his biography was created by his enemies. Repeatedly we have shown how comments on his biography are in error.  However, no corrections have been permitted nor has his biography been removed after many requests over the years.

The justification for these personal attacks, vilification and slander is that the page’s administrators have reached a consensus that Null should be shamed and destroyed while depriving him of any means to defend himself.  The general public remains unaware of how brutal, primal and sadistic many of Wikipedia’s editors have become. And they turn to Jimmy Wales as the source to enable their campaign of hate towards alternative medicine and its leading advocates.  I have never experienced anything that reaches such depths of depravity like this during my career, except during McCarthyism.

Unfortunately, the argument for creating consensus to establish any objective truth is a fallacious belief.  Imagine if everyone were wrong about a subject yet shared common agreement. The consequences would be dire and there are plenty of historical examples to prove this.  For example, despite the Nurses Women’s Health study, the largest study of its kind that enrolled tens of thousands of women and concluded that synthetic hormone replacement therapy contributed to cancer, the medical consensus continues to prescribe these drugs.  In the case of Wikipedia’s irresponsible and erroneous treatment of alternative health, it not just one individual who is illegally being damaged (i.e. Gary Null) but tens of thousands of other like-minded therapists and clinicians who have earned the public trust because of their dedication to improving the health of others and their innovations in the field of public health.  Wikipedia’s consensus has condemned entire fields of healthcare and the Foundation justifies this because anonymous editors with no credentialed background in the medical field or clinical experience reach a consensus based upon a marginal and quasi-scientific creed known as Skepticism. 

I am attaching a three page sample of the statements posted by Wikipedia editors and administrators proving that the coverage of Gary Null and all alternative and complementary health topics is based on deeply seeded animus without regard to truth, fairness or objectivity.  There are hundreds more pages filled with such damning statements.

Please be advised accordingly.

                                                      Very truly yours,

                                                      Neal S. Greenfield

Examples of Recent Editorial Activity on Gary Null’s and Quackwatch Talk Pages

 

November 20, 2019

The following are several selections from the many downloaded pages of editor talk discussions warring over the content of Gary Null’s BLP and the legitimacy of Quackwatch as a reliable source to reference.

Statements by Wikpedia senior editor Guy(help!)

We’ve been having this exact discussion about this exact article for over a decade, for the exact same reason: Null demanding that QuackWatch be removed, issuing legal threats demanding that, and sending people here to argue for it. The conclusion is always the same: QuackWatch is a reliable source for discussion of quacks and quackeryGuy (help!) 23:04, 2 November 2019 (UTC)

The fundamental problem is that the reality-based world pays very little attention to Null and his work, but he is widely perceived as a dangerous proponent of nonsense due to the pervasive nature of his claims (e.g. the fraudulent “death by medicine” trope that medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in America and his promotion of the equally fraudulent Burzynski Clinic). He is considered significant by charlatans and skeptics, and pretty much nobody else, on the face of it. Guy (help!) 11:33, 4 November 2019 (UTC)

BullRangiferI am annoyed by the fact that this entire debate has been prompted by a quack sending his followers here often enough that eventually a few good editors who err on the side of fairness towards cranks and charlatans (IMO sometimes to excess) have been sucked in. We can’t have articles on quacks and charlatans that exclude the leading reality-based sources on quackery. Guy (help!) 17:47, 5 November 2019 (UTC)

Statements by Wikipedia senior editor BullRangifer

The pseudoscientific “experts” in the “fields” of quackery they practice are sometimes simplistic true believers, but they are also often sneaky criminals. — BullRangifer (talk) 16:40, 3 November 2019 (UTC)

SarahSV, you write: “But it’s hard not to notice the wide range of topics he covers. It would be difficult to have developed expertise in all those areas.” That’s a red herring, as expertise in illegitimate topics is not necessary (even though he has it in many of them). You forget that we are not discussing legitimate “fields” of scientific endeavor. See my in depth response to you above. — BullRangifer (talk) 17:41, 3 November 2019 (UTC)

