The rantings of Chopra took an interesting turn when people started looking into his own Wikipedia page. He who lives in glass houses, yada yada yada…
by Tim Farley
Early in November, Deepak Chopra used his column on SFGate (cross-posted to his blog and elsewhere) to add his voice to the chorus coming from the Sheldrake camp. The multi-part post quickly branched into a variety of criticisms of skepticism in general, but that first post on November 3rd devoted a number of paragraphs to the false accusation that skeptics in general (and Susan Gerbic’s Guerrilla Skeptics in particular) were responsible for a “concerted attack” on Sheldrake’s biography.
Why all the hubbub about wikipedia Read the full piece at Tim’s blog, it contains the whole story with references, but here is where it gets good…
On November 6 a Wikipedia editor (indirectly) raised a complaint regarding Chopra’s biography on Wikipedia’s Conflict of Interest Noticeboard (WP:COIN). This is the standard procedure to follow if you believe another editor has violated the COI rules. However, instead of raising it themselves (which anyone can do) this editor raised it through an addition to a July 15, 2013 ticket submitted to Wikipedia’s OTRS. This is a volunteer-run “ticket” system used to respond to any sort of requests the Wikimedia Foundation gets, such as requests for licensing, complaints, requests from press or law enforcement and so on. It’s not clear why this request was sent through OTRS, though since OTRS tickets are not public, one might speculate.
You can see the actual COI discussion [archived] – like the vast majority of Wikipedia administrative actions, it is public and permanently kept. It’s long so I’ll summarize: because of some comments made about pseudoscience and what Wikipedia calls “fringe theories” made in the course of their editing, an editor using the name Vivekachudamani accused two other editors of having a conflict of interest regarding Chopra. Mention of their possible affiliation with Guerrilla Skeptics was made. (As far as I can determine, neither editor is affiliated – both Alexbrn and Binksternet first edited Wikipedia in 2007, four years before Guerrilla Skeptics was started. Both have denied involvement).
The editor who filed the OTRS ticket uses the login name Vivekachudamani. Since this account originated in 2008, Tim reports that 189 edits were made to Wikipedia under that account with 112 of those to actual public articles. All but two of those 112 edits were to Deepak Chopra’s biography page. The other two edits were in reference to Sanjiv Chopra (Deepak’s younger brother).
So, this guy clearly knows something about conflict of interest, doesn’t he? Turns out his position can’t be pinned down. Vivekachudamani repeated denied any personal conflict of interest. Once the identity of Vivekachudamani was established, he was found to have worked with Chopra in real life on various projects and continues to do so today.
As Tim notes with the case of Guerrilla Skepticism, the source of most complaints about Wikipedia is a misunderstanding of the rules of the site, not collusion or misbehavior. But some Wikipedia editors do indeed misbehave. Chopra’s well-intentioned editor completely misunderstood what constitutes a conflict of interest and no longer will be able to pull this off.
Chopra is arrogant but thin-skinned. So, this is a nice smackdown of someone who thinks he knows stuff but spouts a whole lot of nonsense. Facts come out. And, he ends up looking quite silly. Or does he think that it’s OK if HIS people make nice things but bad if others do. Check out Virtual Skeptics where Tim talks about this whole mess and reminds us that skeptics here played by the rules. Others, not so much… but they sure like to complain. Call Deepak a Waaahmbulance, he hates diligent skeptics. They’re the WORST!