Talk:Sri Chinmoy/Archive 1

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DO NOT EDIT OR POST REPLIES TO THIS PAGE. THIS PAGE IS AN ARCHIVE.

This archive page covers approximately the dates between 12 May 2003 and 22 September 2005.

Post replies to the main talk page, copying or summarizing the section you are replying to if necessary.

Please add new archivals to Talk:Sri_Chinmoy/Archive02. (See Wikipedia:How to archive a talk page.) Thank you.

Archive 1 is 97 kilobytes. It mostly discusses NPOV, cult/anti-cult issues, what constitutes reputable sources and good faith research, what is peer review, what is religious vilification material, what policies religion editors follow, whether or not religious tolerance should be a factor when editing, and what types of references are appropriate to represent the anti-cult POV. Contributors: Alex576, Maikel, Fencingchamp, Fadix, Andries, Zappaz, and Rozencrantz. Thanks again to all contributors. Fencingchamp 08:35, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

Neutrality

I'm not sure if this is material that belongs in the article, but I have found much controversy regarding Sri Chinmoy on the internet. In the interest of the NPOV I've put it in the article, but I am also putting it here, so if someone removes it that we have a copy here so anyone can research this further to determine what the NPOV policy should be on this matter. Alex756


Controversy regarding Sri Chinmoy==
Several of his former followers have made allegations about various aspects of their relations with Sri Chinmoy and former disciples who were members of his centre. In an attempt to prevent a balanced view of this controversy links to the official Sri Chinmoy and various sites critizing him can be found below.
External links==

Dead Links

I've noticed that there have been links that have become dead, however much of the information on those sites can be found on the Yahoo discussion list which does not appear to have been edited out of existence. This post will give the reader some background:

More Neutrality

I dispute the neutrality of this article; it is far too eulogistic for an organisation that is at the very least questionable; also the statement "as with many spiritual leaders, there are allegations that his group is a cult organization" makes it sound as if being accused of running a cult was an occupational hazard for folks who have a knack for the spiritual. --Maikel 6 July 2005 12:21 (UTC)

Well, as far as I know, it is. Rozencrantz 16:30, 22 September 2005 (UTC)

New Edit Addressing Neutrality

Subsequent to the NPOV dispute banner being added on 6-July-2005, I have edited the page on 5-August-2005.

I have edited the disputed language (history below):

Legacy Language Disputed by Maikel:

"As with many spiritual leaders, there are allegations that his group is a cult organization."

Maikel's Edit of Disputed Language:

"There are frequent allegations that the Sri Chinmoy organisation is a religious cult."

My New Language:

"There is anti-cult material vilifying Sri Chinmoy, but most reputable publications subject to peer review appear to regard him as a qualified teacher, and do not describe his organization as a cult."

I believe this is more accurate, comes closer to NPOV, and also properly frames the underlying issue: Wikipedia policy discourages using sources which "shoot from the hip," where there is no fact-checking or peer review, or where there is the presumption of extreme negative bias (e.g., Socialist Workers' Party magazine as a source on President Bush).

Edit of External Links

I have removed the following links to sites apparently published by Sri Chinmoy Centre, because such links seemed excessive:

I have added links to articles from third party sources such as Hinduism Today, USA Today, the Columbia Encyclopedia, and the BBC. Under the heading "Anti-Cult Movement Perspective" I have also added the following link:

http://www.csj.org/infoserv_groups/grp_eastern/chinmoy/grpindex_srichinmoy.htm

This is a link to the Cultic Studies Journal, a.k.a. the American Family Foundation. This link differs from past anti-cult links in that it appears to lead to material which has undergone some type of peer review and is not merely a rehash of message board fodder.

I have intentionally used very sparse captions for the links in order to avoid the appearance of puffery. For example, the previous version contained:

I have changed this to something short, simple, and neutral:

In general, I've tried to move this article forward by an inch or two, but it can still use a lot of work.

Suggestions

Short term, I suggest that supporters of Sri Chinmoy not add more links to sites published by Sri Chinmoy Centre, and not add offbeat comments like "Dirka Dirka Mageehad." I also suggest that those who take the anti-cult POV use only material which meets Wikipedia policy regarding reputable publications, no original research, and verifiability:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:No_original_research

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Verifiability

It might be good if those making edits add a little something to the talk page explaining what they're doing and why. This may help the article to slowly evolve into something better than it is today.

If someone is doing extensive edits, they may want to use the sandbox to try out their edits, keep using Show Preview, and not resave the Sri Chinmoy page until their edits are complete. This will prevent clutter on the history page.

Long term, I hope that a more thorough article on Sri Chinmoy's life and teachings may be developed - one which adheres to a rigorous standard of scholarship, maintains high ethics throughout, and contains more fresh writing with less reliance on external links. The more thorough and well-developed the article, the less likely that the Sri Chinmoy page on Wiki will further degenerate into an endless "link war."

While religion is a "soft" subject, scientific methods have been developed for its study. Most scholars favor "ethically neutral" enquiry, in which the point is not to quickly assign a label or value judgement, but rather to find out what religious adherents believe and how they practice. An article which bogs down in labeling issues, or straw polls of public sentiment, is not giving readers the highest quality information.

Like most formal systems, NPOV can be manipulated. It is ultimately up to human beings to act with integrity and high ethics, navigating carefully between potential pitfalls, and keeping in mind that how one defines or describes people dictates how they are treated in society. This doesn't mean we should skew the data in order to achieve a socially desirable result, but we should remember that if we unfairly smear a person or group, they will suffer the consequences in their daily lives. It is never the duty of responsible encyclopedists to disseminate false information under the mistaken impression that this "balances" true information on the same subject.

It is inappropriate to include anti-Semitic material in a basic article about Judaism. This principle has wider applicability when writing about other religions. We make a good faith effort to separate factual material which accurately represents the beliefs and practices of religious adherents from material which attempts to vilify and stereotype them.

There are anti-Catholic sites on which the late Pope John Paul II may be portrayed as a member of the "Jewish banking conspiracy" or accused of cavorting with naked native women. Should these points of view be included in a short biography? I would argue no. The mandate to include all points of view should not be interpreted with impish literalism. One chooses from among responsible points of view, recognizing that propagandists often seek to manipulate public debate by circulating scurrilous material - particularly on the Internet, where the decentralized nature of the medium and lack of regulatory structure makes it difficult to ensure accuracy.

As writers we want to be fair, yet we can be manipulated. The journalistic method is to present "both sides of a story." This can make it easy for opponents of any person or group to manufacture a false controversy on the Internet. In trying to be faithful to NPOV, we must be careful not to be taken in by Internet hoaxes, rumor panics, or material contrived for the purpose of destroying the reputation of an eminent person.

Was Mother Teresa a heroin addict? Of course not! No one has ever claimed such an absurd thing. But float that rumor enough times, or create a fictional narrative about meeting Mother Teresa in a shooting gallery, and some journalist will report on it in an effort to get "both sides of the story." (This is only a hypothetical example.)

A good editor is not persuaded by the mere loudness of the din created by Internet hoaxes and rumor panics. She keeps her head, and develops a knack for weeding out disinformation and crackpot sources. Very few stories about 9/11 bother to mention the crank conspiracy theory that the World Trade Center was attacked by Israeli intelligence operatives. Seasoned reporters instinctively filter out such nonsense - or where mentioning it at all, point out its implausibility.

One need not "eulogize" a religious group, but one also need not throw darts at them simply for the sake of appearing to achieve NPOV. In some cases, the material gathered from reputable publications will reflect a consensus that the group is benign. If so, one should have the courage to let the article reflect the research.

NPOV Dispute Banner

I have not removed the dispute banner because I would like to give others a chance to consider my edits. Thank you. Fencingchamp 07:23, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia is NOT a place for cultists to dump their claims and positions there

This article not only lack of neutrality, but also of factuality. While the above user, explains us why the critics of Chinmoy should not be presented, he is missing the entire notion of NPOV. Yes, the critics of ANY religions, more particularly of their founders, SHOULD be included. Chinmoy is accused of very serious things, such as rape etc. And thos accusations are not limited to few individuals, there are interviews published in articles, there are various people. Thos SHOULD BE included in the article. In fact, over the years, the number of people implicated have grown. Chinmoys group have also been accused of spamming and closing websites by using threats etc. So, I would like to say to the above user to either respect Wikipedia, or find another place to dump your Chinmoyastic propaganda. Also another thing, Chinmoys accusation of frauds and picture forgeries of weight lifiting should have place to. Fadix 00:28, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

And besides, what the hell does this mean? : "There is anti-cult material vilifying Sri Chinmoy, but most reputable publications subject to peer review appear to regard him as a qualified teacher, and do not describe his organization as a cult."

