User talk:MastCell

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Welcome to Wikipedia![edit]

Dear MastCell: Welcome to Wikipedia, a free and open-content encyclopedia. I hope you enjoy contributing. To help get you settled in, I thought you might find the following pages useful:

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Process[edit]

Hi MastCell. I responded a bit impulsively today in the heat of the moment in the thread that alleges misrepresentation of sources. I sort of wish now that I'd held off, since I really appreciate your suggestion that we get back to the process we started. I think that's a good suggestion. TimidGuy (talk) 00:29, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

OK. But since you're here, I want to ask you something. Our content on the purported health benefits of Transcendental Meditation is heavily influenced by editors affiliated with the TM movement. Do you think that raises questions about bias (either conscious or unconscious) in our coverage? I think the best practice (one that is recommended, but not demanded, by WP:COI) would be for editors with close connections to the movement to participate in talkpage discussion, but for independent, unaffiliated editors to manage the actual editing of article content.

I'm not a big fan of analogies, but let's say that our coverage of an antihypertensive drug from Merck were dominated by a small group of single-purpose accounts closely affiliated with Merck. That situation would rightly raise concerns about our ability to present accurate and unbiased medical information. I see a similar problem on the TM articles, at least as far as they intersect with medical claims. Do you?

Finally, I'm sort of disappointed in the lack of restraint shown by TM-affiliated editors. Frankly, there are a number of Wikipedia articles, both medical and biographical, which I avoid because I want to manage any potential conflicts of interest on my part. These are areas where I believe I could undoubtedly improve our coverage, but I recognize that my connections (which are not financial, but rather personal or professional) would potentially bias me. So I don't edit those articles, as a simple but healthy form of self-restraint. I sort of wish that some level of introspection would take place here so that people wouldn't need to beat the drum confrontationally about it. MastCell Talk 17:53, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

Regarding the Alfonzo Green AE case...[edit]

Hi MastCell, regarding my closure here of the AE case regarding Alfonzo Green, it was brought to my attention that perhaps enough time wasn't given for further consideration of Alfonzo's comments due to the holiday yesterday. Did you have any intent on making a substantive change in your position regarding that case after Alfonzo's comments and before my closure? Please let me know if so... Thanks. Zad68 21:04, 26 December 2013 (UTC)

It was a good close. Alfonzo's later commentary made me more sure, if anything, that a topic ban was appropriate. Your conscientiousness does you credit. MastCell Talk 02:25, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks... an optimist might see my willingness to follow up on the request as genuine conscientiousness and an assumption of good faith; a cynic might say that it was done simply to close that one door firmly in case of an appeal. But who's cynical these days? Zad68 15:51, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
I'd be shocked if an appeal succeeded either way. These Sheldrake cases aren't anywhere near borderline calls—it only seems that way because of the volume of verbiage at WP:AE. Since you mention cynicism, we're witnessing rule #17 in action here. MastCell Talk 23:35, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

And in case you hadn't seen, this... Zad68 15:59, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

Belchfire? Not[edit]

I suggest that a block based on what you "think" is true where sufficient evidence has been given otherwise would be improper. Cheers. Collect (talk) 13:22, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

I think it's more-likely-than-not that Roccodrift is Belchfire, although far from a slam dunk. But the question is moot from a practical point of view. Roccodrift is clearly the alternate account of an experienced Wikipedian, and the Roccodrift account is largely or solely dedicated to ideologically driven editing on controversial political topics. In the best case—accepting that Roccodrift isn't Belchfire—this alternate account usage is still inappropriate, because you can't use an alternate account to "segregate" controversial edits and feuds.

That's the point I tried to make in my comment at Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/Belchfire; this account is being used improperly whether or not Belchfire is the one operating it. I'd be fine with "soft-blocking" the account, so that its owner can return to editing with his/her main account. But I'm not OK with an editor using an alternate account to dive into partisan topics while maintaining a "clean" reputation with their main account.

In any case, I have no interest in acting hastily or unilaterally, which is why I invited comment and feedback from other admins rather than simply closing the case myself. To return to your comment: which evidence do you believe is sufficient to disprove sockpuppetry? MastCell Talk 16:29, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Happy New Year![edit]

Northern cardinal by Barnes, Dr.Thomas G.jpg Bringing you warm wishes for the New Year!
May you and yours enjoy a healthful, happy and productive 2014!

And I hope to see you more active!

Best regards, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:53, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Cyanocitta-cristata-004.jpg

A gift for you[edit]

Allaroundamazingbarnstar.png All-Around Amazing Barnstar
To MastCell, I give you this award for your long-term service to Wikipedia as an editor and an administrator; you've done excellent work, have sound judgment and are highly fair. While we have had few interactions, my observations of you over the years have always been positive. Thank you for everything that you do. Acalamari 19:43, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
Thanks very much. That's very kind of you, and much appreciated. MastCell Talk 19:09, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
You're certainly welcome; you deserve it. Acalamari 23:03, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

Misleading comment[edit]

Please strike through the following comment: "and which even its originator admits is simply a continuation of his original, disruptive argumentation." Nowhere do I admit to engaging in "disruptive argumentation," either now or at any time prior. Alfonzo Green (talk) 18:26, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

I think your appeal pretty clearly focuses on restating your content arguments, combined with a rather melodramatic framing of your situation as a battle between the forces of Integrity vs. Corruption. That's not an appeal in any traditional sense of the word. It's more digging in and re-drawing battle lines, and I think you've been pretty clear that such is your intent. Of course, the characterization of your argumentation as "disruptive" is mine, not yours, so in the interest of clarity I will go ahead and strike that portion of my comment. MastCell Talk 19:48, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

Note about accounts[edit]

I was reading this comment (saying that Roccodrift "should be using his/her main account, rather than using this account to segregate agenda-driven edits...") and I just thought I'd clarify that the main account has been indeffed for almost a year...As best as I remember they had edit warring problems and kept getting escalating block lengths until they started socking to evade the blocks, which led to the indef. Anyway, whether it's him or someone else, I think the main charge is block evasion, not sock puppetry. ~Adjwilley (talk) 04:54, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the note. I agree that if we believe Roccodrift is Belchfire, then the issue is block evasion and Roccodrift should be indefinitely blocked. I should have been clearer in my comment—I meant that if we give Roccodrift the benefit of the doubt and assume that he's not Belchfire, then he's still the alternate account of an experienced Wikipedian. Assuming the editor's original account isn't blocked, s/he should be using that account. I was getting at the "best-case" scenario, and the fact that even if Roccodrift isn't Belchfire, the account is still being used improperly and its operator should cease segregating his/her controversial edits. Does that make sense? Sorry for the confusion, and always good to hear from you. MastCell Talk 17:02, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Ah, I see. I suppose another "best-case" scenario would be if it were someone's fresh start account, though they're probably doing a poor job of it if that is the case. Thanks for the reply - I'll fully support whatever action you choose to take here. ~Adjwilley (talk) 00:09, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
Bleh, I started this comment a few hours ago and just now came back to finish it and hit "Save". Should have checked my watchlist first I suppose. Thanks for following through. ~Adjwilley (talk) 00:14, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
No worries - I'm sorry it took a month for that SPI to be reviewed and handled. MastCell Talk 02:47, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

Ayup[edit]

"In addition, as I have stated more than once, I do not have a conflict of interest on the TM topic and I always edit with WP's best interests foremost in my mind." Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Hipocrite (talk) 16:13, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Wow. That is a frankly outrageous statement. MastCell Talk 18:52, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Revert on abortion page[edit]

Hi MastCell,

You recently reverted my edits to the abortion page. I know in your edit summary you briefly explained why you did so but I have a couple of questions.

1. Are you saying that Knights of Columbus is a low-quality poll? If so, why? Washingtonexaminer.com published the article as well as newsok.com, both of which seem like reliable sources.
2. Is it necessarily my job to include the "public opinion outside this one poll"? Instead of reverting my edit, why can't we include all polls that summarize public opinion on this topic?
3. The research I added clearly states that the poll was conducted in the US and is not making a generalized claim that applies to the whole world. I understand this is "US-centric" but the page already includes content that deals specifically with the US. Why can this content keep but not the research I included? Below is information concerning the US from the Abortion page.
"In the US, the risk of maternal death from abortion is 0.6 per 100,000 procedures, making abortion about 14 times safer than childbirth (8.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births). The risk of abortion-related mortality increases with gestational age, but remains lower than that of childbirth through at least 21 weeks' gestation."
"The Guttmacher Institute estimated there were 2,200 intact dilation and extraction procedures in the US during 2000; this accounts for 0.17% of the total number of abortions performed that year."
"In the US, abortion was more dangerous than childbirth until about 1930 when incremental improvements in abortion procedures relative to childbirth made abortion safer."

My understanding is that we should include other polls and public opinions on this topic, not just the US. Let me hear your thoughts. Thanks! Meatsgains (talk) 18:27, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

I was referring to the Washington Examiner as a low-quality source. It's a partisan outlet without a particularly strong reputation for journalism. I also think the poll in question was being given undue weight. It was conducted by the Knights of Columbus—a Catholic pro-life advocacy group with no standing as a polling organization or as a public-health/public-policy research group. Why did you choose this one particular poll (of the hundreds that are available) to feature prominently in the article?

If we choose to summarize public opinion about abortion, then the top-level article is abortion debate, not abortion. If we're summarizing US public opinion, then abortion in the United States might be an appropriate target. However, in any of these articles, it's important to provide a comprehensive overview of reputable polling results rather than highlighting a single poll by a partisan group.

It's probably worth moving any further discussion to the relevant article talkpages, so that others can participate as well. MastCell Talk 20:04, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

I chose this article in particular because I was reading through the news this morning and the Washington Examiner article struck my attention. It popped up on my news feed and after reading it I thought it would be good information to add to the Abortion page. I understand the Knights of Columbus is a Catholic pro-life advocacy group; I just thought the information was notable enough to include. Your reasoning for reverting my edit makes much more sense now. Thanks! Meatsgains (talk) 23:22, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

Your reply to me at the RfA[edit]

I saw what you said only after the RfA was withdrawn and closed, and I figure that courtesy indicates that I ought to reply to you here. Of course it's all moot now, but at the time of my comment to which you replied, I had understood it as editing from the same area, but not the same computer. If it actually were the same computer, that would probably have bumped me into oppose. Anyway, thanks for your attention to the details. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:48, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the note. My comment was based on this report, indicating that he shared a computer (or Internet access point) with at least 12 other accounts, many of whom edit in tandem on TM-related articles and many of whom block-voted to oppose James' RfA. There were several more TM-focused accounts editing from the same area, but without direct IP matches. As I mentioned in my comments, this level of evidence is well above our threshold for defining meatpuppetry/sockpuppetry. At an absolute minimum, these accounts should be treated as one single voice for purposes of assessing consensus and !voting. But I've given up trying to understand why our usual rules and best practices are suspended when it comes to dealing with this particular topic area.

I was actually a little surprised that other commentators at the RfA attached so much significance to the multiple-accounts issue. I included it as a genuine concern, but I thought the much bigger issue was the outright denial of a very obvious conflict of interest. Compared to that, the tag-team editing was almost an afterthought, at least to me. MastCell Talk 22:01, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

I had read that same SPI report; maybe I missed something. It bothered me, based only on what I could read at the RfA, that people were alleging a COI without proving it, and then objecting when he denied that the COI existed. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:07, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
I think that Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/TimidGuy ban appeal had a very real chilling effect on our ability to discuss conflicts of interest. To the extent that people were beating around the bush, it's because of the message that ArbCom sent in that case. It's a real no-win situation: risk being banned for "proving" the COI, or stand accused as a mean-spirited well-poisoner for mentioning the COI and then failing to "prove" it. MastCell Talk 22:52, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
That's an interesting point, and I hadn't followed that ban appeal. I have seen incidents of COI accusations made falsely, used to try to get the upper hand in POV disputes, so I'm predisposed to want to see, simply, evidence of POV pushing in lieu of COI accusations. It bothered me that, at the RfA, there weren't better diffs of pro-TM (or whatever) POV-pushing. The diffs I saw were pretty bland. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:20, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
I suppose my perspective is different: I've seen several instances where blatant COI editors have been enabled while the people raising red flags have caught a beat-down. I didn't see any dramatic diffs of POV-pushing at the RfA, but I didn't need to. Our guidelines state that as a best practice, editors with a COI should restrict themselves to the talkpage. They don't say "go ahead and make a few thousand edits in your area of COI, and then see whether anyone can conclusively identify a POV-pushing diff". I think it's reasonable to expect admin candidates to follow best practices, or at least not to blatantly flout them. We should especially demand COI best practices from a collection of TM-affiliated accounts who happen to edit in tandem from the same computer.

