Talk:Al Seckel/Archive 1

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Notice: The entries of this archive made between 10:04 June 5 and 00:40, 8 June 2006 have been deleted in response to potential libel issues.


This person is clearly notable and I will contest any Afd. The fact that he wrote his own article does not mean it should be automatically deleted, but it should be reviewed more closely. In this case, I believe he is notable but the articles needs cleanup and an NPOV rewrite. Afd is not the way to deal with something like this. Thatcher131 03:00, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

It sill needs a lot of work. I cut it down to about a third of the original size, cutting out material that will NEVER get past WP:NPOV and WP:V. It has almost no citations, which is a huge problem. But it's looking better. JDoorjam Talk 03:06, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
That is a fantastic first pass. I have some sources that may be able to help with the two legal cases mentioned. Thatcher131 03:20, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
I pulled up some old LA Times articles on Seckel, too. Will be adding shortly. Thatcher131 15:35, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Hi, Thank you for editing the entry about me. Do you need references, I can give them, but did not know how to post citations. I am not familiar with this editing process. It is far more complex than the human brain. In any case, thank you for helping. Appreciatively, Al

The Feynman/Seckel stories can be found at

Let me know what you need. Thanks! Al

Needed references

Legal threats and/or possible libel removed

  • It is also wikipedia policy that No legal threats will be tolerated on the wiki. If you have a concern that can not be addressed here you can take it directly to the Foundation but do not post legal threats on wikipedia. It is also a guideline that people should not write articles about themselves. I will consider your claims and those of Tmciver, but keeping foremost in mind wikipedia's policies on reliable sources, verifiability and No original research. In short, neither negative nor positive information will be included unless it can be verified through the applicable policies. It would be extremely useful if you could provide information about any biographies of yourself that have been published (not self-published) in a traditional reliable source such as a magazine or book (that has an independent editorial process). At the present time the article is reasonable neutral; I am at work now and editing wikipedia is not part of my job description. Thatcher131 14:54, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

It would help to know the name of the supreme court case in which Seckel helped write the amicus brief so I can pull up the citation. Also, are there any references to Seckel's specific participation in the Popoff debunking? Thatcher131 06:21, 5 June 2006 (UTC).

I was running the Southern California Skeptics during the time of the Peter Popoff invesitigation, many of our members, and magicians, including myself, along with other skeptical organizations were a part of this investigation, which is what I wrote. I did not claim sole responsibilty for this invesitigation. This is all documented in the article, "God's Frequency is 38.17 Mhz: The Investigation of Peter Popoff. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).

  • Found a Popoff ref in the Popoff article. It's cited as a book chapter but looks more like a magazine article. Can someone clarify? Thatcher131 06:55, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Supreme Court case is Edwards v. Aguillard; the amicus brief is here: There is no mention anywhere of Seckel's "sponsoring" or "writing" the brief. Gell-Mann initiated and led it; lawyers wrote it; Seckel wrote *about* it, claiming credit for himself. I wrote to Lehmann and co-author Kaufman to confirm this. 07:33, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

THIS IS NOT TRUE. One can see the article in Skeptical Inquirer, written by myself and Jeffrey Lehman, entitled "Science, Creationism, and the U.S. Supreme Court," The Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 11, Winter, 1986-87. There are also numerous newspaper articles at the time, which will verify the original claims. Furthermore, both Jeffrey Lehman and Murray Gell-Mann will verify the original statements, and I will be happy to provide their exact contact information. Furthermore, Michael Shermer, who presently runs the Skeptics wrote a scholarly piece about the U.S. Supreme Court case, which extensively relied on interviews with me, Jeffrey Lehmann, and Murray Gell-Mann, as well as others. I don't have the cite for the Shermer's article, but he is intimately aware of my involvement and heading up the case as originally described. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).

In the lengthy article from the Skeptical Inqurier (referenced below), written by Jeffrey Lehman, Beth Kaufman, and Al Seckel, it states: "How the Brief Came About. The idea for a friend-of-the court brief was first discused by SCS Executive Director Al Seckel and his friend Jeffrey Lehman, who had just finished clerking for Supreme Court Justice Stevens. Seckel went to the Skeptics' Board of Directors for approval, and Lehaman apprached fellow lawyer Beth Kaufman becaus of her interest in religon cases. The SCS board agreed to help put together and fund a brief on the scientific community. ...SCS Board Member Murray Gell-Mann (also a CSICOP Fellow) agreed to send letters to other scientific organizations and to the US Nobel laureas in science and medicine asking for their participation and support of the brief..."

