Reasons to Walk Away from Wickedpedia

Originally published on the Progressive Radio Network, December 23, 2019 © Richard Gale and Gary Null PhD

It is that time of year for seasonal acts of compassion, kindness and giving. Again Wikipedia’s co-founder Jimmy Wales has reached out to tens of millions of Wikipedia users to solicit donations to keep the Wikimedia Foundation’s small empire of information domination alive on the internet. It is rather outrageous that Wales, a professed atheist and a deep admirer of Richard Dawkins, a leading atheist guru and throwback to the 19th century mentality behind today’s modern Skepticism, would be motivated to disingenuously take advantage of Christmas tidings to further feed the encyclopedia’s billions of dollars in value.

On the Foundation’s support home page, we read a slick message that “your donation protects the human right to free and open knowledge for everyone.” No doubt the knowledge is free, but whether the knowledge the user accesses is trustworthy and truthful is open to debate.

Martin Armstrong, an international financial analyst of global markets and political environments recently wrote in a short opinion essay on his company’s website Armstrong Economics,

“Wikipedia is a professional propaganda organization that allows fake news and outright illegal propaganda to dominate the internet….. What is interesting is how Wikipedia circumvents the law because nobody really owns Wikipedia. They ask for donations that I would STRONGLY advise against. If you want to donate anything, leave them all your debt in your will. They deserve it.”

Yet the Foundation already has plenty of deep pocket donors. Google gave $2 million and $1.1 million to the Wikimedia Endowment (the fund that keeps Wikipedia running) and the Foundation respectively this year. Last year Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo’s gave a $1 million “gift” — chump change for a man worth $110 billion, which is equivalent to you or I donating a nickel. Other companies such Apple, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Boeing, Chevron and a host of pharmaceutical and healthcare corporations are also among its additional benefactors. In its earlier article “Wikipedia Doesn’t Need Your Money,” the British site The Register noted that “[o]nce upon a time, Wikimedia listed every donation, but now only a few of the largest are made public. Substantial donations from the wealthy include one made by the Omidyar Network, which gave $2.5m and won a seat on the board.” Despite the Foundation’s claims of being worth a modest $135 million in total assets as of the 2017-2018 fiscal year, a year earlier Smithsonian Magazine reported that an independent evaluation calculated that the Wikipedia website was worth “tens of billions of dollars and has a replacement cost of $6.6 billion dollars… [and for] context, it costs the site $25 million each year to run.”

What you are really donating to, Armstrong observes, is an environment of writers, editors and administrators who

“…claim to be volunteers and therein lies the problem. Anyone “donating” their time can have an agenda funded by other sources and then Wikipedia asks for donations. There are absolutely NO qualifications required. Absolutely anyone can apply to be an editor. They do not even verify their identities. Since they receive no salary, they do not need confirmation of who you even are… After these anonymous people make 500 edits without proving that they are even qualified on the subject, they become an “Extended Confirmed User” and can become an “administrator” aka SysOps. Then this anonymous person can undo changes, block users, delete pages, and even edit pages that are supposed to be fully protected.”

It is near impossible to discover the actual identities of anonymous editors. Armstrong continues, “so you have to go to court to fight to try to find out who is posting. Even their moderators they call “SysOps” are anonymous, which breeds secrecy and encourages fraud. They know they can do anything and cannot be sued for you do not even know who they are — the ultimate propaganda machine (black box).”

What very few Wikipedia users realize is that the parent non-profit owner of the encyclopedia in our opinion does very little to control and monitor the content on its pages. Fraudulent claims, corporate and ideological propaganda and intentional smear campaigns are commonplace and can remain for months and even years before editorial corrections are made. The Foundation is simply a passive bystander. Annually tens of millions of site users are duped by Wales and the Foundation’s end-of-year donation requests for $5 or $10 good-will offerings to an organization that acts negligently to keep the encyclopedia alive as it sits back to permit rogue individuals, groups, institutions and even corporations and politically-motivated organizations to use the website’s global reach to hoodwink its users and to falsely discredit their critics and enemies During fundraising seasons, Wales gleefully speaks about how much the encyclopedia’s content has expanded but never mentions that this is performed by an army largely made up of anonymous and unknown volunteers; many of its senior editors and administrators have adopted Wikipedia as full-time jobs and function as obedient foot soldiers to advance Jimbo’s vision.

For seasoned editors who have been on Wikipedia for years, the chaos, harassment, conflicts of interests, and outright malice is no secret and it has become a frequent topic for discussion on message boards. Consequently several discussion groups have started in the social media to critique the Foundation’s and Jimmy Wales’ failed experiment and many of its senior administrators are identified as dogmatic, dysfunctional, and sometimes psychopathological. Among these groups are Wikipediocracy, Wikipedia Sucks, WikiInAction, and Cold Fusion Community. These sites can be a treasure trove of information to better understand the deeper levels of corruption that run throughout Wikipedia and the vicious editorial wars, libelous language and character assassinations that are underway daily behind the scenes of the encyclopedia’s main pages.