Likewise, Keithbob's refusal to acknowledge his COI was unacceptable, as far as I'm concerned. If someone categorically denies the existence of a COI which clearly exists, then I don't even need to get into the question of POV-pushing—they're not honest enough for me to feel comfortable anywhere but in the "oppose" column. MastCell Talk 23:53, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

OK, thanks for the interesting discussion. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:25, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
  • For the record, this was very specifically investigated during the initial TM case, and it turned out that these editors used the same small local ISP. There was no overlap except for the local Wifi coffee-shop/bookstore. I'm still really, really sad that people I respect a good deal didn't understand that the problem in the TimidGuy ban appeal was outing and extensive off-wiki sleuthing, backdoor political manoeuvring, and secret bans, and that if the shoe had been on the other foot they would reasonably have taken an exactly opposite position. In TimidGuy's case, his COI was declared onwiki, so justification for taking such action was dodgy, especially by an editor who had been subjected to similar sleuthing in the past, and who had successfully managed to get his "investigators" banned. It had nothing at all do do with medical content. Incidentally, one could wonder about the COI of editors who hold fervent but diametrically opposite beliefs, and whether they have a conflict of interest as well; for example, if someone consistently adds only negative information to articles relating to a specific topic area, sometimes to the point of undue weight, perhaps their COI is just as real as those editors who add only positive information to the same articles. Neither party is being neutral. I have no specific thoughts about Keithbob's RFA, since I didn't even know it had happened, although I do understand the COI point. I will say that I've seen terribly poor behaviour from some editors working in their scientific speciality over the years, and being a subject matter expert doesn't prevent that. Wikiproject Medicine has been better than many others in this respect, with fewer problems and much better standards for inclusion of information. Other fields, however, have been and continue to be a nightmare of ownership and often significant BLP violations. But meh, not my problem anymore. Risker (talk) 01:24, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
  • So if they shared the same small local ISP and also all conveniently showed up to vote at the same RfA, which most (all?) of them generally never participate in. Why that doesn't raise a concern? I'm guessing they all share the same interest in Transcendental Meditation as well - that doesn't raise a concern? In addition, regardless of whether there is a conflict of interest, there is something a little troubling about focusing so much on a single topic, and particularly a topic like TM. Scholarly dispassion is very difficult to develop, and it is certainly unrealistic to expect it from everyone (or even from all administrators), but it is more difficult to develop if one doesn't step outside their passion zone very often. That's not to say that Keithbob isn't working outside these areas, but he should just explain what his relationship to the topic is. He's not required to, I suppose, but no one is required to vote for him, either. II | (t - c) 03:07, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
  • That's a bit of a canard, actually; it would actually surprise me if someone who'd just a few months before taken a large group of editors to arbitration wasn't opposed by those whom he'd taken to RFAR. (Actually, look at several of the opposes, and you'll see the opposite effect on Keithbob's RFA. I personally am not shocked or disturbed by that, and I rather doubt you are either.) You realise that they openly state that they're from the town where the TM university is, right? That more than half of the community there is somehow or other involved in TM? It's kind of like edits from Vatican City to articles about the Catholic Church, except of course that we tend to welcome those. Risker (talk) 03:41, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
  • @Risker: I think that if a group of 5 or 6 opposers at Keithbob's RfA turned out to share an IP address (and a narrow topic focus), people would scream bloody murder - and rightly so. OK, I shouldn't have brought up the ArbCom case, which is a can of worms best sealed at this point. I'll just say that I do understand the issues with WillBeback's conduct. I'm not defending him. At all. In fact, I sort of wish no one would ever mention his name again, because he's basically a boogeyman at this point whose mere mention derails any serious discussion of the very real COI editing here. My fault for raising the case in the first place.

    I do have a serious question, though. At his RfA, Keithbob said, categorically: "as I have stated more than once, I do not have a conflict of interest on the TM topic". Do you think that's an honest statement? (Obviously, I don't, but I'm interested in your opinion as someone whom I respect and who sees this issue differently than I do). MastCell Talk 03:50, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

I think you meant ISP (service provider) and not IP; there wasn't IP sharing except for the local bookstore/coffee-shop. There are several areas throughout the US where small, local ISPs get the lion's share of local business, because they're usually cheaper and the owners are highly community-oriented. Risker (talk) 04:51, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
  • I think that the COI issue is a very, very grey area here. Personally, I think that there's been a huge conflation of "personal, strong interest" with the more financially-oriented "conflict of interest" as it's defined our guidelines. In my mind, if Keithbob has a conflict of interest on TM, something that he openly follows, then so does the editor who believes that all new religious movements are frauds. Neither of them is gaining any financial benefit from their views on the subject (so technically neither would be violating our current COI guidelines), although either or both of them could make a mess of an article if they cannot write neutrally. I believe that most editors believe that they write neutrally all the time, and that most are probably wrong about that, and most are simply unconscious to how their editing reflects their own biases. I believe that there are certain editing techniques that are particularly effective in introducing bias into articles in a lasting way, and that those techniques are not usually seen in editors who have a clearly identifiable topic area in which they have an interest. I think that the COI that we've seen in a lot of the paid advocacy editing stands out because it's so obvious. And I think that, just as the reference you mention on your user page, people believe what they want to believe, and many will believe it even more strongly despite being given solid information that they're wrong. I think that, given a bit of personal information about any given editor, I could probably point to edits that would (at least to some people) cross the boundary into COI - and I can practically guarantee it for anyone who is editing in their area of professional or personal expertise. We don't ask Christians or Jews or Muslims not to edit the articles about their faith or suggest they have a COI for doing so, and that same standard has to apply to people of other faiths too. We also don't tell people who believe all religion is hooey not to edit articles about any religion. (Nothing made me sadder than to see a respected scientist's BLP turned into a disaster area by using her religious beliefs to ridicule her position on a certain subject.) We ask all of them to edit the articles neutrally and without bias, sticking to fact-based information and giving it appropriate weight and sourcing. I think it is vitally important to the health of Wikipedia that experts edit within their field, even if there's the risk that someone might think there's a conflict - and I think it's also vitally important that non-experts edit the same articles so that they'll remain accessible to the average reader. I think we need to get back to worrying about the content of the edits and cut back on the investment of time and energy in trying to discern so much about the personal beliefs, life experiences, and financial resources of the people who make them. That kind of conflict of interest (however defined) is endemic to the project and has been present since its earliest days - and I'm not persuaded we're seeing any changes in the frequency or severity of the issue today. I suspect that over the years there's been a fairly persistent 1-2% of articles that are biased because of conflicts of interest. And finally, I think it would be a lot easier to manage advocacy editing if we were to raise the notability bar a few notches, because right now it's so low that we're almost begging for articles like that to be created.

    Oh my, that's quite a rant, isn't it? Thanks for letting me get it off my chest... Risker (talk) 04:47, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

No worries - you're always welcome to speak your mind here. I agree with a lot of what you're saying, but it seems beside the point. Keithbob's COI is no less real because of the existence of anti-new-religious-movement editors (in any case, the only "anti-NRM" editor I can think of, WillBeback, is permabanned, so I don't see an issue with equivalence).

And I think the comparison to Christians/Jews/Muslims is off-base, for a very simple reason. Those are religions. TM has a religious aspect (about which I could care less and which I have never touched with a ten-foot pole), but it's also a proprietary product marketed by a single corporation, with a discrete price tag, and with claims of specific medical benefits. People who work for the TM organization or who sell TM should not be editing Wikipedia to promote its purported health benefits. That's nowhere near a gray area to me. How is that any different from an employee of Merck, or a person who makes his living selling Merck products, editing Wikipedia to promote the purported effectiveness of Merck's drugs? (That's not a rhetorical question; I view these situations as analogous, and if you don't then I'd be interested to hear your viewpoint).

On a separate note, I keep hearing the TM editors described as polite, reasonable, fantastic editors (one of your erstwhile colleagues on the Committee even compared them to Martin Luther King, Jr., which left me speechless). If that's the case, then why don't we expect them to follow our best practices on COI? At least some of these accounts clearly should not be editing in articlespace on the topic. Why don't we expect, or demand, that they have the integrity to follow our best practices rather than looking for wiggle room in the letter of the law? MastCell Talk 07:49, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

Risker, you wrote: "Incidentally, one could wonder about the COI of editors who hold fervent but diametrically opposite beliefs, and whether they have a conflict of interest as well; for example, if someone consistently adds only negative information to articles relating to a specific topic area, sometimes to the point of undue weight, perhaps their COI is just as real as those editors who add only positive information to the same articles. Neither party is being neutral." The problem here is only if this editor takes the negative within the article "to the point of undue weight" and not whether they "consistently add only negative information". Because being neutral isn't about balancing the good and bad viewpoints evenly. I hope you understand that, unlike the BBC, say, who still haven't got their head round it. If our best sources are negative on a subject then negative is how our articles should be and neutral edits in that area would generally be negative. The issue with TM isn't about beliefs where good people can agree to disagree, but about medical claims that are testable. -- Colin°Talk 08:38, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

What he said. Also, Risker,
  1. "I suspect that over the years there's been a fairly persistent 1-2% of articles that are biased because of conflicts of interest."
  2. "And finally, I think it would be a lot easier to manage advocacy editing if we were to raise the notability bar a few notches, because right now it's so low that we're almost begging for articles like that to be created."
  1. Why do you think the POV articles are such a low percentage? I'd put it much higher.
  2. Yes, yes, yes ... the use of primary sources to promote medical topics is alarming. Where/how can we work to raise the notability bar in here? Casliber has had some success recently at AFD; if you know of any efforts to work on this issue, pls bring 'em on!
SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:52, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
@Risker: Colin's and Sandy's comments bring up another thing that's really bothered me about the handling of this situation. These disputes are constantly framed as "pro-TM" accounts vs. "anti-TM" accounts. That's hogwash. At bottom, this is a dispute between pro-TM accounts (many of whom have real conflicts of interest by any reasonable definition) and the ever-shrinking group of editors who struggle to produce and maintain high-quality, accurate medical information on this site. We're talking about people like Colin, Sandy, Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs), Zad68 (talk · contribs)... these people have stellar track records on medical content, and no pre-existing axe to grind about TM. They don't deserve to be dismissed as "anti-TM" editors or anti-religious zealots, nor do they deserve to be equated with single-purpose agenda accounts editing from the coffee shop next to TM headquarters. They deserve our support, and they're not getting it, and that bothers me—a lot—because of what it says about this site's priorities. MastCell Talk 18:47, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
Substitute the word "cannabis" for "TM" in your post, and you have the picture of the latest anti-RS charges because some of us simply attempted to remove primary sources and original research and replace those with secondary reviews. There is too much to keep up with. Or, substitute the word "circumcision" for "TM", where same occurred. It never occurred to those lobbing charges of bias that my personal preferences on circumcision aligned with theirs, and they were unable to conduct a discussion based on sources no matter how often I asked. As MastCell mentions, there is an old concern that some arbs don't respect that some editors can bring sourcing to a discussion without the emotion. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:17, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
Sounds like everyone is getting hot under the collar...I know, what about a spot of Emotional clearing (chuckle) Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 20:25, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
.....furthering on Sandy's point, which is again why having content editors on the committee brought some perspectives at times that other arbs that didn't do a great deal of content work missed....sigh. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 20:27, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
I'll get my "emotional clearing" in two to four weeks, when the next crop of student editing hits, and I take a long break so I don't have to see it clobber my watchlist. I already raised my children, and they knew how to write before they graduated high school. Cas, are you becoming a niche AFDer? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:30, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

Reading all of this about COIs and so on with respect to the TM pages, I'm starting to understand more of the issues that I wasn't aware of before. First, disclosure time here: I don't have any financial conflict of interest as I am unemployed, living on food stamps at teh level reserved for people with zero income, and any income I hid from you from the TM organization would be used against me in legal proceedings for fraudulently obtaining food stamps. Now, emotionally, I have clear biases: I have been practicing TM for 40+ years, and am a well known TM advocate (at least in my own mind) on a first-name basis with most of the upper level of the TM organization (at least in the USA) simply by being a 40 year TMer. That said, I pride myself on trying to be as honest as possible. Should I refrain from posting, even in the talk page?

