Bans

This page will list studies of Wikipedia bans. Most Wikipedia blocks and bans are justified, but some are abusive. Some have extended consequences. Case studies:

Abd (that’s me!)

Gateway to Chaos, Confusion, and Complexity

I spent years as a very active Wikipedia editor. My contributions there don’t reflect well the level of work that I did — some users accumulate large edit counts with brief reverts based on immediate appearances, it’s very quick, sometimes even computer-assisted, I once tracked the contributions of an administrator who obviously sat at his computer pressing Save several times a minute for simple edits suggested by a program. He did this for many hours.

You can see the total numbers of my contributions on all WMF wikis on the global account display. Because my “community ban” on Wikipedia has come up recently– the situation being misrepresented in the new RationalWiki article on me — I will cover this on a page here, Wikipedia/Bans/Abd (draft, not complete)

There is a theme, revenge. In theory, Wikipedia is not a battleground. In practice, it is. Continue reading “Gateway to Chaos, Confusion, and Complexity”

Abd

Draft

In recent discussions on Wikiversity and elsewhere, it has been mentioned that I’m banned on the English Wikipedia. While I have been blocked elsewhere in the WikiMedia Foundation family of wikis, that is the only WMF wiki where I’m currently blocked, and it is actually a formal “community ban.” How did this happen? How does this compare with other blocks and bans?

The difference between an “indefinite block” and a “ban” is that any administrator may lift a block on request, whereas a “ban” has, in theory, been decided by either the community or the Arbitration Committee. A case I filed actually established that individual administrators cannot “ban”, even though they can “indef block.”

I registered on Wikipedia some time in 2005, the User Creation log either did not exist then or was cleared. My first edit was to Talk:Waldorf School, February, 2005. Even though I had prior wiki experience, I had no idea what I was doing with MediaWiki, and here I was, diving into a controversy. I was most accustomed to mailing lists, and interspersal of comment, so I tried to do that. Utterly inappropriate there. It appears that by December, 2006, I finally figured out how to sign comments. Before then, I added signatures manually.

Now, to my Wikipedia block log, which got pretty long, eventually. My first block was for revert warring with a collection of socks. I had been ready for it, had prepared my User talk page so that the admin would see what was happening. That worked. I was immediately unblocked. The log for then.

I was nominated for adminship twice. The first time was completely ridiculous, I had nowhere near enough experience. The nominator told me he nominated me so I would see how it worked. The second time was closer. It was still premature. All things considered, I did quite well. Had I not confronted administrators, had I played the game, staying away from controversy, I’m pretty sure that third time I’d have become an administrator. But I didn’t actually think that I was personally that important. I was much more interested in process and community. I was later an administrator on Wikiversity, and with that and twenty-five cents, long, long ago, in a land far away, one could get a ride on the subway.

Later, there was a misunderstanding involving Fritzpoll. There was a sock master who put up some edits that looked like they might be Fritzpoll. I pointed out the appearance, it was not actually an accusation (seemed quite unlikely!). I was promptly blocked indef. The log. An indef block for what was really a first block was unusually long. But Iridescent was a good admin, simply overworked, most of them are. This is a version of my Talk page with the discussion. Immediately I see the biggest problem. Talking way too much. A blocked user has only one legitimate use for the Talk page: requesting unblock. Otherwise, STFU. What I see then, however, are two other factors:

I was being seen as a reformer with good ideas by some. I was also being attacked by trolls who used sock puppets. (Not Jehochman, and my reaction to him was foolish — but we actually met in real life later, at his invitation, during the JzG Arbitration). I was learning how the system worked.

Eventually Fritzpoll became quite a good friend, and went on to run for the Arbitration Committee (and won) and told me he was inspired to do that by my work. Then he resigned; he told me he and his family had been threatened in real life, face-to-face, by thugs. Not worth it, he decided. Wikipedia is quite vulnerable. 

So … at the beginning of 2009 I noticed an odd blacklisting of a web site by an admin. I requested that he retract it, he refused … but when it became apparent that the blacklisting would be undone on the English Wikipedia, he went to the meta wiki and requested global blacklisting (over which the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee had no authority. This was about lenr-canr.org, the site that hosts legal copies of articles on cold fusion. The admin had lied in getting the meta blacklisting. (I.e., grossly misleading statements that he should have known were false or misleading). So I continued with dispute resolution process on Wikipedia. I drafted a Request for Comment on the admin. A very well-respected former administrator agreed to cosign, but she warned me that if I filed this, I’d be banned. I went ahead; again, I did not think that I was personally that important. They don’t actually shoot people, not so far, anyway.

I was not involved in cold fusion at that time.

I had already seen the “faction” involved, in another RfC.  I had actually facilitated that RfC, because of technical difficulties getting it started, but … then I read it! The user was being targeted by a faction that included administrators. So I was not surprised when many editors with familiar names showed up to scream “Ban Abd,” even though I was irrelevant. So the RfC I filed came to no conclusion, as expected, but that failed attempt to find consensus created a possible ArbComm case,  and Jehochman beat me to the filing: Requests_for_arbitration/Abd_and_JzG.

About this time Jehochman invited me to a presentation he was giving in the Boston area, so we met. He told me that ArbCom would not remove JzG’s tools, because he had done such valuable work with OTRS, but that he would be “on a short leash.” He was right about the first, but not about the second. There was no short leash. JzG did learn to avoid certain obvious direct actions, but did repeat his earlier behaviors.

When the faction questioned the evidence I had provided, claiming that it had been cherry-picked to make JzG look bad, an arbitrator recompiled it, using a bot, totally neutrally. At that point the faction backed away, and the Committee reprimanded JzG. They also criticized me. For not being quick enough! I had attempted to ask JzG’s friends to advise him to back off before going ahead with the RfC.

It was an amazing victory, it seemed. But it was essentially useless. Nothing changed, really, and now I was clearly a target. I’m now seeing the pattern quite clearly: to get rid of an inconvenient editor, send attack dogs. When the user responds to them, whack the user for incivility or other disruption. Simply create excuses.

I had begun to work on the cold fusion article, which had been damaged. I was quite conservative. The long-term abuse of that article by the faction had left out basic facts, shown in reliable source. Gradually, I was finding editorial consensus on improvements. So, one day, a user started revert warring, Hipocrite. Ah, I could tell stories about this user, in many situations! He would push and prod and create disruption and then as it started to get hot, he’d “retire.” It would work. Wikipedia admins would fall for it every time. No use beating a dead horse! He started to revert war on the article, including making extensive changes up to then went to Requests for Page Protection and, at 02:51 requested the article be full-protected (alleging that I was revert-warring with him, which was untrue). Then he went back to the article and made another to it, at . And the article was then protected into that version. So I began to organize a process to decide what to do with the article. Hipocrite was disruptive in that, but it was working, a consensus was being found anyway.

And then a factional administrator, William M. Connolley, showed up and declared that both Hipocrite and I were banned from editing the cold fusion article and its Talk page.

This was Hipocrite’s goal all along. He did not care one whit about cold fusion, nor did he know anything about it, nor did William M. Connolley, but WMC knew that I had confronted his own abusive use of administrative tools previously.

In any case, I had previously described a way that a banned editor could edit a page non-disruptively, essentially by suggesting an edit and self-reverting “per ban.” I had suggested that first for the editor then known as Science Apologist, who had been making spelling corrections to articles from which he had been banned, in order to make administrators look foolish. He was working with …. Hipocrite, who would report his edits as if an enemy, which he wasn’t …. WMC was a scientist, and I actually liked him, but … Hipocrite was an attack dog. So this takes me to my next block, which was by WMC, for a self-reverted edit (zero change net edit) to the cold fusion article. Ironically, I was wrong about the correction I suggested, but that I had pointed out the problem led quickly to its being fixed. I had seen self-reversion work, to create cooperation where there had been conflict. It made far more sense than what is generally suggested: describe the edit to someone else. Much easier to just make the edit and self-revert per ban, because it leaves nothing to be done if the edit is not accepted by someone else who takes responsibility for it.

Eventually, I took this issue to the Arbitration Committee. The case has been renamed, Cold fusion 2 from the original Abd-William M. Connolley. I can see on that Arbitration page WMC’s snark…. That doesn’t seem to have been any kind of problem to the Arbitrators, they don’t mention it.

This time the faction took the whole thing seriously. I was primarily concerned with the problem of factional editing and wrote about the “cabal.” This group of editors was actually being called a cabal in media, but it had become an inspeakable word on Wikipedia. I did not accuse these editors of violating policy, as such. However, the Arbitration Committee, it appears, did not understand the issue at all. They considered mention of a cabal as a sign of being a disruptive editor. The same faction was confronted later, with more success (by a steward!) but the Arbitration Committee still took minimal action. It would probably take structural changes, well beyond what they saw as possible.

During the Arbitration WMC insisted that his ban was still valid, and he could prove it. I knew what he meant, so I let him demonstrate it. The result was predictable. I made a harmless edit, he blocked me for it, and then I was unblocked by an arbitrator and they were discussing emergency removal of tools. However, it appears that a committee majority wanted me gone even before that case, it came out in the hacked ArbComm mailing list. So, while WMC lost his tools, and the point I had filed the case over was confirmed, I was also sanctioned in three ways:

  • Topic ban on cold fusion for a year. The finding on which this appears to have been based:

11) Abd (talk · contribs) has tendentiously edited the cold fusion article.  12345

These evidences were entirely the statements of Enric Naval, a long-time editor of Cold Fusion and very involved in prior disputes. The article had become a battleground well before I became involved. ArbComm had previously banned Pcarbonn, whom the cabal considered an example of a “Civil POV-pusher.” That means someone who has, the cabal believes, a point of view but who pushes it within civility and other policies. Yet cabal members have points of view which they push, sometimes outside of policy, and very little is done about it.

Selective enforcement is a common tool of biased administration. In this case, it can be seen that major problems involving administrative misconduct were on full display before the Committee, and were generally ignored. WMC was desysopped largely because of a single gross error, blocking me during the case. The Committee majority is enforcing a very naive view of wikipedia process, a view that thinks of administrators as neutral and reliable, and if they aren’t, they should be removed, because the system depends on this. Yet the system was obviously broken, and reform is extremely difficult, and those who recognize the problem often end up banned, if they don’t first leave in disgust, as many have.

In general, Carcharoth understood many of the issues, but he was a voice crying in the wilderness of the Committee. The links as given in the ArbComm are broken because the entire evidence page was “courtesy blanked.” I was sanctioned for writing too much, but Enric Naval’s Evidence was voluminious … and is mostly deleted now. I have fixed the links by adding the revision number – which is not enough for all.

Item 1: The link is pointing to an Enric Naval section, “Multiple sources say that Cold fusion is pathological science or is considered as such, and Abd has willfully ignored them in several occasions.” The section points to an Enric Naval user subpage. It was moved to here, and then the redirect was deleted at Naval’s request and the page was edited further. Archived copy. The version the Committee would have seen. The page is evidence about “multiple sources,” but cold fusion was described by Huizenga as “the scientific fiasco of the century.” As such, multiple sources can be found for many different points of view. Key word in Naval’s statement, “is.” The present tense. A source will state what is considered at the time. The “pathological science” claim is not found in secondary source reviews of cold fusion. On the point here, no evidence is presented for the claim as relevant to my behavior, “has willfully ignored.” I am and was quite aware of the claim, and of it being widely accepted, at least at one time, but that opinion does not reflect the present position of cold fusion in many mainstream peer-reviewed journals (nor as it was in 2009). What Naval was often doing was assuming “pathological science” as a background, a light in which everything else must be considered. No evidence here supports “tendentious editing” of the article. It does not even support argument by me, this was entirely Enric Naval. More on this below.

Item 2:  The cited Enric Naval section has: Abd has stonewalled progress in the article by walls of text and derailing discussions into off-topic and OR and it refers to another Enric Naval page that has been deleted. However, on the face, this is not about tendentious editing of the article. “Walls of text” would refer to talk page discussion that Naval found difficult to read. Yet any editor (including Enric) could collapse discussion considered too long or off-topic. This would not prevent progress at all. “OR” is “Original research,” which is not allowed on Wikipedia as source for articles, though the cabal often uses it when it suits them. The example of my own OR that comes to mind is comment on the 2004 U.S. DoE review of “cold fusion,” which contains several blatant errors by the anonymous author that had an impact on the overall review conclusions. So I pointed out the errors, and the point for the article would be that, in fact, the DoE review is a primary source, not a peer-reviewed review (though it is often treated as such, and then the conclusions are cherry-picked, and attempts to correct this by slightly more extensive quotation from the summary were always reverted.) The overall issue here is how editorial consensus is found, and the role of experts or others who become highly informed on a topic. Wikipedia is famously hostile to experts, and here we see why. Experts will assume that editors are actually interested in the topic! In some fields, one simply will be uninformed if not interested. And then we are left with uninformed editors balancing conflicts in sources. And there goes the project. Consensus famously takes extensive discussion, but discussion is not “wiki.”

Common cause of warnings on cold fusion: discussion of topic on talk page. There is a long-term solution which was strongly opposed (later) by the cabal: refer users to Wikiversity for discussion, since Wikiversity allows and encourages discussion of topics. These people do not want the topic actually discussed anywhere, not even on a neutral “sister wiki.”

No evidence here of tendentious editing of the article.

Item 3.   Abd has has consistenly removed or reworded sourced negative statements, and edit warred with other editors. Again, the actual evidence page is deleted. My responses were also deleted, at the request of JzG (highly involved. Does he disclose that? No.)  “Consistent,” to be evidenced, would require an extensive review. Consistent removal of sourced “positive” statements on cold fusion has been a characteristic of editors on cold fusion since before I was involved, and has continued. I have never done a review of this, nor did it happen in “Cold fusion 2.” ArbComm does not do “careful review.” It opens up a page and the community starts shouting, and then it picks. It does not create investigations, it uses “wiki discussion process,” which is utterly broken whenever depth is required. There have been a few users who would do it, and they end up banned. Evidence will be a “wall of text.” Enric Naval presented a huge farrago of arguments, but shoved the actual evidence off to his user pages, which, then, he could have deleted. I also used subpages; but would have, if I could have, protected them. Evidence presented in an ArbComm case should not be deleted, that was my position. As with many suggestions I made to ArbComm, it was ignored. And so the lynch mob mentality of many cases continues, without sober and independent investigation.

My recollection of Enric’s evidence here is that there was very little and that it did not support a pattern of behavior. I did remove some “negative statements,” specifically where either not supported clearly by the source. As can be seen with Enric’s evidence on the “pathological science” issue, he quotes sources sometimes with the opposite import of that intended by the author. The judgement of statements as “negative” and “positive” is actually OR, it is far from objective. As to revert warring, Hipocrite had appeared at the article, and in later review, he was clearly trolling for revert warring. The incident that led to WMC’s ban of me and Hipocrite arose when he revert warred, not with me (though I may have reverted once in that sequence), but with a series of other editors. He created the revert war, then requested protection, then edited again to create a version under protection that not even he supported. When I attempted to negotiate a deep consensus on the Talk page, this was the “experiment in democracy” Enric refers to as if this is some kind of terrible accusation. In fact, it was merely an attempt to measure consensus in a more sophisticated — and thus more efficient — way than by one proposal at a time, Yes/No.

This would have been the only piece of evidence relevant to “tendentious editing,” and it’s deleted. I might go over the history of the article. In this case, WMC was shown to have edited with an intention to “rile up” editors. Yet he wasn’t banned from cold fusion! Nor was Hipocrite, who “retired” as the case was filed, and WMC revert warred with me over including him as a party. Blatant misconduct by an admin was largely ignored by the clerks. Again, selective enforcement: a regular editor is banned, an administrator might be reprimanded, and only truly egregious abuse results in loss of tools. Sometimes. Sometimes not.

And the normal response of humans to abuse is then an excuse to ban them. I suggested that ArbComm process not make a case about the person who filed it, unless it shows frivolous filing, i.e., actual harassment, which should actually be a separate case. Instead, ArbComm makes and encourages each case to be come a possible monster, as this one did.

All this became clear to me through this case. However, I am now going further. There is a cabal. The extent to which it is a “conscious cabal,” isn’t clear, but there are too many “coincidences,” and recent events are showing that. The long-term problem is factions of editors who collaborate toward a particular shared point of view, and then decision-making process that allows a relatively small collection of such users to dominate article point of view, through controlling what sources are presented and what sources are excluded, and how all this is framed. In the matter of WMC and Hipocrite, the appearance is very strong that Hipocrite was an “attack dog,” sent to create a disruption that could then cover up factional intervention. Enric Naval is a relatively ignorant user who became involved, long-term, in pushing the “pathological science” conclusion about cold fusion. I did collect evidence on the long-term involvement of users, and that was deleted.

(Looking at Cold fusion today, I see that there is a “slow edit war” going on. Consistently and insistently reverting is a user with an unpronounceable name, who is actually Science Apologist, who was long ago banned from fringe science topics ….  but he managed to move around that, supported by “the community,” which means those who show up in a discussion, and that is highly sensitive to canvassing, which can easily be invisible — or merely constellations of watchlists.

It is very clear that some standard other than “reliably sourced” is involved in this revert war. The real problem is that the quoted text “looks positive,” and Science Apologist thinks this is wrong. However, the RS is Popular Mechanics, and it does not include that quotation, but rather the quotation is primary source referenced by PM. The real point to notice is how Science Apologist handles this: it is about an allegedly “activist editor.” But he is an activist editor, and the Arbitration Committee, while it has sometimes sanctioned such behavior, also long-term tolerates it … and promoted it, in effect, through banning me and others (then allowing unmonitored General Sanctions to create individual topic warnings, which somehow always seem to be one-sided).

In some cases there was blatant collaboration between administrators. For example, Jed Rothwell had been caustic in writing about the administrator JzG. His contributions. However, by 2006, Rothwell abandoned his account, giving up on Wikipedia, requesting his user talk page be deleted, which it was, and merely made occasional talk page comments by IP, which he signed, “Jed Rothwell, librarian, lenr-canr.og.”

