Wikipedia:Fringe theories/Noticeboard

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AAH again

I know the section for this is still open above, but I'd like to re-highlight Aquatic ape hypothesis (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views).

Currently the editors of the article include jps (talk) going against User:MjolnirPants (who is a self-admitted advocate, albeit relatively well-behaved), as well as three pro-fringe POV-warriors, one of which just expressed willingness to edit war over the article. 74.70.146.1 (talk) 22:10, 7 March 2017 (UTC)

"Relatively" meaning "MjolnirPants thinks this hypothesis has gotten a bad rap, but still wants to see it documented like every other fringe theory and has been working as hard at that as any other anti-fringe editor at that page for the past week". But I appreciate the aspersions.
Seriously though, more skeptical eyes on the article are always welcome. The article got re-written into a pro-AAH fluff piece over the course of several months, and while the most uncivil proponent has been sanctioned out of participation there, there are still editors who resist any attempt to bring it into line. Currently, there's a loose consensus that primary sources are okay in the section outlining the theory, but me and jps are of the opinion that the section is entirely too long and detailed. There's another loose consensus that the article is still a little too promotional, as well. There's an ongoing debate about what sorts of images are appropriate that I really think could use some outside opinions. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 22:33, 7 March 2017 (UTC)
It's funny to see 74.70.146.1 (whoever this unnamed user is) labelling a relatively neutral editor as "advocate"...
I think it's fair to treat the AAH article as a combination of two intermingled entities, one being the original Aquatic Ape by Hardy/Morgan which is still largely rejected and ignored by scientists, another being the recent reformulated the Waterside model(s), which have been slowly entering mainstream scientific discussions for some years. The issue is such paradoxical that while a large part of the article is rightfully dedicated to explain how fringe the topic is, there exists a whole "efforts" section showing the recent developments and the hard evidence obtained.
I'd say that the "anti-fringe" or more neutral editors usually focus on the rejection, and the so called "pro-fringe" are more willing to show the scientific aspects. Due the abovementioned dual nature (AAH being marginally pseudoscience and legit science at the same time) we must pay extra care when assessing the article as too promotional or too conservative.
As an example, many of the critics in Langdon 1997 have now become invalid or been refuted by later publications like Bender et al., this antiqued review is still prominently cited in the article. Or as a few editors pointed out, some portion of the article may be too relying on primary sources. The balance of due weight should be adjusted from both sides. Chakazul (talk) 04:06, 8 March 2017 (UTC)
I unwatched the article when it went from "utterly shit" to "somewhat shit". Like many fringe articles on topics with an entrenched fanbase I suspect that's the best Wikipedia will ever achieve. In my view all the primaries should go. On other fringe topics (e.g. stuff around Rudolf Steiner) ISTR arbcom ruled no primary source should be used for statements about the "fringe theory" and expert secondaries should be used instead. This is general good practice anyway, and I think should be applied to AAH - but too many editors are in love with making Wikipedia a secondary source I think. Alexbrn (talk) 08:51, 8 March 2017 (UTC)
It is indeed peculiar that the proponents want to cite chapter and verse from articles that are of oblique importance to describing "AAH". Meanwhile we have an article which meanders about in its description and never makes any substantive claims. This is how the scientifically-minded supporters of AAH would have it (and I've seen this kind of fringe promotional behavior before). The idea is that if you are vague and never directly make any claims about what should be discovered you can putter your hypothesis along until forever without the need to worry about falsification. The people claiming that anthropology will somehow incorporate the legitimate aspects (what those aspects are specifically can never be identified) into the mainstream have yet to explain how these are at all related to AAH as an idea. The "pseudoscientific" AAH is at least possible to follow. The "scientific" version is whatever you want it to be, apparently. Perfectly impossible to write a WP article on that. jps (talk) 10:45, 8 March 2017 (UTC)
  • @Chakazul:As an example, many of the critics in Langdon 1997 have now become invalid or been refuted by later publications like Bender et al., this antiqued review is still prominently cited in the article. As far as I know, Langdon published the only comprehensive review of the theory. Regardless of the merits, or lack thereof, of his critiques, his review is a prominent feature of the subject and deserves significant weight.
  • @9SGjOSfyHJaQVsEmy9NS:Meanwhile we have an article which meanders about in its description and never makes any substantive claims. I think focusing on cleaning up the Efforts made to test hypotheses section will correct that. As things sit, that section doesn't even address the heading, but instead documents attempts by the handful of proponents of this hypothesis to argue for it. I'm of the opinion that the entire section needs to go, though if we trim it down and point out some of the evidence that's been cited in the RSes as not supporting the AAH, that might make the section workable. I've already trimmed down the section describing the hypothesis, so that it is just a list of specific claims. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 16:38, 8 March 2017 (UTC)
It's not clear to me which "legitimate aspects" are being referred to here. The hypothesis is fundamentally flawed, because you would have to explain why those hominid characteristics that supposedly evolved in response to an aquatic environment persisted after the hominids left the aquatic environment. And if you could do that, you'd be demonstrating that they would have evolved anyway -- so why postulate an aquatic interlude in the first place? Mainstream anthropology is never going to "incorporate" any "legitimate aspects" -- there are none to incorporate. DoctorJoeE review transgressions/talk to me! 20:23, 8 March 2017 (UTC)
I can't speak for others, but the only "legitimate aspects" I am aware of is the fact that a small number of anthropologists have posited hypotheses functionally similar (or even identical) to arguments used by Morgan and Hardy (the two primary originators of the hypothesis). ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 20:44, 8 March 2017 (UTC)
Perhaps I missed it, but I don't see any examples of that in the article. I'm aware that a few academic anthropologists have written about the possible effects of water on human evolution, if that's what you mean -- but they are always very careful to distance themselves from any association with the AAT. AAT is one of those theories that sounds kind of plausible, until you take Anthropology 101 and realize that it makes no sense. (As I'm sure you know, Hardy was a marine biologist, and Morgan has no formal scientific training at all.) DoctorJoeE review transgressions/talk to me! 02:39, 9 March 2017 (UTC)
