RationalWiki Smith brothers conspiracy theory

This article was posted to RationalWiki by MrOrganic.

It was presented for deletion here:

RationalWiki:Articles_for_deletion/RationalWiki_Smith_brothers_conspiracy_theory

The article was suppressed a year and a half after being deleted.

10:34, 22 April 2019 D (talk | contribs) secretly changed visibility of 16 revisions on page RationalWiki Smith brothers conspiracy theory: content hidden, edit summary hidden, username hidden and applied restrictions to sysops (Personal or potentially identifying information)

I have recovered it , so the content is below as it was last archived.


RationalWiki Smith brothers conspiracy theory is a paranoid speculation by some individuals with RationalWiki articles, written about themselves, that maintains their articles were created by a duo or trio of brothers (with the surname Smith) from a single household. According to this conspiracy theory — the brothers have created tens, if not hundreds of RationalWiki articles as “hit pieces” to damage people’s reputations via a Google search.

Evidence for the conspiracy theory is non-existent and was started on Encyclopædia Dramatica, arguably as satire. Nevertheless, an assortment of cranksfundiesand pseudoscientists upset at RationalWiki for creating articles about them, now promote the conspiracy theory to vent their anger at a scapegoat, who can be potentially doxed. This article will not provide any alleged dox, only referring to the surname “Smith” (which is very commonw).

Contents

Proponents

Proponents of the Smith brothers conspiracy theory include: Rome ViharoAlex TsakirisCraig WeilerLaird Shaw (all from the woo-forums Skeptiko or Pscience Quest), John FuerstEmil O. W. Kirkegaard and Abd ul-Rahman Lomax.

History

In December 2016 an article appeared on the troll website Encyclopædia Dramatica named the “Smith Brothers” that argued a household of brothers with the surname Smith use RationalWiki in order to bash people online by creating articles to discredit them, by writing about their pseudoscience or irrational beliefs (which actually is in the stated mission of RationalWiki: “documenting the full range of crank ideas”). The article itself was nonsensical, filled with gay pornographic imagery; its purpose was arguably to satirize RationalWiki skeptic editors. The NSFW-porn article was deleted within a few weeks. Before deletion there were some screenshots on an archive webpage.

The folks over at Skeptiko and Pscience Quest discovered the archived screenshots of the Smith Brothers article in September 2017 and absurdly read it as being factual, thus they think there really is a household of brothers who have created most the RationalWiki articles on paranormalistscreationistspsychic-believers and other pseudoscientists over a 5 year time period (2012-2017). Laird Shaw openly links to the gay-porn article on Pscience Quest and recommends readers of the forum he administrates – go there to see evidence for the Smith Brother conspiracy theory.

Evidence?

The short-lived ED Smith Brothers article purported to provide evidence as “connecting the dots” linking the brothers to multiple RationalWiki users and dozens of article creations; in reality, this consisted of unsubstantiated allegations and zero technical proof (noteRationalWiki has no check-user tool to confirm sockpuppetry), with some gay porn thrown in for good measure. This however has not stopped Rome Viharo quoting the article as “proof” for the conspiracy theory on his website Wikipedia We Have a Problem, that has 100,000 words of gibberish dedicated to the Smith brothers.[1] Viharo has also discussed his belief in the conspiracy theory in his YouTube videos.

References


[the original references section was lost in archiving; however, there was only one reference, and it is simulated here, as what it might have been at that point in time. On the other hand, it may have been a more innocuous page.]

  1. Wikipedia We Have a Problem

but this page was a bit earlier than what shows there, and is more on point:

The Smiths’ Dark Entanglement, a criminal report.


Commentary  (by Abd, May 10, 2019)

Unless it was in that reference, this page contained no outing, so the suppression reason was incorrect. The arguments given in the article are still being advanced by Oliver Smith, just today.

As I pointed out at the time, this was a Smith brothers version of the Smith brothers conspiracy theory. But that’s RatWiki. It was treated, though, as if written by a Smith enemy, to harass innocent Rats being accused of being a Smith brother. Like most of what has been written by the Smiths, it was deceptive.

a paranoid speculation by some individuals with RationalWiki articles, written about themselves, that maintains their articles were created by a duo or trio of brothers (with the surname Smith) from a single household.