Regarding the specifics of all this stuff about shared coffeehouse internet access. It sounds plausible to me. About 30 years ago, the TM founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, put out a call for 7,000 people to meditate together every day, in order to bring about world peace via group meditation. Over the years, about 2,000 of the most ultra-fanatical TMers have moved to the middle of nowhere, AKA, "Fairfield, IA," in order to meditate together every day. Many receive/have received a monthly stipend from the Howard Settle Foundation in order to allow them to devote 8 hours a day to this group meditation practice. Obviously, such a group of hardcore true believers would be prone to have a very lock-step view of TM, and given that many are living in low-cost quarters, since they have chosen to make meditation their "full time job," they would end up using public internet access to express themselves. It sounds like this is, at least somewhat, how the situation has arisen. Does this sound right? I can see how such people would be considered to have a clear COI. However, is it any worse than mine? Having outed myself as a hardcore fanatic with 40 years practice, should I be banned as well? Sparaig2 (talk) 20:42, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

First of all, thank you for your honesty. I really appreciate it - seriously. The scenario you describe makes sense to me. To answer your question, I don't think you should be banned by any means. I do think it makes sense for you (and for the editors you describe above as "ultra-fanatical") to comply with the best practices described in the COI guideline and the associated best-practices essay. That would mean, among other things, being upfront about their associations, refraining from editing articles directly (instead making suggestions on article talkpages), and perhaps most importantly not pushing too hard for favorable coverage. You deserve real credit because you're actually already living up to these best practices - you've been upfront, and you've restricted yourself for the most part to talk pages. You're doing things the right way. Unfortunately I think a number of other editors have been less scrupulous, and that's where my frustration comes from.

On a separate note, I'm genuinely sorry to hear about your straitened financial circumstances, and I hope they improve soon. I also hope that you haven't been hurt by the recent wave of cuts in food assistance which seems to be sweeping the nation. And thank you again for your honesty and your comments here. MastCell Talk 21:06, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for your kind thoughts. I'm doing OK with the slight dip in food stamp money, but I can borrow a vehicle when I need to go shopping, and a friend put me on her Costco card account, so the food stamp money goes quite far when you can purchase in-bulk. The people who are hurting are those who have to walk to the local "convenience store" and pay as much as 5x what I do for the same amount of food, especially if they don't have a refrigerator.
On the topic of "ultra-fanatical," that is a bit of "tongue-in-cheek" rhetoric on my part. "Committed to a cause" is certainly a valid way of describing them, but the cause they are committed to is world peace, and the method they have chosen to use for that end is to attempt to become enlightened by devoting much of their time to group meditation. Regardless of any purported violations of Wikipedia policy that they may have ended up committing, these are very nice people™ who have often scarified a good bit (some have moved 10,000 miles from other countries and/or given up high-paying jobs) in order to participate in the group meditation as a permanent resident of a tiny Iowa town often described as "20 miles northeast of where Radar O'Reilly was born" --when you use the obscure birthplace of a movie character as a reference to find somewhere, you KNOW it is off-the-map. Sparaig2 (talk) 18:02, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
I'm glad you're making things work, and I hope they get better soon. Re: "ultra-fanatical", I totally get your point, and that you were being tongue-in-cheek, and not derogatory, about their devotion to the movement. I'm not in the habit of denigrating anyone's religious or spiritual beliefs, especially when their focus is peace and harmony, and I hope it didn't come off that way. MastCell Talk 20:38, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

I decided to look back here, and it continues to be very interesting to me. Although I never followed the TimidGuy case, my overall experiences with conflicts over COI make me see things much as Risker does. And it comes from some experiences that relate in an interesting way to some things SandyGeorgia referred to. I was a mostly quiet observer of the cannabis dispute to which Sandy refers, and a big part of the reason is that I had, just a few months earlier, found myself in another dispute, for which you could substitute "Monsanto" for "TM" – and the same group of editors who were in dispute with the WikiProject Medicine editors with respect to cannabis had just been incredibly mean-spirited in the Monsanto dispute (one of them got a three-month block). But here's the thing. The editors who were, in my opinion, tendentious in both disputes were the ones making COI accusations. In cannabis, they accused the editors who are physicians of having a COI by virtue of being physicians. In the Monsanto dispute, they accused anyone who questioned harsh criticism of genetically modified food crops of being paid by Monsanto. I've been around here long enough now that no one was quite willing to level that accusation at me, but the stuff that was said to some younger editors really appalled me. One such younger editor actually went so far as to report himself at WP:COIN, and got an oversighter to confidentially look into who he is in real life, and definitively exonerate him from the COI accusations. And the accusations continued nonetheless! It was like, either you are here to right great wrongs, or somebody is paying you to edit. That's why in the RfA, I felt that there needed to be diffs showing actual POV pushing, because editing from "the same small local ISP. There was no overlap except for the local Wifi coffee-shop/bookstore", quoting Risker – and not, apparently, from the same computer – did not seem to me to establish COI editing, unless the edits themselves were pushing a POV. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:43, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

The sad part about the mean-spiritedness that surfaced in the cannabis editing is that it stopped productive work in its tracks. It was just absurd to have to deal with all the charges being lobbed about, and the TLDR posts that didn't engage sources at all. It's almost as if some editors learn that if others can be worn down, changes won't be made. The funny part is that it never occurred to some of those lobbing those COI charges that some of the WPMED physicians might be themselves prescribing medical marijuana, at the same time that they are quite capable of knowing how to source articles correctly.

On a complete tangent, thinking about some of the abuse we put up during the cannabis editing (and I never saw a WPMED person return the favor), this week I observed a new editor (who admittedly was an SPA and having a hard time figuring things out, and breaking all the rules, but he was trying, and each time he was warned about something, he stopped) get indeffed two days after he stopped doing what he was doing that got him a last warning, and then the blocking admin was the same admin who reviewed his unblock request and declined it (shouldn't that be done by an uninvolved admin?). I'm not taking this to the drama boards, but watching it unfold, I couldn't help but be reminded that a new editor got quickly indeffed, yet of the outright abuse the WPMED editors endured during cannabis article editing, and that no one said a word to the abusing parties. Weird place, this ... I'm reminded of something MastCell said once about doing as much good work as you can until you can't anymore. When the next student term hits, I'll take a long break, having done what I can do in the meantime, but leaving a lot of work undone. In particular, cannabis is still a mess, and most of our articles haven't been updated for DSM5. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:03, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

Tryptofish, I too share your concern about personal attacks. Collaborative editing becomes impossible because the attacks poison the well and atmosphere to such a degree that experienced and qualified editors avoid certain topics. I avoid the right wing topics because of the strong ownership exerted by editors like Arzel and cohorts, whose only purpose seems to be to whitewash those articles through deletion of properly sourced content they don't like. I also barely stuck my toe in the cannabis articles and quickly discovered a poisonous atmosphere and have done very little there, even though I could contribute. Why do we warn and block people for 3rr and other relatively minor issues and skirmishes, but never do anything about personal attacks? The worst areas are RfCs and ArbCom proceedings, where the vilest personal attacks are allowed every day, and nothing is done. "Using someone's affiliations as an ad hominem means of dismissing or discrediting their views—regardless of whether said affiliations are mainstream" are also considered a personal attack. They are violations of the WP:NPA policy. Why should that policy be broken with impunity? -- Brangifer (talk) 03:48, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, BullRangifer. A big part of the problem is when the NPA gets intertwined with content disputes, and of course another part is that there is only partial community consensus on civility. What happens is those violating NPA claim that those objecting are just trying to get the upper hand in the content dispute, and that the supposed personal attack was just a good faith attempt to call out COI violations. The Monsanto dispute to which I referred did indeed wind up at ANI, and zilch came of it, other than a wall-o-text. (In hindsight, I blame myself for that, a little bit, because I mistakenly decided to keep replying to everything that was said. I'd like to believe that it was an uncharacteristic mistake on my part, because most of the time, I'm pretty good (I think) at not taking content disputes personally, so when I avoid a topic, it's usually because I don't have time, not because I'm squeamish about facing down POV pushers.) Anyway, that's my venting, and I thank MastCell for hosting it. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:36, 25 January 2014 (UTC)

Bias[edit]

OK, I understand that you don't see yourself as particularly biased against TM, but since the wikipedia pages about other forms of meditation don't seem to make mention of any caveats made by reviewers about the quality of meditation research in general, while editors bring it up over and over again on the TM research page (which has been folded into a tiny section that doesn't even mention all the different avenues of research that are being investigated), surely you can see how I might get the impression that TM is being singled out?

I'd like to ask you a question about research design? What would need to be done to make a TM study better in your opinion? The best designed study on meditation that I am aware of was conducted by a team of researchers who were actually advocates of several different practices. They attempted to ensure that all meditation teachers were as professional looking/sounding as the TM teachers, with well-memorized, professional presentations made while wearing business attire, using professionally done materials that presented slick charts that made reference to real research on the kind of meditation practice they were teaching. Subjects were randomly assigned, given the lecture by the meditation teacher, and then given a questionnaire to see if there were differences in expectation between groups (there were not). Data collection was done blind by graduate students from Harvard University and researchers were also blind to group participation: Transcendental meditation, mindfulness, and longevity: an experimental study with the elderly. If future TM studies were done along these lines, but on a larger scale, would this make the results more acceptable to you?

You should be aware that I have been in touch with all the major players in the TM organization pitching the concept that teh David Lynch Foundation should make it known that they are willing to instruct subjects in studies on other meditation practices TM so that such studies can become official head-to-head studies of TM vs <whatever>. The TM hierarchy seems at least somewhat receptive towards doing such a thing, but I'm not convinced that researchers into other practices will be. Do you think that such studies should be done?

By the way, this study was done by researchers who don't practice any form of meditation, as far as I know, Reduced functional connectivity between cortical sources in !ve meditation traditions detected with lagged coherence using EEG tomography, but TM researchers have convinced the original authors to conduct a followup that examines long-term TM practitioners specifically. If the TMers are shown to be different in some significant way from the practitioners of the other practices, how should such a pair of studies be reported, and what wikipedia page should it be reported in?Sparaig2 (talk) 19:56, 23 January 2014 (UTC) Sparaig2 (talk) 19:56, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

I originally put this in the middle of your talk page instead of at the end, which is why there's a double signature as I just cut and paste to move it. Sparaig2 (talk) 20:02, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the questions. Please understand that I have no experience in research on meditation, so the answers I'm providing are based on my limited personal viewpoint and are not those of an expert in the relevant field. It's useful to look at the 2007 AHRQ review and the 2014 AHRQ-funded systematic review for ideas on how clinical trials of meditation could be better designed. The 2007 AHRQ review found that even the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of meditation were methodologically suspect, because of poor reporting of aspects like allocation concealment, patient attrition, etc. Likewise, the 2014 systematic review identified four main sources of bias in the mediation literature: lack of blinding in outcome assessment, high attrition, lack of allocation concealment, and lack of intention-to-treat analysis. These are all basic aspects of clinical trial design and conduct, and should be amenable to improvement.

The selection of an appropriate active control group is also a key question, and a huge source of weakness in many of the RCTs. Clinical trials should always start with a specific clinical question, and the selection of an appropriate control group depends in large part on the question one is trying to answer. It is very easy to bias a randomized clinical trial—either inadvertently or intentionally—to yield a positive result by selecting a specific control group, something that drug companies figured out a long time ago. This is a very subtle form of bias and often very hard to identify.

I think it would be interesting to compare various forms of meditation (e.g. mindfulness vs. mantra, etc) to see whether they are essentially equivalent, or whether there is some specific component of the meditation process which is central to the potential health benefits. It seems a bit far-fetched that meditating for 20 minutes while repeating a mantra is biologically different from meditating without a mantra for 20 minutes, or that any biological differences between the two approaches would translate into a meaningful difference in clinical endpoints. But I guess it's not impossible.

