User: Tom Butler

Archive from Tom Butler’s Wikipedia user page

(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Tom_Butler)

This is how my personal Wikipedia page appeared in July 2011. It is saved here because there are occasional efforts by the skeptical editors to have my content deleted because they find it offensive.


They said what they intended

As a token of good faith, in January, 2010, I removed some of the references concerning other editors from my personal page. it is amazing to me how people think it is okay to be jerks and not okay to point out that they are being jerks.

One was a quote by ScienceApologist, but he has since been permanently blocked. While I have been routinely insulted by many Skeptical editors since then, Kww has continued to be especially aggressive about banning “fringe POV pushers” in general and specifically me by implication. The last round of abuse to fair and balanced editors came when one editor asked for help with anther and was, himself, blocked. While he did effectively deliver himself to the mainstream editors with his aggressive verbiage in his complaint, the treatment made it clear that there will be no foreseeable end of mainstream bulling of frontier subject editors.

There is more about this subject on my personal website.

A perfect quote

From [1]

The difference is that the nationalistic disputes are between people that have fundamentally opposed but arguably legitimate points of view. In this case, we have editors that want to treat haunted microphones and useless nostrums as being legitimate. The reason the dispute has lasted so long is because we tolerate such nonsense, and people have gotten frayed nerves from having to constantly deal with it. We need to stop pretending that it is a dispute between two sides that needs to be mediated and arbitrated. If people add statements supporting homeopathy, paranormal occurrences, and similar quackery and nonsense as true, block them immediately, and escalate to bans quickly. The problem will never go away for the same reasons that vandalism will never go away, but it can be managed if it is dealt with the same as any other effort to damage the encyclopedia is.

Comment: It is because of the determination to simply ignore alternative ideas exhibited by this editor that Wikipedia has the potential to do more harm to society than it can help.

Had enough abuse for the time being.

Rules governing Wikipedia are so open to interpretation that dominant groups of editors have pretty much taken over many of the articles. The rules for appealing to admin editors lead to clumsy, extremely time consuming ordeals that usually evolve into time consuming arguments between factions that only further poisons the atmosphere.

I detail my Concerns with Wikipedia Concerns with Wikipedia. Before you think of it as an attack article, take a close look at some of the links. There is no way that an informed editor can deny the truth of the article. What is bewildering to me is that there is no apparent will to improve Wikipedia, or change the obvious consensus that it is okay to abuse editors.

I will be happy to have Wikipedia editors show me that I am wrong. It is an embarrassment to all of us to have such an article be true.

You can learn who I am through these links:

Association TransCommunication

Qualifications

My qualifications are here.

Frequently Asked Question

Association TransCommunication (formally AA-EVP) receives thousands of requests for information which we attempt to answer. Because so many people indicate a misunderstanding of EVP because of what they found in Wikipedia, a recent query was turned into a FAQ with the hope that we will not have to address the issue again. You can read the question and our answer here.

Thoughts

Abdication of responsibility in the scientific community: In society, the responsibility of scientists is to explain the environment. If members of the scientific community ignore aspects of the environment being experienced by the citizens, then the scientific community is effectively abdicating its responsibility. Conversely, it is intellectually arrogant for scientists to ridicule laypeople who take it upon themselves to seek explanations for the experiences. Further, it is unethical for scientist to then comment on the work done by laypeople without becoming familiar with protocols used and what has been learned.

Skeptics syndrome: Assumed knowledge, usually based on faith, belief or popular wisdom, seldom based on empirical evidence. Manifests as the assumption that one’s own understanding of a subject is more correct than that held by others, no matter the evidence to the contrary. This attitude is maintained in the face of empirical evidence by making unsupported assumptions, belittling those who do not agree and attempting to associate the opposing view with previously discredited concepts.

Agnosia: Loss of the ability to interpret sensory stimuli, such as sounds or images. (American Heritage Dictionary). Agnosia was once considered a rare condition, but since the work with inattention blindness [2], it has become clear that it is much more common than previously thought. Compare inattention agnosia to apophenia and pareidolia.

Incredulity blindness: A category of inattention agnosia, in which an audio or visual example of a phenomenon is not experienced because it is so foreign to a person’s worldview. There are at least two forms of the experimenter effect. One is the difference in experimental results collected by “believers” and “skeptics.” The second is due to the difference in results reported between a “believer” and a “skeptics.”

