Bronze-level articleRome Viharo

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Rome Viharo, totally not insane.
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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[1]

Rome Viharo is a pseudoscience promoter[2] and internet troll.[3][4] He was banned on Wikipedia in 2013, after engaging in sockpuppetry on the talk page of the article about Rupert Sheldrake and has been blocked on various Reddit accounts.[5] Viharo has described himself as an "eccentric" who argues for a conspiracy theory about organized skeptic activity on Wikipedia. He is also known for creating Deepak Chopra's Integrative Studies Historical Archive and Repository (ISHAR), and for advancing "OS/AL 012" and "Aiki Wiki". Viharo works as a social media strategist, and more recently the CEO of startup Audience Unlock.[6]

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".[7]

To his eternal credit — based on his Twitter — at least Viharo doesn't support Trump.[8] See? We can be fair and balanced.

Contents

Views and persecution complex

Viharo has a persecution complex where even if his real name is mentioned — he claims he is being "harassed".[9] He has gone as far as fabricating a claim he has been harassed offline, or on his phone — which there is no evidence for.[10] Viharo also alleges fake "impersonator" accounts of him appeared on a forum, yet only a single account appeared with his name, with 3 or 4 harmless satirical posts.

Viharo seems to claim he is "cyberbullied" for attention and sympathy. Which is rather sad to say the least.

Viharo now dedicates a lot of his time stalking the Wikipedia editors (including admins) involved in banning his sockpuppets. A section on his website "Editors and Admins Involved"[11] lists 10 editors, who find their internet activities recorded, as well as slander posted about them. Viharo has gone further and requested personal info about the editors on the pseudo-scientific Skeptiko forum.[12]

Fighting the "skeptical conspiracy"

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

During this time, Viharo joined Wikipedia and attempted to support 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.[13][14]

Viharo posts about claimed abuses on Wikipedia via his blog, "Wikipedia, We Have a Problem".[15] Although he blamed Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (the group Sheldrake claims is conspiring against him) when first posting as "Tumbleman",[16] 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.[17]

Viharo attended the 2014 Electric Universe conference to (anonymously) deliver a presentation in which he claimed abuse by "the skeptic activist movement".[18]

However, no such conspiracy of skeptics appears to exist.

Viharo further claims that he "thought [he] was also editing anonymously on Wikipedia" (because he was using the name "Tumbleman") but "was outed by [another user] on Wikipedia within three days of arrive [sic] on Sheldrake’s article."[19] However, in his first edit on the talkpage of Rupert Sheldrake's article, he linked to his userpage as "Rome Viharo",[20] though he removed his name a minute later.[21] While Viharo claims this was accidental, it's difficult to "accidentally" click on Preferences, go to the signature field, and type in one's real name.

Views on pseudoscience

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".[22]

However, in 2013, Viharo (then operating on Wikipedia as "Tumbleman") stated that Rupert Sheldrake's "morphic resonance" could not be classified as pseudoscience:[23]

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".[24] 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".[25]

OS 012

Sometime prior to 2003, Viharo created the original version of "OS 012." OS 012 appears to be based on this bit of tri-positional logic:[26]

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.

Under various pseudonyms, Viharo appeared on internet forums such as the James Randi Educational Foundation[27] and others with bombastic declarations, such as:[28]

OS 012 is a memetic and language technology that resolves all conflict and war. It creates synergy and syncronocity [sic]. It allows the user to increase thier [sic] own intelligence.

Viharo's "global dialectic for personal interaction on the Internet"[29] even contains some statements which clash directly with known physical laws.[30]

While no one is quite sure what OS 012 exactly is, a commenter on the Bad Science Forum may have described it best: "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."[31]

Meme

Viharo has also promoted OS 012 as a meme, claiming "The exact number of online users spreading [it] is impossible to determine, however online records suggest a figure no less than 50,000." Despite his boasts about its popularity, not many people have ever heard of it, and he's not above asking for money to help spread the idea.[32]

Early on, Viharo decided he could best try to spread his OS 012 "meme" "virally". In practice, that meant picking fights on internet forums then trying to convince people their views were simultaneously right, wrong, and neutral,[33] an activity otherwise known as trolling.[34]

Viharo insists that anyone who talks about OS 012 is using it, regardless of their attitude toward it. When questioned about the nature of his algorithms, he has declared that text is an inadequate medium to convey his ideas,[35] even though whatever algorithm he is coding can be reduced to written form if it can be encoded electronically.

Aiki Wiki

In 2014, Viharo re-branded OS 012 as AL 012, supposedly symbolizing its mysterious algorithmic property. Sometime later, he again re-branded it as the "six petals of the ikia" at Aiki Wiki,[36] a website he is developing as "a platform for online collaborative consensus building and publishing."[37] In this regard, it 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 will be starting out with a consensus-building procedure, and publishing what comes of that procedure.

Aiki Wiki is also, at some point, supposed to have a "cubby" that will include "corrected" pages meant specifically for use in guiding Wikipedia editors.[38] See below for what that will presumably might entail.