  • Contacting sources would violate policy barring original research. I will keep your other sources in mind and look for them when I have time.Thatcher131 15:02, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Seckel had nothing to do with the Popoff investigation, except to write about it later (and claim credit for it). I was in SCS at the time, and tried to interest Seckel in Popoff when he came to L.A. for a big show, but Seckel was uninterested. Later, when Randi disclosed results of his completed investigation, Seckel suddenly got interested. Legal threats and/or possible libel removed —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tmciver (talkcontribs)

  • I tagged a couple of your claims with "citation needed". If you are unfamiliar with the footnoting system we use you can put the references here and I will insert them for you. Otherwise unsourced negative information should probably be removed just as unsourced praise should be. Thatcher131 11:26, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

The NY Times article crediting Gilman as creator of the Darwin Fish was 11 Feb 2003, and is online at It does not mention Seckel.

THIS WAS BECAUSE THE REPORTER FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES WAS UNAWARE OF MY INVOLVEMENT AND ONLY SPOKE TO EVOLUTION/DESIGN. The other two articles (^ Sarah Lubman. "Fish fight looms over bumper ornament", Albany, NY Times-Union (via Knight-Ridder News Service), December 26, 1995.

^ "Origin of a Species of Car Emblems", San Jose Mercury News, December 11, 1995.) were much more authoratitative, and spoke to many witnesses, not just me, who verified the information about the origin of the Darwin fish, and actually looked into the evidence, which was actually printed and dated material for the creation of the Darwin Fish, which far predated any claims by Gillian. Evolution/Design could never show any designs prior to 1990, when we had designs on postmarked and dated newsletters from the early 80s, numerous witnesses from the two groups who purchased the design in the early 80s, and correspondence about our letting other groups use it. This is detailed and reported in the two articles I cited on the Darwin Fish entry. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

  • What is the court case title and venue? I may be able to look it up. Without such information, an article in the Times (unless you can get them to print a retraction) meets the definition of a reliable source where your personal assertions do not. This is not meant to disparage you. See the policy on No original research. Thatcher131 15:02, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Again, I do not need you to rely on my personal assertions, just look at the two articles that I previously cited. These were comprehensive articles (the NY Times piece was not, and you can make a case out of anything by leaving out half the facts).

I edited out Seckel's implied claims of direct involvement in the Popoff investigation. As for chronology of SCS's collapse and Seckel's illness, Pat Linse is the best source.

AFAIK all information about Seckel's illness comes from Seckel himself -- not a reliable source. As already mentioned, Saucer Smear published some items reporting on SCS and the Seckel Scandal. I have copies.

Legal threats and/or possible libel removed

'I have original copies of ALL articles (in their publication form) from these newspapers that have appeared, and would be happy to fax them over.'

Seckel's book citations seem more or less accurate, but it is instructive to check out his entry some years ago in Contemporary Authors. There he claimed a number of books "in press" that do not exist. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tmciver (talkcontribs)

Legal threats and/or possible libel removed I would be happy to fax over copies of my hospital reports from Kaiser Sunset, which document quite clearly my illness, which caused the Skeptics to collapse. Furthermore, there are numerous witnesses to my hospital illness, and this is a perfect example of how this person is unreliable in what he is saying about my biography and career. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Hofstadter did indeed write a preface to one of his books. I wrote to Hofstadter about this and I wish I could reprint his reply, but it was a private email.

Legal threats and/or possible libel removed

Legal threats and/or possible libel removed ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS GO TO to type in my name and my books will appear, do a google search under images, and you will see the actual title pages of the books appearing (all of them, including their translations into many languages). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

  • There is not problem with your bibliography; it was simply too long. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a resume. Picking ten was somewhat arbitrary but there has to be some reasonable limit. If you prefer a different ten you can switch them around. Thatcher131 15:02, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Legal threats and/or possible libel removed I have not published any published work with any other magician. Nor was one listed. Articles that were listed by me (in my list) cited all co-authors. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

  • And I have not acted on it. Thatcher131 15:02, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Thank you for offering to aid with some of the citations. I greatly resent having to spend all this time cleaning up after the mess Seckel has made Legal threats and/or possible libel removedSeckel's initial entry should not have been accepted. Compare it with the current version as edited by me, yourself, and others. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tmciver (talkcontribs)

Legal threats and/or possible libel removed Go to amazon and read the reviews of my books, and his only sources, are his "own" private investigations and his written attacks in such magazines as saucer smear.