The "legitimate aspects" I spoke of is a loose collection of scientific works, mostly outside anthropology. They may have no relation to AAH in the beginning, for example there's some 20 years worth of acadmic literature on human's need of DHA, iodine etc, published in major journals in nutritional science without a single mention of Hardy or Morgan. After the researchers found their body of works scientifically sound and well received, or happened to notice a similarity between their results and something in AAH, they may choose to acknowledge Hardy/Morgan's thesis as an equivalent or a foundation of their work, and explicitly do so in published RS. These criteria -- solid research + explicit reference -- are mandatory in considerations here. In contrast, some may say the Coastal Migration Theory supports AAH, but since no one ever claimed a linkage, it should not be included.
These legitimate aspects include (counting as many as I know): modern diving physiology and behavior (Schagatay et al.), bipedalism (Niemitz), aquatic nutrition (Cunnane, Crowford et al.), aquatic resources exploitation (Steward, Joordens, Erlandson, etc), water birth (Odent), and a few phenomena like vernix caseosa and auditory exostosis.
I notice that virtually no criticism of AAH mentioned these aspects. Whether they chose to ignore them for some reason or tacitly admitted that they are genuine and solid (thus nothing to criticize) I couldn't know. But a consequence is that they are largely unknown to the general public and the anthropological circle, despite their importance in testing or even supporting the AAH. I think it's fair to give them due weight in the AAH article, especially after Attenborough's extensive review last year. Chakazul (talk) 04:06, 9 March 2017 (UTC)
This is exactly the kind of argument I'm referring to above. The nutrition argument is a really strange one because the obvious question is what aspects in particular are AAH-related? I don't think any of the WP:MAINSTREAM nutrition articles are making claims about specific evolutionary pressure coming from aquatic pasts, but I have seen some WP:FRINGE nutrition articles make that claim (in a "evolutionary fetishization" fashion that is much maligned in academia -- compare evolutionary psychology). The references you include are to a lot of AAH proponents, but the works are so vague and poorly cited as to not really serve the purpose being claimed. Some of the claims (e.g. those associated with water birth) are themselves fringe, so we're really running down blind alleys chasing ideas outside the academic mainstream here). To claim that these ideas are not fringe seems to be the game, but in spite of the publications (some of which are in poorly vetted journals, I might add), there is no real WP:FRIND evaluative work to point to other than dismissal. The best we can do is find criticisms of the entire field using the point that AAH is no worse than the "standard explanations". But this doesn't inoculate AAH from the criticisms that are leveled against it, even though it is unfair that similar criticisms haven't been leveled against other equally problematic arguments. jps (talk) 15:42, 9 March 2017 (UTC)
If you think the nutrition argument is fringe, you may wish to refer to special issues in Journal of Human Evolution[1] and Quaternary International[2] dedicated to this topic. I hope you're not accusing them as fringe journals promoting "evolutionary fetishization". As said above, the idea of freshwater/marine diet as a driving force is based on a long tradition of solid research published in peer-reviewed journals. We know the mainstream is land-based meat eating, yet aquatic diet is a major topic in human evolution and archaeology, not marginalized small talk.
Indeed the water birth argument is the weakest among the "legitimate aspects", so it's aptly excluded from the article. The practice of water birth is itself controversial within medical science, nonetheless the recent large scale reviews showed that it is at least safe and beneficial to mothers and encouraged more investigations in this phenomenon.
These aspects, as legitimate as they may be, will not have much coverage in general topic articles per WP:ONEWAY, but I argue they are rightly represented in the current AAH article wrt their notability and relevance. Chakazul (talk) 04:11, 10 March 2017 (UTC)
Again, I think you are finding favor with speculation that is obviously evolution fetishization. That humans require certain nutrients that are abundant in seafood does not mean that humans evolved as sea-dependent beings. In fact, it's obvious that causation could be exactly backwards! If you want these topics represented in AAH (and right now, we're staring down the barrel of a gun that is about to gut a lot of this per WP:OR, you're going to need to find a good analysis that connects these ideas to AAH. I'm not finding much in the way of that in either the text itself, the sources you are identifying, or much more. In short, it looks like the pseudoscience is more notable than this accommodationist stance. jps (talk) 13:31, 10 March 2017 (UTC)
@DoctorJoeE: I had removed some references to the exact phenomenon you described not too long after making that comment, because the article presented them as "testing" the AAH, and all they did was review evidence and propose hypotheses. But yes, your description of what other anthropologists have done is highly accurate. The notion that humans spent hundreds of thousands of years (the minimum time necessary for the pressures of natural selection to make an impact) living almost exclusively on the coasts and spending much of their time in the water is very much at odds with the available evidence. Not to mention the fact that in the hundreds of thousands of years since, we haven't lost any of those traits as you previously pointed out. (Note that I consider myself a "pro-AAH type with strong skeptical principles" because I think those anthropologists who have proposed similar hypotheses with smaller scopes might be on to something, not because I believe the AAH is whole Truth.) ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 14:22, 9 March 2017 (UTC)
Fair enough -- it's also probably worth noting the total absence (at least to date) of any sort of supporting physical evidence in the fossil record. And as an aside, I can't think of a single case where an entire body of scientific research has been shown to be fundamentally wrong by people who lack expertise in that field. Not that it couldn't happen, of course -- but to my knowledge it never has.DoctorJoeE review transgressions/talk to me! 19:09, 9 March 2017 (UTC)
I think I've explained ad nauseam that there're now ample archaeological and genetic evidence of almost exclusive coastal subsistence in human past, not in the Miocene that Hardy/Morgan have guessed (they're wrong in the timeline!), but in the Pleistocene-Holocene South African and Indo-Pacific coastlines, which is compatible with the Waterside model about coastal diet. Why still repeating "the total absence of evidence" is beyond my grasp... Chakazul (talk) 04:53, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The existence of a human settlements that ate seafood along the coast is hardly evidence of "almost exclusive coastal subsistence". It's unclear to me how you can make that claim with a straight face. jps (talk) 11:18, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

