We are getting around

Some posts on Gender Desk, a blog “Tracking Wikipedia … so the barbarians don’t win”

(woman in hijab with partial face veil, middle finger raised in defiance.
Objectify this. Allahu akbar. Source: , license unknown

Abd files a lawsuit
APRIL 21, 2019

Nice, friendly, more knowledgeable — by far — than most, but the situation is complex.

Two commenters were probably defendants.

“Robert” could be Darryl L. Smith, the one whose impersonation socking caused the entire mess with the WikiMedia Foundation. His comment is highly deceptive, as usual, it is certainly the Smith party line. The current Amended Complaint explains some of this, but Darryl’s real issue with me is that I exposed what he had done, which is called “picking fights.” I typically create one account when I participate, and if I am banned (which does happen sometimes), I consider that site owners have the right, and don’t keep creating accounts. Exceptions have been quite rare and for very limited purpose. Darryl and his brother Oliver have created thousands of accounts, pursuing their attack plans.

And then his brother shows up, using his real name, Oliver D. Smith.

It’s a lolsuit. At least one of the defendants he lists doesn’t even exist and another is wrongly listed. I’m also listed for no reason.

There is clear evidence for “existence” of every defendant. Yet there have been so many lies and deceptions around the activities of the Smith brothers that it’s difficult to be sure about anything.

How would Smith know what he claims? This is the apparent fact: he and his brother know who complained, and there is a defendant named where evidence of participation in the conspiracy is thin, so he might be referring to that as “wrongful.” But one may name a defendant in a lawsuit, or even in a “lolsuit,” based on suspicion if there is any evidence at all, and there is.

As to not existing at all, there is a defendant called “Max,” who wrote about being a complainant to the WMF, over a year ago. Recently an anonymous user on the CFC wiki claimed to be “Max” and confessed his role. Does “Max” exist? Or is this yet another impersonation in the smoke screens laid down by the Smiths — and possibly by an enemy. Again, I don’t care. Max is on the list unless he decides to help clean up the mess he helped make. And if he doesn’t exist, I will have some difficulty serving him, right?

As to Oliver being listed for “no reason,” he is either brain-dead or lying. He was one of the complainants leading to the WMF ban. He bragged about it. 

Oliver D. Smith JULY 17, 2019 AT 12:39 AM

lol. The deletion of what you call the “parapsychology resource” had nothing with attacking academic freedom but the fact they’re pseudoscience. The person who wrote that junk who doesn’t want to be named isn’t even an academic (as you know). And Wikiversity deleted it for being pseudoscience.

They had no idea what they were doing.  Wikiversity hosts “educational resources,” which can study anything, excepting only certain illegal material. “Pseudoscience” was never before a deletion reason on Wikiversity, and there is, of course, a Wikipedia article on parapsychology. Parapsychology is explicitly a science, quite the same science as was involved with the founding of CSICOP, “The Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.”

Many “scientists” — in what fields? — imagine that parapsychology involves a “belief” in some interpretation of claims.

The Wikiversity resource was rigorously neutral, it had been challenged and was confirmed by an administrator there. But there was an occasional attack on it, by those who it or part of it deleted. That was an attack on academic freedom, a fascist prohibition of the study of “forbidden topics.”

Compared to “normal disruption” on Wikipedia, this was practically trivial.

“The person” referred to was the collector of one subpage, an annotated list of sources, not the whole resource. And he may have realized that study of parapsychology (and “psychic phenomena”) is not necessary good for him. This is completely irrelevant, and that work still exists (I rescued the deleted material) and he has not asked for it to be deleted.

Wikiversity is not only for academics. It’s a public wiki, where people may study any topic they choose. That is, it was that until the Smiths attacked, having recruited some Wikipedians to kill the one place in the WMF family where there was genuine academic freedom (though Wikibooks could be close, and, in fact, Wikiversity was an offshoot of Wikibooks)..

Oliver D. Smith JULY 17, 2019 AT 12:32 AM

The defendants (all of them) he lists have said Lomax is lying and that’s not at all what happened. Obviously though he disagrees and has his own view of events. All I can say is take what Lomax says with a pinch of salt.

Again, how does Oliver know this? It’s obvious and there is plenty of evidence (quite enough to take this into discovery and trial), these people communicated and coordinated off-wiki.

“Lomax is lying” is not a statement with any specificity. Oliver has been saying this for more than a year, almost never pointing to any actual statements. It’s just a big blob of mud thrown. I have made a series of statements in the Amended Complaint (and it should get even clearer in the Second Amended Complaint, which is planned), and each of those is factually based, plus there are interpretations based on “reasonable suspicion.” To survive a motion to dismiss, the suspicion must be plausible. I affirm, in filing such a complaint, that everything in it is true “on information and belief.” What are Oliver’s statements?