Again, I will quote from a letter (although marked confidential) it was sent to Michael Shermer, President of the Skeptic's Society, dated 25 February 1997 from Dr. Elie Shneour, President of Biosystems:

removed confidential e-mail without evidence that posting on wikipedia is permitted


One of the issues brought up by Tmciver (talk · contribs) who nominated the article for deletion is that the claims that Seckel and Feyman had a close relationship are false. There is no way to judge the truth of that per wikipedia policy on verifiability and reliable sources. (We like to include facts that can be verified, not "truth", which often can't). However it looks like the article's claim for a relationship come from a Feynman "Fan" web site, and may have been put there by Seckel, so while the claim that the relationship is a lie can not be verified per policy, neither can the claim that it did exist. So I removed it pending further verification. Thatcher131 06:54, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Thank you for removing it. There are many biographies and reliable sources about Feynman. Not one of them mentions Seckel. Every single story about Seckel's claimed friendship with Feynman comes from Seckel himself. Legal threats and/or possible libel removed 08:05, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

I HAVE HANDWRITTEN LETTERS FROM FEYNMAN HIMSELF, which document otherwise. I am happy to fax those over. Furthermore, I am referenced in the definitive biography of Feynman by James Glick, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, Pantheon Books, 1992, on page 442, Among the many other colleagues, students, friends, and observers of Feynman who helped me by submitting to interviews or providing written recollections....Al Seckel...
Legal threats and/or possible libel removed Williams will be happy to tesify to the counter. I can privately provide his phone number for direct confirmation that McIver's claim is untrue.
I also have a tape of a lecture that Williams gave at Caltech, where he specifically spoke about our positive relationship. Legal threats and/or possible libel removed. Furthermore, I have a copy of a taped lecture (the Presidential lecture) sponsored by former Cornell University President Jeffrey Lehman, where WIlliams was in the audience, and directly referred to by myself for his influence on my career. I dedicated the lecture to him. Also, Lehman's positive remarks about me (as well as our involvement together on the amicus brief) are also on the tape (he invited me to Cornell). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

  • I removed the MacArthur and CalTech affiliations rather than leave them commented as unverifiable; for two reasons. First, an encyclopedia should say what is, not what isn't. Second, its unneccessarily negative on Seckel. If one or the other of the claims had blown up into a major scandal, it would be mentioned as part of the scandal. As it is now, better to remove unsourced information that is contested. Thatcher131 11:19, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Also, on the Koch website: (I am referenced as part of the lab) You can also visit my home page at Caltech (server now down, so use the cached version):

You want a reliable source, check out Science (Vol 275), no 5301 7 Februrary 1997, p. 792. (a rather reliable science journal! Not like Saucer Smear) states, "Al Seckel and Christof Koch, computational neuroscientists at the California Institute of Technology, have created...., —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Thank you for removing MacArthur and Caltech claims. Seckel should not have made these claims in the first place. Since he did, I corrected them. It ought to be easy to check with Caltech about his claimed status as Research Fellow there, but they are curiously unwilling to answer inquiries about him. Strange for such an eminent Caltech scientist. Strange also he was never listed in the Caltech directory the many times I checked. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tmciver (talkcontribs)

I have correspondence (letters and e-mail) verifying my involvement with the MacArthur Foundation and would happy to supply them (with the exception of my confidential recommendations), but can verify that I was officially involved in this process and appointed by the MacArthur Foundation.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)
THIS AGAIN IS NOT TRUE. I WAS PRESENT IN THE LABORATORY WHEN MCIVER CALLED and asked about me, and they told him that I was there. He continued to make claims against me, ignoring the positive affirmation. I stopped my affiliation with Caltech over a year ago, which I stated in my biography. I am no longer with Caltech, and so there is no misrepresentation. I can also provide all my forms, caltech ID, etc. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Strange too that the "world's leading expert on visual and other illusions" (Seckel's own description of himself in his Wikipedia entry) is not cited at all in peer-reviewed scientific literature. That indicates no real scientific research. This is easy to confirm.Tmciver 15:35, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Look at some of the reviews of my books on by leading people in the field, and then, my acting as a judge appointed by the European Vision Science Society, as well as the American Vision Sciences Society, where I was both a judge and sponsor of the illusion events together with collegues from Harvard, etc.
it should be noted that all of McIver's unsubstantiated claims come from a totally un peer reviewed source, "Saucer Smear," which is written by people who are devotely and passionately believing in extraterrestrials taking over and visiting the earth in flying saucers.... Need I say more? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Too many publications