Oliver Smith subsequently acknowledged many of his article creations. However, the duck test is not a “paranoid speculation.” By looking at article editors, and then at the contributions of each, patterns of interest popped up. An article would be created with many edits. Then there would be sporadic edits by other users who did not show the patterns appearing. Then another account with many edits, whose other contributions showed the same interests. There were two sets of interests, quite distinct. This matched old claims on Wikipedia from the brothers, and other evidences.

Nobody has claimed a trio that I have seen. They are twins, both born in 1990, and living in the same house at one time, i.e., with apparent parents, same surname. Public records were published in a number of places. The Smiths have been attacking others since something like 2012, if not before, and they have managed, over time, to alienate many. Oliver is the most visible of the brothers, has an actual peer-reviewed article (on Atlantis) published in his real name. The brother, Darryl L. Smith, is far less visible and has never openly revealed his name.

The article on me was written by Darryl, who had attacked a Wikiversity user and then threatened me with retribution, and the first sign of the retribution was that article. Shortly after the “conspiracy” article was deleted, Skeptical placed in the article:

RationalWiki conspiracy theory

Lomax was perm-banned from RationalWiki for doxxing and trolling.[36] He now uses his personal blog to spread a paranoid conspiracy theory and misinformation that a group of RationalWiki editors who live in the same house (yes, you read that correctly) created and edited his RW article.[37]

Note 36 refers to my block log. I was blocked by Skeptical. Who was Skeptical? Oliver Smith, of course, the signs are unmistakeable.  Note 37 refers to my blog.

He was lying. “A group of RationalWiki editors.” No. One, using the account Marky (Darryl) which was created for that purpose. That there were two brothers sometimes at the same house was known from way back, on Wikipedia. However, the other brother did edit the article. What I recognize now as Oliver socks which later edited my article are Asgardian (now blocked by D as Oliver, and see his comment about himself) , Skeptical, probably Jog, Dr._Witt (see his last edit), SkepticDave, Vimpto, Pringles, EvilGremlin, Arcticos, Jean, and Tobias.

Darryl would be AstroPhysics, Anti-Fascist_for_life, various troll and impersonation socks, probably Anti_racist_man, and definitely Debunking_spiritualism.

(These are not the only socks of the Smith brothers active in the period since my article was written, just the ones that edited the article on me.)

According to this conspiracy theory — the brothers have created tens, if not hundreds of RationalWiki articles as “hit pieces” to damage people’s reputations via a Google search.

Oliver Smith has certainly created more than “tens” of articles, and describing them as hit pieces would not be an exaggeration. My article was clearly created to damage reputation, and has been used that way, heavily. Others, the same. This is not a “conspiracy theory,” and the brothers do not necessarily coordinate, but . . . it is likely that both of them complained to the WikiMedia Foundation. Oliver bragged about it, in fact, though Darryl actually organized the other complainants.

Evidence for the conspiracy theory is non-existent and was started on Encyclopædia Dramatica, arguably as satire.

Always be suspicious when something asserted by many and allegedly “believed” by many is claimed to be without evidence. That is the claim of deniers, and the guilty.

ED is satirical, yes, but I did not take fact from there without careful independent verification, and most evidence I have found directly on WMF wikis, RatWiki, and then email from Oliver himself, and his comments on ED, and other miscellaneous sources.

(Pages written about the Smiths often have what I consider errors. They have created, over the years, an heavy smokescreen, with, yes, hundreds of accounts — that is not at all an exaggeration, though 700 on RationalWiki might be, unless we include impersonation and trollsocks they created, which they have done at a high rate at various times — like what they are doing on Reddit as this is written — so errors are understandable. I considered the no-brother-all-Oliver theory, but find it difficult to fit it to the facts.)

its purpose was arguably to satirize RationalWiki skeptic editors.