Some editors attempting to bring balance and fairness to the page were overruled

Desclaimer: I started to copyedit the Gary Null article which I do see is using Quackwatch as a source. I will not be editing sources on that article. However, use of Quackwatch in a BLP article is a policy violation. Especially, as editors, we have to diligent if we dislike the living person, do not respect him or her and worse. We must be the ones who are neutrally driven knowing Wikipedia is not the place to “pay back” the subject of the article, alert the reader, nor do we have the right to attempt to destroy a reputation. It’s very, very simple. The source is not compliant. If there are other compliant sources for the same content why would we even consider a non-compliant source. Littleolive oil (talk) 18:34, 5 November 2019 (UTC)

The responses to “Littleolive oil”:

If a Fringe source cannot be identified as fringe except through reference to Quackwatch or other WP:SPS sources, WP:FRINGE would suggest the page should be deleted. I know there’s a strong sentiment against “wikipedia is silent on this issue” WRT quacks and pseudo-medical cons, but otoh, an encyclopedia is not a clearinghouse of all information everywhere, and not every quack needs an article here exposing their quackery. Simonm223 (talk) 14:17, 1 November 2019 (UTC)

And Bullrangifer (earlier name Fyslee) indicates his association with Quackwatch, thereby confirming a conflict of interest for editing Null’s and the Quackwatch page

Quackwatch and I have been vindicated by the Arbitration Committee

Another editor makes note that Quackwatch has its personal supporters in the editorial process who seemingly remain unknown

The only “oversight” documented on QW is a legal team (who aren’t even named) to handle those potential issues. Barrett’s team of volunteers are anonymous so we have no idea who they are. —Masem (t) 18:14, 3 November 2019 (UTC)

And evidently, the WikiMedia Foundation has been in direct communication with the Skeptic administrators of Null’s page per the legal letters sent to the board

We are being lectured on policy by User:Зенитная Самоходная Установка on the basis of their whopping 2,131 edits, and they came here because they read about this on Gary Null’s website. Which is also where the earlier nontroversy was stirred up. Null tried to sue WMF to have this material removed a decade ago, the case was dismissed. He’s recently started sending legal threats to editors. The cynic in me would think he has a publicity drive coming up and wants to purge Wikipedia of reality-based commentary on his activities.

M Quacks and charlatans hate QuackWatch. They have been demanding its removal from Wikipedia for as long as I’ve been here. The normal policy is to ignore them. I suggest we apply that now. Guy (help!) 23:14, 1 November 2019 (UTC)

Another editor attempting to bring fairness to Null’s page is silenced was later banned

Isn’t there a Wikipedia:BLP ombudsman around here? No? I guess Jimbo is the de facto BLP ombudsman, since he’s the only one who really has the clout to go against the administrative establishment in cases like this. If you really want to ensure the highest standards for BLPs, there has to be someone with authority to take action even in the absence of community consensus to enforce the BLP rules; and that would have to either be someone appointed by the WMF, or some elected position, or someone designated by the ArbCom, or something. Зенитная Самоходная Установка (talk) 21:39, 1 November 2019 (UTC)

His concerns were basically ignored by Bullrangifer who again reveals his subjective prejudice against alternative medicine

Guy is right. That is extremely unlikely to happen, especially from Jimbo:

Wikipedia does not cater to what Jimmy Wales calls “lunatic charlatans”:

Quote: “No, you have to be kidding me. Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back to check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful. Wikipedia’s policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals – that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately. What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of ‘true scientific discourse’. It isn’t.” — Jimbo Wales, March 23, 2014

 

We do not allow advocacy of fringe points of view, so the fact that fringe believers don’t like these articles shows that we must be doing something right. — BullRangifer (talk) 23:29, 1 November 2019 (UTC)

Another editor raises a fundamental argument that other legitimate encyclopedias do not need to confront. That is, Wikipedia intentional creation of categories of Quackery and Pseudoscience as derogatory, unprofessional and high ambiguous terms.

Only if you believe that using Wikipedia as a platform to debunk pseudomedicine is more important that our BLP policy. Also, I’ve never understood why it’s necessary to WP:LABEL things quackery, when we could simply say that they’re not supported by scientific evidence. In fact, WP:BLPSTYLE seem quite clear on that point. – MrX ? 17:17, 10 November 2019 (UTC)