06/06/2024 lewrockwell.com  18 min 🇬🇧 #249950

Wikipedia: The Failed Experiment to Democratize Knowledge. « Character Assassinations, » Censorship, an Instrument of Global Corporatism

By Richard Gale and Dr. Gary Null
 Global Research

June 6, 2024

In this carefully researched article, Richard Gale and Dr. Gary Null underscore the inadequacies of Wikipedia as a reliable source of information and knowledge. The free encyclopedia is created, edited and verified by an army of online volunteers whose credibility and integrity are unknowable, even questionable.

The supposed separate entries for the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Global Research (globalresearch.ca) and its editor-in-chief, Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, have been merged into a single Wikipedia item, which consists of unwarranted smears, unfounded claims and disputable accusations.

Such efforts by the largest reference website, consulted by billions of people worldwide, are supportive of the Establishment's global agenda, which aims to discredit dissenting yet highly-knowledgeable and qualified scholars and activists ("character assassination") and push their contributions and endeavors to the margins. This, in effect, denies their  vision to share knowledge that "fully represents human diversity." See Michel Chossudovsky's biographical note here.

-Global Research, June 5, 2024



What Is the Solution to "the Wikipedia Problem"?

Wikipedia is the largest and most read reference source in the world. Billions rely on it every day for unbiased facts and truthful information. Unfortunately, what they often get are slander and lies. This poses an existential threat to society, because lies and slander corrode the fabric of society and harm all of its citizens, no less than they harm the ones who are lied about and slandered.

If Wikipedia were a marginal website with little influence, it could be regarded as harmless, just as you might regard it as harmless to be bumped by a toddler on a tricycle traveling at a snail's pace - but not if you were run down by a pizza delivery boy on an electric bicycle travelling at 30 mph. Because Wikipedia dwarfs every other reference source on the face of the earth not only in size but in influence, what is at stake is the very pollution of knowledge itself. What shall we do about it?

Should Wikipedia be censored to prevent it from publishing lies and slander? Absolutely not. There must be no pre-publication censorship in America, not even for lies and slander. On the other hand, neither should their be immunity from the consequences of deliberately publishing lies and slander, especially if it harms innocent people.

That is why we have libel laws.

If Encyclopedia Britannica or the New York Times or NBC or Netflix or any other media platform not only published lies about someone, but also refused to correct those lies when given the correct information, they would be faced with a libel suit - which they would almost certainly lose and be forced to pay millions of dollars in fines.

So how can Wikipedia get way with committing such brazen abuses of truth? How can Wikipedia deliberately lie about distinguished scientists, physicians and scholars - often ruining their careers - without facing multi-million-dollar libel suits?

Because, curiously, Wikipedia is immune from libel suits. Under Section 230 of the Federal Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996, Wikipedia is classed as a "service provider," not a "publisher." Which means it is protected from liability for articles contributed by its "third-party" authors, whom the law naively presumes to be independent of control by Wikipedia ownership.

But that is a legal fiction.

Articles submitted to Wikipedia are edited and often totally rewritten by Wikipedia's "editors" to reflect the biases and agendas of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, as well as the biases and agendas of the powerful corporations and government agencies with whom he colludes. Editors who fail to toe the Wikipedia line have their insubordinate toes chopped off, and are quickly gone. They know that they write and edit at Jimmy Wales's pleasure. So Wikipedia should no more be allowed to disclaim responsibility for the words that appear on its website than the New York Times should be allowed to disclaim legal responsibility for the words that appear in its news columns.

At present, judges continue to entertain the fiction that Wikipedia is a "service provider." This protects it from libel suits. But as more articles like this one appear, the courts may reconsider Wikipedia's status and reclassify it, more correctly, from "service provider" to "publisher"; much the same way that courts, after 1970, reclassified husbands who forced their wives to have sexual intercourse - from "spouses" to "rapists."

Although every state used to have a "marital exemption rule," under which husbands were permitted to rape their wives under protection of law, marital rape, as of 1993, became illegal in all 50 states. Marital rapists now go to jail. Let us hope the courts undergo a similar change with regard to reclassifying Wikipedia, which has been raping the truth under protection of law ever since its founding in 2001.

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Efforts to gather and preserve the world's knowledge into a single self-contained resource has been a human endeavor for over 2,000 years. The oldest surviving encyclopedia was compiled by the Roman statesman Pliny the Elder during the first century and covered topics about natural history, architecture, medicine and geography. By definition, and not dissimilar to modern conventional dictionaries, an authoritative encyclopedia is "researched and written by well-educated, well-informed content experts."

Encyclopedia entries are "not written in order to convince, although one of its goals is indeed to convince its readers of its own veracity."