Oliver and Darryl hide behind “skeptics.” Skepticism is essential to science, and my purpose in documenting the impersonations and deception is not at all to attack genuine skepticism, nor even to attack pseudoskepticism, though I write on that topic (just as some skeptics write about pseudoscience.) The ED article was not written to satirize skeptics, in general, and did not mock the Smiths for skepticism, at all. But the Smiths are constantly working to convince other Rats that they are under attack by enemies of RatWiki and of rational skepticism, while they create cause for others to attack, well beyond the necessities of the RatWiki mission.

a household of brothers who have created most the RationalWiki articles on paranormalistscreationistspsychic-believers and other pseudoscientists

That would mostly be Darryl. “Household of brothers” is language chosen to make it seem ridiculous. These are twin brothers, and apparently do not live in the same household, but were checkuser-connected back in the day when one of the brothers was away at college but visited home and accessed the internet.

The brothers have supported each other at times, but are also independent. Darryl has offended “paranormalists”, sure, but more recently has moved into diet and medicine and is attacking people with resources (as he did on Wikipedia with alternative medicine, that’s how Rome Viharo got involved). Oliver has gone after alleged racists and white supremacists — often marginal, but when he tacked in “pedophile” he set up a world of hurt for himself as well as his targets.

this consisted of unsubstantiated allegations and zero technical proof (note: RationalWiki has no check-user tool to confirm sockpuppetry)

Much in the various versions of the ED articles I have seen was supported by evidence. The claim of ” zero technical proof” is common, one more of their deceptions. My original study was entirely based on Wikipedia and WMF steward checkuser evidence, supplemented by some of my own and that of others. As well, some checkuser evidence was published from ED (but that was later, as was some checkuser evidence provided from Conservapedia for Oliver trolling there.)

(When they troll a blog, sometimes the blogger checks IP, that’s easy, WordPress shows it to admins for comments.)

As well, it’s true that RatWiki does not have the checkuser extension installed, but any tech with access to the raw access logs can see not only the same data, but more. I have technical evidence! Those who depend on hiding are depending on something that reality tends to dislike. Not safe.

There are actually many people who have independently investigated the Smiths. Oliver himself confirmed much of the brother story in email to me, but then claimed he had been lying for years, there was no brother. Either way, then, that the story would exist is not a “conspiracy theory” but a conclusion from apparent fact, which is all we ever have anyway, with degrees of reliability.

So either people are not confused and there is a reality to the “brother” story, or the person creating confusion by lying is blaming people for being confused, which is simply more lying. Neat, eh?

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3 thoughts on “RationalWiki Smith brothers conspiracy theory”

  1. > Unless it was in that reference, this page contained no outing, so the suppression reason was incorrect.

    Partly due to the reference which was doxxing in itself, and partly because the page gives a ton of details which could easily be used to find out more using simple Google searches.

    > checkuser extension … raw access logs … depend on hiding … Not safe.

    I mean all the RationalWikians with any sense use VPN services and a good few actually edit through Tor, so even if we had the checkuser extension it would be borderline useless. 😀 And this is encouraged (especially by me) because using a VPN is recommended for security and privacy reasons.

    On Wikipedia you can edit through Tor/VPN if you are an admin (or have IPBE), but almost all VPN and proxy services are blocked for 99% of users. On RationalWiki, we do use an extension to block blacklisted spam IPs, but any major VPN will work, and you can edit with Tor if you are a sysop.

    > MrOrganic

    As one can imagine there was an argument over who exactly should be blamed for MrOrganic after you published this. He whom of which you know blocked the account as a sock of “Abd or Mikemikev” (despite it having not edited since 2017), EK complained it was misidentified, I pointed out it didn’t look like Mikemikev at least, and we agreed it didn’t really matter who it was and they should be banned anyway.

    Some of this happened on my talk page:

    1. For others seeing this comment who follow this blog for cold fusion news, there is a long-term mess involving me and, less directly, cold fusion, that has led me to be in court with the WikiMedia Foundation, I’ll be created a GoFundMe over this and will be explaining to the community. Meanwhile, this comment:

      Unless it was in that reference, this page contained no outing, so the suppression reason was incorrect.

      Partly due to the reference which was doxxing in itself, and partly because the page gives a ton of details which could easily be used to find out more using simple Google searches.

