pseudoskeptic

Pseudoskeptics Revealed

Genuine skepticism is a virtue in science. Unfortunately, some self-proclaimed guardians of science are committed to conventional taboos against psychic phenomena, despite many promising lines of evidence. Although they call themselves skeptics, they are in truth fundamentalists who attack any challenge to their beliefs, even if it means contradicting the core scientific principles of paying attention to evidence and keeping an open mind. They assume psychic phenomena cannot exist, and remain ignorant of the relevant research. They are pseudoskeptics.

Skeptical About Skeptics examines their ill-informed attacks with articles by well-known scientists and thinkers, revealing their faulty critiques and the underhanded methods they employ. We highlight controversies in specific fields of research and shine a light on prominent pseudoskeptics and skeptical organizations.

We are pro-science, and we are in favor of open-minded inquiry.


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Wikipedia: Our New Technological McCarthyism, Part One

Originally published on the Progressive Radio Network, May 3, 2018
© Richard Gale and Dr Gary Null

See part two

Today, the internet, often thought of as our world's "final frontier" for free thinkers and the flow and exchange of ideas and information, is seriously ill. It has been systemically infected by ideological viruses, memes of information intent on poisoning freedom of expression that we take for granted every time we use Google or visit Facebook, YouTube and now the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Censorship is not limited to the governments' attempts to silence dissent. Yet when it succeeds, society is greatly hindered because people no longer have easy access to the whole truth. Censorship is one of the most effective ways to lessen people's freedoms and numb the faculties for critical thought. And because the media, and having access to news and a wide variety of interpretations and opinions is at our finger tips, it has become a critical part of our daily lives.

A censored society is an uneducated society. It destroys progress and can even destroy careers, reputations and personal lives. Over the years we have witnessed a slow and emerging awakening to the falsehoods behind government and corporate interests. The internet and its technologies have been largely responsible for this gradual awakening, evidenced by the growing distrust and suspicion towards an oligarchy wishing to control what we can and cannot view and read. This suspicion is healthy even if it means that many find themselves increasingly confused. Yet this sense of freedom, the allowance to be dubious about fake news and manicured knowledge being fed to us is fragile, and even in peril.

An issue grossly ignored is that with all the new technology and enormous advertising campaigns on Google, Facebook and YouTube, the two younger generations rely upon social media daily. Rarely do they consider the level and depth that propaganda holds over their lives. During the Boomer generation through the 1960s and 1970s, support for free speech and holding a healthy skepticism towards federal agencies such as the CIA and Pentagon, and most importantly against mainstream media, strengthened critical thought. Today's generation gives no thought towards the content in agreements they accept to use social media platforms. For example, recently it was announced that Yahoo's "new" system will require access to information about your bank account and credit card purchases to sell to third parties. Consequently, virtually nothing in our lives will be private. Sadly, there is no sense of betrayal. No sense of apprehension and fear, and no efforts to protest these actions. To the contrary, people will simply accept YouTube's terms blindly.

In our era of fake news, from all sides of the political spectrum, we are rapidly sacrificing our common sense and reason to illusions and gut emotional reactions. Our compromised and biased mainstream media is now utterly beholden to party storylines. Complex national and global issues are reduced to simplistic and infantile images for mass consumption. The recent revelations about Facebook's misappropriation of its users' personal information should be a trumpet blast, a wakeup call to action. Tens of millions have been naively duped into the easy and free access to social media and the myth of untethered free expression promised by Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Medium and other internet platforms. Although Silicon Valley's technological capacity for global surveillance and the censorship has long been a worrisome problem on the internet, Trump's handling of fake news as the centerpiece of his campaign and presidency granted Facebook, Google and more recently Wikipedia a green light to increase censorship of dissenting and alternative news, opinions and even scientific facts. Recently Youtube announced it will flag videos it believes to communicate falsehoods and add links to Wikipedia.[1] Yet Wikipedia, as this series will put forth, is by no means a reliable resource for objective intelligence and knowledge, which is reason enough for universities to flag it as a capricious source for responsible research.

This should raise serious concerns. Wikipedia is another internet behemoth, and like the other tech giants it is horribly compromised by biases and preferential treatment to private interest groups and extremist ideologies. Wikipedia's ideological biases and favoritism to communities hiring and recruiting armies of internet trolls has been responsible for ruining the reputations and tainting the careers of numerous people, notably health professionals and academics who fail to live, teach and practice in alignment with Wikipedia's very narrow scientific criteria of what is deemed as legitimate proven facts. When a belief system becomes a dogma, an ideological doctrine, debate and conversation shut down. Unpopular views on controversial subjects are jeopardized. Or even popular, common sense views are silenced. Only a single message is propagandized and opposing positions that have their own body of commendable evidence are blacked out or censored. Very early on, WikiMedia Foundation, the parent organization behind Wikipedia has become possessed by ideology and increasingly manipulates its control over content in specific subjects, discussed below, in a cult-like manner. In short, it is riddled with identity policies.

Sophisticated technological algorithms for internet surveillance, utitized to their full extent by the large internet giants, have created what the father of virtual reality, Jaron Lanier, argues is a "behavior modification empire." Facebook, for example, should no longer be regarded as social media.[2] And Silicon Valley, private corporations, regressive social movements, and the federal and private intelligence agencies are all too eager to take full advantage of this internet crisis. The tech companies have essentially shut down the public commons that once upon a time promised a cyber utopia, a free and unencumbered Internet that would gather people globally together. Sadly in its place has sprung up a shadow techno-regime dominated by the Internet's ruling corporate regime, billionaires all too willing to sell their acquired information for enormous client fees. In return, illusions of a functioning democracy, Huxley's soma, are spoon-fed to the masses seduced by the theater of images flashed across our monitors and mobile screens rather than the darker underpinnings behind this total charade. Erringly we believe we are completely free to express ourselves, share opinions, and find new friends with common values and to organize together. Yet how many people actually knew that every bit of information we share on Facebook with family and friends, groups and organizations and environmental, political and social activist causes would be gathered to generate profiles about our behaviors and then in turn reduce our personal profiles into commodities to be used by the private and federal elites. The scandal between the collaboration between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, the latter founded by right wing nationalists and Trump supporters, has shown us the serious threats to personal freedom when every message, file and photo we’ve ever sent or been sent, when every personal contact on our mobile phones, and every audio message has been horded for the benefit of third parties, the least dangerous being advertisers.

Likewise Google traces everywhere we have been or traveled and knows exactly where we are on the map in real time. As long as your mobile phone is in your possession, Google can always find you. You can even access a log and map of everywhere you have been for the past year, including how long it took you to get from home to visit grandma for the holiday. Google gathers every piece of data on our computers and phones, including our search and browsing histories. Even though you delete information or may happen to lose data, it remains in Google's memory vaults. And this is not done secretly. Google is completely transparent about its intrusion into our private lives and anyone can request and receive a file of everything the megacorporation has collected about us. One individual, Dylan Curran, accessed and downloaded his personal Google file; it was 5.5 gigabytes, roughly equivalent to 3 million average sized Word documents. What Google actually does with this massive data collection is another matter.[3]

In effect, the subconscious script behind Facebook, Google and other multinational internet media is designed to convert our lives into commodities, and then convert commodities into dead money. Lanier would consider this to be a severe threat to our species. "We cannot have a society," Lanier said during a TED talk, "if two people wish to communicate with each other and the only way it can happen is if it is financed by a third party who wishes to manipulate them."[4]

But commodifying our personal lives to sell to advertisers is far more innocent than other insidious practices that target people for corporate, financial, national security and political benefit. We can be sure that Uncle Sam's official spooks have immediate access to all our personal information. In 2011, Stratfor, a private intelligence firm in Austin was infiltrated by the hacker group Anonymous. Stratfor is one of the largest private intelligence and surveillance contractors for the National Security Agency and other federal intelligence agencies. The hack acquired addresses, credit card information, bank accounts and passwords on hundreds of thousands of citizens. Knowing enough about people is often the single most important weapon to be used against them. That is what made the Inquisition so successful in spreading fear over medieval Spain and Italy to keep citizens weak and passive. And all of this is available to NSA to keep a vigilant eye on the American public.

