Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Skepticism

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Bullshit[edit]

There is a disagreement at Penn and Teller: Bullshit! over whether to use quotation marks around the word "bullshit" alone. Since this article falls under this Wikiproject umbrella, you may want to weigh in on that Talk Page. InedibleHulk (talk) 19:18, February 17, 2014 (UTC)

Huffpo article by Deepak Chopra[edit]

Wikipedia, A New Perspective on an Old Problem

Apparently, WE are the ones who have turned Wikipedia into an "ideological 'battleground'" Greg Bard (talk) 20:21, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

Be ever vigilant...Dkriegls (talk to me!) 06:31, 17 May 2014 (UTC)

In related news, the article Deepak Chopra is currently undergoing some changes, while User:SAS81 ("I am an employee of Dr. Deepak Chopra and represent his direct interests on Wikipedia") is contributing to Talk:Deepak Chopra. Balaenoptera musculus (talk) 15:10, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

Nice to meet all of you. Specifically, I am an employee of ISHAR, Integrative Studies Historical Archive and Repository. It's newly formed and Dr. Chopra, through the Chopra Foundation, gave us a grant but he will not be our only funding source. Our responsibility is representing all knowledge on our archive, including subjects such as Dr Chopra - without bias to media and online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia. Not a PR company. Not a marketing company. Not a promotional company. We are a non profit educational organization. We are required to work directly within Wikipedia's policy. SAS81 (talk) 18:56, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
I'm curious, how do you propose that you can represent this materiel without bias when Deepak himself argues that objective reality is nothing more than shared subjective experiences shaped by personal experience (i.e., reality is biased). Honestly, I'm not being factitious, this is an honest question. --Dkriegls (talk to me!) 21:10, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
  • A shell game does not a reliable source make. Nor boilerplate eliminate motivation. However if the material in the "archive" represents reliable sources ISHAR can be a welcome resource for providing access to referencing sources found reliable. A linear string of electrons leading to a repository of representations of physical atoms presenting a notion of notions of disassociated association. - - MrBill3 (talk) 02:51, 3 June 2014 (UTC)

I'm thrilled we can have this sort of discussion, thank you. Dkriegls I was not sure when you said 'answer here' if 'here' was my talk page where you posted or 'here' where the original question was posted. So I am going to repost my answer....in both 'heres' :)

This is an absolutely fair question and I really appreciate you approaching me like this. I'm so thrilled with this question I've supplied a wall of text, sheesh! I also don't mind coming over to your noticeboard. As to what it means to be 'without bias' - I'm not sure that is possible for anyone to be without bias. However I do believe that where circumstances require, we can at least attempt to view issues without our personal bias and report on them the best we can and this is very possible and something journalists or researchers have to do quite often. It's just a matter of framing things so our own personal bias is removed from our language (and the encyclopedia's). For example, what you wrote above is actually does a pretty good job. You may not agree with Dr Chopra's assessment of consciousness - and you may agree with for example Dan Dennet's framework for consciousness so if you're writing an encyclopedia or building an archive, you would just report that x said this, y said that and you would attribute their voices, not the voice of the encyclopedia to their statements. Without bias therefore means INCLUDING all facts and attributing all points of view directly to their sources without being represented as a source for those views or facts. We also have to be careful not to mislead a reader by interpreting the work of an author through the lens of our own bias. This can be challenging. Imagine if you had to frame the point of view of say someone you don't like (if your a dem and you had to frame the viewpoint of the tea party for example). So this is where skeptic editors face a challenge too! I'm a little wonky nerdy type, so I actually enjoy this sort of work and challenge.

Also, I would not assume that I have the same bias that say Dr. Chopra would have regarding his views. Before I got this gig, I was not a 'follower' of Deepak Chopra and actually never read much of his work. I also did not have much an opinion on it either. Now that I dive into this work, I've actually been a little shocked to discover many things that I assumed were true about Dr Chopra were my own misperceptions (for example, I assumed he was an alternative medicine practitioner, he isn't) and I also was not aware of the high level of acceptance Dr Chopra has on the world stage. So unless someone is an extremist of some kind, I think most rational people can be aware of their own viewpoints and be aware of how those viewpoints are being represented and can take responsibility to represent those viewpoints without using biased language.

let's keep this discussion going, yes? I'm not the enemy, and believe it or not, I am fascinated by this 'problem' and I think we can work together to find a productive solution. I think this will speak well for the skeptic community and Wikipedia. Problem I have is that since skeptic groups or organizations have so committed themselves in a certain direction - if they reach out and work with an opposing viewpoint they get pressure from their own peers which prevents a solution from occurring since they have locked themselves into a debate and any resolution will cause them to lose respect or position. Very human problem that has nothing to do with the ideology behind it, it's just human nature getting in the way. SAS81 (talk) 16:04, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

"Without bias therefore means INCLUDING all facts and attributing all points of view directly to their sources without being represented as a source for those views or facts." Here at Wikipedia, we're extremely cautious about labeling information as "facts" especially when that information comes from people with fringe beliefs and products and services based upon those fringe beliefs.
Likewise, we don't care about all points of view, only prominent ones.
Wikipedia is not a venue for promotion, especially when there's a conflict of interest. --Ronz (talk) 18:58, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
To expand on Ronz's reply, do you truly think it's possible or even reasonable to include all points of view? For instance, should every article on the Holocaust include a section on how holocausts deniers interpret the information, and another section for how various Muslim groups interpret the information? Wouldn't that be giving these views some undeserved appearance of acceptance by mainstream historians? Additionally, do you really want us to include every negative thing written about Deepak Chopra by quackwatch? Or even by mainstream newspapers like The Guardian who published this critique by one of his contemporaries Susan Blackmore? If we do accept that not all possible views should be included, then we agree to some form of editorializing. Rules for which have been fiercely debated and laid down by our editorial forefathers (so to speak).
However, if you truly do think all these views should be included, I ask, have you taken it upon yourself to add such negative critiques of Chopra's page? If not, isn't that a measure of biased editorializing on your part? Which I would suggest again brings us back to the inherent bias needing agreed upon rules for editorializing with COI issues. The third option of course is that Ronz and I misunderstood your definition of being "without bias". For which I am happy to entertain the correction. Dkriegls (talk to me!) 21:47, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
@Ronz - my answer was to the question what does 'without bias' mean and my answer was broad, it was not meant to reflect what Wikipedia should do or be like, it was meant to represent how ISHAR represents knowledge or facts without bias. Of course Wikipedia has policies and guidelines, and ISHAR is committed to those policies and guidelines. I was rather hoping you could find some appreciation to how we approach things and see similarities where we can find consensus. SAS81 (talk) 00:23, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────@Dkriegls I'm not sure if you're asking me a broad, almost philosophical question about presentation of knowledge in general without bias or if your question is to Wikipedia specifically - my answer was meant to reflect the former. Bias, and without bias, are expressed in language and text and context primarily. I can hold a biased view of say, Justin Beiber, who personally makes me gag, but I Can still frame a neutral sentence about him that says 'Justin Beiber is very popular'. I dont need to write 'Justin Beiber is popular with people who have no taste in music' as that reveals my bias. I also dont need to associate the meaning of him being very popular with other things that would discredit him in the eyes of those who I think would know better, such as readers of Rolling Stone, such as 'Teen Beat magazine claims he is the most popular singer ever'. Also, great to know there is no spell check for Beiber, so I'm winging the spelling here.