      Well, that reference may have pushed it over the edge. (It was somehow omitted in the copy I had, so I supplied what it might have been, from the timing.)
      Normally, though, revdel would have been used to hide the outing part. However, I will modify my comment. What can be seen in the discussion on your talk page (see Tobias here) is that Oliver, defending himself, reveals many details. So, later, perhaps he regretted putting the page up and he might indeed have complained to David Gerard. It is obvious, following Oliver as I have, that he often spills the beans, it is almost routine, sometimes because he was poked and sometimes just out of the blue.

      checkuser extension … raw access logs … depend on hiding … Not safe.

      I mean all the RationalWikians with any sense use VPN services and a good few actually edit through Tor, so even if we had the checkuser extension it would be borderline useless. 😀 And this is encouraged (especially by me) because using a VPN is recommended for security and privacy reasons.

      I do know that trolls who comment here always seem to be using Tor nodes. I can still sometimes penetrate the fog, it depends on details. My point is that concealing the truth as a defensive strategy often fails. I can tell where Bongolian lives, for example, not that this is useful information. Bongolian is a relatively ordinary Rat, good points and not-so-good. Look at where that idea (=John66) came from!

      On Wikipedia you can edit through Tor/VPN if you are an admin (or have IPBE), but almost all VPN and proxy services are blocked for 99% of users. On RationalWiki, we do use an extension to block blacklisted spam IPs, but any major VPN will work, and you can edit with Tor if you are a sysop.

      Yes, obvious. What the Smiths used for the original attacks on Wikiversity and Meta and Wikipedia was mobile IP from where they live. I was able to verify this across platforms. And then a quite stupid steward claimed that it was illegal for me to provide the information privately to them. By that time, something very weird was going on behind the scenes. I provided information from my site that was similar to what they see for WMF wikis, and that was illegal? WTF? I had seen steward idiocy before this before. If it was illegal, this was never explained.

      > MrOrganic

      As one can imagine there was an argument over who exactly should be blamed for MrOrganic after you published this. He whom of which you know blocked the account as a sock of “Abd or Mikemikev” (despite it having not edited since 2017), EK complained it was misidentified, I pointed out it didn’t look like Mikemikev at least, and we agreed it didn’t really matter who it was and they should be banned anyway.

      Yeah. But if you don’t know by now, at least as a matter of preponderance of the evidence, that it was not me, well, . . . Cornwall, I don’t expect this from you.

      Some of this happened on my talk page:

      Yes. See the Tobias page linked above.
      Now, I just looked. Oliver has come totally unglued. No wonder Mikemikev keeps poking him. Endless lulz. All I need to do is document the history with links and he’s frothing at the mouth, and it’s obvious. Now, is this doing any good? I don’t know. What keeps me going is that major damage was done by the Smiths. Not by Oliver, so much as Darryl, and that may still be the case as to ongoing damage to science and humanity. Oliver is really a lolcow, to use that unfortunate term. If RatWiki likes the drama, it is easy to continue it, just keep the lolcow around, he will give endless milk. Along the way, he will create pages that are deceptive, about targets who mostly are not-nice people. Sometimes. Sometimes it will be greatly exaggerated. Does RatWiki care about balance? From my history there, no. Not in the least. It is, then, not really about rational skepticism, it is snarky juvenile debunking, arrogantly self-confident, and ultimately fascist. But could that change? Could the stated mission be restored?
      I don’t know. I gave up when I was told to “go f*** your kids,” spelled out, without the asterisks, and mods did not care at all.

    2. One more point. Comment is open here, so if there are errors on pages here (Oliver claims “lies!”), it can be pointed out and any “subject” has the right of response, that’s a standard journalistic courtesy. Arguing with me on a RatWiki user talk page is useless. I might or might not even see it, and it certainly is not so likely to result in removal of errors, nor will it present his counterarguments in context. He also could reply to the subreddit I created. But if he starts screaming “lies,” he’ll be kicked. If he points out errors, not. Even if he’s wrong.

      It might benefit Oliver to learn the difference between a lie and an error. In any case, extensive noise will not be allowed, neither here nor there. If comments become inappropriate, but appear to be from him, I might hide them and ask for verification. If not verified, I might delete them. If verified, they will be preserved and visible, though maybe as subpages where they don’t stare anyone looking at the main page in the face.

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