Astroturfing Revealed–the Ruining of Wikipedia

Astroturfing

Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants. It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations credibility by withholding information about the source’s financial connection. The term astroturfing is derived from AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to resemble natural grass, as a play on the word “grassroots.” The implication behind the use of the term is that instead of a “true” or “natural” grassroots effort behind the activity in question, there is a “fake” or “artificial” appearance of support. (source: you guessed it, Wikipedia)

And who is the most well-known astroturfing entity that is publicly visible and is used by millions every day for what they think is good information? Wikipedia!

And you thought you knew Wikipedia! And you may even have donated money to Wikipedia every year–like I have been–thinking it is for an open database of great information that knowledgeable people edit and update. Right? Wrong.

Wikipedia is Astroturfing

According to the above TEDx, Wikipedia is Astroturfing and indeed, it is. I had my own share of miserable experiences in trying to update certain pages on nutrition, which miss a lot of information. My experience was this:

  • I tried to edit by adding a sentence about new research with the latest academic publication on the LCHF/ketogenic diet used in a clinical trial showing that people with type 2 diabetes were able to start reversing their diabetes, could stop using insulin, and some even their other medications, and those overweight lost a lot of weight–it is an open-access article you can download from here.
  • The sentence I added was deleted before I could sit back and take a breath
  • I repeated adding that sentence in a different way, thinking that, perhaps, the words I used were not clear
  • The sentence was removed immediately
  • I thought that perhaps I did something wrong so I read the guidelines–I am not new to Wikipedia; I have even created a page long time ago (I think “long time ago” is important here) so I knew the rules, I followed all guidelines and added my entry again, adding name stamp, date stamp, the usual stuff, which I have forgotten to add with the previous entry. I thought “OK, I got it right this time”
  • The sentence was removed immediately and I received a warning that if I try to add that again, I will be banned from any edits of Wikipedia.

Unbeknownst to me, as I was trying to add this sentence and citation, two other scientist colleagues tried to add similar things to the same page though not this citation. We talked after and discovered that none of us was able to make any edits to update that nutrition page with currently published information.

What the heck as going on? In the meantime I received the annual begging letter reminding me that I have not yet donated to Wikipedia this year. I used to donate every year.

The Case of Dr. Malcolm Kendrick

Dr. Malcolm Kendrick is such a strong name in the field of nutrition that even google corrects my spelling, yet what did Wikipedia do? User:skeptic removed him from Wikipedia because:

Malcolm Kendrick is a fringe figure who agues(sic) against the lipid hypothesis. He denies that blood cholesterol levels are responsible for heart disease and in opposition to the medical community advocates a high-fat high-cholesterol diet as healthy. Problem is there is a lack of reliable sources that discuss his ideas. His book The Great Cholesterol Con was not reviewed in any science journals. Kendrick is involved with the International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics, I suggest deleting his article and redirecting his name to that. Skeptic from Britain (talk) 20:29, 2 December 2018 (UTC)

Do you smell any bias here by any chance? I smell Astroturfing burning actually; you can see the full blog Malcolm wrote here. This also explains why I and my colleagues were unable to add a sentence with citation to the nutrition page.

Don’t Donate to Wikipedia!

So what happened to the begging letter I received? No, it didn’t hit the delete button. I actually responded to it. I told them what I think of them and added that they should not expect any money from me in the future. In fact, I will never click on Wikipedia link again. NEVER EVER AGAIN!!!

Comments are welcome, as always, and are moderated for appropriateness.

Angela

About Angela A Stanton, Ph.D.

Angela A Stanton, PhD, is a Neuroeconomist focusing on chronic pain--migraine in particular--physiology, electrolyte homeostasis, nutrition, and genetics. She lives in Southern California. Her current research is focused on migraine cause, prevention, and treatment without the use of medicine. As a forever migraineur from childhood, her discovery was helped by experimenting on herself. She found the cause of migraine to be at the ionic level, associated with disruption of the electrolyte homeostasis, resulting from genetic variations of all voltage dependent channels, gates, and pumps (chanelopathy) that modulate electrolyte mineral density and voltage in the brain. In addition, insulin and glucose transporters, and several other variants, such as MTHFR variants of B vitamin methylation process and many others are different in the case of a migraineur from the general population. Migraineurs are glucose sensitive (carbohydrate intolerant) and should avoid eating carbs as much as possible. She is working on her hypothesis that migraine is a metabolic disease. As a result of the success of the first edition of her book and her helping over 5000 migraineurs successfully prevent their migraines world wide, all ages and both genders, and all types of migraines, she published the 2nd (extended) edition of her migraine book "Fighting The Migraine Epidemic: Complete Guide: How To Treat & Prevent Migraines Without Medications". The 2nd edition is the “holy grail” of migraine cause, development, and prevention, incorporating all there is to know. It includes a long section for medical and research professionals. The book is full of academic citations (over 800) to authenticate the statements she makes to make it easy to follow up by those interested and to spark further research interest. It is a "Complete Guide", published on September 29, 2017. Dr. Stanton received her BSc at UCLA in Mathematics, MBA at UCR, MS in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, PhD in Economics with dissertation in neuroscience (culminating in Neuroeconomics) at Claremont Graduate University, fMRI certification at Harvard University Medical School at the Martinos Center for Neuroimaging for experimenting with neurotransmitters on human volunteers, certification in LCHF/ketogenic diet from NN (Nutrition Network), certification in physiology (UPEN via Coursea), Nutrition (Harvard Shool of Public Health) and functional medicine studies. Dr. Stanton is an avid sports fan, currently power weight lifting and kickboxing. For relaxation (yeah.. about a half minute each day), she paints and photographs and loves to spend time with her family of husband of 45 years, 2 sons and their wives, and 2 granddaughters. Follow her on Twitter at: @MigraineBook, LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/angelaastantonphd/ and facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DrAngelaAStanton/
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21 Responses to Astroturfing Revealed–the Ruining of Wikipedia