He has lied over and over, and this has been covered many times and there may even be a reference to one of them here. For quite some time he claimed that all the disruption on Wikipedia, Wikiversity, and Meta was not him, it was his brother. He confirmed other aspects of the story as it was developing. And then he wrote that it had all been a lie, it was all him. And then he wrote something like maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t.

So sometimes he claims that his brother doesn’t exist, or if he does exist, he has nothing to do with the wikis. It is radically implausible, given the very obvious personality differences, but we will find out. What I care about most is that the truth emerges. And I trust the truth more than I trust myself.

(He was realizing that the heat was being turned up on his brother, who was far less well-known, and it is possible that his brother was being paid, that was one of the stories based on statements made by socks apparently Darryl. Since Oliver is on the dole in the U.K, living with parents, he would be taking the heat on himself as “judgment proof.” So that’s a motive to lie. Reality will come out, it has a way of doing that. There is a brother, it’s called “public records.” And this is no longer a wiki game, where “outing” is BAD. It is real life, where it can be necessary to name names.

Meanwhile, Oliver is being sued for defamation in the United Kingdom, and the case appears to be pretty much open and shut. He called someone who is not a pedophile a “pedophile.” He toned it down in some presentations to “pedophile defender” or “child rape apologist,” when his target was neither. And because I pointed this out, I was also called a “pedophile defender” or the like.

“No reason”? Besides being blocked as many accounts on Wikipedia, Oliver is now also formally banned (as many accounts) on RationalWiki, has many, many blocked accounts on Encyclopedia Dramatica, and many thowaway accounts on Reddit that appear to be him, from arguments, they either simply disappear or show up as [deleted], which could mean “blocked.” (I am no longer blocked on ED, that was transient). I’m not socking anywhere, though there are impersonations, one of their favorite tactics.

To my knowledge, the only defendant who has openly denied the charges in the lawsuit is Oliver. None of the others have commented publicly. So unless he is completely lying (not impossible!), he is in private communication with them.

And finally, a comment from Gender Desk herself (assuming a pronoun, if I may):

genderdesk JULY 18, 2019 AT 12:16 AM

As far as I can tell, this is about Rational Wiki and the Skeptics, and started out as a content dispute over whether pseudoscience and “original research” should be included in certain areas of Wikimedia projects.

What this was originally about and what it became are not the same.

Originally, this was not about RationalWiki at all. Nor was it really about “the skeptics,” though Darryl Smith presents himself as a skeptic. It was about a very personal attack on a student of parapsychology, who had been invited by me to work on the topic on Wikiversity, because I knew he was interested (This was partly to distract him from socking on Wikipedia, where he had been blocked long before for old behaviors.) It worked, he almost entirely refrained from editing Wikipedia, but there were a few exceptions, actually harmless. What happens when you compile sources and annotate them is that you learn. This is why students do this in real universities. That page was attributed as his work. And that is how Wikiversity allows original research. It is not presented as neutral. It’s “study.”

The Parapsychology project on Wikiversity was, over the years, occasionally attacked by single-purpose accounts, later recognizable as Darryl. (Darryl was also known as Goblin Face on Wikipedia). This time, as an SPA, Darryl filed a sock puppet investigation, but nobody was paying attention (there was really very little disruption, if any, and Darryl relied on Facebook postings, etc.)

So, as he later explained as a sock, I think it was on Meta, he had to do something. So he created sock puppets to impersonate this user, daring Wikipedians to do something to stop him, he could do whatever he wanted on Wikiversity, LOL!

So they did something, and the particular page he had been working on was deleted and he was blocked for “cross-wiki disruption.” I had not been paying attention to Wikiversity, having basically abandoned it as unsafe (even though it was much safer than Wikipedia). When I found out, I filed steward checkuser requests and the impersonation socking was confirmed. And I started looking at how obvious single-purpose accounts could create such disruption, while administrators were clueless dupes.

Starting up that study, I was intensely attacked, and many socks were globally locked. And then the RatWiki article appeared. And then the coordinated attack on the Wikiversity resource on cold fusion appeared, started by an IP. This was then repeated for the entire Parapsychology resource. The arguments can be seen in the archive.

There had been no disruption at all over cold fusion on Wikiversity, since the resource was started in 2006, until this Request for Deletion arrived in 2017, full of irrelevant arguments, a complete mess. (The resource history can be seen here. No revert warring, no conflict. Actual educational discussion.)

