Warning: in this review, I cover claims made that Sara Wilson (Wikipedia) had promoted anti-vaccination propaganda. These were false, she supports vaccination and only explained what anti-vaccination parents, in the context under discussion, might say or think, claimed ignorance, and then asked about evidence. She did not realize, apparently, that this was a Forbidden Topic.
To avoid a repetition of this unfortunate incident, a Ministry of Truth should be established, to publish a Journal of Correct Fact, and all public figures should be required to become familiar with its contents, so that they do not accidentally question the Correctness of any Fact covered there. Once fact is published there, any researcher who hints that a Correct Fact might be flawed in some way may then be appropriately and fairly discredited and professionally excommunicated, having willfully or negligently disregarded the norms of civilized behavior, and any public figure who violates the norms can be blacklisted, excluded from public appearances, and his or her work burned, to protect the innocent from corruption by error. Think of the children!
I sometimes look over Wikipedia:FTN (Fringe theories noticeboard), because activity of the Smith brothers sometimes shows up there and because the faction that has, from time to time, supported the Smiths is active there. So I saw this:
Sarah Wilson and vaccination
On 12 March I received a rather disquieting tweet from the subject of this article. The exchange can be seen here. This gained me a number of new twitter followers who seemed to approve of Wilson’s tweet (“go get him!”).
I have copied the tweets here. His presentation on FTN is not clearly supported by the exchange itself, which demonstrates classic Wikipedian belief in lack of personal responsibility.
Our article is still pretty dire and the content in question possibly undue anyway – but Wilson seems very keen for our article to carry material countering press reports about anti-vaccination comments she made. To my mind the heavy use of her own blog to this end is unduly self-serving. Having been warned-off, I shall leave the content question to others.
I notice immediately that he assumes she made “anti-vaccination comments,” when that is the whole point (she didn’t, as we will see below).
As a “PS” I received a further tweet saying “a Group of media academics and I have been attending to the article repeatedly To update the information” which piqued my interest. Whatever the state of the article, it cannot be right for article content to be decided by coordinating WP:MEAT and twitter. No WP:COI disclosures have been made. I notice in recent times the accounts Writingtask and Fransplace seem to have focused on the content Wilson is complaining about.
This is the standard Wikipedia trope. For people to discuss and communicate about WP content off-wiki is somehow bad and wrong, but to do so on a page heavily weighted toward the “skeptical” faction, and where contrary positions are quite unwelcome, is just fine. The bias introduced by “sceptics,” as Alex Brown identifies himself, is really a “scientific point of view,” but what is at stake is not science, but people and personalities and impressions. Editors make choices, and decisions are made by those with community savvy and clout, with the pretense that it is “the community,” when the community is mostly unaware, and every attempt to create structure that would generate true consensus was killed, stomped on, salted, and anyone proposing reform was harassed off the wiki.
For Brown to back off, fine. But he had to invite his friends to take over? Why is this on FTN? There is no clear involvement with fringe theory here, rather this is all about politics and appearances. The issue of whether or not Sarah Wilson made an “anti-vaccination” comment is not a fringe theory. She did or she didn’t, or it is a matter of interpretation, and is careful journalism practiced on Wikipedia?
It should be, but often it is not, and “anti-vaxx” is heavily attacked by the so-called skeptical faction, even though anti-vaxx is a skeptical position. But the “wrong kind” of skepticism, allegedly. Think of the children!
This may need to go to another noticeboard, but thoughts welcome – this reminds me of a couple of incidents in the past years where there have been issues with decisions about fringe content/BLP being taken off-wiki rather than thrashed-out transparently here. Alexbrn (talk) 08:17, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
In a real encyclopedia, there will be a great deal of unpublished discussion. What would matter would be documentation of decisions. Attempts to discuss issues thoroughly on-wiki are often deprecated, and turn talk pages into train wrecks. It appears to be Just Fine for skeptics to coordinate on other than article talk pages — that is this whole noticeboard! — but not anyone else.
