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The Problem With Wikipedia and the Digital Revolution

• By Paul Craig Roberts PaulCraigRoberts.org

Yesterday (April 10, 2019) a reader alerted me to the fact that I am being smeared on Wikipedia as a "vocal supporter of the current Russian government and its policies." The reader also reports that an article in the Daily Beast calls me a "Putin worshiper." The reader says that he tried to edit the Wikipedia entry without success, and he urged me to give it my attention.

I do not know whether the person who wrote my Wikipedia entry intended to smear me or is merely uninformed. However, dissenting voices do get smeared on Wikipedia. It is an ongoing problem for many of us. For years readers and people who know me would make corrections to my Wikipedia biography, but as soon as the corrections were made, they would be erased and the smears reinstalled.

The problem with Wikipedia is that it is an idealistic approach based on the belief that truth is more likely to emerge when everyone has a voice than when explanations are provided by a select group of experts or peers. This idealistic approach is not without merit. Moreover, it might work very well with subjects and people who do not have ideological opponents or are of no threat to those intent on controlling explanations.

The problem arises when a subject or a person is controversial and is especially the case if the person's arguments disprove or dissent from official explanations. In The Matrix in which we live, truth-tellers are unwelcome to those who control the explanations in order to advance their agendas. Until truth-tellers can be silenced or completely censured, the practice is to discredit them with smears. Thus, I and many others have been described as "conspiracy theorists" for reporting factual information that contradicts the official and unproven explanation of 9/11, anti-semites for criticizing Israel's mistreatment of the Palestinians and influence over U.S. foreign policy, and as "Russian agents" or "Putin stooges" for keeping the record straight about Ukraine, Syria, and Putin's effort to avoid military conflict with the West.

In the pre-Internet age it was difficult to smear people. Newspaper editors would allow letters to the editor to correct factual mistakes or to provide a different interpretation of a collection of facts, but shied away from smears. This doesn't mean that smears never happened, but not with the abandon of the Internet era.

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