Friday, March 05, 2010

Transcendental Meditation Wikipedia Scandal Heats Up

Readers may be aware of the ongoing scandal at Wikipedia surrounding Transcendental Meditation—related pages.

TM Org members, including employees of Maharishi University of Management, are being investigated for working in tandem to subvert Wikipedia's generous, volunteer editing policies. The charge indicates TM editors are motivated to remove information neutral or critical about the TM Org and replace it with standard Movement propaganda.

This article first broke the scandal. (Hats off to a wonderful blog!) My article updated the Wikipedia information—and added other examples of TM astroturfing.

Apparently the saga continues! The investigation has moved on to the next stage. All editors involved—including TM Org editors—present their evidence here. Really worth reading!

The list of allegations against the TM Org editors will sound tiringly familiar:

Attacks, threats, plagiarism, disruption, distraction, lies, bias, abuse, vandalism, harrassment, false outrage, intellectual dishonesty, intimidation, inuendo, legal scare tactics, dishonesty, ad hominem attacks, McCarthyism, being secretive, inflammatory speech, passive aggression presented as pseudo-civility, cherry-picking favorable research results,...

Transcendental Meditation Marketer$ may actually have an agreed upon playbook.

As we know Tom Ball and Keith DeBoer have organized a group of "enlightened bloggers" to drown out any negative comments posted anywhere on the Internet critical of TM. Given that so many of the TM faithful use precisely the same techniques over and over and over, it seems likely that a playbook of some kind has been circulated among them by TM Central:

How to Stop a Known Critic

  1. Begin by accusing the critic of having a conflict of interest.
  2. Attack their character as unethical, immoral, mentally ill, insensitive, cruel, ethnically prejudiced, etc.
  3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 until everyone else tires of the conversation.
  4. Very Important: Make sure you have the last word!

How to Stop a New Critic

  1. Suggest they do not have sufficient knowledge about TM to make intelligent criticisms—no matter how applicable or impressive their credentials.
  2. Deny the credibility or veracity of any report or research not approved of by TM Central.
  3. Attack the intelligence of the critic.
  4. Feign false outrage over a trivial detail of the critic's argument or language—frequently claiming the critic is bigoted.
  5. Feign ignorance of serious questions in order to circumvent changes to the article, such as when a critic asks about the basis of Hagelin's quantum-based ideology.
  6. Feign ignorance of well-known principles in research, such as peer-review not being equivalent to acceptance.
  7. Invoke a special status as a "victimized" minority, whom society doesn't understand.
  8. Accuse the critic of being a "sock puppet" or in the employ of an "enemy" organization. [None exist to my knowledge. If one does, hey, I'm for hire!]
  9. As the critic is now "known," attack them as a "known" critic. See "How to Stop a Known Critic" above.

Well-known TM critic Andrew Skolnick reports he has been harassed by TM legal and other representatives since 1991 because he wrote a critical article about TM research and researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). His words about "TM's attack dogs" summarize the situation neatly:

If there is one "superpower" achieved through advanced TM training it is the power to tirelessly lie through one's teeth, as this shameless example demonstrates.... As long as TM's attack dogs are allowed to keep rewriting Wikipedia articles, this battle will continue ad nauseum and drive away contributors who decide to spend their time on more constructive projects.

Unfortunately, that is the TM Org's precise goal.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

—Edmund Burke


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