Some readers will recall a couple of posts I wrote a few months back about so-called ‘guerrilla skeptics’, the folk who aim to stamp out any favourable reference to what they stigmatise as ‘pseudo-science’ and ‘occultism’ on Wikipedia (here and here).
Most, although not all, of the comment that followed was along the lines that Wikipedia is a lost cause, so why bother trying to do anything about it? These ideologues are much more committed than we are, so it would do no good, the argument goes. My personal feeling was that actually some kind of fight-back is unavoidable in the long term.
A few weeks later I met Rupert Sheldrake at an event, and found he was of the same mind. In fact he was dead keen to get on and do something, and wrote about it in his regular newsletter. That triggered an attack on his own Wikipedia biog page, changing the profile from one of a well-credentialled biochemist into that of a despised pseudo-scientist. Attempts were made to resist, but these guys are well organised, and very practised at interpreting Wikipedia’s large array of policy guidelines as a means to impose their intolerant viewpoint. Like clever, unprincipled courtroom lawyers, you might say. (Anyone who has a serious amount of time to waste can follow the ins and outs on the talk page.)
The wiki-sceptics may have won that battle but it doesn't mean they won the war. I was away at the time, so had to watch from the sidelines. I’ve since been busy with other things. But Craig Weiler has been following the events, and has just written this excellent analysis of the affair so far. It will be interesting to see how things unfold from here.