In 1954, the late great French sociologist, philosopher and Christian anarchist Jacques Ellul foresaw that every form of technology would end up becoming a form of control, power and a means to achieve efficiency. The technological drive to gather more and more personal information on citizens, whether by Facebook and Google, and for the benefit of federal agencies, political parties and private corporations, which reward and shower favors upon these firms, is itself an attempt to manipulate the public's uncertainty and confusion.[5]

Most criticism is rightly directed against Google and Facebook. Nevertheless Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia project of the MediaWiki Foundation headquartered in San Francisco, remains relatively unscathed. Undeservingly it has managed to remain marginal from the light of public scrutiny. Rather than participating in intelligence gathering into private citizens' lives, it has become the Internet's monolithic gatekeeper, and controller, of free encyclopedic knowledge. Although it has its critics, often those who have experienced Wikipedia's culture of victimization and abuse, the controversies surrounding Wikipedia are given no attention by mainstream media. Acting freely from third party advertising, draped in the security of its not-for-profit status, it has become an invaluable resource in the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Minimal efforts are made to investigate whether Wikipedia too has hidden agendas that adversely affect the public; or whether the Foundation is actively participating in stealth censorship. We know this to be a fact from firsthand experience. Do a Google search on any subject or notable person and Wikipedia will often be the first site to pop up in your browser. It describes itself as a free-content encyclopedia and uses a platform that portends to be open for editing content. This has been one of the encyclopedia's admirable appeals as well as its curse. However, there is undeniable evidence that the site has injured the lives and careers of many innocent people, especially in the field of medicine and healthcare, and people who seek truths outside the confines of corporate science's corridors and a quasi-Libertarian Objectivst universe.

The sheer size of the encyclopedia is imposing. It is unquestionably the single largest juggernaut for online information. According to statistics compiled by DMR, a digital marketing collection firm, Wikipedia hosts over 5.5 million articles and adds 600 new articles daily. Eighteen billion pages are viewed weekly, and there are over 137,000 active writers and editors composing and editing articles in 280 languages, 13% in English. On the other hand the Foundation itself only employs about 300 people. It is also the first to appear in 99% of internet searches.[6] Supposedly, Wikipedia has NO employed editors. Content and edits are performed exclusively by volunteers. This does not mean that editors are not being paid by other third parties, including on the behalf of huge multinational corporations, advocacy groups, think tanks, PR firms and even governments, including their intelligence agencies and military.

In 2009, Virgil Griffith, a 24 year old researcher at the Santa Fe Institute, one of the world's preeminent progressive think tanks for systems theory, created a program called the WikiScanner, which "tracks computers used to make changes and edits to Wikipedia entries." Griffith was inspired to design the scanner after he learned about US Congressional legislators "whitewashing" the content on their Wikipedia biographies. In 2014, the Foundation banned all computers within the US Congress from editing privileges.[7] Griffith's Wikiscanner identified CIA and FBI computers editing Wikipedia content, including the doctoring of facts concerning the US invasion of Iraq, such as casualty numbers, and the human rights crimes committed at Guantanamo prison. He also identified computers at numerous organizations and private corporations engaged in editing activities. Senior Wikipedia editors, who have succeeded in making thousands of edits and therefore understand the game's rules, have turned their experiences into consulting businesses for paying clients. Although Wikipedia's co-founder Jimmy Wales has strongly forbidden this activity, it is still widespread because the Foundation has lost control over the huge army of known, anonymous editors, trolls, sock puppets and even algorithmic bots who operate independently. This is further evidence of how chaotic Wikipedia has become, and one among other reasons why a growing number of colleges and universities forbid students from citing Wikipedia articles as reliable sources in their course assignments.

On the other hand, Wikipedia has also become a source for widespread disinformation, especially on current events and controversial health, social and political issues. To the encyclopedia's detriment, the Foundation has had a history of providing a platform for select independent factions to propagandize dogmatic and fundamentalist beliefs. Frankly, it is utterly foolish to assume that everything on Wikipedia is honest and factual. One man who rose through the editorial ranks to become a Wikipedia site administrator, claimed to be a tenured religion professor with a doctorate in theology. Later, it was discovered he was a high school dropout.[8] Likewise, many Skeptics control the Wiki pages about alternative medicine, natural health and the paranormal. Most have no medical background nor experience in healthcare. In a private conversation with one Wikipedia editor who has gone head-to-head with Skeptic trolls to correct falsehoods and abusive language in the Wiki entries for the New Age celebrity Deepak Chopra and biologist Rupert Sheldrake, Rome Viharo jokingly said most of these trolls are tech geeks who are likely mentally unstable and on psychiatric medications.[9]

As we have discovered, behind the scenes and hidden from the public's view, Wikipedia is a vipers' pit. Its editorial culture is plagued with "wiki wars," conflicts between antagonistic groups fighting for control over content. Perhaps this would be fine if the Foundation remained an innocent bystander, allowing editors to battle out the facts and falsehoods based upon Wikipedia's own consensus guidelines to rule what is reliable, objective information. Unfortunately, that is not the case. A consequence is that the MediaWiki Foundation has become increasingly authoritarian in order to cover up its internal chaos. All who have failed to clean up the massive falsehoods and venomous text on their personal Wiki pages can attest to the Foundation's culture of deception and censorship that riddles the encyclopedia.

In his blog "Wikipedia We Have a Problem" Viharo describes the immensity of the problem:

"There is a disturbing pattern of behaviors evolving across Wikipedia – a number of skeptic activists on Wikipedia believe that only they are qualified to edit a large swath of topics and biographies on Wikipedia, and they seek to purge other editors from those articles or Wikipedia itself. Skeptic activists take this very seriously and treat Wikipedia like a battleground for their activism, where online harassment, slander, bullying, character assassination, and public shaming are all used as tactics to control editing permissions on the world’s largest repository of knowledge."[10]

We are also gradually discovering that Wikipedia itself has been supporting certain creeds, networks of private organizations and corporate interests, and political support groups that enforce dangerous ideologies while diligently corroborating with chosen third parties to silence and/or censor critics and opposition. This is certainly in direct violation with Wikipedia's mission and Wales' consistent statements that he opposes censorship and surveillance. For example, societies and organizations identified with the rational Skeptic and scientific materialist movements are very prominent and granted free editorial reign on Wikipedia. Their technical sophistication has hijacked large amounts of the encyclopedia's content and manipulated it to disseminate their rationalist and reductionist doctrines. Very valid scientific information concerning medicine and health are jeopardized, deleted and ignored. The site embraces the conventional pharmaceutical, drug-based paradigm. Complementary and natural medical disciplines, treatments and alternative doctors and practitioners are regularly denounced and castigated. On the other hand, Skeptics' biographies and organizations' own Wikipedia entries are without fault and consistently full of praise. Editors who attempt to add factual and referenced evidence, which may taint Skepticism's shining image, are immediately blocked or edits are quickly removed. Many editors who try to correct these pages are censored and/or banned from editing pages--as in our own case--although they may have years or even decades of experience and expertise on a given subject.