The factuality of a topic, in other words, is to be framed and understood within the culture, discipline, or science on its own grounds. It is for this reason that people resort to encyclopedias for quick and concise referencing because of their reputation for objectivity and thoroughness. However, the words quoted above are not found in a dictionary's definition or in the Encyclopedia Britannica, which should be properly regarded as the world's most reliable encyclopedia. Rather these quotes appear on Wikipedia's entry under "Encyclopedia". Yet despite its definition, the virtual Wikipedia open-source encyclopedia consistently fails to meet its own standard and very often violates it outright.

Wikipedia has achieved the top position for being the most viewed and referenced encyclopedia in the world. As of May 2024, the English Wikipedia contains over 6.8 million distinct entries and is increasing at a rate of 534 new entries daily due to its army of over 800,000 registered voluntary editors. While countless people around the world benefit from the breadth and scope of knowledge the encyclopedia provides, for almost two decades it has equally been the target of growing criticism for its biases and lack of objectivity on many subjects that have a direct impact on people's health and well-being.

There are over 200,000 health and medical-related topics. Although the majority of medical entries do not draw controversy and provide relatively accurate and clear encyclopedic definitions for the biology and the etiology of diseases and medical conditions, there is a significant quantity of approximately 700 pages that directly concern Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies and natural health modalities, including Chiropractic, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), naturopathy, homeopathy, orthomolecular medicine, energy medicine, etc. This grouping of articles is separated off from the medical arts and sciences and intentionally marginalized under the heading of "pseudoscience" and quackery - highly prejudiced and derogatory terms that do not belong in a legitimate encyclopedia. These unconventional medical entries have also been hijacked by a movement promoting a radicalized ideology of scientific rationalism known as Skepticism. Wikipedia's own definition of "Alternative Medicine" reveals in no uncertain terms its depreciatory impression about this worldwide and centuries-old collection of natural health practices:

"Alternative medicine is any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine despite lacking biological plausibility, testability, repeatability or evidence of effectiveness. Unlike modern medicine, which employs the scientific method to test plausible therapies by way of responsible and ethical clinical trials, producing repeatable evidence of either effect or of no effect, alternative therapies reside outside of mainstream medicine and do not originate from using the scientific method, but instead rely on testimonials, anecdotes, religion, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural "energies", pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, or other unscientific sources."

Unlike other medical pages, there is an apparent lack of reputable medical professionals successfully editing these pages. The majority are anonymous amateurs who consistently rely on Skeptic websites and publications as primary reference sources. Despite the volumes of peer-reviewed studies and articles cataloged in the National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine and other research databases confirming the efficacy of these non-conventional therapies, Skeptic editors rely solely upon those studies that may be used for censure and defamation. Since Skeptics now control and monitor these health subjects there is no opportunity for transparency and honest debate to correct gross errors are more often than not systematically shut down.

When looking for information about alternative health issues using legitimate, highly respected encyclopedias such as the Encyclopedia Britannica we find fair, balanced, and scholarly reviews based on reliable objective sources and professional expertise. Britannica and other comparable encyclopedias name the editors and their professional credentials in any given subject. There is no debasement. There are no attacks. At no point in these highly revered encyclopedias is there character assassination, ridicule, mocking, or disparagement of people supporting an alternative and complementary medical approach at variance with medical orthodoxy. The process for crafting a subject entry is transparent, and instructive. Therefore, due to the lack of subjective biases and prejudices, users benefit from the information provided by being given the liberty to make up their own mind about an entry's veracity.

Now let's compare that to an experience on Wikipedia which calls itself an encyclopedia, but fails even the most rudimentary challenges. Most of the editors are anonymous with no reliable curriculum vitae to see if they have expertise in the area they are editing. Their use of words such as "charlatan," "quack," "lunatic," "fringe," and "pseudoscientific" are not uncommon. There is zero transparency. One feels an oozing sense of condescension viewing the biographies of highly respected and professional people who criticize conventional medical newspeak. They are held in utter contempt, and their expertise is pre-judged as having no legitimate value. Worse, they are condemned as quacks, charlatans, opportunists in Wikipedia's virtual reality of Stalinistic show trials-condemned without an opportunity to respond to the allegations.

Everyone should be greatly concerned that Wikipedia's articles about alternative medical modalities to prevent and treat disease have been expropriated by an army of compromised editors whose sole mission is to undermine the therapeutic credibility and scientific evidence of these therapies. Practically all of these non-orthodox medical entries are dominated by people who are intent on preserving the pro-pharmaceutical status quo. Anyone can spend a little time searching through Wikipedia articles about homeopathy, chiropractic, popular herbal supplements and vitamins, etc and quickly discover that favorable peer-reviewed research are unwelcome. If anyone doubts this and feels game, register as an editor and try to make a constructive truthful edit about the medical efficacy of any of these alternative treatments, supported by an irrefutable medical reference, and it will be quickly removed within hours. Continue to make the same edit and you will eventually be banned.