More About Methodology and Ethics

Over the past two years, many people have contributed in good faith to the Sri Chinmoy article - yet it's not clear how much progress has been made. Since the article seemed stuck in the mud, I've tried in good faith to make suggestions which would address issues raised by Alex756, Maikel, and others. Some suggestions are simple and practical, while others are more complex. It's not my intention to blather on endlessly, but to embed some core principles which I hope will help future Wikipedians.

People can work together over time to build an article which includes different points of view, provided they use reputable publications as required by Wikipedia policy. The situation regarding religion is a unique one, since the Internet and the tabloids contain a lot of material which no reputable publication would touch.

Religious vilification is not acceptable in a basic article about Judaism, and this principle has wider applicability when writing about other religions. There is a type of "information" - such as that found on Holocaust denial sites - which lives in its own alternate universe, quite apart from the known facts established by reputable publications subject to peer review and having relevant expertise.

Those Wikipedians writing in good faith about religion seem to have worked out ethical guidelines for dealing with religious vilification material. They strive to identify such material, and do not include it in a basic article about beliefs and practices, because to do so would be insensitive, and indeed offensive. In the case of Judaism, an example of vilification material would be The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In the case of Catholicism, an example would be The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk.

In the case of smaller, lesser known, or newer religious movements, vilification material may not announce itself so clearly, and an editor will need to look closely in order to distinguish vilification material from legitimate criticism.

The first step is to acquire basic knowledge about the religion by consulting reputable publications subject to peer review and having some expertise (not in the negative sense of publications which oppose religion). One should also consult primary sources, such as the religion's own publications. One may not be an expert in sociology or comparative religion, but one makes a good faith effort to learn as much about the religion as possible, trying to be objective and ethically neutral.

After one has a clear sense of how the religion sees itself, and how it is seen by its peers and by scholars of religion, one may also sample apostate opinion - which will often be catalogued in anti-cult publications. Now, a difficulty well known to writers on religion is that much anti-cult material will contain apostate atrocity stories designed to provoke the reader into a "red rage state" about alleged abuses, abandoning ethically neutral enquiry. Such material may seek to introduce false predicates, e.g. "Was Mother Teresa a heroin addict?" or "Was the Pope a member of the Jewish banking conspiracy?" It is the nature of such false predicates (once admitted) to overshadow serious discussion.

The Internet is a fertile source for rumor panics (a.k.a. moral panics), often fueled by the use of sock puppets. Unless one knows what to look for, one can easily get swept up in irrational mob behavior. (For a quick pop culture intro to rumor panics, see the Twilight Zone episode "Monsters are Due on Maple St.")

One may often encounter people who circulate apocryphal stories of abuse in order to legitimate the imposition of restrictions on "cults," to market their particular goods and services, or to nurse personal grudges. Responsible editors with a commitment to high ethics roll their eyes when they see warmed over Net rumors being elevated to the status of "information." They don't publish allegations of criminal wrongdoing unless such charges have been filed in a court of law. They respect due process, and don't encourage people to conduct show trials on the Internet, or in the tabloids.

The purpose of Wikipedia is not to sell newspapers or appeal to a mob mentality, but to pen articles of encyclopedic quality. An encyclopedia is for the ages, not for tomorrow's early edition. Just because Wikipedia is constructed at the grassroots level doesn't mean it should "shoot from the hip" or take potshots at the subjects of its articles. Although Wikipedia is a collaborative effort, it is based on policies specifying use of reputable publications, verifiability, and no original research.

There is, moreover, nothing novel in the ACM material concerning Sri Chinmoy. It contains stereotypical critiques which are already elucidated in articles on gurus, the anti-cult movement, and cults - all of which are linked to in the Sri Chinmoy article. For those wishing to further explore the anti-cult movement perspective, on 5 August I added an external link to the American Family Foundation (a.k.a. Cultic Studies Journal), the foremost U.S. anti-cult organization. This is more than fair.

Cult awareness groups sometimes try to discredit teachers and organizations which (in the real world) are non-controversial in their practices and have no history of abuse. They manufacture the controversy, and then claim that the group is controversial. This latter point is especially relevant to the debate over NPOV. If virtually all Eastern gurus are seen as controversial by cult awareness groups, then such groups may unfairly demand that all biographies of Eastern gurus be "balanced" with anti-cult material. Wiki does not need an anti-cult chicken in every pot.

Fadix asked me "what the hell" I meant by the following passage:

There is anti-cult material vilifying Sri Chinmoy, but most reputable publications subject to peer review appear to regard him as a qualified teacher, and do not describe his organization as a cult.

I think much of the meaning is conveyed in the links to Hinduism Today, The BBC, Columbia Encyclopedia, etc. I was responding to Maikel, looking for compromise language which would point the interested reader to Wiki articles on cults and the anti-cult movement without overshadowing the article on Sri Chinmoy. The reference to reputable publications with peer review was intended to deal delicately with the fact that previous versions of the article have relied heavily on links to message boards where "consensus" is reached through sock puppetry.

Fadix has deleted my edit and replaced it with:

Over the years, many ex-member [sic] of the cult have made charges against the guru and his followers, such as sexual abuses and harassment. And the Guru was also accused for [sic] having asked a photographer to forge pictures of weight lifting. Also his claims of weight lifting have been seen with skepticism and beyond the possibility of the human body.

It's my intention to respectfully revert, because while Fadix may be expressing his opinion in good faith, this appears to be original research, and seems to be coming from left field in that it completely ignores the issues I've raised concerning reputable publications, verifiability, and ethics. (Gratuitous use of the word "cult" is also problematic.)

A neophyte editor might write:

"Some people think the World Trade Center was attacked by Al Qaeda, while others think it was attacked by Israeli intelligence operatives."

A responsible veteran would write:

"All evidence indicates that the World Trade Center was attacked by Al Qaeda, but there is a small minority of conspiracy theorists who make the implausible claim that it was attacked by Israeli intelligence operatives."

Similarly, most reputable publications subject to peer review and having expertise in the field of comparative religion regard Sri Chinmoy as a qualified teacher of Yoga, and do not describe his organization as a "cult." There is anti-cult material vilifying him, but this material makes farfetched accusations of a stereotypical nature unsupported (and indeed contradicted) by objective evidence. Such material lives in its own alternate universe, which is a key test for vilification material. It creates a sharp cognitive dissonance with the views held by most religious scholars.

Religious vilification material has much in common with white supremacist material. It is often spread on the Internet by "lone wolves." It uses "testimonials" (personal storytelling) to drive home a gut reaction that bypasses critical thinking (e.g. "Jewish bankers stole my farm, now my kids are crying..."). It presents a minority group as the "other" - not like us, a danger to society, "savages" or sexual deviants (e.g. "The white women of Crickville are under attack from insatiable Black Devils..."). It includes elements of pseudoscience - theories from experts wearing suits and ties, holding up doctorates, and explaining why this group or that should not be given the same rights as others, and must have special laws enacted against them. In their article Hate on the Internet, Dr. Karen Mock and Lisa Armony of B'nai Brith Canada write:

Computer literacy courses, indeed most of our courses, need to be supplemented by strategies to recognize lies and propaganda, in spite of how credible the purveyors of hate may try to make them appear, so that when our youth stumble across such material, in whatever form, they will reject it.

It is never the duty of responsible encyclopedists to include hate material vilifying a person or group alongside accurate material under the mistaken impression that this results in NPOV. That is a technique used by propagandists to poison the well.

As persons of conscience, we have a duty to remain sensitive to genuine issues of abuse occurring within religious movements. At the same time, we must remain equally sensitive to the possibility that alarmists may play upon our fears by injecting false material into the debate. That is why Wikipedia insists on reputable publications, verifiability, and no original research. This does not guarantee accuracy, but at least raises the standard.

Material which has its origins in message board "testimonials" is like the dead mouse dragged in by the cat and placed on one's pillow. One doesn't wish to handle it directly; one only wants the cat to take it back where it came from. :-)

These underlying issues have perhaps kept the Sri Chinmoy article stuck in the mud. I hope that by addressing them in detail, I can help move the article along. Thank you for your patience and your courtesy. Fencingchamp 05:30, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not another of Chinmoys propaganda website

Here is comes again.

Only your claim that Chinmoys movement is not a cult clearly picture your purposes and mission. Chinmoys movement IS a cult, according to the major standards of classifications of what a cult is. Chinmoy is the guru, he has disciples, centers... he is considered as an avatar, and many of his followers meditate on his picture. This is considered as a cult by ANY standards.

And it is amazing the way you even try to play the victim side by using Holocaust denialist sites. I have studied the methodology of crime deniers, like Holocaust denialists and those that deny the Armenian genocide as well as WII Japanese crimes, and they all use the same methodologies, basically the same as those Chinmoy followers. Dismissing those that claim to be victims, accusing them, slandering them etc...