There are too many books and articles listed, I believe. This is an encyclopedia entry, not a curriculum vitae. However, they may be useful in the interim to suggest references that could be used. Books and articles that are kept should have ISBN numbers and/or full bibliographic data added. If someone wants to trim, or has an idea of especially important ones that should be kept, please say so. Thatcher131 06:54, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Pat Linse is listed as co-author of some articles. Now at Skeptics Society, she is an *excellent* source of information about Seckel, having worked with him daily for years at SCS. I strongly urge she be consulted about Seckel's work, publications, and ethics. 07:41, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

  • That would violate wikipedia's prohibition on Original Research. If Linse, or someone else, would publish a critical review of Seckel's history in a reliable source (like a book or magazine) that could be used as a source, but personal information can not, even if Linse came here herself to edit the article. (Somewhere in the policies verifibility, No original research, or reliable sources there is a good concise explanation of why this is so. (And yes, Seckel's personal recollections about himself are equally problematic, which is why this article has needed attention.) Thatcher131 11:08, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

I realize this. I meant that Wikipedian editors could ask Linse themselves, simply for their own enlightenment, so that they could better judge Seckel's claims. I do have a copy of the lengthy complaint about Seckel she and others sent to Klass, but it has not been published.Tmciver 15:41, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Of this list of publications, there are no significant articles. They are all unoriginal secondary reporting that do not credit the primary sources. Many are mere leaflets or rewrites of research of others (e.g. The Man Who Could Read Record Grooves, which simply repeats Randi's published results without proper credit) 02:49, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Legal threats and/or possible libel removed When McIver originally made these claims to the editors of the newspapers they asked him to back his claims. He could not. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)


I am not sure what to say about CSICOP. Originally the article made no mention of CSICOP, so to add the information that CSICOP was embarrassed by SCS seems gratuitous. Just as an article should not go out of its way to praise its subject it should not go ouot of its way to attack its subject. If there were financial or administrative problems with SCS that might be noteworthy since Seckel's founding of SCS is part of the article. Do you have a more specific citation for Hanson's comments (or Moseley 1991)? I've got access to a pretty big library system and if there is a history of CSICOP that mentions SCS and/or Seckel I'd like to check it out. Thatcher131 11:26, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

In the mid-1980s there were numerous articles in CSICOP's journal Skeptical Inquirer touting Seckel and SCS, and pieces written by him.

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Seckel also claimed in his Wikipedia entry that Shermer's Skeptics Society is simply a continuation of his old SCS. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Legal threats and/or possible libel removed —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tmciver (talkcontribs)

Legal threats and/or possible libel removed —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Legal threats and/or possible libel removed —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tmciver (talkcontribs)

 He states things that I never stated, and then, tries to use those statements to discredit me.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 

As for citations, I can give you specifics for many Skeptical Inquirer articles touting Seckel or written by him, but SI should be readily available. Hanson's comments were originally published in a parapsychology journal and are on the Web at Moseley 1991 is an article in Jim Moseley's newsletter Saucer Smear, which (before I had ever heard of Saucer Smear) published items Legal threats and/or possible libel removedt.Tmciver 14:53, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

