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Talk:Barrett Brown

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Odd page on me[edit]

This discussion was moved here from Help talk:Contents.

I'm a former columnist for Skeptical Inquirer and contributor to Skeptic, and I just discovered that RationalWiki has a page on me with some rather unusual claims, such as that I'm a "targeted individual", along with several demonstrably false assertions about what I've supposedly said in interviews (to say nothing of the assertion that I "claim to have given a briefing to Russian intelligence"). I also appear to be listed under the category "Shyster", and I see that of the pages listed as linking to mine, one is "Soy boy". Likewise, the characterization of me as ascribing to a "Grand Unified Theory" about the Dark Enlightenment and Peter Thiel seems rather unfair given that none of what I've said about those involved would seem to jibe with the definition used on the relevant page (but then nor would "targeted individual"), which is one reason why, unlike the actual hucksters that I've inexplicably been categorized with here, my work on the subject has long been referenced by mainstream outlets (indeed, your page on Thiel himself references a recent biography that I was consulted on). One gets used to this sort of thing over time but I'm a little disappointed to see it occur in this community. If there's any hope of me being able to provide documentation to refute some of the claims made therein, please let me know. - Barrett Brown −

[E.C] This seems unusual. You didn't mention which page it is, but I think I found itBarrett Brown (compare WikipediaWikipedia). That page is mostly written by User:Tinfoil, who edited no other page. Maybe part of that page is junk, I haven't dug into it. You're obviously a controversial figure going by your Wikipedia page, but the angle of the RW page is rather different. --ApooftGnegiol (talk) 19:57, 10 May 2023 (UTC)
Yes, we strive for accuracy. If you can show that anything on the page is incorrect, it will be changed. Bongolian (talk) 20:05, 10 May 2023 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── (Apologies in advance for formatting errors as it's been years since I've contributed to a wiki). Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I'm not surprised to learn that it was the product of a single person with no other contributions as this sort of thing happens fairly regularly, and also because the page seems to depart pretty noticeably from the tenor of other content on RW.

As for explicitly incorrect portions, I'll list a few examples to start with. In some cases the assertion is either contradicted elsewhere in the article or not sourced at all or both, but if any of the following clarifications aren't sufficient, please let me know which ones and what exactly would be needed in terms of documentation to get the claim in question removed.

1. "He is a member of Anonymous," [Anonymous never had "members" as such, being a rather amorphous movement that I tend to describe as a "series of relationships", and even my association with the movement and its other prominent participants ended over a decade ago as noted in various articles at the time; in fact both the lack of membership and my cutting ties to Anonymous in late 2011 are both mentioned just a few paragraphs later, under the "Association with Anonymous" section taken from my Wikipedia page]

2. "a targeted individual" [I've never described myself in those terms, have never been described in those terms by anyone other than the anonymous author of this page, and have had zero involvement with the "targeted individual" community. This doesn't prove that I'm not a "troubled unfortunate" or "paranoid crank" as described in RW's linked entry defining the subject; indeed, as with several other assertions included here, I'm not sure I have any way of "showing this to be incorrect" without resorting to appeals to authority vis a vis Reporters Without Borders and other mainstream press groups that have weighed in publicly over my status.

3. "and a proponent of a Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory that advances the dark enlightenment" [according to the linked RW entry on "unified conspiracy theories", such a theory "posits that reality is controlled by a single evil entity that has it in for them". Even a far broader definition would hardly apply to the views I've consistently put forth about Peter Thiel and the various firms he either owns outright or has been found to have funded, as of course I not only don't believe Thiel controls reality, but don't even think he fully controls his own network, and I have the same take on every powerful individual throughout history. To put it another way, the anonymous contributor seems to be the only person to have made such a claim about me and my work, and the fact that it's not actually demonstrated should perhaps leave the burden of proof on them.