If both of you are wondering my thoughts on how this should play out on Wikipedia, maybe this can help. And please keep in mind that my point of view is always evolving. In matters of a BLP, I believe that readers should be able to discover who someone is, what their ideas are, and what reception they have had. So to your analogy re: holocaust survivor museum, no of course not but the same with someone's BLP. If I go to a holocaust survivor museum, I want to learn about what it was like for THEM, and I want to know about their experiences. I don't want to learn about the holocaust from the point of view of the aggressors. Likewise, if I go to a Deepak Chopra article, I want to learn about HIM and HIS ideas, not what his ideas look like through the eyes of those who are suspicious of him. If suspicions of him are prominent (and they admittedly are) I would expect to find those too. I would NOT expect the article to confuse the both of them. And that's what I am here to help with. I think we can have both. I want the article to address your concerns too, I'm not trying to fluff it up or remove criticisms. We can discuss this more if you like.

SAS81 (talk) 00:23, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

Also, the question "will we have critics of Dr Chopra on ISHAR" My position is yes we will, however our focus is different. We will be showing the discussion around the critics and where the discussion is at. SAS81 (talk) 00:37, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

I think we have hit upon a key concept in WP. On WP we report on HIM and HIS ideas as reported on by reliable secondary sources. They don't have to be "those who are suspicious". The secondary sources we choose and the prominence we give the content based on their published reporting is according to the due weight they have in representing the mainstream academic community. This is the encyclopedic nature and policy of WP. If one wants to find out all about HIM and HIS ideas one can go to HIS website and read HIS books etc. I hope this is abundantly clear. This is fully documented and explained in the core policy WP:NPOV. - - MrBill3 (talk) 04:50, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
SAS81, I'm not sure I follow, as I now understand you to be suggesting the opposite of what I first thought. As MrBill explained above, are you suggesting that only Deepak Chopra's perspective of himself should be represented by his BLP? I honestly don't think that's what you meant, but that is how I am currently reading your last comment. Though I am using the Chopra article as an example, I am asking for the broad philosophical view of what it means to you to be "without bias" in a world with no external verification as the traditional scientific method describes it. What Chopra explains as a world "created" by consciousness and not one simply experience by consciousness, thus allowing for an external world that can be tested and verified. Your example: "I Can still frame a neutral sentence about him that says 'Justin Beiber is very popular'"; fits Wikipedia's NPOV, but I don't think it fit's your claim of "without bias" as it is biased towards a Neutral Point of View. Pinning down this point of distinction seems important to understand because you claim to be working to represent Chopra's materiel "without bias" while other Wikipedia editors who appear to at be odds with you are claiming they are working towards a NPOV. I don't have a new question to sum up my thoughts this time because I am still wondering what you mean when you say you are working to represent the materiel "without bias". Dkriegls (talk to me!) 05:06, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
Yes, it's important to grasp that we are not so much writing an article about Chopra, as merely digesting what serious sources have to say about him. If no serious source takes Chopra seriously (pretty much the case), Wikipedia will reflect that. This, in WP terms, is neutral. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 07:30, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

Some thoughts:

  • We are certainly writing about Chopra and his ideas, reception, criticism We digest sources to do that. Removing the idea that this is not about Chopra but about sources removes the humanity from our decision making and opens the door for abuse.
  • Academic sources are generally good, verifiable sources. They are not the only good sources.
  • Chopra is a world renowned figure for his work in multiple areas. Our articles had better reflect that in addition to the criticism launched against him. Any other approach such as making sure no one takes Chopra seriously is NPOV.(Littleolive oil (talk) 14:44, 7 June 2014 (UTC))

MrBill3 - sure, we use secondary sources to report on him, but we also are guided to use primary sources, with care - to verify secondary sources - and that just make sense to do in some, but not all situations. There seems to be allot of variance in interpretation amongst editors here. For example, in the case of Dr Chopra’s article, Capn, SlimVirgin, Atama, Olive Oil and I all agreed on how to use primary sources with secondary sources. Ronz and a few others had a different idea.

I STRONGLY disagree that the encyclopedia isn’t a place to learn about someone’s ideas and life but a place to learn about how others view the subject - that statement seems very counterintuitive and a little extreme and would be an entirely subjective process, devoid of much value. Wikipedia wants to be a respected encyclopedia. Of course the article should not be like the subject’s website, that would be ridiculous. But if the subject says on his website or book, “My views are x”, and a secondary sources says “his views are Y” then it’s mind boggling to assume that we must misrepresent the views of a biography, even knowingly, because the secondary source trumps all. That’s an algorithm for a unreliable encyclopedia. I see the encyclopedia as a place to learn about people, places and things and we compile the articles through secondary sources as a methodology for determining notability, reliability and verifiability only.

As to ‘those suspicious of him’ I was primarily referring to the editors on the article, not necessarily the sources they are using. SAS81 (talk) 15:18, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

DKriegls and SAS81 part two[edit]

Dkriegls I truly thank you for this discussion, and apologize for the walls of text - I'm hoping that by formatting my responses below the way I did, I created an easier way for follow up questions by others as well. Feel free to correct me if this drives you nuts!

  • As MrBill explained above, are you suggesting that only Deepak Chopra's perspective of himself should be represented by his BLP?

NO! That’s exactly not what I am saying, its not the subject’s ‘perspective on themselves’ that needs to be in the article (that would be bizarre) it’s the subjects actual ideas and work that must be in the article. SAS81 (talk) 15:28, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

NO! the subjects actual work and ideas belong in the works of the subject. WP presents the interpretation, evaluation and analysis of the subject's works that have been published in reliable sources with prominence and quantity as due. You seem to not understand the difference between an encyclopedia and a website for the presentation and promotion of an individuals work. If the subjects ideas are significantly considered these ideas will be discussed in secondary sources with adequate explanation, context and interpretation. - - MrBill3 (talk) 09:03, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Though I am using the Chopra article as an example, I am asking for the broad philosophical view of what it means to you to be "without bias" in a world with no external verification as the traditional scientific method describes it.

