RationalWiki trolls have stolen my narrative, and I want it back. (November 2015)

“His current effort is aimed, in part, on fixing his own personal reputation in Google results, where a very snarky and very critical article on him is the number one search result for his name. So don’t link to him…if you need to refer to him refer to the RationalWiki article.”  Tim Farley to Susan Gerbic on Facebook, December 2013

“You idiots don’t seem to realise that I made the Viharo and Jon Donnis pages here, then set up a whole load of other people and turned them against each other, as well as at Rationalwiki. I also added Viharo;s page at Rationalwiki.” RationalWiki editor “Kroms”

 

 

 

Back in 2013, members of a small niche editing community on Wikipedia constructed a “hit piece” and revenge article on me following my encountering them and confronting them on Wikipedia for their toxic and misleading consensus building.

This case study focuses on Wikipedia abuses and behaviors, and from my view RationalWiki is just an extension of Wikipedia, both through a small community comprised of senior Wikipedia editors like David Gerard as well as sharing MediaWiki software and formatting in common.

This small group is unusually toxic, with deception, intentional false light and slander, impersonations, and gaslighting all used on their targets.

What is it like to be harassed and gaslighted?

Being a white guy in his 40’s, I’ve never experienced any harassment or targeting in my life, something that women or minority voices consistently experience.

That is until I edited a Wikipedia article and discovered this small but influential toxic editing collective who found my participation threatening, I was labeled “woo!” and once labeled, it became justifiable in this communities mind that it was okay to harass and target people based on that label alone.

Currently, I’m a founder of a tech company. My company and my work are completely uninvolved and unrelated to any and all topics of RationalWiki’s interest.  My entire professional life has been in media and technology, especially as a creator or developer. Additionally, my views are not that un-similar to many shared on RationalWiki, I consider myself and always have, a pro-science and progressive individual.  I have a very responsible life and have to report to investors and potential clients often. I manage teams. I have to pitch new ideas. I have a life where it is important people take me seriously.

The RationalWiki article on me is neither a criticism nor a documentation of my activities, it is an intentional misrepresentation of who I am, as other genuine “skeptics” have also noted.

Despite good-faith attempts to engage with RationalWiki editors about its misleading nature, and despite a consensus amongst their own members to delete it (9 – 6), the article about me remains, primarily because – as they put it in their own words, it “pisses Viharo off so much.”

Gaslighting, RationalWiki style.

Gaslighting is one of the more disturbed tactics leveraged on RationalWiki by their editors including David Gerard, where sincere claims of harassment are used against their targets.

I’ve detailed an extensive study into the harassment I received from editing a Wikipedia article – so experiencing gaslighting directly as a white professional male helps me understand how gaslighting is used psychologically by anyone in power such as we see in the mainstream news with the Weinstein scandal and sexual harassment claims made by women are treated.

For example – at one point my RationalWiki article it stated;

“Viharo has a persecution complex where even if his real name is mentioned — he claims he is being “harassed”.[9] He has gone as far as fabricating a claim he has been harassed offline, or on his phone — which there is no evidence for.[10]

The citations used to establish the above? Check them yourself, the RW editors are actually citing RationalWiki as the source of what they publish on RationalWiki.

The individual who wrote that sentence in the article, Krom, is the very same Wikipedia editor who has illegally and maliciously targeted me online since 2013.

This is why RationalWiki is the worst thing on the internet.

Fake news and harassment are all over the internet, but I believe the type practiced on RationalWiki is the worst of the worst, primarily because they are weaponizing and leveraging the credibility of science, education, and rationality as a pulpit for targeted harassment.

Whats more, RationalWiki looks like Wikipedia – users stumbling onto RationalWiki via Google search may often not even know the difference.

Consider; RationalWiki’s mission statement is to expose quackery in medicine, and their own editors are publishing their own psychological diagnostics on individuals they target, leveraging the credibility of science and rationality and weaponizing it using exploitations in MediaWiki software.

I believe this is probably one of the more harmful ways to communicate science and progressive politics to the mainstream.

Most recent example, deconstructed.