Okay, let’s look at what Brown had been doing:
The article was stable for a long time. It was edited by highly reputable editors, DGG, May 2015, adding a “reads like a press release” tag, and by Iridescent, September, 2015, with minor fixes. Before Brown edited it, it contained this section:
On 11 April 2013, Sarah Wilson was heavily criticized for her statements supporting the anti-vaccination movement while a guest on the morning variety show Sunrise. Claims made included suggesting that there was lack of evidence for efficacy and safety of vaccinations. These claims are despite the fact she had no medical or health qualifications at the time. She was quoted as saying ‘What they say is that the gold standard studies, right, that are done to really absolutely conclusively prove things, the double-blind placebo cross something or other tests have not been done and it’s almost impossible to do that on human beings, especially children.’ This was in reference to double-blind randomised controlled trials, of which many are available online.
The source for this was a breathless report by a social media columnist for news.com.au (a web news source, not a newspaper), APRIL 11, 2013
Sarah Wilson creates controversy after she appears to back anti-vaccine movement
FORMER MasterChef host Sarah Wilson sparks outrage when she appears to tell Sunrise viewers that not all child immunisations are safe.
FORMER MasterChef host Sarah Wilson has caused widespread outrage after a television appearance this morning in which she appeared to advocate the anti-vaccination movement.
Speaking on Channel 7’s Sunrise program about today’s news that immunisation rates are dropping in Australia’s wealthiest suburbs, the author and TV personality claimed research about the safety and efficacy of vaccines was “not conclusive”.
“I’m not going to take a stance on this myself because I don’t know fully but the research is not conclusive,” she said, to vocal opposition from host David Koch and other panellists Kylie Gillies and Daily Telegraph reporter Caroline Marcus.
When challenged by a clearly shocked Koch, Wilson cited claims by the anti-vaccination movement that “the double-blind placebo cross something or other tests” had not been done to prove the safety of immunisation.
“I’m just putting it from the perspective of the anti-vaccination movement’s perspective,” she said.
“What they say is that the gold standard studies, right, that are done to really absolutely conclusively prove things, the double-blind placebo cross something or other tests have not been done and it’s almost impossible to do that on human beings, especially children.”
Wilson also claimed that wealthy parents were less likely to vaccinate their children because “they tend to be older and I guess more educated”.
“They tend to engage in some of the debates a bit more deeply, as a result they weigh up all the different research and so on,” she said.
Wilson’s remarks quickly caused a social media storm, with the author this morning hitting back at hundreds of Twitter users flooding her with angry messages.
“Just to remind irate @sunriseon7 viewers going me, I was asked for the arguments anti-vaccine parents cite NOT my personal views,” she tweeted.
Wilson later tweeted: “OK, once more with balance: I WAS ASKED ‘WHY ARE SOME PARENTS NOT VAXING’. NOT ‘ARE YOU ANTI-VAX’. I outlined the argts OTHERS put forward.”
However many following the debate were unimpressed, labelling her irresponsible and misinformed.
“Not impressed, Sarah Wilson. It’s not unbiased to offer crazy opinions as the other side of the coin, just irresponsible,” tweeted one user, while another branded her “ridiculous and irresponsible”.
Earlier, Wilson had seemingly continued to push the anti-vaccination argument with a tweet reading: “Can someone cite a double blind crossover placebo study proving vaccines work?”
“Eradication of Smallpox pretty compelling, ” was one user’s reply.
That story is itself outrageous. The columnist picks what comments to note, and in a tweetstorm, it would be unusual for someone to not excoriate the person. What was the overall tenor? This was all the same day, where did this settle? Wilson is definitely not an antivax advocate, she would not have said what she said as she said it if she were. Essentially, she asked forbidden questions, not realizing just how fascist the issue had become. (Fascist here refers to the suppression of dissent, even raising questions that can be seen as challenging the TRUTH is prohibited, and will be immediately attacked).
As I pointed out in a post yesterday, both sides of this issue can be fascist, condemning those who differ as beyond the pale, murderers, to be harassed and rejected. All sides (as extremes) exaggerate the evidence that favors their position, and deny that there is any evidence at all in the other direction. This is “populist fascism” which can even be “democratic,” where the rights of minorities and minority opinion are not strictly protected. Deliberative democracy (the kind that is superior to autocracy and mob rule) requires civility in discourse, and maintaining this is difficult. If it is lost, however, Athens democratically condemned Socrates to death for asking inconvenient questions, “corrupting the youth,” and the ultimate result was the defeat of Athens.