I know the subject at hand, I have spent a considerable amount of time reading bunch of testimonies, and they have all authenticity characteristics used by psychologists and psychiatrists when they testify on court in cases when the mental stability of the one that makes the accusation is questioned. All those I have read react exactly the way girls that have been raped by a member of their family react. Now, you can start all this mambo jumbo load of Chinmoyan propaganda, in Wikipedia, no one is interested. NPOV policy requires critics to be presented and continue suppressing them and you will get people on your back.

Coming to “peer reviewed” claim, you seem to have no clue on what this term really means, it is generally used to describe the process of review before a scientific abstract is published... I don't see how the BBC can be presented to confirm something, do you think people here are ignorant enough to not know the existence of other article, like the one published in the Brazilian newspaper "Gazetta de Povo" ???

Here, let quote from the translation a little bit, before Chinmoy and his multiple lawyers( he pay with the money of his brainwashed followers) shut that site too with legal threats.

Article from Brazilian newspaper "Gazetta de Povo" (translated from Portugese)

The Dark Side of "Transcendence" Followers accuse religious leader Sri Chinmoy, who heads sect with a presence in Curitiba, of sexual abuse.

By Romaen de Bruns Neto.

...

“What the plaque doesn't say is that there is a growing number of ex-followers of the spiritual leader who allege having suffered physiological and sexual abuse on the part of a man who they considered an avatar. (Divine incarnation according to the Hindu tradition.)”

...

“Once again, nothing is said about the growing number of accusations against Chinmoy. During the past weeks the Gazeta do Povo got in contact with ex-devotees who agreed that their stories be revealed. There is the case of the 40 year-old North American Anne Carlton, who entered the Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centre in 1981, In the group she received the name Phulela, a sort of "spiritual name" in Bengali (the master' s mother tongue). Anne related that she wished to join the centre as she had a very positive impression of the followers.”

...

“A Brazilian ex-follower, Psychologist Cristina Fusco 25 years old, shared a room with the Puerto Rican Rupavati on the trip when she said she had sex with Chinmoy and confirmed the nervous state of her colleague." I understood what was happening and have no doubt that these women suffered sexual abuse. In Rupavati's case, I was practically a witness and I know that I was also being prepared to participate in the sexual club", she guaranteed.”

...

“The reporter from the Gazeta do Povo, talking with followers of Sri Chinmoy and Sai Baba, noticed 3 reactions to accusations of sexual abuse: the devotee doesn't believe they are true; doesn't even want to hear the stories; or admits that the accusations are true, but that the master being "one with the Divine", can do whatever he likes, as his will is God's Will.

The professor at UFPR Victor Eduardo Silva Bento, doctor of psychoanalysis for the University of Paris, explained that these reactions correspond to the three psychic structures (make ups) of Freudian man. According to Bento, the one saying "It's not possible that it is true", is the neurotic; the one who doesn't want to hear is psychotic; and the one who justifies the actions as the master's right is perverse." The perverse is the one who tries to de-rail reality. He admits that it is true, but a legitimate truth by another law, the master is a god", he said.”

coming to the weight lifting, again, only deception, Bill Clark himself admit having doctored the certificates of autentification. Ernie Frantz the one signing the autentification of the 3081.75 lbs lift admit the forgery.

Those are really controversial issues that SHOULD be mentioned in the article, and no amount of BS will justify your suppression of information. Don't forget that Wikipedia is NOT your organizations website, and don't think Chinmoy can threaten Wikipedia like he has done with others. Fadix 04:49, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

POV tag

This tag should be included until the article is made NPOV. Which means the representation of every considerable positions. It has no critics right now, and the relevant critic sites are not present. Given that there are various ex members that report abuses per member,... the ratio is very considerable, more so than other orhanizations like the Raelians. And I know clearly what you mean by giving my chance to make my position. i know how your organization work, and know how programmed your answers will be. But all this will of course be irrelevant with the articles contant, because articles here in Wikipedia are not about what the truth is, but rather what is said about a sunject, and reading your answers, it is clear that you do not fully understand this, so before you start answering with irrelevancy, consider this. Regards. Fadix 01:55, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

Religious Tolerance and Good Faith Research

Fadix, thank you for your contributions. Please pardon me, but I feel you're being intolerant and insensitive. At the same time, I want to apologize to you. It seems that someone named Sasun unintentionally offended you. You and he began a friendly rivalry about Sri Chinmoy on an Armenian message board. Gradually this turned into a flame war, and there were strong words and hurt feelings on both sides. I was not a participant, but I apologize that Sasun - who seems fond of Sri Chinmoy's writings - exceeded the interest level of the forum. I think he meant well, and was just trying to share his enthusiasm with his friends. Sasun describes himself as a Christian - he is not with Sri Chinmoy - but perhaps he didn't realize that some fellow Armenians weren't comfortable with his quotes from Sri Chinmoy and Swami Vivekananda. Gradually (as often happens in flame wars), things spiraled out of control.

Anyway Fadix, Sasun has written that "I am crazy about you as an internet buddy and a person with many good qualities," so I hope you can please forgive him, forget the previous flame war, and not bring any residual anger to Wikipedia. You are also a veteran of the Armenian genocide edit war, so maybe you need to cool down from that too. :-) Now on to business...

Your way of "researching" Sri Chinmoy seems to involve reading anti-cult message boards, working yourself into a lather over vilification material, and reposting that material without attribution. On the Armenian message board, you made inflammatory comments which you've begun to repeat on Wikipedia.

It is inappropriate to confuse Internet postings with "testimony," or to conflate different Eastern gurus who are unrelated except by national origin. It's also inappropriate to use the long NPOV banner simply as a device to call attention to marginalia which does not meet Wikipedia's technical and ethical standards (which do exist!). This may be seen as disruptive where those using the NPOV banner make little effort to improve the article or to work in good faith with other editors.

The 10-Aug-2005 revision had internal links to cults and the anti-cult movement, but you removed that passage, so please don't complain now about lack of critical views.

I don't want to stifle legitimate critics, but rather to make room for such critics by closing the door on religious vilification material, which lowers discussion to a level well below that acceptable on Wikipedia. Describing those who speak well of Sri Chinmoy as "crime deniers" seems a technique of propaganda.

An article on Sri Chinmoy should be rooted in religious tolerance, maintain high ethics throughout, and emphasize research done by scholars recognized in the academic community as having expertise in the fields of Hinduism, Yoga, and comparative religion. Whatever good faith criticism of Sri Chinmoy such experts have to offer seems fair game for inclusion. Such scholars routinely include the perspective of critical ex-members in their studies, using triangulation to help ensure accuracy. If you can find no religious scholar willing to endorse your view that Sri Chinmoy is a "raper" and a "criminal," perhaps that view is a novel narrative or historical interpretation.

Contrary to your assertion, it's not the sole purpose of Wikipedia to include every possible view with no regard for truth, but rather to include responsible views which meet Wikipedia standards for reputable publications, verifiability, and no original research. Religion editors have also worked out ethical guidelines for dealing with vilification material, as I've discussed previously.

Deferring to scholars is not always popular on Wikipedia, and not always necessary. However, it's especially helpful when dealing with religion, because religious scholars are less likely to be subject to popular prejudices, and more likely to be able to distinguish between vilification material (a la Maria Monk) and legitimate criticism.

If religion is an academic subject about which thousands of books have been written, then perhaps it needs to be treated as such on Wikipedia. If it's just a topic for bar chat, then any two-bit opinion will do. :-) Experts do not enjoy any greater rights in the Wiki community as people, but an expert view of a complex subject is to be preferred over an amateurish and error-ridden view.

Fadix, as I understand it, you have never interviewed Sri Chinmoy, never visited any of his centres, never spoken with any of his current students, don't have a background in Hinduism, Yoga, or comparative religion, and are basing your opinion on things you've read on anti-cult sites. For some subjects, Internet research is acceptable; but the omnipresence of rumor panics and hate material poses a special problem for religion editors. Good real world scholarship is needed to separate the wheat from the chaff. As sociologist Lorne L. Dawson notes in "Doing Religion in Cyberspace: The Promise and the Perils":

The first criticism that can be made of the use of the Internet as a means of religious communication stems from the disappointingly high ratio of "junk" information online. As Kinney succinctly predicted in 1995, "... the Net will encourage a rise in ill-informed debate, unintentional misinformation, emotional disputes, and the airing of stereotypes and dirty laundry" ... The ease of access to the Internet has returned us, in some respects, to the worst days of religious pamphleteering, when fanatics of one stripe or another openly castigated the religious beliefs and practices of others. In preparing a brief guide in 1995 for students wishing to use the Internet for research on new religious movements, I was compelled already to warn students to exercise great caution... The suppressed religious bigots of this world have suddenly gained a new lease on life, and views that would never receive significant public distribution through the older means of broadcast are now consistently and readily available on the Internet.