Here is another point of confusion I run into quite frequently - the traditional scientific method has absolutely nothing to do with someone’s biography. Maybe I misunderstand you, but are you saying that scientists opinions about people are facts of science? I would expect scrutiny if the article was about integrative medicine, or the effects of meditation on the endocrine system, but it’s very perplexing when I read that scientists opinions about people are equal to scientific evidence about physics and chemistry. SAS81 (talk) 15:28, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

  • What Chopra explains as a world "created" by consciousness and not one simply experience by consciousness, thus allowing for an external world that can be tested and verified.

I’m going to have very serious problems with any position that wants to assume a formal stance on the nature of consciousness and then use that to defer Chopra into a category. Dr. Chopra is very prolific on the topic of consciousness and spirituality - this to me falls under the purview of philosophy (at this time but my position can evolve). Therefore, although I disagree somewhat with your statement that Chopra’s viewpoints on consciousness can be tested by 3rd party data - I’m not sure if it’s productive if you or I have a conversation about the nature of consciousness. So I view his views on consciousness as philosophy. Another thing that may surprise you is the level of support Dr Chopra has for his ideas in this regard. He has lots of very very interesting, academic scientists contributing to his work. I’m on many of these email chains and sometimes I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe I’m actually on an email chain with some of the scientists at that level. While his viewpoints on consciousness may be a minority view in science of philosophy itself - its a significant minority and in terms of the entire world, Dr Chopra’s arguments are representative of an entire emerging paradigm and thought system that is very mainstream - so it’s important that we report on that accurately. And to be fair, that aint easy! Even if I was doing it all by myself - Dr Chopra is a very very complex person, very prolific, and very challenging to ‘nail down’ so some of this is his own fault in that sense. SAS81 (talk) 15:28, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

  • I don't have a new question to sum up my thoughts this time because I am still wondering what you mean when you say you are working to represent the material "without bias".

It means stating the facts where the facts can be verified to exist and describe them using neutral language that does not reflect my personal point of view nor a broader point of view of the subject unless it’s directly stated as such. It means presenting information from a more agnostic position. It means reaching for completeness and objectivity where possible. It means assuming I have failed in doing so and then repeat the steps a few times more until I get it right. SAS81 (talk) 15:28, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

Opening words of the WP:NPOV policy: "Editing from a neutral point of view (NPOV) means representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic." We base articles on views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic since we are a tertiary and not a secondary source. We are not engaged in "stating the facts" (unless they have been covered in secondary sources), we are not bothered to be "complete" (other than to the extent secondary sources are) and we are not agnostic, but neutrally relay the viewpoint of our good sources. This neutrality is one of WP's 5 pillars. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 15:35, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
Hey Alex, sure, there's that, but then there is also WP:BLP with the rule to 'get it right'. Then we also have WP:PSTS, WP:V, WP:ISNOT and WP:OR. Also, I'm not finding much difference between with neutral point of view means and my own usage of 'agnostic' point of view - and DKriegls questions are about how I view this and how ISHAR views this, not how I think Wikipedia does, so please if your going to participate in this discussion, try to follow what *my views are* too. One of the things that makes this a frustrating experience is that every thing I write on this encyclopedia I have about 3 or 4 editors trying to make me wrong. Well I think my views on the encyclopedia are mainstream views, SlimVirgin and I are in total harmony on how to apply these things, as well as TheCapn and a few others. It's frustrating because I find editors are hiding behind WP:Policy when really it's their own bias they are trying to cover up. You know, we can disagree about policy - WP:Policy is not written in stone, it's a moving breathing thing and I feel confident that my views on how to do it are instep with how other experienced editors like Slim do it. I've actually have been studying SlimVirgin's contribution history - that's the quality I am trying to achieve. She is the best example I can find so if you want to understand what my standards are, it's something close to hers. SAS81 (talk) 15:52, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
The core policy NPOV is far more important than the other policies. The fundamental nature of WP as an encyclopedia is not to represent the orginal works of the the subject of a bio but to present the significant views published in reliable sources. You can't negate or water down one of the five pillars or three core policies with interpretations of other less important policies. WP is not a place for the promotion or explication of the ideas and works of the subject of a bio that is what the books, website, interviews etc etc etc can do. WP is an encyclopedia, we paraphrase and summarize published reliable sources giving prominence to the sources that represent the views of mainstream academia. This is not something negotiable this is what WP is. - - MrBill3 (talk) 08:57, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
SAS81m I fear I have confused my inquiry a bit due to my use of the Chopra biography as my example, and I understand this form of discussion can be tedious and tiring when a large group of editors disagrees with your edits (I've been there). But my desire to try to understand your philosophical views on bias do stem from a desire to try to elucidate the obvious differences between your views on NPOV edits and the editors who disagree with your edits. While I believe you when you say that you are "not finding much difference between with neutral point of view means and [your] own usage of 'agnostic' point of view"; I think it is obvious a majority of editors (but defiantly not all) do seem to be at odds with your implementation of NPOV, and given your COI, they find it easy to dismiss your attempts to force your view (as they see it). I personally believe this is not a matter of finding the right Wiki policy and verse to justify those edits, but a fundamental difference of philosophy. Chopra has accused this wikiproject of militant skepticism boarding on conspiracy or at least grand delusion; but I take you at your word that you are not trying to work around the Wikipedia guidelines but honestly want to work within them, which would mean trying to find where the difference of interpretation is stemming from and reach the aspired to consensus that makes Wikipedia so great...and frustrating.--Dkriegls (talk to me!) 20:59, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
So with that I come back to my desire to try to elucidate where the difference in philosophy might be occurring (presupposing you agree that discussing this may help elucidate the differences you are experiencing with fellow editors). I initially thought it might be a difference in the understanding of the nature of reality. I personally don't think it's much of a challenge to "pin down" Chopra's rejection of a materialistic world as envisioned by Newtonian Physics. He's written several essays outright rejecting it. By highlighting this point, I did not mean to propose that a biography article should be written based on scientific studies, but rather that a NPOV assumes the perspective of a hypothetical external perspective envisioned by the dominant post-positivist perspective of mainstream science. P-p assumes pure objectivity can never be achieved, only approximated to the best of our ability. Thus the goal is to "minimize bias", but never assume its complete elimination. Thus when you used the words "without bias" my curiosity was sparked and pondered whether a fundamental difference of philosophy was at work. Assuming you shared Chopra's take on the nature of reality (a leap of assumption I mistakenly didn't make clear from the onset) I wondered what the hypothetically assumed un-biased perspective was for someone who is editing for a philosophy that argues against an unbiased external world and argues for a world that is actually created by the bias of consciousness, or at least where consciousness can manipulate the world beyond standard cause and effect (Here I do agree on the difficulty to pin him down given that his view swings between some strange shared metaphysical solipsism and a mildly less radical mind-over-matter philosophy). I honestly don't even know what it means to measure predictability with science from such a philosophy that rejects materialism and the order of cause and effect. So, admitting I may have wrongly assumed you share Chopra's philosophy on the nature of reality, I ask do you? If not, then their might be a another difference in philosophy needing elucidation and we should disuse (view ONE). Or perhaps Chopra's philosophy simply confounds your efforts to report facts about his life, because he does not recognize the same weight of evidence for something to be considered "true" that mainstream academics do. So this scenario puts you in the middle of interpretation, a tough place to be when admittedly representing the work of one side in the debate (view TWO). Or, the THIRD option, that you agree with Chopra's philosophy on the nature of reality and we are needing to find a bridge across a very large divide that I fundamentally don't understand, or at most understand to the point of seeing fatal flaws in the argument. I hope the removal of some of my coyness has helped me more clearly state my inquiry this time around. Cheers. --Dkriegls (talk to me!) 20:59, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I don't have as much time this moment to respond to this great discussion and will elucidate more in a bit, but quickly I can say that this statement "P-p assumes pure objectivity can never be achieved, only approximated to the best of our ability. Thus the goal is to "minimize bias", but never assume its complete elimination. Thus when you used the words "without bias" my curiosity was sparked and pondered whether a fundamental difference of philosophy was at work." is very close to my own personal view, and I thought I clarified this somewhat in my first response, i.e. 'i dont think anyone can be without bias, but we can remove bias from our language and context'. More later sir, thank you for taking this time - I think the community (meaning myself included) could use this and if you and I can find a way to bridge a gap together - I think it will say plenty about Wikipedia. Thank you for treating me like a rational person and not an enemy. SAS81 (talk) 22:46, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