It's important to note that a trial in which TM instructors teach other meditation techniques will be useless and uninterpretable. If the instructor believes deeply that TM is beneficial, and is skeptical that other approaches are as beneficial, then that bias will be communicated (consciously or unconsciously) to the experimental subjects, biasing the results. This phenomenon is called observer-expectancy bias, and it's the reason why double-blinding, of study staff as well as subjects, is essential. This unconscious bias can produce hugely invalid results, as in the famous case of a horse who could seemingly solve complex math problems (in fact, the horse simply became conditioned to respond to non-verbal clues being offered unconsciously by the experimenters). MastCell Talk 22:26, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for your response. On the last point, I can assure you that it would be anathema (literally) for an active TM teacher to ever teach or even practice (unless it is their culture's religious tradition) some other practice, so that point isn't going to arise.
Concerning various active control groups, the main choice in meditation studies has been "Progressive Muscle Relaxation" as that is known to have very little effect on people so it's a safe bet that your (the researchers') favorite meditation practice will look good in comparison. You may be surprised that there is some receptivity to my proposal that not only should TM researchers be making a good-faith attempt to enlist the participation of mindfulness researchers to perform head-to-head studies, but that there has also been some acceptance to including Benson's Relaxation Response in a study instead-of/in-addition-to, PMR, because TM researchers are firmly convinced that it is not working at all as intended, despite being originally designed by Herbert Benson to imitate the practice of TM. From the TM perspective, all "mantra based" meditation practices are NOT the same. By the way, this study, (pubmed citation) or **Download:** Reduction in Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Congolese Refugees Practicing Transcendental Meditation (.doc file format), appears to be an attempt to address some of the criticisms you mention. The "active control group" issue isn't addressed, but given the circumstances of the study, the fact that they were able to conduct it at all was an achievement all its own. Hopefully new studies of this type will be better designedSparaig2 (talk) 01:44, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks[edit]

Thanks for the heads up on the 1RR rule on abortion-related articles. Appreciate it.Mark Marathon (talk) 11:35, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

Kudos![edit]

I kept wishing for a social-media-esque 'Like' button as I read through your user page. Thanks for sharing. --Kevjonesin (talk) 13:59, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the kind words! Much appreciated, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Cheers. MastCell Talk 16:48, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

User making disparaging reference to sexual orientation, again[edit]

Hi MastCell - I don't know if you remember this thread, but it's one where Esoglou repeatedly made disparaging reference to my sexual orientation as a reason why my editing was not acceptable to him, and now he's just gone and done it again over at Talk:Homosexuality and Roman Catholicism. Can this just be dealt with? Or do I have to go over to AN or ANI for it? –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 16:49, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

I'm going to be honest with you: I cannot believe that Esoglou is still permitted to edit in these topic areas, where he's repeatedly shown himself to be incapable of productive editing and interaction. But while I think his comments are too close to a line that he's crossed in the past, I think that any action I take based on them will be unlikely to stand. In any case, right now the article and talkpage seem to be devolving into edit-warring and argumentation between the two of you, and the most likely outcome of an AN/I thread is a lot of noisy idiocy from the usual noisy idiots and perhaps page protection or blocks for both of you. I think the best course of action is to try to get more eyes on the article, either at the relevant content noticeboards or through the relevant WikiProjects. To be clear, I don't think his commentary is acceptable. I guess I can assume that he's being clueless rather than malicious, although beyond a certain point cluelessness is just as harmful as malice. I've just gotten very realistic (or cynical) about what can be accomplished in the context of the current Wikipedia "community" when it comes to setting appropriate parameters for serious discussion. I'm sorry I can't be of more assistance in this instance. MastCell Talk 17:00, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Thank you. Hopefully further input will help at this specific article, but do you have any suggestions in the long term? The user's been topic-banned from two different subjects and had a decent amount of support for a topic ban from a third, has harassed me on multiple occasions, (and that's why I don't share your faith that this is just cluelessness; if he's really remained clueless that long, there's still enough of a WP:COMPETENCE problem that he still should not be editing) and if the community won't stop him... ? –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 17:55, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Could you put together a brief summary of this editor's history (links to topic bans, AN/I discussions, diffs to harassing comments, etc) - no more than just a paragraph or so, but with the relevant discussions and bans linked? I know it's busywork, but it might help in assessing how much of an issue there is, and in determining the best approach to deal with it. MastCell Talk 20:11, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Let me know if you'd like more than this.
Topic ban from Eastern Orthodox Christianity imposed here. (I wasn't involved in this but I can try to dig up earlier material on it if it would help.)
First topic ban from abortion: evidence collected here, ban officially imposed here.
Second topic ban from abortion: imposed here. More topic area evidence is collected there, but what immediately precipitated the ban was this post of a sexual image to my talk page, posted after the discussion had begun and apparently intended to get me to back off. He still has this image at the top of his talk page with a reference to the incident.
Some (though not all) of his disruption in the topic area of homosexuality is collected here. I realized after the discussion began that a lot of his original research and misrepresentation of sources isn't obvious if you haven't actually read the sources, so I'd be happy to explain. This was one of the discussions where he attributed the edits he disagreed with to my sexual orientation [1][2][3], leading several users to support a topic ban, including ones who had not previously done so. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 23:16, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

mdash police[edit]

I understand the purpose of the MOS for dashes in article space, but whats the point of doing it for something like workshop comments? Why bother? Is it something we should be doing in talk page comments etc? Gaijin42 (talk) 17:21, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

No, it was just something that was bothering me. Uneven hyphenation is like nails on a chalkboard (or like an unmatched left parenthesis) to me. I probably shouldn't have bothered, but I guess I've been on Wikipedia too long. It's definitely not something anyone should worry about in their comments. MastCell Talk 17:24, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

A modest proposal[edit]

Hello, MastCell. What you might do to pretty quickly gain an accurate idea of who's behind the recent incivility at Homosexuality and Roman Catholicism is to peruse its current Talk page from the section "Don't make stupid edits", created on January 18, to the present. Hope this helps. Badmintonhist (talk) 02:44, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Do you seriously think this doesn't violate your interaction ban? –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 02:51, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
Sorry, Ros, but they won't even let us talk . . . the bastards!! Badmintonhist (talk) 03:34, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

(talk page stalker) incredibly foolish, assuming you have any desire to continue editing wikipedia. Gaijin42 (talk) 03:36, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

(talk page stalker) If there is an interaction ban, his or her comment is in violation of that, IRWolfie- (talk) 10:46, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
@Badmintonhist: This is a blatant violation of your interaction ban. If I'd seen it yesterday, when you posted it, I'd have blocked you. As it is, I can't quite bring myself to block you, since at this point it would probably be more punitive than preventative. But I'm not sure how to get through to you that your conduct is unacceptable. You need to stop following Roscelese around. There are 4 million pages here, and almost as many content discussions. Find ones that don't involve Roscelese. MastCell Talk 03:53, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

Duck[edit]

free popcorn

Move Like This
by 28bytes

With thanks for cheers ;) --Gerda Arendt (talk) 09:00, 7 February 2014 (UTC)

What edit warring?[edit]

I made ONE revert, which isn't exactly risking 3RR, is it? As for the information I added being contentious, it isn't. Stan the mechanic does not have a medical qualification and he did claim to have found longitudinal results from a cross sectional study. I accept that (medical) Dr Siegel's blog isn't an RS and will look for a better source, but let's not pretend that Glantz's "research" is universally accepted.--FergusM1970Let's play Freckles 20:09, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

I went ahead and reported you to AN/I, as your nonsensical and abusive talkpage commentary violates WP:BLP on top of your violations in articlespace. The edit-warring is detailed there with diffs, so I'll refer you (and any interested readers) there for further discussion. MastCell Talk 20:15, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
Fine.--FergusM1970Let's play Freckles 20:17, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

Deletion review opinion[edit]

Hi, I'm thinking Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Phil Robertson ''GQ'' interview controversy should be overturned to no consensus but would like your opinion and possible support, if you agree. I think this help answer some of the due weight issues at both the Phil Robertson BLP, and the Duck Dynasty article from where it was spun out. The admin has been unresponsive after initial dismissal of concerns. I'm concerned we are white-washing the notable impact of the events, and I think a stand alone would help address that. I've also asked DDG for their opinion. Sportfan5000 (talk) 22:14, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Sorry for the delay in answering you here. My personal view is that we have too many "controversy" articles devoted to these sorts of US-culture-war flare-ups. So my bias in these situations is always going to be to delete the standalone 'controversy' article and focus on comprehensive, concise coverage in the main parent article. I appreciate (and sympathize with) the difficulty you're having in dealing with some of the editors at the Phil Robertson article—trust me, I've been there—but I think that spinning off a "controversy" article invariably does more harm than good. MastCell Talk 22:52, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

Help with persistent disruption by Petrarchan47[edit]

Hi MastCell. I know dealing with conduct issues isn't generally your bag but I'm hoping you can help me here, as you might be the only person Petrarchan will listen to (based on this thread and this follow-up comment). She has made lots of great contributions to Edward Snowden and The Day We Fight Back but she's become increasingly disruptive while exhibiting extreme and ongoing WP:OWN, WP:AGF, AND WP:NPA issues (among others). In a nutshell she seems to resist any efforts by other editors to tweak her work, and often resorts to tactics that I think are way out-of-bounds. In the past I've repeatedly tried discussing these issues with her directly to no avail. (And she told me not to post on her user talk anymore.) Rather than giving you the long story I'll simply point you to some of the worse recent talk page discussions and let you make your own assessment:

To be clear, I'm hoping you'll address the conduct problems rather than the content problems. I have no problem with the fact that she and I disagree some things; I would just like to be able resolve those disagreements in a civil and intellectually honest manner. If this is something you absolutely refuse to assist me with, I understand, but perhaps you can recommend some other avenue I might try. Thanks in advance. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 08:57, 1 March 2014 (UTC)

Longtime talk page stalker here: DrFleischman, I should think you would be leery of the boomerang effect if people were to look into the matter and thus become aware of certain accusatory attacks you have made in the various interchanges with Petrarchan47. To me it looks like you are hounding and harassing her. Binksternet (talk) 17:10, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
Please quit it with the idle, unsubstantiated threats. Lay out all your evidence; I have nothing to fear. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 22:18, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
To me it looks like you are enabling her, Binksternet, by essentially telling her at every turn "yes, you are being picked on, and I, your avenger, will be sure to give your tormentors a black eye." No sooner does she announce that she divides Wikipedians into "those who edit because they love Wikipedia and the truth, and those who are here for other purposes" than she says it's "good to have support (so, thank you Bink, Gandy, Justa, et al) when one thinks they may be coming up against powerful forces, or those associated with them, and their related hostility." She's not going to revisit this notion of hers that she's being besieged by hostile and "powerful forces" and give other editors more space when you keep telling her that you have her back through all the trials and tribulations she imagines. We need to get everyone concerned here to look at the CONTENT and you could set the example here Binksternet by not egging her on when she sets out to battle the malevolent "force" of the day, like when she demanded that all employees of the US, UK, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand governments out themselves so that they can be scrutinized. I'd encourage you to read what MastCell said to her on December 2, where MastCell very politely tried to get her to back off from going after Doc as some sort of government agent. Maybe you could second MastCell's opinion there, or explain what's wrong with it if you disagree with it.--Brian Dell (talk) 01:23, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
I would really like this discussion to be about Petrarchan and me. Bink is constantly highjacking and distracting, and I don't want to fall into that trap again. I would appreciate it if we can focus on Petrarchan's conduct, not mine, and not Bink's. If anyone wants to discussion others' conduct then that's fine, just do it in a separate thread. If we stray too far then I'll ask MastCell to hat these sorts of side discussions. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 01:28, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
This user talk space is unavoidably public. Even if you undertook to examine Petra's behavior in an WP:RFCU, all related behavior would be seen a valid points of discussion—yours, mine, Brian's. If you wish to talk to MastCell in private, take it to email.
Petra has indicated to me that she feels hounded and harassed. I value her presence on Wikipedia, so I have determined to keep an eye out for such sparks, and damp them if I can. As well, I will resist any attempt by someone to single her out, to cut her away from those she sees as supporters. Wikipedia's atmosphere can be poisonous to those who do not have thick skin, especially women; my skin is quite thick which is why I think I can help her survive here. Binksternet (talk) 01:53, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
Now if I could just find my own knight in shining armour to clear the way for me without ever second guessing whether I should be going in that direction. I'd finally be free to act with impunity! In her "quacks like a duck" piece she links to "How to Spot a Spy (Cointelpro Agent)": "FBI and Police Informers and Infiltrators will infest any group and they have phoney activist organizations established. Their purpose is to prevent any real movement for justice or eco-peace from developing in this country." Do you have an opinion on whether Doc and I are COINTELPRO agents, Binksternet? If nothing good is going to come out of this line of inquiry, why don't you suggest she spend her time on something else? You're looking out for her best interests, right?--Brian Dell (talk) 02:35, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
With my thick skin, I'll be your knight in shining armor, Brian. ;-) Liz Read! Talk! 01:13, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

Sorry MastCell, I hope we didn't scare you away! --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 22:35, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

"Petra has indicated to me that she feels hounded and harassed." She seems to feel hounded and harassed in every topic area she edits in, even when it is a completely different sets of editors ... Second Quantization (talk) 12:32, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
Welcome to Wikipedia, new user. It seems you are insinuating that it's quite silly to think that any editor would get harassed here - no matter what subject matters they edit. Based on your few hours as an editor, I can't imagine why you thought to comment here, but indeed if there is a way to paint me as a bad guy, or discredit me as paranoid, it dilutes the message and quickly lets others off the hook, so I agree it was worth a try. petrarchan47tc 20:30, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
Few hours? red page != new user. Formerly IRWolfie-, Second Quantization (talk) 22:58, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
Oh, no wonder! No one dislikes me more than you ;) Welcome back. petrarchan47tc 05:43, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
No, I had been meaning to respond to this thread. I have a lot of respect for both User:Petrarchan47 and for you, based on my interactions with both of you in various venues. I share Petrarchan's concerns about undisclosed COI editing, but at the same time I don't think anyone here is a covert FBI operative or anything. Edward Snowden (and the issues of government surveillance and oversight that he raised) is a controversial topic which brings out honest, strongly held differences of opinion, and I think that's what's going on here. That said, I don't have the energy (or, at this point, the tools) to mediate a dispute between two solid, good-faith editors whom I respect. I'm really flattered that you (collectively, in this thread) view me as someone whose help is worth seeking, but I just don't have it in me to take this on right now. I'm sorry - I know that's not very helpful, but I hope you and Petrarchan can find some sort of common ground, at least enough to disagree civilly on this contentious topic. Cheers. MastCell Talk 22:50, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

reasonable weight without asserting criminality sans charges[edit]

Would you find the single sentence I give on the talk page as conveying the gist og the NSA actions without giving it undue weight and detail? Thanks. Collect (talk) 00:30, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

Important progress[edit]

I have finally created Wikipedia:Irregular verbs on Wikipedia.

