Request for a new consensus – denied

 

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A sandbox for consensus

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A sandbox is a practice edit. It’s found on every users own account page. On Oct 7th, I completed my Sandbox edit – a first pass comprised of a neutral point of view the best I saw it, and addressing concerns that both sides of the argument were making. You can see my sandbox here, which frames the POV of how I viewed the subject matter at the time as evidence.

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Critical questioning avoided, personal attacks delivered instead

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On Oct 8th, I officially began the process to reach a new consensus, inviting all editors, including Vzaak, Roxy the Dog, Miles Money, Barney the Barney Barney to participate. None of them did. Instead  6 days later I was sanctioned on Wikipedia and banned.

What does anyone do if there is critical discussion happening to build consensus, and critical arguments are not considered or addressed? This is a common problem in any debate, and this is also a common criticism of Wikipedia, as found on Wikipedia’s article on Criticisms of Wikipedia:

“The standard of debate on Wikipedia has been called into question by persons who have noted that contributors can make a long list of salient points and pull in a wide range of empirical observations to back up their arguments, only to have them ignored completely on the site.[126]

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An argument based on a house of cards?

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I found the argument that was maintaining  the WP FRINGE policy the skeptics were using to control the page appeared to me to be a very circular argument that appeared to be built upon a house of cards. I wanted to focus on what I believed to be the core flaws of their argument.

As long as Rupert Sheldrake is evidenced as engaging in pseudoscience – the skeptics editing the page believed they had support of WP:FRINGE guidelines to control his biography in any manner they choose and believed anyone holding an opinion otherwise was guilty of disrupting their editing, a Sheldrake ‘fanboy’ and a ‘woo promoter’. In my case they made their discrediting of editors who disagreed with them more severe.

So from late September to the first week in October – I began to deconstruct those arguments in the talk page. At first only supporting other editors questioning of the skeptics arguments.

This example here will show this approach and this approach is consistent in all of my ‘Talk’ participation which anyone can confirm. It’s a very deliberate approach and I did not waiver from this approach at any point.

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By Oct 7th a significant increase in personal attacks in response

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As I isolated each of their arguments and brought each one into critical consideration, the more I was ‘personally attacked’ and the  more I was left with the last word or an unanswered question. They were continually avoiding addressing specific questioning and kept referencing this ‘social experiment’ and ‘history of trolling’ argument that Vzaak introduced weeks earlier, but was dismissed.

For example.

“The sources support the fact that he has little to no support within the scientific community, and his work has no standing whatsoever. Trying to weasel out of this isn’t going to work, whatever social experiments you’re plotting. Barney the barney barney (talk) 16:26, 27 September 2013 (UTC)”

“Tumbleman you have already mentioned that you are Rome Viharo in one of your posts so I am not “outing” you. You have been banned from countless forums for trolling, and I believe that is what you are doing here. Nothing you suggest has been productive. You have been involved in promoting pseudoscientific ideas at TED talks on woo claims about consciousness. It’s highly likely you know Sheldrake in real life who has been part of these TED talks. You have blog posts and YouTube channel which praises the work of Sheldrake, you have other connections to Sheldrake and you seem to link morphic resonance with your own beliefs. You should just lay out your cards on the table and admit you are a full blown Sheldrake supporter. As for your post… you say Sheldrake is a biologist, he doesn’t classify as promoting fringe ideas and he is part of the mainstream scientific community. That’s not what the sources say and if you honestly believe that then you may need one of theseDan skeptic (talk) 19:04, 7 October 2013 (UTC)

I was feeling very confident about my arguments but they never appeared to address any of the core questions or points I was making.

I believe there is a direct relationship between users behaviors in a discussion when they avoid critical questioning. I believe that the avoidance of critical questioning is evidence of a lack of consistency in the argument.

I believe the rate of avoidance of critical questioning is close or exact to the rate of personal attacks in a critical deliberation. Sometimes this can be subtle, sometimes extremely polemic – but consistent in all extremes of this is a focus on the person delivering the argument and less on the actual argument itself.

To me, the behaviors of Vzaak and her editing pals evidenced this phenomenon in discourse, almost too perfectly.

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That peculiar person. Moi?

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Vzaak posted personal information to other editors, found here.

Vzaak along with editors Barney Barney Barney, IRWolfie, Miles Money and Louie Louie continued to discuss once again my personal identity and off wiki project from 2004 for making a case against me with evidence ‘trolling’ Wikipedia to get me sanctioned.

On Oct 2cd –  I found an ‘Talk’ page section created by Vzaak on an uninvolved Wikipedia editors page called “That Peculiar Person.”

What was strange however to me was that they were bringing this to an uninvolved editors attention. The editor’s name is EEng. EEng then came to watch me.

 

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EEng, an uninvolved editor comes to ‘watch me’

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Why would they bring this to another Wikipedia editor, one who was not involved in any way with the Sheldrake article? It’s difficult to determine from the evidence – but what is easy to determine from the evidence is that personal information about me was  being distributed to editors around Wikipedia and EEng was alerted and informed them he would ‘check me out’.

At this time, I began to get scrutiny on my ‘Talk’ page with a visit by David in DC and EEng. I was being called into question again.

This time, it regarded what I wrote on my talk page on September 30th, my attempt at being transparent. David in DC expressed a concern that I had ulterior motives and that perhaps I was not here to make the encyclopedia better. What case study was I doing? Was this some experiment?

I felt ridiculous. I could see how it may look like that, especially in light of the personal information Vzaak was spreading about me. In my attempt at transparency I over dramatized my presence. Childishly naive of me, I admit. I cleared this up on the ‘Talk’ page and got supportive comments from both David in DC and EEng in doing so.

