Archaeotrek—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, February 2016
Why “Fringe” Author’s Don’t Believe Professionals—Part 1
Facts Do Matter: Wikipedia’s “Guerrilla Skepticism” Deceptions
by: Dr. Greg Little
With increasing frequency I read articles and blogs by many professionals bemoaning their assertion they are not trusted by those who believe in what they call “alternative” history or science. They also like to call those who disagree with them as “fringe” believers or fringe authors. According to some skeptics, I’m a fringe author.
With this brief article, my hope is to begin the process of making some explanations—not that it will make a difference to the skeptics. Alternative theory “believers” and fringe authors are often said to be stupid, gullible, misled, or driven by greed. The same people making such accusations often then ask for money. Or they put out excessively high-priced books that contain factual errors—or outright lies if you like that term better. And that’s my real issue. Most of us are already aware that a lot of what the skeptics call “facts” are simply their beliefs or what they want people to believe. Beliefs can be very resistant to change. So let’s put that aside.
For myself, my distrust of the mainstream began emerging when I carefully analyzed textbook pronouncements that were made by professionals as proven facts. Many of these statements were accompanied by derision and various comments made to discredit. Some of the distrust started as I became aware of the “Clovis First” controversy, when some mainstream archaeologists openly asserted that evidence refuting Clovis First was deliberately being covered up my the mainstream. A bit later, when I made an analysis of Edgar Cayce’s statements about America’s mound builders, I was introduced to a couple of archaeology textbooks used in just about every academic archaeology department in the US. According to them, Cayce claimed that he had secret Atlantean texts. They related that Cayce claimed he could cure the terminally ill. They claimed that more than 30% of all of his readings contained information about Atlantis. They also claimed that the name “Churchward” was mentioned repeatedly by Cayce during his readings. Another skeptical text claimed that Cayce entered trances where he allowed himself to be possessed by entities from earlier lives. For the record, every single one of these is utter crap, completely untrue. They are the result of sloppy scholarship, utter lies, or perhaps something even worse. A bit later I encountered a host of lies, distortions, and false statements made by archaeologists and academics about items found in the Bahamas.
Now the above represents just one professional person’s investigation of what academic “scientists” assert about one very narrow area in what skeptics call the fringe. But I’m aware that individuals who investigate other areas of interest have come to the same conclusions when they have evaluated the alleged “professional’s” pronouncements about their topic. Again, I’m not really talking about beliefs here. It is possible to completely and accurately evaluate some things. For example, it can be proven that not a single time did Edgar Cayce use the name “Churchward” in his readings. It can be proven that less than 5% of his readings even mentioned Atlantis.
Today, we have another source often thought to be factual—using the same tactics—and it is the most used information source that exists. Wikipedia, which began as an online encyclopedia in 2001, has become the most used “information” source by the vast majority of humans. Supposedly it can be edited by anyone, but that’s not precisely true. Large parts of Wikipedia are controlled by skeptics who promote their causes through shrewd distortions and clever wording. There is a group of “Guerrilla Skeptics” who devote much of their time and energy to sanitizing particular entries in the online encyclopedia even to the extent of making content permanent and unchangeable.
According to their wikipedia page, “The mission of the Guerrilla Skepticism editing team is to improve skeptical content of Wikipedia. We do this by improving pages of our skeptical spokespeople, providing noteworthy citations, and removing the unsourced claims from paranormal and pseudoscientific pages.” One reasonable interpretation of this is that they make skeptics look as good as possible and make the “others” look as bad as possible.
While there are numerous pages on the online source that can be examined for the accuracy of the skeptics, we’ll look at just two. One is a prominent psychic and the other a prominent skeptic. Some readers may not know that earlier revisions to wikipedia pages are available by clicking on the “”View History” tab and more information can be found by clicking on “Talk.” Those both become relevant and can give interesting clues.
The wikipedia entry on Cayce caught my attention for several reasons. One major reason is, as earlier mentioned, that I previously found archaeology textbooks that contained outright lies and major deceptions regarding Cayce. I’m not arguing that anything Cayce related as a psychic was true or untrue, I’m just looking at what is stated as fact about him on wikipedia.
One of the claims made on the Cayce entry is that: “Until September 1923, his readings were not systematically recorded or preserved. However, an article published in the Birmingham Post-Herald on October 10, 1922, quotes Cayce as saying that he had given 8,056 readings as of that date and it is known that he gave approximately 13,000–14,000 readings after that date.”
