Sheldrake and Wikipedia
Parapsychologists Vox Pop

More on Sheldrake and Wikipedia

I posted briefly earlier this week about Rupert Sheldrake’s travails with Wikipedia. He’s now published an article about it on his own blog:

Wikipedia is a wonderful invention. But precisely because it’s so trusted and convenient, people with their own agendas keep trying to take it over. Editing wars are common. According to researchers at Oxford University,the most controversial subjects worldwide include Israel and God.

This is not surprising. Everyone knows that there are opposing views on politics and religion, and many people recognise a biased account when they see it. But in the realm of science, things are different. Most people have no scientific expertise and believe that science is objective. Their trust is now being abused systematically by a highly motivated group of activists called Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia.

Read the rest here.

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Robert people who're confident in themselves and their own understanding of their own worldview're often all too keen to take on board alternative viewpoints precisely when they're testing of their own.

People who set out to misrepresent information about or even suppress access to their opponents' views not only demonstrate awareness of difficult to defend weaknesses in their own sides' dogmas but exhibit the Hitler in the bunker like paranoia of those who fear their sides losing even as they themselves're losing the plot.

This's the great cosmic joke behind the opposition to Sheldrake.

The scientific method's essentially the process of devising a theory then questioning or testing it to destruction the idea being you can't prove things but you can disprove them.

Yet when Rupert Sheldrake reformulates the assumption the total amount of matter and energy's always the same into the scientifically testable “Is the total amount of matter and energy always the same?” he's accused of pseudoscience.

In many ways it reminds me of the disconnect between the religious terrorists/defenders who screech "Trust in All Powerful God!" but then proceed to blow themselves up along with believers and unbelievers alike thereby demonstrating the one thing they don't trust is God to sort the matter out Himself.

To put it another way if the scientific method's so perfect why not allow it's opponents to go up against it and be found out?

After reading some of the comments on the blog post preceding this one, I'm beginning to come around to the idea that there needs to be some sort of response from those on the "pro-paranormal" side of the debate.

What can be done, exactly? I suppose a group of psi-proponents could organise a group whose goal is to challenge the behaviour of the Guerrilla Skeptics and attempt to restore balance and neutrality to Wikipedia pages that deal with the paranormal. But how many people would be willing to spend so much time and effort on such an endeavour? If the Guerrilla Skeptics are that aggressive and determined, then surely they'll just keep on obstructing our "side's" efforts?

Then again, perhaps the reason they've (apparently?) gone so far is precisely *because* few people have seriously tried to take a stand. Perhaps if they faced determined opposition, they would grow weary and less inclined to spread their biased viewpoint. If a dedicated group of pro-paranormal people sought to challenge the sceptics' behaviour, and were persistent and dogged in doing so, perhaps the sceptics might back down a little?

It would be a very long and wearisome struggle, though.

Or, perhaps, as Steve Hume suggested, we need to work to bring more publicity to the fact that this sort of thing goes on so often. We don't necessarily need to try to influence Wikipedia per se, but inform as many people as possible that it's unreliable when it comes to subjects such as the paranormal. Perhaps rather than fighting to change the Wikipedia pages, the better tactic would be to accept/leave them as they are and discredit them instead by drawing awareness to the manipulation of the content.

I think Michael Tymn takes the correct approach in his most recent article "Debunking Babe Ruth and Leonora Piper" on White Crow Books. You might want to take a look at it.

" Perhaps rather than fighting to change the Wikipedia pages, the better tactic would be to accept/leave them as they are and discredit them instead by drawing awareness to the manipulation of the content."

Yes. If people are made aware that these activists are trying to control what they are allowed to read it will ultimately rebound negatively on the Skeptic movement. It might also be worth trying to insert and maintain control of a select few high hit potential articles and put in a load of links to believer websites.

I read Sheldrake's response at his blog the other day, but I think he and others pro-paranormal so to speak, need to approach this from a different strategic angle. As I have said before, it's a rigged game at Wiki, and you are going to be like Sisyphus having to roll the ball up the hill again, and again.

More important to get word out that Wiki cannot be trusted on anything remotely controversial or liminal re science, on anything that goes against the Establishment position, and should merely remain as a resource for general knowledge and trivia. There is in fact widespread ridicule among the Internet savy public that Wiki is not to be trusted on anything controversial or remotely subversive, in fact the ugly facts on Wiki in this regard are far better known than the facts on Psi-friendly research over the past decades say.

Those who know anything about Psi don't bother with Wiki in this regard, and those who have an open mind and are interested in finding out about the topic quickly learn to mistrust Wiki.

So I say just ignore Wiki, if the general public are too naive to know better, well that's how it is. You can't change the world. The general public's naivite is far more damaging in other respects re public life and work, than a child-like trust of Wiki.

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