His block log.

Setting aside the block for insulting William M. Connolley (who later pretends to be uninvolved), what stands out there is the block by MastCell in 2009, long after Rothwell stopped using the account. His block reason: (Account has long been abandoned, but editor continues to engage in disruptive behavior and advocacy via various IP’s)

The deletion log for his user talk page. 

What had happened that led MastCell to block Rothwell?

See this discussion on User talk:JzG. This was before the arbitration that found JzG had used tools while involved. That discussion references a request for arbitration. 

That request by JzG presents a pile of misinformation. I know both Pcarbonn and Rothwell. The only connection between them was that Rothwell is a librarian for lenr-canr.org, the best source for copies of peer-reviewed and other papers, now and then, and pcarbonn, once banned on Wikipedia at JzG’s insistence, would certainly know him. The article JzG mentions was published not by Jed Rothwell, but by Steve Krivit, a very independent publication. However, here, the issue was extending a ban for pcarbonn to Jed Rothwell, when the only evidence was a similarity of point of view. Rothwell always signed his posts as described above. The posts in question were not so signed. To distinguish point of view in a relatively arcane field, from someone prone to knee-jerk reactions, can be difficult. What JzG wanted to do, effectively, was ban a point of view, while leaving his own point of view free to operate, even with use of tools.

Some behave in the discussion as if the question is whether or not meat puppetry is banned. It is. That was not the actual issue. The issue was whether or not an IP editor can be blocked as a ban evader merely due to a similarity of point of view, and by an involved administrator. In real life, from the IP addresses — I studied this at the time — the IP editor was simply someone else interested in cold fusion, with some knowledge. That is going to resemble pcarboon and Rothwell. Then there were the actual Rothwell edits, i.e., signed. JzG had blacklisted the lenr-canr.org site, claiming that Rothwell had been “spamming” it. However, aside from legitimate links to lenr-canr.org, what JzG claimed as “spam” was simply that signature, which did not include a link, so blacklisting it had no effect. The whole thing was crazy, and it took quite some time to straighten out on the meta wiki (because when it became clear that his Wikipedia blacklisting was going down in flames, he went to meta and his request for listing there was followed. After all, reputable Wikipedia administrator, etc.

MastCell’s comment in that request for arbitration.

So, in the middle of an arbitration request, MastCell used his tools to support one point of view, and arbitrators don’t notice and don’t care. On the JzG talk page, Spartaz, a sometimes-worrisome adminnistrator, reprimands me based on the arbitration request:

It appears that those commenting on JzG’s proposal completely support him. Does that make you feel like you are hounding JzG a little bit. Spartaz Humbug! 16:47, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

He was a bit hair-trigger on that. What I had already seen by this time was a rapid pile-in of users involved in the “cabal” who would support the cabal position, quickly, often overwhelming the community, so that even blatant misbehavior, if confronted, would escape “consensus.” And so the cabal could continue doing whatever it wanted. To overcome this took substantial effort and time and was often simply impractical. And it would irritate many, and when people are irritated, they tend to lash out, to identify a scapegoat and whack the scapegoat. Again, to overcome that very human tendency takes structure, which is why, in ordinary society, we have rule of law and bureaucracy with responsible decision-makers and all those protections.

(JzG himself replied after this, from his Blackberry — unsigned by IP. His comments were, as was common, unbecoming of an administrator. The refusal to consider what was being said led to the subsequent arbitration, where my position was confirmed … but, still, JzG did not lose tools. In fact, that’s not what I wanted. I wanted ArbComm to set up some kind of supervision or relatively efficient review, something intermediate between toleration and removal of tools — or banishment..

In fact, reviewing the complete request, I find remarkable agreement with the position I was presenting, expecially with the arbitrator Carcharoth. I can also see harbingers of later arbitrator positions, i.e., Risker, Coren. I notice that the evidence I presented of JzG involvement with cold fusion has been deleted. Who deleted that? There were actually two deletions.

Deletion requested by JzG (“Guy”) The closing admin decided on deletion after allowing time to file a Request for Comment (RFC). I did file that and it refers to the original evidence page. In general, while the wiki software preserves most information, it is not uncommon for, in practice, this to be only visible to administrators, because of page deletions. It is also assumed that old history is irrelevant. This, then, inhibits the Wikipedia community from learning from the past, by making the past inaccessible for study. It is difficult enough to study without that problem.

There was a long-term problem with Jzg and it was obvious. So why was his administrative status allowed to continue, and why was he also allowed to continue interacting with users when it was clearly disruptive? To me, the question boils down to whether this was incompetence or whether it was something darker. (At the time, I assumed that ArbComm would be fair; others, such as Durova, knew otherwise. Jehochman, who actually filed the Abd-JzG arbitration, told me that JzG would not be sanctioned, even though he had grossly violated recusal policy. Why not? He was a valuable volunteer, who had done heavy lifting with OTRS (the WMF complaint ticketing process). But Jehochman was wrong about what would then happen, “they would keep him on a short leash.” There is no sign of any leash, and JzG continued with disruptive behavior, beyond, a little, abstaining from using tools when clearly involved: he would simply ask another admin to do it, and, as MastCell did as shown above, it would be done.

The actual encyclopedia content issue, and building a quality encyclopedia is supposedly the goal, gets lost. Traditional encyclopedias depend on paid editors with a responsibility for quality, and who rely on academia for support and writing. Good academic writing is also sourced, but organized by experts who know how to balance sources. It doesn’t always work, but it works far better than what amounts to warring factions on Wikipedia, who obscure the article issues by creating disruption. Yes. Administrators create disruption, at least some of it. They also provoke others who might be inclined to disruption, and I showed that in the period leading up to my ban. What would have been a minor incident turned into a massive family of sock puppets. Is it still happening? Yes. As well, these attract imitators! That is what happens with oppressive, authoritarian administration, or, really, with any unskillful administration. Teenagers are probably genetically programmed to resist domination, and some go on for a long time. See Scibaby on Wikipedia Review, I do show up in that discussion, it was during the 2nd RfAr.

This recent Scibaby Sock puppet investigation — filed 27 July, 2017 — reveals the problem we were concerned about back in 2009: a ban that is really a ban of a point of view. It’s quite explicit. The SPI was filed by an IP (always a bad sign). Looking at the IP contributions, the IP is also a “sock of somebody,” repeatedly disruptive, deliberately hiding identity. This mess a few days later is not so surprising, then. But only one apparent side of a very long-standing dispute is sanctioned.

The Wikipedia process crowd-sourced writing, editing, and administration with an ad hoc process that sort-of-worked, creating a massive project that was, at the same time, unmanageable. Solutions were known and strongly resisted by those with defacto authority in the community, see that Wikipedia Review Scibaby discussion. Some of those were very long-term, highly experienced Wikipedians.

One more point on Scibaby. In a long process of investigations, I have seen this, an incorrect identification can occur. Perhaps one user was accessing the internet from the same library, as an example, and that user is then blocked. Believing he or she was unfairly blocked, the registers a new account, which is then tagged as “Scibaby.” Ban enforcement becomes an end in itself, but Scibaby was never actually banned (a point I made back in 2009). This was simply two administrators (Raul654 and Wiliiam M. Connolley” making a decision and then enforcing it, and enforcing it became an industry. It used to be the situation that it was not enough to suspect someone of being a sock puppet to lead to checkuser being applied, there had to be actual disruption. Without that, checkuser requests were rejected. I know, because I’d attempted it with a blatant sock, later confirmed because the sock became more disruptive and was eventually checked.

That policy was consistent with “Wikipedia Rule Number One: Ignore all rules,” If a user is improving the project, the problem is? Well, they are violating the ban. That’s a “rule,” and does not necessarily improve the project.

Back to the reasons given for the finding of “tendentious editing.”

Item 4. We can’t take every peer-reviewed source seriously. Again, Enric Naval:

here from my evidence in the Fringe Science case. Actually, you should also look at the sections below “POV pushers won’t listen to reasoned arguments”, “People fighting POV pushers are being punished” and “People fighting POV pushers are being punished”.

This is not about me. It is about Enric Naval’s ideas, he presented in a prior arbitration where his position was not accepted. It is worth looking at in detail. It is essentially arguing against Wikipedia Reliable Source policy, and against the finding of that case. I was astonished at this being cited as evidence of “tendentious editing.” Did I claim some cherry-picked source as reason to imbalance the article? I certainly hope not! However, what Enric points to actually shows a serious problem, if examined closely. He wrote:

Fringe science POV pushers can cite literally hundreds of cherry-picked primary sources to support their fringe view (examples below). On certain fields they can also cherry pick from hundreds of published secondary sources (in homeopathy,389 published reviews and meta-analysis).

First of all, this is what any “POV-pusher” will do. This behavior is not confined to “fringe science POV pushers.” As well, it has been the habit of many anti-fringe editors, and Enric Naval has certainly done it, see his “pathological science” page cited above. He finds sources, therefore the fact he wants to assert is truth. No, by policy, Wikipedia takes every “reliable source,” as defined in the criteria (which is not all “peer-reviewed sources,” and there are reliable sources that are not peer-reviewed) “seriously.” That does not mean that it is taken as “truth.” Reliable sources are not “truth.” They are, however, independent sources with a reputation for accuracy and fairness to maintain. They make mistakes. How to balance this is up to editorial judgment, but the general solution is to cite and attribute, “according to.” However, the faction excludes what it thinks is wrong, even if strongly sourced, and includes what it thinks is right, without actually seeking consensus, preferring to seek sanctions against any editor who disagrees. Eric then gave this example of “piling-up primary sources for POV-pushing purposes:”

353 papers in Cold fusion out from a list of 1390 papers gathered up by a researcher, just 11 days after the cold fusion arbitration case was closed

This is highly misleading. The link is to an IP edit on Talk:Cold fusion (I have no idea who made that edit). The edit placed this comment:

Is a non-quantatative summary of DOE 2004 really better for the last paragraph of the intro than reliable sources?

It is remarkable that those who wish to report only the majority opinion of the 2004 DOE panel in the introduction are so steadfastly opposed the stating the size of that majority, or the experiments that the 2004 DOE panel proposed to resolve the controversy, some of which were performed and have been reported in the peer-reviewed literature. No matter how you look at it, that is an attack on WP:NPOV, giving WP:UNDUE weight to the deniers in the introduction, and it’s opposed to the vast majority of the experimental results published in the past decade. We already explain how Dr. Shanahan’s opinion about the recombination volumes he has apparently never observed are contradicted outright by authors who have measured them first-hand. Are we going to do the same for Kowalski’s complaints about the CR-39 pits or not? Shouldn’t we be doing that instead of “summarizing” in absolute terms the majority-only opinion of the DOE panel which everyone agrees didn’t even consider the SPAWAR results, wasn’t an anonymous review, and wasn’t even intended to produce anything more reliable than a government technical report? Why aren’t we using the more reliable peer-reviewed sources instead?

This issue of the 2004 DoE review was a clearly example where long-term POV-pushing maintained the impression that both reviews (1989 and 2004) were rejections. The reality, reading the review itself, is quite different. Since the source (the review report) is accepted, why not balanced information from it? The problem with this is?

It is obvious: those review statements make cold fusion look better than simply ripping a shorter statement out of the review. And this argument had been going on for a long time, and the apparent strong dislike of JzG for Pcarbonn I found originated in Pcarbonn skewering an ignorant comment by JzG, years before, on that topic. JzG was losing in the community, so he turned to wiki process to win. That is a story all its own, how PCarbonn, really happy that Wikipedia process was actually working, wrote about it on New Energy Times, and that was then twisted to make it seem like PCarbonn was attacking Wikipedia neutrality, when the reality was that JzG had been doing this, and others, for a long time.

I saw, time and again, whenever there was a careful and complete review process, JzG’s position would fail. That is precisely what he could not tolerate. The IP went on, and this is what Enric Naval is using:

http://www.chem.au.dk/~db/fusion/Papers has 313 papers with “res+” (meaning positive research results, case insensitive) on lines beginning “**” that do not contain “theor”, meaning experimental results, and 234 similarly but with “res-” instead. How high does the ratio need to go before it is accurately reflected by the introduction? 69.228.81.16 (talk) 05:17, 26 December 2008 (UTC)

This was not a reliable source being cited, but it was also not a “POV-pusher.” The link is to the Dieter Britz bibliography, and Dieter Britz is a skeptical electrochemist who started, years, ago, maintaining a database of cold fusion papers, covering and briefly reviewing all papers appearing in mainstream peer-reviewed journals. Naval cites different numbers, 353 papers in cold fusion out of a list of 1390 papers.

He was confused. Without spending too much time on this, I think that the “list of 1390 papers” was the complete contents of the Britz cold fusion database at that point. The IP excluded theory papers and only counted experimental papers, and Britz had classified 313 as “positive” and 234 as “negative.”

Whatever this is, it was not “cherry-picked.” It was the opposite: it was an attempt to look at the entire field, at all papers. For practical purposes, for Wikipedia, one would want to look at peer-reviewed reviews, not primary source research, so what is the balance there? And that opens a huge can of worms.

Later reviews take priority over earlier ones, in real science, because science moves on. Reviews of cold fusion — as distinct from passing mention in sources not intended to review the field — entirely moved to accepting the reality of an anomalous heat effect, with a strong majority considering the origin of the heat as nuclear in nature. For a list of reviews of cold fusion (not fully up-to date, and starting in 2005), see this Wikiversity resource (reviews are bolded). This is not cherry-picked, it attempts to be all mainstream documents. If it is not complete, anyone could add to it following the standards (or create their own list). Wikiversity deals with cherry-picking by adding in the rest of the cherries! But the Wikipedia faction has never deigned to contribute to Wikiversity, then they complain that the Wikiversity resource is biased.

The 2004 DoE review was actually evenly divided on that fundamental question, according to the report (and it is this fact that the faction always revert warred to exclude from the article.) How is it now? Same old same old:

In 1989 the United States Department of Energy (DOE) concluded that the reported results of excess heat did not present convincing evidence of a useful source of energy and decided against allocating funding specifically for cold fusion. A second DOE review in 2004, which looked at new research, reached similar conclusions and did not result in DOE funding of cold fusion.[10]\

I agree with the actual conclusions of both DoE reviews, setting aside certain errors that were made, and recognizing shortcomings. However, this presentation badly confuses an anomalous effect, indicating something not understood, that might possibly, under conditions that don’t exist yet, become an energy source, with one with “convincing evidence of a useful source of energy.” The actual report is much clearer that the DoE panel recommends further research. The original panel, in 1989, made the same recommendation. That is the “similar conclusion,” that and not recommending a new major program. In the article, this is presented as if this were a rejection of the effect itself. The 2004 review was far more positive on “reported results of excess heat,” but half the panel still did not find the matter conclusive. And this is obvious: the finding of anomalous heat as being reported was very unexpected and is not readily explainable by existing theory, hence some will demand “extraordinary evidence.” The real question is up to those who fund research, and there has continued to be funding for cold fusion research. My sense is that there is enough funding at this point.

The faction on Wikipedia would generally oppose research and seek to discredit those who engage in it. The faction continued to reject mainstream reviews of the field, no matter what the quality of the journal. And “reliable source” is not a matter of author, it is a matter of publisher, which has often been ignored. They trash policy in order to maintain their point of view in articles, they are still doing it, long after this could have been addressed.

That talk page as it stood later, immediately after I began to edit the cold fusion article and discuss it. It was already  a train wreck, and I did not cause that.

Back to Enric Naval’s claim: In the Fringe Science arbitration, his arguments were part of a defense of Science Apologist, wherein he defended uncivil editing as being necessary to “protect Wikipedia” from “fringe POV-pushing.” Wikipedia policy got a bit crazy about this. All “POV-pushing” was discouraged, but …. having a POV and arguing for it, civilly, on talk pages, was never against policy, it is probably impossible to find Neutral Point of View without allowing advocacy of Points of View. With the first cold fusion arbitration, the Committee allowed a faction to sanction an inconvenient user (Pcarbonn). In the FS arbitration, however, Science Apologist was topic banned.

The Final Decision in the Fringe Science arbitration, which was fresh and I was operating under the principles the Committee declared, but the faction never accepted that. Enric Naval, only a short time later, was essentially arguing against the Committee conclusions. From that Decision:

Prominence

4) Neutrality requires that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a reliable source, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each. Academic and peer-reviewed publications are highly valued and usually the most reliable sources in areas where they are available, such as history, medicine and science.

I interpreted this as requiring that if there is reliably-sourced information, it belongs somewhere on Wikipedia. (Being in Reliable Source also establishes notability.) There is a general problem in confusing “viewpoint” with what is published in reliable source. sources may support a viewpoint but if they are actually reliable, they do not “belong” to it. They are evidence that might be used to support a point of view, but articles should avoid an “article point of view.” The “SPOV editors” (Scientific Point of View, Science Apologist’s claim, explicitly rejected by the Committee in this decision) pushed continually for articles reflecting the point of view of “mainstream science.” If “most scientists” think cold fusion is completely bogus, then the article should convey that idea. However, there is no “Journal of Mainstream Scientific Opinion.” If Wikipedia editors do their job, as outlined by the Committee, the majority of reliable sources will reflect the majority opinion, but restricted in a way: journals only publish articles, in general, by experts. They don’t reflect “majority opinion,” but rather “expert opinion.”

To actually have a sense of what current thinking is among scientists requires original research, often. And original research is prohibited as a basis for articles. My own compromise on this was to allow original research in discussion, as background, but article content was to be decided by discussed consensus, and where there was local conflict, discussion was to be widened; this was standard Wikipedia Dispute Resolution process. And completely hated by the faction.

Again, the link provided does not show what was purported by the Committee finding. It actually shows the situation I was dealing with, a faction, including Enric Naval, who were holding on to personal views of “fringe science,” that think of “mainstream science” as a monolith, unchangeable, and that reject coverage of “developing science,” even when it reaches the level of peer-reviewed reviews and other academic sources. This was exactly what the Committee’s Fringe Science arbitration covered.