DKriegls and SAS81, part 3[edit]

  • Assuming you shared Chopra's take on the nature of reality (a leap of assumption I mistakenly didn't make clear from the onset) I wondered what the hypothetically assumed un-biased perspective was for someone who is editing for a philosophy that argues against an unbiased external world and argues for a world that is actually created by the bias of consciousness, or at least where consciousness can manipulate the world beyond standard cause and effect (Here I do agree on the difficulty to pin him down given that his view swings between some strange shared metaphysical solipsism and a mildly less radical mind-over-matter philosophy). I honestly don't even know what it means to measure predictability with science from such a philosophy that rejects materialism and the order of cause and effect. So, admitting I may have wrongly assumed you share Chopra's philosophy on the nature of reality, I ask do you? If not, then their might be a another difference in philosophy needing elucidation and we should disuse (view ONE).

Wow. Well this is a very interesting question - and I hope I am not abusing Wikipedia by just having an enjoyable philosophical discussion. I get your questions. What does a NPOV look like when you believe that the universe was created by consciousness? We assume that this belief is an assumption, right? One that is not supported by modern scientific theory ( at least not mainstream theory). Answer to the question is I don’t know! I’m not sure that is a NPOV at all. I would say that’s a belief if stated as true - and on the other side of that belief is a contrary position (consciousness emerges from physical reality). I don’t believe that a NPOV is an established static position, I think the NPOV is dynamic given the circumstances (I am speaking philosophically - right? Please no one try to bust my balls on WP Policy right now). So if there are two competing views for acceptance, one says physical reality emerges from consciousness, and the second one says that consciousness emerges from physical reality - then if one is to adopt a NPOV, one would be agnostic (in language primarily) towards both positions so to me the NPOV is always a ‘third’ position or value, a position taken as if the knowledge value of both is unknown. This position is breathing and moving - it’s not locked into place - it merely reflects a point of view that neither favors one side of a dialectic nor the other. Therefore the NPOV can also function like a thought exercise - for example one can adopt a NPOV to explore one side of an argument, even if they believe it or accept it.

If you’re curious about what i personally believe, when it comes to consciousness, I am truly an agnostic and I enjoy the overall discussion and I also enjoy many models of consciousness and continually waffle back and forth between which model makes the most sense at the time. I also like to explore the first person perspective on consciousness as well as the third person scientific data. I think what makes the discussion difficult with Dr.Chopra and others is that Dr. Chopra’s position is informed by first person experience - and of course anyone who practices the techniques can modify their consciousness to have a similar first person experience. Of course, while this practice can be empirical in a way, it’s not scientific and provides no useful data to science. Dr. Chopra gets hit pretty hard by his ideas on consciousness, but you would be surprised by the level of support (amongst some scientists) that he has for them as well.

tldr: my views on consciousness are agnostic, and NPOV I view as an agnostic dynamic that is relational to the context of the discussion, not in itself a static viewpoint. SAS81 (talk) 17:11, 8 June 2014 (UTC)

  • Or perhaps Chopra's philosophy simply confounds your efforts to report facts about his life, because he does not recognize the same weight of evidence for something to be considered "true" that mainstream academics do. So this scenario puts you in the middle of interpretation, a tough place to be when admittedly representing the work of one side in the debate (view TWO).

Hmmm, well one is not accurate, and two is not accurate either. Yes Dr Chopra’s views on consciousness are not accepted as mainstream academic views….kinda. That's a tricky position IMHO. Panpsychism is an emerging mainstream view in philosophy and Dr Chopra by far is not the first person to put forth the ‘quantum consciousness’ argument - he is just the most known. Also its philosophy, not really governed by the rules of science since philosophy must be speculative. The view that the universe is alive (in some way, pick your religion/poison/philosophy) is probably a more prominent viewpoint than materialism if you look at world numbers. However, this is not a problem in terms of editing his biography on Wikipedia! It’s still just as simple as ‘what are his views? state them. What are reception to his views? state those.’ I have not once felt in a compromised position, and also Dr Chopra does not tell me what to put in his article so there is no conflict here, at least on my part. SAS81 (talk) 17:11, 8 June 2014 (UTC)

  • Or, the THIRD option, that you agree with Chopra's philosophy on the nature of reality and we are needing to find a bridge across a very large divide that I fundamentally don't understand, or at most understand to the point of seeing fatal flaws in the argument. I hope the removal of some of my coyness has helped me more clearly state my inquiry this time around.