It's more than just existence of coastal settlements, but

Everyone alive today is descended from a group of people from a single region who survived this catastrophe. The southern coast of Africa would have been one of the few spots where humans could survive during this climate crisis because it harbors an abundance of shellfish and edible plants. -- Curtis Marean[3]

Also, one version of the coastal migration theory is that

mitochondrial DNA variation in isolated "relict" populations in southeast Asia supports the view that there was only a single dispersal from Africa, most likely via a southern coastal route, through India and onward into southeast Asia and Australasia. -- Vincent Macaulay et al.

That's how some scientists (not necessary pro-AAH) proposed an "almost exclusive coastal subsistence" in early Homo sapiens. Chakazul (talk) 12:47, 10 March 2017 (UTC)
That's pretty far-afield from the AAH claims of persistent adaptationist proposals (which, if I understand AAH correctly, is the meat of the point). If people evacuate through the coast, that does not mean that they developed at the coast. And the fact that this particular migration theory is only one possibility reminds me of the "coherent catastrophism" claims of certain neo-Velikovskians who proposed that comets colliding with Earth at the KT extinction event were somehow confirmations of their ideas. jps (talk) 13:15, 10 March 2017 (UTC)
But this is nothing like the obvious pseudoscience of Velikovsky. I'm no biologist (neither are you, jps) but this is also a topic in the history and the sociology of science. Clearly there are versions of this hypothesis that are not within the scientific mainstream, and we need to make that clear, which the article already does, to my reading. But there is also a less visible and more recent strand, in perfectly mainstream biology, that does not necessarily address the issue directly, and certainly does not vindicate all the claims made by the original proponents, but is rather more sympathetic. There has to be room for speculation in research into the origins of humans. One thing that distinguishes this hypothesis from most of the pseudoscience we have to deal with is that it doesn't have to be an either/or. Hominids obviously had to be near some water sometimes - how near how much water for how long can be a matter for empirical research. Itsmejudith (talk) 16:08, 10 March 2017 (UTC)
That's kinda my point, Itsmejudith. Check out the Clube and Napier stuff for the phenomenon I'm describing vis-a-vis Velikovsky (you won't find a Wikipedia article on coherent catastrophism for the same reason you won't find an article on rehabilitated AAH). The story is that you have a rejected hypothesis for decades. Some people who are vaguely supportive of it find common-cause with others who come at certain ideas from other angles. Rinse. Repeat. The issue really is that the pseudoscience is hard to sift out. This isn't all the AAH-proponents' fault. There is a lot of just-so stories that float around as Daniel Dennett points out. AAH is really no better nor worse than them, but it is unmistakeable that there are "evidence" claims that are just bogus. Sadly, those claims tend to get a lot of the WP:FRIND coverage. jps (talk) 01:08, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
Whether the recent coastal settlements & migration theories could become "evidence" for AAH remains to be seen. Adherents tend to be optimistic and critics tend to be skeptic, but the truth is simply, we don't know. A paleo human living near the coastline could be avoiding water altogether or dipping in the sea whole day. One thing for sure is, if we judge the usefulness and probability of an evolutionary scenario by the current mainstream models of paleo-environments -- e.g. mosaic habitat (including water elements) for early hominins, coastal habitat for early Homo sapiens -- parts of the AAH have been upgraded from 0% worthiness to becoming vibrant research topics. From the standpoint of WP, this article is more like recording science in progress than describing a dead archaic theory. Chakazul (talk) 03:33, 13 March 2017 (UTC)
We never really know anything as per WP:CRYSTAL. What is important to do is to only connect ideas to AAH which have been specifically described as connected by WP:FRIND-sources. There is still some work to be done in that regard in our article. jps (talk) 14:02, 13 March 2017 (UTC)
I think it would help to refer more often to the distinctions that ArbCom made between different kinds of fringe. This could be "questionable science". I agree that sometimes people who are out-and-out proponents of a fringe theory take heart from scientists who have a completely different approach, and then they can use that to defend their position on Wikipedia, and yes, that's annoying. There can also be a problem when scientists are frightened away from a whole area, so much so that the fringe stuff doesn't even get debunked. Anyway, I find the article in its present state quite informative. It doesn't make me any more or less sympathetic to AAH. Itsmejudith (talk) 14:08, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
I'm not a particular fan of the arbcomm demarcation as I think it presents a false dichotomy (or really trichotomy). It is possible to have mixtures of all these ideas. There are people who believe in AAH-like ideas doing fine scientific studies. Most of what makes the studies fine is that they are not agenda-driven. The problem that the article currently has is contained in the final section where a lot of the research is being described without much referent to the topic. Still a lot of work to be done there. jps (talk) 14:02, 13 March 2017 (UTC)

I could really use some help here. The work has now started to clear out the "research" section, and I'm finding a lot of issues. In particular, AAH proponents have published a variety of papers which have clear relevance to AAH, but are not always made explicit in connection. These include papers on nutrition, locomotion, and diving. Even when the claims are made explicit in connection, the problem is that there isn't a lot of analysis being done. It feels quite similar to cold fusion papers. Wikipedia right now is basically serving as a [WP:SOAP|soapbox]] for AAH by making the implicit claim that independent research is confirming AAH left and right. It doesn't help matters much that I am basically the only person editing the page who seems to be concerned about the over-reliance on primary sources like this. Help? jps (talk) 17:18, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Persistent crank in Guernsey (185.3.100.0/24)

I would normally just report this over on the AIV board, but under their rules I think it would be denied. (It's not "pure" vandalism, and it's impossible to properly warn this person because they change IPs all the time). Maybe someone more experienced than I in admin requests can suggest a way to request an appropriate IP range block to get this person's attention.

In cleaning up some vandalism on my watchlist, I noticed today there is an IP range from an ISP on the island of Guernsey (off the coast of France in the English Channel) that is quite persistently adding fringe material to numerous different articles.

From writing style and interests it's clearly the same person, though there are other edits from the same range that may well be from different users. This person is very interested in psychokinesis (PK), Potassium-40 (and it's use in PK & other stuff), warp drives and various physics fringe theories, time travel, superconductors and occasionally UFOs. They usually post long paragraphs of material that is completely unreferenced, and therefore quickly reverted.

Here are examples of recent diffs of recent fringe-relevant edits from different IPs in this range, I believe all of these have been reverted already (not all by me): [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

Based on writing style the same person often posts obscure trivia to electronics technology articles, again totally unsourced except for occasional mentions of someone named "A De Guerin". Here are a couple of those diffs: [11] [12]

Anyway, just wanted to give everyone a heads up if you are reverting stuff from an IP in the range 185.3.100.0 to 185.3.100.255, it might be this same person.

If someone knows the correct way to suggest a light temporary range block to get this person's attention, please chime in. I know how to report at WP:AIV but my experience is the admins there are looking for cut-and-dried cases of teenagers with spray paint type vandalism, and this doesn't really fit the mold. --Krelnik (talk) 21:23, 9 March 2017 (UTC)