An article in the MIT Technology Review criticizing Wikipedia’s deterioration states,

“The volunteer workforce that built the project’s flagship, the English-language Wikipedia—and must defend it against vandalism, hoaxes, and manipulation—has shrunk by more than a third since 2007 and is still shrinking. Those participants left seem incapable of fixing the flaws that keep Wikipedia from becoming a high-quality encyclopedia by any standard, including the project’s own.”

One former senior Wikipedia editor who goes by the pseudonym “Abd”, wrote on the Cold Fusion Community discussion group, “Internet trolling is such a problem because of anonymity, which somehow got enshrined on Wikipedia, and this is the original factor that will keep Wikipedia from ever becoming reliable. Reliable sources cannot be anonymous.”

Fortunately these social media sites devoted to Wikipedia are also helpful for finding the actual names of certain senior editors who have exhibited a history of bad character and abuse of the site. For example, “Abd” unearthed further information about a compromised senior administrator who could not be properly identified on Wikipedia back room Talk pages or editor profiles

“The user behind Goblin Face (one of the AP socks ___) claimed to having been paid to edit, by a “major skeptical organization.” That was confirmed by his brother, ____, in an email known to be from him. It is plausible. There are other interest groups, with more money, that might fund certain kinds of astroturfing, particularly on Wikipedia.”

During a TEDx lecture, former CBS program host Sharyl Attkinsson described Wikipedia as “astroturf’s dream come true.” And as we have detailed in dozens of other investigations into Wikipedia’s culture of propaganda and the smear campaigns, an elaborate network of “militant atheists” and radicalized Skeptics who oppose everything that has to do with natural and alternative medical systems has been holding thousands of Wikipedia pages hostage in order to launch their astroturf agendas to further promote their ideological mission. The Wikimedia Foundation has been fully aware of the astroturfing that infects much of the encyclopedia’s content. Given the very nature of Wikipedia’s chaotic strategy to create an authentic encyclopedia by allowing anonymous writers and editors to create its content, astroturfing is inevitable. As the world’s fifth most popular website, everyone who has a private agenda to push upon the public is welcome to participate. This is further evidence that we believe Wikipedia should be a source of last resort for accessing any reliable information about non-conventional medical practices that are used by the majority of the world’s population.

One of the more problematic issues is for new editors’ attempts to make corrections for gross inaccuracies and disparaging content on pages for personal biographies and non-conventional medical practices. Regardless of the level of scholarship and expertise a new editor might have, including the very person the biography is about, efforts to correct content in a neutral manner are immediately reverted back and the editor is eventually either blocked or banned.

During the past two years, we have sent many letters of legal notifications to the Foundation with demands to delete a page or to make efforts to have inaccuracies corrected and biased and untrustworthy sources used as citations to be removed. Numerous letters and requests have been sent by countless individuals with similar demands. The Foundation’s reply is standard and always the same: use the encyclopedia’s resources and follow the editorial protocols to make your case with the entry’s “volunteer” senior administrators in order to substantiate the changes you request. However, after speaking with many individuals and heads of professional associations in the alternative medical field, the story repeats itself. Skeptic editors simply disallow changes and eventually block and ban those attempting to make corrections. The frequent argument Skeptics employ is that if you represent any of these alternative medical disciplines or have any affiliation with a living person whose biographical page you are trying to correct, then there is a “conflict of interest” and therefore you are biased and not given any credibility. Consequently Skeptics, with the Foundation’s permission, have created a Kafkaesque atmosphere on thousands of Wikipedia pages. The living person of a Wikipedia page is not regarded as an expert about her or himself. Renowned scientists and physicians such as Deepak Chopra, Larry Dossey, Dean Radin and Rupert Sheldrake have spent decades to master their fields of expertise; outside of the encyclopedia and the Skeptic community millions of people acknowledge them as such. Nevertheless, the Foundation hosts anonymous fanatics without any direct knowledge nor background in these fields to be the final arbiters and ultimate experts. Rather they make the claim, “I am the Skeptic editor. I am the expert about you and I deem you deplorable and invite other Skeptics to add to the criticism so that you and your kind are destroyed in the eyes of the public.” Skeptics in other words exercise extrajudicial execution, and the victim has no legal recourse because of the firewall the Foundation has erected for itself under the protection of the Communications Decency Act.