Wilson did not ask the question correctly. The issue is not necessarily all vaccines, and those critical of vaccination practices vary. In particular, the poster boy for anti-vax “murderer,” Alexander Wakefield (caution! Wikipedia article!) was not “anti-vaccine,” only questioning the specific triple-vaccine, MMR.
Rather, Wilson was asking about the gold standard for medical evidence, double-blind placebo controlled studies. As well, whenever a treatment is applied routinely to a very large population without symptoms, as a preventative measure, there is the possibility of unforeseen effects, so even if the assessment that the benefit outweighs risks — even greatly outweighs them, overall — is there careful monitoring of vaccinated populations? I have read very little antivax argument, but what little I have seen raises issues like that. Further, there can be religious issues.
A refusal to vaccinate does not generally place a child at high risk (unless there is a raging epidemic! — contrary to what some might think, measles is still very rare). Interfering in the parental relationship can cause great harm; if refusal to vaccinate leads to termination of parental rights, that is a definite harm — unless there is other abuse — it can even lead to fatalities — against a speculative risk, small in comparison with ordinary risks of childhood.
The response of that tweeter, about smallpox, avoided the issue in favor of a one-liner. While some antivax activists may be extreme, smallpox vaccination clearly eliminated smallpox, a far more serious disease than measles, from the planet. It is now only administered in situations of special risk.
To eliminate smallpox, it was not necessary to vaccinate everyone. In some areas, strict quarantine and distance eliminated smallpox (Australia and New Zealand never vaccinated widely).
Now, back to the Wikipedia article on Wilson. It’s a good example of exaggerating what is in a source, and using synthesis to add more, typically from the point of view of the editor.
“heavily criticized for her statements supporting the anti-vaccination movement ” She did not make statements supporting the movement. The source has “appears to back.” The qualification is lost in the Wikipedia restatement. While Wilson was not careful in her wording, to be sure, this was a relatively casual conversation, certainly not a carefully prepared position statement. (The original conversation is shown in a video with the news.com.au post.)
The article includes Wilson’s denial that she intended to support the antivax movement. The Wikipedia article did not. The Wikipedia article confuses Wilson’s reporting of what vaccine skeptics claim, with what Wilson herself claimed (which was actually “I’m not going to take a stance on this myself because I don’t know fully . . .”
What she said (the complete statement) was ignored in favor of the reaction to part of it. If her goal was to avoid controversy, though, she was unskillful in asking the question about studies. I don’t think that she fully realized, then, that even asking a question like that, even though it would be normal curiosity, will appear to pro-vax activists as “supporting antivax.”
“These claims are despite the fact she had no medical or health qualifications at the time.” This is not in the source. The expression of opinion like that is common in Wikipedia articles on fringe topics. A journalist doesn’t need qualifications to present the arguments of others, if those arguments are actually presented (and they are). The Wikipedia text creates an impression contrary to the facts as shown by the news.com.au source and the video itself, where we can see an immediate and horrified response that simply denies the speculative argument of the parents without addressing the scientific issues. Wilson has presented a heretical argument without immediately condemning it, and was treated as if a heretic, with almost religious fervor.
(My interest here is fascism, not the truth of this or that position. A long-term interest is information cascades, especially where they involve allegations of scientific fact, that are actually social phenonmena where the process of science has been short-circuited, commonly for political reasons. It happens.)
(It is certainly possible to go ahead with public health measures in advance of final, definitive conclusions, but the problem arises when the scientific controversy is then suppressed in order to support the policies, instead of questions remaining open. And with medicine, it all gets complicated by major financial interests, affecting funding, lobbies, and reputations.)