I'll take a look and see if it's appropriate to block it. A /24 is a delightfully small range. Bishonen | talk 22:34, 9 March 2017 (UTC).
Oh cool, thanks. Just an update... I found a different lone IP 80.73.216.108 (also in Guernsey) and a user Conundrum1947 (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log). They definitely share writing style, choice of topics and the attributions to "de Guerin" with the above IP range. Interestingly, the user created a hoax article about a joint US/UK government spy base in Aristarchus (crater) that was speedy deleted for being a hoax in September 2016. The user hasn't been active since near as I can tell. I've done some reverting of some of the blatantly unsourced additions to tech articles. --Krelnik (talk) 22:46, 9 March 2017 (UTC)
Wow, that's a busy /24 range — see contributions for February and March here. I should think it's all one person, but some of it may be ordinary technical edits, of a kind I'm not good with. (Like, computers.) Do you see anything of such a nature in the range contributions, Krelnik? I see you tried to talk to the latest IP here, which is good. They haven't been back since, though, in any incarnation. If you check out the range contributions from X's tools, do you think you have warned any of them sharply? I wish the list contained links to their talkpages — then I could easily see for myself which of them have been spoken to — but unfortunately it doesn't. I hesitate to block the range if none of the IPs have received a sharp warning — an actual block warning, as opposed to your nice template to 185.3.100.55 (which was good for a first warning, but still). 185.3.100.35 has received several warnings, but they're all very kind and sweet. Of course I'm aware of the difficulties that all the evanescent talkpages create.
Oh dear... I was just going to post the above, but I see you have more info. I recognize the name De-Guerin, that 80.73.216.108 used, from the /24 range. Uh, have you been able to read the deleted hoax article, Aristarchus Base, since you know what it was about? Anyway, neither 80.73.216.108 nor Conundrum1947 have edited for many months, so we'd probably better concentrate on the /24 range. I'm going to bed right now (timezone thing), but I'll check back tomorrow. Bishonen | talk 23:21, 9 March 2017 (UTC).
No, I didn't see the whole deleted article, but I found one place where he wikilinked to it and the lede sentence of it is still in Google if you google the name of the article: "Luna Base is a formerly secret joint GCHQ/NSA unmanned facility maintained on the Moon, located in the crater Aristarchus. It consists of various surveillance ..." --Krelnik (talk) 00:52, 10 March 2017 (UTC)
I see. Yes, a hoax indeed, but I presume a good-faith effort by the user, who refers to this article as their source. I think that profile — both the good faith, and the crank content — strengthens your idea that it's the same person as the /24 range. So, have you had a chance to take a look at the range contributions, and evaluate whether there are some "normal" technical edits, and whether you have warned any of them more strongly? Of course I'm not asking you look at all the edits the range contributions tool shows! But my thinking is you may be able to run your eye down the list and get ideas about both my questions, as the list shows the article names. Then, if you believe the "normal" content added is minimal, I can block the range for a week or two, with information for the user in my block log note. They'll see that, so since they don't have a permanent talkpage, it may be the best place, and I can refer them there to their latest talkpage. (Like "Please discuss at User talk:185.3.100.55, even if you now use a different IP.") Do you think that might work? Once we get them to a talkpage, they can perhaps be persuaded to create an account, or to start using Conundrum1947 again. I should hold off blocking till there's a more recent edit, though. Bishonen | talk 10:52, 10 March 2017 (UTC).
Yes, I looked through a bunch of the range edits. For the last month from your link to the Range Contribs tool (cool tool). Definitely seems like 95% the same person, I only saw one or two edits (Mary Seacole, History of Guernsey) that seemed out of character. All the tech edits are either fringe nonsense, or highly specific trivia that doesn't belong in a general encyclopedia article. When they use a source it's a terrible one, but generally they post unsourced stuff. I'll throw a few more warnings at the most recent IPs to see if I can get their attention. Thanks! --Krelnik (talk) 13:19, 10 March 2017 (UTC)
ETA: OK there are now warnings at 185.3.100.55 (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log) 185.3.100.35 (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log) 185.3.100.63 (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log) 185.3.100.9 (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log) and 185.3.100.14 (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log). Those are all from this month, not all warnings from me either. I'll keep an eye out for additional activity. I asked them to come to my talk page - they've gone to Materialscientist's talk page multiple times in the past, so they do understand how to do that. --Krelnik (talk) 13:34, 10 March 2017 (UTC)
Yeah, they do, and they understand they're meant to reply to comments on their own page too, since they did on User talk:185.3.100.35. Which already makes them more savvy than many new users. Thanks very much for checking out the contribs. Your information about them convinces me I ought to block the range for a while, but I'll hold off till they edit in a fringey way again. The tool? Yes, where would we be without X!'s tools. The Article blamer (see the line of tools up top) is wonderful too. Bishonen | talk 16:12, 10 March 2017 (UTC).
Two new edits this morning from two different IPs - one fringey but safely on a talk page [13] the other technical - not objectionable but kind of trivial [14]. I'll try to get their attention on that talk page. --Krelnik (talk) 12:48, 13 March 2017 (UTC)
UPDATE: In the last 8 days there have been 5 article edits and 2 talk page edits by 6 distinct IPs in this range. Other than this edit which was just plain mistaken, the rest are technical trivia or fringe. All 5 of the article edits have been reverted as incorrect, unsourced nonsense or WP:OR. I've left numerous talk page messages trying to engage the user to no avail. --Krelnik (talk) 18:56, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
UPDATE: @Bishonen: Reappeared on March 21 on 185.3.100.46 to make unsourced OR edits to Retrocausality and Eugene Podkletnov that I and @Jim1138: reverted. Also these two FRINGEy user page comments: [15] and [16]. Even admits their IP is rotating. Definitely follows the same pattern, I don't think there's an edit from that range that hasn't been reverted by someone in many weeks. --Krelnik (talk) 19:52, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Hi again, Krelnik. I see the user is trying for a Nobel prize.. I've blocked the range 185.3.100.0/24 for three weeks, with a note in the block log and a longer note on User talk:185.3.100.46, which I hope they will see and respond to. I mentioned your name. :-) Could you please talk to them if they do respond? I mean, of course, as you have the time and energy. Bishonen | talk 21:20, 21 March 2017 (UTC).

Banned user Jamenta on Frederic W. H. Myers

I came across the Myers article and I see a fringe proponent has many accounts at highjacking the article.

Banned fringe pusher Jamenta who had an obsession with the parapsychologist Frederic W. H. Myers is now back editing that article on the accounts "Myerslover", "Psychicbias" as well as IP addresses 208.194.97.5 and 71.167.134.66 and others. On the talk page he said he is in the process of writing "a very strong pro-Myers article". This is the same person who has also pushed fringe content in the past at Watseka Wonder He seems to be adding undue weight comments from William James about a discredited paranormal book from Myers. He has done the same on the Second sight. This guy was perm banned on Wikipedia. Is there any chance all his socks can be blocked or reverted? He also has a sock called GPel which he edited the Richard Hodgson article. He is probably pushing fringe content on others. It is the same style of editing to remove skeptical sources or quote Myers or William James at length. Any idea what can be done here? I have a big foot (talk) 14:30, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

Sounds like you need to open a sockpuppet investigation. Go to that link, read the advice, and there's a box ("How to open a sockpuppet investigation") where you can enter the "sock master" (that would be Jamenta) and fill in the details of who you think the socks are. --Krelnik (talk) 16:02, 10 March 2017 (UTC)
Yes, please do open an SPI, User: I have a big foot. "Very strongly pro-Myers", indeed? (Those are the exact words, in case somebody else tries to search for it — strongly, not strong). We can't have that. I've reverted the latest edits from 71.167.134.66 and put Frederic W. H. Myers under pending changes. Bishonen | talk 16:32, 10 March 2017 (UTC).
Wikipedia administrator Bishonen just applied pending changes protection to the Frederic W. H. Myers article. --Guy Macon (talk) 19:06, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
See his comments on the talk-page 82.132.216.220 (talk) 02:27, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

