Bronze-level articleRome Viharo

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Rome Viharo, victim of a worldwide "skeptical conspiracy".
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It is clear to me, if only from his extreme verbosity, that this guy is just a troll trying to soak up as much of everyone's time as possible. Every comment elicits a gigantic reply from him, no issue is too small for him to write thousands of words on it.
—Tim Farley[1]

Rome Viharo is a pseudoscience promoter[2] and internet troll[3] who operates under aliases Bubblefish,[4][5][6] PillyM,[4] WWHP,[5] Tumbleman,[4][7] 23canaries,[8] and hoofish.[9] He is also the "creator" of OS 012/AL 012/Aiki Wiki, a poorly defined concept for which Viharo spends more time "virally marketing" than actually developing.

He was banned on Wikipedia in 2013, after engaging in sockpuppetry on the talk page of the article about Rupert Sheldrake to support Sheldrake's pseudo-scientific ideas. He then blamed a conspiracy of skeptics for this failure. He is also known for creating Deepak Chopra's Integrative Studies Historical Archive and Repository (ISHAR).

Viharo works as a social media strategist, and more recently the CEO of startup Audience Unlock.[10]

To his eternal credit at least he doesn't support Trump.[11][12][13][14][15] See? We can be fair and balanced.

Contents

OS 012

It looks as if someone took a philosophy text book, cut it into lots of tiny little pieces, and then stuck them back together at random."
—snoozeofreason, Bad Science Forum[16]

Sometime before 2003, Viharo created OS 012, based on this bit of tri-positional logic:[17]

All ideas conflict or have the potential for conflict. ALL IDEAS ARE TRUE(1), FALSE(2), and/or MYSTERY(0). ALL the time. In ALL environments.

While this isn't necessarily a stupid idea, it was and is entirely unclear how (or if) Viharo planned to actually implement this idea.

That didn't stop Viharo from trying to spread this self-described "OS 012 meme" "virally".[18] In practice, that meant picking fights on forums and trying to convince people their views were simultaneously right, wrong, and neutral.[19] Apparently this "meme" was quite successful, because Viharo claimed that "[t]he exact number of online users spreading [OS 012] is impossible to determine, however online records suggest a figure no less than 50,000." Despite his boasts, he was not above asking for money to spread the idea.[20]

Viharo called OS 012 the "global dialectic for personal interaction on the Internet"[21] and claimed that it "resolves all conflict and war" as well as "increase thier [sic] own intelligence".[22] Indeed, it was "a highly effective dialectic, completly [sic] undefeated".[6] Unsurprisingly, some of Viharo's claims went so far as to clash with known physical laws.[23]

In 2014, Viharo re-branded OS 012 as AL 012, supposedly symbolizing its mysterious algorithmic property.[citation needed] Sometime later, he again re-branded it as Aiki Wiki,[24] a "platform for online collaborative consensus building and publishing".[25] In this regard, Aiki Wiki appears to take a different approach than a traditional wiki (like this one): while most wikis are focused on publishing some particular body of information, and develop some consensus-building process to facilitate that goal, it appears that Aiki Wiki would start with a consensus-building procedure and publish what comes of that procedure.

Google consciousness

In 2011, Viharo and business partner Maf Lewis delivered a talk at TEDx that discussed whether the popular search engine Google is sentient.[26][27] Although the talk was publicized as a "proposal that Google has a form of consciousness",[28][29] Viharo states he is neither promoting nor denying that Google is conscious, but discussing whether accepting philosopher Daniel Dennett's ideas would mean Google is conscious.[30] This is not an absurd idea in itself, but Viharo didn't stop there.