  • I want to thank you (Tmciver) for providing information about relevant newspaper articles, sources and so forth. However, I am concerned that you have begun to add negative information without proper sources, seemingly to disparage Seckel. removed reference to deleted information In fact, going by wikipedia's policy on reliable sources, I would be within policy to state as fact that Seckel graduated from Cornell (because it was stated in an LA Times article) and to entirely ignore your rebuttal, which is based on your personal investigation and a self-published newsletter called Saucer Smear. That's not to disparage you but is simply a result of policy based on the fact that I don't know you or Seckel, removed reference to deleted information And a self-published newsletter from 1991 falls into the same category as blogs today. (Frankly, I am not at all impressed with the article from The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, which is basically a POV attack piece that spends an inordinate amount of time attacking CSICOP for being composed of white male atheists.)
We particularly need to avoid allegations of wrongdoingremoved reference to deleted information unless they are backed up by published credible sources. This is not only to be fair to the subject but to keep wikipedia out of legal trouble. Adhering to rules about verifiability will also help if and when Mr. Seckel comes back to check his article and sees your comments. Neither I nor any other wikipedia editor can be in a position of moderating a "he said/he said" debate and trying to decide which person is more credible, so we rely on published credible sources. (Or think if you were reading or reviewing a scientific article and the author made a controversial claim and only cited "personal communication" or "unpublished results.")
I would be interested in pursuing the end of the SCS and the formation of The Skeptics Society but only if there are reliable published sources (The Skeptical Inquirer (CSICOP) and Skeptic (Skeptics Society) might be acceptable as primary sources under the policy depending on what they say.) If as you say this is something CSICOP refuses to discuss then it may forever remain information that insiders all know but which does not meet standards for inclusion into an encyclopedia.
I want to thank you again for your perspective, comments and sources. You will see I kept the alternate story of the Darwin fish (and even amended the Darwin fish article) and amended the information about Popoff and the role of SCS (as opposed to Seckel personally) in the creation science case. None of the sources on the Norman library you cited were specifically critical of Seckel. I rewrote the section based on information from the Times, the Sun article is just an AP stub (or at least what comes up in Lexis/Nexis) and the Washington Business Journal is an uncritical piece (as one would expect from such a publication). If you have other citations please provide them, and feel free to make other contributions to the article, but be careful not to add negative information that does not have reliable sources. Thatcher131 02:58, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Negative information and original research

As a Wikipedia novice, I re-edited some before reading your comments above. I wish to thank you for taking time to look into Seckel's claims, and my corrections of same. Legal threats and/or possible libel removed Nothing can be added to Seckel's entry if Seckel himself did not originally mention it?!! Likewise with Seckel's relation to CSICOP, which was featured in numerous Skeptical Inquirer pieces and by Seckel himself at the time. Of course he did not mention it in his original self-promotion piece for Wikipedia. This is something that an outside editor must add.

Legal threats and/or possible libel removed

Saucer Smear and Psychical Research journal may be publications to be wary of (though Prometheus Press published Moseley's book), but the passages quoted are true, and relevant to this entry. As far as reliability, the information can be independently confirmed,Legal threats and/or possible libel removed

As far as "he said/he said" issues, again Seckel's word is accepted unless laboriously documented to be false, while some of my verifiable objections (when unpublished, or in "dubious" publications) are not. There is an unfair asymmetry here: Seckel's original entry is assumed to be true, while my objections are not. This is why I suggested AFD in the first place. Seckel's own opinion of himself and version of events--i.e. mere "personal communication" from him--is not a "credible published source," but is accepted by wikipedia as default truth, while my rebuttals are not.

Re pursuing the CSICOP issue, this may indeed remain covered up. Seckel and CSICOP did however make much of their relationship with each other. I made a point of it in order to provide evidence with which to judge Seckel's reliability as a source. Unfortunately, many insiders are *not* aware of the situation, because no one but the "dubious" publications chose to report on it. BTW, I have all the old SI journals, plus Seckel's SCS Laser newsletters.

Thank you for editing the Darwin fish section and archives section. Again, my insertions were added to show Seckel's version was misleading. Since AFD was rejected, a third party version such as yours is far preferable to Seckel's.

I just got an e-mail about Seckel from the head of the illusion contest which is revealing, but of course private and unpublished. I don't think serving as a judge for one year merits Wikipedia inclusion anyway. 05:55, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