Let's take an example. The National Health Federation (NHF) founded in 1955 is an international consumer, health freedom organization dedicated to protecting citizens' rights to consume healthy foods over-the-counter access to dietary supplements and access to alternative medical therapies. In the past NHF has had a formative role in getting chiropractors legally licensed in the United States, the recognition of acupuncture as a viable treatment and the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act that enables Americans access to dietary supplements under the assurance of government quality controls and good manufacturing practices. Moreover, the Federation is recognized by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with UN observer status and has a seat on the FAO-WHO's Codex Alimentarius Commission, which establishes international food standards and guidelines including the use of pesticides, food additives, preservative, contamination levels, etc. In fact, with membership now representing 22 nations, the NHF is the sole consumer advocacy organization on the Commission uncontaminated by any individual government and the private interests of large food manufacturers, agro-chemical companies such as Monsanto, the pharmaceutical giants and their lobbyists. In other words, NHF is a highly esteemed consumer protection organization with a 70-year history of protecting individual health freedoms.

In 2007, NHF board members conducted a small experiment to test Wikipedia's neutrality. NHF had no entry in Wikipedia; therefore, an entry was created that was kept very neutral without noting any unreasonable or questionable claims. After a period of time, the entry was radically modified to portray the federation in a negative light. Positive references were replaced by anti-natural health references. All attempts by the organization to restore the page's original entry were rejected. An outside attorney's effort to correct NHF's page were met with threatening cease and desist notices.

NHF's current Wikipedia entry describes the Federation as "an alliance of promoters and followers who engage in lobbying campaigns... uses the words 'alternative' and 'freedom' for its own purposes" and is "antagonistic to accepted scientific methods as well as to current consumer protection law." However, these Wikipedia quotes are sourced back to a militant anti-alternative medicine organization, Quackwatch, which has a long history of harassing natural health practitioners and practically every modality of alternative medicine in order to further advance its drug-based and corporate food agenda. Consequently, the Federation had no other means to correct the false information and therefore resigned itself to the fate of lingering in Wikipedia prison for perpetuity.

There are numerous other examples of board certified physicians advocating for alternative medical therapies and professional health associations experiencing similar obstacles. So much so, it is now embedded into Wikipedia culture, which is now analogous to the firmly held beliefs in any dogmatic religious sect. It is no longer a question whether Wikipedia is redeemable; rather, on matters regarding medicine and health and controversial geopolitical and party-related domestic issues, the encyclopedia has transmuted into an Augean stable of misinformation and corporate and political nepotism.

What type of person would attack medical doctors and individuals whose contributions to society have positively impacted the lives of so many people by non-orthodox means? Perhaps, psychologically under-developed ideological trolls.

In an article published in Psychology Today entitled "Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists," Jennifer Golbeck Ph.D. writes, "Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response." Similarly, in a study conducted by researchers at the School of Health Science and Psychology at Federation University in Mount Helen, trolls scored higher than average on two traits: psychopathy and cognitive empathy. The researchers suggested that even though trolls "exhibit one kind of empathy, coupling it with psychopathy ultimately makes them nasty." They also found that trolls were likely to be high in sadism and were more likely to be male.

Whether the pro-pharmaceutical editors are trolls, cyberbullies, or even professional medical ideologies such as the legion of doctors and professors in Skeptic organizations such as the Center for Inquiry, Evidence Based Medicine, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the James Randi Educational Foundation and Quackwatch, there is no denying that the majority of anonymous editors on Wikipedia's pages about alternative and complementary medicine, and natural health advocates are engaging in the character assassination. These organizations are adamant that research spent on investigating the efficacy of alternative medicine is a dangerous foe to their narrow definition of science.

'Character Assassination' is a practice in which a deliberate and sustained effort is made to damage the reputation or credibility of an individual, social groups or institutions.

Martin Icks from the University of Amsterdam and Eric Shiraev at George Mason University introduced a classification of seven character assassination methods, which they defined as "anonymous lies', 'misquoting', 'silencing', 'acts of vandalism', 'name-calling', 'mental illness' and 'sexual deviance'. The authors identified Wikipedia as a common context for 'anonymous lies'. Our investigations have shown that misquoting, silencing, name calling and online abuse or harassment are quite prevalent.