One needs a steady temperament and nicety of judgement to avoid being sucked into a mob mentality. One should be wary of Net kooks, defined by the Jargon File as follows:

Term used to describe a regular poster who continually posts messages with no apparent grounding in reality. Different from a troll, which implies a sort of sly wink on the part of a poster who knows better, kooks really believe what they write, to the extent that they believe anything. The kook trademark is paranoia and grandiosity. Kooks will often build up elaborate imaginary support structures, fake corporations and the like, and continue to act as if those things are real even after their falsity has been documented in public. While they may appear harmless ... there are several instances on record ... of journalists writing stories with quotes from kooks who caught them unaware.

When Net kooks form eGroups, some members may specialize in posting outright kookery, while others enhance their position by trying to put a scholarly sheen on what would otherwise be seen as psychotic ravings. Collectively, they may engage in targeted e-bombing of journalists, until by the sheer law of averages some of their kookery manages to hit the target, coming to infect the popular imagination.

In a rumor panic, the popular press - far from playing a role of calmness and mediation - tends to exacerbate the problem and fuel bizarre speculations about groups not well known to the public. Although you do not source the long quote you provided under the heading "Wikipedia is not another of Chinmoys propaganda website" [sic], this appears to be copied from an anti-cult message board. A distinctive feature is that the author of the article is himself a participant in the message board. The "testimonials" referenced in the article are the same ones posted on the Internet under various pseudonyms beginning in late 2001 - which was what started the Sri Chinmoy rumor panic in the first place. That panic peaked in early 2003, and has since died down to a trickle. A few die-hards continue to try and flog this fraudulent material to the press, but it is the duty of responsible editors to resist being used in this manner. The issues at bar are:

- Properly distinguishing religious vilification material from legitimate criticism

- Not including vilification material in a basic article about beliefs and practices

- Not abandoning ethically neutral enquiry when faced with material designed to elicit a strong emotional response

As I understand your thinking, the mere existence of a large number of messages attacking Sri Chinmoy (actually posted by a fairly small number of people using sock puppets), is somehow conclusive that he has done something wrong. However, this stems from an improper understanding of hate groups on the Internet. Typically, the #1 or #2 result for the Google search "Jew" is the anti-Semitic site Jew Watch. On the front page is a request to "Please support our scholarly research," followed by an index of hundreds of anti-Semitic articles. Does the mere number of such articles prove anything other than the industry of anti-Semites? There are many similar sites containing thousands of anti-Semitic messages. Does this prove that there really is an "International Jewish Banking Conspiracy"? Should that "information" be included in a basic article about Judaism? Surely not.

To write well about religion, one needs to respect the beliefs and practices of others, which may differ from one's own. You wrote:

Chinmoys movement IS a cult, according to the major standards of classifications of what a cult is. Chinmoy is the guru, he has disciples, centers... he is considered as an avatar, and many of his followers meditate on his picture. This is considered as a cult by ANY standards.

Here you are expressing a stereotypical view. Most religious scholars don't favor the use of cult checklists or simplistic labeling. In his article "Is There a Place for 'Scientific' Studies of Religion?" Robert Wuthnow writes:

To their credit, social scientists who study religion today are much more likely to insist on in-depth analysis of specific traditions than to settle for superficial generalizations. Investigations of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism have all moved in this direction, paying closer attention to distinct practices and illuminating the internal diversity of each tradition.

To the extent that labels do sometimes determine public policy, please note that in Germany and Austria there have been court rulings that Sri Chinmoy Centre is not a "sect" and does not pose a danger. Dr. Manfred Hutter, director of the Department of Comparative Religion at the University of Bonn has stated that Sri Chinmoy Centre is an authentic path of Yoga.

Sri Chinmoy and his disciples appear to follow typical practices for Yoga-based groups. They pray, meditate, sing spiritual songs, publish books of spiritual philosophy, and organize philanthropic activities. To meditate on a picture of the guru is common practice in India and elsewhere (including Christendom).

To quote the late Pope John Paul II:

[R]eligious liberty, in the full sense of the term, is the first human right. ... To discriminate religious beliefs, or to discredit one or another form of religious practice is a form of exclusion contrary to the respect of fundamental human values and will eventually destabilize society, where a certain pluralism of thought and action should exist, as well as a benevolent and brotherly attitude.

Lively debate about religion - based on accurate information about what different groups believe and how they practice - is a good thing. It often leads to religious tolerance, acceptance of diversity, and an appreciation for the richness of spiritual traditions and innovations found throughout the world. However, it's not clear that anti-cult groups favor these ideals. They often seem to sidetrack debate by injecting false information about groups which they label pejoratively as "cults." There seems to be an underlying fear that accurate information will lead to tolerance and acceptance, while false and alarmist material will help "protect" the public.

It is, moreover, difficult to sell $5,000 cult interventions without making a sales pitch which involves "rescuing" the target from alleged "cult abuse." The marketplace therefore demands legends of "cult abuse" to help spur sales.

Such legends are often manufactured in ex-cult "support groups" where people are routinely exposed to vilification material, given a new identity as "cult victims," told that their former teacher is an "abuser," and urged to "come forward" with tales of abuse which will help persuade others to "leave the cult." The resulting "testimonials" have little credibility because the participants were pressured, coached, and told to model their narratives after pre-existing material attacking other Eastern gurus.

This is not to say that no religious groups ever act abusively. Tragically, they sometimes do. But since there are many false reports, one should study the group directly and take help from scholars with relevant expertise. One should view with skepticism reports which contradict available evidence, which do not appear to have any objective correlation in the real world, and which - after enjoying brief popularity as rumor panics - have been consigned to history's dustbin.

Religious vilification material laced with elements of pornography appeals to those who want to think the worst of a religion. It fills a psychological need, so people do not question it too deeply. (This explains the popularity of The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk.) There are Net kooks who post all kinds of pornographic trash; but if one looks more closely, one may note that such "testimonials" are often circulated in connection with efforts to sell anti-cult books, videos, and counseling services; to leverage conversions to other faiths; and to legitimate various social control measures, such as anti-sect laws.

People who spend too much time on the Internet sometimes develop a separatist mentality. They begin to imagine that what is real or true depends on what kinds of things they read and respond to emotionally. That's why the Internet has been a phenomenal tool for hate groups. It allows people to create gated communities based on an alternate history such as Holocaust denial, or the alleged "danger" posed by some minority group or spiritual figure.

People sometimes confuse their own emotional responses to hate material with a test for truth. If it succeeds in getting them into a red rage state, that emotional investment makes them take the material to heart. But Sri Chinmoy has been living and teaching in New York City for the past 40 years - a city with perhaps the highest per capita concentration of attorneys on the planet. During that 40 year period, no one has ever filed any civil or criminal complaint of the type you describe. This is a helpful reality check.

People at Hinduism Today, the Parliament of World Religions, USA Today, etc., have met with Sri Chinmoy and his students, and are familiar with their beliefs and practices. They simply have not observed the kinds of abuses you refer to. That Sri Chinmoy was invited to lead a silent meditation at the Parliament in 1993, and again in 2004, confirms that he is respected by his peers in the Hindu and Interfaith communities. Peer review does not concern only scientific abstracts, but refers more generally to people like "editing staff, fact-checkers, lawyers, an editor-in-chief, and a publisher" who help make reputable publications reputable. By contrast, see dubious sources:

For an encyclopedia, sources should be unimpeachable... Remember that it is easy for anybody to create a web site and claim to be an expert in a certain field... Has the source followed journalistic or academic standards of ethical investigation? [italics added]

Problems with verifiability occur where the author has a conflict of interest - such as being involved in the story himself (e.g. Romaen de Bruns Neto) - or where the statement is implausible on its surface (in light of what is generally accepted to be true among scholars with relevant expertise).

Another problem with verifiability occurs where people make allegations of secret misconduct for which no objective evidence is given, and no complaint is filed. While one cannot prove a negative, one doesn't need to. People are innocent until proven guilty. Being "almost a witness" is like "almost" winning the lottery! I was "almost a witness" to an alien invasion, but something happened at the last moment and I missed it. ;-)

There is a difference between good faith and bad faith research on the subject of religion. In good faith research, one tries to locate experts who have studied the relevant fields, and who can give a knowledgeable opinion. In bad faith research, one looks for secular people who have no taste for religion, and who will say that all gurus are abusers, all religious people are delusional, etc.; or one looks for fanatical proponents of a competing faith who are ready to vilify the opposition. One may also seek out apostates who will speak ill of their former religion - but scholars generally take apostate atrocity stories unconfirmed by objective evidence cum grano salis.

