Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Smug: The Phillip J. Klass BP Talkpage

 Because Phil Klass (1919-2005) played a part in the James Randi CSICOP story, here are relevant bits of his BP talkpage. The alert reader will notice how much smaller the Klass page is to Randi's.

Aerospace writing[edit]

I am surprised that the Wikipedia review of Phil Klass's life and work contains nothing about his work as a writer with "Aviation Week and Space Technology" where his articles were always put together with authority. In correspondence with me in the early 1980s he said that he considered that his book "Secret Sentries in Space" was far more important to him than his UFO books. "Secret Sentries" was the first book to give an authoritative review of the American and Soviet reconnaissance satellite programmes. Although very out of date by today's standards, I consider that it is still essential reading and an essential part of anyone's library about space programmes.

Phillip Clark (email redacted), 10th July 2010 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:14, 10 July 2010 (UTC)

Time for cleanup[edit]

I'd like to clean up this page and make it more complete. The external links are almost all dead now and several citations are needed throughout. Furthermore, on reading the page I was struck that if I were the topic, I'd be happier if it started off discussing my accomplishments rather than opinions others held of me.

I'll be working on the page in my sandbox. If anyone has any additional information which should be included in the page, please leave it here on the talk page and I'll incorporate it.

Thanks Valis55 (talk) 17:14, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

Valis55 I've had this page on my watchlist for sometime. It has needed so much work and I feel bad that I can't seem to find the time. Super glad you are taking this on, looking forward to seeing your results. Sgerbic (talk) 04:48, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

Suggestion:"The two engaged in a bitter, months-long debate..." The implied antecedents of "the two" appears to be "those" and Klass rather than McDonald and Klass. McDonald was last referred to in the previous paragraph. Orthotox (talk) 20:13, 24 January 2016 (UTC)

Philip J. Klass: career and concerns[edit]

This entire section seems to be larely devoted to commentary b y thoses who are most interested in Philip J. Klass's investigations and writings on the subject of UFOs.

However, as his sister, I can confirm that Phil's career was primarily and most importantly as a writer on avionics in his capacity for more than 30 years as senior aviation electronics editor [not "the" editor] of Aviation Week and Space Technology. Indeed, I have been told that he was considered to be the world's leading avionics writer/reporter.(I have met his admirers as far afield as India.) His book "Secret Sentries in Space" was ground-breaking in its revelations of then-unknown intelligence satellites.

All you folks out there may think of him mostly as the critic or the defender of your own views on UFOs -- but that was not the primary focus of his career. He was first and foremost an engineer, and an expert reporter on aviation and rocket/space technology. His eyes were always fixed on the skies. I remember how thrilled he was, in his teens, when he won a ride in a helicopter (then called an auto-gyro) at the county fair. As a young engineer, he spent the war years at GE working on electronics for the U. S. air force.

Aside from his avid love of skiing, for some years after he moved to Washington, his chief recreational interest was Civil War battles around D.C., and as a hobby, he built electrical maps of the battles of Gettysburg, Antietem and others and donated them to the battlefields. It was not until the mid-1960s that he became interested in UFO claims and this gradually, unexpectedly, became his major personal interest.

I think he thought that his first book answering such claims would settle those questions. As a lawyer's son, a trained engineer, and an experienced investigative reporter attuned to technology and facts, he was dedicated to hard evidence, careful research, scientific data and accuracy; his career was focussed on technology -- planes and rockets and satellites that were dependent on the laws of physics, and that had to work. He was a dogged investigator and internationally known and respected for his accuracy. I have been told (though I cannot verify this) that on one occasion, when he criticized a major planned European rocket program, it was postponed and re-examined in the light of his criticisms.

So, being accustomed to working on the basis of scientific evidence, he was initially surprised and, I think, dismayed at the ease with which much of the public accepted unproven, unscientific, and sometimes fantastical UFO claims. This led him to pursue these claims further in another book, and then still further, and this developed into the major interest for which you folks seem to know him best.