For those whose reputations and positive public contributions have been terrorized and debased by Wikipedia, there is no recourse to restore their character, legal or otherwise. Over the years, voluminous complaints have been communicated and/or filed to the Foundation, including lawsuits, about the gross violations in Wikipedia's editorial policies, misinformation and inflammatory and potentially libelous language. Sadly, such requests in the majority of cases go unheeded.

As a last resort, what can be done is to refuse the Wikipedia Foundation's fund drives and any solicitations to grant giving and donations. Our own past experience in filing lawsuits against the Foundation has been met with abuse both from Wikipedia's legal network and privileged volunteer editors who are privately supported by the Foundation. The Foundation categorically has refused to assume responsibility or be held accountable for the abuse perpetrated by senior and administrative volunteer editors and groups promoting antagonistic ideologies against medical therapies and its leading proponents they happen to disagree with. The consequence has been that the scientific reputations and efficacy of these therapies, and the careers of those practicing them, are seriously undermined and damaged. Based upon the evidence it is our contention that the Foundation knowingly enables this activity to persist and is in fact ideologically aligned with an anti-natural health agenda that threatens the pharmaceutical industry.

Frustrated Wikipedia editors, past and present, have acknowledged that Wikipedia's culture of harassment and abuse on its Talk Pages is uncontrollable. In 2020, the Foundation drafted its Universal Code of Conduct to address this systemic problem of toxic behavior and announced it would begin to ban editors who are charged with abusive behavior towards other editors. However, over four years have passed and the Code has yet to be ratified by the Wikimedia Board and its enforcement is still pending. Unfortunately this new ruling, as admirable as it may be, ignores the volumes of misinformation and libelous language already found on the encyclopedia's pages. Nor would the Code restore Wikipedia's original standards of neutrality, nor will it address the dire state of negligence to codify verifiable guidelines to determine what is and is not accurate content.

Skepticism's assault against CAM therapies has become a counter-insurgent effort to delegitimize contemporary trends in medicine. In 2019, the World Health Organization reported, "traditional and complementary medicine is an important and often underestimated health resource with many applications, especially for the prevention and management of lifestyle-related chronic diseases and in meeting the health needs of ageing populations." The number of American medical schools offering courses in complementary and alternative medicine has been increasing rapidly. The most prestigious American medical schools now have departments for CAM or include these subjects in their curriculum including acupuncture, hypnosis and herbal remedies according to a recent US News article. A joint 2024 NIH-Johns Hopkins paper reported that alternative health approaches increased to 38 percent in 2022, and 49 percent of Americans use complementary therapies for pain management. Another government survey estimates that 62 percent of US adults use some form of alternative medicine annually. On the other hand, Wikipedia feels threatened by this trend as its editorial animosity continues to become more hostile.

Logos of 16 Wikimedia sister projects (Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

It is crucial to consider the Wikimedia Foundation in the larger context of international corporate globalism and its imperialist agenda. As a nonprofit organization, the Foundation doesn't act independently from many of the largest federal and international globalist entities, including private mega-corporations. Its largest declared donors include Google, Microsoft, Intel, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg, Boeing, Goldman Sachs, Chevron, Merck, Oracle, and Bank of America. Despite giving a wink and nod to the Constitutional rights of free speech, it has equally acted in favor of censorship. Last year, the Foundation filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court supporting the reversal of Texas and Florida bills that "prohibit web operators from banning users or removing speech and content based on the viewpoints and opinions of the users in question." From its press release, the Foundation argues that such bills would "diminish the quality and usability of Wikipedia for billions of readers and users worldwide." Of course, full open access to free speech on the encyclopedia would undermine any of the Foundation's hidden agendas to advance certain ideologies or scientific narratives over and above others.

The Foundation is also fully immersed in the missions and objectives of the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health. Wikipedia's entry for the WHO is entirely free of any criticisms despite the numerous charges of incompetence and corruption that the organization has faced, such as the debacle in its handling of the 2008 swine flu scare. In October 2020, the Foundation entered a collaboration with the WHO to advance the latter's narrative in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Wikimedia Foundation's CEO and World Economic Forum young global leader, Katherine Maher, assured the encyclopedia's commitment to "myth busting" medical information that challenged the WHO and individual government health policies that followed WHO guidelines. In response to the collaboration, the WHO's Director-General Tedros, himself having faced many controversial accusations in the past, stated that the relationship will assure people have access "to reliable health information from WHO across multiple countries, languages and devices." Likewise, Wikipedia's fifteen-year relationship with the National Institutes of Health has protected the federal agency's Wikipedia page free from warranted controversy. The same is true for many other international organizations, such the WEF, that promote a centralized globalist agenda controlled and orchestrated by an elitist class.

The original source of this article is  Global Research.

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