“This was in reference to double-blind randomised controlled trials, of which many are available online.” This is also synthesis, not supported by the source. (The first part is clearly correct. The second may or may not be correct, and there is also the issue of scale. Wilson claimed that one cannot do placebo-controlled trials with children, and it is true that there are ethical issues, but it is also true that unless exposure is high, the risk from administering a placebo is low (i.e, the person is not protected, we think, by the placebo, but that is also a small risk in a mostly-vaccinated population) might also avoid a side effect. It might take special legislation to allow it. It is also possible that antivax parents might agree to participate, in the interests of value to humanity, taking a very small risk with their children. But her point was correct in that this cannot be simply done. Some compromise might be possible, especially as the risk becomes very low from herd immunity.
Bottom line, though, this paragraph violated policies, in a way that harmed Wilson.
So what happened?
Brown showed up and removed material from the article, not touching that problematic paragraph.
This was proper or within discretion, but had not been done before, because what was removed was factual but inadequately sourced. (Is Smart Company Reliable Source? Maybe.) Often editors will postpone removing such. “Fringe” was gratuitous and irrelevant. The pseudoskeptical faction still seems to think the idea of removing sugar from diet is “fringe.” Reducing it, even greatly, is practically mainstream now, if one pays attention.
Writingtask made a number of changes to the article. This is not an SPA, but also not an experienced Wikipedian. The account goes back to 2013, and only focused on the Wilson article in November and December, 2018. Alexbrn did, correctly, ping this user over his mention on FTN. The user has not edited Wikipedia at all, however, since March 17. (Pseudoskeptical activists like Brown drive away ordinary users.)
Alexbrn reverted almost everything done by Writingtask, with little explanations and hostile comments. It appears that Writingtask initially spent about two hours adding to the article, with sources (though possibly inadequate), and Alexbrn may have taken a minute to revert it (he allowed a miniscule change the first edit of Writingtask): Reverted to revision 866889202 by Writingtask (talk): Spammy/promotional. (TW). Using Twinkle may have taken him a minute. In all this (and to this day), the Talk page has not been used. After removing material that had long been there about Wilson’s “activism,” he then edited the title of that section.
His “better title”? Exaggerate the error! Anti-vaccine stance
Then he removed a harmless bit of unsourced bio, and failed to notice a blatant typo in the same paragraph, four words before. Writingtask attempted to correct the title shift, 3 but minutes after WT saved, Brown reverted.
21:14, 29 November 2018 (Reverted to revision 870670178 by 18.104.22.168: Rv. undue/illitrate. (TW))
Is this a parody of a Wikipedia editor? That edit reason makes no sense at all, besides the ironic mispelling.
Is it any wonder that Wilson believed Brown was pushing a personal point of view?
At this point, Alex has gone way into abusive editing. Writingtask is a noob, in effect, does not understand how Wikipedia works, but Alexbrn is demonstrating what is far too often wrong with Wikipedia: editors who believe they own the place and can do no wrong. With WT’s edit, Brown would now know,i f he is paying any attention, that the title and section are misleading. (But he may not even have read that.)
An author’s blog can be used for the author’s own position, with consensus. However, unless there are more sources on “vaccine stance,” the whole affair is of very marginal notability, it could be entirely removed. As it is, it was hostile synthesis, made worse by Brown’s title.
A Wikipedia trope is “Verifiability, not truth,” but experienced editors will strive for both. Placing something flat wrong in an article without clear attribution and with lack of caution about truth is abusive and will confuse the general public.
Writingtask was not competent, did not realize what was happening (few will in that context), and added an additional weak source criticizing Wilson, perhaps trying to compromise and perhaps because that source does acknowledge that Wilson claims to not be antivax. But it was a blatantly personal blog, a writer criticizing Wilson because she criticized the writer. There is no authority behind it, it blatantly misinterprets what Wilson actually said. It has “She pretty well said on national television that anyone who did vaccinate was uneducated and did not engage in the debate.”
Sarah Wilson very much did not say that. The discussion was of wealthy parents not vaccinating, and she speculated about wealthier parents perhaps having done more research and being more aware of negative arguments. She was not claiming they were correct, and she said nothing about anyone being uneducated. She was asked why those parents might think as they do, if it is even true that vaccination rates are lower among the wealthy. So when Brown took out the comment from Sarah, which Writingtask had sourced to her blog, he left in the blog reference, but took out what was apparently sourced from it, but that text was also in the original source, above. Brown was insisting on what amounts to cherry-picking the original source, and maintaining synthesis beyond it.