Rome Viharo is a social media strategist,[2]conspiracy theorist, internet troll and teach the controversy-style pseudosciencepromoter.

Issues

  1. Social media strategist” – well not technically false it does not reflect my professional status (I’m the CEO of a startup for the past few years). While I have advised to social media strategy, I’ve also advised to media strategy period, having created large campaigns for some of the biggest brands and agencies in the world. I have consulted as a strategist on and off over the years. I’ve also been a music producer, filmmaker, along with a few other hats. Remarkably all of that is missing.This is an example of these communities “weasel” language, misframing or distorting factual information just enough to discredit the individual for public shaming.
  2. “Conspiracy Theorist” – this is classic RationalWIki gaslighting. What conspiracy theories do I believe? 911 truth? reptilians? flat earth? Hardly. They are actually referring and dismissing this case study, laden with direct evidence of their behaviors as a conspiracy theory, and then leading with that phrase to park me into a shaming category for their community to rile over.
  3.  “Internet troll” – Tim Farley (apart of the community) calls me this because I am “verbose” online, and these editors called me a troll when I questioned their methods of consensus building on Wikipedia, a snarky way to attack someone who was criticizing it responsibly.
  4.  “Teach the controversy style pseudo-science promoter”.  These editors once impersonated me arguing for “Creationism” and even go around the internet claiming I have authored theories of evolution with Rupert Sheldrake. Utterly bizarre misinformation. They even threatened me via email that they would do this.
  5. The facts? I helped build productive consensuses on two Wikipedia biographical articles (Sheldrake, Chopra) and solely over noncontroversial biographical information (such as Rupert Sheldrake really is a Cambridge biologist and Deepak Chopra really is a medical doctor, with a medical license, with a medical staff). Remarkably, if I was a “pseudoscience promoter” like they claim, I would be promoting those ideas on my blog, right? Never once is my actual blog (since 2008) “romeviharo.com” ever used to show what my actual worldviews are.

See, if the article simply stated the actual reality of my biography; “Rome Viharo is a founder of a tech startup, media strategist, former music producer and publisher of Wikipedia We Have a Problem “- it really wouldn’t necessitate much of a controversy, would it?

Although Viharo says he does not personally support a pseudoscience,[3] he promotes Rupert Sheldrake‘s theory of morphic resonance and Deepak Chopra‘s quantum woo through a balance fallacy; the latter resulted in him being banned from Wikipedia in 2013 after he tried to re-write Sheldrake’s and Chopra’s articles (ignoring Wikipedia’s policy about due and undue weightWikipedia's W.svg) that started a flame war. Shortly after his ban, Viharo created the website Wikipedia We Have A Problem that claims a group of skeptics on Wikipedia doxed and “harassed” him, for which there exists no evidence.

Issues:

  1. Editing two Wikipedia articles, specifically correcting biographical information fully supported by all proper Wikipedia references, is under no circumstances even remotely close to “promoting pseudoscience”, a term this community abuses often.
  2. All consensus building was on their biographical histories, not their ideas, theories, or books.
  3.  “balance fallacy” is a weasel word, and this had nothing to do with my banning on Wikipedia, which was instigated by these same editors writing the RW article. If anyone actually reads the full editing history on Wikipedia I participated in, they would see I won consensus on both articles, and ultimately won support from Wikipedia admins and senior Wikipedia editors.
  4. This website and case study is laden with verifiable third-party evidence, why RationalWiki continues to say there is no evidence is continually and only discrediting their own publication – even proper “skeptics” have visited their community and told them so.

 

Prior to his antics on Wikipedia, Viharo trolled online message-boards and forums that also resulted in bans.[4] His various usernames include Bubblefish,[5][6][7]PillyM,[5]WWHP,[6]Tumbleman,[5][8]23canaries,[9] and hoofish.[10][11]

Issues

  1. I was banned on one forum in 2005 in a petty disagreement on a discussion forum. More than half the community supported and defended me. Who cares?
  2. In the early days of the internet, before Myspace and even Wikipedia, 2003,  I created an online show and persona called “bubblefish show” for early online “BBS” which was a very funny and productive way to deal with online “trolls” and this was the precursor to what is now aiki.wiki. 
  3. All other accounts listed were my anonymous forum account names on different forums over a period of 15 years, hardly the vast network of a troll but a rather normal internet account activity.
  4. This means they are “doxing” me (which began on Wikipedia as a form of editor suppression) which is something that actual “trolls” do.
  5. I have a sense of humor.