Viharo also discussed and also to the idea that social media could be revolutionary. While most of us agree that social media has had a big impact, Viharo went a bit farther than most, saying "we will eventually see social media replace government as we know it today", and that Egypt could be the first civilization to do this, arguing that "in principle, a few of their citizens, a few of their students could jump online using something like Google Labs and Wikipedia".[26] One might observe that as of 2013, fewer than half of Egyptians used the Internet, and in 2011 not even two fifths did; so the replacing of government with social media would have amounted to some serious disenfranchisement.[31]

Perhaps most worryingly, Viharo devoted portions of his TEDx talk to Shamanism and the allegedly magical properties of Ayahuasca.[26]

In order to promote interest in his TEDx talk, Viharo pursued a marketing strategy of deliberately angering people on internet forums.[4][5] In 2013, Viharo created a blog about Google Consciousness to attempt to further spread the idea.[32]

Viharo has since classed the talk as a "creative work", which apparently means that none of his statements in the talk can't be taken seriously.[33]

The "wiki wars"

Rupert Sheldrake

See the main article on this topic: Rupert Sheldrake

Viharo stated that he was "a known "defender of Rupert Sheldrake" in his TED and Wikipedia controversies" but that was "different [from] ... 'promoting' his views, or even defending his views".[34]

However, in 2013, Viharo (then operating on Wikipedia as "Tumbleman") stated that Rupert Sheldrake's "morphic resonance" could not be classified as pseudoscience:[35]

There is no reasonable claim an editor can make regarding Morphic Resonance as Pseudoscience as the term is used and defined in science unless you are claiming it is P[seudo]S[cience] because it is not falsifiable. That appears to me to be the only supportive claim an editor can make to hold Morphic Resonance under WP:FRINGE.Wikipedia's W.svg That's the exact same issue with String Theory, and under the terms, string theory is pseudoscience.

Viharo's view of pseudoscience only looks at the idea of falsifiability, not the many other ways pseudoscience is defined, such as not having a significant support from scientists.

Viharo further stated that Sheldrake's critique of "the scientific materialistic philosophy" is "an idea worth spreading".[36] However, neither of these things qualifies as promoting or defending Sheldrake's views, because these are ideas, not views.Do You Believe That?

In what could be termed a classic case of flogging a dead horse, a video posted by Viharo on YouTube in January 2015 portrays his Aiki Wiki platform facilitating all the revisions to the Rupert Sheldrake Wikipedia article that Viharo unsuccessfully argued for during his incarnation as "Tumbleman".[37]

The "skeptical conspiracy" and GSOW

See the main article on this topic: Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia

In 2013, Viharo joined Wikipedia and attempted to edit articles. When his edits were rejected, Viharo adopted Sheldrake's claims that a conspiracy of "ideologue" skeptics were targeting him for abuse. In an interview with parapsychology advocate Alex Tsakiris, Viharo said there was "definitely a conspiracy" of skeptics who were personally targeting him. He characterized the struggle as "a war of ideas", and compared it to "Americans and Nazis" fighting against each other in World War II.[38]

Viharo posts about Wikipedia's claimed abuses on his blog, Wikipedia, We Have a Problem.[39] Although he blamed Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (the group Sheldrake claims is conspiring against him) when first posting as "Tumbleman",[40] Viharo has since retracted his claim that the group caused the incident; however, he still considers the skeptics on Sheldrake's page to be a "group" of skeptics.[41]

Viharo attended the 2014 Electric Universe conference to (anonymously) deliver a presentation in which he claimed abuse by "the skeptic activist movement".[42]

However, no such conspiracy of skeptics appears to exist.

Viharo now dedicates a lot of his time stalking the Wikipedia editors involved in banning his sockpuppets. A section on his website "Editors and Admins Involved" lists 10 editors, who find their internet activities recorded, as well as slander posted about them.[43] Viharo has also requested personal info about the editors on the pseudo-scientific Skeptiko forum.[44]

Viharo now brands these efforts as "case studies" into Wikipedia.[45]

Persecution complex

Viharo often claims he is "cyberbullied" and "harassed".[46] He has compared himself to victims of rape.[47]

For example, Viharo claims that he thought he was editing anonymously on Wikipedia (because he was using the username "Tumbleman") but "was outed" by another user "within three days of arrive [sic] on Sheldrake's article".[48] However, in his first edit on the talkpage of Rupert Sheldrake's article, he linked to his userpage as "Rome Viharo",[7] though he removed his name a minute later.[49] While Viharo claims this was accidental, it's difficult to "accidentally" edit Preferences, edit the signature field, add one's real name, and save changes.[citation NOT needed]