Writingtask gave up, did not edit on the topic after December 2.
Fransplace (an experienced editor) corrected the section, 04:45, 19 March 2019, putting it all together. The edit summary: (The Anti-vaccination paragraph was previously biased and seemed to omit any contrary viewpoints. Though Sarah Wilson’s blog was cited in that previous version, her comments were not included in the information in that earlier version of the paragraph.)
That obviously triggered Brown’s comments on FTN at 08:17, 19 March 2019. He then notified Fransplace at 8:19 and Writingtask at 8:20, of the FTN post. (Asking Fransplace “Do you have a WP:COI to declare for this article?”)
Teratix, later that day, trimmed the section greatly and changed the title to Vaccination comments
Fransplace responded to Brown:
Hi Alexbrn. Thank you for your message. I don’t have a WP:COI in relation to this page. I don’t know Sarah Wilson. I added information after reading about this issue from blog entries and I believe my changes/additions did not seek to present information in a biased way (I tried to write only about what had been published “according to…” etc) or promote the living person. Teratix ₵ trimmed back my additions which must have been too wordy. Thank you for adding a link that leads to the Twitter exchanges. I didn’t see them before and see your point entirely. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Fransplace (talk • contribs) 06:38, 20 March 2019 (UTC)
So where did Fransplace (who is Australian) find out about the issue? This user is an academic, and a very experienced Wikipedian, see the User page. Alexbrn was outclassed and up a creek without a paddle. The problem is that people like Alexbrn get away with this far too often. Writingtask was driven away, instead of being helped. There used to be users who would notice things like that and intervene. They burned out or were blocked for being inconvenient.
I could not find a blog mention. But Sarah was told about the issue by “academics,” and it was an Australian academic who fixed it. Any one of them might have an obscure blog. Or Fransplace did not disclose the reality. One does not develop a COI merely by knowing someone, for example. Much less by knowing a friend of the person.
Alexbrn simply could not understand that he had created a strong impression of bias from his behavior. However, he did back off. If he had not, he might have discovered the water getting very hot indeed. Or not. What I saw demonstrated there was incompetence combined with a certain ready and quick incivility. It’s a very old story, I was vastly relieved when I was banned from Wikipedia in 2011 because I no longer had any obligation or responsibility to help. Compared to writing elsewhere, editing Wikipedia can be like slogging through molasses. Only dirty, stinky molasses. Maybe mole-asses or the product of them.
There was no serious problem on the Sarah Wilson article except for his revert-warring there. Brown is back on FTN again, with a similar issue (i.e., not a mature dispute for a noticeboard).
IP editor is objecting to use of QuackWatch to source the fact that this health-guru of yesteryear was a heavy smoker. Could use eyes. Alexbrn (talk) 10:22, 29 March 2019 (UTC)
Yes, Brown is revert-warring with an IP. He claims that the undiscussed change should be taken to talk, but does not take it there, merely revert-wars. This is a classic issue for pseudoskeptics. QuackWatch is clearly an advocacy site with a heavy slant. The Wikipedia article on Quackwatch is entirely laudatory, not a breath of criticism, even though it certainly exists. The contrast with articles on targets of the pseudoskeptics is dramatic, where anything negative, often poorly sourced, will be dredged up.
The problem with the Fredericks article is revert warring, and Brown is violating WP:3RR (as is the IP). So instead of going to the normal Administrators Noticeboardf/Incidents, he goes to FTN, where “QuackWatch” is a dog whistle to his friends.
Going to any noticeboard without attempting to discuss difference on Talk is itself disruptive. I’m seeing a pattern here with Brown.
Looking at the Carlton Fredericks article, I see immediately that it was heavily edited by Vanisheduser3334743743i43i434. This is the user who worked for most of his apparently short Wikipedia career as Skeptic from Britain (see my page) and then briefly as MatthewManchester1994. One of his last acts was a comment in a deletion discussion. About him, there, Jimbo Wales said he was “a serial namechanger and POV pusher who left the project.” (my conclusion, after over a year of study of the issue, is that SfB was Darryl L. Smith, blocked as Goblin Face, and one of the two brothers who are the Anglo Pyramidologist sock family.)
