Wikipedia Watch

Help me find a reliable source to quote for Wikipedia

Before including a point in an article, an editor must find someone, with reasonable credentials and with no obvious conflict of interest, stating the point in a source the editor can make people think is reliable.

With that in mind, the rules for reliable sources, makes it inappropriate for an editor to state the obvious based on “This is true (sourced) and that is true, therefore it is obvious that the real point is this (not sourced).” If “this” cannot be supported by reliable sources, then it cannot be said in the article even if “this” is needed to balance the article.

A case in point is Pseudoscience. There are all kinds of academics saying that frontier subjects are pseudoscience (fake or not real), but on close examination, their real point is that the subject is based on a concept which is not supported by popular thought, and is therefore, impossible. This is an untenable position for an academic to take, so it is never said. It is common for self-proclaimed academic editors hiding behind a screen name to make it pretty clear they think such subjects are impossible.

I am looking for a good online reference suitable for Wikipedia that will make the point that, no matter how good the science used to study a subject, the subject is pseudoscience if it is not supported by established principles of science. If you know of one, please let me know on my talk page.

I prefer online sources because, too often, close scrutiny of sources provided by editors do not actually say what the editor claims. Because of this perhaps poor judgment of some editors, I feel it is necessary to permit Wikipedia readers to be able to access the source. Also, Wikipedia is not a reliable source in itself, and should only be used as a study guide. As such, references need to be reasonably accessible. In my opinion, at least the essence of the authority’s points should be online and open source. It is unreasonable to expect other editors to pay to be able to review cited sources. Accessibility is discussed in Citing sources.

A second peripheral point is that there needs to be more reliable source challenges as to why an “expert” is making a point. If the point serves to defend the status quo of the “expert’s” field of study, then there may be a conflict of interest. It is often reported that people defend life-long work even if it is shown to be based on false assumptions. That is very common amongst mainstream “experts” who comment on frontier subjects, such as a back surgeon commenting on chiropractic, a psychologists commenting on the survival hypothesis or a physicist commenting on subtle energy.

A Study Guide but not a Source

The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, is touted as being as or more accurate than professionally edited encyclopedias. It is true that some articles are very comprehensive and it is tempting to use them as a reference. The fact is that anyone can be an editor in Wikipedia and the rules governing them do not prevent subject matter bias if the editor is clever or if a group of editors are able to dominate a subject.

The most important message I have here is that Wikipedia may be a good study guide, but it should never be used as a reference. An article may be fine today, but there are no assurances that it will remain objective tomorrow.

The website is designed to maintain a running record of changes to virtually every page, and each article page has a discussion page on which editors are able to discuss changes. To understand what is being said in Wikipedia. I recommend that you first review the article, Concerns with Wikipedia.

Of importance to Etheric Studies is the group of editors associated with the WikiProject Rational Skepticism. This is a close-knit cadre of editors who are in agreement that things paranormal are impossible and therefore cannot be. The practical result is that articles about frontier subjects such as EVP and Spiritualism are carefully described to be factual while conveying the sense that the subject is somehow unreal, silly or impossible.

The best way to understand how these skeptical editors view the subject is to read the discussion page accessed via the tab at the top of each article. It is also important to examine the references. In learning how to communicate your understanding, be aware that these subjects are often very abstract and too frequently loaded with religious connotation. An explanation may be technically correct, but expressed in a tone that subtly causes doubt. For instance, saying that EVP is defined as… is very different than saying that EVP is claimed to be. The use of an unnecessary qualifier is often a mechanism for casting doubt.

You can better understand how we are seen by studying the specialty groups of editors:

WikiProject Paranormal

This article falls under the scope of WikiProject Paranormal, which aims to build a comprehensive and detailed guide to the paranormal and related topics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, you can edit the attached article, help with current tasks, or visit the project page, where you can join the project and discussions.

WikiProject Spirituality

This article is within the scope of WikiProject Spirituality, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of spirituality-related subjects on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.

WikiProject Rational Skepticism

This article is within the scope of WikiProject Rational Skepticism, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of science, pseudoscience, pseudohistory and skepticism related articles on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.

