Various large UK media has repeated some rather extreme claims about me. In particular, they claim that I’m a Nazi and pedophile apologist. Neither are true, and never were true. The main person behind the claims is a schizophrenic recluse who has a long history of obsessively stalking and calling people pedophiles.
To understand the situation, one has to learn about a certain person named Oliver D. Smith, and a website called Rationalwiki (RW). RW is a snarky version of Wikipedia with looser standards of evidence (often none), and a very heavy left-wing slant. The website looks like Wikipedia, so many people think it is Wikipedia, not realizing that there are many Wiki projects on the internet. Much of the content on RW is quite decent, but the site’s leadership gives free reigns to a small group of vicious individuals to basically use the website’s prominent Google position to defame people they dislike. At some point, an individual named Oliver D. Smith started using this site, and creating pages on persons he dislikes. He is quite explicit about this strategy:
Emil Kirkegaard is a university undergraduate who set up his own journals because he cannot get his racist work published in peer-reviewed science journals (and yes, he is the editor of his own journal). He’s very arrogant and thinks he is super-intellectual when he’s a total dumbass. I debated John Fuerst (a neo-Nazi/white nationalist) who Kirkegaard has published in his pseudo-journal on the OpenPsych forum – it ran to about twenty or more pages. Also, I created both their entries at Rationalwiki to warn the internet about these people. They aren’t scientists, but pseudo-scientists. It doesn’t surprise me something like this would happen.
According to Oliver himself, he suffers from schizophrenia and autism/Asperger’s. Oliver is an ex-Nazi, who had a falling out with some other internet Nazis, and changed sides. Unsurprisingly for a schizophrenic, he possesses the ability to misunderstand essentially everything people write, quoting out of context, impersonating them online (to cite elsewhere) etc. Since a large number of persons have had the misfortune to get stalked by Oliver over the years, one can find entire collections of other people’s investigations into him:
- LOLCOW Wiki archive.is/A5YYG
- Kiwifarms forum thread running ~150 pages archive.is/TWYcj
- Encyclopedia Dramatica, multiple versions with different content
Archive 1: archive.is/RKIjE
Archive 2: archive.is/Z1zOH
Archive 3: archive.is/anRwH
- WPWHP (Rome Viharo) wikipediawehaveaproblem.com/2017/03/oliver-smith-dark-entanglement/
- Psi forum investigation (Laird Shaw) psiencequest.net/forums/thread-impersonating-users-deleted-perm-banned-including-most-notably-leuders?pid=5814#pid5814 psiencequest.net/forums/thread-impersonating-users-deleted-perm-banned-including-most-notably-leuders?pid=4978#pid4978
Oliver and his brother (Darryl Smith) have been banned more than 100 times from Wikipedia for abuse under different names (anyone is free to make a new user). Though Oliver utilizes VPNs to hide his identity, his behavioral pattern is consistent enough over time that one can spot him when he is hiding behind a new username. Typical behavior include:
- Oliver’s targets are generally speaking random persons with an interest in some kind of thing that Oliver regards as pseudoscience. Since the vast majority of the world’s population believes in something like that, this means pretty much everyone is a potential target (example collection).
- Oliver often makes users on various forums and posts his criticism of people (usually under a new pseudonym). He then links between the stuff he has written to create the illusion of distributed criticism that increases the face validity and increases the prominence of the criticism in search engine’s results.
- Oliver has a particular interest in matters related to sex, especially pedophilia. Oliver himself claims to be voluntarily asexual and regards human procreation as immoral (anti-natalism), as he considers all sex to be perverted despite having a history of interest in naked Tomb Raider models (he occasionally uses usernames based on this interest).
- Oliver is sloppy with his OpSec. Oliver’s usernames are often reused or partially reused (e.g. lots of variations on Krom), allowing one to track him across time and place even without relying solely on behavioral patterns. He also sometimes forgets to use his VPN/proxy, exposing his IP and validating a suspicion and catching him in a lie.
- Oliver is usually lazy with the creation of new users, creating them and immediately using them to edit only one topic (single purpose account), e.g. a specific person or small group of related persons.
- Oliver is frequently dishonest: straight making things up, or editing quotes to change what people said. He also likes to impersonate people. For instance, my page on RationalWiki was created by the user BenSteigmans, the name of a real person who used to edit Wikipedia related to parapsychology who Oliver had a previous online feud with years ago.
- He has a particular passion for making accounts on Wiki pages and use them to harass people. Curiously, Oliver explains this tactic himself a number of times (e.g. here).
My page is located here. It is constantly changing dependent on what Oliver decides to make up or distort that day. A screenshot of the recent edits to the page shows this.
Skeptical is Oliver’s chosen sockpuppet in this case. He appears to have spent 2 days writing my page on this occasion.