Bad faith research is inappropriate for an article of encyclopedic quality. And as I have been at pains to point out, one may deeply hurt and offend religious minorities by including vilification material in a basic article about their beliefs and practices. People who connect with the real world and with other human beings do not discount the significance of this. (I'm not saying you don't connect, I'm just saying that like all of us who hang out on the Net, at times you could be more sensitive and less confrontational.)

Fadix, you have made rather free with the word "cult," so let me offer this quote from B.A. Robinson on the Religious Tolerance site:

The term "cult" is generally used as a hateful snarl word ... to intentionally devalue people and the faith groups that they have chosen to follow. It tends to associate thousands of benign religious groups with the handful of destructive religious groups that have caused loss of life. The term creates fear and loathing among the public, and contributes greatly to religious intolerance in North America. The word "cult," particularly as used by the media, carries a heavy emotional content. The term suggests that this is a group that you should detest, avoid, and fear. In reality, the only "crime" of most "cults" is that they hold different religious beliefs from whomever is doing the attacking.

Polls suggest that most Americans favor religious tolerance, but also that they are not very knowledgeable about religions other than their own. This creates an opportunity for niche marketing of hate material vilifying small religious groups. Branding a group a "cult" is a way of appealing to people's worst sectarian instincts, while still letting them believe that they are tolerant of other religions - just not "cults." In this wise, consider this humorous definition of a cult: it's the church or temple down the street from yours, the one your neighbor goes to. :-)

There needs to be a certain comity among editors. Accusing someone of the crime of "rape" - as Fadix has done - when no complaint of sexual abuse has ever been filed against them in their 40 years of teaching, amounts to serious defamation of character and should not be tolerated.

While freedom of speech is an essential tool of scholarship, defamation of character and religious vilification represent the extreme edges. There is considerable debate as to whether these are really freedoms at all. People who have seen the effects of hate material on innocents are apt to feel that false "information" inciting hatred does not really advance educated debate, but rather stifles it.

I do hope we can resolve some of these core issues, and that the Sri Chinmoy article can gradually progress through more constructive, hands-on editing. I apologize that the study of religious movements is subtle and complex. I've been writing about it at length in the hope of avoiding an edit war. --Fencingchamp 21:44, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

For the article to progress, there should be discussions about the article and in accordance to Wikipedia policies. Right now, your answer doesn’t respect neither. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
the lack of reliablility of apostates who may tell atrocity stories is not a generally accepted fact and I oppose articles that are based on the premise that apostates are generally unreliable. I also believe that attributed and documented criticisms of certain gurus and certain forms of religion has little to do with lack of religious tolerance. Andries 17:20, 12 September 2005 (UTC)
Excellent dissertation Fencingchamp/ You have clearly described a systemic problem here at Wikipedia. I ask your permission to use portions for an essay at WikiProject Countering systemic bias in religion. --ZappaZ Yin yang.svg 00:54, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Fadix's Reply

Fadix, thank you for your contributions. Please pardon me, but I feel you're being intolerant and insensitive. At the same time, I want to apologize to you. It seems that someone named Sasun unintentionally offended you. You and he began a friendly rivalry about Sri Chinmoy on an Armenian message board. Gradually this turned into a flame war, and there were strong words and hurt feelings on both sides. I was not a participant, but I apologize that Sasun - who seems fond of Sri Chinmoy's writings - exceeded the interest level of the forum. I think he meant well, and was just trying to share his enthusiasm with his friends. Sasun describes himself as a Christian - he is not with Sri Chinmoy - but perhaps he didn't realize that some fellow Armenians weren't comfortable with his quotes from Sri Chinmoy and Swami Vivekananda. Gradually (as often happens in flame wars), things spiraled out of control.

And what is the relevancy of all this? Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Anyway Fadix, Sasun has written that "I am crazy about you as an internet buddy and a person with many good qualities," so I hope you can please forgive him, forget the previous flame war, and not bring any residual anger to Wikipedia. You are also a veteran of the Armenian genocide edit war, so maybe you need to cool down from that too. :-) Now on to business...

First of, I am not a veteran of “edit war.” Second of, I fail to see what is the relevancy of this. So, you’ve googled me. And? Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Your way of "researching" Sri Chinmoy seems to involve reading anti-cult message boards, working yourself into a lather over vilification material, and reposting that material without attribution. On the Armenian message board, you made inflammatory comments which you've begun to repeat on Wikipedia.

What I did in an Armenian message board is totally irrelevant, what matters, is what I did here. As for the materials, my materials were not less credible than those prepared at Chinmoy centers. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

It is inappropriate to confuse Internet postings with "testimony," or to conflate different Eastern gurus who are unrelated except by national origin. It's also inappropriate to use the long NPOV banner simply as a device to call attention to marginalia which does not meet Wikipedia's technical and ethical standards (which do exist!). This may be seen as disruptive where those using the NPOV banner make little effort to improve the article or to work in good faith with other editors.

I placed that banner, because its use there was appropriate, your claim here is simply insinuations on my intentions. The article as it is, is simply not neutral, for the simple reason that the man is full of controversy, even over the UN, and what he tried to do with the Statue of Liberty etc. his stories of weight lifting, which for some is the only thing they know about the man. And above all, the most important critic links are absent. For those reasons, and only for those reasons, I have added the banner. Now you can go search what I posted in other forums, this is totally and absolutely irrelevant, it simply is an intellectual intimidation. Nothing more. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

The 10-Aug-2005 revision had internal links to cults and the anti-cult movement, but you removed that passage, so please don't complain now about lack of critical views.

The reason why I deleted that part, and I believe having been clear there; that statement was clearly and absolutely unencyclopedic, and simply wrong; the term peer reviewed firstly was trying to give a credibility to a claim, that was itself yet to be documented, even had it been documented, the way that sentence was written was in the absolute, therefore, unencyclopedic. I have access to over a million articles from over a thousand journals(all peer reviewed), the word Chinmoy appear in 2 or 3 articles, and the subject of the articles is even not him, neither do they even address his competence in his “discipline.” On the other hand, the few recent articles not published in journals; do mention the controversy, beside an article treating about his restaurant or something such. And above all, what I removed can not be called links, it is just Wikifying texts, so that the words which have their own articles can be accessible. This can NOT be called, “providing links” to the opposite side. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

I don't want to stifle legitimate critics, but rather to make room for such critics by closing the door on religious vilification material, which lowers discussion to a level well below that acceptable on Wikipedia. Describing those who speak well of Sri Chinmoy as "crime deniers" seems a technique of propaganda.

That’s simply a stupid way of seeing things. Wikipedia does not attribute, as an encyclopedia, sentiments to materials. “religious vilification” is a subjective term. I can as well claim, that Chinmoy practices are vilifying my own agnostic beliefs. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

An article on Sri Chinmoy should be rooted in religious tolerance, maintain high ethics throughout, and emphasize research done by scholars recognized in the academic community as having expertise in the fields of Hinduism, Yoga, and comparative religion.

True, but you are mixing, Chinmoy the person, and Chinmoy the figure, I know that his disciples consider him as an avatar, and not a person, but for Wikipedia, this is irrelevant. The critics against him have little to do with an element of Hinduism, or Yoga, but everything to do with his own conducts. Again I repeat, many have heard of him, only from the stories of his “exceptional” weight lifting, and his aim to get his name on everything, even the Statue of liberty, those are important aspect of the man, that have little to do with Hinduism, you can just not suppress those, to then render useless sections that will cover the critics of such conducts of Chinmoy, including charges of sexual abuses, because they are purposely unaddressed, and therefore do not need critics. This is not how Wikipedia works. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Whatever good faith criticism of Sri Chinmoy such experts have to offer seems fair game for inclusion. Such scholars routinely include the perspective of critical ex-members in their studies, using triangulation to help ensure accuracy. If you can find no religious scholar willing to endorse your view that Sri Chinmoy is a "raper" and a "criminal," perhaps that view is a novel narrative or historical interpretation.

That is totally irrelevant, you can not address the issue of sexual abuses, by using scholars of Hinduism, those things are addressed by psychologists and psychiatrists, and the article I posted does have both. Besides, I am not attempting to push a position that he was a raper, I simply have added that some have accused him and his center, of sexual abuses. And you have deleted that part. But the claim is true, there are ex-members accusing him of those crimes, and like I said, Wikipedia does not try to establish what the truth is,… but only report what there is about a subject. Is it true or not, that ex-members have accused him of those crimes? The answer is yes, and regardless of if it is true or not, the fact that he was accused is true and should be included, and this, regardless of if you think you can prove he was innocent. I do believe he has abused those victims sexually, I know to differentiate, a true testimony from a fake one, but this is no reason, for me to edit the article to claim he did it, I will just say, that some claims he did it(because some ex-members do)…, and if you delete it(like you did), then, this is simply POV pushing. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Contrary to your assertion, it's not the sole purpose of Wikipedia to include every possible view with no regard for truth, but rather to include responsible views which meet Wikipedia standards for reputable publications, verifiability, and no original research.