In this series we will focus attention upon one especially pernicious ideological network of individuals and organizations that has made enormous and successful strides in hijacking Wikipedia's editorial platform. There is no single title that adequately gathers them under a single umbrella; however they all share a similar philosophy that embraces rational science-based Skepticism. Small-s skepticism itself is a healthy exercise for discerning truths and falsehoods. Wikipedia would fare far better if it practiced healthy skepticism towards its own editorial allies. However in this article we capitalize Skepticism to refer to an actual movement of independent individuals and groups, including one of Skepticism's subsets, Science-Based Medicine (SBM), which share a mutual belief system and engage in internet harassment based upon the principles of behavior modification, common to cults.

Modern Skepticism is a continuation of earlier Scientism founded by the early naturalists who declared that the only thing that exists is the natural world and everything else is unfounded, and therefore illusory and to be shunned. It follows the old tired adage that "I will only believe in what I can see, smell, taste, touch or hear." In short, Scientism, in Swedish philosopher Mikael Stenmark's words, is based upon the epistemic principle "there is nothing outside the domain of science, nor is there any area of human life to which science cannot successfully be applied."[11] Skepticism, purports to be rational yet simultaneously is incapable of ascertaining other forms of non-scientific truth, such as ethical and moral, metaphysical, aesthetic truths. Although the scientific method is incapable of ascertaining or disproving other truths, nevertheless they too follow reason and logic, often every bit as rigorous as Skepticism's reductionist determinism.

For example, it may not be the case that science can yet accurately comprehend whether or not homeopathy is effective. But for tens of millions of people around the planet homeopathy has treated many serious medical conditions. For over 200 years after Samuel Hahnemann founded homeopathic medicine, countless numbers of people witnessed illnesses and symptoms disappear and they were healed. Skeptics have absolutely no proof that homeopathy's positive effects are due to the placebo-effect alone, which is their only explanation to account for homeopathy's successes. Yet for all Skeptics, homeopathy is nothing but quackery. And as we will describe later, Wikipedia agrees with them. The Skeptics' only defense is "plausibility"; that is, in the absence of clinical research, which only they are willing to accept, rely instead on the flawed faculty of reason and logic to decide whether homeopathy is "plausible" and persuasive or not. This is the same rationale voiced by one of SBM's leading inspirations, Dr. Stephen Barrett, founder of Quackwatch. When asked during an interview why he only disparaged alternative medicine and does not critique modern conventional medicine, Barrett noted that he lacks sufficient expertise in the medical field. Openly Barrett confesses that his efforts to debunk alternative medicine is solely based on his personal opinion as to whether alternative modalities are plausible. In the same way, SBM-Skeptics' major proponents lack experiential knowledge about alternative medical modalities and nutrition. Rather than being truly scientific, they hypocritically hide behind the irrational methodology of faux notions of validity.

Categorically, Skepticism espouses either atheistic or agnostic beliefs; however all the celebrity Skeptics admire Richard Dawkins, the British evolutionary biologist who is recognized as the father of the New Atheism. Dawkins' endless mission to publicly preach an intolerant view of atheism has made him deserving of an international award for having offended more human beings than anyone in recent history.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI), the umbrella organization that serves as the mother chapel for the Skeptic movement, fully embraces Dawkins' atheistic Scientism. In 2016, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science merged with CFI. Its stated mission is to "foster a secular society based upon reason, science, freedom of inquiry and humanist values."[12] Laudable words, but the Center fails horribly to tolerate, let alone respect, the freedom of others to their beliefs and the freedom to choose a medical intervention of their choice. Any discipline of inquiry that is performed outsides the Center's narrow interpretation of science is condemned as heresy, exposed and publicly maligned. Everything that deals with religion and spirituality, the paranormal, unexplained phenomena, and alternative and natural medical modalities are accused of con-artistry. Other leading major Skeptic groups are the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council of Secular Humanism, the James Randi Educational Foundation and the SBM-related Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health.

The latter publishes the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, founded by Skeptics at Stanford University and the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. The publication makes the narcissistic claim of being the only journal that properly analyses alternative medical claims. However, on at least three separate occasions, this highly biased, one-sided interpretation of medicine failed to be recognized by the National Library of Medicine for inclusion into the National Institutes of Health's Medline/PubMed registry of reliable medical and healthcare publications, the world's largest source for peer-reviewed medical literature. Wikipedia on the other hand has permitted the journal the status of being referenced as a legitimate and reliable source for criticisms against alternative medicine.

During a TED talk shortly after 911, Dawkins made his plea for "militant atheism."[13] Although he was specifically calling for an unapologetic and disrespectful rationalist crusade against religion, his fundamental premise has been embraced throughout the Skeptic movement in its efforts to silence, ridicule and demonize all who advocate alternative medicine and question conventional pharmaceutical drugs, vaccination and industrial and genetically modified foods, pesticides, the junk food industry, etc. Medical treatments that fall outside its pharmaceutical paradigm--chiropractic medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, energy healing, etc.--are categorically quackery and fraud.

For the most zealous Skeptics, scientific "truths", guided solely by "reason" (which Skeptics are unable to adequately define), is the only religion humanity should follow. It identifies itself as an intelligentsia and praises its superiority as a humanoid subspecies above anyone who questions or challenges their faith in scientific reductionism. In his book When Atheism Becomes Religion, Pulitzer Prize journalist Chris Hedges presents the argument that this extreme mindset, cloaked in the god of reason and science alone, is today's "new fundamentalism." Because science is solely concerned with discovering facts about our material existence, Skepticism is neutral towards universal human values and ethics aside from the cold values that science offers.

Commenting on Scientism's determinist ideology, Robert Wuthnow, chair of Princeton's sociology department, writes, "Scientists are drunk on hubris, in it for the money or their own glory, and sadly incapable of any humility."[14] Anyone reading the blogs and articles composed by the medical doctors leading the Science Based Medicine movement, will quickly observe the pretentious conceit noted by Wuthnow. But SBM propaganda goes beyond the confines of rationalist critiques of alternative medicine's claims. They express a contemptuous disdain, and vile hatred, towards practitioners and advocates of the alternative medical paradigm and anyone who questions the conventional medical establishment.

During a lecture in 1959, British chemist and novelist C.P. Snow challenged our civilization's move towards an over-reliance upon scientific rationality as a means for solving world problems. Snow explained how this failure, which science and technology in isolation will continue to experience repeatedly, is due to scientific institutions having removed themselves from the humanities, which otherwise provide human value with moral guidance.[15] The consequence is that science will become increasingly technological, and this may lead to dire futures, including the rise of new postmodern programs of eugenics and genocide. Scientism's hubris is grounded in the inflated belief that history is on its side. For this reason it becomes intolerant and impatient with other disciplines that also claim to hold universal values. Consequently, Snow warned that science is racing to sequester itself from the most precious elements that make us human. Science then becomes amoral. Likewise, the entire Skepticism movement is morally bankrupt, incapable of piercing through its nearsighted lens.