The whole of all of my work, both current and technical/financial or historical (which is more creative) – is positive and collaborative. Even the “Bubblefish” show, going back almost 16 years now, was a funny way to instigate a “win-win” conversation with online trolls or online bullies.

Anyone who personally or professionally knows me will know this as well, I work with a high degree of integrity.

I offer my own experience and story as a case study into online targeting and harassment, specifically the types of toxic persuasion that misinformation campaigns can develop and produce, and ultimately a set of tools to solve these types of problems.

Rome Viharo, November 2017

 


Historical Timeline, case study notes

My narrative history begins on RationalWiki:  October of 2013

Oct 2013: I found myself targeted in an editor suppression campaign on Wikipedia.

That very week editors involved with Rupert Sheldrake’s article on Wikipedia got me sanctioned via a nasty “social propaganda” campaign designed to suppress editors away from an article, they simultaneously created a section about me on RationalWiki’s Rupert Sheldrake article as payback, specifically listing me as an editor on his Wikipedia article.

t should be noted that the creation of my RationalWiki article was an editing account “David1234”, which has been identified as being part of the infamous Oliver and Darryl Smith editing collaborative, two twin brothers with apparent sociopathic online activities that at times are so bizarre they deserve their own category. 

These individuals specifically engage in over the top clandestine digital operations likely fueled by a mental imbalance. Their campaigns against me and a few others have extended into realms that have even driven me to contact the FBI and report them to the authorities.

The Smiths are known for manipulating communities to build their own personal armies. I show how this individual has manipulated other communities elsewhere, but here we find this individual even bragging about how he successfully turned RationalWiki into his personal army and manipulating them with misinformation about me designed to provoke them to target me in response.

You idiots don’t seem to realise that I made the Viharo and Jon Donnis pages here, then set up a whole load of other people and turned them against each other, as well as at Rationalwiki. I also added Viharo;s page at Rationalwiki. – user “Kroms” posting on “Encyclopedia Dramatica”

November 2013 – RationalWiki editors begin stalking me on the internet for sources for the article.

Desperately needing to morph the “mission” of RationalWiki with the “excuse” of having an article on me, editors I encountered originally on Wikipedia scoured the web for any resources they could use to justify the creation of an attack article that also supported their efforts on Wikipedia to sanction me.

“David1234” compiled most of this history, apparently having a “dossier” on me that even claimed to know my personal or anonymous Reddit accounts. I felt stalked online by this individual.

In November of 2013, RationalWiki’s first narrative on me stated the following.

Rome Viharo is an American internet troll, conspiracy theorist and pseudoscience promoter most well known for his sock puppetry on Wikipedia.

What’s more interesting than the references they use is the sources they omit entirely.

For example, my own personal blog which actually does show what I promote and what my worldview is never once cited or referenced.

Some of the sources they do use as references to support those very same claims about me are simply citing their own statements made by me, by them, on Wikipedia.

For example, the article is quick to say I was known for sock-puppeteering Wikipedia in November of 2013, a tactic these same editors used on Wikipedia to suppress my participation, but failed since I was cleared of sock-puppeteering by the Wikipedia admins.

Of course, there is no evidence of me being an ‘internet troll’ other than by these very same Wikipedia and RationalWiki editors.

There are no references to me being a ‘conspiracy theorist’ or even what conspiracy theories I promote.

Evolution: Narrative as of December 2013

Rome Viharo is a California social media strategist known for trolling the internet to support pseudoscience, spread conspiracy theories, and promote unfathomable gibberish about something he calls OS 0 1 2.