Suggesting title change of Black Knight satellite to Black Knight satellite conspiracy theory

Please participate at Talk:Black Knight satellite#Requested move 12 March 2017 -- BullRangifer (talk) 15:49, 12 March 2017 (UTC)

Information icon There is currently a discussion at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard which may be of interest. The thread is "Request to overturn administrator's decision". --Guy Macon (talk) 04:19, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

Meridian (Chinese medicine)

More eyes would be useful here. Got some folks who want us to treat meridians like they are real. Jytdog (talk) 04:51, 13 March 2017 (UTC)

Meridians are not real, but why not just use the usual "no empirical evidence, consensus among scientists is" wording? -165.234.252.11 (talk) 16:41, 13 March 2017 (UTC)
Because it's mealy-mouthed. Alexbrn (talk) 16:42, 13 March 2017 (UTC)
"No evidence" implies scientists are looking for them and not yet finding them, which isn't the case... in the West, anyway. Meanwhile, there are other clean-ups that need doing to the article. I might be able to do a bit, just on grammar, style, formatting. I am not particularly happy with the ending about "pre-scientific". Such a statement would be better referenced to an expert in Chinese history. A case can probably be made for "proto-scientific". It would need to be shown that this is on the same level as Galen, when technology was considerably more advanced in China than in western Asia or Europe. Itsmejudith (talk) 17:33, 13 March 2017 (UTC)
that is ridiculous. Qi is just the form of vitalism that arose in Asia. People around the world and through all time have made shit up to explain what is going on, when they don't have science to explain things. A guy at the store (in Manhattan) told me something the other day about meat turning into maggots if you don't keep it refrigerated. Jytdog (talk) 00:58, 14 March 2017 (UTC)
The qi notion precedes western vitalism by many centuries. Itsmejudith (talk) 09:20, 15 March 2017 (UTC)
vitalism = vitalism. it is all prescientific making shit up to explain things. it is what humans do. Jytdog (talk) 19:33, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Well, maybe we should amend to say that vitalism is qi that arose in the West to avoid the WP:Systemic bias of Wikipedia. After all, China predates "the West" by several centuries. jps (talk) 06:15, 16 March 2017 (UTC)

We need to represent good sources in the history of science. Of course these ideas are superseded by modern science and we absolutely have to make that clear but we also have to tell the history properly. Itsmejudith (talk) 11:03, 16 March 2017 (UTC)
I'm not sure if there's really a disagreement here. Isn't the problem with the article that pro-fringe editors are continually trying to remove text saying that meridians aren't real? Alexbrn (talk) 11:39, 16 March 2017 (UTC)
The problem may be one of context. I mean, our article about leprechauns doesn't come out and announce in the lede that they aren't real, but neither are there clinics which pretend to use leprechauns to cure all manner of malady. There are two aspects to this, then. There's the historical aspect of "meridians" and "qi" which are related to the literature, mythology, and history of China, Korea, and other adjacent locations and then there is the current fetishization of these stories being done in different parts of the world in the context of pseudomedicine. Unfortunately, the English-language sources tend to focus much more heavily on the current pseudomedicine rather than the perhaps more academically interesting historical context, but WP:RGW comes to mind. What we really need are scholars who have studied both alternative medicine and Chinese history in depth, but there is a dearth of them even in the academy. jps (talk) 13:15, 16 March 2017 (UTC)
Itsmejudith is free to add content about the history of chinese medicine. just don't treat myths invented by people to understand the world around them, like they are real. this is the problem with advocates for use of these traditional medicines today - they treat the mythological underpinnings as though they are real. they are just made up shit. Humors, qi/meridians, esoteric energy, blah blah blah. Myth - stories that try to make sense of the world. (myths are super important, don't get me wrong. but they are all made up shit) Jytdog (talk) 17:29, 16 March 2017 (UTC)
Unfortunately I have little expertise in Chinese history, so all I can do is copyedits. I did a lot of work on some Chinese calendar articles, and indeed on Western calendar articles which were even more loaded with nonsense. Fortunately no-one is in a hurry to disparage the fact that the ancient Chinese had a system for recording years and months in the way that their attempt to describe the human body is being disparaged. "Myth" is a technical term with a precise meaning, by the way. Itsmejudith (talk) 22:50, 16 March 2017 (UTC)
It's not about disparagement, or history really. It about the fact that today some people believe meridians are real and are a basis for healthcare, and are attempting to water-down Wikipedia's contradiction of this nonsense. It happened again just now.[17] (Check out the ES.) Alexbrn (talk) 22:59, 16 March 2017 (UTC)
Alexbrn Jytdog What we are really seeing here is personal opinions and rhetoric regarding meridians. This is the pushing of an agenda and non-objectivity. You cannot prove that meridians are NOT real. We can only say what science has dicovered in 2017 so far. There is an element of respect to others people's views and culture here, a determinism here that is not respectful and relies too much on scientism, and not enough on just communicating the facts and being objective.
Probrooks (talk) 01:18, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
That is not accurate nor is that how science works. We could also say purple giant unicorns have not been discovered by science yet. Hm. Jytdog (talk) 04:42, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
Yes, but in this instance there is a whole culture, a belief system and practise involving giant purple unicorns which is very sophisticated and in depth. This is not to do with science, but with objectivity and trying to communicate the giant purple unicorn culture, without negating it from the get go, just makes a lot of sense for an information article. Science isn't the end all and be all of determining what is true, unless you subscribe to scientism as a belief system.
Probrooks (talk) 05:20, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
That is a perfect diff, thanks, thanks. Grabbing these so they are easy to find later. diff, diff. Jytdog (talk) 05:40, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

"You cannot prove that meridians are NOT real." and "Science isn't the end all and be all of determining what is true, unless you subscribe to scientism as a belief system." really are editorial perspectives which are not helpful. Here are some uncontroversial assertions:

  1. There is no anatomical nor physiological basis for meridians. To that extent, meridians are not real.
  2. There has never been any measurement of qi. To that extent, qi is not real.
  3. As a part of the history of Chinese culture, both meridians and qi were ideas that were methodically discussed and documented by various mandarins and catalogers, so we have extensive data about their historical import.
  4. The literature indicates that meridians and qi are not useful concepts in the treatment of disease beyond perhaps palliative benefits that believing practitioners may bring to uncomfortable patients and the placebo effect.