One problem in this claim can easily be seen by clicking on the “Birmingham Post Herald” link included on the wikipedia page. The Birmingham Post Herald did not exist until 1950! There were earlier newspapers in Birmingham that eventually merged in 1950 to become the Post Herald, but if you look for the article that supposedly “quotes Cayce as saying that he had given 8,056 readings as of that date” you won’t find it easily.
Curious about it, I contacted the head of the Cayce organization and the archives in the Edgar Cayce Foundation. They didn’t have the article. In December 2015 my wife, Pam Martello, and I went to the Birmingham library and made a search through the microfilm of the then-existing newspapers. We found the article in the “Birmingham Age Herald.” There is one relevant statement from Cayce in the article. It is the very first sentence in the half page article. It reads, “During the twenty-two years in which I have given whatever gifts I possess for the benefit of suffering humanity, I have diagnosed eight thousand and fifty six cases.”
However, nowhere in the article does it relate that these were 8,056 “readings.” Many of Cayce’s readings may have involved more than one case. At least 400 of Cayce’s readings prior to 1922 are fully documented and several of them do involve more than one person. It’s not possible to know precisely how many readings were made that involved the eight thousand and some “cases.” It is an inaccurate and misleading leap to go from eight thousand cases to eight thousand “lost” readings. This issue of “lost readings” was used in other parts of wikipedia to imply that some of Cayce’s readings could not be substantiated and might have questionable material. It is true that not all of the early Cayce readings have been preserved—but some were. And the statement that Cayce said he had given “8,056 readings” before 1922 is inaccurate and misleading.
The “history” of the Cayce wikipedia page also contains an unsubstantiated claim about Cayce in the time period of 1920-23 that was active on wikipedia from August 2005 until December 2006. It read: “At this time Cayce had several affairs, and a falling out with Gertrude.” Gertrude was Cayce’s wife and there is no proof whatsoever of this claim. Yet there it was, given as a fact, without any reference or source.
There are more things on the Cayce wikipedia page that are inaccurate and designed to somehow smear Cayce’s reputation, however, that’s enough for the moment. If one examines the individuals who made many of the thousands of edits on the Cayce wikipedia page many of the key wiki skeptics pop up. In brief, claiming sexual impropriety and “lost” readings that can’t be substantiated are the goal of the entries. It is a ploy, but it’s worth noting that many of Cayce’s readings before 1922 are on file. A search of the official reading database at the ARE shows the first documented reading dated in 1910 with at least 400 prior to 1922. Over his lifetime 26 different people served as stenographers for his readings.
James “The Amazing” Randi
Like Cayce, Randi doesn’t need much of an introduction. As the cofounder of CSI (Committee For Skeptical Inquiry), Randi stands as the best known of all skeptics just as Cayce is the best known American psychic. Randi has, as this article relates, had decades of “perfectly positive press.” Wikipedia’s glowing page on Randi does mention two somewhat negative items about him. One was that he lost a lawsuit (but no damages were assessed) for calling a man a child molester. In 2011 the US State Department arrested Randi’s longtime lover and spouse, a Venezuelan man who had assumed an American’s identity, who had been with Randi since 1986. That’s it. The last paragraph on Wikipedia’s entry on Randi ends by stating he never smoked, took narcotics, or became inebriated. There is no mention of Randi’s possible involvement with identity theft. Nor will most readers be aware of Randi’s sex phone calls. According to a blog page, Randi claims he participated in it at the request of a police chief. You can hear them here.
Skeptics have certainly taken over wikipedia and, as the people skeptics refer to as “fringe believers” read such things, it simply reaffirms their distrust of the mainstream. You can also read some of the outrageous claims made by skeptics and conclude that it is somehow in their interest to create a simmering conflict. Skeptics see themselves in a battle. But it’s not a battle of facts. It’s a battle of beliefs. How is that possible to prove? It’s simple, because the facts are twisted or simply made up to support their beliefs. You can say that I read what skeptics have written and I can’t believe it.
It’s clear that the skeptics do a great job of sanitizing skeptical entries on wikipedia. There are actually a lot of articles on the web about skeptics and their main guy. In the interest of fairness one should read them. Below are just a few.