Science writer John Horgan further sheds light on the darker underpinnings and irrationality of Skepticism, including a few of the leading voices within the SBM cult. In his recommended article published in Scientific American, “Dear Skeptics, Bash Homeopathy and Big Foot Less, Mammograms and War More,” Horgan targets a crucial failure in popular Skepticism today. He writes, "I'm a science journalist. I don’t celebrate science, I criticize it, because science needs critics more than cheerleaders. I point out gaps between scientific hype and reality. That keeps me busy, because as you know, most peer-reviewed scientific claims are wrong." The Skeptics and their scientism have "become tribal," notes Horgan. "They pat each other on the back and tell each other how smart they are compared to those outside the tribe. But belonging to a tribe often makes you dumber."[16]

Dumb indeed. Worse, exceedingly dangerous. Wikipedia's Skeptics, who cling upon the words of SBM's gurus, is a curious mix of Orwellian fascism and a quirky technological totalitarianism, which Aldous Huxley warned about in his 1958 follow-up to Brave New World. A world of scientific McCarthyism is the utopia they pray to. But conventional definitions of fascism and totalitarianism don’t accurately apply. Instead, Skepticism is the darker side of Liberalism, with noticeable parallels to Ayn Rand's Objectivist and autocratic absolutism. These are the Liberals who find no fault in bombing Muslim nations back to the pre-Islamic sands of Arabia, criminalize faith healing as physical abuse, and stamp all currency with "In Science We Trust."

Yet it is important to make one observation clear: SBM is perhaps today's greatest threat to the future physical and mental health of the nation and well-being of Americans. It is solely an ideological public relations campaign to promulgate a totalitarian dogma with McCarthyian interrogations that alternative medical modalities are perilous to public health and therefore should be avoided and preferably banned. It doesn’t conduct nor fund clinical research. Families who reject vaccinating their children, according to SBM physicians, ought to be charged with child abuse and have their children placed into the care of the State to lead miserable lives of psychological degeneration and abuse in foster care homes and institutions. In short, SBM is the harbinger of medical McCarthyism, and as we will see, the SBM movement and its allies in the Skeptic organizations are succeeding in their mission through their collaboration and support from Wikipedia.

Another serious threat our nation faces from SBM is that the movement is systemically infected with what we call the “gene meme." In his Scientific American article, Horgan calls it "Gene-Whiz Science." He writes, "Over the past several decades, geneticists have announced the discovery of "genes for" virtually every trait or disorder. We’ve had the God gene, gay gene, alcoholism gene, warrior gene, liberal gene, intelligence gene, schizophrenia gene, and on and on. None of these linkages of single genes to complex traits or disorders has been confirmed. None! But gene-whiz claims keep coming."[17] SBM advocates are also the advocates of Gene-Whiz Science; yet simultaneously they remain petrified of the potential conclusions to be drawn from environmental epigenetic research that challenges the scientific credibility of genetic determinism. For example, Paul Offit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the co-developer of the first rotavirus vaccine and once held a seat on the vaccination advisory council at the Centers for Disease Control, is a leading advocate of pro-vaccine science, having stated in his institution's Parents Pack Newsletter that infants’ immune systems can safely receive 100,000 vaccinations.[18]. He is adamant that autism is genetic, inherited, and has no association whatsoever with vaccines. While we agree that many autism cases involve mutated genes, categorically blaming parental inheritance is questionable since this denies epigenetic evidence. In fact, a University of Montreal review of the 100-plus genes now identified with autism, found that the majority of these "autism genes" were de novo genes, fetal polymorphisms occurring in the womb and therefore likely associated with an external environmental trigger, including toxic chemicals such as aluminum and mercury ingredients in vaccines, that may pass the placental barrier in the pregnant mother.[19]

A second threat to national health is Wikipedia’s unguarded open editing platforms. It is irrefutable that the Foundation's tight relationship with militant Skepticism has given license to trolls and sock puppets to dominate the flow of information about disease prevention and treatment. By hijacking these platforms, Skeptics have risen through the encyclopedia's editorial ranks to grasp greater administrative authority to censor opposing voices. On the other hand, this is completely transparent. It is all visible. Yet this also raises a very serious ethical question. Is Wikipedia also part of the behavior "modification empire" Jaron Lanier has warned us about? In the following articles in this series, it will become more certain that it is.

Authors' Correction: This is the final and corrected article from its early version dated May 1, 2018

Richard Gale is the Executive Producer of the Progressive Radio Network and a former Senior Research Analyst in the biotechnology and genomic industries. Dr. Gary Null is the host of the nation’s longest running public radio program on nutrition and natural health and a multi-award-winning documentary film director, including Death by Medicine, War on Health, Silent Epidemic: The Untold Story of Vaccination. http://prn.fm

Continue to Part Two

NOTES

1 David Meyer. YouTube Enlists Wikipedia in Its Conspiracy Theory Crackdown. But That Might Not Be Enough. Fortune. March 14, 2018

2 Ariel Schwartz. Father of virtual reality: Facebook and Google are dangerous 'behavior-modification empires' resulting from a tragic mistake" Business Insider, Apr. 12, 2018

3 "Want To Freak Yourself Out?" Here Is All The Personal Data That Facebook/Google Collect" Zero Hedge, March 28, 2018. https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-27/twitter-user-breaks-down-all-personal-data-facebook-and-google-collect

4 https://www.ted.com/talks/jaron_lanier_how_we_need_to_remake_the_internet

5 Jacques Ellul. The Technological Society. Vintage Books, 1954.

6 https://expandedramblings.com/index.php/wikipedia-statistics/ and https://www.reputationdefender.com/blog/orm/when-wikipedia-tarnishes-your-online-reputation

7 https://www.santafe.edu/news-center/news/media-channel-cia-and-fbi-computers-used-for-wikipedia-edits

8 https://www.bestvalueschools.org/25-biggest-wikipedia-mistakes-time/

9 Private conversations and radio broadcast with Rome Viharo. Progressive Radio Network

10 http://www.skepticalaboutskeptics.org/investigating-skeptics/wikipedia-captured-by-skeptics/r/rampant-harassment-on-wikipedia/

11 Bryce Laliberte. "Error of Scientism Explained." Amtheomusings. January 16, 2010. https://amtheomusings.wordpress.com/2010/01/16/the-error-of-scientism-explained/

12 https://www.centerforinquiry.net/

13 TED. https://www.ted.com/talks/r/richard_dawkins_on_militant_atheism

14 John Evans. Morals Not Knowledge. University of California Press, 2018

15 Ibid.

16 John Horgan. “Dear Skeptics, Bash Homeopathy and Big Foot Less, Mammograms and War More,” Scientific American. May 16, 2016 https://www.google.com/search?q=%E2%80%9CDear+Skeptics,+Bash+Homeopathy+and+Bigfoot+Less,+Mammograms+and+War+More,%E2%80%9D&spell=1&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjCtf22h9HaAhXImOAKHTljDxAQBQgmKAA&biw=1546&bih=741

17 Mark Ames. "How Ayn Rand Became a Big Admirer of Serial Killer," Alternet. January 26, 2015. https://www.alternet.org/books/how-ayn-rand-became-big-admirer-serial-killer

18 Paul Offit's 10,000 vaccines at once http://www.whale.to/vaccines/offit23.html

19 Philip Awadalla, Julie Gauthier et al. "Direct Measure of the De Novo Mutation Rate in Autism and Schizophrenia Cohorts" Am J Hum Genet. 2010 Sep 10; 87(3): 316–324.