Link 5: Abd and other CF advocates have driven away editors from the article

Again, Enric Naval’s view. His explanation:

[121] (first paragraph, when asked to make an edit to the article) (there are more diffs, but they are difficult to find).

The editor in question was Woonpton. Looking into this, I find such a massive can of worms I’m going to give it a subpage, most of what is below in this draft will be moved there. I did write an arbitration case page on Woonpton, but JzG arranged for all that to be deleted. I may be able to find a copy. Woonpton played a larger role in setting up that cold fusion disruption than I had realized before.

I’m sure they are. Enric scrapes the bottom of the barrel and finds this comment from Woonpton, and it is not about tendentious editing of the article, but a reference to too much writing. This has nothing to do with article editing. This is common with uncivil editors: they see an incident that can be described a certain way (“driving away editors”), and they conflate it to a pattern.  At the point that all this disruption was taking place, I had just started to study cold fusion, I had been quite skeptical. However, when I’d encountered the abusive admin actions, I became curious and started to work on the article in some obvious places where it had strayed from neutrality. I was not an “advocate,” I became an advocate later in other contexts, and specifically an advocate of genuine research to resolve fundamental issues, i.e., I was advocating exactly the same thing as both U.S. DoE reviews. I was not using Wikipedia for this. To someone who was ignorant even of the basic physics involved in the idea that cold fusion was impossible (that would be Enric Naval, who demonstrated this clearly in his editing of Oppenheimer–Philips process) (the history shows a radical lack of understanding of basic physics), this looked like “advocacy.”

When I attempted to move toward neutral presentation in the Global warming article, which is where I first encountered William M. Connolley, I was doing the same. I was not — at all — advocating Global warming denialism (my general understanding was not far from that of WMC, I expect, just — like the IPCC — more nuanced), simply making the actual findings of the IPCC clear, and that is where WMC first targeted me for being banned. He wanted the article to make it appear there was no doubt, whereas the IPCC actually attempted to quantify doubt, the terms were defined and did not have the meanings of common language, but common language appeared more certain. The faction was immoveable, and used admin tools to enforce its point of view.

So what did Woonpton actually write? This was a discussion on User talk:Enric Naval. Looking at all this now, I’m seeing things that escaped me back then. I obviously saw that discussion, because I replied in it. Woonpton was showing far higher knowledge of cold fusion and cold fusion issues than is common. Looking at Woonpton’s contributions history, I’m now suspicious. Very early, the user redirected the user page to the user talk page. That’s very unusual for a new Wikipedian. There are plenty of signs, this user was not new in 2008. One of the first comments by Woonpton was:

I’ve done quite a study of Wikipedia, about the internal politics, the lack of respect for expertise, the wars between opposing factions on controversial articles, and decided that I was very naive in thinking I could make a difference or that anyone cared about anything I might have to contribute.

Then Woonpton became involved with a topic dear to pseudoskeptics, What the Bleep do we know? And immediately Woonpton reveals his or her point of view on the Science Apologist user talk page.

So, long before this, Woonpton was leery of getting involved on Wikipedia, and this had nothing to do with me. So, the Enric Naval talk discussion:

Controls in original cold fusion claims

Hi Enric, I know you removed it almost as soon as you asked it, maybe because it could have started a discussion that may have sidetracked your point, which was a good one. But if your question about a control experiment was intended as a serious question, I’ve been studying the history of cold fusion (not for Wikipedia; I doubt I’ll ever care to get involved with that article again, but for something I’m writing in RL) and I can tell you that the question of whether Pons and Fleischmann did controls and what they found was answered in so many different contradictory ways by the researchers themselves that it’s almost anyone’s guess what they actually did and what they actually found. On March 28, five days after their press conference, Fleischmann was asked by researchers at Harwell if they’d done a light water control; he answered that they “hadn’t had time;” in other words, his answer was no. When the paper was made available (unofficially by someone getting hold of a copy and faxing it to colleagues who faxed it to other colleagues) on March 31, it was immediately obvious to everyone who saw it that it didn’t include a control experiment; neither did the final (published) paper, nor did the errata published a few weeks later mention any controls. Surely by then they must have realized that the lack of a control was a big problem, so if they did have results to report from a control experiment, you’d think they would have added them to the errata, at least. That they didn’t, suggests to me that either they didn’t have a control, or that they’d done a control and that the results didn’t support their claim and they didn’t want to publicize that.

Context: this is July 20, 2009. I had already been effectively banned from the cold fusion article since June 6. The comments Woonpton is making about Pons and Fleischmann and light water controls were fair, but there is much more known about this now, and much more that I knew by then as well.

But aside from the lack of controls reported in their published paper, there were conflicting reports about controls elsewhere within the first few weeks. On April 5, Chase Peterson, president of the University of Utah, told the press that there had been a control with light water and that it “produced no significant heat.” On April 9, according to Taubes, Pons told a colleague privately that they had done a control and got excess heat with light water as well as heavy water, and that “This is the most exciting thing, this cold fusion works in light water too” but said he wasn’t allowed to talk about it (presumably by the DOE). At the ACS meeting in Dallas on April 12, Pons was asked if they’d done a light water control and said yes, and then after a pause, added “Several people are looking at that right now, including ourselves… ..that sort of reaction might be interesting,” but no followup questions were asked. On the same day at a conference in Sicily, Fleischmann answered the same question by saying “I’m not prepared to discuss it.” There are many more examples of inconsistent and even mutually contradictory answers to the question, but that gives a flavor and I wouldn’t want to swamp your talk page. A year or so later, Pons and Fleischmann published another paper which listed, according to Taubes, “fourteen control experiments, five of which had palladium electrodes in light water, and two of these, they claimed, had been done before March 23, 1989…” which begs the question, why, if they had those controls prior to March 23, they didn’t publish them in their original paper. It makes no sense, and scientists were left to draw their own conclusions, which they have. Woonpton (talk) 16:28, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

I was, at this time, banned from the article and talk page, but not from discussing cold fusion.

diff of removal for reference.

This was actually on my user talk page, so Woonpton was paying close attention to it! Woonpton as involved in the incident that led up to WMC’s topic ban.

You are right, I thought that it would just derail the discussion.

Ah, the article doesn’t mention the control thing? Gotta love these controversial topics with their contradictory sources and their main characters contradicting themselves in those issues that might make them look bad…. Also, yet another important bit of info that the article lacks -.- …. I’m still angry with myself for failing to notice this problem before. God knows for how long was our article saying that it was P&F who decided to betray Jones in their own, instead of them caving in to the pressures of their university. Way to comply with WP:BLP. Wikipedia, Fuck Yeah!! Coming again to save the motherfucking day. Funny that supporters of cold fusion didn’t notice that bit either, mind you, it reinforces my belief that nobody ever actually reads the articles, lol.

This is clear with Naval: he is focused on “supporters of cold fusion,” because he thinks that is me. Later, I concluded that “support” was appropriate, as in “support for basic research,” but in this time period I was solely a Wikipedia editor; but I was finding more and more reliable source covering matters excluded from the article, very actively so. Enric Naval was far from the worst.

There were many mistakes made in the cold fusion affair: Huizenga’s Cold Fusion:Scientific Fiasco of the Century is only one book, but the title speaks volumes. (And there is plenty in that book, written by the highly skeptical co-chair of the 1989 DoE review, that remains excluded from the article. For example, Huizenga noticed and was strongly struck by the Miles 1991 finding of helium correlated with heat, making that notable. All mention of the fundamental finding that the Fleischmann and Pons “anomalous heat” is correlated with helium, not merely sometimes found in the cells (which could be leakage, perhaps), remains excluded to this day, in spite of being covered in multiple reviews in mainstream peer-reviewed journals and academic publications).

That is the only direct evidence that the Anomalous Heat Effect, as it is often now called, is nuclear in origin. (McKubre adds the tritium findings, but that is not quite so direct, and tritium is apparently not involved in the main reaction, whatever it is.)

The issue of light water controls is certainly interesting, but there are some assumptions being made. Yes, Pons and Fleischmann reportedly did do light water control experiments. Many have run those as well, and one of the best illustrations of an episode of anomalous heat, SRI M4, shows calculated excess heat from a current excursion run through a light water cell and a heavy water cell, otherwise identical, where the heavy water cell shows substantial heat, and the light water cell only a small increase in noise, very little anomalous heat if any. That is a standard result, many have seen this. Pons and Fleischman were running more precise calorimetry than anyone, and found that light water did not produce a “clean control.” That could be caused by a light water reaction — but at much lower heat yield — or by the amount of heavy water normally present in light water. Nobody really knows from the existing experimental evidence. It is very clear, though: In a Fleischmann-Pons cell, if light water produces heat results, they are very low, near noise, whereas heavy water generates much more heat.

I consider that Pons and Fleischmann did not reveal all they knew to be one of the biggest mistakes they made. The situation with helium measurements was even worse. That is not covered in the Wikipedia article, through there is plenty of reliable source on it. (Taubes and Huizenga to start).

Well, I normally solve these problems by using the same strategies that I use in historic articles: I cite some secondary RS that has noticed the same problem and has made an analysis of it. I think that Simon’s book has a recount of those days where this issue might appear. As a secondary source, I sort of recall that maaaaybe it makes some statement about how it’s not clear how and when the controls were done, and how this helped casted doubts at a certain important moment of the process of rejection of CF, although Simon uses much more complicated words to say it. Park also makes his own conclusions out of the incident, and maybe also Huizenga. I’ll have to purchase from Amazon a few of these books (simon, huizenga, park, taubes, maybe Close) so I don’t have to rely in books.google.com with its non-viewable-pages-in-the-middle-of-the-section-that-I-need-to-verify. —Enric Naval (talk) 17:23, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

This was the situation then: when I decided to take an interest in the cold fusion article in early 2009, I bought all the major books, including those five plus Storms (2007), much more recent, but also reliable source (it’s the publisher who matters). And Hoffman, clearly reliable source, published by the American Nuclear Society with EPRI support.

This was the first time I had actually spent money to do Wikipedia research. I was a Wikipedia editor, with high interest in community structure and dispute resolution, not a “cold fusion promoter)” I also had enough science background to understand the issues, and I did not dive into “belief.” I wanted the article to present what was in reliable source, not opinions and wishful thinking or unverifiable opinion in either direction. As I came to see cold fusion as emerging science rather than established as fringe, I was very careful not to attempt to assert this in the article, but occasionally gave my opinion on the Talk page.

Taubes covers this in some detail, both in the text and in a lengthy endnote, and Huizenga also gives it good attention. Simon’s lack of neutrality, which I suspect is an inadvertent result of his spending too much time with cold fusion advocates and not having the scientific background to understand the thing from a scientist’s perspective, rather than a deliberate promotion of the aims of cold fusion advocates, makes his book less useful as a reliable source. There’s a definite POV to his portrayal of science’s dismissal of cold fusion as a conspiracy to suppress good science as a way of protecting the interests of physicists; the record, and the reports of neutral secondary sources, simply don’t support that. Woonpton (talk) 17:49, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Yeah, I have noticed that. Still, his book has restricted view at books.google.com, so I can check it out, and the others don’t, or they have less pages available. Which is why I want to buy the dead tree version, so I can use 100% of all the sources. I think that other sources mention that Huiznega’s book was the most influential book in the post-announcement debacle, and I have only seen from it a few quotes.

Also, Simon seems to cover the little details quite well, and it’s interesting because he tries to cover the events from the philosophy of science and ethic of science viewpoints and not just from the narration point. This mean that I can use him to nail the relationship of the naked facts with the evolution of the perception of the field by the scientific community. It’s not just that X said Y, it’s that X said Y becasue of Z and because of R and S had just happened, and this later caused T to happen due to its influence in the thinking of U. I want to see if those other books say that too.

Also, Simon is from 2002, so it has a bit more perspective, and it can see how the field evolved years later. —Enric Naval (talk) 18:13, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Umm, this is so different from my perception on having read the book, that I wonder if we’re talking about the same book. Bart Simon, Undead Science? If so, I think you’re putting much more faith in this as a reliable neutral source than it merits. Taubes and Huizenga are both much better on supplying minute detail and context than Simon, and besides, as I said before, the “context” Simon puts everything in is a false context, that of a conspiracy against cold fusion which simply isn’t supported by the facts and by an objective view of history, and what few details he chooses to include tend to be details that support that theory.

Woonpton is demonstrating a common faction editorial approach: “reliable source” has to do with “putting faith” in the source, which makes, then, the Wikipedia editorial process much more highly subjective than the policy intention. Sources are considered reliable per the publisher’s neutrality and motivation to publish worthy work. The publisher of “Undead Science” is Rutgers University Press. The book is RS, but Enric Naval wants to cherry pick the parts he likes. Woonpton is concerned about the author (which is typical for the skeptical faction). Simon discloses his potential bias, he has actually seen an excess heat experiment, and actually witnesses the effective suppression. His interest, though, is the sociology of science, and he never abandons objectivity on that, as far as I have noticed. There are other sociologists with similar conclusions, plus there is Taubes himself, who, while he has never revisited his book (yet, anyway), has written about another major “information cascade” that resulted in effective suppression of research and ideas that were never clearly demonstrated scientifically becoming “consensus.”

It is typical for a knee-jerk skeptic to accuse someone like Simon of cherry-picking, but it’s irrelevant. If Simon reports a fact, it’s notable by definition, and balance would come from including other facts that Simon might not have covered, not by exclusion of Simon. The skeptics have played fast an loose with “reliable source.” Because new editors arrive at Cold fusion, enthusiastic to include fact from other than RS, the faction easily picks them off. Few get to the point of actually learning about policy, how Wikipedia works, and they sure are not going to learn it by example from editors violating the policies with impunity.

Nevertheless, I’d have been happy to work with Woonpton, who actually is knowledgeable. However, as it turned out, Woonpton was highly reactive, and took a simple editing error and misunderstanding, easily cleared up, to the Administrator’s Noticeboard in what led up to the situation the above comment was made in the middle of. Again, this is a trait of the faction: rapid seeking of sanctions on “opponents.” But this was completely crazy in this situation! I was polling editors and seeking to maintain an orderly process, that’s all! I really didn’t care which version it was, if everyoue would be satisfied. And that is what the process actually found, such a version, and … WMC totally ignored it and restored the article to something completely different, he pulled out of the place where he was sitting.

The AN report. I am so reminded of why I was relieved to be banned from Wikipedia!

Woonpton continued on Enric Naval talk:

As far as the issue under discussion here, the lack of consistent information about controls coming from the researchers themselves, he provides almost no detail but simply refers to it very generally in passing, saying that Pons and Fleischmann’s answers to questions about controls were “troubling,” adding that scientists varied on how they viewed this evasion: “Some suggested that their hands were tied because of patent restrictions, others suggested that they did not have enough data to talk about their experiments competently.” Then he goes on to say that the troubling nature of Pons and Fleischmann’s replies to questions about controls was mooted by an independent replication, including controls, by Robert Huggins of Stanford; Simon’s description of this research says “More importantly, Huggins also ran a series of control experiments using light instead of heavy water. The light-water cells produced no discernible excess heat…” This description fits Simon’s theory, but is simply not consistent with the facts. Huggins’ controls with light water gave heat approximately 1.5 degrees lower than the experiments with heavy water, which according to Chuck Martin of Texas A&M, who found the same thing, can be explained by the difference in conductivity between light and heavy water.

I am again struck by the depth of Woonpton’s knowledge of those events, and I’m sure Enric Naval was. 1989 was a huge mess. Simon is not attempting a scientific review of the phenomenon and critique of Huggins’ work is not within his scope. What is the source for what Woonpton claims here? One does not naively assume that a difference in temperature equals heat production in the hotter cell; cells are individually calibrated, so Woonpton’s comment does not make sense, as stated. Excess heat in these experiments is often reflected by an unexplained temperature rise on the order of 1.5 degrees.

It is fairly strange to demand light water control experiments and then dismiss them because light water has different physical constants (which it does).

Huizenga does not cover the alleged Martin statement. Taubes has substantial coverage of Martin’s work, and mentions a light-water control which also showed heat (p. 190-192, 196-197). On p. 207 is the report of the first artifact found: a second thermometer that was functioning as a second cathode. When that thermometer was removed, the excess heat went from 110% to 30%. Okay, found it. Taubes p. 229.  So more accurately, Martin’s graduate student told Taubes, “the conductivity of LiOD in D2O is about a factor of 1.5 smaller.” If all that was being done was to compare temperature between a cell with LiOD/D20 electrolyte vs LiOH/H2) electrolyte, at the same temperature, yes, there would be a difference. Taubes has it as two degrees. Woonpton was probably writing from memory.

All this is actually not terribly important. What is quite clear is that some cold fusion research was overheated, too quickly conclusions were drawn. The effect was obviously either artifact or difficult to create. The reasons for skepticism are easy to see. However, that does not ultimately resolve the basic issue: is there an “anomalous heat effect”? And, if so, is it nuclear in origin. The early skepticism was often based on a lack of significant “nuclear products.” If deuterium was being fused, one would expect tritium from half the reactions, and a fast neutron from the other half. Further, there had been some reports of helium. If helium was the reaction product (that is very rare in hot fusion of deuterium), then there should be a very hot gamma ray, not observed. Tritium was observed at very low levels, very roughly a million times lower than would be expected. Neutrons were even more scarce, if the scattered neutron reports were not merely artifact or background.

But in 1991, Miles reported that he was finding excess heat and helium, and that he had measured the helium for set collection periods so that he could compare the heat and the helium, and they were correlated, and — Huizenga reports this with amazement, in the second edition of his book — the ratio was within an order of magnitude of the value expected if deuterium were converted to helium and heat without loss of energy through radiation. (Later work indicates that the actual ratio is close the that theoretical value.)

This casts an entirely different color on the whole affair, in hindsight. Something is happening in those cells and we don’t know what it is, but we do know, a little, what it does.