In fact, there is an entire faction of POV pushers like this, and they cooperate and collaborate, and it has long been tolerated.
(Activity on RationalWiki continued as John66, following the same agenda, plus he creates many sock puppets, often blaming them on me.)
Quackwatch is clearly an advocacy site, not neutral journalism. In this case, the statement about smoking is a throwaway comment at the end of a piece by Barrett. We have no idea how Barrett knows this. What that does is demonstrate the shallow and shoddy writing, aimed at whatever will make a target look bad. Kind of like RationalWiki and what the pseudoskeptical faction pushes Wikipedia articles toward. However, RatWiki has a better article on QuackWatch than Wikipedia. But nobody mentions the actual lawsuit where QuackWatch probably lost, but we don’t know exactly, because they settled. The organization behind QuackWatch disappeared, it is an “unincorporated association of people,” as distinct from ducks, presumably.
I don’t see how such could be Reliable Source for Wikipedia purposes. However, it is possible that it could be used with attribution, i.e, “According to QuackWatch, writing many years after Fredericks died, he was a heavy smoker.”
Does “heavy” mean he was fat, or that he smoked a lot of cigarettes. Or cigars, perhaps. big fat cigars. Fredericks died, which proved that his health ideas were wrong, right? People with the “correct scientific thinking” don’t die, only those who are or who follow quacks die. With rare exceptions, of course.
(Material from a hostile source, or a source with an axe to grind (in either direction, not fully independent) should never be used without attribution. Brown wants to continue to use QuackWatch as a source for fact, and, on FTN, calls the smoking claim a “fact”. Is it? How does he know that? The fact is that Barrett wrote it. It may or may not be a fact that Fredericks was a “heavy smoker.” This may be a rumor Barrett heard that he repeated. It may have been true at one time, but no longer true later. There is no connection between the smoking and the death, only a weak inference. Fredericks died at 76, a respectable life span. The New York Times has an actual journalistic obituary, giving fact about some of the controversies in Fredericks’ life. )
Meanwhile, another IP editor appeared to revert the IP objecting, 22.214.171.124. That is Telephonica O2, I strongly suspect this could be Darryl Smith/John66/Skeptic from Britain. All over whether this guy was a “heavy smoker” or not (from a time when it was much more common.) (But this could also geolocate with Brown.)
Continuing to watch this, Brown, as is common for editors like this, instead of attempting to negotiate consensus on the article talk page, which still remains unused — and that material from QuackWatch has never been discussed other than in edit summaries — went to WP:RFPP to request page protection, to stop the IP editing. It’s worth looking at the time sequence here.
Carlton Fredericks (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs) Temporary extended confirmed: Persistent disruptive editing – Continued removed of content by IP. Alexbrn (talk) 06:39, 30 March 2019 (UTC)
This seems to be a dispute regarding the reliability of QuackWatch, specifically this, as a source of biographical information. Samsara 07:36, 30 March 2019 (UTC)
Already protected by administrator CambridgeBayWeather. Samsara 19:41, 30 March 2019 (UTC)
Now, this is interesting. Both Samsara and CambridgeBayWeather are long-time administrators. Both would be very familiar with basic adminstrative policy: administrators do not combine making content decisions with using admin tools. In this case, there was revert warring between the RFPP compainant, Brown, and an IP editor. Brown had said that the issue should be taken to Talk, but did not take it there, instead, kept reverting, then went to WP:FTN and then to WP:RFPP. Over a claim that Carlton Fredericks was a “heavy smoker,” combined with a statement of his death from a heart attack (creating an appearance of causation, which is exactly what might be expected of an advocacy site like QuackWatch.) It is not at all clear that notability of the alleged fact has been established.
However, there would have been an obvious compromise, which is what is recommended for advocacy sites that are also considered to have a level of reliability, attributing the reference. That was not done.