Following his nominal retirement from Aviation Week, he turned his attention increasingly to the investigation of such claims, and that more or less developed into a second career. But his first career was aviation and avionics, and it was very distinguished, as indicated by the respect and honors he received along the way.

So you folks only know the half of it.

Rosanne Klass71.183.21.246 (talk) 08:52, 25 May 2013 (UTC)

Monday, February 1, 2021

Raw Data: The James Randi Talk Page Archive

We will be completing our unfinished piece on James Randi, the recently-deceased ex-magician, debunker and CSICOP founding member. Just for kicks here are Talk page comments copypasted from that source.

Randi's caustic style

It seems to me that Randi's "caustic" style only seems that way to believers in something he debunks. What I see happening is that he nails them and leaves them no way out. Bubba73 (talk) 16:06, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

I would have to disagree. I'm an avid fan of Randi's, and despise the superstitious claptrap he exposes through the Challenge and his regular activities. But he certainly can be caustic. However, one should consider the situation: millions of people actively scamming credulous people out of billions of dollars on unproven (and likely unprovable) mumbo-jumbo, millions more who remain convinced of paranormal elements even when confronted by clear evidence to the contrary, and a worldwide culture promoting blind belief over the testing and critical analysis of theory that has essentially invented the modern world — a culture that turns its collective back on the very things that brought it into being and make it sustainable. Who couldn't help but be occasionally caustic when confronted by this self-destructive mass psychosis? ~ Jeff Q (talk) 21:06, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

I agree with the use of "caustic," which helps provide an immediate insight into Randi's style of delivery. For many, the medium seems to overrun the message, which I see as integral to why many people dislike him. (I am not among them).Edbanky 21:07, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

I am reverting the changes that some anonymous person made to this section. Ads it stands it is totally one sided. "Randi's bold, uncompromising style of writing and presentation has won him enemies among paranormal proponents and friends among those who appreciate the direct and no-nonsense approach he takes to writing." That makes it sound as if ALL people that oppose him are believers, and that ALL skeptics support him This simply is not true. As a skeptic myself, I find him to be offensive and childish. I think his behaviour does no favours at all to the skeptical movement. I don't think there is any word other than "childish" that describes his language, such as "woo-woo" Harry Mudd 15 June 2006

I think it is a violation of NPOV to call him childish. Bubba73 (talk), 19:34, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
Only if it's in the article text. Here, it's just a "bold" opinion, to use the same adjective currently applied in the article. The wording would be less of an issue if we did a better job sourcing the statements in this section. Currently, the only source provided, which is supposed to be for the above quoted sentence, is a bare link to "Fakers and Innocents"Skeptical Inquirer, July/August 2005. It fails to explain exactly how this is a valid source for the sentence. Considering how incredibly long the article is, this is a bad idea in general, and even worse in an article where editors are arguing over wording. (I found one possible explanation — a passage where Randi mentions a German scientist who called him "too aggressive and rude" (with which he agreed, with qualifications) — but it isn't an adequate source for the entire sentence, and proper citations should include any relevant quotes to confirm published opinions on such a controversial subject.)
Making statements about how people think, without sources, or with sources where the actual evidence is buried and uncited, invites edit wars. We must remember that if we make claims that people think some particular way, we must provide properly referenced reliable sources. Otherwise they are nothing more than our own opinions of others' opinions, which is original research at its worst. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 23:34, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
It is in the article:

However, his hostility, his often childish behaviour and frequent use of insulting language has also alienated many sceptics. His overuse of the word "woo-woo" has been seen as especially juvenile by many.