Well, here i do very much agree with Dr Chopra in terms of ‘bridging the divide’ of Science and…(to be honest, I really dislike the word ‘spirituality’ but for lack of a better word...spirit). I really don’t like allot of the animosity between both sides and often I think there is allot of arrogance happening, and confusion too. On the spirit side, there is allot of ‘woo’ fever with little or no critical thinking - but on the science side there is also not as much philosophical introspection, which I find can lead into group think or something similar. I do think that the discussion he is having around consciousness is very very interesting. I never knew Dr Chopra before this work - and to be honest, I never took his work that seriously either (primarily because i just associated him with Oprah Winfrey, I really didn’t know much about his work) so please accept this as an honest answer. I now think Dr. Chopra is a pretty amazing and impressive human being, even if you or I disagree/agree with him. I can vouch that he truly is a well intentioned human being and has integrity. There are allot of misperceptions about him. To me he is a classic creative type who is very very passionate about his work and ideas. He gets excited. In his excitement I think he speaks poetically when it’s not in his best interests sometimes. I disagree that his views on QM and consciousness are inherently without meaning and that scientists can’t understand him. I happen to know for a fact that many scientists do understand him and and support such views, or at least find them interesting. (source: I'm cc'd on emails) I don’t think he communicates his views on consciousness as well as he likes, and he is constantly working with scientists and philosophers to refine them. I also think there is allot of orthodox in science which resists a merging of views, and I think that is unfortunate.

tl:dr - so while myself I am an agnostic - I support the work Dr Chopra is doing in terms of bringing sides together and think that such work is invaluable, regardless of the outcome. I also have a cool gig! Being a nerdy type, the amount of access I have to him as well as some very very interesting people is amazing - so I do have my ‘job bias’ as in ‘I love this gig’ but my thoughts on Dr Chopra are my own and they are genuine.

ps: I love this discussion, but worried this is the wrong forum? I would love to keep it going but don't want to be disruptive in doing so. Thank you once again sir - you are a gentlemen and a scholar. SAS81 (talk) 17:11, 8 June 2014 (UTC)

Thank you, that very much helped me better understand your position. Instead of addressing everything, I'm going to focus on two key ideas I think might better explore some of the philosophical differences at work (I hope I don't get to "thick" here). First, you said (and I understand it was philosophically speaking): "if one is to adopt a NPOV, one would be agnostic (in language primarily) towards both positions so to me the NPOV is always a ‘third’ position or value, a position taken as if the knowledge value of both is unknown." This sort of dry middle ground assumption of probability that posits two claims on equal footing without first weighing the claims against prior knowledge (and assessing for "fit" within current accepted scientific understandings) is in direct contrast to the Bayesian interpretation of probability widely used by many physical scientists.
To emphasize this difference with an absurd analogy: In a debate between a Loch Ness monster true believer and a prominent marine biologist, we might see a sharp contrast with interpretation of "facts". The truther might argue that the Lach has never been fully explored and there is a possibility that something large could be living down there. Going just by the evidence, the marine biologist would have to concede that point as true, the Lach has not been fully explored and we can not outright dismiss the possibility that something large is living in the unknown. But they would disagree on whether this agreed upon fact supports their claim. Now, the probabilistic analysis that supports the middle ground approach would argue that both truth claims are an unknown, so both possibilities are likely and thus we should consider each from an agnostic view without giving undue weight to either. In contrast, the Bayesian concept of probability would force us to ask which of these two truth claims asks us to make the fewest assumptions and violates the fewest currently known scientific principles and then assign a weighted probability to each claim. It's important to emphasize here that the Bayesian probability does not assert the truth of one claim over the other, only that it is more likely. This is the basis for Marcello Truzzi's "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" proposition, in that, extraordinary is the degree of disagreement from the mainstream scientific position. So while early papers on Chaos theory were properly rejected by physicists based on the theories' presumed violation of Newtonian Physics (among other issues), they were later accepted by the mainstream once the evidence outweighed the extraordinary nature of the required paradigm shift. While I'm not asserting this as "THE" interpretation for Wikipedia's NPOV policy, I only encourage you to understand that in your edit debates, this is how many editors like myself interpret that policy when it calls for shifting the weight of an article towards the mainstream view (though perhaps not as sophisticated as a Bayesian reference). e.g., the hypothetical "unbiased view" is not in the middle, but the one that makes the least assumptions and violates the fewest known physical principles.
Point two- You clearly have a respect for Chopra as an honest purveyor of facts about himself that I think you can agree some editors around here don't share (as well as many verifiable sources). When we move past the convincingly repeatable hypotheses of science like turning water into ice, and move into the more murky edges of sciences, like the claims of Non-locality, which are more philosophy than science, we also move into the murky measures of what it means to be "taken seriously" by scientists (a claim you make about Chopra). I think delving into the differences between Chopra and Stuart Hameroff, who has co-authored papers with Chopra, will help emphases why there is a difference of opinion in whether Chopra is a serious contributor to these fields. Disclosure: I have shared more than a few drinks philosophizing with Hameroff at his home, I hope that isn't biasing my analysis. So, Chopra and Hameroff both start off with medical degrees, and both are public about their philosophies regarding the possible interaction between the quantum world and a dualistic consciousness. The difference comes with their relationship between the medicine and the philosophy. Hameroff has a non-controversial medical practice as an anesthesiologist and separately spent over three decades publishing articles in academic journals about his efforts to find studies that might demonstrate his philosophical claims. In contrast, Chopra has spend decades making medical claims based on his philosophies and only in the past few years published anything in an academic journal about his philosophies, none of them as research studies, only two as first author and one of those was as a commentary piece on someone else's work. So while there may be similarities with Chopra's philosophies and Hameroff's (and they are only similarities, not the same theory), and Hameroff may be interested in Chopra's philosophies enough co-author an article with him; this is not the proper measure used by academics to assess if someone is part of the scientific discussion (e.g., being taken seriously by scientists). For most, that measure is academic publishing, not books, but articles in scientific and philosophical journals, were the idea can be debated separately from the celebrity of the author. So while his celebrity may garner him invitations to speak at conferences, and conversations with scientists; his refusal to participate in the traditional blind review of academic journal critiques (even if he claims bias against him), currently inhibits the perception of him being a serious academic by many in the philosophical and scientific fields. This is only confounded more by his insistence on making money off these claims prior to offering them up for debate in the traditional format, which one would assume his medical training prepared him for. Hence critical articles like this by predominant academic Susan Blackmore who has shared the stage with him at TSC. Again, I don't write the above as a personal attack requiring your defense of his character. I write it a means to emphasis the difference in perception that is likely at the root of differences in editing biases.
With point one and two, I combined them for point three. While point two clearly demonstrates a difference in perception about what claims made by Chopra are authentic and which are not (if any), point one highlights a different area of contention, and that is where the neutral ground stands between a claim made by Chopra that is counter to the mainstream scientific view. Perhaps assuming an agnostic middle ground may put you at odds with those who perceive a neutral position as the one requiring the least assumptions and supported by the most mainstream citations. While neither view is claiming an absolute truth, the Bayesian probability can feel like it is because it is inferring increased likelihood of claims that better fit known predictive models. And when an editor makes such a edit from the Bayseian NPOV, it can feel to a believer of the alternative view that the mainstream view is being argued as true and the alternative view as being argued as false. But it is not. I hope this essay helped shed some light on the philosophical differences at play in your editing.Dkriegls (talk to me!) 04:56, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
Dkriegls. You have soothed some of the shock I encountered when I read the Deepak talk page. ..I may not be a smart man.. but I know what clear thinking is ..and I thank you for it. Ptarmigander (talk) 09:30, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

Part 4[edit]

This sort of dry middle ground assumption of probability that posits two claims on equal footing without first weighing the claims against prior knowledge (and assessing for "fit" within current accepted scientific understandings) is in direct contrast to the Bayesian interpretation of probability widely used by many physical scientists.