There had been minor disruption over Parapsychology, all easily handled. Until this.

The attack was actually personal, on me and my work (I created the Parapsychology resource in response to requests from scientists, and to show how a resource on a controversial topic could be neutral, and still academically free. If interested, I suggest reading the discussions.)

“Original research” was always explicitly allowed on Wikiversity, as long as it was disclosed as such. There is a huge difference between activity in a university and activity in creating an encyclopedia. The force for deletion was entirely from non-Wikiversitans.

Michael Umbricht, who acknowledged receiving complaints by email, invented an entirely new reason for deletion, never seen before or since. From his behavior, he intervened precisely to support the revenge effort from Darryl, who had recruited Guy Chapman (JzG) and Joshua P. Schroeder (ජපස), who were long-term Wikipedia enemies of everything fringe or “pseudoscientific.”

Umbricht then extended deletion to a large number of pages in my user space, deleting them without warning — totally violating deletion policy. These pages had been used for many purposes and some were historically important. But they were easily identifiable as “Abd’s work,” which he had likely promised to delete. Deletions without notice, for legal content, was unheard of on Wikiversity.

To recover these pages required downloading very large Wikiversity XML dumps and writing a program to extract pages with a prefix from it. (I’ve been unable to find such a utility that I could use).

The actual motivation here was not really a content dispute. It was about revenge. The RatWiki article was about revenge, and there are many examples where the Smiths did that, going back long before I was involved.

They learned how to manipulate administrators, and the WMF fell for it.

Gender Desk has posted another page about the lawsuit:

Lomax v. WMF: Abd names names

Lomax v. WMF: Abd names names
JUNE 28, 2019

Thanks, Gender Desk, it all works together. One point that can be missed. I did have a “Count 4” in the Amended Complaint, asking to be unbanned. But I am abandoning that, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that this would be of very little value to me personally, and by the TOU, very limited recovery ($1000 max) for damages. It is not worth the effort for a single person. It could be a class action, but I’m not holding my breath. It would be difficult, because of how the CDA Section 230 has been interpreted, but not impossible. Not my call. I’m going for what is easy. After all, Not a Lawyer.

The rest of the suit is about defamation and conspiracy to harass and defame, not their right to ban.

Wherever you go, there you are

The full quote:

Hey, hey, hey — don’t be mean. We don’t have to be mean. ‘Cause, remember: no matter where you go… there you are.

I had occasion to use this phrase today, which I first heard from the Immortal Buckaroo Banzai. I saw the original release of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension in 1984, and thoroughly enjoyed the movie. There are those who attribute the quote to Confucius, but Confucius merely said something that can be seen as similar. This is really ancient wisdom, but the phrasing appears to be from the movie. As a “teaching,” this was part of Landmark Education, which arose from est, which long predated the movie. Again, not necessarily the exact phrasing, but, at least, close. There is a book recently released with an old Forum transcript that might have it. I might be getting that book soon.

The movie did not break even. My explanation: “God must love muggles, he made so many of them.”

A muggle trait is disliking what is not understood, unknown. In the training, the source of transformation is identified as the “unknown unknown,” what we don’t know and we also don’t know that we don’t know it.

Many in the movie business have done the training I went through in 2011-2013.  So the concepts are found in many films. They are all through Adventures, and The Matrix was well-informed by it (which I only saw last year).

The training is designed to support distinguishing between reality (“what happened”, or, a little more deeply, the realm of the senses, raw, with minimal interpretation) and the realm of meaning, which we invent, it does not exist in reality (though it can be useful — or otherwise). That, as well, in the training, is not asserted as truth, the distinction is simply a tool, a way of looking at life that is known, by experience, to generate transformation.

Landmark training is not a philosophy, it is a sophisticated game, designed to empower us in every realm of life. There is no dogma, contrary to common claims.

In any case, here are more quotes from Adventures:

I’ve been ionized, but I’m okay now.

It is little recognized, but the amygdala is programmable with language. I have seen saying the words “I’m okay” transform a person from a full-blown hysterical fit to a calm acceptance, when the suggestion was met by “But I’m not okay.” I said, “You don’t have to believe it, just say the words!” And the words were said, with maximum sarcasm, and within a minute, “okay” became very real, like magic, but it’s really quite simple. The amygdala, called the “lizard brain,” does not understand sarcasm.

There are times when verbal ingenuity is not enough.

“You can’t think your way out of a paper bag.” What actually makes a difference is presence. 

In my experience, nothing is ever what it seems to be, but everything is exactly what it is.

Key word, “seems.” “Seems” is an imagination, created by the interaction of what is present with our past.