I propose you to read my user page, you seem to not understand how neutrality works. No original research, concerns a new interpretation, and not what others say. If it is not reported that he is accused of those things, and that I receive a phone call from someone who claims that Chinmoy has abused her, I can not quote this in Wikipedia. I can not produce the “primary source” or, I can not write my interpretation, and this, regardless of if, yes or not I can prove this. But I am doing nothing of those. And verifiability goes on the same direction. What I think you should read, is the relevant material about neutrality, I have important sections on my own talk page. It is a small group, and per group members’ vs ex-members accusations, ex-members accusations can in those circumstances not be considered as a fringe. The weight lifting controversy is also something that should be included, as well as the one that signed the certificate of authentification who later claimed Chinmoy did not lift that thing. Those are things that should be included. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Religion editors have also worked out ethical guidelines for dealing with vilification material, as I've discussed previously.

You have yet to convince, why Chinmoys critics should not be included in the article. And I don’t think shouting “vilification” justify this. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Deferring to scholars is not always popular on Wikipedia, and not always necessary. However, it's especially helpful when dealing with religion, because religious scholars are less likely to be subject to popular prejudices, and more likely to be able to distinguish between vilification material (a la Maria Monk) and legitimate criticism.

Again, I don’t know how, a religious scholar will be more able than a psychologist or a psychiatrist, when there is a supposed victim claiming to have been abused sexually. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

If religion is an academic subject about which thousands of books have been written, then perhaps it needs to be treated as such on Wikipedia. If it's just a topic for bar chat, then any two-bit opinion will do. :-) Experts do not enjoy any greater rights in the Wiki community as people, but an expert view of a complex subject is to be preferred over an amateurish and error-ridden view.

I agree experts should be preferred, but again, you have to tell me, why the words of the one signing the certificate of authentification is less important than a religious scholar, does the religious scholar understand, bone density, muscular contraction, how much weight a body can take? Also, I don’t understand how a religious scholar is better placed than a psychologist or a psychiatrist, to know if a claimed victim is in fact a victim. What you are doing is to write something that is true, but with a wrong premiss, because what you write does not represent the situation we have here. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Fadix, as I understand it, you have never interviewed Sri Chinmoy, never visited any of his centres, never spoken with any of his current students, don't have a background in Hinduism, Yoga, or comparative religion, and are basing your opinion on things you've read on anti-cult sites.

Had I interviewed Chinmoy, and used that material here, it would be original research, and could not have been used in Wikipedia. Again, you are not understanding how Wikipedia works. Is it true or not that many ex-disciples are accusing him, and that there are many from them, that say having left the center because of this? It is true or not that the one having signed the certificate of weight lifting claim that Chinmoy never lifted that amount? YES OR NOT? Wikipedia does not established if one is lying, it just say, what is said about a subject. If there are scholars that have written, that those people are liars, they can be included, but you, as a member here, can not delete that information by claiming that those people are lying, because you are interpreting, and THIS is called personal research. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

For some subjects, Internet research is acceptable; but the omnipresence of rumor panics and hate material poses a special problem for religion editors. Good real world scholarship is needed to separate the wheat from the chaff. As sociologist Lorne L. Dawson notes in "Doing Religion in Cyberspace: The Promise and the Perils":

The first criticism that can be made of the use of the Internet as a means of religious communication stems from the disappointingly high ratio of "junk" information online. As Kinney succinctly predicted in 1995, "... the Net will encourage a rise in ill-informed debate, unintentional misinformation, emotional disputes, and the airing of stereotypes and dirty laundry" ... The ease of access to the Internet has returned us, in some respects, to the worst days of religious pamphleteering, when fanatics of one stripe or another openly castigated the religious beliefs and practices of others. In preparing a brief guide in 1995 for students wishing to use the Internet for research on new religious movements, I was compelled already to warn students to exercise great caution... The suppressed religious bigots of this world have suddenly gained a new lease on life, and views that would never receive significant public distribution through the older means of broadcast are now consistently and readily available on the Internet.

One needs a steady temperament and nicety of judgement to avoid being sucked into a mob mentality.

I don’t see where Chinmoy is addressed here. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

One should be wary of Net kooks, defined by the Jargon File as follows:

Term used to describe a regular poster who continually posts messages with no apparent grounding in reality. Different from a troll, which implies a sort of sly wink on the part of a poster who knows better, kooks really believe what they write, to the extent that they believe anything. The kook trademark is paranoia and grandiosity. Kooks will often build up elaborate imaginary support structures, fake corporations and the like, and continue to act as if those things are real even after their falsity has been documented in public. While they may appear harmless ... there are several instances on record ... of journalists writing stories with quotes from kooks who caught them unaware.
This term can also very well apply for some, to Chinmoy followers who still believe he lifted over a thousand Kilogram, even after the one that signed the certificate of authentification said it was not the cases. Again, you are using beautiful texts and words, that are true, but do not support your arguments. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

When Net kooks form eGroups, some members may specialize in posting outright kookery, while others enhance their position by trying to put a scholarly sheen on what would otherwise be seen as psychotic ravings. Collectively, they may engage in targeted e-bombing of journalists, until by the sheer law of averages some of their kookery manages to hit the target, coming to infect the popular imagination.

Some psychiatrists believe that Gurus are unmedicated mild schizophrenics in a constant psychosis, I can also say the same exact thing here. You shout words that are true, but again, it has little to do with the article, and the situation here. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

In a rumor panic, the popular press - far from playing a role of calmness and mediation - tends to exacerbate the problem and fuel bizarre speculations about groups not well known to the public. Although you do not source the long quote you provided under the heading "Wikipedia is not another of Chinmoys propaganda website" [sic], this appears to be copied from an anti-cult message board.

Bizarre speculations? Amazing, you speculate and presupposes that I have copied what I have claimed from an “anti-cultist” site, I have simply observed the number of sites about chinmoy having been shut down, and how the organization has bought countless domain names to pollute the search engines. Perhaps, shall I post here some websites that were closed? I can source that, can you source what you called “peer reviewed”? Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

A distinctive feature is that the author of the article is himself a participant in the message board. The "testimonials" referenced in the article are the same ones posted on the Internet under various pseudonyms beginning in late 2001 - which was what started the Sri Chinmoy rumor panic in the first place.

That is original research, you insinuate that they are forged, and that the journalist has spewed rumors, but again, those are your interpretations, and until you can present an answer to this article, from a publication, your hypotheses about the article has no place in Wikipedia. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

That panic peaked in early 2003, and has since died down to a trickle. A few die-hards continue to try and flog this fraudulent material to the press, but it is the duty of responsible editors to resist being used in this manner. The issues at bar are:

- Properly distinguishing religious vilification material from legitimate criticism

- Not including vilification material in a basic article about beliefs and practices

- Not abandoning ethically neutral enquiry when faced with material designed to elicit a strong emotional response

Again, those are your hypotheses, they are original research. It would help if you read and understand the Wikipedia policies, which the link you have provided. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

As I understand your thinking, the mere existence of a large number of messages attacking Sri Chinmoy (actually posted by a fairly small number of people using sock puppets), is somehow conclusive that he has done something wrong.

The uses of sock puppets, is again, original research. It is simply easy to dismiss every critic, like articles published, and claimed victims…, but those critics are original researches of yours. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

However, this stems from an improper understanding of hate groups on the Internet. Typically, the #1 or #2 result for the Google search "Jew" is the anti-Semitic site Jew Watch.

All this is simply diatribe, do you think members here are naïve enough to fall to this long answer that has little or no relevancy with the article about Chinmoy? “Jews” were the victims, and those sites are about Holocaust denial, I could interpret this thing the other way around. Those victims of Chinmoy, have to face Chinmoy sites… you write and write, but the premises is simply wrong. I can claim that donkeys fly, and as evidences say that 1 + 1 =2. This is true, but the argument has nothing to do with the thesis, in your case the thesis itself has nothing to do with the article. You claim that those are vilification of your “religion,” but those claims exist. Using your logic, I should delete the other position, in the Armenian genocide entry, just because I think it is hateful racism, but it will not change the fact that this position do exist. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

On the front page is a request to "Please support our scholarly research," followed by an index of hundreds of anti-Semitic articles. Does the mere number of such articles prove anything other than the industry of anti-Semites?

Those articles are answered by the scholarship, for every works vilifying the Jews, there are at least 10 countering those lies, the answer is not that I believe those things are racist, but to cite authors that do claim that those specific things are racist… because if I were to claim something, that is my opinion, it would be original research. So again, I repeat, your arguments have little to do with your theses. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

There are many similar sites containing thousands of anti-Semitic messages. Does this prove that there really is an "International Jewish Banking Conspiracy"? Should that "information" be included in a basic article about Judaism? Surely not.