  1. Pingback: Eliminating Dietary Dissent | Marmalade

  2. Reblogged this on thewellspringsblog and commented:
    I’ve seen this in other areas of Wikipedia. Horrible site masquerading as truth, burying new knowledge by old entrenched bullies

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Roald Michel says:

    In November I wrote a tiny article on my LinkedIn site, suggesting:

    “……..cheating, albeit often under different names (e.g. strategic management, professional sales techniques, alternative facts) is seen as an asset, a virtue, a great skill, something which can help you to get rich, land a dream job, win a lawsuit, occupy a seat in parliament, pass an exam, become a CEO, a country’s president, or the representative of your local church choir.”

    Seems I was right 😈

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now you can add astroturfing to the definition as well. And might as well use Wikipedia as THE example

      Like

      • Roald Michel says:

        I wonder what shit is driving people to create this shit.

        Liked by 1 person

        • ching-a-ling of course.. what else 😦

          Like

        • Roald Michel says:

          Hmmmm…….in my world, ching-a-ling stands for Asian pimp. But if you go with Wikipedia it’s……..https://goo.gl/FF1TgX

          Liked by 1 person

        • chris c says:

          Asian pimp is hysterical!

          I think there’s more than just money though, there are egos being bruised as people routinely achieve what they are told is impossible. Then there’s religion as in the SDA and militant vegans. I remember a time when Google Blogger pulled a number of low carb blogs,and deleted some of them, as “spam”. AFAIK WordPress didn’t do that yet. But every blog has its Embedded Vegan, and as for Twitter . . .

          . . .I’d read about Wikipedia in the past but not realised how deep the rot had become. Nor I suspect had a lot of other people prior to this episode. I mainly only used it for noncontroversial information but now I know about the censorship I will never trust it again. I’ve also written to explain why, though I doubt anyone will care.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Agree! major egos. But now that the rabbit is out of the hat, no turning back. Since you don;t follow twitter, there is a movement of requesting all donations back now from Wikipedia, which apparently is possible if requested within 90 days from the donation. This was the first year that I didn’t donate to Wikipedia and just learned that my hubby did. I just sent him a message to request a refund.

          Apparently there are “guest editors”… that is already bad news that they need guest editors. And the one in question–in terms of Dr. Malcolm Kendrick–is a vegan fighter… so there. This goes beyond regular biased editing and does take Wikipedia down the “rotten apple” lane. This is more than censorship–in terms of censoring for accurate information. YUK Wikipedia.

          Like

        • chris c says:

          Science Fiction writer John Brunner wrote a lot of dystopian novels based on taking current science (from the sixties and seventies) and extrapolating it forward in time – Stand On Zanzibar was set in 2010. He got many things right but also missed a lot of targets like metabolic disease which was unknown then – he saw problems mainly with resistant infections and cancer and of course pollution.

          One of his concepts was the Delphi Poll – ask enough people a question and their replies would tend to cluster around the truth.

          At first Wikipedia looked as if it was putting that concept into reality, but now it has become as corrupted as the mainstream media.

          Liked by 1 person

        • It is worse than corrupted. It is also edited by ignorant and stupid people. The “editor” (self appointed baby sitter for the low carb diet page at the moment) has his PhD in English and is full of himself. Wikipedia editors should only be editing a page if they are expert in that topic–similar to peer review. So i is hopeless. I ma still arguing in “Talk” with this guy called Alexbrn.

          Like

        • chris c says:

          Yes they just replied to my complaint explaining how Wikipedia *should* work but obviously it doesn’t.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Precisely. I gave up on wikipedia and just avid it as much as I can

          Like

        • chris c says:

          Ho ho, I was just reading your attempts to provide information being shot down. What a twerp! It looks like Jimmy Wales finally banned the original idiot – AFTER he had already left, but the other two are still in place. So is Tom Naughton . . .for now

          I was reading their puff piece on veganism. Not word one about the SDA connection.