Thinking at the time that EEng was sympathetic, it was disturbing for me later to find him harassing me and never once participating in the Talk section on Rupert’s article or any edits there.

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Anyone want to clear up their problem with Tumbleman?

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I believed at the time, and still do –  that attempting to damage my credibility in ‘Talk’ was not only a personal attack, but an avoidance of critical questioning.

So I posted a new section in Sheldrake ‘Talk’ called ‘Tumbleman Talk Page’ - inviting any editor who had any concerns to come talk with me about it on my page. Not one of them did.

Rather, they continued to ‘plot’ against me, ignoring not only my critical questioning, but my invitations to resolve any concerns they had about my presence there.

It was around this time, especially because I was personally experiencing a very organized ‘harassment’ – that I asked some of these editors if they were members of the Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia organization. Craig Weiler was posting this on his blog which was covering the Wikipedia article, even mentioning my Tumbleman activities. It did not seem like an unreasonable question. From my point of view, they were organized in terms of harassing meand they were all avowed skeptics. If I had to be transparent, so would they. If they had an agenda, I wanted them to  be transparent about it.

On Oct 7th, enter editor Roxy the Dog. He came into Sheldrake’s ‘Talk’ section and again posted the personal information about me that Vzaak was sharing with everyone.

As the evidence shows, Vzaak knew this was unacceptable because Vzaak deleted his section and archived it in a manner no one could see it with the edit’ Tumbleman does not want this here’.

I show this as evidence because I want to be clear, Vzaak knew it was inappropriate to share my personal information.

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Request for a new and rational consensus

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On Oct 8th, I officially began the process to reach a new consensus, inviting all editors, including Vzaak, Roxy the Dog, Miles Money, Barney the Barney Barney to participate.

Although I requested consensus from all of them, not one of them participated in the process and all just continued with their talk page discussions regarding my ‘years long world wide social media experiment’, ironically a day or so later accusing me of spreading conspiracy theories about them regarding the Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia organization.

 

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Is there any evidence for disruptive behavior by Tumbleman anywhere?

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These were my core arguments and my only arguments. If there was any evidence to be found of me ‘trolling’ or being disruptive in any manner it would be in these discussions.

1.)“Sheldrake is a parapsychologist? Reference?”

Here you will see that these editors would avoid the critical questioning, edit war and revert, and would refuse to accept that there was no community consensus for their edits. You will also see a new ‘skeptic’ editor joining the discussion, Dan Skeptic. The response to my critical questioning was not addressing the arguments with common sense reasoning – but with more accusations that I am just ‘trolling’ and therefore my critical questioning does not need to be considered.

2.)“Is WP:FRINGE being applied unnecessarily to Sheldrake’s page?”

These arguments also started to receive a lot of support from other editors – and again as the evidence shows – the skeptic editors would fail to respond to critical questions providing very little if non common sense arguments in return.

3.) ‘Request for new consensus on biography of a living person, page needs neutrality here

Response from editor Tom Butler said “Tumbleman’s argument is well reasoned, I suggest we use it as a template for neutrality on the page.”

Barney the Barney Barney’s sole response was “This is more of Tumbleman (talk · contribs)’s complete nonsense that selectively ignores sources and tries wikilawyering his way of WP:FRINGE and WP:NPOV by ignoring the sources and creatively interpreting Sheldrake’s attempts at science as “philosophy”, and should be given the due credit it deserves, which is none. “

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Community support  for Tumbleman grows  and personal attacks increase

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The new consensus was beginning to build on the page, with a number of us in agreement on key components of these arguments. A ‘new edit’ section was created and an editor made a change based on this series of argumentation. This edit was reverted immediately by the skeptics and the following argument arose. This time the responses to my arguments consisted of accusing me of intentionally deleting ‘Talk’ comments as more evidence of my trolling – yet no arguments providing any refutations of critical questions raised.

New skeptical editors were now coming to the page, Red Pen of Doom and the infamous JPS formally known as ‘Science Apologist’ – a wikipedia editor banned for sockpuppetry and incivility years previously, but now back in action on Wikipedia.

Then it was just an edit war of reverts between all sides.

I then challenged all of these reverts in a series of new arguments

1.)  A ‘former biochemist’ reasoned and common sense arguments ignored

2.)  Why are reverts happening to an edit with no consensus and minority opinion?

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Next attempt to sanction me: spreading conspiracy theories

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By now – the skeptical editors, clearly frustrated by the support and argumentation – opened a new admin noticeboard about ‘The Tumbleman’ (along with Craig Wheeler, a parapsychologist blogger) accusing us of spreading conspiracy theories and claiming that I admitted to trolling. You can see this noticeboard hearing here.

It backfired

I simply explained my position in the hearing, drawing not attention to whether they were members of this organization, but regarding their behaviors and agenda on the actual article itself.

Liz – a respected Wikipedian with an interest in conflict resolution – suggested I make a summary in this Rfc of all the behaviors of these editors in question. Instead of the RFC being focused on me, now it would be focused on them.

Before I did this, I decided to take a few days off from editing – as the past week was entirely stressful having to balance reasoned argumentation with continual attempts to harass me.

When I got back from my self imposed exile and break, I would formalize my case against them in the RfC per Liz’s suggestions and with soft support from admin Tom Morris.

That was never allowed to happen. This was to  be my last time editing and participating in ‘Talk’ on Wikipedia. A few days after this – I was banned indefinitely from editing Wikipedia.

Read the next chapter: The first trial for sockpuppetry