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Wikipedia, Spartacus and the JFK Assassination


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#1 John Simkin

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 03:36 PM

I have just had this message from a sympathizer:

Spartacus is about to be deemed an “unreliable” source of information for use in Wikipedia. It has been accused of “left wing” bias and being “propagandistic.”

http://en.wikipedia....oposed_decision

Those who want it banned are ready to strip any reference to Spartacus. There doesn’t appear to be a reasoned decision for this except that it carries sources of information that some of the administrators don’t like regarding the Kennedy assassination.

http://en.wikipedia....t_of_view.3F.22


#2 William Kelly

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 09:09 PM

I have just had this message from a sympathizer:

Spartacus is about to be deemed an "unreliable" source of information for use in Wikipedia. It has been accused of "left wing" bias and being "propagandistic."

http://en.wikipedia....oposed_decision

Those who want it banned are ready to strip any reference to Spartacus. There doesn't appear to be a reasoned decision for this except that it carries sources of information that some of the administrators don't like regarding the Kennedy assassination.

http://en.wikipedia....t_of_view.3F.22


John,

They're a sham for kids who don't want to do real homework anyway. Talking about unreliable sources.

People like Wikipedophilias, who view the world as liberal or conservative, right wing and left wing, don't realize that we live in a new world that can't be so classified, and that infomaiton is neutral, either correct or incorrect, right or wrong.

It's a shame however, that some legitimate sites link to sites like McAdams, Meyers, Reitzes, Raham and company, as if they are reliable.

Maybe we should start a Secret History Archive.

BK

#3 John Geraghty

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 01:58 AM

I agree with Bill's assessment of Wikipedia as a tool for lazy students. That is exactly what it is. If I were to cite Wikipedia as a source for an essay in College I would immediately be failed, no questions asked.

I see no problem with linking or citing from spartaucs, given that everything that John puts up is footnoted and reference from published works or is a dirct quote from the person concerned.

We have already discussed the problems with google and intelligence agencies, Wikipedia is just as susceptable to this kind of manipulation.

To think that 5,000 words of script on Wikipedia could satisfy years of debate is folly, the existence of a page on the Kennedy assassination is simpy asking for amateur manipulation.

Historical events such as the invasion of 1066 seem to draw more scholarly types to write them, some being school history teachers, however, topics such as the JFK assassination naturally attract those that think highly of themselves and have no real expertise in the matter. I have seen, and indeed been involved in, information struggles on Wikipedia. The only method of stopping such feuds is to lock the article, to suspend an involved party or to deem a source unreliable. No other recourse can be used as there is no settlement available.

There has been no concerted effort to present both sides of the case side by side in a much larger article, as I presume Wikipedia would prefer a more concise account, given that it models itself upon encyclopedias and targets lazy students. No satisfaction will be derived frm this article unless a full account is written by many people, which could run into a piece as long as the warren commission itself.

John

#4 John Simkin

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 07:28 AM

I have just posted this on the Wikipedia page discussing Spartacus (I wonder how long it will take to delete it?)

Statement from John Simkin

I am the author of the Spartacus Educational website. It was started in September 1997. The main objective was to provide a free encyclopaedia. I believe this was a similar intention behind the creation of Wikipedia. Like Wikipedia, Spartacus has resisted all attempts to become a “subscription only” service. I was attracted to the idea of creating a website because I saw the possibility of breaking the stranglehold of the rich and powerful over the communications system. It was hoped that when Jimmy Wales started Wikipedia in 2001, he shared this vision. In an interview he gave to Slashdot he said "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing." (2004-07-28) However, it seems that Wikipedia is now being used to support the “official interpretation” of the past as reflected in the mainstream media.

At the time I created the Spartacus Educational website, I was a history teacher (11-18 year olds) in England. I was also a prolific writer of history books for students. As I still held the copyright for my books, I decided to put them on the web free of charge. Students, from all over the world, were therefore being provided with free teaching materials. This is especially useful for students in the Third World who do not have the money to purchase textbooks or to those who study in countries where the authorities use the political system to control the information they receive. On average, we get 6 million page impressions a month. A survey carried out by the Fischer Family Trust showed that the Spartacus Educational website was used by more history students in the UK than any other website, including that of the BBC. As you can see, I am a very dangerous person.

http://www.fischertrust.org/

According to this page “three of the arbitrators deem Spartacus as "unreliable" and dedicated to a "propagandistic point of view." It goes on to say: “The complaining editors want defending editor RPJ banned from Wikipedia for, among other things, citing Spartacus.”