A friend calls me up, complaining about how badly his co-worker treated him.

“What did she say?”, I ask.

“She was rude to me!”

“No,” I clarify, “What did she say?

“I don’t remember,” he says, and this is typical when the reactive brain is active and undistinguished. (It will always be active until and unless calmed, it is there for emergencies, when we have no time for anything other than immediate response. We can learn to do this in a fraction of a second, making a choice.)

We lose awareness of reality in favor of believing our own reactions are reality, “She was actually being rude,”  he might say, and these reactions are heavily conditioned by our past, often from early childhood. She may or may not be something called rude, but that’s not the point. When we are reactive, we become a victim of conditions, with little or no power.

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen all at once.

If we were travelling at the speed of light, the entire history of the universe would be one instant.

Today’s impossible is tomorrow’s reality.

This is very, very Landmark. “Impossible” is an imagination, obviously, it could never be proven. Rather, something isn’t happening now, or so we think. That’s the most we know. We may invent explanations, but these explanations don’t cover the unknown unknown.

That statement is not necessarily literally true. A more grounded way to say it would be “Tomorrow’s reality may seem impossible today.” But the training also encourages us to stop hedging everything. We do it to “avoid being wrong.” People who simply declare what they choose are generally more effective in creating it, and I saw evidence for this again and again.

A common version of this is an explanation by someone as to why they have not done something considered desirable. “I tried, but I couldn’t”

“Can’t” is standard disempowering language. It implies impossibility.

“I tried.” Again, all “trying” — an interpretation — shows is that we didn’t actually know how to do something. We learn this language as children, in what I now see as dysfunctional education. “A for effort.” If something is actually difficult, the teaching has failed. it does not become successful if someone has “tried.” Did they do the work? If not, exactly how much did they “try”?

The system encourages us to develop “excuses.” Reasons for failure. We are not encouraged to look at the roots of failure, at what is missing in us that causes it (or, for that matter, missing in the educational system). Everything is given a moral edge, good or bad.

So the kid didn’t do her math homework. Did the dog eat it? And does it really matter? If the kid says “I did it, but the dog at it,” a skilled teacher may say, “Wow!” A skilled teacher will never tell a student they are lying. See the next quote. That does not mean that the teacher believes that the kid has a homework-eating dog! (But it can actually happen.)

A skilled teacher will ask if the student understands the work, was it easy? (Because math homework will generally be easy if understood, and “difficult” or even “impossible” if not understood.) The teacher may say something like, “It’s part of my job to make sure you understand as much as possible, and I’m confident that understanding all this is possible for you, but I need to test this. So, here is that homework sheet again, and would you mind taking a few minutes to complete it? And if you need help, if you forgot anything, don’t worry, ask! Don’t ‘try harder,’ trying harder will not help you to understand. I may have failed to explain something important to you.”

So let’s assume that the kid actually didn’t do the homework because she hates math. And why does she hate math? Well, she is “bad at it.” Where did she get that from? I started looking at things like this by the time I was a teenager.

Something happened, the kid was shamed for mistakes or the like, and developed aversion. And if you are averse to a task, you will try to get it over with as soon as possible, and haste leads to many mistakes, once again “proving” you are “bad at math.” Speed comes later, with practice, lots and lots of practice. So the kid sees others who are quick and thinks, “Well, they are good at math, I’m obviously not!” Teachers who are skilled at recognizing this vicious circle are not necessarily common, the whole “poisonous pedagogy,” Alice Miller called it, is still widespread. “Kids are naturally bad and must be forced to become good.”

The only way to know if a man is trustworthy is to trust him.

A girl was 12 and was acting out extensively, diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder (which can produce incredibly frustrating behavior). Because she was fighting with her mother, she was sent to live with her father, who was Landmark-trained. He decided to treat his daughter as “always right.” I.e, “nothing wrong,” she was doing whatever she needed to do to survive, in her world, and he decided to trust her, that she would find her way if supported. She had a fixed income, which came to him as trustee. He decided to turn it over to her, making her responsible, at the same time, for buying all her food, clothing, and everything else. He gave her a room to live in, drove her where she needed to go (and for regular driving expense, charged her — but not for his labor). The first time, he handed her all the cash for a month when it came in. She had never seen that much money in one place, she’d had a $10 a week allowance from her mother, who was often taking it away because she had been disrespectful or some other reason.