Floquenbeam, I quoted one of yours out of the archives of MastCell's talk page.

(I'd be happy to have the page expanded and reorganized by anyone who is amused by it.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:48, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

Good start. It could use a bit about seeing good intentions in others – WP:AGF. Binksternet (talk) 00:07, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
Hi Binksternet,
I'm not quite sure where to go with that one. I assume good faith; she sees the world with rose-tinted glasses? Or did you mean the other way around: I assume good faith; you are cynical; he assumes bad faith? WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:30, 3 April 2014 (UTC)
The former: We all assume good faith. The verb to assume good faith needs a bit of explanation. Binksternet (talk) 05:27, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

A barnstar for you![edit]

Editors Barnstar Hires.png The Editor's Barnstar
I've ran across you on multiple occasions and every time you are improving an article substantially. Keep up the great work! Meatsgains (talk) 05:59, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
Thanks - it's much appreciated. MastCell Talk 16:22, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

Unblock on hold[edit]

There is an unblock request at User talk:204.101.237.139. You blocked it as an open proxy, but I can find no evidence at all that it is an open proxy. Can you let me know what evidence you had? The editor who uses the pseudonym "JamesBWatson" (talk) 21:40, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

@JamesBWatson: I believe it was based on this page, where the IP is listed as a "confirmed proxy server". That said, I can't say I feel particularly strongly about the matter (or anything else on this website) at this point. If you think I'm incorrect about this IP being an open proxy, feel free to unblock it. MastCell Talk 22:50, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
OK, thanks for the answer. For future reference, though, all that whatismyipaddress.com says is that it's confirmed as a proxy server, not as an open proxy server, and blocking purely on the basis of that is never safe. The editor who uses the pseudonym "JamesBWatson" (talk) 08:06, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

Your comment in the Gun control case[edit]

Hello. I think you did a small mistake and placed it in the wrong section. As I understand you are not a party to the case so it should be placed in the "Comment by others" section. Regards, Iselilja (talk) 20:01, 31 March 2014 (UTC)

Er, OK. I'm not sure which comment you mean, but I'm fine with it being moved wherever it's supposed to go. MastCell Talk 20:02, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
Sorry. It was this edit in the advocacy section, I was referring too. On second thought, I would probably been allowed to simply move it myself; I thought I wasn't, but I was mixing it up with the ban against editing the Proposed Decision page. Iselilja (talk) 20:27, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
Well, I can't keep up with the ever-expanding ruleset here, but as far as I'm concerned you're welcome to move it if you feel strongly. MastCell Talk 20:30, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
Probably best to check with one of the case clerks: Penwhale (Talk) or Bbb23 (Talk). — ArtifexMayhem (talk) 21:23, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
  • I could move it, but I'd have to add in additional reply marks (since AYW replied to MastCell). I don't think it's as of utter importance personally to move it at this point. - Penwhale | dance in the air and follow his steps 00:35, 2 April 2014 (UTC)

Your comment on anthropology[edit]

(This one) made me smile as I realized there was an ambiguity regarding whether it was the curiosity that approximated the curiosity of anthropologists or the subject matter of interest that approximated the subject matter of interest to anthropologists. Any way, Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto and etc. etc. Keep up the good work!— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 01:36, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

Thanks - I'm glad someone finally appreciates the Nabokovian layers of meaning invested in my projectspace posts. :P I used to agree that nothing human could be strange to me, but that was before I started participating here. Most of the time, I can't even reconstruct the basic thought processes that underlie the expressed views of the "community" these days. (Or maybe I've given up trying). The more apt line from Terence with regard to Wikipedians is probably Aliis si licet tibi non licet, in that people continually excuse in themselves the behaviors they condemn in others. Anyhow, thanks again for the kind note, and please keep up the good work as well. MastCell Talk 15:24, 3 April 2014 (UTC)
Freud would call it Reaction Formation. Aesop would have quipped about a couple of thieves...Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 18:55, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

Thank you! A gift from fellow Wikipedians.[edit]

You have been selected to receive a merchandise giveaway. We last contacted you on 3/29/14. Please send us a message if you would like to claim your shirt. --JMatthews (WMF) (talk) 05:02, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Thanks, but no thanks. Unless it says something along the lines of "I survived 8 years of editing and adminning and all I got was this stupid T-shirt". :) MastCell Talk 17:51, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Keating[edit]

Kindly note that Wasted Time R is in the exact same position as I on that article, and so I left him the warning that you did not give. Cheers. Collect (talk) 18:04, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Not exactly; you violated 3RR (by reverting 4 times) while he's only reverted 3 times. I left you a note specifically to give you the opportunity to self-revert—it wouldn't make sense to do so for Wasted Time R, since you already reverted him and he's not in a position to self-revert. That said, both his and your behaviors could correctly be characterized as edit-warring, so I think it's reasonable to leave him a note. I've pinged him here as well. MastCell Talk 18:08, 4 April 2014 (UTC)
And my count has him at 4 -- seems that I should be able to count that high with a minor in Applied Math ... Collect (talk) 18:15, 4 April 2014 (UTC)
What!?!? A minor in math?? Why didn't you say so sooner? I'm just a poor innumerate humanities major, so I would never have presumed to count reverts if I knew I was dealing with someone so impressively credentialed. MastCell Talk 01:29, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

MastCell, my apologies for this situation. I did not think either of us was edit-warring, but rather that we had fallen into a series of BRD actions over different pieces of text, albeit in the same section of the article. But I can easily see how it looks like edit-warring from the outside. In retrospect, after the first revert I should have posted each proposed addition to the Talk page first, but I didn't think my changes were very bold, I thought each next change had taken into account Collect's objections, and I was honestly taken by surprise by each revert.

So go ahead and per Collect's request, revert my last edit, so as to return the text to the status quo ante - I obviously can't do that myself. I am withdrawing from any further editing on the article, so you won't have any more trouble on this. I'll make a couple of posts on the Talk page there about open issues and that'll be it.

I do want to take this chance to say that I am proud of the research and writing work I did to create a completely revised and greatly expanded article back in 2008-09 and get it to GA. I believe it is a good article, figuratively as well as literally, that fairly treats a complex and controversial subject. And I think Wikipedia was well-served by having it available when Keating died the other day and there was a readership spike. In particular, I think our article did a much better job at capturing all the different aspects of his life than did any of the newspaper obits I saw.

But again, apologies. I try my best to avoid drama but failed in this case. Wasted Time R (talk) 22:53, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

@Wasted Time R: I don't think you should leave the article. (I don't think Collect should either). You've done an excellent job on it. I'm confident you'll work through whatever issues have come up. (After all, if you could deal with Ferrylodge/Anythingyouwant, you can deal with anybody). I hope you continue to work on the article. Cheers. MastCell Talk 01:27, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
I generally get along with competent, unbiased, and well-intentioned editors, like WTR.[8]Anythingyouwant (talk) 01:55, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Question[edit]

MastCell,

I can't imagine you would have any more energy to read this than I have to write it, but hopefully it doesn't take too much of your time. The BP oil spill articles (BP, BP oil spill, and Corexit) began having lots of activity recently, and it's hard not to note that also recently the date for BP's last phase of their trial was announced - the Clean Water Act trial, worth multi-billion$ as you may imagine. Suddenly edits to these very issues - right to the heart of them - came along with some intensity. The attitude behind the editing is not dissimilar to our old friend, R11, though that's likely a coincidence.

Corexit was used during the spill to break up (or hide) the oil. Not much science was done prior to the spill, but one very damning study done since that was well-covered found that the dispersant created a mixture that was up to 54 times more toxic than the oil alone. I knew that if one was to try and do some pre-trial whitewashing, this study would be attacked first. So it wasn't difficult to take note of some activity that was *interesting*, however I don't have the energy these days to fight this stuff. I do still like editing here, though, and think I need to get this person off my back at the very least. What type of action would one take, or is this just considered par for the course?

Maybe you have an idea of someone else I should ask, I really don't want to bother you (or anyone) with this crud, but I also don't want to be called names whilst doing my editing here, so something needs to happen. Thanks again, petrarchan47tc 00:53, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Hello MastCell. We have not crossed paths before but I am the "shill" that User:Petrarchan47 is talking about. After tolerating her COI accusations for weeks now, I really must insist that they stop. This is not the first time she has done this behavior, it has been brought up at ANI at least twice now. I do not understand why it has been allowed to continue. The irony of her COI accusation is that nearly all of her edits are POV-pushing of some form or another, usually environmentally aligned such as anti-Corexit, anti-Monsanto, anti-GMO, anti-nuclear, etc. I believe that she is here to "right great wrongs". Any editor that does not agree her she calls a shill. She does not go to COIN, rather she carries out repeated personal attacks. She actually suggested that every one of my edits should be rolled back. This should not be tolerated further. I, too, am interested in your advice. Geogene (talk) 01:48, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
Here are some examples of her bad behavior and COI accusations: [9],

[10], [11].