Now, the remarkable thing is that this has all been published. Huizenga was probably the first appearance in Wikipedia Reliable Source. But there are many, many secondary source reviews, but all of this has been actively excluded from the Wikipedia article, because of … people like Woonpton. Woonpton didn’t do much editing of the article, but he clearly had an influence on Enric Naval. Unless, of course, Woonpton is actually another editor, and there is a reasonably obvious suspect, who was banned, at the time, and who also complained about how Wikipedia was favoring the “fringies.”

Going on with Woonpton’s comment:

In other words, Simon dispenses with the inconsistencies about P-F’s controls or lack thereof by stating that the controls provided by Huggins were definitive and settled the question, when that’s simply not the case.

Simon says no such thing, so Woonpton cannot be trusted. Simon is not presenting scientific conclusions. He is looking at scientific process, at the sociology of science, his topic. Huggins served to “keep cold fusion alive” as an active topic for a time. It “looked like” a confirmation. I have never heard any “cold fusion advocate” tout Huggins as proof of anything.

My impression is that Huggins’ “replication” was later withdrawn entirely, but I got that from Seife and I don’t seem to have made a note of it, so I can’t confirm that precisely, since Seife has gone back to the library. Seife would be a good source BTW. Sun in a bottle: the strange history of fusion and the science of wishful thinking, by Charles Seife, 2008. It covers all the various discredited claims of discoveries of fusion so there is just one chapter on the Pons and Fleischmann version of cold fusion, but it’s quite good.Woonpton (talk) 20:44, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Seife is horrible as a source on cold fusion. It’s simply a comparatively cursory glance at the subject. “Cold fusion” as imagined in 1989 — and as he describes (incorrectly or misleadingly) as Pons and Fleischmann as having claimed — is probably impossible. There is nothing useful in Seife, probably, that is not present in more detail in Taubes, but Seife does cover the 1999 U.S. Patent Office fiasco involving Thomas Valone and Robert Park. This is reliable source coverage of that affair, otherwise mostly accessible through primary source, such as the arbitrator’s judgment. Seife has a clear story to tell: “wishful thinking.” And that is why Woonpton quotes Seife at the top of the user talk page. I thought, in 2009, that Woonpton was a woman; I don’t know how I got that idea, but I used “she.” In any case, this at the top of that user talk page:

“The more limited your understanding of science, the more scientists resemble masters of the occult, and the more paranormal phenomena seem likely to reflect undiscovered scientific truths.” — Wendy Kaminer

“The annals of science are littered with the names of once-celebrated scientists whose wishful thinking forced them to jump into the fringe. If their pet theories become resistant to contrary evidence, if their logic resists criticism, if their peers suspect that they have fudged results, they are expelled from the scientific community. Pons and Fleischman were at the brink days after they went public. Almost immediately they were told that their peak was in the wrong place. They had to make a decision: retreat or press on despite the damaging evidence. In the end, they leaped into the void and will never rejoin the ranks of mainstream scientists.” –Charles Seife Sun in a Bottle: the strange history of fusion and the science of wishful thinking. Viking, 2008.

These might as well be a CSICOP Manifesto. The point of view is being broadcast, and with it, there is a “Cabal Approved” stamp that I found very common on editors involved in the faction I pointed to in the arbitration that followed. It was not present there yet, the Manifesto was added 10 Sept. 2009.

The TINC logo (“There Is No Cabal”) was added by another editor I recall as having identified as regularly supporting the faction, Crohnie. The comment was “join us on the dark side.”

Woonpton again:

I went to the library and checked out Seife again to check my vague recall that Huggins had later withdrawn his report of replication. That turned out to be not quite accurate; he didn’t withdraw the report of replication, but the problems that had been found with it by other scientists had pretty much destroyed its value as a “replication of cold fusion.” Woonpton (talk) 00:28, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

Seife mentions Huggins in two brief sentences on page 152, almost entirely missing detail. “Texas A&M’s John Bockris and Stanford’s Robert Huggins became staunch supporters of cold fusion based on their labs’ results.” And then, “Huggins was criticized at the APS meeting by a fellow Stanford professor.” Taubes would be a far better source.

Since I haven’t read the other books, I can’t really compare and see if Simon is selectively citing details. I assume that you are correct in that Simon does. However, Simon is a science sociologist, and as such he gives insights that other sources are just not going to give. Anyways, I’ll just try to get a hold of those books, and cross-check the details in the article that are sourced to Simon to make sure that I didn’t source anything incorrectly.

By the way, couldn’t you add Seife’s book to the article and add Huggin’s experiment and cite the problems with the controls? —Enric Naval (talk) 00:45, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

Naval was correct about Simon’s perspective. The story of cold fusion is enormous. Taubes is a huge book. It would overhwelm Simon’s purpose to tell all the details. Woonpton implies that Simon is telling a story of a conspiracy to suppress cold fusion. That’s not what I got from Simon. However, pseudoskeptics common accuse people they think are “believers” of pushing some conspiracy there. There was what Tiernan, after Taubes on another subject (nutritional science) later called an “information cascade,” which is a social phenomenon, it happens with no conscious conspiracy. There were incidents where some kind of collaboration to suppress research occurred, and I mentioned the APS and Park and the Patent office affair, which was such an incident, but cold fusion was not crushed because of some conspiracy, and when I claimed a cabal on Wikipedia, it was not about a conspiracy theory, in general. I do see one example of probable behind-the-scenes collusion in that affair (Hipcrite and WMC). Mostly, the problem is a massively dysfunctional decision-making structure that does not actually seek consensus in the presence of conflict; rather it attempts to exclude the “bad people,” the “POV-pushers.” And Woonpton came in swinging in that cause. This answer is interesting:

Um, no, I couldn’t, sorry. Rather than try to explain why not, I’ll just point to the email from Kirk Shanahan that Mathsci posted on the case somewhere; that echoes very well my own view about trying to edit the cold fusion page, or any page where science and superstition meet. Not that I’m an expert in cold fusion as Shanahan is, but I am very solidly grounded in science and especially in statistics and in reading, interpreting and summarizing research literature, and like Shanahan, I don’t see any hope in ever getting that article to NPOV and keeping it there, nor do I see it as a good use of my time and energy to work toward that end; it would be as futile as tilting at windmills, or ploughing the sea. The cold fusion advocates will never allow it to stay neutral, and the quality of content, unless Wikipedia takes strong steps to curb such advocacy, will forever be compromised by their efforts.

The article is very poor and “cold fusion advocates” cannot be blamed for it. What “superstition?” Cold fusion is an experimental anomaly (heat and some other signals) coupled with an idea that the original might be nuclear (because expert chemists are unable to imagine a chemical explanation for it.) They might be wrong, but what is the “superstition?” This is classic “anti-woo.” Basically, it’s ad-hominem.

There definitely is a point-of-view problem, though. Some people become very attached to particular positions on cold fusion, and this happens in both directions. If Wikipedia policy were followed, it would not be such a problem, but … it isn’t, so it is.

People following the thinking of Woonpton — and Enric Naval — are far more responsible than those alleged “supersitious believers”. There are people who occasionally attempt to edit the article, to remedy the blatant defects. First of all, the amount of material available in reliable source on cold fusion is enormous. The article could not bear it. The solution is obvious: create specialized articles on subtopics. This has always been resisted, because, the faction believes, cold fusion is “fringe” and having multiple articles would be “undue weight.” But the idea of undue weight is legitimately based on an alleged availability of reliable sources. And this was the point I attempted to make in working on the cold fusion article: if it is in reliable source, it belongs somewhere in the project as an aspect of human knowledge that not only exists, but is notable, which was what appearing in Reliable Source shows. (“Reliable” does not mean “true” or “accurate.” The faction uses this against interlopers, who commonly don’t understand this, but then shoves the policy aside when they don’t like it.)

Shanahan had written quite a bit of material about his own ideas, and did not understand that it wasn’t usable. I rescued his content (it was later deleted in JzG’s frenzy), hoping that it might become an article on cold fusion calorimetry, which is quite a subject with many sources and reviews. Shanahan, however, is fanatic “Shanahan is right and nobody understands him.”

Creating a good cold fusion article is a lot of work, and doing that on Wikipedia is ten times as much work. What an editor can do, individually is only a very little, except for one possibility, which Science Apologist actually demonstrated. The Wikipedia article on Optics was apparently poor, a disorganized mess, which Wikipedia articles can easily become. So while SA was site banned, he wrote an article in his user space on another of the WMF wikis. He could easily have done this even in mainspace on Wikiversity, and he could have drafted a Wikipedia article as a subpage there (and Wikiversity does allow effective ownership of a page, at least for a time, if it is neutrally linked from the top level in mainspace, and there is almost total freedom in user space.)

This is not the reason why Woonpton would not make that edit. Naval is trying to use this to claim I drove Woonpton away, but a review of Woonpton’s history does not support that. The reason is that Seife had nothing on the particular topic to contribute, and Woonpton had allowed Naval to think that what he said was from Seife. In fact, if anything, it’s from Taubes, and is also probably far too much detail for the article as it stands. A complete Wikipedia article on cold fusion would actually be a family of articles, but, again, almost every attempt to create more specialized articles was met with massive resistance by the faction. JzG, as I recall, personally deleted one (out of process, that was part of what he was dinged for).

Simon does give some good context for the aftermath, in describing the dynamics and interconnections and sense of persecution by which scientists who have marginalized themselves by hanging onto discredited science become more and more insulated and self-reinforcing, and certainly that should be part of the article. But he doesn’t seem to understand enough about science to be able to understand and cover why cold fusion was so thoroughly discredited in the first place. It’s really pretty simple, why scientists turned against cold fusion. For example, I was at a family reunion this week, and one of my brothers-in-law, a chemistry professor emeritus, asked me what I’ve been thinking about lately. I said, “Well, as a matter of fact, I’ve been thinking about cold fusion.” He proceeded to tell me about his reaction to the cold fusion business at the time it was happening. He said that a colleague in his department brought him a pre-publication copy of the Pons and Fleischmann paper and asked his opinion. He read it over, said it was a bad paper and that some of it, like the estimate of the pressure within the lattice, was just plain wrong and the rest looked fishy; he didn’t see enough data or rationale to back up their claims to make it worth his time to try to reproduce it. This was just one chemist, not in a big research university on the east coast but in a state college in the midwest. The idea that was begun by the Wall Street Journal on April 12, 1989 and quickly taken up by cold fusion advocates, that the opposition to the research came from physicists in big research labs on the east coast, is just, well, not supported by evidence. It makes a comforting excuse for their research not getting funded and so forth, but the data just don’t support it. And it’s instructive, I think, that Simon simply repeats that meme without questioning it, even though most of the people who criticized the research and couldn’t replicate it were chemists, not physicists. At any rate, I’ll leave you to your own devices; I’m sure you’ll do the best for the article that you can. BTW, I haven’t read the below and don’t intend to; the first phrase was insulting enough that I didn’t care to read any further. At any rate, one thing about Abd’s writings is that they are endlessly repetitive, so I expect I’ve seen it all before, on the case pages of this case and the previous cold fusion case, on various user talk pages, and on the cold fusion talk page, and I haven’t seen anything persuasive in any of it yet. Good luck, Woonpton (talk) 00:16, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

At this point, I had a background (physics with Feynman at Cal Tech), had been aware of the announcement in 1989 and understood the possible significance, but concluded from the lack of progress (which I assumed from how obscure the topic became) that it had been a mistake. I did not start reading in the field until early 2009, but …. I bought all those books and I actually read them, which was very different from Enric Naval. I also understood them, Naval’s understanding of science was very, very poor.

Woonpton appears to have been expecting “persuasive” writing about cold fusion, i.e., persuading that it was real or something. I was describing what I found as I studied the sources. And yes, I was finding some remarkable stuff.

I was naive at this point, I imagined that those who would want to edit the article would actually be interested in exploring the subject. I learned not to do that, but even dealing with ordinary editorial decisions was like pulling teeth. Looking back at it now, the process was utterly insane, weeks of work to push a boulder up a hill, it seemed like a boulder, but from a wider perspective it was a pebble. Why was it so hard to push a pebble up a hill? And then it rolls down the hill.

I spent some weeks negotiating the addition of a single link to a conference paper by Martin Fleischmann, that JzG had blatantly and personally revert warred to keep out. It was hosted on lenr-canr.org, which he had arranged to have blacklisted, but … this paper told his story, what Leischmann was looking for in his research with Pons. (Hint: it was not “free energy.” They suspected that the actual fusion cross section in the solid state would be different from the calculations based on the Born approximation, i.e., treating matter as mostly free space. They thought that they would probably find nothing, that there would be some difference would not have been surprising at all, one of the few things I remember from Feynman is his comment that we did not have the math to calculate the solid state, so approximations are used, simplifications. So when their experiment melted down ….) I had obtained whitelisting of the link (which was, again, like pulling teeth, when it should be, by policy, easy. Except that JzG commonly lied about the web site.

And I was naive, thinking that Enric Naval actually wanted to learn about cold fusion (and by this time I knew far more than him), and that Woonpton might actually want to discuss this. So I wrote:

Woonpton, it is a huge relief to me that you have obviously done as much research as you have. The issue of controls in CF experiments is a deep and complex one. Yes, P and F did run some controls with light water, but the results weren’t what they expected, for whatever reason. It should be realized that the P and F work on excess has been confirmed by hundreds of research groups, from peer-reviewed studies (I think the count is at 153), and much more from conference papers, and some of these groups report control results with light water. It’s clear that with palladium electrodes, light water controls generate far less excess heat than do heavy water experiments. P and F did not report the light water controls because they didn’t function as a clean baseline; part of the problem may be that light water does normally contain some deuterium; further, it is not impossible that some level of fusion or other reaction takes place with hydrogen. (There are non-nuclear explanations proposed for the excess heat; hydrino theory would be one, that don’t necessarily involve any fusion, they they do involve new physics.) Given that in the early days, most experiments showed no excess heat at all, the conditions that result in the P-F effect were very poorly understood. So it would have taken many more experiments to make some kind of consistent sense out of the light water/heavy water comparisons. In addition, Fleischmann was functioning under some severe legal constraints coming from the University of Utah, the field was hampered for years by those restrictions.

This issue of light water controls is a fascinating aspect of the history of cold fusion, and the article — or a fork — should cover whatever we have from reliable source on it. I do recommend Simon for general reading on the subject. It’s not expensive on-line for a used copy, if you can’t get one from a library. Simon researched the history with more depth than any other source we have, though he doesn’t cover, obviously, the very significant developments after his publication.

(I found Simon interesting, but not as important as Huizenga and Taubes, on the skeptical site, and Storms and Beaudette on the more positive side (but Beaudette was self-published, so not RS, even though he was careful), and then Hoffman, for a genuine skeptic who realizes that he doesn’t have all the answers.)

One part of the story I’ve read in many places, but I’m not sure it was RS, is that when they ran out of the original batch of palladium, and for a time, Fleischmann and Pons were unable to replicate their own work, all the experiments were flat, no excess heat. We do have RS on the problem of experimental variations that are likely to lead to excess heat or no excess heat, including the exact palladium condition needed, but it wasn’t until 2007 that we have secondary peer-reviewed source showing that some groups had reached 100% excess heat success. One of the techniques is co-deposition, which is far simpler and far more reliable and far faster than the earlier bulk palladium work, this is what the SPAWAR group has done most of their work with. Good luck with your research.–Abd (talk) 15:46, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

I’m no long quite as bullish on co-dep. There have been replication problems. The SPAWAR results are fascinating, though, particularly the neutron findings, even though, this is totally ironic, neutrons tell us almost nothing about cold fusion because the levels are so miniscule. “Something nuclear is happening” gets old, if it doesn’t get specific! I went on:

One more comment, Woonpton. I have Taubes, Huizenga, Hoffman, Mizuno, Simon, Storms, and the ACS LENR Sourcebook. Hoffman is fairly early, 2004 [sic, 1994], and a skeptic who is very neutral. Simon is neutral, in my opinion, and he is simply much more informed than most of the skeptics, he interviewed both “believers” and skeptics. Hoffman should be read, I’d suggest. He lays out the issues and doesn’t force any conclusions on the reader. He reviews Taubes and Huizenga pretty accurately. Taubes had an agenda, which is revealed in a number of sources, and Huizenga had a huge axe to grind, but both are valuable sources as to the history. Park, which I don’t have, appears to be far from neutral. [It wasn’t long before I got a copy.] Storms is generally quite accurate; obviously, he believes the effect is real, you don’t devote twenty years of your career, even at the end of it, to something you think is totally bogus, and Storms is secondary RS, for the most part, and that gives us RS access to some of the conference papers, i.e., what he considers notable. The ACS sourcebook, unfortunately, is quite expensive, but it is peer-reviewed. There is another one coming out this year. Notice the publisher, not just the ACS, but Oxford University Press. Cold fusion is coming out of the cold, and being welcomed. Whatever we have of RS on this, we should not withhold from our readers, per the Fringe science arbitration. As always, it should be presented with balance and attribution where there is no clear scientific consensus; the fact is that at this point, there is no longer any clear scientific consensus on cold fusion. There is a general atmosphere of rejection, but whenever neutral experts have reviewed it, the support for the reality of low-energy nuclear reactions is significant, far above what would be expected for pathological science or even for fringe science. I’m contending that it is now emerging science, still quite controversial. …. We should follow the guidelines to determine due weight. —Abd (talk) 15:58, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

At this point I had roughly six months of looking at cold fusion sources, so my view of the field was still relatively naive. I had impressed some in the field enough that I was given that copy of the ACS LENR Sourcebook, but everything else I bought. (Now, I have donation funding and just bought a library on cold fusion for shipping cost, so I may sell what is extra.)

All a complete waste, as far as improving Wikipedia. I did learn about cold fusion, not just then, but continuing, writing about it on Wikiversity and in other fora, mostly engaging with the actual scientists (very few of them would consider coming near Wikipedia), and eventually identifying the paper that needed to be written, and writing it and seeing it published under peer review, something that Shanahan can’t manage, nor could any of these “editors” come close.