Wikipedia Editors
Demonstrate Bias

It has been my contention for some time that Wikipedia has become a propaganda platform from which a very well-organized skeptical community is able to cast doubt on subjects they believe should not be part of our society. This is a strong accusation of a very popular, publicly funded online encyclopedia. I think the classification template shown at the right illustrates my point.

Long-time Wikipedia editor, NealParr, developed the template and other editors are able to add to the list. It is intended to be included in every article on the list evidently to caution readers about their status. By itself, the “Main article” list is a good one and I have no problem with it including articles that are involved in etheric studies. However, the next section is “Articles on Skepticism,” which include article dedicated to showing the “Main articles” are about impossible subjects foisted upon society by morons and wackos. (Their words, not mine–see the Discussion pages such as below.)

The second subset of articles are concerned with how the scientific community treats paranormal subjects. All are directed toward the point that the “Main articles” are not based on any form of rational thinking accepted by society.

It is reasonable for a good encyclopedia to provide such “background” information but the fact that only contrary articles are listed makes this template appear to be an official Wikipedia policy stating that the “Main articles” are not to be taken seriously. This should make the point to you that Wikipedia is now firmly under the control of people who are very much anti anything that does not fit into their view of what is normal.

No Possible Correction?

Had there been a third subsection titled something like “Articles providing analysis of frontier subjects” I think balance, neutral point of view could have been achieved. For instance, an article about how frontier subjects are poorly funded and have no means of moving the subjects from anecdotal reports into the mainstream of academic research, or how the National Science Foundation which manages taxpayer funded research grants to scientists and universities takes direction from the Skeptical magazines. Of course, I think this may currently be impossible because the dominant editors would not allow such an article.

This is another important indication that Wikipedia has become a propaganda platform for organized pseudoskepticism.

From the EVP Discussion Page:
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. ScienceApologist (talk) 02:37, 22 February 2008 (UTC) [ScienceApologist has begun using his real name as Joshua Schroeder]

*The strike-through is a way agreed to by the more antagonistic editors to take their words back without actually doing so, and in a way that, they agree, should not get them in trouble.

Classification Template on Wikipedia

Part of a series of articles on the Paranormal

Main articles

Paranormal · Supernatural · Occult
Forteana · Miracle · Magic · Aura
Ghost · Ghost hunting · Ghost story
Fear of ghosts · Poltergeist · Cold spot
Haunted locations · Haunted house
Intelligent haunting
Residual haunting
Electronic voice phenomenon
Spirit photography · Ectoplasm
Shadow people · Will-o’-the-wisp
Spirit possession · Demonic possession
Demon · Demonology · Exorcism
Paranormal TV · Paranormal fiction
Afterlife · Reincarnation · Spirit world
Spiritualism;· Ouija · Conjuration
Clairvoyance · Mediumship
Psychic · Remote viewing
Extra-sensory perception · Precognition
Near-death experience · Psychometry
Psychokinesis · Hypnosis · Telepathy
Parapsychology · Close encounter
Ufology · UFO · USO · UFO sightings
Paranormal and occult UFO hypotheses
Cryptozoology · Cryptid

Articles on skepticism
Scientific skepticism · Hoax · Pseudoskepticism · Debunking · Cold reading · Magical thinking Challenges for paranormal evidence · Committee for Skeptical Inquiry · James Randi Educational Foundation

Related articles on science, psychology, and logic
Anomalistics · Scientific method · Fringe science · Pseudoscience · Protoscience · Falsifiability · Uncertainty Argument from ignorance

A reminder that the Skeptics know the value of propaganda:

From: 22 July 2009 eSkeptic, Daniel Loxton, Editor of Junior Skeptic:

“Is it Worth Paying Attention to Wikipedia?

“Yes, it absolutely is. This is a shining opportunity for the skeptical movement. Wikipedia is among the most important public sources for almost any scientific, pseudoscientific, or paranormal topic. A Wikipedia article is almost always the number one Google hit for that subject.”

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