Point one is an Entirely different exercise and although we are speaking philosophically, I would not apply my philosophy in this instance to the manner in which your assigning it to claims about reality. We're not talking about investigating scientific claims, or at least I am not - we're specifically talking about the framing of two or more distinct points of view, especially views that contain an opposing cosmology or worldview. And perhaps you're correct somewhat, because if editing is done on Wikipedia using this scientific approach to research and investigation and applying it to editing - it's no wonder why we may be worlds apart. If I was investigating something scientifically - I would be more inclined to see your philosophy reach it's proper measurement.

Now, the probabilistic analysis that supports the middle ground approach would argue that both truth claims are an unknown, so both possibilities are likely and thus we should consider each from an agnostic view without giving undue weight to either.

There is a huge leap you took here that does not reflect the point of view I wrote above. If two claims are unknown to an observer, any observer is going to put weight on what is the 'most known' in each view to evaluate both to begin. There is no 'magical' suspension of what someone already believes to be true and a feign of agnosticism. If I look at two distinct points of view agnostically, it's a place where I begin, not necessarily where I conclude. I'm referencing the framing of events and ideas - you're referencing an approach to claims about reality. Two different exercises. In spite of what you may assume, I'm always going to assign weight to a more scientific point of view but even if I did not, it would matter little if I had to write an article about believer x, his claims and beliefs and scientific skeptic y, his ideas and beliefs. I would not frame the believers ideas from the point of view of the scientific skeptic nor vice versa. I think the confusion here is it appears that you suggest there is a neutral point of view about what someone's ideas are (say the skeptic idea about Dr Chopra's ideas) and I am saying a neutral point of view means framing subjective ideas as they are recorded, not as they are interpreted.

I think delving into the differences between Chopra and Stuart Hameroff, who has co-authored papers with Chopra, will help emphases why there is a difference of opinion in whether Chopra is a serious contributor to these fields.

I see, and even agree with some of your point two. And I can see for sure why Dr Chopra is frustrating for many with the examples you write above. Here is where I think some, but not all, of the confusion lay.

Deepak Chopra is more of a philosopher than a scientist in the sense of Hammeroff. His philosophy is informed from first person experience AND third person scientific data. I think it is obvious that Dr Chopra is finding the 3rd person data from science that matches with his first person experience. I think the 'first person' experience component of what Dr Chopra's ideas (or anyone's really) are what cause the confusion, because that is not how science works as you know, and the philosophy of science or the philosophy that is derived from scientific data only allows the view point to extend as far as the data, but no further.

But if the misunderstanding was that simple it would not be that big of a problem. What makes the confusion worse is the very human side of Deepak Chopra. He has a few extra qualities that are hard for anyone to wrap their heads around in terms of scientific analysis or reporting. Deepak Chopra is a larger than life celebrity who also loves being a showman and writing creatively and playing the role of an entrepreneur. That side of him does not think like a scientist, that side of him thinks like an artist. Combine all of those things into one package - and it's very easy for me to see where there is misunderstanding. I can only speak for his intentions and integrity, meaning I believe he has very good intentions. I don't know all the facts in his career, but his career has been a long one and if he has stumbled here or there it would not be surprising. I'll also give you an inside scoop on another 'shocker' I discovered - Deepak Chopra is not the revenue seeking business man that I too always assumed was true. The Chopra Center (the biggest chopra revenue generator) has never even generated a profit until last year and he has put over $14MM into that alone. Deepak makes his personal money from books and lectures - and what's left he funds research. And when he is out there promoting something for sale, it's usually because it's going to be funding something else he believes in. In this sense he just thinks like a classic entrepreneur - he is a genius marketer, but he is not the revenue profit motivated person I assumed he was.

I'm not saying that to defend him, I'm telling you that because it's the only way to make sense of all the sources and dynamics. It's simply a matter of fact that many scientists are drawn to Dr. Chopra's ideas. Before I started - I had no idea actually how extensive his career and accomplishments really were. You know, some people view Deepak Chopra like they do Gandhi, he truly means that much to many many people - and other people have so much contempt for the man. I've never encountered such a polarizing figure. Let me give you an example, in 2015, the World Organization of Nobel Prize Laureates are giving him an award for his contributions to world peace. He's also apart of the Clinton Global Initiative. So while I understand why many people may get frustrated with him - those who get frustrated with him also have to acknowledge his genuine contributions. He is a puzzling man, very prolific, and very hard to pin down. I would not be able to say that if I did not experience the man for myself + have access to sources that simply show that to be the case.

He does have some very interesting research, much of it has not been published yet so pointless for me to cite, but it will be published some point soon and that's where his millions have been going.

So, scientists are scientists. Deepak Chopra is a physician, a philosopher, an author, an entrepreneur, a showman and a celebrity. I completely understand why many would be frustrated with that and would be turned off by any three of the above combinations. SAS81 (talk) 05:31, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