It may indeed be a bit clunky to summarize these points as "Meridians are not real." But it is hardly inaccurate nor is it hardly a "belief system". It's just a description of reality.

jps (talk) 15:25, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

I am happy with "meridians are not real". By the way there are lots of things that haven't been measured but are real, for example my progress in learning Turkish. Itsmejudith (talk) 18:12, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
Truly, there is a difference between something that has never been measured and something that no one is able to measure. Your progress in learning Turkish may be the former, but I don't see any reason it is the latter. O language! :~) jps (talk) 19:32, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
Elsewhere, I've proposed replacing "Meridians are not real" -- which is patronizing, if nothing else -- with "Meridians exist only as a concept; there is no known anatomic or physiologic equivalent" -- which is a statement of fact, backed by sources, and should not offend anybody. Perhaps I am being naive. DoctorJoeE review transgressions/talk to me! 19:53, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
I don't agree that "Meridians are not real" is patronizing. However i am fine with the suggested language as it says the same thing. I am not going to get into late-night-dorm-room-pot-smoking noodling about nominalism. Jytdog (talk) 20:18, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
Well, no -- it's saying that there is no equivalent Western concept, which is not quite the same thing. The existing language is patronizing, IMHO, because it takes the "whole culture, belief system, and practice" mentioned above and brushes it aside as "not real". We can place it in the category of "no objective scientific counterpart" without being condescending or offensive about it. And it's more encyclopedic. DoctorJoeE review transgressions/talk to me! 20:51, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
Science is science. You were doing better when you just proposing language. Your language is fine and that is enough. Jytdog (talk) 22:15, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
"Science is science" is a whole other discussion, for another time and venue. Apropos this discussion, does anyone object to my changing the sentence within the article (not the sentence in the lede, which has already been modified) to what I proposed above? I'll propose it on the talk page too, as there may be other editors interested in this article who are not following this thread. DoctorJoeE review transgressions/talk to me! 20:28, 19 March 2017 (UTC)

jps You have made a lot of assumptions here which are incorrect. The Primo Vascular system as discovered by North Korean scientist Kim Bong-Han in the 1960's, is posited by many to be an anatomical or physiological basis for meridians.

https://www.lumennatura.com/2016/04/23/primo-vascular-system-the-anatomy-of-meridians/

Secondly, Qi or Chi has been measured many times by many people in many different countries over many decades.

The work of Reinhard Voll is but one example.

http://www.biontologyarizona.com/dr-reinhard-voll/

There are a lot of people who could communicate to you that meridians are real and could even show you in person that they are real. Reality that makes itself from the present supposedly scientific world view, is scientism, simple and clear, and Scientism represents a world view, and not "reality" as experienced by all human beings. Science itself that does not fit into a presumed world view of those who subscribe to scientism is therefore not considered science, which is actually just a judgement call, not actually inquiring and exploring as real science should be.

Probrooks (talk) 01:20, 19 March 2017 (UTC)

The primo vascular system is rank pseudoscience, and there is a reason it was deleted from Wikipedia. The "work or Reinhard Voll" is also rank pseudoscience. I mean, not even worthy of a second look. If this is your game, you will find yourself on the out-and-out with Wikipedia, Probrooks. jps (talk) 02:12, 19 March 2017 (UTC)

Massive undue promotion of Edward J. Steele

Edward J. Steele is a fringe scientist who promoted a form of Lamarckism Problem is no independent research confirmed his experiments in the early 80s. Little scientist today take his stuff seriously.

See his edits at Somatic hypermutation massive spam of Steele's own papers. He has done the same as Lamarckism and on his own article and elsewhere.

See the article Edward J. Steele the intro he has written is outrageous. I would suggest all of his promotion should be reverted. He also quote mines historian Peter J. Bowler in 1983 but Bowler has dismissed Steele in his later publications noting that his experiments were never replicated.

Update - I assume this user is associated with Steele, on wikipediacommons he uploaded a photograph of steele which he claimed was himself, it has since been deleted. It seems this user has pushed fringe science in the past in relation to panspermia. 82.132.216.220 (talk)

See his two massive edits at Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance also undue promotion of Steele. 82.132.216.220 (talk) 07:16, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

Can someone revert all this guys edits on Steele, he has even inserted him into the lead at Lamarckism and all over that article, this has got out of hand. I would revert him myself but I am on the mobile currently. 82.132.216.220 (talk) 07:24, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

There seems to be quite a bit of action lately regarding panspermia!
Two relevant AfDs for you to consider:
jps (talk) 13:58, 15 March 2017 (UTC)
Could you please identify the editor? --Ronz (talk) 20:39, 15 March 2017 (UTC)
BSmith821 (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log). jps (talk) 13:26, 16 March 2017 (UTC)
Thanks! He says a great deal about himself on his user page, and that he knows Steele through a friend [18]. He is editing Chandra Wickramasinghe where he has a closer conflict of interest that may need a close review. --Ronz (talk) 17:49, 16 March 2017 (UTC)

Alkaline diet

Currently this article is seeing some disagreement centred on whether it is loaded and perjorative to call the concept underlying the diet a "false belief". Input from fringe-savvy editors welcome. Alexbrn (talk) 09:01, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

I just want to say here (inspired by the discussion on the talk page in question), in a public venue that statements about truth and falsehood are NOT value judgements. I see this argument constantly, from both good-faith and bad-faith editors, and it's simply not true. A value judgement is a judgement as to the moral qualities of something and is subjective (though often subject to extraordinarily broad agreement, such as in the case of murder or theft), not a judgement as to the truth of something, which is objective. Truth and falsehood are entirely objective statements.
I'm posting this here because I would like to see more participants here pointing this out. The moment someone calls a verifiable statement about truth a value judgement (usually to make a policy based argument with that as a premise), they've broken with reality. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 14:52, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
Please see WP:LABEL. Regardless of the topic, saying "X is a false belief" may be true, but it is also inappropriate usage of Wikipedia's narrative voice to dictate the impression of an opinion to the reader. There are far better ways to rephrase the lead sentence of that article without resorting to such labels. ~Anachronist (talk) 23:27, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
Just keep ignoring me and repeating the same flawed argument based on a demonstrably (and obviously) false premise. Let's see how far that gets you. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 14:44, 21 March 2017 (UTC)

Slow-Carb Diet

Tried to speedy this but was declined. Having difficulty finding sources: even among fad diets this one seems fairly fringe. Anyone know more? Alexbrn (talk) 15:37, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

Good god that's a lot of primary refs.... The only secondary references are also OR. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 16:03, 15 March 2017 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Slow-Carb Diet ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 16:06, 15 March 2017 (UTC)
Redirect it to the 4-hour book? As it does not appear to be independantly notable outside of that. Only in death does duty end (talk) 16:07, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

Plasma cosmology

Yet another IP is trying to make pro-fringe edits to the article.