However, you do not need to take our sole word for our singling out Skeptics as a dominating and tyrannical force on Wikipedia’s natural medicine pages and the biographical pages of its leading advocates. A post on WikiInAction by another senior editor who has gone up against Skeptic administrators numerous times confirms flawlessly everything we have been writing for the past two years. From years of first-hand experience with other editors and the Foundation’s administration, policies and Jimmy Wales himself the editor writes:

“… pseudoskeptics, who have strong beliefs are indeed very much not neutral. Real encyclopedias will cover all those topics [i.e., health topics] neutrally, using academic reserve. “Biased against” means prejudged, not actually based on investigation of sources, but rather pursing an agenda, and editors like this will cherry-pick and character assassinate anyone who they think has “wrong beliefs.” Medical science, as one example, is in flux and what is presented as “mainstream” is sometimes based very poorly on genuine scientific research, but a neutral project would present what is in a reliable source, giving preference to peer-reviewed and academic sources, without giving prominence to every blogged critique of some idea or person. It is known how to do this, and the pseudoskeptical faction has always resisted moving toward neutrality. The pseudoskeptics explicitly reject neutrality policy. Yet they are tolerated [by the Foundation] and they have successfully framed every attempt to seek neutrality (by consensus!) as being by fanatic believers and lunatic charlatans. There are indeed fanatics, of all kinds, and these editors are fanatics… This is the fundamental problem there, the use of “fringe” as an obvious pejorative, in the encyclopedia’s voice. The internet is scoured for negative opinion and that is presented. A blog is used (very much against policy for a Biography of Living Person)…. Wikipedia is full of crap like this…. the anti-fringe faction is quite strong. You will get practically no traction against established editors. To actually shift things requires much more and high patience and skill. Small changes can take way too much work, given the lack of adult supervision… Is a project written for Wikipedians or for the public. Many, many times, these issues have come up and the reality is that it is written by Wikipedians for Wikipedians with few really considering the kinds of issues that a real publisher would consider. This is all part of why Wikipedia could never be and should never be taken as a reliable source.”

Skeptics — or, if you prefer “pseudoskeptics” because few have any professional medical background and their support of evidence-based or science-based medicine is based on belief and not critical thought — exercise their attacks against Alternative and Complementary Medicine (CAM) in support of the pharmaceutical industrial establishment. They fail repeatedly to investigate the corruption that reigns throughout orthodox medicine. John Hogan, a science journalist for Scientific American, writes, “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.”

In an interview, Dr. Peter Gotzsche, the former head of the prestigious Nordic Cochrane Center in Denmark, and a co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration, has been a harsh critic of the medical, drug-based orthodoxy that Skeptics support. Now with medical error and prescription drugs as the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer, Dr. Gotzsche stated in an interview:

“our drugs kill around 200,000 people every year in America. Half of these people die while they do what their doctors told them. So they die because of the side effects. The other half die because of errors, and it is often the doctors that make the errors because every drug may come with twenty, thirty, or forty warnings, contraindications, precautions and so on. No doctor in the world knows all about this. So they give patients drugs they should not have given them.”

But worse, he has discovered that,

“… much of what the pharmaceutical industry does fulfills the criteria for organized crime in US law. They behave much in the way the Mafia does. They corrupt everyone they can corrupt. They have bought every type of person, including the ministers of health in some countries. The drug industry buys the professors first, then the chiefs of departments and so on….”

This is the regime Wikipedia supports, and yet there is no large public outcry against this crime. The companies have become so large, with assets and value worth more than the GDPs of many countries, that our federal government won’t dare touch them, but rather it collaborates with them to carry their revenue-generating war against the health of Americans. And it is not unreasonable to assume Big Pharma has its fingers deep in the Skeptic network and even among Skeptic editors on Wikipedia. The Skeptics reliance on science-based medicine, in utter blind faith, is not simply misleading but often intentionally fraudulent. John Horton further notes in his Scientific American diatribe against modern Skepticism, that “[w]hen people like this get together, they become tribal. 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.” Everyone who has been banned from Wikipedia’s pages for alternative medicine will recognize how this tribal mentality among Skeptic administrators is arrogant and can often become intentionally malicious.

The irony is that there are hundreds of thousands of clinicians and therapists working with many millions of patients globally with non-conventional medical therapies and there is a sizeable body of research to confirm these therapies’ effectiveness and safety in the peer-reviewed literature. But Wikipedia categorically denies the existence of this research and clinical experience. At the same time that they condemn everything about alternative medicine, their own faith in orthodox medicine has had little success to treat chronic illnesses. Today, individuals such as Drs. Peter Gotzsche, David Healey, and Stanford’s John Ioannidis are revealing the facts for how unscientific modern medicine has become and how bad science is being used and manipulated by the drug companies to maximize profit. Dr. Ioannidis stated the problem distinctly in his essay “An Epidemic of False Claims”,

“False positives and exaggerated results in peer-reviewed scientific studies have reached epidemic proportions in recent years… The problem is rampant in economics, the social sciences and even the natural sciences, but it is particularly egregious in biomedicine.”

This is Wikipedia’s double negative: it promotes unscientific medicine while denying the very therapies that relieve and treat patients’ suffering.