“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
George Orwell’s seminal novel 1984 envisions a totalitarian regime devoted to continually destroying and revisioning publications in order to force information into conformity with the ruling ideology. With the rise of the Internet and our ever-increasing dependance on electronic information, the job of modern censors has turned not only easier, but also more insidious.
Take for instance Wikipedia, the world’s most popular compendium of information which is visited by millions of readers on a daily basis: the crowdsourced encyclopedia has become the domain of closed minded pseudo-skeptics who need not even be experts in the topics covered by the entries they edit; they only need to dominate the draconian protocols of Wikipedia including their obsessive disdain of what they call ‘primary sources’ –meaning that they only accept third-party references from what they consider to be ‘reputable’ founts– in order to deliberately excise any information dealing with fringe topics in a positive light.
Because of this and the prevailing attitudes toward paranormal phenomena amid the mainstream culture –despite the weak openness we have witnessed lately with regards to UFOs in conservative outlets like the New York Times– Wikipedia remains a deplorably unreliable source of Fortean information; a concerning trend which we have alerted of on our site many times.
The latest victim of Wikipedia’s guerrilla skeptics is our good friend Dr. Massimo Teodorani: Italian astrophysicist, popularizer of science and one of the few scientists in the world willing to risk their reputation by studying ‘forbidden’ topics such as UFOs. Massimo is currently affiliated to Avi Loeb’s Galileo Project which has attained a lot of attention lately; and it is apparently because of this and a recent article about him which appeared on a skeptical Italian website last month, that certain Wikipedia editors all of the sudden decided that Massimo didn’t deserve to have an entry on the Italian version of Wikipedia.
In Massimo’s personal blog and that of his partner Susan Demeter’s, it is mentioned that the date when the Wikipedia editors flagged Massimo’s Wiki entry for deletion reveals a concerted effort, seeing how it was on a weekend coinciding with the mid-August holidays – a time when most Italians leave to spend a few weeks at the beach and business activity ceases out almost completely (a ploy we in Latin America would call a “dawn raid” ).
Regardless of such suspicions, what it is clear after peering through Massimo’s lengthy interactions with the anonymous editors, after he fruitlessly tried to take it upon himself to clean up and ‘set the record straight’ with regards to the information shared about him on Wikipedia –again, a big ‘No No’ in their ‘corporate philosophy’ (“Thou shalt not write thy own entry!”)– is that the editors bent on scraping him out of Wikipedia considered Massimo’s credentials questionable, due to the fact that some of the references included in his entry came from organizations which –according to these skeptics– didn’t pass the mustard test; such as the Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE), one of the oldest groups dedicated to the serious study of PSI phenomena; and the National Aviation Reporting Center On Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP), an organization dedicated to study the impact of unexplained aerial phenomena on aviation safety (NARCAP’s co-founder Ted Roe was recently invited to give a presentation at the first AIAA forum dedicated to UAPs).
After subtly accusing Massimo of spreading pseudo-science and (not so subtly) of being a narcissist for being so preoccupied with the editing of his own entry –wouldn’t you, if you noticed one of the most popular websites on the planet is spreading lies about you?? – the final excuse the editors gave on why he didn’t deserve to be mentioned by Wikipedia is that his professional career and scientific achievements were just too ‘average’, and weren’t therefore worthy of ‘enciclopedicity’ as they call it (!).
When Massimo then asked about this seemingly abrupt decision, seeing how his entry had remained in Wikipedia for ten years prior to all this back-and-forth, they added insult to injury by stating that it was precisely because of his lack of importance and notoriety that the entry had escaped detection for so long (!!).
One can understand how your run-of-the-mill Wiki editor would not want to go against Wikipedia’s long standing party line with regards to fringe topics; but the fact said editors wouldn’t even consider keeping the page, while adding the necessary caveats to alert the reader about controversial claims by invoking their duty to ‘enciclopedicity’ is particularly laughable. Because apparently an astrophysical researcher who has written several books and is currently involved with the scientific search of extraterrestrial intelligences is jut too ho-hum for all-mighty Wikipedia… but obscure 80’s Italian pornstar Moana Pozzi totally deserves to be remembered in the Internet’s #1 Encyclopedia?
In the end, Massimo grew tired of arguing with the closed-minded editors and even demanded the entry to be taken down. By the end of August his name could not be directly found in the Italian version of Wikipedia, and the remaining entry about him (in the French version) was flagged with a banner announcing it was being considered for deletion –it currently no longer exists either.
It may serve as small comfort to Massimo Teodorani that he now joins the ranks of other illustrious mavericks such as Rupert Sheldrake or Graham Hancock, whose entries on Wikipedia have also been singled out by committed guerrilla skeptics; an honor Massimo might not particularly welcome, seeing how during a private conversation he described himself as a ‘standard physicist’ and different to both Sheldrake and Hancock, because he’s not interested in joining any crusade against orthodox science. “The only anomaly in me is that I love to study anomalies” he wrote to me. “Yet using physics, and sometimes some (legit) logical speculations.”
I for one have total confidence that in the end people like Dr. Teodorani will find themselves vindicated by posterity, and those Wikipedia editors will join the ranks of their obtuse predecessors who vehemently denied the existence of meteorites or heavier-than-air flight.