Ouch. Using pseudo analytics for damage control – an open letter to Tim Farley


Dear Tim Farley,

Using fake, arbitrary or misleading data to damage control perceptions of agenda based skeptic activity on Wikipedia is probably not a good idea.

This post of yours has major  errors regarding skeptic activities on Wikipedia, I think in science they call the kind of data set you’re using ‘cherry picking’ at best and ‘fudging’ at worst and it’s often what pseudoscience is accused of being littered with by skeptic organizations, hence the irony.

Pro sheldrake vs ‘skeptic editors’…huh?

I mean, good sir – what were you thinking? You made two categories of data sets with no correlation to fact, events or editor positions. At best what you assigned was purely arbitrary, but more than likely it was a way to fluff up the numbers of the ‘skeptic editors’ to make them look like remarkable Wikipedians.

You placed a number of editors in one category when the data shows they were in the other. There is nothing in the data set of all ten editors to assign five of them as ‘pro sheldrake’ and five of them as ‘skeptic’. You failed to mention that David in DC, Lou Sanders, who for some reason you strangely put in the ‘skeptic’ category, were making the same or similar arguments as Capn, Tumbleman, barleybannocks, who you put in the ‘pro Sheldrake’ category.

Why would you arbitrarily assign them to the same set of editors as Manul/Vzaak and Barney Barney?

Lou and David in DC gave you your biggest data sets for productivity, yet you arbitrarily assigned them in the skeptic category when they were making the exact same arguments that you accuse others of making as being  ‘pro Sheldrake’, and were even threatened with sanctions by the skeptical editors and quit editing the page because of it.

Using your arbitrary assignments of ‘pro Sheldrake’ and ‘skeptic’, we could also add editors 74 and Liz and very scary mary, who noted the same problem regarding the small but vocal set of skeptic editors, and were frequently but ‘coincidentally’ harassed by those same skeptics. I won’t add those because already your numbers are already crushed and your data is made meaningless.

Here is what your data set should  have looked liked, keeping your arbitrary assignments, even without including the other, as you call it ‘pro Sheldrake’ editors.



Suddenly the difference isn’t so impressive. Now the data only reveals that you use data to mislead 🙁

And something else you left out was that the biggest editor on Sheldrake, former editor Vzaak AKA Manul –  has such a large article count because they got approved to perform hundreds of auto-reverts a day, but those active contributions are negligible in number as those are programmatic actions taken by a script, not a human behavior. So to include that data from Manul could be considered cheating.

Vzaak/Manul is a skeptical activist through and through, beginning editing on the Sheldrake article as a Single Purpose Account and focusing on Skeptic Biographies from Vzaak’s formation until the auto-reverts began on Feb 11 nearly all his activity was devoted to ranting about pseudoscience but not doing much else on Wikipedia, and his percentages haven’t improved much since then, if you look closely.

If we included the (somewhat dated, I’ll admit) number of article edits Manul made before starting auto-reverts – here is what his part of the data set would have looked like without his auto-reverts. Here is a preview… it doesn’t uphold your claim that skeptics contribute more than the ‘whackos’ they oppose.


I know this is shocking – and I know you probably didn’t know better. So like I said, let’s explore the possibility that your not a damage control PR mastermind for organized skeptic activism on Wikipedia and elsewhere and just made a mistake in your calculations.

Since your movement prides itself on data, evidenced based facts, science, empiricism – I assume you will want to make a retraction.

I’ll hold off on the rest of my analysis of your post for now, including the interesting data that shows that what you call the ‘pro Sheldrake’ editors actually had majority consensus.

I’m also open to resolving this issue.  I think you should join me in speaking out against this sort of abuse on Wikipedia. I’m on standby.


Your ol pal

Bubblefish 🙂

PS and update: To outside readers. ‘Bubblefish’ was a moniker I used on the JREF discussion forum almost 10 years ago, where Tim and a few other Wikipedia editors and I had a nerdy conversation about truth values and philosophy. Apparently they took the conversation far more serious than I did and members of this community hold a grudge against me almost a decade later. Members of this community have invaded my privacy and doxxed me on their forums as well as Wikipedia, continuing with payback articles written about me on Rational Wiki and Encyclopedia Dramatica. Tim Farley is apart of an activist group who encourage and participate in Wikipedia editing. He also has a grudge against yours truly and has participated in a campaign of harassment against me as payback for editing on and exposing these behaviors on Wikipedia, as this website discloses with verifiable evidence.

I am a pro science and politically progressive individual, and not notable. There are no theories I promote, no products that I sell, nor any interests I have that warrant such promotion of mistrust where none is warranted. 

Worse, as a developer of technology, I’ve had to readjust various fundraising and revenue generating activities and have had to explain to my child why people on the internet are saying strange things about his father.

While the skeptic community seeks to perform some very valuable services – these behaviors should not be tolerated. White Male Anger, whether it is a legion of Trump supporters or the Tea Party to Gamergate activists, or 19 year olds writing Rational Wiki articles – does not give anyone the right to harass and invade my privacy and dignity as a human being online.




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