Arianewiki1 is doing a decent job of warding them off, but someone more familiar with the recent kurfluffle on said subject might want to step in to help her. 70.209.148.234 (talk) 13:28, 16 March 2017 (UTC)

And now Arianewiki1 is making pro-fringe arguments herself. Godspeed, jps. 2600:1017:B003:DE7B:EE87:78CA:6D04:DA04 (talk) 13:15, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
Let's not be too hard on Arianewiki1. There is an occupational hazard of working here that causes people to be resistant to more forthright explanations in articles relating to science. When I first arrived at the redshift page in 2005, the following argument was made by a person who is tenured faculty(!):
Well, yes, but one of the disadvantages of wikipedia is that a vocal naysaying minority can cause a lot of confusion, and has led to other articles on scientific topics having their neutrality disputed. I feel that it's in the broad interests of the wikipedia to avoid such disputes. The solution I've preferred up to now is to give the naysaysers a medium for expression in this section, while still explaining that it is not supported by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community.
We haven't much progressed beyond this reasonable point in many ways. I guess WP:AVOIDHEADACHES could become an essay about why that's not a good justification for keeping particular kinds of text that bend over backwards to keep the peace.
jps (talk) 14:08, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
You know, though, there IS something to not just removing the presence of these people and edits and "giving the naysaysers a medium". It doesn’t go away by being ignored, it just keeps coming around again and again. It isn’t simply avoiding headaches, it also avoids a drain on editor resources. When the same stuff keeps happening, it is tiring to constantly be digging through archives to find old debates. I see three possible approaches, depending on the article: 1) putting up a Q&A on the talk page (such as, for example, was done for Barack Obama) to explain why fringe theory Foo has been beat to death (with link to consensus debate) or 2) Simply noting some of the major fringe stuff in the article and debunking it (where there are few fringe theories and clearcut debunking) OR 3) my personal favorite, doing a “controversies over foo” spinoff article where all the fringe nonsense can be explained and debunked in its own little playpen. This already has been done fairly well with all the articles on recent creationism pseudoscience, I think the concept could be expanded. Montanabw(talk) 21:16, 19 March 2017 (UTC)
WP:WEIGHT includes outright exclusion for a reason. The problem with using the "it just keeps coming around again and again" justification is that Wikipedia is WP:NOT the place where such disputes are to be litigated. If people keep coming around again and again to argue their points, the thing we can do is tell them to go convince the outside world to create reliable sources of a secondary and independent nature to be used in our articles. You know, change the world rather than Wikipedia. As for separate playpens, I am not a big fan. See WP:Criticism sections. jps (talk) 10:15, 21 March 2017 (UTC)

Singing bowl

If anyone has the courage, I posted that two years ago (short version: part of the article may be a hoax).

I could have posted sooner, I guess, but I just now realized that there was this claim based on an article from Forschende Komplementärmedizin ("Research in Alternative Medicine", which I would guess is not a MEDRS source), and decided to do something about it. TigraanClick here to contact me 16:40, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

Complementary Medicine Research is the enwiki name for the journal, apparently. Harald Walach may have issues as well, there was a completely unsourced "criticism" section. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk, contributions) 16:53, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

Quackwatch

There's a discussion at WP:RSN that is probably of interest to FRINGE watchers. Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard#Two_sources_in_the_lede_of_Alkaline_diet. Thanks. Dbrodbeck (talk) 19:34, 18 March 2017 (UTC)

Not again. A search of the archives for "Quackwatch" could have prevented this waste of time. Alexbrn (talk) 22:34, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
I pointed that out. Alas, to no avail. Dbrodbeck (talk) 22:44, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
Searching archives sucks. I have complained about that to no avail. see here and this phab thread. So yeah, we get the same issues brought up over and over at RSN. Which is what led to our "banning" the Daily Mail and all the fuss over that. But the WMF devs see as it a "power user" thing. Whatever. Pinging User:CKoerner (WMF) so he can see another example of how a crappy search engine harms the community. Jytdog (talk) 23:00, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
It's probably for the best, considering how wonderfully WMF's past attempts at interface development have turned out. Shock Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 02:16, 19 March 2017 (UTC)
I'm sorry to be dense, but what is the expected behavior when searching for the phrase "Quackwatch" and how is search failing in this case? I can only help make the argument to make things better if I know what the problems is! :) CKoerner (WMF) (talk) 14:59, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
What happens when you search the archives for 'quackwatch' is you get pages and pages of results that include the word quackwatch, in no particular order, often from the same discussion. Which is largely frustrating for the purpose of searching the archives - which is to identify discussions about the reliability of a source. A vastly more useful search result would a)prioritise results where 'Quackwatch' is the subject heading rather than just used in the discussion, b)display results newest first as they are more likely to represent the recent consensus, c)eliminate duplicates, so dont bring up two results from the same discussion in archive 35 etc. A&B should be trivial, C may take more work. Only in death does duty end (talk) 10:35, 21 March 2017 (UTC)

On a related note, Forum shopping season is upon us. Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view/Noticeboard#Alkaline_diet_and_.22false_belief.22 Dbrodbeck (talk) 20:56, 19 March 2017 (UTC)

AfD: Prometheus (Zoltán Deme film)

This AfD may be relevant:

K.e.coffman (talk) 02:26, 19 March 2017 (UTC)

I don't see any indications of notability for the movie but I am also curious why you think a fiction movie would be relevant to this board. Itsmejudith (talk) 22:41, 19 March 2017 (UTC)

Billy Meier

Billy Meier (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views)

Could use some more eyes on this article due to a new editor, self-identified as a "Billy Meier researcher", whatever that means, but clearly a believer, despite all evidence to the contrary. He seems to have stopped citing his own articles, after being told about WP:COI, but now he's citing blogs, attacking Meier critics, and generally pushing his POV under the guise of "neutrality". Additional vigilance would be helpful. DoctorJoeE review transgressions/talk to me! 00:14, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Now they're trying to remove skeptical sources [19]. Definitely a problem. - LuckyLouie (talk) 16:00, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
I dropped a caution on their talk page. -Ad Orientem (talk) 16:30, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Edmund Storms

One for the cold fusion aficionados. Wikipedia is saying his work is "very compelling". Alexbrn (talk) 04:54, 21 March 2017 (UTC)

So is a car crash... Only in death does duty end (talk) 10:27, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
This is the work of the same user as Wikipedia:Fringe_theories/Noticeboard#Massive_undue_promotion_of_Edward_J._Steele . - MrOllie (talk) 14:34, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
  • That point above? Very pertinent. I issued a DS notice. The user included comments on e-cat world as support for Storms. Yes, really. Guy (Help!) 20:00, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

Mark Dice

Mark Dice has started throwing a Twitter tantrum over being called a conspiracy theorist, resulting in a flux of WP:SPA meatpuppets. The page needs more eyes. Ian.thomson (talk) 01:50, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