It seems strange that the arbitrators want to “ban” someone for citing a source of information because it apparently puts forward a “"propagandistic point of view". In fact, if these arbitrators spent just a short period of time on my website they would soon discover that one of my main themes is to expose propaganda from wherever it comes. See for example, my section on the communist government in the Soviet Union:

http://www.spartacus...uk/RussiaSU.htm

I especially recommend those pages on Socialist Realism, NKVD Secret Police, Soviet Writers' Union and banned writers such as Yevgeni Zamyatin, Isaac Babel, Boris Pilnyak, Nickolai Tikhonov, Mikhail Slonimski, Vsevolod Ivanov, Victor Serge, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Sergei Yesenin, Konstantin Fedin, Victor Shklovsky, Mikhail Zoshchenko and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

The arbitrators seem more interested in my pages on American history. After looking at my pages on “Barry Goldwater, Harry Truman, and a few other historical figures” it is concluded that I “have, what an American might believe, is a foreign viewpoint of modern American history which might seem stark, candid, and non-deferential”. I have to confess that I am indeed “candid and non-deferential”. However, that is not only true of my pages on American historical figures. I take the same approach with historical figures from all countries, not just those from the United States.

The debate about me being a reliable source is apparently based on my pages on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. That I am guilty of putting forward a "propagandistic point of view." This seems to completely misunderstand the contents of my encyclopaedia. The website was created to support the teaching of history in the UK. One of the aspects of the history curriculum in the UK is to teach “interpretations”. That is to say, we teach our students that people interpret the past in different ways. There are several factors involved in this process - this includes the political beliefs of the person creating the “interpretation”. Nationalistic factors are also important, hence the reasons why arbitrators at Wikipedia based in the United States have taken offence at my “candid and non-deferential” interpretations of American political figures.

Educators in the UK have tried to deal with this problem by rejecting the idea that it is possible to create a “standardized, neutral, objective” interpretation of the past of the type favoured by the Soviet Union under Stalin and Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler. Instead, history teachers in the UK attempt to arm its students with the skills needed to deal with issues like subjectivity and propaganda. Therefore, when we teach any historical subjects, we expose our students to different interpretations of the past. We also provide them with the sources of evidence that these historians use to support their interpretation of the past. This is true whether you are studying Barry Goldwater, Harry Truman, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin or the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This is reflected by my encyclopaedia. Therefore on most pages you will get examples of different interpretations of that subject. It seems that the Wikipedia arbitrators, who dislike my website, have concentrated on those interpretations they disagree with.

I suspect that attempts to get my links banned from Wikipedia has very little to do with my page on Lee Harvey Oswald. It has more to do with my pages on people like George H. W. Bush, Luis Posada Carriles, Orlando Bosch, Robert Gates, that have links to my site from Wikipedia. This is a debate about people who are still alive. It is a debate about the present and not the past. When Wikipedia arbitrators talk about the need to produce “neutral and objective” entries, they are really concerned about the provision of a standardized view of the past. They are the modern Stalins and Hitlers who believe that the state should determine the way we see the world. Before I edited it, the Wikipedia entry for the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird described it as an “urban myth”. In fact, the CIA is still attempting to control the world’s mass media and that includes the internet. It is only to be expected that today’s struggle over how we interpret the past and the present is taking place at Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia....ion_Mockingbird

I am very interested to know something about the people who accuse me of producing propaganda. We always teach our history students that it is important to explore the background of the people creating these “interpretations”. That is why, in my encyclopedia I provide a link to a page on the person who has created the material. I also provide a link to my own biography:

http://www.spartacus...o.uk/author.htm

http://en.wikipedia....iki/John_Simkin

Maybe my accusers at Wikipedia should provide also provide biographies that provides us some information about their experience of studying or teaching history.