Now they are adding things from my creative past (former music producer, digital filmmaker, and viral media producer)and mashing it out of context, taking  a viral media creative project from 2003 in an awkward attempt to further frame me as a ‘crank’ and ‘woo supporter’ in addition to finding images on the internet from a movie I was an extra in when I was in my early 20’s, listing me as a ‘failed actor’, of course.

Any media on the internet they could find to create a suspicious narrative they did.

This is called “flag waving”.

When someone is flag waved in a wiki war, you won’t ever find what you would expect. None of the citations RationalWiki publishes on me support the narrative the article is publishing.

However, by January of 2014, I began to publish Wikipedia We Have a Problem and I confronted them on this behavior.

Apparently, this became clear to RationalWiki’s own community and there was a request to delete their article with the editor saying “this just looks like a poorly assembled hit piece on an individual”.

And for a brief moment of sanity on RationalWiki, my article was deleted, only to return a few days later.

This time, however, the editors on Rational Wiki, including Leuders/Lucky Louie, decided that they would ‘clean up’ the article but still wanted the article to be able to discredit me while linking me with as many links out of context as they could find.

So next my narrative evolved. Specifically, it continues on discrediting any thing I have to say about Wikipedia and attempts to discredit me as some internet loon crack pot, a campaign to damage my reputation so as to protect their own from fall out of Wikipedia, We Have a Problem.

Narrative as of February 2014

Rome Viharo is a social media strategist known for his support for the pseudoscientific ideas of Rupert Sheldrake and belief in conspiracy theories regarding the activities of skeptics on Wikipedia. He also promotes a bizarre mishmash of ideas he calls OS/AL 0 1 2.

 

They evolved the lead to still include listing me as a ‘supporter of Rupert Sheldrake’ so as to keep in step with their “mission”.

They specified that I am only a conspiracy theorist because I noted, responsibly,  that those involved with this issue of harassment on Wikipedia and Rational Wiki are indeed individuals who self-describe themselves as “skeptics.”

Ignoring huge swaths of my professional life, the lead mentions ‘OS 012’, not as a creative project that had a fully disclosed tongue in cheek nature that ended in 2007, no longer on the internet, but some agenda I am ‘advancing’.

RationalWiki editors do not appear to have much of a creative background. The majority of my life has been pursuing a wildly creative background, and as a designer artist, it was pretty apparent to me that RationalWiki was trying to paint me in a box simply because they could not make sense of someone who did not fit into their black and white world.

Anything about me on the internet to justify why they think I’m a ‘crank’ and a ‘woo’ they do because they are forced to make this article about me fit the RationalWiki “mission.”

By February of 2014, Wikipedia We Have A Problem began to go viral, and I was contacted by a host of individuals and organizations asking for my advice on their Wikipedia problem.

I decided to take a year off my normal work and focus on this issue, which to be honest I found utterly fascinating.

Enter Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra is also a target of RationalWiki, and numerous skeptic organizations. That makes me fair game, in the eyes of RationalWiki. And I don’t mind being criticized for work I’ve actually done, it’s just that RationalWiki is misrepresenting the work I did with Deepak Chopra into something that it is not.

One of those people who contacted me was Deepak Chopra, who gave me a small grant to continue my research into wiki wars on Wikipedia, using Deepak Chopra’s Wikipedia article as my next study into consensus building. Immediately, his wiki war became my second keen part of my study into editor suppression.

To RationalWiki, this is akin to me promoting “woo”, someone who makes a quick buck from selling pseudoscience.

This is a juvenile view of the world. Deepak Chopra is a mainstream celebrity who runs a media empire, my skill set is in media and technology. Deepak worked with me because of my skill set, and I have not played in role in marketing or promoting Deepak Chopra.

I created the architecture for ISHAR, or Integrative Studies Historical Archive and Repository and engineered a crowd funding campaign for the platform.

I believe in the necessity for ISHAR, a reliable online resource for trusted and credible information on certain topics. The architecture for ISHAR was just apart of the aiki wiki platform suite and is hardly controversial.