Since the page continuously changes often due to others removing his content only to have him re-add it at some later point when they don’t notice, the current list of replies may be incomplete. Also, many of Oliver’s more extravagant claims were removed by other editors (seen in edit history above). Oliver will usually reply to replies to him, thus making for an endless series of back and forths.
A frequent claim by Oliver is that I am somehow a pedophilia apologist or even a pedophile. He has found an old blogpost from 2012 (!) wherein I considered various ways to reduce the harm pedophiles cause. As I wrote in the disclaimer added later:
Historical note (April 2017). Since some people went around my blog looking for dirt and found this old post, it seems appropriate to add some disclaimer. I had forgotten all about this post until I found I was called a ‘pedophilia apologist’ by my SJW critics. The main idea of this post should be obvious to anyone who has studied ethics/meta-ethics: it’s a straightforward application of utilitarianism to a hot issue. Given that some people are pedophiles, what is the best way to reduce the amount of problems this causes? This discussion is no different from Peter Singer’s other candid discussions of similar taboo topics, e.g. in Practical Ethics. Not considering harm reduction approaches because one considers something wrong to begin with is foolish. Consider many countries’ ‘zero tolerance’ approach to drugs. Because of this they refused to provide free needles to addicts, and this has the obvious result that HIV and other diseases spread easily, including into the general population, causing massive damage. For the record, I don’t advocate legalization of pedophilia (sex between ‘legal adults’ and prepubescents), changing the age of consent or any other typical policy proposals of pedophile organizations. This is not an issue that’s of particular interest to me which is also why there’s a total of 2 blogposts on this topic out of 903 (as of now). I do, however, advocate frank discussion of pedophilia-related issues just as I advocate frank discussion of any other taboo topic.
One can quibble that the original post was poorly written. That may be so, but when I wrote it I had no idea it would haunt me years later due to an internet stalker. It was not an important post, just some quick thoughts on a then recent article by Swedish Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge discussing the relation between copyright laws, censorship and the ban on possession of child porn. My post did not suggest any cause of action, but discussed options ranging from forced physical castration to drugged targets — perhaps the two most extreme positions within a utilitarian framework.
Bias in academia
There is plenty of evidence of such biases. A long review of the problem of political bias in academia can be found over at Heterodox Academy. Briefly put, the vast majority of academics are left-wing for whatever reason (mostly self-selection methinks). Because humans are influenced by their beliefs, this causes hostility towards non-leftists and associated ideas. More details can be found in this blogpost (which is what Oliver cites). Cofnas et al (2017) summarizes particularly relevant evidence:
In a survey of social and personality psychologists, Inbar and Lammers (2012) found that one-out-of-six would be B somewhat (or more) ^ disposed not to invite a known political conservative to a symposium, and to reject papers written from a conservative perspective. One-out-of-four would be dis- posed to reject conservative grant applications, and one-out-of-three would favor a liberal job candidate. This is remarkable given the stigma attached to discriminating against people on the basis of their beliefs. One would have to assume that willingness to discriminate will be underreported in a survey like this (see Honeycutt and Freberg 2017). But let ’ s take the most conservative estimate with regard to peer review for papers. Often, to get a paper published, the journal editor plus three referees must accept it. 2 If one-out-of-six editors/ referees openly discriminates against conservative submissions, that means there is a less than 50% chance — (5/6) 4 — that neither the editor nor any of the referees will be open discriminators against conservative papers. Since one- out-of-three psychologists say they would discriminate against conservative job candidates, there is just a 20% chance that the paper will be handled only by people who do not openly admit to discriminating against conservatives in at least some contexts.
Kirkegaard describes himself as a “polymath” and “scientist” on his personal blog as well as a “Polymath, philosopher, politician, logician, linguist, psychologist” on his Twitter. However, his only qualification is a BA in linguistics; he has no expertise in any of these subjects, nor is he a scientist. He posts weird photos of himself trying to look like a lecturer.
This refers to a 2014 version of my Twitter description. It is indeed true that I had that, and the description is also true. Someone who masters multiple fields is indeed a polymath. I read large quantities of books on various topics, including all of those mentioned.
- Linguist: I obtained a bachelor degree in linguistics, wrote a book on a newly proposed system of reformed spellings for Danish, my thesis was a summary of this system.
- Psychologist: I have published >50 papers and countless papers on psychology and related matters I regularly tweet about discuss psychology matters with 100s of well-regarded experts, Ph.D. students etc., both online and at conferences such as ISIR. My Twitter follower and ResearchGate profiles likewise include a large number of experts. See also this more detailed analysis. My relative lack of published work in mainstream journals is due to three reasons: First, I am a staunch advocate of open science policies and generally refuse to published in non-open science outlets. Second, my interests are mostly controversial areas where the political bias is strong, which sometimes results in desk rejections for political reasons. Third, I don’t work in academia and so is not subject to publish or perish pressure that most academics face.
- Philosopher: I have written several hundred blogposts on philosophy based on at least 35 books on the topic that I have read, as well as passed a number of university classes on topics such as epistemology.