Oh noes! He called us "scum" and "clowns"! We have to change it, now. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 22:55, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
Out of curiosity, why does this article exist at all? He appears to be famous for being famous (the Paris Hilton syndrome) -- I don't see any bona fide notability. If this has already been discussed, my apologies. DoctorJoeE review transgressions/talk to me! 19:15, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
Minor celebrities tend to be considered notable on the basis of the third-party news coverage they've received. Dice has received enough dedicated mention in various news contexts that I imagine that the AfD monitors will argue for a keep on the basis of WP:GNG if not WP:BIO. jps (talk) 19:29, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

Brainwave entrainment

Fringey fringey stuff, but is there anything salvageable? Guy (Help!) 19:57, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

Were it to be merged with EEG would there be anything to keep? Itsmejudith (talk) 21:44, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

Christ myth theory

We treat Christ myth theory as a fringe idea, because scholars of Biblical history see it that way. (The evidence that Christ existed is weak, but that does not necessarily prove that his figure has any connection with older myths.) Does the recent scholarship of Richard Carrier and Raphael Lataster change that? Carrier is a historian of the ancient world, Lataster similar but still completing his PhD although impressively published for a student. If that article does require revision, would there be a knock-on for other articles about Jesus? Itsmejudith (talk) 21:48, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

Carrier appears to be pushing a variant on the notion that Gnosticism is the original Christianity and the Nicene version is a "heresy" of it. I don't know whether he mentions Gnosticism per se but the historical record is that its texts are much younger than the orthodox NT scriptures. I can't see his idea having a lot of support in the field, but I haven't looked for reviews of it yet so I can't say for sure. What little I've seen of his argument relies extremely heavily on very questionable arguments about Paul's language. Lataster I'm not familiar with but if his theories are like Carrier's they are going to have the same issues. Mangoe (talk) 22:08, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
Scathing review of Carrier's book by Christina Petterson of the University of Newcastle, Australia, in the academic journal Relegere- [20] - says his methodology is "tenuous", was "shocked" by the way he uses mathematics,and that he uses statistics in a way that seems designed "to intentionally confuse and obfuscate", statements in the book "reveal Carrier's ignorance of the field of New Testament studies and early Christianity", etc.Smeat75 (talk) 23:12, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
Looking for reviews, I'm having a very hard time finding anything positive. Ehrman and David Marshall at Duke in particular were extremely critical. Mangoe (talk) 02:22, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
Can you give the links for those reviews please?Smeat75 (talk) 02:41, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
Whether a theory is fringe really depends on how many experts in the relevant field use that theory to inform their work (or work on expanding/testing/refining that theory), and how much of an impact those experts have on their peers. So in answer to the OP: No. And Lataster is not really an expert per se. He's still a student who's only notable because he's written popular books that made an impact in mythicist circles. Carrier is, to my knowledge, the only person with applicable qualifications to advocate for the mythicist position. At least the only one currently doing so. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 22:42, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
Looking at Lataster's article it's clear that he has gotten pretty hammered by critics, not excepting one of his own teachers. Mangoe (talk) 22:48, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

It's worth noting that Carrier's PhD work concerned ancient history of science and was done in a Classics Department, so he's not trained in Biblical history--that's typically done in a Religious Studies Department. Carrier doesn't have an academic position, either, so he's coming to this as an outsider, which does little to argue against the CMT being a fringe theory. His work is certainly not a sign that there's a big shift of attitudes among experts in the field. --Akhilleus (talk)

Doesn't it depend on what "the field" is? I would be very interested to know what classical historians think, but they have a lot of other fish to fry, like the economics, politics, society of the whole Roman empire. Whether a single individual actually existed (and "actually existed" needs definitional work), remains moot for the time being. But even if Carrier is not a great historian, he still is a historian, and his works and the good and bad reviews of them are within the academy, not outside it. I won't suggest any changes now but will watch the space in case the debate widens to other scholars. Itsmejudith (talk) 16:52, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
Classical historians I've read point out that other than the New Testament, there is very little historical evidence of his existence. Josephus's History of the Jews, which was written during the first century CE while people who would have known him personally were still alive, contains only one cryptic passage about this presumably famous and polarizing person -- and even that is thought to have been added after the fact by someone else, according to several scholars. That's my recollection, anyway -- don't have the time or resources to double-check right now. DoctorJoeE review transgressions/talk to me! 19:01, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
If you have any references that we're not already citing, or if there are any of those references which could be better represented, if you did have a minute, that would be very useful. I'm not going to spend ages on this either, but I do feel that we might be able to represent scholarship better if this Christ myth theory were merged with Historicity of Jesus. Keeping the articles separate doesn't allow the whole complexity of the debate, with intermediate positions, to be expressed. People who take the position that the historicity of Jesus is not very well founded are lumped in with those who have in the past made wild speculations about the history of myth. Itsmejudith (talk) 14:41, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
Classical History is one of the fields that would be an appropriate background for someone to comment on the historicity of Christ. That's not an original opinion of mine, but one I stole wholesale from Bart Ehrman (along with his joke about the meaning of "fundamentalist"). To be clear, Erhman explicitly stated that Carrier himself was qualified (wrong, but qualified) in Did Jesus Exist?. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 20:30, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
@DoctorJoeE: There were two references to Jesus in Josephus, and only one (the first) is believed very widely to be a later, Christian addition. The latter one, as I recall, was just Josephus saying "The Jewish priest illegally killed a guy named James, who was a brother to a preacher named Jesus." ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 20:40, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

Is it just me?

Something is missing. -Roxy the dog. bark 21:08, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

http://www.woolab.org/ ? --Guy Macon (talk) 23:54, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
wikt:woo woo seems more complete. Or perhaps we need to look at woo hoo? ;-) Montanabw(talk) 04:19, 25 March 2017 (UTC)

For the Record (TV series)

Looks to be a conspiracy theory driven tv programme with a huge NPOV problem in the article. And zero sources. Doug Weller talk 09:48, 25 March 2017 (UTC)

It is not that clearcut. Part of the article mentions the Persecution of Copts in Egypt, which is a factual problem. Another covers the 2011 Chinook shootdown in Afghanistan, which is also factual. At least part of the subject matter is not fringe.

Good point, however, about the lack of sources. There are no sources, a single external link, and practically no categorization. It either needs a lot of work or a nomination for deletion. Dimadick (talk) 10:31, 25 March 2017 (UTC)

I would be surprised if a TV series were non-notable, especially if connected to the very notable Glenn Beck. And TV can be its own source, as with a book. I suggest taking out the descriptions of each episode, which obviously carry the series' own spin, to leave just the episode titles, or leave out the episodes altogether. Itsmejudith (talk) 10:38, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
Well a quick search threw up no sources, it does not help it is not that unique a title. I think an an AFD is in order. Even a TV show needs to be noticed in third party RS.Slatersteven (talk) 10:40, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
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