ISHAR

My stint with Deepak Chopra only lasted around 5 months, yet this blip in my professional career is highlighted as a feature of my biography on Rational Wiki to create more suspicion of me to an audience already suspicious of Deepak Chopra. For Rational Wiki, its important to frame me as someone who promotes literature their audience finds suspicious, and according to them, it’s okay to warn the world about my associations with Deepak Chopra so the reader questions my integrity.
—Rome Viharo, questioning why being a woo-pusher could affect your general credibility[50]

By December 2013, Viharo shifted his focus to Deepak Chopra, confronting skeptic Tim FarleyWikipedia's W.svg on Twitter to claim organized skeptics were guilty of "abuse" in editing Chopra's Wikipedia biography. [51]

In 2014, Viharo created Deepak Chopra's Integrative Studies Historical Archive and Repository and became its director of operations. In an interview with the Huffington Post, he explained ISHAR's origins:[52]

ISHAR emerged from trying to find solutions to deal with the large amounts of misleading information on the internet, especially information promoted by skeptic activist organizations.
—Rome Viharo on the "problem" of misleading skepticism

On this article's talk page and elsewhere, Viharo has defended his decision to help Chopra by insisting that he does not support Chopra's ideas, that merely helping Chopra with the technical stuff is not an endorsement, that he was just doing his job, and that building a platform designed to be Chopra's "Woo-pedia" wasn't helping Chopra promote anything.[53] However, on Wikipedia, Viharo used a sockpuppet account ("ChopraMedia", later renamed[54] to "SAS81") to attempt to get other users to remove skeptical sources from Chopra's Wikipedia article.[55] He was then discovered and permabanned, because he was using a new account to evade a previous ban.[56][57][58] He nonetheless insists he "won the wiki war" (emphasis in original),[59] a wording which should tell you something about his goals: not to build a reliable encyclopedia, but forcefully push his boss's ideas — an activity he was allegedly paid by Chopra himself to do;[50]

One of those people who contacted me was Deepak Chopra, who gave me a small grant to continue my research into wiki wars on Wikipedia, using Deepak Chopra’s Wikipedia article as my next study into consensus building.
—Rome Viharo's management speak description of "edit warring for cash"[50]

Viharo later claimed on his website that he was fired from his director position at ISHAR by the president of the Chopra Foundation,[60] and ISHAR's website confirms that he no longer holds that post.[61]

RationalWiki

Who woulda thunk the Rational Wiki community could be so much fun? One wonders why they failed to include a picture of a kitten with a swastika on it’s [sic] forehead or a starving kid in africa [sic] and jokes to his malnourishment.
—Rome Viharo, not mad[62]

In a minor climax of his long-standing desire to stab at RationalWiki for the heinous crime of simply documenting his many shenaningans, on the 8th of June 2016, Viharo claimed via Twitter that "This year I'm going to be initiating legal recourses" against RationalWiki, (per his M.O.) alleging — you guessed it — "harassment and slander". And just to set the record straight that we're in the wrong to count him among our top kek cranks of the internet, he made sure to point out that "The internet is waking up".[63]

Viharo now believes that "Rationalwiki is publishing misinformation to damage control their involvement".[64]