- Logician: I have passed exams in logic classes with top marks. I did invent a new system for analyzing the logic of questions and answers, helped design an application that automatically derives proof trees for arguments.
- Politician: I have spent a few years being active in politics (Danish Pirate Party in leadership roles and the offspring Teknologipartiet [Danish only]).
We might also add: programmer (my actual job) and geneticist (also my job). The reason I stress these various titles less now, is simply that most people who self-describe this way tend to be cranks, thus making it a signal of crackpottery and preventing true positives from easily describing themselves. For that reason, I generally use somewhat more vague like “sciency person with diverse interests”.
On his forum OpenPsych, Kirkegaard has doxed users who disagree with him or criticize his pseudojournals; posting their private sign-up emails and IP-addresses, even including geographical location of their IPs.
After a long time of useless harassment, I banned Oliver Smith from the OpenPsych forum (see here). 2 days after his ban, he created my RationalWiki entry. I then followed up by publishing his IP. I stand by this action, as I don’t see any reason to protect the privacy of harassers. Rather, they should be doxxed if possible, so that others can avoid them. Posting on the OpenPsych forum is a privilege that can be lost, not an inalienable right. The purpose of the forum is not to be a place where Oliver can waste people’s time, it is to discuss matters related to OpenPsych, primarily submitted papers. Curiously, one of the usernames he was used was “Igobymanynames”, an example of his sometimes self-admitting behavior.
In 2016, Kirkegaard published the data of nearly 70,000 OkCupid users, as a study in one of his own pseudojournals. Although Kirkegaard claims he was publishing already public information, this is disputed by others.
We did publish the paper. The data was plainly public, as the only requirement is that one makes a free profile on the site and answers a given question. Anyone can easily verify this by making a profile for themselves. Regarding the charges, a section from a previous post is relevant:
In general, this criticism makes no sense given that the information in the dataset is much less than what’s available on the website. If someone actually wanted to identify gays in Iran, they would go to the website and search for gays in Iran and locate all of them with photos etc. They wouldn’t download an incomplete version of the website with no photos to search. If one really wanted to make this argument, one should make it against OKCupid for making it possible to locate gays etc. in Islamic countries in the first place.
Ironically, a frequent charge made by critics is that publishing this information increased the risk of persecution of homosexuals in e.g. Iran. However, the same people spent a lot of time drawing attention to the dataset by their criticism of the study, and are thus guilty of the same charge.
Incidentally, the OKCupid affair was caused by another mentally ill individual named Oliver: Oliver Keyes (nickname: IronHolds). This guy is also so annoying that someone bothered to make an Encyclopedia Dramatica profile for him.
Despite Kirkegaard’s insistence otherwise, OpenPsych and its journals are pseudojournals: they do not use peer review and are filled with Kirkegaard’s publications. For example the OpenPsych journals show typical signs of a pseudojournal: high percentage of content written by one of the journal’s creator, Kirkegaard himself. As of 23 August 2017:
- Kirkegaard wrote for 17 out of the 30 papers in Open Differential Psychology
- Kirkegaard wrote for 1 out of the 7 papers in Open Behavioral Genetics
- Kirkegaard wrote for 8 out of the 11 papers in Open Quantitative Sociology & Political Science
Kirkegaard was an author for 26 of 48 total papers, or 54.17%.
OpenPsych journals do have peer review. In fact, they have open peer review meaning that literally anyone can see the review of any paper. For instance, look in the post-publication forum for the reviews of all published papers. I think this is a much better and certainly more transparent review than journals ordinarily practice. My status as editor has little impact on this system, since editors do not have rejection powers in these journals. Nor can they select reviewers at whim. Rather all in-house reviewers can review any paper they desire. The role of the editor is mainly to smooth things by asking reviewers whether they have time to review this or that submission.
Alt-right / Nazism
Kirkegaard is associated with the alt-right. Although he denies this, most his followers on Twitter are white nationalists where he spends his time moaning about SJWs and feminists, uses alt-right memes (e.g. Pepe), and has described a promotional video of the alt-right as “nicely done”.
I don’t recall having made any statement about the proportion of my followers who are White Nationalists nor have anyone else actually examined this rigorously. I have in fact often been in disagreement on Twitter with various alt-righters/White Nationalists, contrary to the general theme of the claims.
As for my comment on the video, here’s the actual post:
Saying that a video is nicely done does not imply agreement. It just means that… that it was nicely done. Watch the video for yourself and see if you don’t also think it is nicely done.
Oliver’s claim of Nazism is based on a picture taken from my private Facebook where a friend heils in the background as a joke. It’s obviously not evidence of anything, and I’ve always been very critical of Nazism as I am towards all totalitarian ideologies, joking aside. If one is really interested in my politics, a brief sketch can be found here and some political test results here. Generally speaking, I’m a centrist with a strong distrust of ideologies and strong belief in the net benefits of free speech and free thought.