Bubba73 (talk), 01:12, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
Oops, I missed that. I still maintain that this entire section is merely the opinion, whether pro or con, of the current editors. It needs proper sources to avoid being completely removed as original research (which, I will remind everyone, can be perfectly true but still unacceptable as Wikipedia material). Please consider how respectable publications will put words like "bold" or "childish" in quotes and mention the quotee. If we can't do this, we have no business making such claims. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 01:45, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

Bubba wrote : "I think it is a violation of NPOV to call him childish." No, violating NPOV is when an article presents only one point of view, and rejects differing opinions. The line presents an alternative view to counterbalance the unequivocal praise in the earlier version. I think there is general agreement that Randi is rude, it would be hard to deny it. Some skeptics consider his rudenes to be "bold" and admire him for it. Others consider his rudeness to be "childish" and condemn him for it. Any NPOV article must acknowledge both sides, or else remove the section altogether. Harry Mudd. 16 June 2006

I removed this section. As an outsider to this discussion, I feel qualified to effect a compromise that pleases no one. :) But seriously, I think Jeffq stated it best above that making general statements about how people think without sourcing them is original research. If you want to quote a verifiable source that says good things about Randi, that's fine. If you want to quote a verifiable source that says bad things about Randi, that's fine, too. But the section as it was espoused mere editorial opinion without anything to back it up. --GentlemanGhost 22:32, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Disputed sentence about Csicop

I have removed a disputed sentence from the article about one of the court cases with Geller leading Randi to part ways with Csicop. Randi has sent an e-mail advising that this is not correct and there does not seem to be any verifiable evidence to suggest otherwise. Capitalistroadster 10:27, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

I have added a sentence suggested by Randi "This case was directly responsible for the decision of Randi to part company with CSICOP.". This sentence is substantially the same as what was there before. Capitalistroadster 15:51, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

Ticker trouble

I removed this:

Randi's website claims that on Thursday 2 February2006, Randi underwent emergency coronary artery bypass surgery. He is said to be "in stable condition' and "receiving excellent care" [3]. The circumstances surrounding his admission to hospital are not clear at this time but it appears to be unexpected.

Wikipedia is not a news report. I'm not questioning the verifiability of the text, only its importance and relevance. If his condition worsens, something notable or public comes of the surgery, or he dies as a result of it then I could justify its mention here. But presently it's only an unneeded breaking news mention which is completely unnecessary. -- Krash (Talk) 01:44, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

WP often follows developing news stories and has a Template:current tag just for that purpose. Also, if someone has had emergency heart surgery, that's worthy of mention in a biography even as non-current info. So IMO the mention should go back. 11:12, 9 February 2006 (UTC)

I removed this whole sentence as I would argue that the personal health problems of a person does not have encyclopedic value. If editors believe stoingly that this needs to be included, feel free to re-add. I will not pursue this further. ≈ jossi ≈ t • @ 17:58, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

How the hell can an emergency coronary artery bypass surgery not be considered worthy to add? A man's health is definitely something that should be included in his article. DarthJesus 03:49, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Major health problems are encyclopedic in a biography. It is a direct relationship between the person and their body. Ansell 04:30, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

I agree. I think that the article should state that "on Thursday February 2, 2006, Randi underwent emergency coronary artery bypass surgery". I would leave out "He is said to be "in stable condition' and "receiving excellent care" [1]. The circumstances surrounding his admission to hospital are not clear at this time but it appears to be unexpected. " Bubba73 (talk), 04:48, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
It seems okay to me to have the single sentence describing the event in a consise manner. :) Ansell 11:33, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Randi was at The Amazing Meeting on January 18 through 21st 2006. He appeared to be in good health and showed no sign of physical weakness. Obviously, he is not a young man, but he never needed a wheelchair, nor even a cane and showed no signs of fatigue, even though the events took up a large portion of the day. He did address his health issues, saying that he felt very well and was grateful for all the support and concern shown by his friends and members of the foundation. He also mentioned that the surgery did leave him weary for some time after and that the meeting and other events helped to provide the motivation to not slow down.