I expect that this entry will soon be deleted so I have also posted it on the International Education Forum. Maybe the Wikipedia arbitrators would like to join the forum so they can post a defence of their views.

http://educationforu...?showtopic=8861

#5 Harry J.Dean

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 08:28 AM

I have just posted this on the Wikipedia page discussing Spartacus (I wonder how long it will take to delete it?)

Statement from John Simkin

I am the author of the Spartacus Educational website. It was started in September 1997. The main objective was to provide a free encyclopaedia. I believe this was a similar intention behind the creation of Wikipedia. Like Wikipedia, Spartacus has resisted all attempts to become a “subscription only” service. I was attracted to the idea of creating a website because I saw the possibility of breaking the stranglehold of the rich and powerful over the communications system. It was hoped that when Jimmy Wales started Wikipedia in 2001, he shared this vision. In an interview he gave to Slashdot he said "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing." (2004-07-28) However, it seems that Wikipedia is now being used to support the “official interpretation” of the past as reflected in the mainstream media.

At the time I created the Spartacus Educational website, I was a history teacher (11-18 year olds) in England. I was also a prolific writer of history books for students. As I still held the copyright for my books, I decided to put them on the web free of charge. Students, from all over the world, were therefore being provided with free teaching materials. This is especially useful for students in the Third World who do not have the money to purchase textbooks or to those who study in countries where the authorities use the political system to control the information they receive. On average, we get 6 million page impressions a month. A survey carried out by the Fischer Family Trust showed that the Spartacus Educational website was used by more history students in the UK than any other website, including that of the BBC. As you can see, I am a very dangerous person.

http://www.fischertrust.org/

According to this page “three of the arbitrators deem Spartacus as "unreliable" and dedicated to a "propagandistic point of view." It goes on to say: “The complaining editors want defending editor RPJ banned from Wikipedia for, among other things, citing Spartacus.”

It seems strange that the arbitrators want to “ban” someone for citing a source of information because it apparently puts forward a “"propagandistic point of view". In fact, if these arbitrators spent just a short period of time on my website they would soon discover that one of my main themes is to expose propaganda from wherever it comes. See for example, my section on the communist government in the Soviet Union:

http://www.spartacus...uk/RussiaSU.htm

I especially recommend those pages on Socialist Realism, NKVD Secret Police, Soviet Writers' Union and banned writers such as Yevgeni Zamyatin, Isaac Babel, Boris Pilnyak, Nickolai Tikhonov, Mikhail Slonimski, Vsevolod Ivanov, Victor Serge, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Sergei Yesenin, Konstantin Fedin, Victor Shklovsky, Mikhail Zoshchenko and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

The arbitrators seem more interested in my pages on American history. After looking at my pages on “Barry Goldwater, Harry Truman, and a few other historical figures” it is concluded that I “have, what an American might believe, is a foreign viewpoint of modern American history which might seem stark, candid, and non-deferential”. I have to confess that I am indeed “candid and non-deferential”. However, that is not only true of my pages on American historical figures. I take the same approach with historical figures from all countries, not just those from the United States.

The debate about me being a reliable source is apparently based on my pages on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. That I am guilty of putting forward a "propagandistic point of view." This seems to completely misunderstand the contents of my encyclopaedia. The website was created to support the teaching of history in the UK. One of the aspects of the history curriculum in the UK is to teach “interpretations”. That is to say, we teach our students that people interpret the past in different ways. There are several factors involved in this process - this includes the political beliefs of the person creating the “interpretation”. Nationalistic factors are also important, hence the reasons why arbitrators at Wikipedia based in the United States have taken offence at my “candid and non-deferential” interpretations of American political figures.

Educators in the UK have tried to deal with this problem by rejecting the idea that it is possible to create a “standardized, neutral, objective” interpretation of the past of the type favoured by the Soviet Union under Stalin and Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler. Instead, history teachers in the UK attempt to arm its students with the skills needed to deal with issues like subjectivity and propaganda. Therefore, when we teach any historical subjects, we expose our students to different interpretations of the past. We also provide them with the sources of evidence that these historians use to support their interpretation of the past. This is true whether you are studying Barry Goldwater, Harry Truman, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin or the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This is reflected by my encyclopaedia. Therefore on most pages you will get examples of different interpretations of that subject. It seems that the Wikipedia arbitrators, who dislike my website, have concentrated on those interpretations they disagree with.