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Wikipedia: Our New Technological McCarthyism, Part Two

Originally published on the Progressive Radio Network, May 10, 2018
© Richard Gale and Dr Gary Null

In Part One, we discussed the threats social media technology poses to a healthy and educated populace, the scientist cult of Skepticism and its extremist medical wing, and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia as a leading promulgator for Skepticism's agenda. In Part Two, we go deeper into the Science-Based Medical faction and its advancing an unfounded and authoritarian interpretation about science.

Science-Based Medicine (SBM) is a recent splinter faction, a break-away group, from Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM). EBM is often recognized as one of the great advances in modern medicine to emerge during the 20th century. Although SBM endorses EBM's premises and principles, it also regards it as incomplete. Consequently SBM blatantly hails itself as the future paradigm for evaluating medical science and recommending best practices and treatments.

First posited as a new and precise methodology for evaluating medical research in 1993, EBM has rapidly become the dominant statistical and clinical model for developing healthcare strategies in clinical settings. It is also the most prevalent theory in use today for determining the accuracy of peer-reviewed journal articles, clinical trials and medical claims to improve healthcare decisions. According to the British Medical Journal, EBM is now the "new paradigm for teaching and practicing clinical medicine."[1] The renowned Cochrane Database Collaboration, a network of 37,000 professors, doctors and researchers from over 130 countries, is one of EBM's more successful contributions. Cochrane performs meta-analysis on existing scientific literature for pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines and supplemental products alike to determine the credibility of their health claims. Medical journals increasingly fail to maintain high standards for the research published. Prestigious journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine have even criticized their own publications for publishing scientifically invalid research funded by drug companies and professional associations biased towards the pharmaceutical products they develop and promote.[2] Medical journals are also riddled with authorship violations of ghostwriting, which are threatening the integrity of reliable medical literature.[3] SBM physicians would seem to fully endorse these practices.

For example, SBM proponents give their full weight in support of biased studies promoting selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs for treating anxiety and depression against the large body of research indicating their ineffectiveness and serious adverse effects. The research for drugs treating clinical depression were so poor, that the Journal of the American Medical Association launched a policy to refuse any industry sponsored submissions unless all the trials' original data could be reviewed by independent, non-pharmaceutical industry editors.[4] Consequently, by identifying such problems and falsehoods, Cochrane is today's important watchdog for targeting bogus pharmaceutical research and for separating reliable clinical science from junk science.

However, EBM also has its detractors within the conventional medical community. Most EBM studies rely exclusively on data collection, epidemiological research and statistical analysis. It may be noted that EBM's ascendency parallels the rise of the information age and Internet, and follows the idea that gathering and possessing huge amounts of data can be a weapon, regardless whether it is to leverage a political party or to find the best strategy to treat a life-threatening disease. For example, Paul Offit habitually references fourteen EBM studies that have become the CDC's and pro-vaccine lobby's gospel to discredit an association between vaccines and autism.[5] Each study is limited to epidemiological and population data analysis. None meet the gold standard criteria of a double-blind, authentic placebo controlled trial, which is the most reliable criteria for decisive evidence about a vaccine's efficacy and safety.[6] And this is another one of EBM's failures: inflating epidemiological results and assigning it with an equal level certainty as gold standard and biological clinical trials.

Another crucial criticism is that EBM has been misappropriated by private commercial interests, in particular the drug companies and their cohorts in the CDC and FDA that regulate research agendas. Dr. Trisha Greehalgh at the London School of Medicine wrote an essay for the British Medical Journal, "Evidence Based Medicine: A Movement in Crisis," noting that EBM was unable to adequately detect the biases in pharmaceutical industry sponsored studies. Overall, Greenhalgh felt that after twenty years EBM has only made marginal gains.[7] This is a subject requiring greater investigation because it is our observation that there may be a strong correlation between healthcare's over-reliance upon EBM guidelines for treating disease and the continual increase in cases of iatrogenic injuries and deaths due to medical intervention. Iatrogeneic medical error is now the third leading cause of mortality in the US. Is there a direct correlation? Well, if we follow SBM's scientific reasoning, it is plausible. In our opinion, EBM suffers from a mistaken uniformity, a cacophony of conflicting research data and false conclusions. Furthermore, it too often fails in its attempts to advance efficient and safe medical interventions, including alternative medical findings, into actual clinical practice within the medical community.

Due to EBM's shortcomings, an group who earlier advocated for EBM emerged. The Society for Science Based Medicine, founded by Yale neuroscientist Steven Novella, was launched to advocate for a reductionist scientific rationality, founded upon Skepticism's principles and strategies. In 2009, the Society launched its Institute for Science in Medicine, a non-profit organization with a mission to influence public health policies and establish standards based upon its medical determinism at the exclusion of other medical options that the Institute criticizes. High on both the Society's and Institute's priority list is the condemnation of Complementary-Alternative Medicine (CAM), which is today offered in most university medical schools. It also accuses naturopathy, homeopathy, massage, chiropractic medicine, nutritional medicine including supplements, and all faith-based and Mind-Body healing modalities of quackery.[8] Practitioners of these non-drug based therapies are categorically labeled as irrational, charlatans, conspiracy theorists or quacks. Followers of SBM operate solely in the state of its absolute authority, hyper-diligence and ultra-orthodoxy. Medical research favoring conventional medicine is framed as unwavering facts, which leave no room for open discussion and debate.

SBM can also be understood as a symptom of our society's addiction to technology. Noted earlier, SBM operates primarily in the cyber spheres rather than laboratories and professional clinical settings. Richard Stivers, a distinguished sociology professor at Illinois State University documents the pathologies of a technological society. According to Stivers, our modern "technological civilization" makes no effort to promote or encourage a "moral community." In fact, he believes the entire social media environment built upon modern technology and social platforms is mentally debilitating and contributing to our culture's disease or sociosis.[9] After reading SBM articles, and its litany of diatribes and condemnations about everything SBM abhors, one readily observes the depth of this movement's intolerance.

The Skeptic organizations are remarkably efficient in the dissemination of their worldview and wherever one finds criticisms about alternative health natural medicine, SBM articles and its predecessor Quackwatch website are cited. During our own interaction with MediaWiki's legal department, Wikipedia administrators acknowledge QuackWatch as a reliable reference for editing pages. As an aside, Quackwatch's founder and Skeptic Dr. Stephen Barret has been slapped with many lawsuits.[10] In one California trial, it was revealed that Barrett had failed his board certification exams but was still hanging up a shingle for his psychiatric practice.[11] None of this will be found on his Wikipedia page although many attempts have been made. Barrett's Wikipedia personality is completely safeguarded by Skepticism's individuals.

SBM is strictly a community of university professors and medical doctors. Very few have the luxury to spend hours day and night to survey the internet for people and groups to endlessly attack on blogs or monitor Wikipedia edits they disapprove of. Nor do most of them have the technological computer skills. To succeed in promulgating its ideology, they have recruited their admirers in the Skeptic organizations listed in our earlier segment to this series.

The MediaWiki Foundation has few professional paid editors on staff, although its employees function as administrators to handle the more vicious "wiki wars". Instead it seeks and welcomes outside organizations and groups to recruit contributors "to work together as a team to improve Wikipedia." These groups are known as WikiProjects and receive the full endorsement of Jimmy Wales and the Foundation. Among these WikiProjects is the Skepticism group. If you visit the WikiProject:Skeptism page, the group's complete agenda and targets for editorial discord are outlined with calls for editorial action. The list of alternative health practices that the Project indicts is thorough, including Chinese and Indian Ayurveda medicine, meditation, chiropractic and homeopathy, naturopathy, energy and massage therapies, nutritional healing, nutritional therapy, supplements, health food and much more. Other Skeptic targets for cyber agitation fall under separate headings such as paranormal, psychology, religion and spirituality with their own WikiProjects.