She also simply does not seem to understand much of the content I want to discuss. She gets papers confused, doesn't seem to understand basic science, doesn't make an effort to. You may find an example of that on the Reliable Sources Noticeboard under Deepwater Horizon. I am sorry to drop this on you having not interacted with you before, however I see that I am being talked about. Geogene (talk) 01:58, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
I just found this bit at the Corexit talk page, it was apparently removed then replaced at the insistence of Gandydancer: Geogene: "The copyvio here is less obvious than some of what you see elsewhere on WP, but I anticipate requesting a CCI on someone in the near future, since this has clearly been a long term problem that is manifest in several different articles." So, the story is that Geogene doesn't like being confronted on their tendentious edits at the oil spill articles. They have gone after anyone who confronts them, and have essentially been trolling me. Figureof9 points it out here. Now it appears their teaming up with Dr Fleischman continues, unless this "CCI" is being done by Geogene alone. Geogene is an editor with 3 months under their belt, and 1.5 dealing with me at the oil spill articles. Given this short history, these reactions to being confronted for not using sources properly do not make sense. petrarchan47tc 05:18, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
Oh, here is what they are calling "anti-nuclear". Apparently if updates are negative I am an "activist" rather than a good Wikipedian. The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Generating Station flooded a few years back, and the article hadn't been updated with results from the town hall meetings and inspections. The results weren't good, but that shouldn't be a reflection on me. The anti-Monsanto accusation comes from a three-month period trying to work on the March Against Monsanto article, where I earned long-term enemies like Second Quanitization (IRWolfie). Others have noted that if they try to add anything to a Wikipedia article that doesn't compliment Monsanto, they are met by a tight group of editors and are in for a tough fight that they will loose. As for "getting papers confused" - that was one incident and I caught my own mistake in minutes. The incident at the RS noticeboard was due to my spellcheck changing a word. This reply above is a little over the top, and a pretty desperate attempt to discredit me. petrarchan47tc 05:30, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Actually, never mind, MastCell - I see this was your response a month ago: "I don't have the energy (or, at this point, the tools) to mediate a dispute...I just don't have it in me to take this on right now." I do apologize for bringing you yet another hairy mess when you've already stated that you've had enough of this stuff. FWIW, things calmed down tremendously after simply voicing my concerns here, so thank you for that! Best, petrarchan47tc 04:32, 7 April 2014 (UTC)


For the record, this is not "solved" and I'm still hoping for a response. Geogene (talk) 16:37, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

I went ahead and took it to ANI. Geogene (talk) 18:54, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
  • I haven't done any background work looking into the dispute, so I'm not in any position to comment on who's "right" and who's "wrong". I have been appalled by the role that we've allowed BP's public-relations department to play in writing our coverage of the Deepwater Horizon spill, and at the incredible combination of ignorance and hubris which define our community's approach to handling conflicts of interest. But I think the disputes in this topic area have progressed well beyond that to a stage where established editors are entrenched and this will end up before ArbCom in the next 6-9 months. I'm just not in a position to commit to the level of diligence that would be required to mediate this dispute right now. I hope you're able to resolve this dispute, and I'd like to be helpful but I don't think I can provide the level of assistance that's being requested here. MastCell Talk 19:06, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
I appreciate that. I hope you're wrong about it going to ArbCom, but I don't blame you at all--way too much history. Geogene (talk) 19:09, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
Hi MastCell, could you please take a moment to explain what you mean by saying that the DWH spill articles established editors are "entrenched" and why you think the issue will go to ArbCom? Gandydancer (talk) 21:14, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
I would be interested in that as well. What I know from my standpoint is that right now the Corexit article is being attacked by two SPAs who are being treated like dinner party guests, while one of them takes me to an ANI after only a few weeks of experience here. The other thing I know is that there exists no language to address this. There are stricter rules against pointing out obvious malfeasance than there are against it. We are bending over backwards here to accommodate SPAs and their daily list of grievances at the dispersant articles, whilst I have had my wrists slapped for even bringing up the timing of this sudden interest in prettying up Corexit with regard to the announcement of the Clean Water Act trial. A commentary criticizing a damning study done on Corexit was used by one of the SPAs to delete the study from the oil dispersant article. Little did we know this commentary was funded by BP. Wikipedia expects, as the rules are currently written, for independent editors to be able to adequately fight type of activity. I think we are woefully inept as the guidelines actually work against us. petrarchan47tc 22:43, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
Not sure what "entrenched" means in this context - it looks to be derogatory. I would love to untrench myself, and am wondering if anyone would step in, or if we would just throw these articles to any SPA with an agenda? The latter looks to be case, which can't be preferable for an encyclopedia. Is there a noticeboard where one can ask for willing editors to step in, research and take over? petrarchan47tc 22:47, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
It's not meant to be derogatory at all. I mean that this dispute has festered long enough that no admin is likely to feel comfortable mediating it, which makes it more likely that it will eventually go to ArbCom. To answer your question, no one is going to step in. Back in the day, I used to feel like there was a core of clueful editors who would support each other in these kinds of situations, but most of that core has been run off the site or decided they have better things to do than argue interminably with cranks and agenda accounts. MastCell Talk 04:36, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
Well that reiterates why I've been feeling like running off. I also remember that core. From what I am observing, at this point the only response that makes sense is to just walk away. petrarchan47tc 07:53, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
MastCell, what longstanding dispute (not this recent Corexit dispute) are you referring to? I know that editors come by all the time and complain that the BP and the spill articles are biased against BP, but they just complain and then leave rather than helping with the articles. I have been raked over the coals and shamed by ArbCom once, and I will quit editing any BP article before I let that happen again.Gandydancer (talk) 15:10, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
I know that editors come by all the time and complain that the BP and the spill articles are biased against BP, but they just complain and then leave rather than helping with the articles.
That is true and one could ask what is the reason behind of this. I do not believe that all these editors are SPAs editing on behalf of BP. And I do not believe that most of them are not interested to help to improve these articles. I think that reasons why they leave "include both the desire to avoid being involved in edit wars, and the incivility common by some of the participants in edit wars." The aggressive attitude by a group of editors, including making allegations or even accusations that editors who do not support their POV are SPAs, and enormous waste of time to get actually some improvement based on editing guidelines done without being reverted, are by my understanding the main reason why they have stepped aside. Notwithstanding of the results of RfCs, no results is implemnted if opposed by certain group of editors. I am not going to name all editors who have been active in BP and DWH related articles and leave, but will give just some examples. One could decided if "they just complain and then leave rather than helping" or serious editors who hhave contributed into improvement of these articles. User:William M. Connolley, invited to the BP article by you. I don't know why he stopped editing that article, but before that certain editors did not liked that he raise issues of reliability of sources and soapboxing. User talk:SlimVirgin, came to the BP article in believe that the article is corrupt due to drafts by the BP representative. That was warmly welcomed by that group of editors who that time filled her talk page with discussions of conspiracy theories and making harsh accusations about editors not sharing their point of view. SlimVirgin tried to mediate a compromise between editors with different views and proposed some compromise text based on the results of RfCs. These compromise proposals were rejected by the above-mentioned group of editors who made clear that they will accept nothing else than their own version. User:Jytdog came the BP page with a view that it needs protection from COI editors. However, his editing was complained not by these so-called "COI editors" but again, by the above-mentioned group of editors. The certain editor from the BP page accused him being COI editor in the dispute concerning concerning Monsanto. User:Iselilja made only two edits and although her edits were improvement to follow the guidelines, her edits were reverted rapidly. I do not call also User:Martin Hogbin or User:BozMo editors who "just complain and then leave rather than helping". My own wikibreak last year was not caused by anything what happened in Wikipedia but I hesitate a long time before returning due to very negative experience on interacting with some members of that group of editors. At last I decided to return but not edit BP and DWH articles. And not vecause these articles do not need improvement but just to save myself from personal attacks and accusations. This is definitely not how the Wikipedia should work. I think that the crucial moment was one year ago when instead of blocking all edit warriors that time, based on WP:WAR, only User:Rangoon11 was blocked, based on WP:3RR. That encourage some editors not to find compromises but rather by teaming. Therefore I believe that this Pandora box should be opened and the only suitable venue left is ArbCom. RfCs have not worked nor DR or informal mediation. Preparations for a formal mediations had been started and dropped as it was clear that not all parties are not ready to accept mediation results. So, ArbCom seems to be the last resort here. Beagel (talk) 17:29, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
The problem with ArbCom is that do not settle content disputes, only user behaviour. They might make an exception if it is a matter of general principle such as excessive anti-business, anti-oil propaganda. WP is intended to be an encyclopedia yet some articles look nothing like that which you would find in a quality written encyclopedia.
No one seems to care that the BP article contains (or did contain, I have not been there recently) a greater proportion of negative content about the subject than any other WP article, including Pol Pot and Hitler. If Arbcom do take the case on I would be happy to contribute. Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:54, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
I believe that there is only one long-time editor at the DWH cluster that sees me as the enemy. She will fight any effort to improve the articles tooth and nail. My attempt to raise the issue of her serial COI accusations +/- POV pushing at ANI appears to have failed. That means that a submission to ArbCom is probably inevitable. There are some content/POV problems in those articles, mostly the overuse of advocacy groups as sources. But the problem is ultimately a behavioral one. Geogene (talk) 19:43, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
It's my sense that the Deepwater Horizon/BP articles are a long-standing nexus of conflict, with some spillover into articles like Corexit. But I'll be the first to admit that my view is based on a superficial impression, and that I haven't done any serious or recent reading of the pages in question. If my superficial impression is wrong - which it sounds like it may be - then I genuinely apologize. Look, I have respect for both of you, and the comment about "entrenched" editors was not meant to be a backhanded criticism of you guys at all. I'm sorry it came across that way. If I had a problem with something that either of you was doing, I'd just tell you directly.

I understand your frustration - really, I've been there. I know it feels like a no-win situation where you can either stay and fight a losing battle under conditions that are slanted against you, or leave and abandon the page to people you feel will wreck it. I don't have a good answer for that. Actually, I do, but it's easier said than done. One of the reasons I put this together was to remind myself of the value of detachment. There are lots of ways to make a difference in the world and make it a better place. Editing Wikipedia is perhaps one of those - I certainly thought it was when I started editing here - but it's not the only one, and I try to remember that. If I abandon a conflict on Wikipedia to save my sanity, I try to take some of the time I would have spent arguing with cranks and idiots here and instead spend it doing something I think will concretely benefit others.

It's been a huge disappointment to me to watch the culture and community here self-destruct, and to watch most of the people who made this place fun burn out or be chased off. But the biggest challenge here is avoiding the tunnel vision that afflicts most Wikipedians. I can't tell you what to do, or whether this particular situation is worth investing with more time and angst, but in the end (as Candide came to realize) all you can do is cultivate your garden, and light your corner as best you can. MastCell Talk 16:04, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for your viewpoint--I was starting to wonder if you knew something that I didn't. As for frustration/no win situation, etc., I don't feel that way at all. It certainly was frustrating when Rangoon was ruling the roost but after the Violet Blue explosion the playing field seemed to level out, and considering how complicated the article is, and that there is ongoing litigation, I think it is going along OK. Arturo is a good company rep and I think we are lucky to have him as long as editors remember that he is not unbiased. Gandydancer (talk) 21:32, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
No, you're not mistaken. Articles related to BP have committed editors who have shown no sign of favouring NPOV. Our last RfC at BP overwhelmingly found that the article is still slanted heavily in favor of BP, and most thought the article was in poor shape. No one is wiling to work on it, though, because of the ramifications. I'm sure BP likes it that way, if I may be so bold. IMO, it does need to go ArbCom. I'm glad to hear this is a plan. But the real reason I'm replying here is to tell you that your "Wikipedia for cynics" is a masterpiece, and a balm for my soul. It's just delightful to know that someone is paying attention. Thank you also for your comments above, MastCell. You speak to the human inside the Wikipedian, which is unbelievably rare around here. Danke. petrarchan47tc 18:33, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
For the record, as one of "the SPAs" who is being "treated like a dinner guest" (I hope there's no Homeric allusion in that) I feel like I've been bullied for having a different POV and trying to make a better article. I've been outnumbered nearly the entire time. I'm exhausted having to take things to noticeboards to get things done, because that's the only place I feel like I can get a fair hearing--that's what she means by me "being treated like a dinner guest"--the fact that people there hear me out. I'm exhausted to see the guilty party whine and pretend to be the victim. I'm especially tired of people telling me that I'm a liar, here to manipulate naive editors into believing my bullshit. But the way I see it, a bad article is not my problem. It's Wikipedia's problem, and Wikipedia deserves to lose credibility if it allows these things to continue like they are. I will do what I can, but there's no more point in it. It does surprise me that an editor can flaunt WP:CONSPIRACY on an admin's board in a clear attempt to WP:CANVASS group opposition against my edits (mob rule, anyone?) and then imply that they know that what they are doing is against the rules but they just don't care. This is sad. Geogene (talk) 16:53, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
Well, here is the most recent RfC at the BP page. I highly advise reading this. They gave up on RfC's after this, but soon after, we met the very energetic Geogene.
On 21 March the start date was announced for the third and final phase of the civil trial against BP (January 20, 2015) to determine the amount of fines BP will pay in Clean Water Act fines. We have seen a lot of activity in articles related to this Oil dispersant and Corexit, though the articles have been very quiet until now. After fewer than 2 weeks, I had "Geogene" talking about me in ways I have never been talked about before on WP, and taking me to my first ANI. We have 2 SPAs talking about rewriting the Corexit article, and the oil dispersant article has already been redone, but no one speaks up and says, "Hey, this isn't normal editing behaviour. You seem to have an agenda." Instead, the one who does is seen as a problem. Just wanted to point this out. petrarchan47tc 04:52, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
Yes, the RfC was indeed a disaster for encyclopedic style and content, which is why I gave up in disgust. I still hope though that sanity will prevail and that the article can, one day, be made to resemble something that might be found in a quality written encyclopedia.
Let me stress again that I am neither for or against BP but for WP being an encyclopedia, not a medium for investigative journalism, righting great wrongs, or attacking perceived bad people or organisations. Martin Hogbin (talk) 10:28, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
Yes, P, but I resumed editing DWH-related articles in February. And anyway, if the civil trial begins more than a year from now, why would I (here assuming as you do that I'm a shill, and also that I think I can somehow influence a Federal trial through Wikipedia) begin trying to edit these WP articles 13 months before the trial begins, just because the start date had been announced? I'm afraid that just doesn't make sense, at any level. I also don't think I'm going to change my editing habits until this litigation process is over with just to help alleviate your fears that I'm here to manipulate that courts through WP (is that very likely in itself?). That just doesn't make sense either. Have you thought about taking this to the COI Noticeboard? Maybe they'll agree with you. That's where this sort of thing should go anyway. There's also a NB to report suspected sock-puppetry. Sounds like you should go there too. But repeating this on Talk pages, in addition to being against the rules, doesn't seem to be getting you anywhere. Geogene (talk) 18:41, 14 April 2014 (UTC) Geogene (talk) 18:43, 14 April 2014 (UTC)


Link corrected[edit]

The correct link for the 12:43 edit on Keating is now in place on my user talk page - I hate Windows 8. Lurkers who make comments about my maths skills can rewrite their snark. Collect (talk) 00:20, 8 April 2014 (UTC)

What can one do with editors who may be unstable or just full of themselves?[edit]

Here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:IRoNGRoN&oldid=604520139 It basically says it all. The editor IronGron became very upset when I edited an article on the A-12. I tried to correct a ambiguous sentence and was mislead by what it stated due to the ambiguity. My edit was incorrect but the original sentence was unsourced and I used my 25 years of experience as an aircraft maintainer to try to sort out what the confusing sentence was trying to state. The editors response was well under the bar of civil discourse. I have tried to address that with the editor and it appears that the editor may be sufferring from a mental disorder based on their comments. Possibly schezophrenia but it may just be someone who is intentionally deceptive to win an argument. So my question is how does one go about address editors who curse and are extremely uncivil? Somewhat new but I understand there is a warning process but unsure of the protocol.