I suspect that attempts to get my links banned from Wikipedia has very little to do with my page on Lee Harvey Oswald. It has more to do with my pages on people like George H. W. Bush, Luis Posada Carriles, Orlando Bosch, Robert Gates, that have links to my site from Wikipedia. This is a debate about people who are still alive. It is a debate about the present and not the past. When Wikipedia arbitrators talk about the need to produce “neutral and objective” entries, they are really concerned about the provision of a standardized view of the past. They are the modern Stalins and Hitlers who believe that the state should determine the way we see the world. Before I edited it, the Wikipedia entry for the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird described it as an “urban myth”. In fact, the CIA is still attempting to control the world’s mass media and that includes the internet. It is only to be expected that today’s struggle over how we interpret the past and the present is taking place at Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia....ion_Mockingbird

I am very interested to know something about the people who accuse me of producing propaganda. We always teach our history students that it is important to explore the background of the people creating these “interpretations”. That is why, in my encyclopedia I provide a link to a page on the person who has created the material. I also provide a link to my own biography:

http://www.spartacus...o.uk/author.htm

http://en.wikipedia....iki/John_Simkin

Maybe my accusers at Wikipedia should provide also provide biographies that provides us some information about their experience of studying or teaching history.

I expect that this entry will soon be deleted so I have also posted it on the International Education Forum. Maybe the Wikipedia arbitrators would like to join the forum so they can post a defence of their views.

http://educationforu...?showtopic=8861

John
Yours to Wikipedia, is "totally" excellent. I thank you for it.

Harry

#6 John Simkin

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 11:33 AM

Wikipedia has already removed my statement from this page. I wonder if Jimmy Wales will be pleased with the publicity this case will get in the UK media?

#7 David Richardson

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 06:12 PM

This is why I read the Education Forum - to get information I couldn't get easily in other ways. How interesting that Wikipedia has succumbed to right-wing pressure. And what a shame that the USA, a country that could be great, is so tawdry, so often.

#8 David Richardson

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 06:18 PM

There's a new entry on the 'Spartacus' page on Wikipedia - at least for the time being. It reads:

Spartacus is also the name of an excellent source of information for schoolchildren and others around the world about history. You'll find it at http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/

#9 Andy Walker

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 06:20 PM

Wikipedia has already removed my statement from this page. I wonder if Jimmy Wales will be pleased with the publicity this case will get in the UK media?


I for one am staggered by this turn of events. John Simkin's history resources are just about the most used and most valued resources amongst UK school teachers and their students. John was one of the pioneers moving school history away from an establishment sanctioned highly biased narrative of the past towards the source and skills based approach much UK practice is now happily informed by.
I find it extraordinary that a visitor to his site may see some sources on something controversial or contested and then assume that the author necessarily shares the views of the person(s) who wrote the source(s).
I find it bewildering, hugely disappointing and utterly philistine and totally anti educational that Wikipedia appear to wish to create an "approved" version of any history and presumably then intend to dress this "narrative" up as "fact".

I manage to convince 11 year old school girls that history is constructed reconstructed and contested in about 6 months of teaching. I then concentrate for the rest of the year on giving them the skills to evaluate interpretations and to develop their own interpretations of past events. Perhaps I would have less success with adult Americans? Given the evidence of the behaviour of these Wikipedia muppets I would certamly need more time :hotorwot

#10 David Richardson

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 06:32 PM

I'm going to be teaching US Culture and Society in the spring - parallel with teaching Twelfth Night. One of the points I make is about Malvolio and his closing remark "I'll be revenged upon the pack of you". I point out to students that Shakespeare assumes that his audience (especially the groundlings) would know a lot about Puritan religious doctrine, since he ridicules it in such detail in the play. And that Puritans were especially pissed off with the irreverent treatment they got in theatres.

Twenty years later, Malvolio's buddies were heading for New England on the Mayflower … with one of their aims being to create a society where smart asses like Shakespeare wouldn't have a voice.

In other words, hand-in-hand with the US aspiration towards freedom is the US aspiration towards total ideological control. It was a very common phenomenon in the Soviet Union, of course, but I reckon that Europe has learned (via very painful lessons called things like the Thirty Years War) to tolerate at least the expression of other opinions. This also happens to be an important element of what's called 'western scientific method'.

