Saturday, June 18, 2011


On the morning of January 28, 1986, a dozen FBI agents huddled around a small television in the office of the Special Agent in Charge of the Salt Lake City FBI office.  Silently, sickened, we watched news replays of the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, over and over and over.  After a few minutes, I could take it no longer, and walked back to the empty squad bay.  As I did so, a “deranged” man who had managed to elude guards in our office assaulted another agent and myself with a large screwdriver.

He appeared young, homeless, and extremely angry. He wore a long overcoat, carried wrinkled papers in his hands, and repeatedly shouted, “You did it! You won’t get away with it!”  After subduing and handcuffing him, we found that the papers he held in his hand were pencil-drawn sketches of “….where the FBI agents sat near the launch pad with surface to air missiles.” Watching the shuttle explosion, he had come to the “inescapable conclusion” that the FBI had taken the shuttle out of the sky.  And he believed it with all of his heart.  We knew immediately that the man was a schizophrenic.


According to the National Institute of Health, (NIH), “Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it difficult to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences, to think logically, to have normal emotional responses, and to behave normally in social situation.”  Put in laymen’s terms, it is a severe delusional existence: It is believing that fiction is fact, and that fact is fiction, and acting upon that belief. This disease makes its victims unable to care for themselves or live as a productive member of society, and at times, makes them dangerous to others.

There is nothing more dangerous than believing that fiction is truth, with the possible exception of believing fact is fiction (try walking off a cliff believing that gravity is a hoax.) When fiction is truth, nothing is impossible, nothing is incomprehensible. An entire society can be convinced that one ethnicity or religion is subhuman. An entire country can be convinced that one race is inferior to another. This is the heart of propaganda.

“No Information” is radically preferably to “Wrong Information.” Blindness would be preferred to eyes that lie. Pilots in bad weather don’t die when their instruments fail—they have backups; pilots die when they don’t KNOW their instruments have failed and follow them contentedly into mountains.

In the world of journalism, press, information or whatever you want to call it; schizophrenia occurs when something unproven, or worse; patently false, is foisted upon the public as “verified truth.” Today, we have institutional forms of schizophrenia: Wikipedia and Tabloids. Tabloids have been widely debunked; but Wikipedia? Many people still trust it implicitly.


Albert Nobel felt that Dynamite would make war intolerable and therefore end it. Hiram Maxim believed that the machine gun would convince the military that war could no longer be won by either side.  Scientists believed that the Atom bomb would make the concept of war idiocy. Wikipedia’s honorable aim is to make information instantly available to the masses. The catch to this last panacea is that’s its ideal is just as unattainable as those of the previous dreamers’. Inevitably, there will be disagreements about what is true, accurate or verified. No one source of human-created public information can be, or ever will be absolutely and completely true, accurate, universally accepted or verified.

Like so many great ideas, Wikipedia has easily been subverted from a plowshare to a sword.  The intent of Jimbo Wales, founder of Wikipedia, is indeed honorable. But then so were the dreams of Nobel, Maxim and Oppenheimer. It’s just that Nobel, Maxim and Oppenheimer’s inventions didn’t end war, it just made it more terrible. Wikipedia will not end ignorance, it will perfect it.

The problem is not that Wikipedia is always wrong; that would be an easy problem with which to deal. The bigger problem is that it is frequently, maybe even mostly, correct. This lends an air of reliability to those items that are patently false, or lies, or propaganda.  It is a form of societal schizophrenia. We don’t know what we can believe and what we can’t, so we guess, and we act on flawed information.

This is exactly the reason Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have lost (so far) three and a half years of their young lives.  Two innocents tried and convicted in the tabloids and Wikipedia, yet years of fighting for the truth have been thwarted by Wikiganda gangs.

John Seigenthaler was the Assistant Attorney General to Robert Kennedy in the 1960’s. He was a close friend of Bobby, and indeed the entire Kennedy family.  He lived through seeing his close friend Jack and then Bobby assassinated.  However, on May 26, 2005, the following was published about him in Wikipedia:

"John Seigenthaler Sr. was the assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the early 1960's. For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven."

This vicious character assassination was not corrected for over four months, and even then, only when Seigenthaler called Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales personally and had it removed. 

Seigenthaler writes; “And so we live in a universe of new media with phenomenal opportunities for worldwide communications and research — but populated by volunteer vandals with poison-pen intellects.”

This is not just character assassination, this type of sick propaganda can put innocent people in jail, free the guilty and, as we have seen with cyber-bullying, result in outright death.  It is now believed that governments are engaging in public debate utilizing their own dedicated wiki “editors.”

It is more than simple vandalism.  It is the intentional advancement of personal opinion or philosophy as fact. Today, gangs of Wikipedia dictators control topics from personal biographies to social issues. They have learned the skill of eliminating all opposition and use it ruthlessly. As an example, the present page on the "Murder of Meredith Kercher" has been completely taken over by a group of propagandists masquerading as impartial editors. Their point of view is that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are the murderers of Meredith Kercher, (even though dozens of forensic experts, including those appointed by the court, have declared the evidence flawed at best, and planted at worst.) Their weapon?  They block (exile) any poster who does not agree with that line. This is not discourse, this is not discussion; this is propaganda, this is fascism.  Some have been banned simply for questioning why others had been banned.  

It begs the question of motive and affiliation. Are these simply enthusiastic (but insidious) 'true-believers' or are they paid shills of lawyers with a financial interest in the Kercher murder?  (The Kerchers have been awarded damages in the tens of millions of dollars to be paid by the finally-convicted suspects. The most obvious murderer is indigent.  Raffaele Sollecito's family is wealthy. It has been reported that lawyers for the Kerchers make their money from a percentage of the collected damages. If Raffaele Sollecito is not convicted, they have a financial problem.) Regardless of the the truth of the murder of Kercher, the Wikipedia "discussion" of the information is no such thing. It is not the free exchange and evaluation of ideas.  It is thought control through totalitarian tactics. The public, however, will never know the insidious manipulation which feeds them inaccurate information.  Even Jimbo Wales felt obliged to intervene; but he, like Dr. Frankenstein, seems powerless against his own creation.  Stalin would have admired what the editors of the Murder of Meredith Kercher have achieved, right under the noses of Wikipedia executives.

On November 29, 2005, Wikipedia victim John Seigenthaler wrote in USA Today:
When I was a child, my mother lectured me on the evils of "gossip." She held a feather pillow and said, "If I tear this open, the feathers will fly to the four winds, and I could never get them back in the pillow. That's how it is when you spread mean things about people." For me, that pillow is a metaphor for Wikipedia.”

It's more than gossip. And like Dynamite and nuclear weapons, Wikipedia is a genie that may never go back into the bottle.