External links

See also

Footnotes

  1. archived copy
  2. Viharo for example has claimed Rupert Sheldrake's morphic resonance hypothesis is not pseudo-science despite the scientific community regarding it to be exactly that: "Along with parapsychology, corn circles, creationism, ley-lines and "deep ecology", "formative causation", or "morphic resonance" has many of the characteristics of such pseudosciences." (Rose, S. 1992. "So-called "Formative Causation". A Hypothesis Disconfirmed. Response to Rupert Sheldrake". Riv. Biol./Biol. Forum 85: 445–453)
  3. "Following all this are descriptions of his trolling adventures, which are, as one might expect, kind to forums which fell for his shit, and nasty to those which saw him for the troll he is and banned him." - An administrator of a forum who banned Viharo for trolling (archived copy)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Badscience.net Forum. Re: Google Consciousness WTF?? is this real? First post as PillyM: Hey bad science, this is doing my head in. I watched a TED talk that talks about Google becoming conscious...and it seems like BS, but I can't tell. Is this real? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGF9NbPFfRo | Later post as PillyM: "by the way, PLEASE continue to post to this thread and help me viral market the TED talk I gave on Google Consciousness, thanks! I can't believe HOW MANY views came from this forum! i think if i keep doing the ol tit for tat with you guys here, I could get another 1k views on the vid. Come on ya ol stuffy grumps - give your pal Bubblefish, Tumbleman a roll will ya? come at me with something GOOD and make sure it's funny." | Later post as PillyM: "lol, this thread is far from a debate. I honestly admitted I am trolling in the lion's den :)"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Internationalskeptics.com (formerly JREF). TED: Google Consciousness. Posting as "Bubblefish" in 2011 (before the account was renamed "WWHP"): "the 'marketing' I am doing is more in the discussion,not the title. I am completely open about how I do this - see - i know that this community and a few characters on this thread will continue to post ad hom and attack ol fun loving bubblefish, and will find any excuse to make him wrong on just about anything - and since I enjoy turning win lose into a mutual win win, i use these attacks to keep the thread bumped to the top of the page for weeks, thus attracting attention to the very talk I am promoting."
  6. 6.0 6.1 Viharo posting as "Bubblefish" on the James Randi Forum, July 2005: "OS 0 1 2, Global Dialectic for the Internet. hello. Nice to see a section to share links. I am new here, and my interests here are regarding a possible challenge to Randi and Co regarding 'Qi', as i am working with a Theoritical Physicist formally from Cal Tech who can manipulate 'Qi' and can also explain it through a hypothesis he put together using QM to explain this mysterious concept. So! A challenge is forthcoming, and as soon as I get the time, i will introduce more of this topic. But until then, I thought perhaps some of you would enjoy my favorite link on the net, and a perspective that I adopt rather effeciently. http://www.highintelligence.com"
  7. 7.0 7.1 https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Rupert_Sheldrake&diff=prev&oldid=570985795
  8. 23canaries, particularly this and this.
  9. On Hacker News: "That's misinformation. I have nothing to do with PSI, i just focused on two biographies of two individuals who are fringe proponents. I specifically only edited basic biographical meta data. My detractors want to paint me as a fringe promoter so as to discredit my study."
  10. https://web.archive.org/web/20151117050153/http://www.audienceunlock.com/about-us/
  11. https://twitter.com/rome_viharo/status/843911134260346882
  12. https://twitter.com/rome_viharo/status/832788545018269697
  13. https://twitter.com/rome_viharo/status/830617631723909122
  14. https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton/status/870090101765931008
  15. https://twitter.com/rome_viharo/status/830617523368259584
  16. Google Consciousness WTF?? is this real, Bad Science
  17. OS 012 BASIC, as of 26 October 2013.
  18. Viharo even kept a log of his activity
  19. Viharo trolling as "Tumbleman" introduces himself to a forum: "This dialectic is unique, in that is quantifies the irrational, and the feelings, art, and humor, object and subject, into her axiom and proposition. THis confuses many at first, most likely including you...you will soon see how silly some of your ideas have been...Just a warning...I am always winning in every discussion that I have. I am completly undefeated."
  20. About OS 012 "This project needs intellectual and financial resource, if you are interested in this, please contact OS012 AT zeitghostmedia.com"
  21. Viharo's huge "Global Dialectic for Internet Communication" tract