Let's just hope that our American friends manage to win their country back from the modern-day Malvolios …

#11 John Simkin

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 06:35 PM

I have now discovered that the Wikipedia administrator who sent me the warning email is a trial attorney in Honolulu and for the last 35 years has engaged in trial work in commercial fraud, racketeering, and civil conspiracy both in Honolulu and in California where he is also licensed. As a result of his support for me he is almost certain to lose his post as a Wikipedia administrator.

#12 Dawn Meredith

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 06:43 PM

Wikipedia has already removed my statement from this page. I wonder if Jimmy Wales will be pleased with the publicity this case will get in the UK media?



John:
That is disgusting. I was disturbed by your first post and intended to comment. Obviously they are attacking you for your conspiracy views. Wikipedia is just becomeing one more Mockingbird entity, only on the web.

I hope this censorship and slander does garner some publicity.

Dawn

#13 John Simkin

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 06:55 PM

Members might be interested at looking at this page:

http://en.wikipedia....ation_Committee

#14 John Simkin

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 10:32 PM

Gamaliel is one of the main people behind the move against RPJ. He worked closely with SlimVirgin in the war against LaRouche articles on Wikipedia in early 2005. When SlimVirgin started the bio of me on September 28, 2005, it was mainly because I was quoted in a newsletter about Chip Berlet, where I had pointed out some evidence of intelligence-community collaboration by Berlet in the government's successful effort to jail LaRouche during the 1980s. I independently confirmed this evidence before I wrote about it in the newsletter. SlimVirgin deleted the quote from me and called me "unreliable." Then she started the bio on me a few months later! You can see why I soon launched a war to get my bio taken down. I felt that there was no way I needed a bio on me if it was started by SlimVirgin, who clearly had ulterior motives.

Gamaliel worked closely with SlimVirgin and was very active in frustrating all of my efforts to delete my bio. He permanently banned me from Wikipedia in early April, 2006 for making legal threats. I merely pointed out that there was a new federal law in the U.S. that makes it a felony to harass someone while hiding behind a screen name.

In the course of developing my Wikipedia-Watch.org site, I have identified dozens of Wikipedia editors and administrators. Gamaliel's real name is Rob (Robert) Fernandez. Here is an old webpage of his I found that he had forgotten to take down. I moved it to my site as soon as I discovered it, because I knew he would whitewash it.

Fernandez is or was a grad student in library science. He dug out information about me from page 20 of a New York Times story from 1968, and took much delight in using this to brand me as a draft-card burner in my Wikipedia bio. Needless to say, that doesn't help me when I have to send out my resume to try to get a job.

Fernandez brags on his user page that he is most proud of his contributions to the Wikipedia article on Lee Harvey Oswald. His edits de-emphasize the conspiracy angle. If I ever find myself in court over my Wikipedia biography, I'd like to put both Jimmy Wales and Rob Fernandez on the stand. Conveniently, Wales and Fernandez both live close to each other, near St.Petersburg, Florida, which is where the Wikipedia servers are located, and where the trial would most likely take place.

It's very difficult to fight Wikipedia. Fernandez can call on top administrators such as JayJG and SlimVirgin, who collectively have more power than the Arbitration Committee. Fighting them is like struggling against quicksand. The best way to deal with Wikipedia is to undermine its image in the popular press, so that people stop considering them a viable source of objective information.



#15 John Geraghty

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 03:10 AM

I wrote earlier that I had engaged in a stand-off of sorts on the Wikiedpia site before. My most lenghty one was on the Lee Harvey Oswald page. Every time that I changed the page, the user Gamaliel, as mentioned above by daniel Brandt, changed it back to his original article. This went on for a month or so.
I don't have as much free time anymore so I can't dedicate myself to constantly changing the Oswald page, Gamiliel has the time and spends it editing other people corrections to his work.

See the history or the Oswald page for the many corrections that Gamaliel has made

http://en.wikipedia....;action=history

The article lacks neutrality and is full of non-factual assertions "he became an ardent Marxist solely from reading about the topic." Matters of opinion of the author are expressed as fact, which as we all know, is not the mandate of an encycldpedia.

John




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