There is some evidence of incredulity blindness (deafness?) shown by results of online listening trials as reported in “Online listening trials” [3]. In Trial 1, 34 participants indicating a belief in EVP correctly identified an average of 40.9% of the words in five EVP examples. 31 participants indicating a skeptical view correctly identified 28% of the words and 5 participants who indicated that they were both skeptical and academically trained correctly identified an average of 20% of the words.

Framing the issues

This is an attempt to develop a view of frontier subjects that will help editors characterize paranormal subjects in a way that will not mislead the reader or polarize participating editors.

Terms

The following definitions are as I intend the terms to be understood here.

Appropriate science: The population of participants and the history of the phenomenon determine the ability of the community to quantify/codify the subject. Every discipline of science has undergone an evolution as it is developed into a system of understanding or an effective tool for learning. At some point in that evolution, people studying the discipline are untrained and not supported by academic institutions and literature. The measure of how well the discipline of science is applied to the understanding of a phenomenon must necessarily be measured by its place in that evolution.

Amateur: A person who engages in an art, a science, a study, or an athletic activity as a pastime rather than as a profession. In the context of this discussion, an amateur is a person who studies a subject for which he or she is not academically trained.

Best practices: Techniques and procedures that reflect the state-of-the-art for treatment of that subject.

Experiencer: A person who witnesses phenomena.

Frontier subject: The study, practice or experience of a phenomenon which has not been academically established as an accepted part of mainstream culture.

Practitioner: A person who applies principles intended to cause phenomena.

Participants: Collectively, scientists, amateurs, practitioners and experiencers related to a particular phenomenon.

Subject matter specialist: A person who has more than average experience as a practitioner; may or may not be a researcher, but should be able to show experience consistent with appropriate science.

The following definitions are from: American Heritage Dictionary [4]

Axiom: A self-evident or universally recognized truth.

Corollary: A proposition that follows with little or no proof required from one already proven.

Myopia: Lack of discernment or long-range perspective in thinking or planning

Paranormal: Beyond the range of normal experience or scientific explanation.

Phenomenon: An occurrence, a circumstance, or a fact that is perceptible by the senses.

Research: Scholarly or scientific investigation or inquiry.

Science: The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena. b. Such activities restricted to a class of natural phenomena. c. Such activities applied to an object of inquiry or study. 2. Methodological activity, discipline, or study. 3. An activity that appears to require study and method. 4. Knowledge, especially that gained through experience.

Scientist: A person having expert knowledge of one or more sciences, especially a natural or physical science. In the context of this discussion, a scientist is a person working in the field for which he or she is academically trained.

Observations

The following statements are intended to frame the issue as I see it concerning how articles about paranormal phenomena should addressed in Wikipedia. Since I have only the college required training in anthropology and sociology, the following should be considered my opinion.

Perspective

1. Axiom: Every area of interest has the potential to involve scientists and amateur researchers, practitioners and experiencers.

a. Corollary: A casual observer will see the phenomena from the perspective of the largest and/or most verbose group.

b. Corollary: Any description of a phenomenon must address each perspective, and to characterize it from only one is misleading.

Implications for Wikipedia: Subjects described by the dominant group of Wikipedia editors as “fringe subjects,” are often described in negative terms from the mainstream view rather than as reported by experiencers. When the subject is primarily known, and therefore defined by experiencers, the article should show the popular wisdom without characterizations, such as “claimed” or “purported.” Criticism can be based on mainstream science and mainstream thought without the usual pejorative and dismissive overtones. Appropriate science should be clearly represented and clearly identified as to how it relates to mainstream methodologies.

In other words, the article should not be used to debunk or vilify the subject, even if this means avoiding such branding results in little more than a dictionary definition.

Polarization

2. Axiom: In human populations, order tends to emerge from disorder as spheres of influence. The quantity and size of these spheres will depend on environmental influences and the degree members share a viewpoint.

a. Corollary: Without the moderating influence of a larger community, decisions made by a group will evolve to an extreme of self-preservation without regard to the welfare of other groups or the stability of the environment.

b. Corollary: The dominating group will use the environment in a way that best supports that group’s viewpoint.

c. Corollary: Minority groups will tend to seek alternative means of expression if their views are suppressed by the majority.

Implications for Wikipedia: Conflict amongst editors is largely due to the interplay between groups of differing spheres of influence. Guidelines/rules such as NPOV and Fringe are too easily interpreted to fit a dominant viewpoint, and enforcement of rules is in the hands of the same dominant group. Efforts by minority groups to balance or even counter the specialized but probably inappropriate application of the guidelines/rules will generally fail resulting in misleading articles.