Instead, CambridgeBayWeather, reverted the IP and protected the page into his preferred version. I have seen sysops have their tools removed for actions like that, but I have also seen them get away with it for years, and to confront one is to risk one’s account. Even if one “wins.”
Samsara knows this policy and referred to it early in the day.
I had to fix a claim that wasn’t supported by the source, so might be better if someone else examines this for protection. Samsara 07:34, 30 March 2019 (UTC)
On Carleton Fredericks:
Okay, the admin had the right to do that. However, I’d worry about the use of Twinkle by both CBW and Brown. That tool is designed to simplify the handling of vandalism, and this was not vandalism. But then CBW went further, and notice that this was done within a matter of seconds:
One or the other, not both! (Were this clear vandalism, one might argue for both, but it was not. Samsara recognized the issue.) It has been a fairly common one. Researching the issue of the use of Quackwatch, it has been recommend that it can be used with care, and attribution has been suggested. This is generally true for advocacy sites, but where editors agree with the advocated position, it is often ignored. “According to QuackWatch, Carlton Fredericks was a heavy smoker.” That is simply a fact. One could still argue about the notability. Lots of historical figures were heavy smokers and it is not in the biographies.
Wikipedia is unreliable because there is no reliable editorial process, just a process that sort-of works, and was cheap. It is essentially a social media site with no responsible editorial oversight. But sometimes there is! The whole process is phenomenally inefficient, and measures that would increase efficiency while improving reliability (those actually go together) have been fought tooth and claw.
In any case, the IP did not simply go away. Did they expect this user would?
On User talk:CambridgeBayWeather
Carlton Fredericks Website
You have protected the Carlton Fredericks page from edits at the request of the author.
The page relies for sourcing on a self-published, non-neutral source, Quackwatch.org. Quackwatch.org is the website of Stephen Barrett, and the article is by Stephen Barrett. Wikipedia’s criteria for credible sources provides, “self-published media are largely not acceptable.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reliable_sources#Self-published_sources_(online_and_paper). The site is also an advocacy site. It is a non-neutral source, which produces negative articles about individuals deemed by the website owner to be “quacks.”
The page also repeats, verbatim, material from this source without quotations, a violation of Wikipeda’s antiplagiarism policy. The sentence “A heavy smoker, he died of a heart attack at the age of 76.” is a quote from Quackwatch.org. As written, the article suggests Fredericks died from complications due to smoking. In the context of the negative article, this sentence is offered to further discredit Fredericks’ claims about health. No support is offered for this claim.
The article was edited to remove the smoking reference (unsourced and nonneutral) and to remove the citation to Quackwatch (a non-neutral, self-published source). (The edit also had the advantage of eliminating the page author’s plagiarism.) An explanation of the edit was provided when it was made.
The author of the page persistently reversed the edits, without reason or support. To avoid Wikipedia’s ban on edit warring, he switched from his logged in account to editing as IP and continued to reverse the edit. He then reversed the edit again and appealed to you to protect the page.
Please explain why you are preventing a correction of page that would bring it into compliance with Wikipedia’s policies. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 126.96.36.199 (talk)
As is common with the inexperienced, this IP was confused in his or her language. The person is clearly referring to Alexbrn (Brown), as the “author,” because of “persistently” reversing the edits. Alexbrn was clearly revert warring. Then the claim is made that Alexbrn edited as IP. That is possible, but probably unlikely. That IP matches a user who might be expected to support Brown’s position, though it could be Brown, I have not researched his location. I doubt he would take the chance, just for those few words.
You can note that QuackWatch.org is run though an advisory board of experts, so hardly WP:SPS. – Ahunt (talk) 15:49, 30 March 2019 (UTC)
Misleading. That QW Fredericks article was old, last revised 2012, and Barrett apparently changed the organizational structure after that, facing legal issues (settled in 2017). It is unclear what role the advisory board plays, it may be little more than a rubber stamp for Barrett, but the core issue, not actually disputed, is that QuackWatch is an advocacy site, with a point of view and a bias against anything not mainstream.