What drives editors away is when they cannot add information to an article that they know is true — commonly a problem on Wikipedia, often biting newcomers, because “verifiability, not truth.” But instead of this being explained carefully, and being supported to to what they could do within policy, they are attacked as “POV-pushers.” It happens on all sides, by the way. Woonpton may have wanted to add things that would not be allowed.

What Enric Naval cited did not show what ArbComm was claiming in Item 5. There was a toxic environment at the cold fusion article, and it had begun long before I became involved and it continued to this day.

Part of that toxic environment is more general for Wikipedia. I was banned from a topic when I had been taking great pains to seek genuine consensus. The article was literally attacked by Hipocrite, who was then protected by William M. Connolley, all with a show intended to seem “neutral,” but WMC was far from neutral. What I eventually found was that there were arbitrators, possibly a majority, who had wanted to ban me during the JzG arbitration, but they had no cover. They were looking for an excuse, and they took the train wreck of the “Cold fusion 2” arbitration to pick out some excuses, but there was no there there.

In addition to the topic ban for a year, I was site banned for three months, and there was the so-called MYOB ban. It runs directly contrary to Wikipedia policy on disputes, but it’s not hard to see what they were reaching for.

ABD EDITING RESTRICTION (EXISTING DISPUTES)

3.2) Abd is prohibited from participating in discussion of any dispute in which he is not one of the originating parties, unless approved by his mentor(s). This includes, but is not limited to, article talk and user talk pages, the administrator noticeboards, and any formal or informal dispute resolution. He would be allowed to vote or comment at polls.

This caused the most mischief of any of the decisions. It’s odd because Wikipedia dispute resolution procedures suggest finding someone to intervene who is not involved. So …. they wanted me not to help others resolve disputes. However, on what demonstrated problem was this based? Nothing was shown in this case. In the events that led to the WMC ban, etc., I was very involved. However, with JzG, I was not. I saw clear recusal failure and confronted it. I had intervened in many disputes and actually resolved them, finding consensus. That, however, often takes much discussion.

Reviewing the case, it seems that it was based on this finding:

Abd’s style of discussion
10) Abd’s style of discussion has made it difficult for other editors to work with him.

The MYOB sanction was indefinite, no term. It was, however, softened by the mentor provision. But then the Committee rejected the mentor proposals. They apparently believed that mandatory mentorship doesn’t work. Of course it doesn’t, given the lack of reliable structure. (It is not enough to utter the magic word, “mentor.”) So the MYOB ban passed but no mentorship requirement was passed. Later, I voluntarily accepted a mentor, and that was rejected even though the plain wording allowed it. (The Committee voted to remove that language later — instead of strengthening mentorship, perhaps requiring ArbComm approval of the mentior — or what would work even better a mentorship committee, a group of trusted users, each one of which could serve. And rules to cover the unavailability of the mentor, or conflict between the user and mentor.)

And this was ironic. Fritzpoll ran for ArbComm and won. He told me that my work was what had inspired him to run. He recused himself on any case involving me, there were several later minor procedures. He volunteered to be my mentor. He was told that an arbitrator cannot be a mentor. (According to his report to me, this was all private discussion, probably on the ArbComm mailing list.) Where did they get that rule from? The arbitrator would simply recuse, as Fritzpoll was already doing.

No, a majority of the Committee wanted me gone, or confined to the Recent Changes salt mines. The MYOB ban was, over time, interpreted to the point of utter insanity. I was blocked for things that I never contemplated would be issues, and it became obvious: things became prohibited because I did them.

To continue with the story: Site-banned for three months, I went to Wikiversity and became involved, and realized that Wikiversity had the potention to transform Wikipedia, being a place where issues can be discussed and educational resources on a topic built, with depth and true neutrality-through-inclusion, a place where revert warring on educational resources was rare, because multiple resources could be created. (If someone wanted to create a Biology seminar through a creationist perspective, and with certain caveats, they could do it. Global warming “denial” (it is called “denial” by those who believe in global warming, generally, and “skepticism” by those who reject it.) could be thoroughly covered — in all directions.

This is an unrealized potential, compared to what is possible. The in-depth discussion that so many Wikipedians hate is fully possible and common on Wikiversity. I was far more at home there than on Wikipedia. When I returned after the three months, I was much more careful. I suppose I should review the block log.

Standard. It is interesting to me that autoblock was disabled. Not sure why that was part of it. My paranoia leads me to think that it was to avoid blocking any sock puppets. If I was socking, they’d want me to go ahead so they could whack me more deeply. Had I used another account during the site ban, it would have been within the checkuser data retention period and would very likely have been detected. I later created one sock to test enforcement (I’ll cover that below), and, even though that sock was not disruptive, an arbitrator ran checkuser and tagged it. This was then the basis for my ultimate “community ban.” Set up by an arbitrator. “Just because you are paranoid does not mean they are not out to get you.”

I did not sock during the block. I did believe that the community had the right to ban, generally, as long as the general implied contract was in place. It was in place until due process was completely exhausted, there being the issue of the general rights of the full human community, and that is a very tricky road to follow against a community consensus. What was the consensus?

Wikipedia structure might as well have been designed to avoid finding it. Most of the full community has no clue that it has power. Those who do have defacto power do not want to see power distributed, it would lessen their own power, and those few who would welcome that mostly retire anyway, it becomes far to tedious to follow the wikidrama.

This is all consequential on the default wiki structure, what it is without restraint. It could have been predicted. My stand is that there are solutions, but every attempt to explore them, even experimentally, was demolished, sometimes with surprising vehemence, by a few very opinionated and very vocal members of the community. Not “fringies.”

What led up to that? Mathsci had warned me, December 31, (and Mathsci had been reprimanded by ArbComm in that arbitration for incivility). WMC and JzG show up in the ensuing discussion. JzG was actually nice, and I think my response to him, while “frank,” was rude, from the perspective of my later training. His suggestion of Durova as mentor seems to have been sincere, but the problem was that the Committee majority really didn’t want me editing at all. Durova would have been great (she had cosigned the JzG RfC that led to him being reprimanded by ArbComm). But I don’t think I asked, because I could see it would be useless.

So, January 10, I was notified that the editing restrictions had been revised. The mentor provision had been removed. There was a request for Arbcomm clarification of the restriction filed January 11, 2010, by WMC. Just how tight the faction wanted the restriction to be interpreted can be seen in Enric Naval’s statement. Oppenheimer-Phillips process had been cited by me as a physical process that might help understand one of the cold fusion theories, but it is not cold fusion, the connection is only speculative, and my edit was truly minor. I had edited that article extensively before, leading to no conflict (though Enric Naval had demonstrated major ignorance of physics), and the edit was only about avoiding multiple identical wikilinks in the same paragraph, standard wiki practice. So Naval was attempting to wikilawyer this into a violation, and that is a factional trait: attempting to tighten sanctions on anyone perceived to have an opposing point of view, even if the actual protested behavior is harmless at worst. The edit was accepted with no problem. Obvious obvious.

Who was Skinwalker? The user repeated Enric Naval’s argument about O-P process, adding nothing. By examining history, it can be found, this is  Vanished_user_kasjqwii3km4tkid.  This was a factional user, from contributions. The user registered 27 August, 2005. Contributions do show factional interest. The name “skinwalker” has implications of someone hiding true identity for malevolent purpose. I was unable to find the rename log entry; however, it happened after the last edit

A name like Skinwalker would be attractive to a factional editor, so I suspected it would have been re-used. It appears it was. So I found a plauasible identify for Skinwalker. He is a professional archaeologist, a blogger, with a penchant for debunking and skepticism. He uses “woo” as if it’s an objective reality. He made a statement and later defended it:

The idea only truly becomes pseudoscientific once Morgan ignores the data and arguments that successfully refute the hypothesis without refuting the data and counter-refuting the arguments

This is classic pseudoskeptical fog. Ideas are not pseudoscientific merely because someone who has the idea ignores something. “Refutation” is a high-level judgment, highly sensitive to the world-view and emotional responses of the judge. The situation described, if realistic, would show a failure to defend the idea, that’s all. The claim by internet flame warriors, “You ignore that …” followed by various allegations, is common. It does not actually show ignorance, only that the commentator is simply trying to make that person wrong. (“Ignorance” is not a measureable entity, it is an imagined non-existence of something. We are ignorant of almost everything in the universe, it could be said; the common expression is the “price of eggs in China,” obviously said outside of China.)

“Refuting data” is weird. Data is data, unless it is fraudulent. What Skinwalker would mean is answering criticisms of interpretation of the data. Maybe he was just being sloppy, but I am seeing here the typical arguments of the more intelligent — but still factional — editors on Wikipedia.

Some of Skinwalker’s last comments were in another RfAr/Clarification. 

He is taking a position very similar to Science Apologist at the time: ArbComm was, in their view, unfairly favoring editors with fringe points of view, who, that faction more or less believed, should be kicked off the project.

ArbComm commonly flogs users who fail to follow Dispute Resolution process, or — in my case — who fail to follow it quickly and with perfect, succinct arguments, or for many real or alleged faults, but I never saw ArbComm actually set up a working DR process that would seek genuine consensus. I ran those a few times, successfully, but … ArbComm with the MYOB sanction, prohibited it. I don’t think ArbComm knows how to do it. They are not trained.

I find the later behavior eerily similar to Skinwalker popping into that Clarification about my MYOB ban. I am not sure when the Guerilla Skeptics began to operate, but Skinwalker was not involved in that dispute, yet dives in with a standard antifringe point of view. That point of view frequently is rejected when there is broad discussion on topics where understanding is relatively easy. Skinwalker was lambasted by Keithbob. Shortly after this Skinwalker vanished.

Now, to the point: this is not how to run dispute resolution, and not how to make decisions where consensus is the goal. I wrote a great deal over the years about how it could be done with far higher efficiency and effectiveness, and that was very much unwelcome among the dominant factions on Wikipedia. They want to win, not to find consensus.

It ought to be obvious: a consensus developed by excluding dissenters (or intimidating them into silence) is not actually consensus. Wikipedia operates on a naive model of how people function, assuming that there are those who simply will not cooperate. While such doubtless exist, they are actually rare. In the twentieth century, extensive consensus-seeking technology was developed. It was ignored by those who created the Wikipedia structure.

That someone wants another banned should be grounds for high suspicion of the accuser. Yet I recently studied — and acted in — a case where the accuser was plainly and blatantly disruptive, and an admitted sock puppet, but all attention was focused on the alleged offender, creating disruption that took months to disentangle, as to effects on other WMF wikis — and the mess still has not been cleaned up on Wikipedia.

Genuine consensus is stable, self-enforcing. Genuine consensus is “community.” While there will be people who will defy genuine consensus, these are very few. Disruption occurs when points of view are suppressed and repressed. So Wikipedia, with its naive ideas of “NPOV” and “rough consensus,” was a setup for endless conflict.

To finish up looking at the Future Perfect block, FP explains his action on that RfAr/Clarification. 

He refers to the warning and discussion on my User Talk page, which he represents in a manner that demonstrates what I was saying. He was, or quickly became, involved. Future Perfect revert warred with Atren over the removal of my comment. We can see in my block log, Future Perfect became a frequent visitor to my block log. (Three more blocks.) In a sane system, another administrator would have tapped him on the shoulder, as Atren attempted to do, without being an administrator, and said, “recuse!”

and so the first tightening of the MYOB ban began. There was wikilawyering over whether or not it was a poll. It  looked like a poll to me, and, in addition, I considered myself involved. ArbComm declined to clarify, — other than removing the mentor issue — so it was predictable that unless I simply abandoned working on Wikipedia issues, which is what they really wanted — it would get worse.

At this point I looked more at Atren’s history. This is remarkable. On his User page, he copies the list of bans from the Global Warming arbitration.

The following editors are banned from the topic area of climate change, and may not appeal this ban until at least six months after the closure of this case (and no more often than every three months thereafter); William M. Connolley Polargeo Thegoodlocust Marknutley ChrisO Minor4th ATren Hipocrite Cla68 GregJackP A Quest For Knowledge Verbal ZuluPapa5 JohnWBarber FellGleaming

I had not much followed Global warming, but in 2008, I had noticed and confronted William M. Connolley’s abuse of tools with it. That was a background to his actions wrt me in the cold fusion area. Notice Hipocrite, again, and Verbal. Other editors I don’t immediately see as problematic, but …. there were many more not mentioned, particularly administrators who supported WMC and the others. I recognize, as editors who confronted those abuses, Atren and Cla68. ArbComm was, once again, shooting the messenger. Now this doesn’t mean that they did not make mistakes, but ArbComm essentially asks of those who might identify and act with regard to admin abuse (and factional abuse, a far more difficult problem) that they be perfect, in areas where arbitrators themselves don’t know how to act. The structure does not select for those skills, it largely selects for those who don’t ever rock the boat, at least not until they have been handed the keys to the wheelhouse.

Atren comments:

I have been sanctioned by arbcom because I asked questions and challenged admins who behaved badly.

I am displaying this sanction at the top of my User page because I am proud of what I did throughout my time in the climate change topic area. I was one of the few editors with the guts to push back against one of the most destructive factions ever to edit here, and that did not sit well with some of the agenda driven power brokers who run this place. So even as they begrudgingly handed out sanctions to the real problem editors, they had to catch me and others in the net as well. It’s called “shooting the whistleblower”.

Indeed. In this particular sequence, Future Perfect revert warred with Atren.

Researching this, I saw these Administrator’s Noticeboard posts. JzG seeking and obtaining topic ban for Pcarbonn. and extended discussion. I don’t think that anyone could claim after reading all this that Wikipedia makes decisions by deliberated consensus. It’s a lynch mob, and the few sane voices are drowned out. JzG did this over and over. ArbComm ignored it.

And, of course, they went after GoRight (as they had been, for some years. I first became aware of the “cabal” as the group of users demanding that GoRight be banned. That’s a long story by itself.

And this attempt by JzG to stir more up. What I notice the most, besides JzG’s usual deception, was the comment by Tzenkai:

I also am of the opinion that this would be a lot easier to sort out if the same cast of characters didn’t show up every time.

I.e., my point. Problem is, uninvolved users notice the problem but actually do nothing about it. Many pointed out to JzG that he would best back away. But why should he? ArbComm had shown — and continued to show, that they would allow almost anything from him. Very few users would take a matter to Arbcomm, unless they don’t care if a screaming mob shows up demanding they be eviscerated, which ArbComm often allows. Someone who has been editing for years on Wikipedia has countless hours invested. So do just go away, and that may be the sanest response.

See also the discussion on Tzenkai’s user talk, started by WMC. ArbComm was about to prohibit WMC and I from having any interaction with each other. Enric Naval also attempted to stir things up. The more I see all this stuff, they more I never want to have anything to do with that community again. It allows people like JzG and Enric Naval to have free rein, and goes after people who actually care about the core values of the project. This is not about points of view, other than humane vs. inhumane.

And this is the discussion that I commented in, as closed. Train wreck. This is the damage that a faction can wreak. They will see the activity and pile in. So many names there are still familiar. ArbComm refused to look at the “cabal” — which simply meant “faction that exerts some kind of power.” This was head-in-the-sand behavior. They did look a little later in the Climate Change arbitration mentioned, but the actions they took were minimal, largely ineffective, and many of them have slid back down the hill. It can be seen there that some users did think that this discussion had become a poll.

And that shows how slippery the MYOB restriction was. The actual intention was not clear, so intepreting it was difficult. JzG obviously interpreted it differently than I. I did not think that my comment was violating the restriction (in spite of all those claims that I was pushing the edge. In addition to the “poll” issue, I was quite involved with the topic, for years, I had defended GoRight extensively when he was under attack by these same users.

Later, quite a few of those who supported the GoRight block were topic banned by the Committee. Atren was right. They shoot whistle-blowers, and then, maybe, later, they take some token actions to deal with what the whistle had been blown over. It’s “wiki.” After all, if they shoot the whistle-blower, which is easy, it makes things nice and quiet and maybe the problem will go away by itself. Actually understanding the causes of conflict can take work, time, energy.

That discussion history.

The “poll” or “not-poll” as it was when I made my supposedly violating comment. I count eight “!votes.” Then my comment. “not-voting” continued, and Future Perfect removed my commentAtren restored it, pointing out my prior involvement (correctly).

TS (Tony Sidaway) then responded to my comment, asking me to justify my comment (which I did not do, even though the “involvement” is fairly obvious. The later Global Warming arbitration brought out some of this, the tip of the iceberg.) Future Perfect then removed my comment again. Unusual to remove a comment after there is response. This is an admin revert warring, believing his position is “right.” “not-voting” continued.

(To remind readers: I was allowed by my restriction to participate in polls, and this definitely looked like a poll.)

So then, in an attempt to shift the appearance, TS edited all those bolded “not-votes.” His summary: (GoRight Blocked: Isn’t a vote so making it look like one isn’t a good idea.)

In other words, it looked like a vote. However, except for certain elections, Wikipedia does not vote. Anywhere. But bolded simple comments are commonly used, say in deletion discussions. “Bold” doesn’t actually change anything.

TS also removed a comment he didn’t like from another user. It was restored. Then the user removed it himself.

Users continued to add comments with bolded summaries…. Thegoodlocust pointed to the obvious about the bolding. I think he was right, this was done to legitimate blocking me for the comment. At the time, I’d have been more inclined to understand it as simple bull-headedness.

At some point perhaps I should explain how those Noticeboards have long been badly broken. The way they function is utterly cumbersome. Researching is difficult. So someone is notified of a discussion on their talk page. Trying to find that discussion later can take far longer than would be necessary with a decent structure. The entire process wastes the time of many users, solicits uninformed comments that only confuse issues (from people crazy enough to have the Noticeboard on their watchlist), and commonly fails to bring out the best in the community. This is what happens when one takes wiki process that works with a small community and expands it with little change, to a huge community. The discussion history covers 600 edits to that page during the time the discussion was open, from the initial edit by JzG, clearly irritated that GoRight had dared to question his ban of Pcarbonn, to closure with GoRight blocked.