Jewish conspiracy theories could be included, probably they are included in some relevant articles, but other authors will be also included who claim that this is not true…, it will also be specified that most scholars do not share such a view, and they consider those view erroneous etc. This is how Wikipedia works, also, a fringe has not to be included in an article, except, when something is known by only a fringe of the population, and that there are critics from another fringe of the population, if the ratio between those fringe, make of the fringe within the fringe, by comparison not a fringe, it should be included in the article. In this case, it apply. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

To write well about religion, one needs to respect the beliefs and practices of others, which may differ from one's own. You wrote:

Chinmoys movement is not a religion, it is a sect, and I do not write about his sect, but some critics about the man and his conducts. Which obviously is different. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
Chinmoys movement IS a cult, according to the major standards of classifications of what a cult is. Chinmoy is the guru, he has disciples, centers... he is considered as an avatar, and many of his followers meditate on his picture. This is considered as a cult by ANY standards.

Here you are expressing a stereotypical view. Most religious scholars don't favor the use of cult checklists or simplistic labeling. In his article "Is There a Place for 'Scientific' Studies of Religion?" Robert Wuthnow writes:

To their credit, social scientists who study religion today are much more likely to insist on in-depth analysis of specific traditions than to settle for superficial generalizations. Investigations of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism have all moved in this direction, paying closer attention to distinct practices and illuminating the internal diversity of each tradition.
And how, does this show, that even after having all the elements of what a cult is, Chinmoys organization is not a cult? Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

To the extent that labels do sometimes determine public policy, please note that in Germany and Austria there have been court rulings that Sri Chinmoy Centre is not a "sect" and does not pose a danger. Dr. Manfred Hutter, director of the Department of Comparative Religion at the University of Bonn has stated that Sri Chinmoy Centre is an authentic path of Yoga.

http://www.apologeticsindex.org/ considers it a sect, in fact, it is generally called a sect. http://sanfrancisco.citysearch.com/profile/863439 http://www.evite.com/pages/venue/venueDetails.jsp?venueID=YLHGEHPMCWCJRELFVPYM http://www.soulsearch.net/search/soulsearch.cgi?search=CAT&Category=Religion
Google is full of it(articles calling it a sect, even sympathic to Chinmoy). Am I doing a mistake on searching in google, rather than works? I don’t think so, for the simple reason that I have access to over a million articles, and Chinmoy is nowhere to find, so there, the internet becomes an important references. And even you, have not much to offer from works, other than those published from the center. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Sri Chinmoy and his disciples appear to follow typical practices for Yoga-based groups. They pray, meditate, sing spiritual songs, publish books of spiritual philosophy, and organize philanthropic activities. To meditate on a picture of the guru is common practice in India and elsewhere (including Christendom).

And, is it common, to consider a Guru, as an avatar? Is it common to believe that he has some magical Avatar powers? Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

To quote the late Pope John Paul II:

[R]eligious liberty, in the full sense of the term, is the first human right. ... To discriminate religious beliefs, or to discredit one or another form of religious practice is a form of exclusion contrary to the respect of fundamental human values and will eventually destabilize society, where a certain pluralism of thought and action should exist, as well as a benevolent and brotherly attitude.
Again, just load of texts, nothing more. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Lively debate about religion - based on accurate information about what different groups believe and how they practice - is a good thing.

This entry, is about the man, Chinmoy, my implication is about his critics, this is all there is… but of course, it is typical for your center, to research everything about those that criticize it, which will explain why you googled my alias and tried to use what I did in other boards. Which BTW, I don’t care, I have nothing to hide, for this reason I use this same alias in many boards. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

It often leads to religious tolerance, acceptance of diversity, and an appreciation for the richness of spiritual traditions and innovations found throughout the world. However, it's not clear that anti-cult groups favor these ideals. They often seem to sidetrack debate by injecting false information about groups which they label pejoratively as "cults." There seems to be an underlying fear that accurate information will lead to tolerance and acceptance, while false and alarmist material will help "protect" the public.

Diatribe, totally irrelevant. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

It is, moreover, difficult to sell $5,000 cult interventions without making a sales pitch which involves "rescuing" the target from alleged "cult abuse." The marketplace therefore demands legends of "cult abuse" to help spur sales.

And again, you are loading with words, what does this has to do with me wanting to include the critics? Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Such legends are often manufactured in ex-cult "support groups" where people are routinely exposed to vilification material, given a new identity as "cult victims," told that their former teacher is an "abuser," and urged to "come forward" with tales of abuse which will help persuade others to "leave the cult." The resulting "testimonials" have little credibility because the participants were pressured, coached, and told to model their narratives after pre-existing material attacking other Eastern gurus.

Original research. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

This is not to say that no religious groups ever act abusively. Tragically, they sometimes do. But since there are many false reports, one should study the group directly and take help from scholars with relevant expertise. One should view with skepticism reports which contradict available evidence, which do not appear to have any objective correlation in the real world, and which - after enjoying brief popularity as rumor panics - have been consigned to history's dustbin.

Original research. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Religious vilification material laced with elements of pornography appeals to those who want to think the worst of a religion. It fills a psychological need, so people do not question it too deeply. (This explains the popularity of The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk.) There are Net kooks who post all kinds of pornographic trash; but if one looks more closely, one may note that such "testimonials" are often circulated in connection with efforts to sell anti-cult books, videos, and counseling services; to leverage conversions to other faiths; and to legitimate various social control measures, such as anti-sect laws.

Original research, irrelevant. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

People who spend too much time on the Internet sometimes develop a separatist mentality. They begin to imagine that what is real or true depends on what kinds of things they read and respond to emotionally. That's why the Internet has been a phenomenal tool for hate groups. It allows people to create gated communities based on an alternate history such as Holocaust denial, or the alleged "danger" posed by some minority group or spiritual figure.

I already addressed this, you are repeating yourself. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

People sometimes confuse their own emotional responses to hate material with a test for truth. If it succeeds in getting them into a red rage state, that emotional investment makes them take the material to heart. But Sri Chinmoy has been living and teaching in New York City for the past 40 years - a city with perhaps the highest per capita concentration of attorneys on the planet. During that 40 year period, no one has ever filed any civil or criminal complaint of the type you describe. This is a helpful reality check.

This is complete nonsense. We had a Guru story here in Quebec, the victims had no criminal complains either, took decades before anything happened, when it was known that women were giving birth to children, who’s father was the Guru. When children are abused from family members, very few ever report it. If one takes the number of reported abuses and consider how much children are estimated to be abused, and that we take the number of Chinmoy disciple, it would take over 10 to have been abused, so that it is reported by one, but even when reported, from them, only some will fill criminal cases. Which basically means that before anyone decide to fill a criminal cases, it would take Chinmoy abusing 30 people. But again, this is irrelevant, because those things have little to do with the article. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

People at Hinduism Today, the Parliament of World Religions, USA Today, etc., have met with Sri Chinmoy and his students, and are familiar with their beliefs and practices. They simply have not observed the kinds of abuses you refer to.

Selectivity, had they observed those things, you will assassinate their character, and claim them to not be trustworthy, but when they say something good about your Guru, you then use them as evidences. This is not how Wikipedia works. Sorry. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

That Sri Chinmoy was invited to lead a silent meditation at the Parliament in 1993, and again in 2004, confirms that he is respected by his peers in the Hindu and Interfaith communities.

Like he met, Mother Theresa, who cares, who he met, how does this justify deleting the critics? Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Peer review does not concern only scientific abstracts, but refers more generally to people like "editing staff, fact-checkers, lawyers, an editor-in-chief, and a publisher" who help make reputable publications reputable. By contrast, see dubious sources:

For an encyclopedia, sources should be unimpeachable... Remember that it is easy for anybody to create a web site and claim to be an expert in a certain field... Has the source followed journalistic or academic standards of ethical investigation? [italics added]
The way you have used the term “peer review” didn’t meant that at all, since you presented it as absolute, which can be only represented in what we call “pure science” or statistically. You have placed “peer reviewed” to give credibility to the man, which he has not. You have yet to show me those peer reviewed publication, what I know of here, is that my database does not give any results. I, in another article, made such a statement, “most western scholars,” but I have provided clear cut evidences which shows this to be the cases, I have even referred to the list of publications published in the subject. You did nothing such, you dumped the word peer reviewed there, when there are only few articles published about him, and the most recent I have read was about some restaurant of the organization. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Problems with verifiability occur where the author has a conflict of interest - such as being involved in the story himself (e.g. Romaen de Bruns Neto) - or where the statement is implausible on its surface (in light of what is generally accepted to be true among scholars with relevant expertise).