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.[39][40] Although the talk was publicized as a "proposal that Google has a form of consciousness",[41][42] 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.[43] Later, he also classed the talk as a "creative work", which apparently means Viharo's statements in the talk can't be taken seriously.[44]

Viharo devoted portions of his TEDx talk to Shamanism and the allegedly magical properties of Ayahuasca, 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".[39] 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.[45]

In order to promote interest in a video of his TEDx talk, Viharo pursued a marketing strategy of deliberately angering people on internet forums.[46][47]

In 2013, Viharo created a blog about Google Consciousness to attempt to further spread the idea.[48]

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[49]

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. [50]

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:[51]

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.[52] However, on Wikipedia, Viharo used a sockpuppet account ("ChopraMedia", later renamed[53] to "SAS81") to attempt to get other users to remove skeptical sources from Chopra's Wikipedia article.[54] He was then discovered and permabanned, because he was using a new account to evade a previous ban.[55][56][57] He nonetheless insists he "won the wiki war" (emphasis in original),[58] 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;[49]

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"[49]

Viharo later claimed on his website that he was fired from his director position at ISHAR by the president of the Chopra Foundation,[59] and ISHAR's website confirms that he no longer holds that post.[60]

External links

See also

Footnotes

  1. 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/
  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. "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 commentating about Viharo (archived copy)
  5. "This comment is coming from my other reddit account that I created so I could talk about the topic in question. I am the user above as well. both of these accounts have been blocked." - Rome Viharo confessing to sockpuppetry (archived copy)
  6. https://web.archive.org/web/20151117050153/http://www.audienceunlock.com/about-us/
  7. https://twitter.com/rome_viharo/status/740651473143402500
  8. https://twitter.com/rome_viharo
  9. On Wikipedia, Rome Viharo signed his own name to his user Tumbleman. When other Wikipedia editors then quoted his real name — he claimed his identity was leaked against his wishes (despite him posting his own name) and that he was "harassed".
  10. http://archive.is/kU07r
  11. Editors and Admins Involved, Wikipedia We Have a Problem
  12. [1]
  13. Rome Viharo, Wikipedia, We Have a Problem Skeptiko.com
  14. Seriously, no love for the Soviet Union?
  15. Front page (archival copy)
  16. Viharo first referred to GSoW as "GSM"[2], [3], [4]
  17. "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." Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia or just Wikipedia Skepticism?
  18. 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
  19. Rational Wiki, Wikipedia editor comparison (archived copy)
  20. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Rupert_Sheldrake&diff=prev&oldid=570985795
  21. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Rupert_Sheldrake&diff=next&oldid=570985795
  22. http://rationalwiki.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Rome_Viharo&diff=1458332&oldid=1457686
  23. Viharo as Tumbleman argues that Sheldrake's morphic resonance isn't pseudoscience
  24. https://archive.is/pMWOz Viharo as Viharo
  25. Aiki Wiki: Teaser
  26. OS 012 BASIC, as of 26 October 2013. Not 8-12 years ago at all.
  27. 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"
  28. Viharo as "Bubblefish" spamming "creativity.net"
  29. Viharo's huge "Global Dialectic for Internet Communication" tract
  30. 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.
  31. Bad Science
  32. About OS 012 "This project needs intellectual and financial resource, if you are interested in this, please contact OS012 AT zeitghostmedia.com"
  33. 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."
  34. Viharo as "Bubblefish" even kept a log of his trolling activity
  35. http://rationalwiki.org/w/index.php?title=Talk%3ARome_Viharo&diff=1280930&oldid=1280929
  36. The ikia itself.
  37. https://web.archive.org/web/20150416071249/http://aiki.wiki/about_aiki_media
  38. The Wikipedia cubby
  39. 39.0 39.1 Google Consciousness Youtube
  40. About Viharo's TEDx presentation
  41. 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."
  42. "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
  43. 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)".
  44. http://rationalwiki.org/w/index.php?title=Essay:Rome_Viharo_revisits_Rational_Wiki,_a_critique&oldid=1453037#Creative_works%2E
  45. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER.P2
  46. 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 :)"
  47. 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."
  48. GoogleConsciousness.com
  49. 49.0 49.1 49.2 http://wikipediawehaveaproblem.com/2015/11/how-rational-wiki-abuses-its-google-page-rank-for-personal-attacks-slander-and-harassment/
  50. Rome Viharo's Twitter feed: December 2013
  51. Maureen Seaberg Let's Raise ISHAR! Huffington Post
  52. 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.
  53. Request for renaming; revision showing changed username.
  54. 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
  55. Wikipedia, ISHAR update
  56. Sockpuppet investigations page; block noted at bottom
  57. Own confession to four different socks used to evade ban, though he refuses to call them socks
  58. 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/
  59. Update: The ISHAR project
  60. http://isharonline.org/content/ishar-boards
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