I’m proud of the work that I’ve done, there is nothing ideological about the work I was tasked to do, but having it distorted, and then weaponized against me to paint a picture of me as an “internet crank who promotes pseudoscience” is how RationalWiki choose to treat me.

Narrative as of December 2014

Rome Viharo is a social media strategist and Internet troll known for his support for the pseudoscientific ideas of Rupert Sheldrake and belief in conspiracy theories regarding the activities of skeptics on Wikipedia. He has worked as the director of operations for Deepak Chopra‘s Integrative Studies Historical Archive and Repository (ISHAR).[1] He also advances a bizarre mishmash of philosophical ideas he calls OS/AL 0 1 2, the promotion of which has at times been indistinguishable from internet trolling.

 

In spite of the criticism they have received, unbelievably RationalWiki continues to deny this harassment is happening.

Narrative as of November 2015


Rome Viharo is a Wikipedia sockpuppeteer, banned for defending the pseudo-scientific ideas of Rupert Sheldrake and trolling Sheldrake’s talkpage with multiple accounts. Viharo has described himself as an “eccentric” who argues for a conspiracy theory about organized skeptic activity on Wikipedia. He is also known for creating Deepak Chopra‘s Integrative Studies Historical Archive and Repository (ISHAR), and for advancing “OS/AL 012” and “Aiki Wiki”. Viharo is in his 40’s and works as a social media strategist, and more recently the CEO of startup Audience Unlock.[2]

 

The framing Wikipedia, We Have a Problem as a bunch of ‘conspiracy theories’ is of interesting note, especially when they then boldly declare that ‘no such conspiracy of skeptics appears to exist‘ yet offer the reader no rebuttal to the dozens of instances of suppression and harassment listed throughout this website.

This highlights the true purpose of RationalWiki’s article, to discredit this website and protect the small collection of Wikipedia editors who have been featured in this study into editor suppression.

Narrative as of June 2017

Rome Viharo is a pseudoscience promoter[2] and internet troll[3] who operates under aliases Bubblefish,[4][5][6] PillyM,[4] WWHP,[5] Tumbleman,[4][7]23canaries,[8] and hoofish.[9] He is also the “creator” of OS 012/AL 012/Aiki Wiki, a poorly defined concept for which Viharo spends more time “virally marketing” than actually developing.

This year, I published an article critical of Wikipedia, detailing how RationalWiki trustee David Gerard, a cryptocurrency antagonist, is writing and guarding articles related to the blockchain.

The article also criticized RationalWiki, primarily for attacking individual’s reputations, especially in response to valid, non toxic criticism.

In response, RationalWiki trustee “Fuzzy Cat Potato” decided to re – edit my article.

As we can see, my narrative is still being twisted to fit their mission, while painfully torturous logic and misrepresentation is attempting to be used to establish me as an unreliable suspect on the internet.

They list 6 different username accounts I have had on different forums over a period of 15 years, and list common user names used on such forums as “aliases”. Why use the word “alias” for what are simple user name accounts on different forums? Especially when in the following paragraph they claim again this website is a “conspiracy theory”, while doxing fifteen years of my user name accounts on different forums, and then ironically offer that as to proof they are not targeting me.

 

Slander

Crossing the line into direct slander, the article on Rational Wiki about me now ends with:

Viharo now dedicates a lot of his time stalking the Wikipedia editors (including admins) involved in banning his sockpuppets. A section on his website “Editors and Admins Involved”[50] lists 10 editors, who find their internet activities recorded.

 

Skeptic activists cannot handle confrontation or criticism. When confronted with it, they take desperate measures, like any group with an agenda, to damage control perceptions of their activities.

When all of this started in December of 2013, it was originally Tim Farley who let the cat out of the box, admitting to RationalWiki’s strategy.

Confronting Susan Gerbic on Facebook, Tim Farley said “His current effort is aimed, in part, on fixing his own personal reputation in Google results, where a very snarky and very critical article on him is the number one search result for his name.”

RationalWiki has a hard time understanding why professionals like myself find it upsetting and disruptive when a hit piece, designed to harm someone’s reputation, hits #1 on Google, and impacts their professional life.

 

 

 

 

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