GoRight was then subject to a community ban discussion in March, 2010. Opinion was divided, but the close, remarkably, depended on a finding of “Most people supporting restrictions also support a full ban with equal preference. I’m therefore closing this discussion with a consensus to ban and blocking GoRight.” This is quite common. Supposedly a ban discussion is to be decided by uninvolved users, but I have never seen a closer consider prior involvement in making a decision. (That would take research, which would be time-consuming, not “wiki”). So numbers of users who show up with some position make a difference. The way decision process works is that someone makes a proposal or points to a situation, and then users show up and give opinions. Early opinions may be based on evidence that has been presented, or (often) are knee-jerk. Those opinions still stand even if later evidence would change them, users commonly don’t reread the discussions.

In theory, a close will be by the weight of arguments, not the weight of numbers,and  that is what is meant when it is said that Wikipedia does not vote and is not a democracy. The reality is quite different, it is rare to see a close that does not respect the majority; I saw a close where the majority was a screaming mob and a closer set the majority aside and decided differently. Ah, the horror! They found a technicality to get the close undone, the discussion was re-opened. With no change in the result. (but later not-voting was different!)

GoRight apparently socked a little, a month after ban, in 2010, which led to a rejection at a request for reconsideration years later, in 2014. Lord of the Flies.

  • 21:27, 2 March 2010 Future Perfect at Sunrise (talk | contribs) blocked Abd (talk | contribs) with an expiration time of 1 week (account creation blocked) (breach of Arbcom editing restriction again; personal attacks and excessive wikilawyering)

Same administrator, and, once again, I was surprised. What happened? Who was attacked?

I first find this notice on my User Talk page. February 27.

It refers to this arbitration enforcement request. This version is at the point where JzG and Stephan Schulz and the complainant (quite a piece of work!) have commented in the section reserved for uninvolved administrators. This is the complete version.

Sandstein issued a clarification of the sanction. There is reference to an AN/I report. Looking for origins, I find this discussion on my Talk page, a request from SamJohnston to stop “hounding” him, dated February 25. Looking back, I see this budding revert war.

Looking at the talk page, I see reference to a 2009 Deletion Review, resulting in undeletion, and the page was sitting in my user space. How did it get there? I see that I edited that article in 2009. It’s been renamed, but the move log doesn’t show up for the current name. Something is off. JzG suspected, in the AE filing, that I had gotten involved because I was stalking him.

I see that I warned LirazSiri not to move that article back to mainspace without consultation.  That warning refers to an earlier Deletion Review.

From that warning, it can be seen that I’d become involved with claims of Conflict of Interest on the part of LirazSiri, and this was before the flap in 2010, and before the MYOB ban. I generally dealt with issues like this by supporting the legitimate interests of the “offender,” because this would be less likely to lead to long-term conflict. The history of the page shows what had happened and what I did.

JzG was indeed quite involved. LirazSiri had attempted to place a copy of the article in his own user space (which should have been permitted). This was not spam, but JzG was treating it that way.

I have not identified the first thing I noticed, but what I did was not uncommon for me. Procedurally, LirazSiri had duplicated deleted content, which was not the way to go (possibly it would create licensing issues). Rather, a request would be made to an administrator to undelete and userfy, so the article could be worked on to possibly satisfy policies. So that’s what I did, more or less “adopting” the article in my user space. This was not controversial, I don’t know if JzG noticed. Later, there was a successful Deletion Review and LirazSiri moved the article back to mainspace (which was legitimate, though it might have been better if he’d waited for someone else to do it.)

Reviewing LirazSiri history, he had been encouraged by what I’d done, that somebody was sane. See his account of the history, in the request to restrict him filed at AN by JzG, in his last edit to Wikipedia. It can also be seen on the AN/I report — where my comments were eventually considered to be violating my MYOB ban — that support for my review of the situation was buried by the screaming mob, including JzG. My request there that SamJohnson be sanctioned was very rare; however, this kind of editor did enormous damage to Wikipedia, driving away other users unnecessarily. I was able to deal with that at one time, but JzG was an administrator when I found him doing it to users, and he was famous for it. I was warned I’d be banned if I confronted him, by Durova — who agreed with the issue I raised, and co-signed the RfC I filed on JzG, that led to the arbitration. Experienced editors know and are either complicit with the manner of administration, or continue in the hope that it won’t affect their own interests too much. Many of them eventually retire, if they aren’t banned first because they blow the whistle, or otherwise react to what becomes obvious.

Here is LirazSiri’s point of view, in his last edit. He never came back, at least not as “LirazSiri,” (and probably not at all.) He had, he claims, been editing Wikipedia for a long time, since early project days. Gone, and I don’t blame him with what he had seen of administrative and grossly hostile user behavior, apparently tolerated. The article remained.

In any case, in the AN/I discussion, near the end, I had explicitly accepted Sandstein as a neutral administrator (even though I did not agree with his preliminary opinion). So, as of February 27, Sandstein was waiting for other uninvolved administrators to comment in the AE request, (and so was I). SamJohnson and JzG, however, added more fuel to the fire. Guy fired at LirazSiri on AN.

Once upon a time, Guy would simply have blocked him. He learned not to do that, but he could often get admins to do what he wanted. There was immediate support for a ban, with a bolded “Support.” A poll? I did not take the opportunity to vote. JzG’s account was immediately confronted by Bilby, who pointed out that while LirazSiri’s behavior had not been exemplary (relatively inexperienced users rarely show exemplary behavior when faced with what he’d faced), SamJohnson’s had, if anything, been worse. The discussion.

(JzG’s persistent calling of LirazSiri’s involvement as a “commercial interest” was offensive. I agreed that Siri was “involved,” and I had urged him to be careful, but this wasn’t spam and many editors are involved with projects as volunteers and edit; such people, who are generally knowledgeable, should be welcomed, guided, and, yes, protected from attack. That’s what I’d done. JzG attacked, and those who followed his lead here were supporting some very hostile editing … or not paying attention.)

LirazSiri was blocked, for allegedly attempting to “out” JzG. This appears to have been based on a new AN/I posting by SamJohnson. Never mind that if there is actually an outing post, filing a complaint on AN/I is how to advertise it to thousands of users. It was not actually outing, because Guy Chapman was well-known as such.

The discussion seemed to agree on a topic ban, and there was no opposition to unblock. JzG attempted to blame me for LirazSiri’s bad behavior, and, after everything was basically resolved, there, SamJohnson was dredging up more stuff to claim.

Was LirazSiri actually topic banned? No. If he followed my advice to be very careful about editing the article, he would not have been violating a ban; I know he was not banned because he’d have been notified on his Talk page, and he wasn’t.

Discussion continued on the AE page, and Sandstein closed that, March 1, with “No action after Abd has agreed to abide by the restriction as clarified to him.” However, I was blocked on March 2, by Future Perfect at Sunrise. WTF? At the end of the AE page, it can be seen how a factional administrator (Stephan Shulz) is still attempting to reach for a sanction, claiming “subtle threats.” I had a right to ask for ArbComm review, so … what “threat”? I was claiming that FPAS was involved in a dispute with me and should not use tools. If he did, and if my claim had substance, administrators had lost tools over actions like that. Pointing this out on my own talk page would not be an offense. But, reading what I actually wrote, I was not threatening to file.

I had agreed to to abide by FPAS’s interpretation, but continued to discuss it on my own talk page. So FPAS blocked me for discussing a possible appeal to ArbComm for clarification, on my own talk page, basically for disagreeing with him (but not defying his interpretation.) The incident of MYOB ban violation was over. I did not violate my commitment. I was blocked anyway. Nobody was forced to read my comments on my own talk page.

His block message:

With this edit, you have continued exactly the behaviour you were previously warned to stop: discussing the dispute between LirazSiri and SamJohnston. Moreover, you did so in terms that amount to personal attacks, comparing S.J.’s actions to acts of criminal violence (“mugging”; calling S.J. a “mugger”). I don’t know what makes you think you are allowed to do these things on the Arbcom page, of all places, when you are forbidden to do them everywhere else. You are not. And to forestall another misunderstanding you hinted at: you will not be allowed to file Arbcom requests about that dispute either.

You were clearly warned, by Sandstein and by myself, and several other admins have in the meantime agreed that my warning was justified. You promised to heed the warning, but didn’t. I am therefore now imposing another enforcement block. Fut.Perf.  21:26, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

So … FPAS blocked me for commenting in the request for clarification, which would have been over the very issue that I disagreed with FPAS on. I eventually withdrew that request. The eventual request as withdrawn, with arbitrator comments. The full comment in context. 

There was an open request for clarification. The various parties were commenting in it. I was very much involved in that request. Yet FPAS considered this a violation of the restriction. At law, normally a non-interaction ban, like a restraining order, does not apply to arguing in court.  I was continuing to ask for clarification, explaining the current situation as an example, not seeking any sanction against SamJohnson, for example. There was no personal attack there, there was calling attention to an abuse of process, continuing right in front of ArbComm.

The arbitrators declined to clarify. At this point, I was seriously considering abandoning editing Wikipedia — or at least abandoning the Abd account (which was not a threat to sock, actually, just a recognition that sometimes people come back with a different account. It can be properly done. It was treated as a “threat” to sock. I did actually sock later, for very different reasons, I’ll get to that. It remained obvious to me that the ArbComm MYOB sanction was being interpreted in a manner that was disconnected from how it appeared when it passed, and that ArbComm did not care about clarifying it.

Thus there was a later request for clarification filed by Enric Naval. The same figures appear. Nothing was actually resolved. There was no clarification, and particularly no recognition that the sanction was actually  being tightened, in effect, by allowing any interpretation instead of clarifying it. I was not sanctioned for those edits, but there was some opinion expressed by arbitrators — who could also see the problems I was pointing to — that I should go edit in some quiet area. Mostly, I did, on Wikiversity, which also got hot in certain ways. My interest was in facilitating genuine consensus process, and there are those who really don’t like that.

Enric Naval had also filed an Arbitration Enforcement action. It went nowhere, but the various parties make clear where they are coming from. One of them filed a community sanction request. Can’t get the editor sanctioned for an offense under Arbitration Enforcement, forum-shop. The proposal wasn’t so bad, but some comments. First of all, why is a “community sanction” presented on an Administrator’s Noticeboard? Yes, that is what they do. Are Administrators the “Community”? Yes, the community can comment there but most of the community does not follow the admin noticeboards, only specially obsesssed editors do. The traffic is enormous. Second, the proposal seems to think that the problem is that I write too much. That was, in fact, the idea behind the original MYOB ban. However, the immediate cause of action was not about lengthy comments at all. It was about actual article editing as if that was “commenting on a dispute.” I suppose if I had made no explanatory edit summaries, this would have been better? Do these people have any sense?

Well, since you ask, No. Many don’t, anyway. This all got more and more obvious. Too many are absolutely stupid-vicious, and too many others look away.

Enric Naval wrote: “He is supposed to go to quiet articles and work there constructively.” ArbComm never decided that. I did do a great deal of “quiet” editing, but the way that Wikipedia works, if one follows Recent Changes, one sees stuff. If one has edited an article, one’s watchlist shows all the edits. The faction wanted me out of “their business.” They are not, in fact, aligned with the community, that Ghost business and many arbitrations showed that. By refusing to look at the factional issue, which I had raised in the arbitration, ArbComm set up continued disruption, which had started before I became so involved, and which continued long after I was gone. In going over various pages, writing this, I see that I was still being blamed for various messes five years later, like I had some enormous power.

 

 

 

  • 06:30, 12 June 2011 Courcelles (talk | contribs) blocked Abd (talk | contribs) with an expiration time of indefinite(account creation blocked, cannot edit own talk page) (Community banned per [http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Administrators%27_noticeboard&oldid=433842952])
  • 06:29, 12 June 2011 Courcelles (talk | contribs) unblocked Abd (talk | contribs) (To reblock)
  • 22:14, 1 May 2011 Timotheus Canens (talk | contribs) changed block settings for Abd (talk | contribs) with an expiration time of indefinite (account creation blocked, cannot edit own talk page) (Revoking talk page access: inappropriate use of user talk page while blocked: systematic ongoing provocation through block and ban evasion (74.106.77.23))
  • 21:06, 1 May 2011 Future Perfect at Sunrise (talk | contribs) changed block settings for Abd (talk | contribs) with an expiration time of indefinite (account creation blocked) (systematic ongoing provocation through block and ban evasion (74.106.77.23))
  • 06:46, 30 April 2011 Future Perfect at Sunrise (talk | contribs) blocked Abd (talk | contribs) with an expiration time of 2 weeks (account creation blocked) (renewed breach of topic ban on Cold Fusion-related discussions)
  • 21:32, 5 January 2011 Sandstein (talk | contribs) blocked Abd (talk | contribs) with an expiration time of 48 hours(account creation blocked) (Arbitration enforcement: Violating interaction ban regarding William M. Connolley: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=WP:AE&oldid=406156336#Abd)
  • 19:54, 18 June 2010 Timotheus Canens (talk | contribs) blocked Abd (talk | contribs) with an expiration time of 1 week(account creation blocked) (Arbitration enforcement: topic ban and restriction violation at http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia_talk:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Race_and_intelligence/Evidence&diff=prev&oldid=368682168)

An avalanche of sock puppets

The last few weeks I have been investigating disruption on Wikipedia and Wikiversity. This has a peripheral relationship to cold fusion. I’ll get to that.

For years, I was active on Wikiversity, supporting that community to build deep resources on sometimes-controversial subjects. Wikiversity, like all the WMF wikis, has a neutrality policy, but Wikipedia enforces it by, in theory, excluding the expression of points of view by users; rather, Wikipedia depends on “reliable sources,” with editors merely reporting what is in them, with emphasis on the “mainstream view.”

Wikiversity, instead, allows users to create resources and express opinions, and handles neutrality by attribution and framing. It is thus closer to a university library, including lecture notes of seminars and student work, which can be “primary source,” and can include opinion and unsourced analysis.

Some years back, I supported the creation of a Wikiversity resource on Parapsychology, because there were scientists and others interested in the topic.  I designed this to be neutral, and created a subpage for a young user who wanted to create his own list of sources on the topic, this was Ben Steigmann, who had gotten into trouble on Wikipedia and was blocked there. The user happily worked on his resource, and was not, in the least, disruptive on Wikiversity. However, the resource was attacked, a number of times. These attacks were always handled, it is not difficult on Wikiversity, if a resource has been created with care.

(I should add that I’m highly skeptical of many claims called “parapsychological,” but, then again, so are at least some parapsychologists. Parapsychology is a field of investigation, not a body of belief.) Continue reading “An avalanche of sock puppets”

Joshua Schroeder on pseudoscience on Wikipedia

Re: Joshua Schroeder on pseudoscience on Wikipedia

Postby Abd » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:15 pm

(publication privacy removed November 1, 2017 … originally announced on an obscure fringe science forum, on the date above.)

I thought carefully about whether or not to announce this. Joshua P. Schroeder has taken extraordinary measures to attempt to make it difficult to research his activities, claiming harassment. He was a visiting professor, and his university profile had the office phone numbers removed, very unusual. He has also changed his real-life name and has now published a journal article with the new name. Sites have had articles about him taken down because of claims of privacy and copyright violations.

However, he is still active on Wikipedia in a similar manner as before, and he has never taken responsibility for the messes he created. His Wikipedia faction simply found ways to enable him, in spite of blatant and obvious violations of Wikipedia policy. Further, science depends very much on personal reputations, that is behind the standard trust in scientist probity — which he attacked. Scientists make mistakes, it’s common. But if they lie, fake data, or use grossly misleading arguments, that could be their career, over just like that. He has attacked professional scientists because they state opinions contrary to his, not just their alleged errors. So here goes.

He currently signs his posts “jps,” hiding his monstrously complex user name, and belying the claim he makes that he does not want to be judged by his user name, (since “jps” is broadly recognized as him), See his current user page at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:9SGjOSfyHJaQVsEmy9NS. He has an incomplete list of account names at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:9SGjOSfyHJaQVsEmy9NS/Previous_Account_Names

It is incomplete because it does not include his identified sock puppets. I’m going to track his “legit” accounts back. I am not giving the sock puppet account names because they are largely moot, but the claims in his Wikipedia unblock discussion that he had not socked for two years were false, and known to be false by some at the time.

The tool (for recent name changes):

18:53, 9 January 2017 K6ka globally renamed WoKrKmFK3lwz8BKvaB94 to 9SGjOSfyHJaQVsEmy9NS
15:56, 29 August 2016 Avraham globally renamed I9Q79oL78KiL0QTFHgyc to WoKrKmFK3lwz8BKvaB94
21:01, 5 January 2015 DerHexer globally renamed QTxVi4bEMRbrNqOorWBV to I9Q79oL78KiL0QTFHgyc

before this, renaming was local to Wikipedia, and the old logs are more primitive. Finding the change requires knowing the old user name. So there is another way, looking for Talk edits of the user with signatures. The current contributions log and page history will show the current user name, and signatures show what was current at the time. So this takes me back to
Previously ScienceApologist
Vanished User 314159 from his user page list, no edits. Missing from user rename log. Probably hidden
ScienceApologist
Joshua P. Schroeder is missing from the user rename log. Probably hidden.
ScienceApologist
Joshuaschroeder … is also missing from the user rename log. Probably hidden.

http://outreach.astro.columbia.edu/aboutus/index.html still has jps at Columbia in New York. That is a red herring.
He obtained his PhD in 2014 and was a visiting professor at St. Lawrence University for about a year. He is currently “living and working in Santiago, Chile at the Instituto de Astrofísica — Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.” http://www.astro.puc.cl/~jschroed/, the page is titled “Joshua Tan (né Schroeder)”. Another page on that institution site gives his name as Joshua P. Schroeder, and the credentials match. All this information (and more) is available in public documents.
Schroeder is one pseudoskepic out of many, why has he aroused such outrage? It’s easy to see in his Wikipedia interactions. He did not argue for following Wikipedia policy, he argued massively and at length, over many years, against neutrality policy, and he clearly violated policies to oppose other users, especially civility policy.
He stirred up conflict, often trolling others into reacting and then being blocked or banned, thus warping the consensus process by which Wikipedia hopes to achieve neutrality, and I know of an example where an estimate of damage was truly enormous, with a possible lost opportunity cost from delay in recognizing old errors that could be a trillion dollars per year. Or maybe not, but it is possible.
Those are questions that are being resolved in time, and how important Wikipedia is in this is questionable.
In the mainstream peer-reviewed journals, setting aside a few exceptions (journals that reject articles without review), it’s over. What “jps” considers fringe pseudoscience is accepted, papers are being published, etc., including secondary source reviews that theoretically would be golden as reliable source for Wikipedia.
But the “information cascade” on cold fusion remains for many, and the Wikipedia article is over ten years out of date, repeating “facts” that were true at one time, but that became untrue over the next two decades.
Meanwhile we are each responsible for our own actions, and hiding does not change that. Actually cleaning up the mess can help. Science does not function in the shadows.