  • I think you're mis-reading the situation. The problem is a lack of reliable sources per Wikipedia Policy for your viewpoint. removed reference to deleted information
  • removed reference to deleted information
  • Psychical Research may be a somewhat reliable source but the fact that it quotes Saucer Smear does not make Saucer Smear into a reliable source. One reason certain sources (for example, newspapers) are considered reliable is that they have lawyers to prevent liable, often have fact checkers and editors review stories, and generally publish corrections if confronted with error. A self-published newsletter (like a blog) is under no such constraints.
  • The Laser newsletter would be an acceptable primary source about what Seckel wrote or claimed about the SCS. However you have no reliable counter-source. removed reference to deleted information
  • The result is that your statement, "we can't put anything in the article that wasn't in Seckel's original version" is mostly true because you want to put in negative things that can't be verified per wikipedia policy. (The Darwin fish is an obvious exception because we do have a source that differs with Seckel's account.) I'm sorry, I really am. removed reference to deleted information If you want some other perspectives you could post a question at the Village Pump, a gathering place for miscellaneous policy questions.
  • There is one alternative and I'm stupid for not thinking of it earlier (it's very late here). The rules for the External Links section are more relaxed because it's not wikipedia content. You can add one or two links to external web sites critical of Seckel and label them as such. Neutral point of view, balance, and prohibitions against link spamming mean you need to keep it to one or two--you can't flood the article--but if you have set up, or wish to set up, or know of, a critical web site or two you can add them to the external link section. (The label should not be problematic in and of itself, "Web site critical of Seckel's role in the SCS" or "Web site questioning Seckel's scientific credentials" would be fineremoved reference to deleted information.
  • Hope this helps. I really as on your side as far as policy allows in this case. Thatcher131 06:42, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

General reply to Al Seckel

First, as I noted on your talk page, please sign your comments and do not split the comments of other editors, it makes the discussion hard to follow. It would also help to indent your replies by beginning each paragraph with a colon.

Second, I understand your concerns completely. When I said I was on Tmciver's side "as far as policy allows" that is equally true of you. Relevant policies I have not yet mentioned include autobiography is discouraged, rules for biographies of living persons, and Neutral point of view.

Third, I want to caution both you and Tmciver that edit warring and personal attacks are not allowed here. If this talk page (or article) becomes a personal battleground, it will probably be necessary to take steps to stop it. Let's keep everyting civil, please. Also, I would remind Tmciver, should he read this, that autobiography is discouraged but not prohibited and that changes made to the article by Mr. Seckel himself are to be judged on their merit and not automatically reverted or reversed.

Fourth, this case is a perfect illustration of why biographies of living people are often a real problem. Unless you have been profiled in some venue with rigorous editing and fact checking (New Yorker, for example) then I (or any wikipedia editor) faces some real problems. I can't take one person's word over another, and I can't do anything with documents you claim to have in your possession. I don't have any way to judge the personal credibility of either one of you, and even if you presented me with your evidence and I was totally convinced, it couldn't be put in the article because that would force future editors and readers to judge my credibility. This is explained more thoroughly at No original research. Self-published or non-peer-reviewed sources may be acceptable for some purposes as primary sources but may or may not be acceptable as secondary sources. (see the Reliable source policy.

Due to the limitations imposed especially by the original source policy, it may be the best solution to have a relatively vanilla article that simply leaves out discussion of contentious issues that can not be proven one way or the other through reliable sources. I will carefully consider your individual replies above and amend the article as it seems reasonable to do so per the policy. I have access to a large academic and public library system and if necessary I can look into publications such as the Skeptical Inquirer, although this will obviously not occur on the instant. I will also watch Tmciver's contributions to make sure they conform to policy as well. It may also be that other editors will join in.

I hope this helps you understand the process and my approach to what I knew when I saw Tmciver's first comments here was going to be a problem sooner or later. I will do the best I can to ensure the article is fair and accurate and meets all applicable guidelines and policies. I will also carefully re-read rules for biographies of living persons myself. I hope you also understand that this is entirely a volunteer effort for me, and that I have a life outside of wikipedia that includes a job which unfortunately does not include "editing wikipedia" in the job description (looks over shoulder). You can contact me personally on my user talk page User talk:Thatcher131 to talk about my approach or to discuss issues regarding wikipedia in general. Specific comments about this article should continue to be left here. Thanks. Thatcher131 15:50, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Dear Thacher,

Thank you for your comments and I certainly understand all of your concerns. They are completely reasonable. I put my biographical piece up, because since I have reached a certain amount of international fame and recognition (not because of the Skeptics work, but because of my groundbreaking work in cognitive science and illusions, which I am most proud of -- to me my involvement in the skeptical movement is not important, although a part of my life), but because I wanted to make it fully accurate.No false claims. It would be a great disservice to me and to the credibility of Wikepedia to have postings that are libelous and lack credibility, even if they are external links to uncritical and libelous sources. To me it is akin, to the U.S. government claiming that they do not condone torture, but then secretly send prisoners to states where tortue is not only tolerated, but practiced frequently. It only hurts the credibility. I only provided credible sources and external links on my site that would be useful.

