Russell Targ is a well-known parapsychologist who spent a couple of decades studying remote viewing and was a co-originator of the term. The US government (as well as other foreign orgs) spent several million dollars investigating it. Targ has just took a look at his Wikipedia entry and he doesn’t care for the way he or his work has been portrayed.
Russell Targ (born April 11, 1934) is an American physicist, parapsychologist and author, best known for his research in the pseudoscience of remote viewing.
He’s the latest in a string of researchers on questionable topics to air a gripe about their own Wikipedia page. As with the others, like Chopra and Sheldrake, this one is off the mark as well.
Here is an excerpt of the letter he wrote to Wikipedia which he posted on his Facebook page.
Remote viewing is not “pseudoscience.” Please immediately drop that inaccurate and insulting term that you have scattered throughout my Wikipedia bio-page.
There are a number of reasons that editors at Wikipedia should not characterize remote viewing as pseudoscience, when it is not characterized that way by the informed scientific community.
Then he lists 6 items. It’s rambling and long, anecdotes, appeals to authority and mentions of government involvement. The research really happened but the results did not come out as rosy as anticipated and the project was scrapped.
He claims remote viewing is valid and can be replicated including this:
4—The kind of tasks that kept us in business for twenty-three years include: SRI psychics found a downed Russian bomber in Africa; reported on the health of American hostages in Iran; described Soviet weapons factories in Siberia; located a kidnapped US general in Italy; and accurately forecasted the failure of a Chinese atomic-bomb test three days before it occurred, etc. When San Francisco heiress Patricia Hearst was abducted from her home in Berkeley, a psychic with the SRI team was the first to identify the kidnapper by name and then accurately describe and locate the kidnap car. I was at the Berkeley police station and witnessed this event.
Then he uses a standard appeal from parapsychologists stating that an anomaly has been statistically demonstrated. But an anomaly does not equate to the existence of psi. They tend to hang their hat on that but it explains and predicts nothing. Psi has not been demonstrated to a compelling degree to the scientific community. It just has not or else we would not be having this conversation.
It’s true that Targ is best known for this fringe work instead of his conventional science. Targ contends that “Wikipedia” is trivializing his work by calling it “pseudoscience”. While it may be arguable to call it that, you could safely call it failed science. It just did not pan out but much of parapsychology was indeed done with scientific intent during this time. So, his complaint about the pseudoscience label is a fair one – it is a pejorative applied to discredit.
Regardless, Targ does not understand how Wikipedia works and his advocates in the comments just make things worse.
In the comments, they say not only is Wikipedia berated as full of junk, they allege with NO evidence that the mean old skeptics have done it. One person in particular makes it very much about Susan Gerbic’s Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project. So I contacted Susan. According to her, they did not touch Targ’s page. You can confirm this by viewing the change history which is publicly visible. GSoW editors also do not go around “vandalizing” others pages. They follow the Wikipedia rules and cite facts and quotes. They mostly focus on creating pages for existing skeptics and keeping the facts (referenced) straight.
Targ’s commenters also complain that moderation on Wikipedia is not sound. They don’t like having to cite sources for their claims. You can tell.
So, while Targ has a possibly legitimate beef, minions go off the rails. Once again, those that want to blame a scapegoat fail to make a coherent case at all and look careless and ignorant. The claims on many of these researchers pages are WELL referenced. Them’s the rules! Unfortunately, they don’t like the hand reality has dealt. The research didn’t turn out to groundbreaking and there is not much positive to cite.[As I’ve said before, some people are jealous that they don’t have their own Susan and GSoW. No, you can’t edit your own Wikipedia pages (Targ was given this suggestion).]
Tip: Guy Chapman