          Oh well, Christmas is over, as if a pheasant and some bacons and brussels sprouts, I wonder what the New Year will bring, apart from the meat tax. Season’s greetings!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Ho ho back at ya! Hope you had a nice one 🙂 I hope this meat tax is just an April fool’s joke or a bad dream of some peeps up there.

          Where do you read who was banned by Jimmy Wales? That would be an interesting reading. Is Alexbrn banned yet???? He is one of the current crazies there. Why would they admit to any connections anywhere? That would defy their purpose and goal.

          Like

        • chris c says:

          I think it was on Tom Naughton’s Twitter feed. Hard to remember as I have been following the ongoing saga on numerous Twitter accounts and blogs until my eyes glazed over. Oh wait it was on his blog

          http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2018/12/21/follow-up-on-the-weenie-wiki-editor/

          alexbrn and EEng are still hard at work doing the lord’s work and banning low carb information (on behalf of their sponsors?)

          I am certain the meat tax will be a thing, vegans/Seventh Day Adventists have weaselled their way into the top levels of the WHO and UN and are now pulling the cow farts cause global warming rubbish in much of the mainstream media. They have chosen to invade most medical and especially low carb blogs and Twitter feeds as you probably noticed, so Wikipedia is just another cog in their machine. Science is coming a distant second to dogma at the moment.

          Liked by 1 person

        • In the meantime, in India, vegans are being beat up for pushing veganism. Who would have thought? Indian vegan activists are beaten up. Maybe we should move to India as the last resort? 😉 (damn.. the image is not working for some reason.. visit https://cluelessdoctors.com/2018/12/29/an-image-that-says-it-all/

          Since I was entangled with Wikipedia war over low carbs and had some nasty twitter exchanges with Jimmy Wales myself, I will not hold my breath and avoid Wikipedia as much as I can. They can close doors and see if I care…

          Like

        • chris c says:

          alexbrn posted his agenda on Malcolm Kendrick’s blog or all the world including Jimmy Wales to see: obviously he is confident in his utter cluelessness

          “I am a very experienced Wikipedia editor. I have edited the low-carbohydrate article on Wikipedia recently. There is NO long-term scientific evidence this fad diet has any health benefits.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-carbohydrate_diet

          I have had low-carb cranks BANNED if they come anywhere near this article. Amanda ZZ and her sock-puppets were BANNED.

          The skeptics will always run Wikipedia. We have science on our side. If any crank defenders of low-carb turn up, I will revert and get them banned. I will not tolerate quackery. Skeptic from Britain and Jytdog may have left Wikipedia temporarily but there are many any of us pro-science skeptics left.

          Alexbrn.”

          Liked by 1 person

        • I just wrote to Alexbrn via “talk” on Wikipedia behind the low carbohydrate diets the following:

          ADA 2019 Standard for Medical Care in Diabetes booklet out to see

          I have no intention to edit anything Alexbrn because I know you will remove whatever I post but just an update on a comment I tried to edit. I am also referring to a message I just received on one of my blogs from a friend that has your name attached to it and I found it fascinating:

          “There is NO long-term scientific evidence this fad diet has any health benefits. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-carbohydrate_diet I have had low-carb cranks BANNED if they come anywhere near this article. Amanda ZZ and her sock-puppets were BANNED. The skeptics will always run Wikipedia. We have science on our side [[really??? I don’t think so Astanton (talk) 22:21, 1 January 2019 (UTC)Astanton]]. If any crank defenders of low-carb turn up, I will revert and get them banned [[amazing Wikipeda rule following here! Astanton (talk) 22:21, 1 January 2019 (UTC)Astanton]]. I will not tolerate quackery. Skeptic from Britain and Jytdog may have left Wikipedia temporarily [[really? They were fired by Jimmy Astanton (talk) 22:21, 1 January 2019 (UTC)Astanton]] but there are many any of us pro-science skeptics [[this is an oxymoron Astanton (talk) 22:21, 1 January 2019 (UTC)Astanton]] left.”

          This is a lovely statement up front that is open for Jimmy to view–and I hope he enjoys it….

          However, in the meantime the ADA released its 2019 recommendations and one of the articles it cites for the use of low carbs diets (indeed it recommends the low carbs diet!) is the one I wanted to cite: [1]

          So you are wrong. Low carbs is coming your way, whether it is cited in Wikipedia or not or whether you like it or not. None of us uses Wikipedia anymore and we just wish it to blow over one day when you are no longer an editor–perhaps your diet will help in that.

          By Alexbrn! it wasn’t lovely to chat with you and I am glad you will probably kick me off now. Honestly, the last thing I want to do is to have to convince people like you of anything.

          Astanton (talk) 22:21, 1 January 2019 (UTC)Astaton

          Hallberg SJ, McKenzie AL, Williams PT, et al. Effectiveness and safety of a novel care model for the management of type 2 diabetes at 1 year: an open-label, non-randomized, controlled study. Diabetes Ther 2018;9:583–612

          There… My famous last words and I doubt I will visit Wikipedia any time soon.

          Like

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