I would not be giving invited lectures to Harvard, MIT, Caltech, UCLA, USCD, UC Irvine, Boston University, Cornell, TED, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, New England Bio Labs, University of Lund, etc., etc. etc., if I was not considered a leader in my field of cognitive neuroscience. Scientists are not fools, and they would see through my work immediately. Instead, it is only met with the most positive reactions, because my work is groundbreaking. It is a tremendous offense to me to have someone (not in the field) disparage my work. Do a google search on my name and you will find countless positive disinterested references to people (in the field and out) extolling my work.

One only has to go to my home page (or amazon) to read the reviews of my books, lectures, and so forth. They stand for themselves. It is unfortunate that after trying to put up a very positive web site, which would be informational and useful to people, that someone spends an enormous amount of energy to create a negative impression and do damage to something that is positive. My books are positive, well-liked, and get young and old alike to enjoy the pleasure of finding things out, and be inspired into the terrific mysteries of the human mind and perception. I try to make this world a better place by creating positive and good things, not disparaging others.

It is disheartening to me, and I hope that you can understand, that someone is obsessed with trying to rob me of my intellectual creativity, intellectual background, and other achievements in a totally negative way. For example, my close relationship with Dick Feynman, which as I stated above (contrary to his statements) is noted in his definitive biography and elsewhere, especially in his own handwritten letters to me. That is a credible source. I did not put up the Feynman-On-Line site, it was put up by his close friend Ralph Leighton, who certainly was present durin our relationship.

I have had to deal with this type of nonsense from McIver, unfortunately, for years. The sources that i am providing (Science, Discover, Nature, LA Times, etc., etc.,) are peer reviewed. Saucer Smear and his statements are not. They are his alone and without any evidence or justification. they are just that. He will site articles (like the NY Times article) as authorative, but not cite the two other articles, which went into the issue in depth, interviewing scores of people, and actually talking to the attorneys, etc. His comments (even posted here or through an active web link) can have a serious impact on my career to people who are ignorant of the facts, and then want to distance themselves from any kind of controversy. In the past, I have always taken the high road of just ignoring this stuff, because it becomes endless (like trying to administer medicine to a dead patient). I have more positive constructive things to do with my life. I am only anwering this now, because of the tremendous credibility that your source provides, as well how it is referenced by people who know me.

So, I hope that we can remove all of this negativity and put things right and keep someone from disrupting this site whose sole purpose is to create a negative impression. As you have fairly pointed out, he leaves out the good, but puts in the bad, leading the person to a false conclusion.

I am sorry that you have been brought into the middle of this, and appreciate all the time that you have put into it. I hope that one day you can check out my books at Barnes and Nobles and that they will give you some joy.

Best, Al Seckel —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

  • I will do my best to balance the competing claims. I originally added in the skeptics stuff because that came up more readily to a Lexis/Nexis search, and it certainly is part of your claim to notability. If you would like to provide additional info about your work in perception, that section can be expanded. I will work on your other concerns as I have time. With luck, one or two other good editors will take an interest too. Thatcher131 17:31, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Thank you, but this is not a question of "balance," but one of merit. Again, stick to your reliable sources (such as my reference to Feynman in his definitive biography, easily available in any bookstore and completely contradicts his clams) and avoid unsubstantiated personal attacks. Yes, I would like to add to my work on perception, as that is the most interesting, and what people now are interested in, and why they will look me up. Obviously, look at the amount of books I have published on this subject, more than anyone else.... BTW, they are cool books, look them up, fun, informative, and interesting.

Appreciatively, Al —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)


Given that this article was mainly written by it's subject, it requires a full once-over with the POV comb. Let's get started. Hipocrite - «Talk» 20:44, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

  • It may be premature for that. I am already in the process of working with both involved parties and I have a number of reference citations I have not yet added. It may take a day or two to go through all the comments by both parties and my collected material. I would like to remove the POV-check tag and then repost it once my rewrites are complete. That will actually help me because I can restore some of the more favorable self-references that Seckel wants but which I would normally be uncomfortable with (and McIver would object to) and then have the article gone over by a third and fourth set of eyes. Thatcher131 20:48, 7 June 2006 (UTC)
      • Super. I'll tag the article when I think it's ready. Thatcher131 20:53, 7 June 2006 (UTC)