OT: Nutritional science

I have at various times mentioned Gary Taubes and the scientific initiative he started, NuSi. The relevance to cold fusion is that Taubes was the author of Bad Science, a book which contributed to the cold fusion rejection cascade; so it is ironic that Taubes, later, confronted a series of information cascades. Sometimes his work is thought of as a defense of the Atkins Diet. It is, far more, an indictment of Bad Science in the field of nutrition, and in this case, Taubes is exposing the dark side of public science, whereas with his book on cold fusion he was aligned with it.

Taubes, it is safe for me to say, is not informed on subsequent developments with cold fusion, and appears not to have been thoroughly informed as to developments even before he closed out his book; rather, he mostly focused on the early history, which was, let’s say, quite a mess, with mistakes made on all sides. I intend to engage Taubes when the field is ready. Not quite, not yet. (I have already communicated with him, and he wanted what he wrote to me to be confidential, but I believe, again, I can say that he was friendly, and gave me a fair bit of his time, and he was supportive of my work. The work he is doing with nutrition is extremely important, and I would not want to distract him from it unless the potential value were very high.

Some involved with cold fusion treat Taubes as … let’s say, “not nice.” My experience differs, but I am informed by his later work and his integrity with respect to it, I look back at his cold fusion work and frame it as that of a young, struggling writer, with a family to support and a tendency to put far more work into a project than he’s likely to be paid for. He needed to finish it.

There is a review of Taubes in Beaudette’s excellent book, Excess Heat (2002), page 319 in the 2nd edition. I agree with all or at least most of the criticisms; however, for the other side, he says:

“Taubes contribution was considerable. He did the heavy legwork needed to write the who-struck-John part of the story. Without his book, the history of the saga would have lost much.”

Where comments elsewhere are sufficiently off-topic of a post or page, I will move them here. If some agreement appears, I may update this page. Meanwhile, just a little background on the Atkins diet:

Wikipedia: Atkins diet.

The Atkins diet, also known as the Atkins nutritional approach, is a low-carbohydrate fad diet promoted by Robert Atkins and inspired by a research paper he read in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The paper, titled “Weight Reduction”, was published by Alfred W. Pennington in 1958.[1]

The Atkins diet is classified as a fad diet.[2] There is only weak evidence supporting its effectiveness in helping achieve sustainable weight loss.[3][4]

This is actually an outrageous bias in the lede, which should be rigorously neutral by consensus. A sign of this is the references in the lede; in theory, everything in the lede should be established in the body of the article, and supported there for verification, with no reference being necessary in the lede itself. However, the reality is that editors — including administrators — often are not adequately informed about the topic to understand the difference between neutral coverage and biased coverage, they may easily think that the bias is “factual.” I have not yet checked the references, but it should be fairly easy to find references to Atkins as a “fad diet,” because that is a fairly common opinion. Just as one can find references to cold fusion as “pathological science.” But it is offensive to refer to cold fusion as “pathological science,” because that is reporting, without attribution, an opinion, a judgment. They are claiming “is,” i.e., definition and it is not part of the definition of Atkins that it’s a “fad diet.” Fad is something that happened to the diet, not the diet itself. Notice that the passive “is classified” is used. Classified by whom? Yes, the reference should supply that, but cold fusion is classified as a scientific reality that was improperly rejected. By some. Fact, but certainly not appropriate in the lede of an article on cold fusion!

The issue of where Atkins got the diet from is too much detail for the lede. I’ll see if it is in the article. The “only weak evidence” ignores the massive evidence that Taubes amassed, and that there is even weaker evidence for alternative approaches to weight loss. “Weak,” then, can be misleading the reader. Atkins was a cardiologist. Is that relevant?

When I began following the Atkins approach, over a decade ago, I found general agreement among my own health care practitioners that the approach was effective, and my own experience confirmed that, and what I read — and because my health was at stake, I read extensively — also confirmed it. Yet some of my first edits on Wikipedia were to the article (or a related one) and that is where I discovered, for the first time, that Wikipedia administrators were overworked and underpaid, making snap judgments that did not actually understand the issues. So the notes:

[1] Pennington AW (1958). “Weight reduction”. Journal of the American Medical Association. 166 (17): 2214–2215. ISSN 0002-9955. doi:10.1001/jama.1958.02990170112033. Retrieved 2014-07-14.

Taubes goes into the history of seeing problems with over-consumption of carbohydrates, it’s actually quite old, and with carbohydrate restriction as a useful approach. I’d need to do more research into the history of Atkin’s ideas, but this would belong in the article, not in the lede. It’s hard to find good help.

[2] Thalheimer J (2015). “Ketosis fad diet alert: skip low-carb diets; instead focus on nutrient-rich choices like whole grains, fruits and vegetables”. Environmental Nutrition. 38 (9): 3.

This is not a journal article, Environmental Nutrition is a newsletter. That is why I could not find this article in Google Scholar. The article begins with:

The Ketogenic, Atkins, and South Beach diets. These diets are all examples of the trendy low-carbohydrate, high-protein eating plans that claim you’ll lose lots of weight in little time. If you are eating less than 20 grams of carbohydrate a day, you’re following a ketogenic diet. Carbs are the body’s preferred fuel, so if you aren’t eating enough, your body will create an alternative energy source called ketones. The goal of an extremely low-carb diet is to get your body into this state, called ketosis, which is thought to speed weight loss.

This is all shallow and assumes we know more about nutrition than we do. “Carbs are the body’s preferred fuel,” is established according to what standard? The fact is that most people have never experienced the alternate metabolism, burning fat, when it’s dominant. There are cultures where fat is the basis of the diet, and I have seen how desirable fat was in a third-world country. When I really looked at my own history of food preferences, I realized that my favorite foods were fat or fatty.

There are three basic nutritional pathways: we can burn carbs, fat, or protein. The protein pathway is for emergencies, as an alternative to starvation. It will burn our own protein stores, i.e., muscle, mostly. Very dangerous, but it could save one’s life, after the fat stores have been burned.

Carboyhdrates are generally digested into glucose in the bloodstream. The resulting high levels of glucose are toxic, but … insulin is released which catalyzes the storage of glucose as fat, thus eliminating the toxicity and providing a store of energy for the future. As long as there is sufficient glucose in the food, we will not burn fat. We will burn some at night, when there may be a prolonged reduction.

When one is not eating sufficient glucose to support ongoing activity, the body will shift to burning fat. When it does this, there is a side-effect, the generation of “ketone bodies” in the bloodstream, easily tested in the urine, and Atkins plan followers will often buy and use “Ketostix.” There are two reasons: the first is a confirmation that one is actually eating low-carb, and the second could be to avoid ketone levels rising high enough to be dangerous. “”Ketoacidosis.” I have never heard of this actually happening to someone from following an Atkins plan, but it could happen, I’d think, of someone tried to eat Atkins but also making it low-fat. The objection that Thalheimer makes in this article is a common one among those who have not actually studied the diet and how it affects patients.

Ketosis risks. People on ketogenic diets can lose weight, at least in the short term, although scientists aren’t entirely sure why. It’s thought that production of ketones may help control hunger or improve the breakdown of fat. But there are risks and side effects involved in losing weight this way. Ketones are meant to be an emergency back-up system for your body, not a long-term energy source. They increase the body’s acidity, which can lead to low blood phosphate levels, decreased brain function, and increased risk for osteoporosis and kidney stones. People on ketogenic diets report higher rates of headaches, bad breath, constipation, diarrhea, general weakness, rash, insomnia, and back pain.

He is simply displaying ignorance. First of all, he acknowledges the weight loss. He makes it out as “short term.” That could be based on studies that show return of weight among people that don’t continue the food plan. That should be a no-brainer: go back to the way you were eating that led to the weight gain, and you will regain the weight and maybe even more. Often more.

The behavior is like that of addicts: the problem is considered something that will go away, all it takes is “will power.” This does not work for any addiction. What works is to find alternate ways of living that are even more satisfying than the dysfunctional ways.

He hints at why the Atkins diet may work, but doesn’t realize the full significance, because his thinking is mired in beliefs about the way things are “meant to be.” I.e., high-carb diets. Those are actually quite modern. We are omnivores, we can eat different kinds of foods (though we, unlike ruminants, cannot digest fiber, which is considered a carbohydrate. Fiber intake is excluded from “carb-counting” in Atkins diets.) Which kind of food is “preferred.” That turns out to be culturally sensitive.

He says that “the production of ketones may help control hunger.” This is what I know from my own experience: if I eat fat and protein and fiber, any hunger than I might have is sated. Fat, in particular, is satiating. It is actually difficult to “eat too much.” What I’ve found with long-term low-carb is that this effect declines to some extent, and I am finding that it may be necessary to pay attention to quantity. I eat far less food, as to weight, than I would have been eating were I eating normal carbs (like bread or pasta). I am still finding weight loss to be very slow, and I suspect that the initial appetite suppression is not so effective any more. However, this is remarkable: I don’t actually get “hungry.” So I’m largely eating for pleasure. “Getting hungry”, some think, is largely  a product of being habituated to glucose, from the “insulin crash.”

“People on ketogenic diets” do report the side-effects mentioned. However, many of these side-effects will be reported in any population. “Bad breath” is a symptom of ketosis, and is generally harmless, and ketosis tends to fade as one becomes, long-term, accustomed to the diet. I must be in ketosis, from what I eat, but ketone test strips no longer show it. To be sure, I need to buy some more, mine are expired…. I have fewer of the symptoms than, probably, the general population. I’ve never met anyone for whom the sometime “side effects” have been a deal-breaker. Constipation? Getting enough fiber? Treating constipation also tends to be very simple and effective.

And losing weight isn’t the same thing as gaining health. Cutting carbs from your diet means cutting out (or drastically cutting back on) proven health-promoting foods, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and all of their vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Replacing those carbs on your plate means loading up on protein and fats, so low-carb diets often cause increased consumption of less-healthful red meats and saturated fats.

Of course losing weight is not the same thing as gaining health. It is more of a symptom, (and could also be a sign of some disease process). First of all, he is not distinguishing Atkins “induction phase,” from maintenance, when the diet opens up; his concept of Atkins is just the very low-carb initiation. Long term, the food plan will still restrict “grains,” but the eating of whole-grain products will be encouraged over the highly processed forms. It does mean loading up on fats. Is that healthy or harmful. If he knows the basis for “nutritional science,” he would know how shaky is the evidence on that, and how contrary evidence was largely ignored. Atkins is not a “high protein diet,” this is a common error. It’s high fat. Are “red meats” unhealthy? Again, the evidence? What there is was in cherry-picked epidemiological studies. Are saturated fats unhealthy? The original mantra became that fat was Bad. Then, gradually, it became more sophisticated, but still clung to the Big Fat Lie. The relationship between butter consumption and death rates has been studied. What did those studies find? Does he have any awareness of the science? He’s not showing a sign. Rather, he is an “expert” writing recommendations for others, but not based on actual study, just knee-jerk reactions and ideas.

The bottom line. Carbs are the best way to fuel your body

He assumes that this would be true for everyone, but he cites not one piece of evidence for it. There are effects of habitually fueling your body with carbs, and effects of fueling your body regularly with fat. What are they? What is his definition of “best”? No clue. He assumes the reader will know what he means. If you don’t eat carbs, you won’t get diabetes, or if you have it, the symptoms will tend to abate. That’s been known for almost a hundred years. Does he have any clue?

(I would not consider this article Reliable Source for a scientific topic. It’s just his opinion, this wasn’t peer-reviewed, I’d bet. An editor approved it, but this could never appear in a scientific journal, it’s a popular article. When I saw the reference, I assumed “journal,” and wasted time checking Google Scholar. The guy has papers on ketosis, particularly about it as pathology, but that is almost completely irrelevant to the Atkins diet, which leads to what is commonly called “Benign dietary ketosis.”

Before I move on, has this been discussed on the article Talk page? Years ago, there were extended edit wars on related articles. Yes. Useless, but you can read it.

Citation doesn’t support claim.

This appears to have resulted in an improvement, this study is cited now.  Information has, however, been cherry-picked from the study. Overall, the evidence does not seem conclusive at all. What is reported is synthesis (a common Wikipedia problem: contrary to policy, but Wikipedia also demands that material that is not quoted be paraphrased; this often results in the introduction of an interpretive bias.)

As to the second source now cited on this, there is vandalism in the reference, demonstrating that those who might have edited this article at one time are no longer watching. I edited the article in 2005, it was on my watchlist. I’d have seen the vandalism. But, of course, I’m banned. I proposed and demonstrated a method for banned editors to make useful contributions without complicating ban enforcement. It worked. It was then attacked, probably because Abd proposed it. This resulted in significant damage!

But anyone could fix the vandalism. So I looked for the edit. OMG! Impossible! Here is the edit.

This is not a vandal editor, it’s worse. Doc James was not only an arbitrator, but a good friend of mine. So is that the author’s real name? It’s not given in citations. I still think this was vandalism, but done by a child or young relative of James with access to his computer when he was adding the reference. I’ll let him know. (I’d congratulate the kid on knowing how to type “poo,” and ask him not to do it again! I actually dealt with a user somewhat like this on Wikiversity, as an admin there. He responded and eventually became … a WMF administrator at a ridiculously low age. Good one, too.

Meanwhile:

The entire gist of the article that the diet is a fad is incorrect has no proper source.

These all went nowhere because Wikipedia structure does not support the stated policies. People who know and understand the topic are often unwelcome as “POV pushers.” People who know how to use Wikipedia dispute resolution structure may get banned if they step on any admin toes. (Admins do not like to see their decisions reversed!). What was called “Wikipedia Rule Number One” is kept for nostalgia, “If a rule prevents you from improving an article, ignore the rule.” People who try that get stomped on, unless their actions are popular with administrators. (In the early days, it worked. What happened? Problems of scale, plus the Iron Law of Oligarchy.)

[3]  Gudzune, KA; Doshi, RS; Mehta, AK; Chaudhry, ZW; Jacobs, DK; Vakil, RM; Lee, CJ; Bleich, SN; Clark, JM (7 April 2015). “Efficacy of commercial weight-loss programs: an updated systematic review.”. Annals of Internal Medicine. 162 (7): 501–12. PMC 4446719 Freely accessible. PMID 25844997. doi:10.7326/M14-2238.

Yes. This is a review of studies that showed that Akins was as effective or sometimes more effective than common “standard” recommendations. None of these are actually conclusive, because of the problems noted.

[4] Harper A Poo; Astrup, A (2004). “Can we advise our obese patients to follow the Atkins diet?”. Obesity Reviews (editorial). 5 (2): 93–94. PMID 15086862. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2004.00137.x. Despite the popularity and apparent success of the Atkins diet, documented scientific evidence in support of its use unfortunately lags behind.

“Poo” is some kind of vandalism. This study asked a practical question for physicians, and assumes that something must be proven before being recommended, which ignores that people have to eat something, low-fat diets was strongly recommended and pushed, and the avoidance of saturated fats is still heavily promoted (I know, because I just went through cardiac rehab, and nutritional advice was pushed that included this), but this was never conclusively established.

I have found that physicians are — sensibly — loath to recommend anything that is not “standard of practice,” even when they know much better. Any patient could die, that’s a standard risk of being alive, and the best advice can fail. If they have recommended standard of practice, they cannot be successfully sued. If they have recommended anything else, they can. To get better advice from doctors, I needed to be pro-active, because, even from the best, the first advice I’d get was standard. So I needed to research the issue and then ask lots of questions, and good doctors would answer the questions honestly. If a doctor didn’t do that, I got a different doctor! I’m responsible for my health, and I need honest advisors.

Now, this is beautiful. From that article’s abstract:

Low-carbohydrate diets have been regarded as fad diets, but recent research questions this view.

This is what happens on Wikipedia with articles on controversies. Instead of building deep content, with the article being a neutral summary of deep content (which is what really happened with most paper encyclopedias), the article becomes patchwork pieces, often promoting some point of view or other, but typically not completely obvious about it, except to someone who actually knows the topic. Instead of seeing “POV pushers” as resources (someone with a POV, a Point of View, can be an excellent POV detector for differing points of view), Wikipedia decided to ban them because they could not, it was believed, be supervised effectively. This is the issue that I attempted to take to the Arbitration Committee. All attempts at Wikipedia reform went down in flames, or at least it was common. The structure became highly inflexible, in the name of flexibility.

How could Wikipedia be a summary? Where would the deep content be?

Wikiversity! Wikiversity was (and generally still is) neutral by inclusion, rather than neutral by exclusion, like Wikipedia. There was a question asked about the topic on that Talk page. Instead of giving the person a place to ask their question, they told the person they were wrong for asking it. It was behavior like this, all too common, that led my choice to abandon Wikipedia. I came to actively dislike too much of the community, and I saw that changes to structure that might stop enabling and encouraging abuse were opposed by an entrenched faction, with too few users realizing the issues, almost everyone just looked at the immediate case, and how it appeared, instead of looking at the structure, and when I pointed to structural defects, it was though that I was blaming the individuals.