She immediately created a budget, putting cash in envelopes so she could see what she had to spend in each category for the month. For a couple of weeks, she bought a lot of potato chips. but very quickly, she was using her phone to calculate price per pound at the market, reading nutritional values, etc. (He also got her a smart phone, and took the operating cost out of her income. She later bought an iphone, the latest and best at the time, being fully responsible for paying the cost monthly) She got a bank account at 13, the legal minimum age, with a debit card, so she could buy on-line. She is still a teenager at this point, has a job. She never really ran out of money. So she learned to budget and handle a fixed income when she was 12. Why and how?

She was trusted and responsible. If she made a “mistake,” it wasn’t actually a mistake, it was a way to learn what works and what doesn’t work. Her father never gave her money aside from that income. If she ran out, she lost a little freedom for a little time, easy, not really a big deal. However, because she had regular income, several times — not often — she asked her father for a small loan, which he gave her, taking it out of the next month’s payment. That’s how it is in “real life.” She didn’t like borrowing, because it gave her less for the next month, so she completely stopped it.

To develop a trustworthy child, trust her! Children will make mistakes, it is all part of learning. What is being trusted, done properly, is the core, the “being” of the person.

There is more from the Adventures. Researching this, I watched some clips other than the one above. I had actually forgotten the Penny story, I only remembered the title line here. The context, the compassion shown, the rejection of knee-jerk disapproval of this very upset woman, again, very Landmark.

That remark was not directed to her, but to his audience at that point. He is pointing to their state of being, which he interpreted as “mean,” and as a powerful leader, we may suspect that they “got it.” There is a standard piece of business in the Landmark Forum, very early, I think it’s the first day.

The segment is about “Already Always Listening,” which is the chatter of the mind, very basic stuff. The association engine is constantly giving us a stream of assessments, good and bad, like/dislike,etc. So a woman, say, complains about her husband. The leader points out that she has a “listening” for her husband, that will look for what is wrong, and that is maintained, possibly for many years. (One sign of this will be that it is entirely one-sided, as if designed to elicit sympathy, and certainly not the whole story, and it is not rooted in actual fact — i.e., what he actually did and said — but in how she interprets it. And if he is abusing her, she’s not describing that. It’s more on the lines of “he doesn’t understand me and isn’t giving me what I need.”)

And then he turns to the rest of the room.

“And you have a listening for her. You are thinking, “She’s the problem, not her husband.” Now, a Forum Leader has done this hundreds of times, maybe even more. This is a point where many graduates report that they woke up. “OMG! This is about me!”

We don’t really know what the “problem” is in that relationship, if there is really any problem at all, we only have knee-jerk reactions and expectations, heavily influenced by our own past. (And to be more complete, some of that audience may be thinking, “Yeah! She should leave that jerk!”) The leader’s comment is not about her and her husband, it is about the way we think, if we are not careful.

Scientific orthodoxy is an oxymoron

I came to know about Dr. Malcolm Kendrick from his being attacked by the same trolls that attacked me (and that I am in the process of suing.) He describes himself as a “sceptic,” but it turns out that some kinds of skepticism are called, by believers in scientific orthodoxies, “denialism.”

In the name of “rational skepticism,” they attack anything that questions their beliefs, and I’ve been seeing this for years, often promoting “scientific positions” that I generally agree with, but with toxic argument, often severely ad hominem, and, themselves, pseudoscientific.

Hence these have been termed “pseudoskeptical,” the term first being used in modern times by one of my favorite skeptics, Marcello Truzzi.

Before I link to Kendrick’s post, I will point out that Kendrick expresses no opinion on the wisdom of vaccination or non-vaccination, he simply points to facts, and, as well, to the toxic treatment of anyone who questions what has become an “orthodox” opinion about vaccination, which I have also seen, and have pointed out in the past. Simply reporting in media that anti-vaccination opinions exist has been attacked, see my post, Astroturf or idiocy?

If we want public policy to be grounded in genuine science (don’t we?), it is crucial that scientific inquiry not be biased by reasoning from conclusions, by the emotional reactions that are actually not to fact, but to imagined conclusions from the examination of fact.

I.e., there are those who fear that if questioning the wisdom of requiring universal vaccination is allowed, or the questioning of claims as to the benefits of vaccination, people will not vaccinate, and, Millions of children will die! That is a hysterical reaction, and vastly exaggerated. Under some circumstances, non-vaccination may increase a risk, but how much? And mainstream opinion will not just vanish, if it is at all sound, and so most children will continue to be vaccinated, and so this imagined vast harm will not occur.

Science does not tell us what public policy should be. Rather, if used rationally, it can inform us as to probabilities and possibilities. If used under the domination of reactive psychology, it can lead us seriously astray, but that is not “science,” it is a social phenomenon that pretends to be scientific.

So, Kendrick. Enjoy.

My feelings about the vaccine debate