One group that has received Wikipedia's full support and swallowed Dawkin's "militant atheism" whole with steroids is Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW), founded by Susan Gerbic. GSoW actively seeks out and trains recruits to serve as an army of a Skeptic editors to wage wiki wars against those who research or advocate alternative medical treatment modalities. These are the most active of Wikipedia's independent advocates editing alternative medicine content and pages critical of conventional drugs.

Gerbic speaks about her organization's guerrilla tactics on Wikipedia openly. On the Skeptic website Skeptoid, she writes in her article "Helping Build a Skeptical, Scientific Wikipedia," that Wikipedia's Skepticism is "one of the most amazing powerful projects that exists today in the world of scientific skepticism. That project is Wikipedia.... The information inside Wikipedia is so influential and powerful that we, as skeptics, need to make sure that the reader is getting correct information and leaving notable citations that they can follow if they want more information."[12]

On her personal Wikipedia biographical entry, Gerbic is quoted as saying, "We rewrite Wikipedia, and proof the pages, we remove citations that are not noteworthy, we add citations, we do just about everything in Wikipedia to improve content."[13] Of course, the majority of their "notable citations" reference back to Skeptic and SBM sources, such as Gorski's ScienceBasedMedicine blog. "Improvements" are solely aligned with Skepticism's doctrine. Gerbic's other organization Skeptic Action is another stealth guerilla operation to disseminate cyber tasks for Skeptic trolls on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to rapidly rate pages such as books listed on Amazon that question vaccination, homeopathy, and natural cancer treatments. Skeptic Action also utilizes a community drive system, which enables members to receive rapid alerts to rebut content posted on the internet.

In April 2017, Wales launched his new WikiTribune. This new "wiki" is supposed to combat fake news. Wales stated that the project, "will be the first time that professional journalists and citizen journalists will work side-by-side as equals writing stories as they happen."[14] Although his motivation is praiseworthy, in light of how fake news brought Trump into power according to Wales, we can expect the results to be equally dubious based upon Wikipedia's past. He doesn’t explain or provide information about who qualifies as a reliable "professional" journalist. Will it be more uninformed writers promoting drug-based medicine? More Skeptical laypersons covering up for the sins of big agricultural companies? And the term "citizen" journalist is utterly meaningless and will invite more of the same confusion and chaos that plagues the encyclopedia. Consequently in our opinion, WikiTribune is already on the path to being another news source of prejudice, intolerance and unfairness.

Is the encyclopedia's chaos and unmanageability, under the ruse of democratic principles and opposition to internet censorship, intentional so the doors are left wide open for Skepticism to indoctrinate Wikipedia's users to its cause? Or has Wikipedia intentionally enabled the Skeptics to be the final judges on alternative health, medical controversies and many other subjects that Skeptics despise?

Some examples provide clues. The Wikipedia page for Science-Based Medicine is empty of criticism and controversy, of which there are many from highly factual sources. Edits on the SBM page are seemingly locked. In addition to adulating SBM's founders, Steven Novella and David Gorski, the entry only praises the movement for being "noted as an influential and respected source of information about medical controversies and alternative medicine." Likewise practically all of Skepticisms' leading voices have squeaky clean biographies. Contrary evaluations with confirmatory evidence, which should be entered on these pages for encyclopedic accuracy, are systematically censored.[15]

In 2014, Change.org posted a petition for Wikipedia users to stop donating to the site because of the preferential treatment given to Skeptics to ridicule and viciously condemn Energy Medicine and Psychology. The petition gained over 11,200 signatures.[16] In response, Wales wrote:

"No, you have to be kidding me. Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back and check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual and truthful. Wikipedia's policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable 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 equivalent of 'true scientific discourse.' It isn't."[17]

"Lunatic charlatans?" A word taken directly from Skepticisms' lexicon.

In this particular case, Debby Vajda, President for the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP), provided 51 peer-reviewed articles and studies, 18 which were randomized controlled studies, appearing in professional journals, including the American Psychological Association, the Journal of Clinical Psychology, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, Psychotherapy Theory Research and Practice and others showing positive statistical results outside the range of chance. She commented on Change.org, "Every edit to the energy psychology Wikipedia page that attempts to reference findings from these well-respected, scientific journals is summarily deleted… The American Psychological Association does not think we are 'lunatic charlatans.' Neither does the Association of Social Work Boards, the National Board of Certified Counselors, or the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors, all of which approve ACEP to provide continuing education to their professional members for the study of energy psychology. The Wikipedia page is out of step with existing peer-reviewed research on this topic, and opinionated, self-described “skeptic” editors are resisting any change."[18]

Apparently the scientific evidence was insufficient to pass Wikipedia's administration review. The page still defines Energy Medicine as a "pseudo-scientific belief."[19]

Other petitions against Wikipedia posted on Change.org add further light about these prejudices and preferential treatment towards Skepticism. Wikipedia earlier disabled editing on its Homeopathy page in order to retain the Skeptic's edits to debunk it and editors have been put on probation.[20] Wikipedia's opening paragraph, states "Homeopathy is a pseudoscience – a belief that is incorrectly presented as scientific. Homeopathic preparations are not effective for treating any condition."[21]

Homeopathy is an excellent example of Skepticism's unsound and frequently unsubstantiated criticisms. Simply because SBM physicians may not understand biophysics, quantum energy, and physical properties of water should not close the door on homeopathy as mere quackery. Surely Skeptics will embrace the value of nanotechnology without understanding the physics of spatial quantum confinement behind it. Nanomedince is rapidly becoming part of conventional medicine's drug arsenals. Safety studies for nano-drugs are weak at best. Yet there are analogous features to nanotechnology and homeopathic theory in terms of spatial physics and force. Furthermore, in Europe, homeopathy is a preferred alternative treatment modality among doctors. In India, where it is most popular, 62% of homeopathic users have never tried conventional drugs, and 82% of those in an AC Nielsen survey said they would not switch to allopathic treatments. In France, 94% of surveyed pharmacists acknowledged they recommend pregnant women to use homeopathic remedies instead of pharmaceutical drugs. Homeopathy is also taught in 21 of 24 French pharmacology schools. Seventy percent of French physicians approve of the discipline.[22]

Unfortunately, if you wish to include this information into Wikipedia's homeopathy page, you will fail dismally. Once you make your edits, anonymous Skeptic editors will have been tipped off about the change, descend like delirious banshees, and change the text back to its original. If you are fortunate, they will forget to advocate for your banishment from editing Wikipedia pages in the future.