When I tried to link the Wikiversity cold fusion resource from the Wikipedia cold fusion article, that was immediately removed, in spite of sister wiki links being normal. The arguments made no sense. Another Wikiversity admin attempted to add the link, it was immediately removed as well.

Yet anyone who attempted to discuss the article on the Talk page was slapped on the wrist. Sometimes the article and talk page were semi-protected to stop this. Nobody was ever told, as far as I recall, that they would be free to discuss the topic on Wikiversity, under the WMF umbrella, with a neutrality policy.

Nor were external links that were obviously useful allowed, again, on arguments that were not actually policy-based. (And that exclusion continues.) Whatever excuses could be dredged up were used. For a few years, lenr-canr.org was globally  blacklisted at the request of a Wikipedia administrator who was actually reprimanded for personally blacklisting it, and there was no legitimate reason for it. Eventually, I requested the lifting of the blacklisting and it was sanely granted, but I was, before the request was granted, I was banned from the topic for “writing too much.” Never mind that the comments there had been made necessary by bull-headed and repetitive argument from that same administrator…. who also was deeply involved in the bans of number of users who had exposed his ignorance. Even when they went about it civilly; indeed, the term “civil POV-pusher” was coined to refer to people like this.

Ah, Favorite Topic.

That review, though it is a bit old, directly questions what is reported in the article as if it were fact, i.e., “fad diet.” It is not difficult to neutrally present all this. Much of this is generic, about low-carb diets, not just Atkins.

My intention in pointing to the Wikipedia article was to point to some resources on Atkins and related diets, but, ah, I got hung up. It often happens when I look at Wikipedia, particularly where I have knowledge of the topic. “Poo” is pretty funny. These things are all over, actually. If vandalism is not immediately caught, it can often last for many years. What this shows is that few are actually reading the references! I remember a reference I caught about Attention Deficit Disorder, I think it was, where something seemed wrong to me about the usage of an article, but I could not find an on-line copy. So I went to a medical library. Sure enough, the article had been misunderstood, which commonly happens with Wikipedia editors, with or without an axe to grind. This is why “convenience copies” are important, when they exist, and that is why the legally hosted copies of articles on lenr-canr.org were useful to link.

The articles were reliable source (not lenr-canr.org). A host of misleading arguments to the contrary, that, by the time I was finished, had become lies, were presented and continued to be presented. They are not only still excluded, but that source for reading such papers, actually recommended in peer-reviewed papers, such as Storms (2010), was not allowed as an external link. Why not? Basically, a faction that includes administrators with a strong point of view, prevented it. And when that was actually confronted, the Arbitration Committee shot the messenger.

I worked for weeks, at one point, to get one single link approved, in the article on Martin Fleischmann. I set up consensus process, and strong consensus did appear, the link was used, and stood for years. It was eventually removed. Weeks of effort, pushing that boulder up the hill. The faction just keeps on and eventually pushes the boulder down the hill, or someone else pushes it, not realizing how much work went into it. The result is that working on Wikipedia can be a huge waste of time, and many long-time users have figured that out. (In theory, it should not be so difficult, but in practice, against an entrenched faction, it is extraordinarily difficult.) In this case, the reference was removed with the entire section containing it with this edit. Looks like nobody noticed. Again, I’d have seen this edit, but, of course, I stopped watching Wikipedia long ago. Heavily discussed content was removed with no reason given, no talk page discussion. The user appears to have an interest in electrochemistry. No user page.

The fact is that adding convenience copies to all or nearly all of the Fleischmann papers cited would be trivial. I only worked heavily on that particular one because, in it, Fleischmann explained their goals in doing what they did, that found an anomalous effect. It is not what is commonly claimed (without evidence, just conjecture).

So, some more links on low-carb diets or Atkins:

The Atkins Diet: Everything You Need to Know (Literally)

This is quite good, though some claims are overstated. Basically, the “as much as you want” is not necessarily true, because if we keep eating beyond natural appetite, we can still consume too much. What is true is that normally, appetite on an HF moderate protein diet will self-regulate. I never, ever feel deprived. But I can still eat too much! When I realize this, that I’m eating out of some kind of habit, and lower how much I eat, I am not left hungry!

They don’t really talk about what makes an Atkins program fail, but they give hints.

I found that I needed to make sure that I always had delicious foods that I would thoroughly enjoy, and I also learned how to create enjoyment. Both. Before I eat anything, I look at it and tell myself how great it’s going to taste. I start to salivate, just thinking about it. I won’t do this with cardboard, no matter how much good I think the fiber will do. I do it with foods that are *normally considered delicious or at least very decent.” And I use spices that I like, etc.

I think most Atkins diet failures (i.e., the people go off the diet and gain the weight back, as they mention) are due to people not having adequate coaching. Just handing someone a brochure isn’t enough. People tend to think of a “diet” as meaning deprivation. You can see claims that the Atkins diet is “boring.” OMG! For me, at least, it’s the opposite! I don’t need to eat a lot. Today, I took a chicken thigh and broiled it lightly, cut it up and tossed it in a pan with some butter and green beans (nuked from frozen in one of those microwaveable packages), and added a TIkka Masala sauce (moderate carb, high fat) and cooked it a little. It was absolutely delicious. I doubt I’ll eat anything else today but, of course, the heavy cream in my morning coffee, which I call “my fuel.” My guess is that I’ll lose a little weight today, maybe. I do the same basic recipe with Brussel sprouts or broccoli florets or asparagus spears. Or I use boneless beef ribs, very fatty and delicious, in this stir-fry.

I tend to eat cashews or almonds as snacks and can easily rack up too much food doing that. I don’t think “too many calories,” but that could be one measure of it.

Atkins Diet Plan Review from WebMd, generally reliable.

This is decent. It includes some “standard of practice” recommendations, like avoiding salt, which is apparently not necessary for anyone without established disease or special conditions. If avoiding salt harms appetite and enjoyment, I’d personally suggest going ahead and eating a salted food. Of course, if you have high blood pressure, all bets are off. Pay attention to your health and your unique needs! One size does not fit all.

My favorite foods as a kid were steak and baked potato with plenty of butter and sour cream. So, now, I rarely eat the potato, but once in a while (every few months, perhaps), I do. Atkins also did, with that butter and sour cream. And the skin, of course, the best part if crispy. (Fat slows down digestion of carbohydrates, apparently, as does fiber, so when I eat carbs, it is often with butter or the like. Coconut oil is fantastic!)

As the article notes, “Does bacon and eggs for breakfast, smoked salmon with cream cheese for lunch, and steak cooked in butter for dinner sound like a weight-loss menu too good to be true? If you love foods like these and aren’t a fan of carrot-filled diets, Atkins may be right for you.”

Bacon and eggs sounds great to me, but I’m a Muslim, so forget the bacon, unless it’s beef bacon or turkey bacon. I sometimes eat eggs with mayonnaise and maybe a little mustard, or with cheese, and stir-fried (fritatta style) with mushrooms or perhaps garlic or whatever I want to put in. Quick and easy, and I always have the ingredients in my refrigerator or on my kitchen shelves.

Smoked salmon with cream cheese? Darn! You mean I have to eat it? Please don’t throw me in the briar patch! Steak cooked in butter? I’m not Jewish, but I’d just skip the butter if I was, and use something kosher and delish, and choose steak with lots of fat (the best kind, and everyone knows that!), maybe just broil it, and not overcooked. The Keyes study that was used to claim Fat is Bad For You excluded France….

How about shrimp, lightly cooked, with some kind of sauce, maybe. Mayo with a little catsup is great (not too much, they put SUGAR in catsup. But don’t run screaming from the room. Atkins dieting need not be fanatic, and a tablespoon of catsup has about 5 g of carbs. Don’t eat too much!) Or I could use Tikka Masala sauce, the one I’ve found has 6 g of carbs in a 2 oz serving. Heh! I probably used twice that much with that chicken! The green beans I included would be 6 grams of carb minus the 3 grams of fiber. If I want a snack, I may eat two olives stuffed with bleu cheese. Less than 2 grams total and delicious.

I could make my own sauces without sugar, but today I’m still under 20 grams. No stress, no worry.

A relatively recent article by Taubes in the New York Times:

(Diet advice that ignores hunger).

 

 

 

 

Science, pseudoscience, and legal decisions

On my bus trip home from Washington, DC (where I went from Miami), I had plenty of time to read and write comments on E-cat World, where there are many claiming the settlement of the case means that Rossi technology is real. On the other side, here and elsewhere, some are complaining that it is tragic that Rossi v. Darden did not go to trial, because then Rossi would be prevented from “fleecing more sheep,” or the like. Yet all a verdict in that case would have established, almost certainly, was some kind of fraud, on someone’s part, and fraud may have nothing to do with underlying reality. It shows that a judge and/or jury was convinced, which can be a matter of truth, or a matter or skill or lack of skill on the part of attorneys. And then arguments may continue forever.

This is an ECW post that refers to Stanley Meyer. Analogies prove nothing, but provide indications, and there are analogies between Meyer and Rossi. There are also massive signs of pseudoskepticism in the critique of Meyer, and pseudoskepticism is belief, often masquerading as science. Genuine skepticism is essential to science, pseudoskepticism avoids the scientific method. Continue reading “Science, pseudoscience, and legal decisions”

A guiding light: The Guerilla Skeptics

Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia

If you would like to join our project, we would love to have you. Open up a Wikipedia account, friend me on Facebook so I can add you to the Secret Cabal and write to me at GSoWteam@gmail.com

This is behavior that has gotten other users sanctioned on Wikipedia. As Susan Gerbic gains experience, and as experienced users join GSoW, they will exert power, Wikiedia is highly vulnerable to coordinated factions, it is vulnerable even to uncoordinated, ad hoc factions (which is what I confronted, and the evidence — which was clear — was rejected by the Arbitration Committee, and even deleted, later). The problem is Wikipedia decision-making process, which is arcane when conflict is present. Few know how to navigate it. Those who know, on what might be called the “believer side,” will be attacked and sanctioned as “POV-pushers,” but GSoW is pushing a POV, it’s been called “SPOV,” the “Scientific Point of View,” which is a misnomer, because science has no point of view, it is a process that transcends point of view, thus CSICOP, “Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.” Notice: not “Skeptical Investigation,” because science is always skeptical, but not opinionated.

The other side, the “believer side” is disorganized, generally, and uninformed. And then neutral Wikipedians, who may be skeptical but who seek to follow encyclopedia creation process and policy, are considered “believers,” or otherwise as enemies, by the SPOV faction, and may face threats or the reality of sanctions, if they make any mistakes at all, whereas the SPOV users who make mistakes are supported by factional administrators, often the same administrators who push for sanctions or declare and execute them.

I studied all this years ago. The Arbitration Committee majority, my opinion, saw the problem but had no idea how to fix it, and the Committee tended toward black-and-white decisions, implementing retroactive application of new ad hoc policy, that never created precedent. A bureaucratic nightmare in a community that supposedly rejects bureaucracy. So instead of a functional bureaucracy, with responsible bureaucrats, they get ad hoc bureaucracy, disorganized and following no clear policy, such that user could expect community response, i.e., “rule of law,” they get a complete mess which most sane users abandon after they realize what’s going on, leaving behind an increase in those who love to exercise power over others.

All created naturally without intention. So who is responsible?

We are.

Susan Gerbic, in that post, outs some of her members. I would guess with permission. I would hope with permission!

I want to make clear that I consider Arbitration Committee’s past sanctions of those who participated in an “interest group” mailing list to be short-sighted and immature. The problem is not coordination, the problem is a decision-making system that is vulnerable to factional editing. In that environment, there is a motive to create factional communication, and it will happen. It is unavoidable, but most of it will be invisible. It cannot be prevented, and most factions never become visible. GSoW is unusual. In fact, it should be encouraged, with some policy caveats. How to deal with the problem is not necessarily a simple issue, but if it is resolved, Wikipedia would become far more reliable.

So to her members. She gives a list of articles and names members. So here I will associate those with the Wikipedia accounts, if it is clear or likely.

From Gerbic’s post:

December 2015 I announced that GSoW was going to focus on Skeptic Books. We had big goals and worked off this Wikipedia list. This list was envisioned and written by GSoW and during the 6 months we focused on this Book Project we completely expanded this list of over 500 books. 

From the timing, yes, very likely created by a GSoW member.

List of possible members, numbers of edits in parens where small. There are some who edited the page who are general Wikipedians; however, editing the page shows possible interest in the topic. It would take more careful research into the overall editing patterns of the user to confirm or disconfirm possible factional POV, rather than “cabal” affiliation, or the cabal may have some long-term sleepers who become — or were — already Wikipedia editors and who continue.

Being listed here is not, in any way, an allegation of policy violation. Possible policy violations will be considered separately.

2013: NmillercheDaniel Skitt (17), LineJockey (9), 81.7.185.2, (2) DynamicimanydJoshH21122.109.40.153 (1), 75.118.113.129 (2), Jin-oh Choi (7 edits), LarianLeQuellaOttRider?, Caem586Rjmail98.217.42.67 (1), Your Funny uncle (22), BuboetheratBullRangifer?, KConWiki?, PetertrussellMrBill3JoolzztNorthamerica1000?, Dthomsen8?, Bgwhite?, JourneySarah?, JustAGal?, 

2014: Welsh?, OnlydemiDodafiskarBrainDadProper StrangerNederlandse LeeuwLaurencarr24PCHS-NJROTC?

2015: Gronk Oz188.25.25.155PapaSmirkJollyfisch, 211.30.17.74?,  Neptune’s TridentVaDawn

2016: Topbanana?KrelnikPh250076.174.20.198JulieMay54

101.119.14.128 is notable in the editors, supported deletion of the article in Articles_for_deletion/Skeptic’s_Library. Susan continues:

 What happened is that GSoW went through a complete turnaround with its training, organization and leadership. It was a massive change that I called GSoW 3.14, because of this we lost our focus on the Skeptic Book Project. 

So I apologize to anyone out there that was expecting great skeptic book pages to be turning out every couple days. The fact is that it takes a very long time to write a Wikipedia page correctly and everyone on my team has busy lives and we are all volunteers after-all.

Yes. She noticed.

Enough with the excuses, lets see what we did turn out. 

Right. We watch with interest.

Several of these books were not done in the last 6 months, but in the last few years. I’m going to include them anyway as they were created by GSoW and well worth some extra attention from our community. 

Tracking the Chupacabra by Ben Radford was created by Nathan Miller in June 2013. 

I Sold my Soul on E-bay by Hemant Mehta re-written by Christine Daley Feb 2014


Bad Astronomy by Phil Plait was created also by Nathan Miller as well as Plait’s other book Death From the Skies


God Sent Me: A Textbook Case on Evolution vs. Creation was a Wikipedia page I wrote after reading a review of the book in a Skeptical Inquirer magazine. The book was written by Jeffery Selman. 


The Psychology of the Psychic written by David Marks was created by April Poff


Paranormality by Richard Wiseman I wrote March 2016


Psychic Blues written by Mark Edward received a brand new page by April Poff


Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova was written by Janyce Boynton


Flim-Flam! by James Randi was rewritten in August 2014


Mysterious New Mexico written by Ben Radford was written by April Poff


Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend written by Joshua Blu Buhs received a brand new Wikipedia page from Janyce Boynton

Far far less than was our intention. Yet, each of these pages are strong, well researched pages that our community can be proud of.

And giving us plenty of material to look through for factional editing. Thanks, Susan. Most of this is likely to be decent encyclopedic work, my opinion starting out.

One more thing. What do the numbers look like? How many views have these Wikipedia pages received in the time that GSoW can say they took responsibility of the page?

This number is only a page view count, we can not know if these are unique visitors or how long the viewer stayed on the page. Just raw page views.

As of the writing of this blog on July 31, 2016 they have received

57,016 total views

4,387 in the last 30 days

975 in the last 7 days

Still quite an achievement.

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Compared to what? My top Answer on Quora has about 800,000 page views. One Answer. However, it’s a factual Answer to a silly Question, that’s part of what made it popular, the deadpan literalism, sarcastic or not? That shows what is popular! Susan is demonstrating how to lead a project. My question for her would be if she knows how to turn it over. There are signs in what she writes that maybe not. She’s the leader and that’s that. But this is guesswork on my part.

Her greatest accomplishment so far: doing what she has been doing since 2013, and not being sanctioned.

If you would like to join our project, we would love to have you. Open up a Wikipedia account, friend me on Facebook so I can add you to the Secret Cabal and write to me at GSoWteam@gmail.com

My experience is that many will complain about situations, but few will actually do something. Fewer still will persist. It is the human condition, so far.

My plan here is to, if there is any interest, examine the vast array of linkages now exposed as possibly connected with the “cabal.” So far, I’ve seen nothing that truly violated policy. But I have not looked carefully at that AfD, at the voting there. There has been no seriously controversial editing on the List page, the GSoW work there was mostly unopposed, except for that AfD.

So what about the AfD? The arguments given for deletion were cogent, though it is possible that a consensus solution would be Merge.

The result was keep. LFaraone 05:48, 26 November 2013 (UTC).

This was a classic lazy close. In theory, Wikipedia does not vote. But many administrators treat AfDs as a vote, and just look at what appears to them to be a majority opinion. “Wiki” means “quick,” and these processes often exemplify that. To study an AfD, to consider all the arguments, to assess consensus with a consideration of who might be involved and who might not, would take hours. What Faraone did took minutes. And then, nobody and no faction being seriously offended, he was elected to the Arbitration Committee in 2014. This is adult supervision on Wikipedia:

LFararone, own work:

Very nice, to be sure. I have not reviewed anything else from LFaraone, nor do I plan to. He might be brilliant, it is only in this case that he did not explain his close, when there were real issues involved that remained and are still active, likely. Basically, the notability of the books and authors. And, again, I have not studied the article. Yet.