Will continue shortly. — Unsigned, by: BarrettBrown / talk / contribs 21:40, 10 May 2023‎

Now I don't know who you are, but you seem reasonable and as such I will hopefully edit this page to be at least a bit more fair to you. — Unsigned, by: 2601:281:d880:ded0:346c:2b6c:294c:b8d3 / talk 22:06, 10 May 2023‎

4. "He claims to have given a briefing to Russian intelligence about the CIA and Anonymous days before the invasion of Ukraine." [I don't even make that claim in the tweet linked to as evidence, wherein I instead note that a Russian media outlet interviewed me under circumstances that I eventually determined to have been at the behest of Russian intelligence due to the subjects I was questioned on as well as the fact that none of the interview was ever used, among other things. This is similar to other assertions later in the article wherein an actual incident is presented in a manner that departs from every other extant description, the result is incriminating rather than neutral or positive, and even then it's portrayed as something I've merely "claimed" rather than an established fact (I made the recording of the interview public over these same concerns, such that there's no question as to whether what I actually said to occur did occur).

5. Although there's nothing inherently false about creating a section reading "Questionable journalism" that doesn't actually mention any of my journalism work, much less cite any questions about it, I think that in the context of how this article was created and how much of the main points established at the beginning have already been deemed unsourced and removed, it would be reasonable to remove this as well even before getting into how this next round of claims attributed to me aren't actually supported by the citations and seem to give the impression that the things I'm paraphrased as saying about my failed non-profit somehow contradict each other (one of those claims even has a citation needed marker that a moderator seems to have placed in, such that it seems I'm not the first to notice the issue).

6. There are some other issues here and there, such as the photo of me wearing a suit in front of a nice bookcase that's dated as being from 2013, a year I actually spent in federal prison as may be determined from the rest of the article, but all in all I would suggest that you guys consider just removing the page altogether. I say this because without the "Barrett Brown is a targeted individual and conspiracy theorist" stuff that's already being removed, it wouldn't seem to be relevant to a skeptical wiki, especially since it's been quite a while since I focused on pseudoscience and so forth and was never a particularly notable figure within the skeptical community even back then. And when one removes the various falsehoods put forth by the single contributor, one is left with a few random paragraphs taken from my Wikipedia page. Having said that I don't know the scope of the wiki in terms of what it's intended to cover, and obviously it's not up to me and shouldn't be. Anyway if there's any further question of me being the sort of person that this wiki is designed to expose, I'm willing to address anything that the moderators may still consider credible in this piece; it just might be a better use of everyone's time to skip all that. Thanks. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

I think I have a better idea now of the article. Copying text from Wikipedia is generally frowned upon on RW, but this article's maker seems to have done that and then added some harsher claims and language into the mix, at least some of it unsupported (those edits are fine, IP above). That's very poor by RW standards. Also, given RW's focus, it would be welcome to add mention of your skeptical work. That may make for a more interesting article. --ApooftGnegiol (talk) 22:59, 10 May 2023 (UTC)
Just saw this comment after posting 4-6 above in which I kind of address a portion of it. To reiterate, I'm not all that notable as a skeptical commentator as my peak was the release of my first book, an attack on William Dembski and intelligent design and all that, and that was back in 2007. I was still writing for Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptic over the next few years after that, and I like to think that my work since then is informed by the same emphasis on empiricism, but I'm hardly James Randi. But if you guys do decide to keep a revised version of the article and want to add in that background, I can direct you to the relevant sources, and of course some of it is mentioned on my WP page. - BB — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs
Yes, I believe deleting the article is for the best. — Unsigned, by: 2601:281:d880:ded0:95ad:8cea:a8ad:e0e0 / talk
It's reasonable to start an AfD. Bongolian (talk) 01:33, 11 May 2023 (UTC)
BoN (2601:281:d880:ded0:95ad:8cea:a8ad:e0e0) added AfD to the page, but did not preload the debate. Someone needs to do that: click on the link that is now at the top of the page. Bongolian (talk) 19:29, 11 May 2023 (UTC)
Done. —cosmikdebris talk stalk 19:40, 11 May 2023 (UTC)