Myopia

3. Axiom: An ordered treatment of a subject is necessary to assure understanding, but a purely academic treatment may reflect an established view that is potentially out of date and/or based on “received wisdom.”

a. Corollary: Academic for the sake of academia my mean treatment by people trained in an unrelated field.

b. Corollary: The subject may be defined in historical terms that do not reflect the current expression of the subject.

c. Corollary: For completeness, a subject must be described from the perspective of scientists and amateur researchers, practitioners and experiencers.

Implications for Wikipedia: Giving preferential consideration to the academic perspective of a subject tends to produce articles that are written from a mostly historical view. Further, editors attempting to describe the subject from the perspective of a practitioner and experiencer are frequently dismissed as not being “academic” and having a conflict of interest. Experiencers know the subject from a current viewpoint.

Omission of expertise

Given: Frontier subject are defined by appropriate science which is presented in self-published literature or online in personal or group websites. Since the population of participants is small as compared to mainstream society, it is economically and logistically impossible to meet standards applied to more mature subjects.

4. Axiom: If governing rules for describing a subject exclude input from subject matter specialists, resulting articles will be written as mainstream society perceives the subject, rather than how the subject actually exists.

a. Corollary: Peer review for technical content of frontier subject literature can only be accomplished by subject matter specialists from that field.

b. Corollary: Academic treatment of subjects outside of academic training does not qualify a person to evaluate the efficacy of research of that subject.

Implications for Wikipedia: By definition in Wikipedia, almost every frontier subject experiencer has a conflict of interest and every publication is fringe. Nearly every article is self-published and is original research. In practice, there are no people academically trained in frontier subjects. Academically trained people are, therefore, unqualified to comment on these subjects without input from experiencers. Under current rules for Wikipedia articles, frontier subjects cannot be properly represented unless they are supported by mainstream editors.

For the Wikipedia rule about reliable sources, selection of sources needs to be tempered by the above notes. A subject matter specialist who does not have a doctorate is automatically excluded from peer-review processes, even by relevant publications such as the Parapsychological Association because a doctorate is required for full membership. That means the article may be peer-reviewed but not actually vetted by people understand the subject.

Expectation of safety

5. Axiom: A mark of civilization is the growing expectation of personal safety. Safety from verbal (written) and intellectual abuse, as well.

a. Corollary: An online community must be able to provide a sense of a safe environment in which to participate.

b. Corollary: If not policed, abuse of one online citizen by another becomes the responsibility of both the abusive citizen and the site owner.

c. Corollary: Online communities establish internal social norms, and therefore, accepted behavior becomes the norm.

Implications for Wikipedia: Comments, such as this one at [5] are considered acceptable by many of the editors: “This topic is pretty ridiculous, almost to the point of patent nonsense. Almost everyone who believes in this stuff is basically a moron or an absolute wacko, so it’s a little difficult to write an intro that they would find fair. Nevertheless, we are instructed by Wikipedia to write an article with wording that follows NPOV. That’s our goal. The perceived slights by those who believe in EVP is not our concern. Since there is no “theory” to speak of, nor is their really anything more to this than the pop-culture significance of it, we are basically charged with writing an article about something that is simply so preposterous that it’s “not even wrong”. We’ll continue to pursue a neutral wording given that we must maintain the integrity of the encyclopedia.

The culture in Wikipedia has gradually become one in which the only expectation of safety is achieved by avoiding Wikipedia altogether. An example of how pervasive this has become can be seen here [6] and here [7]

Even more of a concern is the comment made on the Civility talk page [8] that echoes SA’s comment: “Such things are again, a symptom of frustration. We are trying to build an encyclopedia. Unfortunately, there are people that want to insert superstition and nonsense into it. Many of us think that this should be a trivial issue: once an editor is shown to treat subjects like Homeopathy or Electronic voice phenomena as factual, and that that he inserts treatment into Wikipedia articles, the appropriate response is a block, quickly upgraded to a lifetime ban for repeated offenses. Instead, we are forced to treat these people as having a legitimate point of view, and deal with the knowledge that they will unceasingly attempt to degrade and destroy Wikipedia. Dealing with it every day becomes tiresome, and does lead to short tempers. Again, incivility is, in general, a symptom of an underlying problem. Attempting to make sure that editors are civil is important, and blocks are appropriate. But don’t you think the incivility would have been avoided if the editor could have fixed the underlying problem?