Copy of history page related to original negative tone comments below.
(cur | prev) 06:10, 15 April 2014‎ IRoNGRoN (talk | contribs)‎ . . (53,763 bytes) (+69)‎ . . (→ New Materials and production techniques - modified a sentence to prevent readers misinterpreting "operation at below 40C" to mean "minus 40C" - the oil was almost solid at room temp, so it had the diluent to be able to operate under 40C temps!!!) (undo)
(cur | prev) 05:39, 15 April 2014‎ IRoNGRoN (talk | contribs)‎ . . (53,694 bytes) (+15)‎ . . (Undid revision 604258109 by 172.56.10.223 (talk) - the oils was nearly solid at room temperature, i.e 20C or so - it's well documented, that anonymous edit was absurd) (undo)
(cur | prev) 05:32, 15 April 2014‎ 172.56.10.223 (talk)‎ . . (53,679 bytes) (-15)‎ . . (→‎New materials and production techniques: Fixed a conversion from celsius to fahrenheit that the editor forgot they needed to apply negative to the equation and not state below outside of the equation.) (undo)


Thanks. I have decided to repost this to Milborneone. I just found out that he is an aviation related admin and would be more familar with Irongron. 172.56.3.87 (talk) 02:36, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

I see that...[edit]

...you've noticed that too. Very concisely and nicely put. Oh, and absolutely true. Antandrus (talk) 18:55, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

The challenge was resisting the urge to name the law after some of the editors dedicated to illustrating it. MastCell Talk 19:47, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
But how would you choose your "some" from amongst the teeming multitudes?— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 04:09, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Oh, I dunno. Maybe I'd start with the ones who already have a habit of naming "laws" after themselves"? :P MastCell Talk 05:24, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
[12].— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 06:07, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
That's good enough to plagiarize! :) MastCell Talk 06:44, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
It's all yours, after all, I stole it from some Epimenides via Kurt Godel...— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 15:28, 20 April 2014 (UTC)

"Controversial"?[edit]

Since I'm not supposed to begin editing any article that I haven't edited before, if a certain editor is already editing it, I'll ask this question on your Talk page. At what point in the 60 Minutes clip on Becky Bell that we are using as our source, did it describe John C. Willke as a "controversial physician"? Badmintonhist (talk) 06:02, 19 April 2014 (UTC) PS: Also, at what point in the actual video presentation (as opposed to the blurb describing it which may have been dashed out a couple of decades later) does 60 Minutes state as an "undebated fact" that Becky died after an illegal abortion? If you listen to it carefully you will instead hear very hedged language : the Bells say . . . ; the coroner says . . . Badmintonhist (talk) 06:39, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

I truly don't understand your obsession with following User:Roscelese around. Your inability to stop hounding her, despite numerous warnings and blocks, is frankly pretty creepy in my view. You need to stop tracking her contributions. I don't know what possesses you to keep following her around, but I'm certainly not going to enable you. MastCell Talk 04:01, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Then enable yourself to change YOUR errors. Those are the ones to which I was referring. You, not someone else, incorrectly said that the 60 Minutes segment stated as "undebated fact" that Becky Bell had died from an illegal abortion. You, and not someone else, first made the edit calling Dr. Willke "controversial" when it was not in the source that you were using. I follow any article on abortion that catches my eye, and a lot of them do because they tend to be fraught with bias. Badmintonhist (talk) 05:53, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
60 Minutes says that Bell "sought out a back-alley abortion instead—and died from complications." So call me crazy, but it sounds like they're saying pretty clearly that she died of complications of an illegal abortion. If you're going to pretend otherwise—or if you're going to pretend that you didn't follow Roscelese to the article—then you can save your breath. MastCell Talk 06:35, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Nope. The current WEBSITE BLURB says that Becky "sought out a back-alley abortion instead . . . " The actual 60 Minutes presentation which first aired over twenty years ago does not. Did you listen to it or are you shooting from the hip? As I said before, in the actual program segment, Morley Safer (living up to his last name?) uses very carefully hedged language . . . "Becky's parents believe . . . The coroner's report says . . . anti-abortion activists say . . . "
Now, as to your apparent practice of WP:SYNTH on Dr. Willke you say what? Badmintonhist (talk) 07:14, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
When the forensic pathologist that actually performed the autopsy says "Becky Bell died as result of a septic abortion with pneumonia" (@~10:50) then there is nothing to debate. Dr. Willke is free to make stuff up, but that doesn't change the facts. — ArtifexMayhem (talk) 07:50, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Are you kidding? Forensic evidence is debated (sometimes by experts in the field) all the time. Why there would be huge gaps in many of TV's "true crime" programs if autopsy reports weren't debated. However, that isn't the point of my earlier comments. MastCell claimed that the 60 Minutes program conclusively said that Becky Bell died as the result of a "back alley" abortion. It did not. No doubt that it was trying to lead its viewers that way, but it carefully hedged its language so that it did not conclusively say this. MastCell used the blurb introducing the 60 Minutes clip as the basis for her statement. That's rather like using a book jacket blurb as a reliable source for the content of a book. More significantly, MastCell apparently used the 60 Minutes source (none other was given) as the basis for describing Dr. Willke as "controversial" when it did no such thing. That's pretty blatant synthesis, especially for an administrator.
This isn't the first time that I have been troubled by MastCell's approach to abortion related articles. Not long ago she dismissed a poll on attitudes toward abortion because it was supposedly conducted by the Knights of Columbus. She either didn't bother to see, or else didn't bother to mention, that the poll was only sponsored by the Knights and was actually conducted by the highly respected Marist Institute of Public Opinion. Badmintonhist (talk) 17:18, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
"This is a traumatic thing — she's, shall we say, she's uptight," Dr. Willke said of a woman being raped, adding, "She is frightened, tight, and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic."
Leading experts on reproductive health, however, dismissed this logic.
"There are no words for this — it is just nuts," said Dr. Michael Greene, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.
Belluck, P. (20 AUG 2012). "Health Experts Dismiss Assertions on Rape". The New York Times. 
No, I'm not kidding. Willke does not base his argument on any evidence and Morley Safer calls him on it. The 60 minutes program does conclusively support the fact that Bell "died as result of a septic abortion with pneumonia." I.e., An illegal "back alley" abortion.
The idea that Willke is controversial, as in known for just making shit up, borders on being a case of WP:BLUESKY. If you didn't think the source used was appropriate then you should have replaced with one more to your liking.
None of these facts are in doubt. — ArtifexMayhem (talk) 18:10, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
It really is hard to see what the issue is. There are hundreds of news stories about this case from both before and after the 60 minutes story. It's not like the whole thing lives or dies on the basis of what Morley Safer says. That seems like a red herring. If Badmintonhist doubts the statements, the appropriate thing to do is look for other sources. I did this, and found bunches very quickly. As ArtifexMayhem there are multiple sources attesting to the fact that Willke is "controversial." And also, if Safer didn't say it, then adding it to the sentence cited to the source wouldn't be synthesis anyway, as multiple sources are needed for that. Finally, I don't know the details of the KoC thing, but funding bias is a real thing, so it's absolutely not irrelevant that such a study was funded by the KoC no matter who carried out the work.— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 18:23, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
@Alf etc. Adding the adjective "controversial" to it is form of WP:OR, but we commonly call it synthesis when an editor takes a description that he/she may have seen in another context and adds it to information based on a source that doesn't have that information. For instance (speaking of folks who make stuff up), if I say in an Wikipedia article that "the controversial Al Sharpton criticized Speaker Boehner for . . . " and my cited sources don't describe Sharpton as controversial (in which case I should attribute that description to the sources in text, anyway) then I have "committed" what folks around here commonly call synthesis. On the polling matter, who, except for "interested parties" fund polls on abortion? We use the Guttmacher Institute all over the place for information. It was originally, of course, part of Planned Parenthood and has received millions of bucks from them over the years.
@Mayhem. One really can't have any idea of whether or not Willke based his argument on any evidence except that he contends that he did. Safer did not "call him" on lack of evidence. He "called him" on using other pro-life physicians, or at least one of them -- Bernard Nathanson, for calling the autopsy report into question. Willke may have gone into great detail with Safer about the report and what he and others saw as its flaws. We don't know because we only get a minute or two of carefully edited glimpses of the interview. -- Badmintonhist (talk) 19:58, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
I don't recall the details of the Knights of Columbus thing—God forbid you actually provide a diff to substantiate your accusations—but if you're "troubled" by my editing then surely you're familiar with the proper venues to address your concerns. You've created a nice Catch-22: if I respond to your posts, then I'm enabling your continued hounding of Roscelese. If I don't respond, then your dubious assertions go unchallenged. I think I'll take door #2 myself, although Artifex and alf are welcome to continue the dialogue with you. MastCell Talk 21:05, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Maybe these will refresh your memory. Such a long time ago. [13]; [14]; [15]. I hope our mutual friend isn't overly traumatized by this. Badmintonhist (talk) 00:29, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
The poll is not from a peer-reviewed journal. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 00:52, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
That contribution and two bucks will get you a cup of coffee (though not at Starbucks) but I agree with you on durian. Badmintonhist (talk) 02:00, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
I'm still sad that I can't say "it's your nickel" any more without getting nothing but blank stares...— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 02:11, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Oh, so that's how you make the type face smaller! Yeah, I remember when a nickel could buy me a fairly decent sized mug of A&W rootbeer. Maybe you should try "It's your dime." Badmintonhist (talk) 02:21, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
The trouble is that people don't even remember payphones, let alone the fact that the price of a phone call used to be something one had to take into account while talking...for a while I tried "it's your calling card," but to no avail...— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 02:47, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

Unblock User:Useitorloseit with sanctions?[edit]

I see you've blocked Useitorloseit (talk · contribs) for one week for edit warring. He's asking to be unblocked to participate in the discussion at the article's talk page.

I'm thinking of offering an unblock with the following conditions:

  1. He's subject to 1RR on Ta-Nehisi Coates and related articles for one month.
  2. He needs to leave a message about the sanction on his talk page for the month.
  3. Violation of 1RR may result in him being reblocked without further warning.

What's your take? Is 1RR sufficient, or should we go all the way to 0RR? —C.Fred (talk) 01:52, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

@C.Fred: I think those conditions are reasonable. I'd just go with 1RR. I wouldn't bother with 0RR; I've found it's clunky to implement and, really, if someone can't manage to adhere to 1RR then there's really no point in prolonging things. Please feel free to unblock him, and thanks for stopping by to touch base first. MastCell Talk 03:49, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

Gun control arbitration proposed decision[edit]

Hello. You have participated in the Gun control arbitration case, or are named as a party to it. Accordingly, you may wish to know that the committee is now voting on its decision for this case. The decision is being voted on at the Proposed decision page. Comments on the decision can be made at the Proposed decision talk page. For the Arbitration Committee, AGK [•] 11:26, 23 April 2014 (UTC)

Dominic Barton[edit]

Hi MastCell. I have a conflict of interest. I've put together a proposed draft at User:CorporateM/Barton that I think should be a large improvement and ready for a GAN. If I was submitting it to AfC, it would be easy, but since the current article is well-developed, it would be very difficult for a disinterested editor to compare the two versions and review the sources. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the best process for me to suggest improvements.