  22. Viharo as "Bubblefish" spamming "creativity.net"
  23. See Bekenstein boundWikipedia's W.svg at the other wiki; compare with claims that "Simply, ideas, memes, media and words replicate. Exponentially." Exponential growth is unbounded; the actual possible information density of any given region is not, and since information cannot propagate superluminally, an expanding region is not a solution to this dilemma, but merely a means to push it back.
  24. The ikia itself.
  25. https://web.archive.org/web/20150416071249/http://aiki.wiki/about_aiki_media
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Google Consciousness Youtube
  27. About Viharo's TEDx presentation
  28. http://tedxtalks.ted.com "In this talk, Social Media strategists and developers Rome Viharo and Maf Lewis reveal the likelihood that Google's search algorithm may already be sentient, what it means, and what it represents as a metaphor for collective problem solving."
  29. "Drawing on their experience as pioneering social media strategists, Rome Viharo and Maf Lewis have created a new phenomenon with their proposal that Google has a form of consciousness." Overview : Google Consciousness
  30. Overview By Rome Viharo for Google Consciousness: "Let’s first define what we mean by ‘Google Consciousness’. Do we mean that Google’s servers are potentially sentient? No, that is not what we are saying (but we are neither refuting that possibility, it’s just not what we are suggesting)".
  31. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER.P2
  32. GoogleConsciousness.com
  33. Essay:Rome Viharo revisits Rational Wiki, a critique
  34. http://rationalwiki.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Rome_Viharo&diff=1458332&oldid=1457686
  35. Viharo as Tumbleman argues that Sheldrake's morphic resonance isn't pseudoscience
  36. https://archive.is/pMWOz Viharo as Viharo
  37. Aiki Wiki: Teaser
  38. Rome Viharo, Wikipedia, We Have a Problem Skeptiko.com
  39. Front page (archival copy)
  40. Viharo first referred to GSoW as "GSM"here, here, and here.
  41. Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia or just Wikipedia Skepticism?: "No matter what group it was or if it was just a ‘kismet of skepticacopia’ who they were or what group is the superficial component of the problem. It’s like confusing a 7th day adventist who knocks at my door with a Jehovah Witness, mistaken or not I still had to get out of my chair and listen to a sermon."
  42. Electric Universe 2014 Conference "SURPRISE SPEAKER — “ANONYMOUS” - ‘Wikipedia we have a problem’ is the story of ‘The Tumbleman’ – a Wikipedia editor who attempted to edit an article on Wikipedia to a more neutral point of view and received harassment and personal attacks from ‘activist editors’ in the skeptic activist movement, finding himself banned indefinitely from Wikipedia instead." www.thunderbolts.info. September 10, 2013
  43. Editors and Admins Involved, Wikipedia We Have a Problem
  44. [1]
  45. Case studies
  46. Harassment Case: Harassment from Wikipedia and Rational Wiki editors
  47. Do some people just deserve it?
  48. Rational Wiki, Wikipedia editor comparison (archived copy)
  49. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Rupert_Sheldrake&diff=next&oldid=570985795
  50. 50.0 50.1 50.2 http://wikipediawehaveaproblem.com/2015/11/how-rational-wiki-abuses-its-google-page-rank-for-personal-attacks-slander-and-harassment/
  51. Rome Viharo's Twitter feed: December 2013
  52. Maureen Seaberg Let's Raise ISHAR! Huffington Post
  53. Interestingly, this was not his first foray into such definitely not promotional activity; he was also responsible for editing a 2006 "documentary" arguing for the existence of qi.
  54. Request for renaming; revision showing changed username.
  55. A sample of Viharo's argumentation "For every scientist out there that you can find a quote of that is unfavorable to Dr. Chopra, I can find another one that is favorable." Another sample "That's not an unsupported claim, that is integrative medicine." All SAS81's posts to Talk:Deepak Chopra
  56. Wikipedia, ISHAR update
  57. Sockpuppet investigations page; block noted at bottom
  58. Own confession to four different socks used to evade ban, though he refuses to call them socks
  59. https://web.archive.org/save/http://wikipediawehaveaproblem.com/2015/11/no-oversight-on-rational-wiki-for-publishing-slander-block-users-who-try-and-confront-it/
  60. Update: The ISHAR project
  61. http://isharonline.org/content/ishar-boards
  62. https://web.archive.org/save/http://wikipediawehaveaproblem.com/2015/11/no-oversight-on-rational-wiki-for-publishing-slander-block-users-who-try-and-confront-it/
  63. https://twitter.com/rome_viharo/status/740651473143402500
  64. Rationalwiki is publishing misinformation to damage control their involvement
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