“The particular case you are talking about had another aspect of our civility policy that is troubling. If a charlatan or an idiot writes a book or runs a website, it’s perfectly legitimate to object to using that book or website as a source. It’s even legitimate to state that the reason you object to the book is because the author is a charlatan. If that charlatan creates an Wikipedia account, does he suddenly become immune to criticism? Kww (talk) 01:07, 5 April 2008 (UTC)”

Amazingly, there was virtually no protest from other editors.

If Wikipedia is to become a neutral point of view encyclopedia, then the foundation must begin by assuring that editors do not take control of articles by driving off opposing editor with insults and personal attacks.

The experiencer’s paradox

Since Wikipedia ranks at or near the top of Internet searches, and since it represents itself as an encyclopedia, articles have an unwarranted influence on society, especially students. Experiencers cannot ignore this if the articles are misleading, and so must find ways to counter Wikipedia’s influence. At the same time, there is little argument that the fundamental goals of the foundation are good ones and Wikipedia has huge potential for being a benefit to Humankind. This places experiencers who are also editors in an awkward position of wanting to support Wikipedia but also needing to discredit the encyclopedia in so far as the treatment of frontier subjects is concerned.

How much bad press can Wikipedia sustain before it becomes culturally taboo to use it as a reference?

Notability of articles about frontier fields of study

Since frontier fields of study seldom have established peer reviewed journals supported by researches academically trained in that field, the Internet has become the media of choice for collaborative sharing of information. For this reason, notability for articles in frontier fields of study should be at least partially based on the popularity of relevant websites. For instance, the Association TransCommunication (ATransC) website at atransc.org [9] received 48,701 unique visitors in January 2008. The website received 177,394 page views in that month. As of 10 April 2008, there were 7,320 links to the site (yahoo.com)

(As an interesting but probably meaningless comparison, the Electronic Voice Phenomena article in Wikipedia [10] received 16,449 visits in January 2008 [11]. The article also received 16,449 page views. (A one page article.) There are 684 links to this article (Yahoo.com))

The question of notability should not depend on just the question of whether or not the material represents sound science, but thus far, Skeptics have managed to “require” that research articles must be published in mainstream science journals and be cited by other scientists to meet the notability requirement. The point here is that, lacking scientists in the field acceptable to the Skeptics, an examination of the people linking to the article should provide evidence as to the credibility of the author and the usefulness of the material. This should not be the only standard, but it should be a factor.

References for biofield and biofield energy healing

References I will try to add to these as I come across them. It is understood that non-mainstream journals are often not accepted as reliable sources by mainstream academics. Not much I can say about that without being banned for eternity. From the Journal of Scientific Exploration (JSE) which has a peer-reviewed journal.

Effects of Distant Intention on Water Crystal Formation: A Triple-Blind Replication

The GCP Event Experiment: Design, Analytical Methods, Results

Is the Psychokinetic Effect as Found with Binary Random Number Generators Suitable to Account for Mind-Brain Interaction?

Exploratory Study: The Random Number Generator and Group Meditation

Alternative Healing Therapy on Regeneration Rate of Salamander Forelimbs

The Effect of Paranormal Healing on Tumor Growth

The Effect of ‘‘Healing with Intent’’ on Pepsin Enzyme Activity

Therapeutic touch stimulates the proliferation of human cells in culture

Energy Medicines: Will East Meet West?

The Science of Distant healing

Therapeutic touch affects DNA synthesis and mineralization of human osteoblasts in culture

Compassionate Intention, Praye and Distant Healing: Assessing the Evidence

Interesting Editor Comment

To the foul-mouthed Famousdog from a hard-working editor he/she and the now banned for life ScienceApologist drove off:

Firstly, in reply to the “why the sh*t name?”, “biofield” is a term used by a number of journals:

Journal alt. cmp. med.

Oncology Nursing Society

Intl. Jnl. Behavourial Med.

Seminars Onc. Nursing

Adrian-from-london

Is spiritual healing a valid and effective therapy?

Touch therapies for pain relief in adults

Bioelectromagnetic Energy Fields Accelerate Wound Healing and Activate Immune Cell Function

Spiritual healing as a therapy for chronic pain: a randomized, clinical trial

IONS: Intentionality

NCCAM hold a Thank Tank Working Group Meeting on Biofield Energy Medicine

Reckless Medicine

Exploratory Study: The Random Number Generator and Group Meditation

(page 130, University of Michigan Press, 2003)

Elsevier Health Sciences, 2004

(page 25, McGraw-Hill Professional, 2007)

(page 243, Springer, 2010)

Healer Science – Research Highlights

Talk: Biofield energy healing has some references. Most are included above.

about the hypothesis of formative causation

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