Another petition charged that Wikipedia's acupuncture page was in direct violation of its "neutral point of view policy." Again, like the other examples above, Wikipedia has assured that acupuncture will be immediately perceived as a useless therapy. The opening paragraph to Wikipedia's acupuncture page states, "TCM [Traditionial Chinese Medicine] theory and practice are not based upon scientific knowledge, and acupuncture is a pseudoscience."[23] The petition received an enormous number of signatures from China where acupuncture stands alongside conventional medicine in clinics throughout the country. It is hard to imagine a Chinese medical doctor, trained at Harvard Medical School, questioning acupuncture's efficacy for many ailments and illnesses. The petition also cites the fanatical militant Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia as the primary editors and administrators on the acupuncture page.[24]

The good news is that Skepticism and SBM are rapidly losing touch with today's health and social trends. Its scientific cherry-picking, inverted conspiratorial mentality, and refusal to recognize scientific facts contrary to their rigid beliefs, such as the huge body of evidence discrediting the safety claims of genetically modified foods and vaccines, are losing popular ground. Its own bias towards that which it lacks knowledge and refuses to understand has given rise to Skepticism's own intrinsic conspiratorial theories and misguided perceptions of humanity and the human condition. Eventually SBM will be remembered as BS-Based Medicine because real science continues to make new discoveries beyond reductionist certainties. Without its hidden funders and Wikipedia supporters, it might deservingly collapse into the dustbin of history sooner.

Although the Skeptics currently rule the flow of information over Wikipedia, and have made considerable gains on Facebook and other online sites, they are failing in the university medical departments where future generations of physicians and health practitioners will graduate and enter the healthcare workforce. In 2011, US News and World Report reported that 40% of American adults swore by some form of alternative and natural, non-drug based medicine, and 46 medical schools had CAM departments.[25] Steven Novella was characteristically swift to denounce the report with his customary nonsense.[26] Four years later, the Association of American Medical Colleges reported that 126 of 132 medical schools across the nation offered required courses in alternative medicine. That same year, a survey and analysis published in the Journal of Advanced Medical Education Practice, among the 127 different CAM course listings gathered in the study, the most frequent were traditional natural medicine, acupuncture, spirituality and herbology. Twenty-five percent of courses were associated with personal growth and self-care practiced alongside CAM and conventional medical protocols.[27]

In the largest national survey of its kind, researchers from UCLA and the University of California, San Diego, measured medical students' attitudes and beliefs about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The survey found that 84% of medical students believe that conventional medicine would benefit from natural integrative and complementary beliefs, ideas and treatment modalities. Seventy-seven percent felt conventional physicians who learned other complementary medical disciplines would benefit their patients.[28]

Furthermore, today's younger generations also make up the largest percentage of vegetarians and vegans in the national population. They are better aware of the adverse effects of the standard American diet and the risks of consuming genetically modified foods and pesticide-tainted produce. This may be largely due to their experiences after having watched parents, grandparents, siblings and loved ones whither away from over prescribed medications with no alternative offered. Many have witnessed the degeneration and death of loved ones due to poor diet, nutritional deficiencies, lack of access to and refusal of the medical establishment to offer treatments such as acupuncture, nutritional supplementation, and energy medicine. And they have seen the human cost of drugs' adverse effects themselves. At the same time, many younger students have also observed improvements and healings when their elders adopt integrative and alternative treatments. Noted above, “death by medicine,”according to the British Medical Journal, is the third leading cause of mortality.[29] Fundamentalist physicians such as oncologist David Gorski only possesses chemotherapy and surgery in their medical toolboxes. Truth be told, SBM are harbingers of mortality and are contributing greatly to the suffering patients face from conventional medical practices alone, and the dangers and health risks peddled by physicians who buy into SBM's propaganda. And Wikipedia has become their major mouthpiece publishing disinformation about alternative therapies that are nothing less than negligent and perhaps even criminal.

In more recent years, the American Medical Students Association has sponsored an Integrative Medicine Day. SBM leaders Novella and Gorski have damned this effort as "quackademic medicine" and have published articles excoriating the study of natural health treatments as a threat to science.[30] CAM science writer David Freedman called the medical Skeptics "prickly anti-alternative medicine warriors."[31]

With over 137,000 volunteer editors, Wikipedia opens its gates to everyone to infuse the encyclopedia's pages with personal biases, opinions and misinformation. Surely the vast majority are sincere and hold a deep desire to share their professional expertise on a given subject and make it available to the world. An Oxford professor who has taught and written about Shakespeare or a geologist writing about the physical properties of volcanic ash, would certainly have a more genuine motivation to contribute to Wikipedia's mission than a troll hired by PR firm to edit out the health risks of Monstanto's Roundup herbicide, or Gerbic's followers who want to convert the world population to scientific Skepticism.

In our opinion, there are many other online encyclopedias with far more integrity and objectivity than Wikipedia to donate to. Among them are Encyclopedia Britannica Online (requires an annual fee), Citizendium (started by the originator of Wikipedia Larry Sanger), Encyclopedia.com, and Bartleby that include the Columbia encyclopedia. Scholarpedia is similar to Wikipedia and far more reliable and recognized by more universities as a legitimate resource for research.

Second, communicate and encourage others on your social media platforms to donate to other causes rather than fund Wikipedia's ideological collaborators. Popular grassroots efforts to encourage divestment from corporations engaged in destructive and inhumane activities has had some remarkable successes. Organizations promoting Palestinian rights led a divestment campaign and boycott of the Israeli cosmetic company Ahava. There have been successful efforts to force foreign companies in the France, Kuwait, Netherlands, Sweden, UK and US to drop their business relationships with Israeli firms known to support the apartheid of Palestine.[32] A New York Times article in 2015 noted the success in divestment efforts to stigmatize and inflict financial injury to the fossil fuel industry. Investors controlling over $5 trillion in assets are now forcing stocks to drop.[33] These successes have contributed to building a stronger movement to challenge the leading culprits of global warming. Students from over 300 campuses, deeply worried about their institutions’ financial interests in major corporate polluters have launched divestment campaigns with moderate success.[34]

Wikipedia claims it survives solely upon users' donations to continue its annual growth. However, we hold suspicions to this claim. We don’t know whether Wikipedia provides services in exchange for fees disguised as donations. This may be a legal issue for the IRS. With the loss of a free internet and blocking, censoring and banning websites, including many legitimate, reliable alternative news sites hosting honest, seasoned and respectable journalists and scholars, it is incumbent upon people to act upon their conscience to boycott and withhold donations and fees from sites that are adversaries to free speech and curtail the dissemination of information. The Deep State is hypothetically more than federal intelligence agencies and corporate interests. It need not be perceived as conspiratorial; rather it is a mindset that misinforms and presents itself to the public as something other than what it truly is. The most effective way to confront it is simply to expose it, bring it out of the shadows into the public light so people can discern for themselves Wikipedia's moral compass and act accordingly.

Unfortunately there is only a small fraction of Americans who truly care. Where is the desire for Congressional hearings into the abuse of Google, YouTube and Wikipedia? Where is the #MeToo movement to protest these blatant invasions into our lives? At the moment, there is no movement. The Executive, Senate, House and mainstream media, notably the New York Times and Washington Post, are not concerned. Everything we know today about the dangers of the third rail, everything we were told about the adverse consequences of surrendering our freedoms to our mobile phones, is ignored. We are adrift in a utopian stupor that the latest electronic gadgets and technologies will only improve our lives and more. What thought is given to its downside and how it will infect us? Fortunately there are brilliant advocates, messengers of warning, such as the late Robert Perry, Cornel West, Chris Hedges, Glen Ford and others; but they too and their media outlets are also being censored. Important alternative news sites such as Consortium News, Truthdig, Counterpunch, Naked Capitalism, Oped News and others have been targeted to limit our access to read the stories on the other side of the fence.