This is kind of a bizarre discussion to me. To the extent that Chopra does religion or philosophy, his work can be described neutrally and placed into the context of those fields, be his views they mainstream or not, all based on reliable, independent, secondary sources as per WP:RS. To the extent that Chopra makes claims about the physical world itself (physics, biology etc) those claims can be described neutrally and, be they mainstream or not, placed into the context of those fields, all based on reliable, independent,secondary sources as per WP:SCIRS. To the extent Chopra makes claims about mental or physical health (a subset of sciences and subject to additional constraints) those claims can be described neutrally and, be they mainstream or not, placed into the context of those fields, based on reliable, independent, secondary sources as per WP:MEDRS. Wikipedia takes a neutral, scholarly approach to everything we work on. A huge amount of un-necessary fuss arises when people start trying to source content from primary sources - we should avoid that like the plague in general and we should avoid it like Ebola on articles concerning controversial subjects.Jytdog (talk) 14:08, 17 June 2014 (UTC)(clarified pronoun Jytdog (talk) 17:53, 17 June 2014 (UTC))
Quite. And in fact in a BLP we are required to "exercise extreme caution in using primary sources": the only time we may use them is when "primary-source material has been discussed by a reliable secondary source". Curiously, this is quite the opposite of what some editors seem to be arguing - that because this is a BLP we should be quick to reach for primary sources when merely reporting what is in the secondaries might be seen as harsh on Chopra. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 14:20, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
SAS81, I don't know that there is much more for use to discuses on this topic as I feel you've restated your position now but with a "philosophy only" qualifier. And I'll restate mine. I don't mean that as a criticism, only that I see this as a natural end.
Basyian probability is used as a starting point for discussing all events, ideas, or claims about reality. For many scientists, the processes of science are not something confined to the lab or our studies or even "reality", they are tools for assessing all claims, philosophical or not. The rules of logic we use are the same for both, and those of use who use a Bayesian approach weigh the possibility of philosophical claims the same as truth claims about physics. There is no duelist approach to truth claims until such time as duelist claims breach the evidence threshold. While people like Chopra call this an inharent bias against his method of discovery, it is the mainstream scientific approach. This is why mainstream scientific sources probably feel "bias" against Chopra, but unfortunately, that is the bias we base Wikipedia against. For better or worse, that was the line we drew in order to prevent the inclusion of every claim under the sun. Though, I'm not sure what it means to qualifies Chopra as a Philosopher as his philosophy deeply informs his medical practice and alternative medicine prescriptions. A distinction I was trying to make with the Hameroff comparison.
Finally, I encourage you to look back over your defense of Chopra's "revenue seeking" behavior. While I understand you think this needed to be defended in order to validate his sincerity, for me at least, it did the opposite, and served to highlight the struggle you face with your COI interpretation. I'm a capitalist and don't think revenue seeking in particular is a measure of sincerity. I know honorable rich people and disgustingly dishonest charities. The bit I wrote about Chopra was not about his profits, it was about the honesty by which he makes it. Now this point can be debated by mainstream sources, but what I ask you to consider, was how you defended it. Pointing out that this man can spend $14 million on just one of his projects and not need an immediate return on investment is not a defense of his profit seeking behavior, it's a testament to the size of his wealth. The argument you formed did not defend the point, it only presented a perspective that taking long term risk was somehow testament of good will. This is why our COI policy exists, because that interpretation of the "facts" at play causes so much stress in editing. I don't presume for us to reach any agreement here. I am only assuming good faith on your part and trying to elucidate philosophical differences that might cause the perception of bias from either side of these edits. I hope this discussion has helped, but I think Jytdog and Alexbrn are correct in refocusing back on what independent sources say, perhaps now with a better understanding of why you might find yourself at odds with other editors about what is an appropriate edit based on those sources. Dkriegls (talk to me!) 20:22, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Well at least we had a good chance to exchange views and see clearly where we part. The views I shared re: Chopra $$$ were just my own personal ones, I mentioned them to show a side of Dr. Chopra I believe causes some confusion but it appears I just created more, not my intention. Disappointed however that you raised the COI issue, I thought we were having a frank and off the cuff discussion.

I'm not sure if the Baynesian approach to Wikipedia editing will win the appreciation of the over all editing community and I think placing editing into the Baynesian scope will make for some awkward articles and may be somewhat over reaching it's purpose. I think methods like E prime, General Semantics, or Framing in the social sciences are helpful guides that address the issue directly.

The use of primary sources as mentioned in this thread is something that has already been clarified by a number of admins, including SlimVirgin, in the context to how I introduced them in the Chopra article and it appears that the position expressed here is a more extreme one - not necessarily how Wikipedia's guidelines work or are used by all sophisticated editors. SAS81 (talk) 23:36, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

Cold fusion[edit]

A Request for Comments is in progress at Talk:Cold fusion concerning which of the WP:ARBPS categories of research (unquestionably pseudoscience, generally considered pseudoscience but with a following, widely accepted but considered pseudoscience by critics, alternative scientific formulations) should be associated with cold fusion, also known as low-energy nuclear reactions. Robert McClenon (talk) 14:16, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

Wow, I really did want to get involved with that debate, but I found it was going over my head on the topic. There seems to be a clear pseudoscience fringe pushing there, but the subtleties between what is actually new technology and what is pseudoscience was a bit hard to asses from a layman's knowledge of the subject. This debate could really benefit from skeptic who are experts on the topic if any member of this group has a friend or colleague they might be able to recruit to review the current debate and add their expert opinion (with citations of course). --Dkriegls (talk to me!) 04:51, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

The Horn Of Helm Hammerhand Must Sound In The Deep[edit]

Things are quiet at Helm's Deep-ak. It's walls are well defended. But Saruman and his servant Grima are busy in Isengard and they are marshaling their hordes outside our borders. They have devised numerous devilments that can penetrate our inner walls and they are now organizing them and putting them in place.

Saruman's army is an army bred of one purpose. To bring down our walls and instill their dark ways upon us all. Watchers are waiting at stationed positions and at the first intrusions alarms will sound and the beacons will shine.

There may come a time when the hordes will gain entry, overrun our defenses and do their worst, but this will not be that time and this will not be that day. This will be a time when we will draw our swords together and stand side by side!

Take warning! Be ready! The Horn will soon sound. Ptarmigander (talk) 16:03, 11 July 2014 (UTC)


@~@~@~@~@~


I think you were looking for Wikipedia:WikiProject Middle-earth. This project is for rational, non-cryptic editing discussions. --Dkriegls (talk to me!) 04:55, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

__________________________________________________________ Dkriegls and other Wikipedians.. "Saruman's army is an army bred of one purpose. To bring down our walls and instill their dark ways upon us all." Here he is marshaling recruits and resources for the attack under the duplicitous guise of correcting misinformation. Ptarmigander (talk) 15:26, 17 September 2014 (UTC)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NEQvrcVcQo#t=39

Oil cleansing method[edit]

Hello! I'm not sure whether this is the appropriate place to ask, but I'm trying to figure out whether a book is self-published or not. The company is called Betterway Home Books and this is the book in question. At the end of the cited passage, it notes: "for more information, head to SimpleMom.net [the author's blog] and search oil cleansing method" This leads me to believe it is not WP:Reliable. Thoughts? - Sweet Nightmares 20:35, 13 July 2014 (UTC)

That company website and the author's blog set my alarms ringing. But the Google book link says that it was published by F+W media, this gives it a little more credibility since the publishing company looks respectable enough. I would say that this is moderately reliable. I see that the article you linked has its notability disputed and uses only this as a source. The source (if it indeed mentions the subject, I didn't check) does give it some notability but you may need more if it has to survive an AFD via WP:GNG. Good day, Ugog Nizdast (talk) 05:32, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
I smell Appeal to tradition POV pushing with this single sourced article. Worth watching with skeptical eyes. --Dkriegls (talk to me!) 04:46, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

Lists of skeptical topics[edit]

I added the 'conferences' section and improved the 'organizations' section in the List of skeptics and skeptical conferences and organizations (that I renamed for this purpose). Shouldn't we split this list up in three separate pages about skeptics, conferences and organisations? There is already a list of books about skepticism, we could also create lists for skeptical podcasts, skeptical magazines and skeptical television shows and films. On top of that, we can create a 'lists of skeptical topics' or 'lists about skepticism' as a list of lists page (similar to lists of atheists). Greetings, Nederlandse Leeuw (talk) 18:02, 20 July 2014 (UTC)