You, as a follower of Chinmoy, are not well placed to use the term “conflict of interest.” And beside, again, just beautiful phrases, but nothing to do with the article. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Another problem with verifiability occurs where people make allegations of secret misconduct for which no objective evidence is given, and no complaint is filed. While one cannot prove a negative, one doesn't need to. People are innocent until proven guilty. Being "almost a witness" is like "almost" winning the lottery! I was "almost a witness" to an alien invasion, but something happened at the last moment and I missed it. ;-)

Again, that’s simply irrelevant. Let me say this again. There are people that say having been abused by Chinmoy, they do not say, they were “almost,” they say, they were witness, which is different. The man that signed the certificate of authenticity has signed it with his own hand, and claim Chinmoy did not lift the thing. Whatever or not, they are lying, is not the job of Wikipedia, the job of Wikipedia is to present positions, there are critics of the man, and they should be included. Now, you can load the talk page with irrelevancy, as much as you want, but I have yet to read, any arguments you will provide that will justify the non inclusion of the critics. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

There is a difference between good faith and bad faith research on the subject of religion. In good faith research, one tries to locate experts who have studied the relevant fields, and who can give a knowledgeable opinion. In bad faith research, one looks for secular people who have no taste for religion, and who will say that all gurus are abusers, all religious people are delusional, etc.; or one looks for fanatical proponents of a competing faith who are ready to vilify the opposition. One may also seek out apostates who will speak ill of their former religion - but scholars generally take apostate atrocity stories unconfirmed by objective evidence cum grano salis.

That they are lying is your words, your interpretations… again, please justify why critics should not be included. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Bad faith research is inappropriate for an article of encyclopedic quality. And as I have been at pains to point out, one may deeply hurt and offend religious minorities by including vilification material in a basic article about their beliefs and practices. People who connect with the real world and with other human beings do not discount the significance of this. (I'm not saying you don't connect, I'm just saying that like all of us who hang out on the Net, at times you could be more sensitive and less confrontational.)

Already covered. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Fadix, you have made rather free with the word "cult," so let me offer this quote from B.A. Robinson on the Religious Tolerance site:

The term "cult" is generally used as a hateful snarl word ... to intentionally devalue people and the faith groups that they have chosen to follow. It tends to associate thousands of benign religious groups with the handful of destructive religious groups that have caused loss of life. The term creates fear and loathing among the public, and contributes greatly to religious intolerance in North America. The word "cult," particularly as used by the media, carries a heavy emotional content. The term suggests that this is a group that you should detest, avoid, and fear. In reality, the only "crime" of most "cults" is that they hold different religious beliefs from whomever is doing the attacking.
This is not a definition, of what cult means, but rather for what it is generally used. Chinmoy, is considered as an Avatar, he has centers, with members living there, the Guru is the supreme word, they pray on his picture. Members eat the way the Guru has fixed, they have way of life the way the Guru has fixed. The Guru is said to have “magical” powers etc. It’s a cult in my book. But I admit here, having made a mistake, and presented that as absolute. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Polls suggest that most Americans favor religious tolerance, but also that they are not very knowledgeable about religions other than their own. This creates an opportunity for niche marketing of hate material vilifying small religious groups. Branding a group a "cult" is a way of appealing to people's worst sectarian instincts, while still letting them believe that they are tolerant of other religions - just not "cults." In this wise, consider this humorous definition of a cult: it's the church or temple down the street from yours, the one your neighbor goes to. :-)

The Church or Temple are not cults, for the simple reason that, there is no so-called god-incarnate living man. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

There needs to be a certain comity among editors. Accusing someone of the crime of "rape" - as Fadix has done - when no complaint of sexual abuse has ever been filed against them in their 40 years of teaching, amounts to serious defamation of character and should not be tolerated.

I have not accused him of such, at least not in Wikipedia. What I said, is that some ex-members have accused him of such; which is different than claiming I did that. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

While freedom of speech is an essential tool of scholarship, defamation of character and religious vilification represent the extreme edges. There is considerable debate as to whether these are really freedoms at all. People who have seen the effects of hate material on innocents are apt to feel that false "information" inciting hatred does not really advance educated debate, but rather stifles it.

Irrelevant. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

I do hope we can resolve some of these core issues, and that the Sri Chinmoy article can gradually progress through more constructive, hands-on editing. I apologize that the study of religious movements is subtle and complex. I've been writing about it at length in the hope of avoiding an edit war. --Fencingchamp 15:04, 12 September 2005 (UTC)

For the article to progress, there should be discussions about the article and in accordance to Wikipedia policies. Right now, your answer doesn’t respect neither. Fadix 18:27, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

I think the book Stripping the gurus by Geoffrey D. Falk endorsed by David C. Lane is an acceptable source for criticisms. And please the person who insists on using only impeccabable sources for articles about obscure gurus like Chinmoy should be consistent and bring this article to Vote for deletion because there are probably no impeccable sources for this article. It would be inconsistent and against Wikipedia policy to put the burden for good sources higher for criticism than for other material. Wikipedia policy is not to promote religious tolerance, nor to stop hate, nor for anti-cult activism against gurus. Wikipedia is only there to inform the readers. Andries 21:59, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

There is plenty of good literature on Sri Chinmoy, that can be used as references, such as:
  • Larson, Bob Larson's Book of World Religions and Alternative Spirituality, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., ISBN 084236417X
--ZappaZ Yin yang.svg 23:41, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
I don't know where you find this plenty, but http://www.oxfordjournals.org/ does not give any results, neither the other servers I use. From another database, for books..., I got few results. New Religious Movements in Western Europe: An Annotated Bibliography by Elisabeth Arweck, Peter B. Clarke; Greenwood Press, 1997 which gives references to few works, nothing more.
I got those results too.
Cult and Countercult: A Study of a Spiritual Growth Group and a Witchcraft Order by Gini Graham Scott; Greenwood Press, 1980, cite a single reference.
Theology and the Dialogue of Religions by Michael Barnes Sj; Cambridge University Press, 2002, only one little reference.
The Study of Religion, Traditional and New Religions by Peter Clarke, Stewart Sutherland; Routledge, 1991, only one little reference as well.
Other references associated with music.
From the same database, I have access to magazine articles, from it, a little reference to Chinmoy in " Diving to Conscience Bay: when New Age guru Rama was fished out of the waters off Long Island, he was wearing a suit and tie and his pet dog's collar around his neck" by John Gallagher published in Psychology Today, Vol. 31, November-December 1998. And the reference is irrelevent.
Newspapers now, most of the references are about Chinmoy 5K, which again, is irrelevant.
McLaughlin popularity seems to have given him the boost in the past, when his association gave Chinmoy the coverage he was after, but nothing more there. But of course it is expected that I ignored those references.
Zappaz, consider that some here, when you make a claim like "plainty," will ask references, and that when some say there is not much references about someone, it is maybe because they have researched the matter, as I have done. It is true that in some works collecting religious and sect movements, Chinmoy is present..., but this in no way cover his personal conducts, but rather his so-called teaching, those people base themselves on Chinmoy writtings, which I have read, and they have nothing, absolutly nothing extraordinary, very far from being an Avatar, if such a thing can even exist in the first place. In fact, some of his writtings, suggest logical flaw and an IQ not above average..., his music isen't extaordinary, neither his paintings. But those things og course are my POV. In short, the critics ought to be included, and claims like "people that are not professional should not speak" in this cases does really not fit, because there is very, very few scholarly works about his movement, and nearly nothing about him and his conducts. In this cases, anything about his personal conducts are polarized between his center, and the critics from the ex-members side..., there is nothing such as "peer reviewed" from one side, and lies from the other. Fadix 00:49, 18 September 2005 (UTC)

Thanks to all contributors

Thank you Fadix, Andries, and Zappaz. I'm sure I can learn a lot from each of you. (Zappaz, you're welcome to quote me - keeping in mind that I'm not trying to start a war, just stick up for ethical principles of investigation. Good luck with the WikiProject Countering systemic bias in religion. Don't know if I'll have time to help out, but the idea seems like a good one.)

I might have more to say from an intellectual POV. But tonight I was seeing the pictures of children dying of malnutrition in Niger. It made me think how lucky we are in the West to have the luxury of debating fine points of philosophy. Meanwhile, others are struggling just to survive. In some ways it seems so clear that religious tolerance, non-vilification, and the kind of benevolence the Pope spoke about (in the quote above) are the way to go. It's like torture trying to explain this by rote, and perhaps it cannot be done. I only wish that people could expand their vision from within whatever tradition is meaningful to them. In the Buddhist tradition it is said that there are a thousand gates to the truth. For each person, one gate will be open. One does not need to believe in God. But by using the empathy of the heart, one can sometimes sense what is right and true, and how one should act.

Sorry for lapsing into "heart-speak." It's only a temporary aberration. ;-) --Fencingchamp 13:59, 17 September 2005 (UTC)

"Heart-speak" is always welcome (at least by me....). --ZappaZ Yin yang.svg 20:40, 17 September 2005 (UTC)

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