I find that in most cases editors say it is easier in small chunks, but I don't find that to be the case. Inevitably editors end up disagreeing on petty items and the process breaks down without bold editing. Also, it can take 2-3 weeks to get each chunk considered, which would place the timeline on making a page GAN-ready into almost a year. So I am trying to find the best way to improve articles where (a) I have a COI and would like to follow best practices (b) the current article is well-developed making it difficult to compare the two versions and (c) a large number of changes are needed that cannot practically be explained individually. I would be interested in your thoughts. CorporateM (Talk) 23:39, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

MEDRS reliable source[edit]

Hi MastCell,

I was wondering if this article indexed at Pubmed was a legit source. We are trying to delineate what constitutes "fringe" practice and to what extent the practitioners hold those beliefs. Regards, DVMt (talk) 00:12, 16 May 2014 (UTC) EDIT: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3922917/

US Politics Arbitration[edit]

The Arbitration Committee is currently hearing a case relating to US Politics. The case information page is here. Your name was mentioned, so this is a courtesy post to inform you of this fact. The evidence phase of the case is now closed, but the Workshop is not yet closed. It is scheduled to close today, but if you choose to respond, we can extend the deadline. Please let me know if you plan to respond. For the Arbitration Committee, --S Philbrick(Talk) 13:12, 24 May 2014 (UTC)

I can't actually find where my name is mentioned, but I'm sure you'll let me know if I end up topic-banned or anything. MastCell Talk 00:07, 25 May 2014 (UTC)
Can I make a somewhat cynical observation about this header? "US Politics" + "Arbitration" has to be among the most dreadful possible mixes imaginable to Wikipedia. Heimstern Läufer (talk) 09:30, 25 May 2014 (UTC)
By the way, MastCell, it looks to me like the only mention of you is a link to your talk archives from the evidence page that doesn't actually mention you in any specific way. If that helps at all. Heimstern Läufer (talk) 09:46, 25 May 2014 (UTC)
Yes, that's it. (The link to this) Sorry about the bother, but this case doesn't have a formal list of parties, so an arb asked me to review the evidence, and I decided to err on the side of caution.--S Philbrick(Talk) 18:04, 25 May 2014 (UTC)
Oh, right. I don't see what that "evidence" is supposed to demonstrate, except that Collect has a less-than-endearing habit of bragging about his undergraduate minor in math. I hope ArbCom found it useful. MastCell Talk 23:14, 25 May 2014 (UTC)

Table 3[edit]

You wrote that you thought you'd finally figured out Table 3 of the paper rating Wikipedia medical articles, also that you were thinking of contacting the authors. Did they ever say anything? The problem I have with Table 3 is that "concussion" is specifically listed in the text as the good article, yet the stats for concussion are 40 24 22 26 62 50, i.e. huge levels of "discord" in every category. By contrast the category before it had one reviewer who found no discord at all. This is being discussed at [16] and your input would be great there! Wnt (talk) 21:53, 27 May 2014 (UTC)

Request for comment[edit]

Hello there, a proposal regarding pre-adminship review has been raised at Village pump by Anna Frodesiak. Your comments here is very much appreciated. Many thanks. Jim Carter through MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 06:46, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

Marco Rubio talk[edit]

Should this disruptive section be collapsed? Or removed? Writegeist (talk) 07:33, 14 June 2014 (UTC)

Update: section has been removed. Writegeist (talk) 09:43, 14 June 2014 (UTC)

Sam Slovick and Deepak Chopra[edit]

Since you made what's currently the last edit on Sam Slovick, you may be interested in this, in another part of Wikipedia. Bishonen | talk 08:51, 16 June 2014 (UTC).

Thanks for the heads-up. Other than fixing Slovick's spelling errors (and musing at the irony of finding them in a self-promotional biography extolling his facility with the written word), I don't really care to be involved. Given some of the personalities involved, I need to stick to rule #1. It is interesting, though, isn't it? For example, SlimVirgin understands that it's wrong for BP to pay someone to promote them on Wikipedia, but feels it's OK for Deepak Chopra to pay someone to promote him on Wikipedia. Likewise, Cla68 would scream bloody murder if someone cited the Huffington Post to disparage a climate-change "skeptic", but if the Huffington Post prints something that serves his immediate agenda then he's all "You are aware, aren't you, that the Huffington Post has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize?" This isn't about BLP sources or approaches to paid editing; it's about cynical gamesmanship. And I don't care enough about the topic (Chopra) to play their game. MastCell Talk 22:13, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
A lack of self-awareness is always a possibility. Take from a professionally cynical tactical game player.--Tznkai (talk) 22:15, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
I have found that SlimVirgin has always been quick to defend new age material and new age positions, particularly quantum mysticism. You can imagine what a field day she had when she read "How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival" and proceeded to stick content from it everywhere. As a physicist who works with quantum mechanics, misuse of the word quantum is particularly makes me twitch. Edit: Try to find a coherent objection to Josephson in Brian Josephson (which met wikipedias good article criteria apparently) which actually explains why scientists objects to some of the positions that Josephson holds. Instead the narrative is one where the critics are re-positioned as people only providing one-liners of ridicule to a man while Josephson gets most of the rebuttals and replies. "Several physicists criticized him again in 2001" never lists why anyone criticized him, but then it goes on to provide a big paragraph of a quote from Josephson. The word "unorthodox" is used for its religious connotations, about challenging orthodoxy. , Second Quantization (talk) 18:32, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
I would say it's been my experience that SlimVirgin and I have very different approaches to scientific material. I think it's just a matter of different worldviews. For whatever reason, I'm reminded of a passage in Ian McEwan's Solar where the protagonist, a prominent physicist, sits on a panel meeting including a sociologist specializing in "science studies". The sociologist begins by contending that genes are not "real" and do not have an independent, objective existence, but rather are social constructs "entexted" by scientists using exclusionary tools of meaning (you know, like flow cytometers and immunofluoresence).

One of the scientists on the panel responds by citing Huntington's disease and its genetic etiology, to which the sociologist argues that disease itself is a social construct, currently viewed through the prism of molecular biology but previously constructed as a matter of demonic possession or divine disfavor. (The implication, of course, is that all of these "social constructs" are equally valid). Of the scientists on the panel, McEwan writes:

They tended to take the conventional view, that the world existed independently, in all its mystery, awaiting description and explanation, though that did not prevent the observer from leaving thumbprints all over the field of observation. Beard had heard rumors that strange ideas were commonplace among the liberal arts departments. It was said that humanities students were routinely taught that science was just one more belief system, no more or less truthful than religion or astrology. He had always thought that this must be a slur against his colleagues on the arts side. The results surely spoke for themselves. Who was going to submit to a vaccine designed by a priest?

Regarding quantum mysticism and Chopra, I guess the reason I can't get too worked up is that I see Chopra as fairly anodyne. He doesn't try to talk people out of medically effective therapies. The treatments he oversells are probably mostly harmless. The worst you could say about him is that he's enriched himself tremendously by promoting health claims that don't have much (or any) scientific backing, but people are free to spend their money however they want. I'd take a dozen Chopras over one Dr. Oz. :P

I guess the real "hidden cost" of Chopra's popularity is that he enables a strain of scientific illiteracy which is already depressingly dominant in American culture. Books full of quantum-mystical word salad aren't inherently dangerous, but to anyone who cares about the state of critical thinking and scientific literacy, they're a powerful irritant. Our recent history is full of tragic examples of the harmful power of scientific ignorance, from vaccine denialism and pertussis deaths, to likely-unstoppable climate change, to the ease with which the tobacco industry covered up the harms of smoking, to the hundreds of thousands of deaths attributable to AIDS denialism. And now I've totally lost my train of thought... :P MastCell Talk 22:54, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

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Your remarks[edit]

My interests are not "Ugg boots and politics." My interests are journalism, reliable sources and as a hobby, genericized brand names (such as "Hoover," "Kleenex," "Q-Tip," "Xerox" and "Band-Aid") and the process of how they lose their trademark status. I may discuss other topics, such as Ugg boots and politics, whenever they brush up against these interests.

I ran into the P&W accusation at Talk:Ugg boots, so it seems fair to discuss it here. Judging from his contributions, he is fond of the Tea Party and sex scandals involving teenage boys, two topics I endeavor to avoid. Mainly you'll find me on the Reliable Sources noticeboard, and when a political dispute arrives there in a huff, you'll find me .... discussing the reliability of the sources used.

I did take exception to your characterization of Emily Miller. I've read parts of her book through online excerpts and finding a copy on a friend's coffee table, but knew of her well before that, as she was nearly swept up in the Abramoff scandal due to nothing more than who she was dating at the time. She was a victim of circumstance and it almost ruined her career.

Before that she was working at ABC News and NBC News for several years, with well established bona fides as a genuine journalist, and an award for investigative journalism. Her book is certainly not the "polemic screed" you described and I suspect you've never read it, but relied instead on some critic who sharply disagreed with her political position.

She was victimized in her own home by an intruder. There are two proverbs in American politics: "A Democrat is a Republican who got arrested," and "A Republican is a Democrat who got mugged." The latter seems to fit her. After that harrowing experience, she avoided the conventional, militant feminist route of bitching, whining and expecting someone to solve her problems for her. Instead, she chose to own the problem, and accept responsibility for her own personal safety. I find that admirable.

As a law-abiding citizen in DC, she found it to be almost impossible to legally buy a firearm for self-defense. It was at that point that she decided to start bitching and whining, and she does so reasonably and in a professional manner. The title is rather unfortunate but I suspect that was a decision by the publisher, not the author. Reliable 1too (talk) 23:39, 10 July 2014 (UTC)

You know, up until a month or two ago, if you'd gone off on an unprovoked rant about "militant feminists... bitching, whining, and expecting someone to solve [their] problems for [them]", I'd probably have just written you off as a dumbass and ignored you. But in the post-Isla Vista world, I've started to view this sort of casual misogyny as actively creepy and intolerable, rather than just distasteful. I'm not sure why you're fired up about "militant feminists". Nor do I understand why you think that the only "admirable" response for a crime victim is to buy a gun. And at this point I don't really care for you to elaborate.

As for Emily Miller, I started but could not bring myself to finish her book (because I found it to be a dreary hyper-partisan screed), so I guess we're more or less even there. I see you have the residual integrity not to deny that you're Phoenix and Winslow (talk · contribs) (but not enough integrity to refrain from evasive non-denials). Go on evading your block; at this point, I don't really care enough to bother about it, but don't expect a warm welcome here. MastCell Talk 01:13, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

Well I care enough to bother, and have blocked the sock. Thank you for what you said about casual misogyny, MastCell; you are precisely correct in your identification of it. Risker (talk) 02:37, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

Sock puppet Reliable[edit]

I noticed that you struck through some sock puppet comments in an RSN discussion. Thank you! Could you do the same in these other two discussions? [17][18] Lightbreather (talk) 05:14, 12 July 2014 (UTC)

I went ahead and did it myself today [19][20] per wp:tpoc. I hope that was okay... I read the Talk page guidelines page a couple times and I think it was okay (under "Removing prohibited material such as libel, personal details, or violations of copyright, living persons or banning policies.") Lightbreather (talk) 20:38, 13 July 2014 (UTC)
No problem. I think you're OK. In general, any editor can strike or remove posts from sockpuppets. Of course, I did once get raked over the coals by one of our illustrious Arbitrators for doing so, but that's a story for another time. MastCell Talk 02:06, 14 July 2014 (UTC)

GoRight[edit]

Hi. Since you closed the GoRight unban discussion on AN, could you please reblock GoRight? He was unblocked for the sole purpose of participating in that discussion. Thanks. BMK (talk) 20:17, 13 July 2014 (UTC)

Sure, will do. MastCell Talk 02:06, 14 July 2014 (UTC)

Notice of Neutral point of view noticeboard discussion[edit]

Hello, MastCell. This message is being sent to inform you that there currently is a discussion at Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/Noticeboard regarding an issue with which you may have been involved. Thank you.