Ya, I would split it in two; with Notable skeptics making up their own list. You should also change the name in the Skepticism footer, or more accurately add both new lists there. --Dkriegls (talk to me!) 04:43, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Why two instead of three? I'd say conferences and organisations require their own separate lists, don't they? And yes, I'll update the template once the split is done. ;) Nederlandse Leeuw (talk) 08:34, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Done. Nederlandse Leeuw (talk) 21:19, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

Systemic bias?[edit]

The discussion on Eastern medicine at WikiProject Countering systemic bias may be of interest to the members of this project. Sam Walton (talk) 14:52, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

Notice re RSN regarding Vani Hari[edit]

A RSN discussion regarding Vani Hari, a.k.a. FoodBabe, has been posted at WP:Reliable sources/Noticeboard#SPS material for Vani Hari. – S. Rich (talk) 15:48, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Autism Research Institute[edit]

Proposal to cut and paste rewrite from Talk:Autism Research Institute/draft into blanked article. I think needed changes can be made after the cut and paste and that the draft is acceptable improvement of existing article. - - MrBill3 (talk) 18:32, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

Flim-Flam! article expanded, DYK eligible for another 24 hours[edit]

I expanded the article on James Randi's classic skeptic book Flim-Flam! enough that it is eligible for DYK. The nomination would have to go up in the next 24 hours or so. Anyone familiar/interested in the DYK process? It would be nice to see one of the seminal works of skepticism by one of the vanguards of the movement on the front page. - - MrBill3 (talk) 13:22, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done. Nice job on the article, Mr Bill! I was not sure what hook you wanted to use, so for starters I went with "... that James Randi used his 1980 book Flim-Flam! to announce an annual award for "the psychic who fools the greatest number of people with the least effort"? There is the facility to add one or two alternate hooks if anybody has a better idea: to do this, just fill in the ALT1 field (and add ALT2 if necessary) in the nomination form at Template:Did you know nominations/Flim-Flam!.
Follow the progress of the nomination through the review process at Template_talk:Did_you_know#Articles_created.2Fexpanded_on_August_11 (seriously, you should bookmark it and watch it in case the reviewers ask questions). Be aware that there is a large backlog of articles awaiting review, so it may take some time. I might as well put in a plug here: any experienced editors reading this can help by reviewing a DYK nomination at Template_talk:Did_you_know; the instructions are there at the top of the page. Bill, I hope this helps, and congratulations again. --Gronk Oz (talk) 16:06, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

Include atheist, freethought, humanist, secularist conferences?[edit]

Could someone or several people please help me here, to find a solution in demarcating the differences and similarities between skepticism, atheism, freethought, humanism, secularism etc. and whether all of those conferences should be included in the list of skeptical conferences or not? Thanks. Nederlandse Leeuw (talk) 13:53, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

Comment on the WikiProject X proposal[edit]

Hello there! As you may already know, most WikiProjects here on Wikipedia struggle to stay active after they've been founded. I believe there is a lot of potential for WikiProjects to facilitate collaboration across subject areas, so I have submitted a grant proposal with the Wikimedia Foundation for the "WikiProject X" project. WikiProject X will study what makes WikiProjects succeed in retaining editors and then design a prototype WikiProject system that will recruit contributors to WikiProjects and help them run effectively. Please review the proposal here and leave feedback. If you have any questions, you can ask on the proposal page or leave a message on my talk page. Thank you for your time! (Also, sorry about the posting mistake earlier. If someone already moved my message to the talk page, feel free to remove this posting.) Harej (talk) 22:48, 1 October 2014 (UTC)

Gunung Padang[edit]

excuse me if this is the wrong place, but this article is in desperate need of help [1] Gunung Padang. It is full of claims of ancient pyramids dating back before the last ice ages. Someone involved in the Wikipedia should see at it. Please. For the love of God. 172.56.30.120 (talk) 05:18, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

Looking for a good editor[edit]

Hi,

A journalist is inquiring about a response to claims by an "energy psychology" practitioner that WIkipedia is biased against "holistic therapies". He is apparently a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and he suggests that our entries Energy medicine and Emotional Freedom Techniques have deliberately excluded relevant peer-reviewed scientific research.

I'm looking for someone willing to engage on this topic. Preferably someone with appropriate scientific credentials themselves, but barring that, an excellent and level-headed Wikipedia editor with intimate knowledge of this area would be good.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:04, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

If no one else comes forward, I would be happy to talk to the journalist. I can be contacted through my user page. But I will defer to more active participants in this project if someone else would like to speak to the journalist. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 16:25, 3 October 2014 (UTC)
@Jimbo Wales: Do you have any more specifics about the conflict? Nothing is obviously jumping out at me on either of the talk pages, so it seems like it would be hard to discuss the particular reasoning used.0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 16:53, 3 October 2014 (UTC)
I too am not seeing relevant peer reviewed research proposed for inclusion on the talk pages. Some specifics from the edit history might be useful in providing examples/context. Has this peer reviewed research been posted to the talk pages of the articles? Has content from this research been added then removed? Absent examples the claim seems rather vague. I would assume a journalist would have done some research into the editing and discussion of these two articles and be able to provide examples of edits, discussions and excluded research.
Of note the WP:Fringe theories/Noticeboard is considerably more active than this project and a good place to bring a discussion of the editing of these two articles and of interpretation and application of policy regarding alt/fringe medicine. Similarly the WikiProject Medicine talk page is another active venue where these topics and editing this kind of article are discussed. As the articles present biomedical information there has likely been vigorous application of WP:MEDRS. I have been active in quite a few discussions on reliable sources, MEDRS, alternative and fringe topics and would be happy to discuss the subject. I don't hold much in the way of credentials but I am fairly well versed in policy, decent at finding and assessing research and generally level headed. I can be reached on my talk page or via email.
I am willing to look at this peer reviewed research, post it to the talk pages and engage in the discussion and editing of the articles. This might provide the best possible understanding of the WP process to a journalist. - - MrBill3 (talk) 07:40, 4 October 2014 (UTC)
I'd be happy to help. I'm a scientist and peer reviewer for the Journal of Clinical Psychology. I am almost done with my PhD in Clinical Psychology at IIT (thesis proposed/collecting data) but am not an "expert" on either Energy medicine and Emotional Freedom Techniques. I have a solid background in assessing pseudoscientific literature and have previously read both articles. Like the above editors, I do not know of any peer-reviewed Wikipedia articles from respected journals being "deliberately excluded" from either article. Please feel free to direct the journalist here or to my talk page. And as mentioned above, direct links to the attempted suppression would make for a more informative discussion. Dkriegls (talk to me!) 03:31, 8 October 2014 (UTC)

Michael Shermer sexual assault allegations[edit]

I have initiated a discussion on this controversy given detailed mentions in multiple reliable sources.--The Devil's Advocate tlk. cntrb. 06:41, 9 October 2014 (UTC)