The ownership of the site is unclear. Donations are solicited and are sent directly to Barrett. However, the site is clear: “Operated by Stephen Barrett, M.D.”
(Barrett is a retired psychiatrist, not currently licensed to practice medicine, if I’m correct.)
This site is most reasonably considered self-published, so the IP is correct on that account.
Please see the definition of “self-published.” Also, please explain the basis for the claim that an advisory board exists, that it is expert, and that it has reviewed this article. Finally, please explain why you believe this article to be neutral. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.8.131.52 (talk) 18:08, 30 March 2019 (UTC)
Well IP I most certainly did not protect the page based on a request from Stephen Barrett. Are you making a claim that Barrett is editing as Alexbrn and as IP 184.108.40.206? If you think that is the case you need to go to Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations or stop making silly claims. Quackwatch has been found to be reliable for certain things and Ahunt is not suggesting that it/they have reviewed the Carlton Fredericks page. Wikipedia does not have outside organisations review pages. I protected the page due to the Wikipedia:Edit warring that was occurring. Finally, you are at the wrong page. If you think the material should not be included then go to Talk:Carlton Fredericks. CambridgeBayWeather, Uqaqtuq (talk), Sunasuttuq 20:54, 30 March 2019 (UTC)
Is CBW really this clueless? Maybe. He seems to have no idea what the dispute is about. He protected the page because of edit warring. Okay, who was warned for edit warring? Not the IPs and not Brown. He reverted material back in. He does not seem to be aware of what the dispute was about. That would have taken reading the edit summaries of the IP complaining.
However, going to Talk would have been the way to go. The relevant material has never been discussed, the Talk page was not used. However, knowing the history of the faction that Brown devotes most of his editing to, I would not encourage the IP to put in much effort. You can spend months to get a change of a few words. Time might be better spent to create independent resources on Carlton Fredericks, if one cares about him. Might be an interesting person, certainly knew some interesting persons.
I have not socked on Wikipedia since 2011 (it’s all described on another page). When I see crap like this, it’s very tempting! Fascist administration creates disruption, once the oppressed realize that the banhammer is made of air and does not actually inflict pain — unless one really cares about the encyclopedia, and the growth and development of fascist administration burned out many, many who did care. I was one, and I worked for a neutral project that would seek genuine consensus. It was not wanted and while there were many who liked my ideas (including one who was elected to ArbComm), there was no reliable protection of whistleblowers. Just of administrators, “valuable volunteers.”
(The one elected to ArbComm resigned because of real-world, in-his-face threats to his family. So much for reform. Most Wikipedians have no idea how ugly it can be, under the surface.)
Do I care if Fredericks smoked or not? Does anyone really care? Yet when one becomes addicted to Wikipedia, it all can seem Very Important.
Alexbrn has global edits 36,284 edits over 12 years.
When I have been researching the sock puppet activity of Darryl Smith (aka Goblin Face), the account of Alexbrn often showed up. I have not seen any direct evidence, but in the case above, Alexbrn continued the agenda of Smith (as the former Skeptic from Britain). But he appears to be a real person. If he is. I have been learning that things are not always as they appear, and Darryl claimed, years ago, to have many accounts in good standing. Yet — that IP could have been Darryl and it also could have been Brown, if he grew impatient. We may never know. (And there is even evidence that Darryl Smith does not exist, is, instead, another persona of his brother, Oliver Smith.)
CambridgeBayWeather, global edits 230,398 over 14 years. Here, he seems to have originally spent a minute on the Fredericks article, he was either pretending not to know, or had no idea what the conflict was about, but acted using tools anyway. Why?
I don’t know, but I do know that very long-term admins tend to burn out and become less and less patient and more likely to make mistakes, and if they combine that with an attitude that they never make mistakes, it can create huge messes. Using Twinkle to handle a content dispute, not a good sign.
In the old days, if someone who cared about the community saw an interchange like this, they would go to the IP talk page and encourage the IP to register an account and then they would counsel the IP how to ask for what they want — and would inform the user of what they could and could not do. There used to be lots of users who would do this, though never enough. More common, even then, was punishment of “bad behavior,” or merely lack of clue. At best, the user runs into a brick wall.