Wikipedia is embedded skeptic groups that attack those who would tell us the truth, the guardians of the social media galaxy. We are brainwashed 24-7 without warning. No trepidation. No open debate. We are solely passive consumers in the wiki matrix. Objectivists, as The Economist article notes, functions best when social conditions reinforce a bee-hive mentality. This is what enables Skeptic leaders to cling to their perceptions of intellectual superiority. In the meantime we have a compliant nation, a population obedient and only buying.

NOTES

1 Trisha Greenhalgh. "Evidence Based Medicine: A Movement in Crisis," British Medical Journal. June 13, 2014. https://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g3725

2 Carolyn Thomas. "NEJM editor: “No longer possible to believe much of clinical research published” The Ethical Nag. November 9, 2009. https://ethicalnag.org/2009/11/09/nejm-editor/

3 Virginia Barbour. "How ghost-writing threatens the credibility of medical knowledge and medical journals." Haematologica. 2010 Jan; 95(1): 1–2.

4 "Paul Offit On The Anti-Vaccine Movement" NPR's Talk of the Nation. January 7, 2011. https://www.npr.org/2011/01/07/132740175/paul-offit-on-the-anti-vaccine-movement

5 https://www.fourteenstudies.org/

6 Trisha Greenhalgh. op. cit.

7 David Gorski. "The difference between science-based medicine and CAM" July 29, 2013 https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-difference-between-science-based-medicine-and-cam/

8 Richard Stivers. Shades of Loneliness: Pathologies of Technological Society. August 15, 2004. http://metapsychology.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=book&id=2290&cn=394

9 Tim Bolen. "Stephen Barrett, et al, Fear RICO…" http://bolenreport.com/stephen-barrett-et-al-fear-rico/

10 "QuackWatch--Stephen Barrett Is a BIG Quack," http://www.encognitive.com/node/1213

11 Susan Gerbic, "Helping Build a Skeptical, Scientific Wikipedia" Skeptoid. August 7, 2015. https://skeptoid.com/blog/2015/08/07/guerrilla-skepticism-wikipedia/

12 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Gerbic

13 Alex Hern. "Wikipedia founder to fight fake news with new Wikitribune site" The Guardian. April 24, 2017 https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/25/wikipedia-founder-jimmy-wales-to-fight-fake-news-with-new-wikitribune-site

14 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science-Based_Medicine

15 https://www.change.org/p/jimmy-wales-founder-of-wikipedia-create-and-enforce-new-policies-that-allow-for-true-scientific-discourse-about-holistic-approaches-to-healing

16 Lily Hay Newman. "Jimmy Wales Gets Real, and Sassy, About Wikipedia's Holistic Healing Coverage" Slate. March 27, 2014 http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/03/27/jimmy_wales_denies_petition_from_advocates_of_holistic_healing_about_wikipedia.html

17 Wikipedia entry for Energy Medicine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_medicine

18 https://www.change.org/p/1385347/responses/11054/c/36782388

19 Wikipedia entry for Homeopathy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy

20 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3AHomeopathy%2FArticle_probation%2FIncidents

21 Wikipedia entry for Acupuncture. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acupuncture

22 Dana Ullman. "Homeopathic Medicine: Europe’s #1 Alternative for Doctors" Huffington Post. November 17, 2011 https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-ullman/homeopathic-medicine-euro_b_402490.html

23 https://www.change.org/p/jimmy-wales-clean-up-the-wikipedia-acupuncture-page-to-reflect-medical-and-scientific-consensus

24 Steven Novella. "Teaching Pseudoscience in Univesities. Science-Based Medicine, February 8, 2012. https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/teaching-pseudoscience-in-universities/

25 Meryl Landau. "Medical Schools Embrace Alternative Medicine" US News and World Report. April 12, 2011. https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles/2011/04/12/medical-schools-embrace-alternative-medicine

26 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK83809/

27 UCLA News. "Med students say conventional medicine would benefit by integrating alternative therapies," http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/medical-students-say-western-medicine-150587

28 Martin Makary. "Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US," British Medical Journal. May 3, 2016. https://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2139

29 https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/tag/quackademic-medicine/

30 http://everything.explained.today/David_Gorski/

31 Amy Chozick. "Jimmy Wales Is Not an Internet Billionaire," New York Times. June 27, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/magazine/jimmy-wales-is-not-an-internet-billionaire.html

32 https://www.kairosresponse.org/divestmentandboycottwork_examples_jan2016.html

33 John Schwartz, "Investment Funds Worth Trillions Are Dropping Fossil Fuel Stocks" New York Times, December 12, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/12/science/investment-funds-worth-trillions-are-dropping-fossil-fuel-stocks.html

34 Patrick Gallagher. "Divestment Now." Boston Globe. July 14, 2013. https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2013/07/13/colleges-must-divest-from-fossil-fuel-companies/W2jPQTHoFE38TNHNnXfaGI/story.html

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New "Skeptical About Skeptics" Book

Skeptical About Skeptics: A Selection of Essays from the Website is a new book offerering commentary from renowned research scientists including Nobel laureate Brian Josephson and IANS Chief Scientist Dean Radin, among others, as well as notable science writers, philosophers and educators.

Contributors include:

Ralph Abraham
Stephen E. Braude
Etzel Cardeña
Ted Dace
Larry Dossey
Daniel Drasin
Neal Grossman
Janice M. Holden
Brian D. Josephson
Stanley Krippner
Graham Nicholls
Guy Lyon Playfair
Dean I. Radin
Gary E. Schwartz
Stephan A. Schwartz
Rupert Sheldrake
Charles T. Tart
Alex Tsakiris
Nancy L. Zingrone
and
The Academy for the Advancement of Postmaterialist Sciences.

A special thank you to Robert McLuhan for his insightful and compelling Introduction.

This anthology is dedicated to all of the contributors to scientific paradigm change – from scientifically out-of-date seventeenth century mechanistic materialism to the fully mental idealism pointed to in twentieth century quantum physics and mind science – to all of the authors represented on the groundbreaking website Skeptical About Skeptics, and to all scientifically-enlightened supporters.

Cathi Carol
Editor

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Rampant Harassment on Wikipedia

For several years now Rome Viharo has been documenting his disturbing Wikipedia experiences on his website Wikipedia, We Have a Problem. His latest post is an excellent case study on the harassment, libel and slander routinely practiced by some editors of the king of encyclopedias.

There is a disturbing pattern of behaviors evolving across Wikipedia – a number of skeptic activists on Wikipedia believe that only they are qualified to edit a large swath of topics and biographies on Wikipedia, and they seek to purge other editors from those articles or Wikipedia itself. Skeptic activists take this very seriously and treat Wikipedia like a battleground for their activism, where online harassment, slander, bullying, character assassination, and public shaming are all used as tactics to control editing permissions on the world’s largest repository of knowledge.

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It's not just individuals who are subject to harassment; entire fields of scientific and medical research are being targeted [e.g. Dysfunction at Wikipedia on Homeopathic Medicine, Huffington Post]. In 2014 the ACEP went so far as to create a formal petition demanding changes to Wikipedia policies which 11,519 people signed. How did Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, respond to all these people?

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.

One might argue that Jimmy Wales is simply ignorant of the facts or in denial of the sickness that's taken hold of his creation, but the tone and content of his response falls right in line with the disruptive, head-in-the-sand, bully editors which inspired this petition in the first place. Ironically, the ACEP (Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology) had been trying to correct factual errors on articles about energy psychology and add references to work published in respectable scientific journals but were blocked at every turn with the same irrational arguments and harassment Rome Viharo and so many others have suffered through.

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