I have absolutely no idea how this could possibly be added to the artificial, because this was my own personal observation. (I was there myself). I know wikipedia now seems to want very good and speffic citations. Also, I'm not sure how to say that he was very lively and appeared to be well, without resorting to weasel words like "By all accounts, Randi was in good spirits"... that'd get flagged pretty fast. I suppose I could write about it elsewhere and then quote myself and hopefully it won't get tagged? DrBuzz0 00:39, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Well, the right way is to wait for the mainstream press or other reliable source to report this information. Barring that, Randi's or others' published statements in Swift (not the JREF Forum!) may be acceptable, so we can wait for those as well. This is probably not such an essential element to the article (however critical it obviously is to Randi and his fans, and possibly his detractors) that we should be overly concerned about the latest updates. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 00:52, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Agreed that that the forum would not be the place to cite, and given no press articles as such that I have found, I'm not sure if there will be any. However, I think it's relevant and important to note that Mr. Randi got through his surgery well and is doing well. The current biography is somewhat dated to early 2006, when things were still uncertain. The fact that Mr. Randi is no longer hospitalized and that he has resumed speaking, traveling and writing seems a completely legitimate and important amendment to the information on his health. The only way I can think of citing it would possibly be to cite one of his television appearances as the source of the information. Even though the information that he is out of the hospital and has resumed activities is not given in the interview, it is apparent by his very appearance at all. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by DrBuzz0 (talk • contribs) 02:42, 23 January 2007 (UTC).


Does the CSICOP fellowship count as an award? (If so, it should be added.) Bubba73 (talk), 16:56, 9 February 2006 (UTC)

Section James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF)

The photograph of the offices of the JREF in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is out of date. That office has been closed for over a year. I personally took photos in October 2011 that show "For Sale" signs on the property. Rumor has it that a site has been selected in Los Angeles for a new office, but the location hasn't been announced. But in any event, the photo shown is at least a year out of date. I'd delete it myself, but I'm not experienced with with photos, I don't want to mess up something else.Professor Hosquith (talk) 03:44, 27 March 2012 (UTC)

This page is extremely biased.

This page is extremely biased and clearly written to present James Randi in a positive light rather than in an honest manner. Why, for example, is there no mention of Randi being complicit (for many, many years) in the identity theft that his partner was jailed for committing? Why is there no discussion about the real reasons his foundation crumbled? Or why he "retired?" A simple google search leads one to many sites that elaborate on numerous questionable and controversial things that Randi has done over the years. This page was clearly written by a Randi fan who, like many, has chosen to ignore the truth in favor of keeping Randi on some sort of Super Skeptic pedestal. This is not a Wikipedia page - this is a Skeptic's fan page.

Written by a Randi fan huh! More than 1400 different editors have edited this article. There are 171 reliable references justifying the information contained in the article. You never gave a single ref for your accusations here. Moriori (talk) 01:06, 30 October 2017 (UTC)
Hello anonymous person who is making an accusation. The rules here on Wikipedia are such that we always try to assume "good faith" which means that instead of assuming you are a troll or a person with malice in mind, we need to assume that you genuinely want to improve the James Randi Wikipedia page because you think that it is lacking something that would make it more accurate. So assuming good faith I will explain a few things to you, I apologize in advance if you already understand how this works and here I am explaining it again to you. But I am making the assumption (lots of them apparently) that you are not aware of how Wikipedia actually works, considering that you did not sign your request. It is possible that you just forgot to do so, and have no problem backing up your statements with your name as I am doing at this moment. Anyway, when it is a Wikipedia page for a living person, we have higher standards than if it is a person who has died or if it were not a person but a "it" like a flower or cabbage. Words can harm, we can't slap accusations onto a Wikipedia page as if it were a tabloid magazine. The standard applies to everyone not just to James Randi. If you were to browse through Wikipedia articles of controversial people who are still alive you will see what I'm talking about. Look at Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's pages and you will see are written as neutrally as possible. Also we can't just do a Google search and find some person's opinion and slap that onto an article as a citation. Wikipedia has standards as I said, without those then anyone could say anything and it would become a citation. Someone could say that he is a lizard person on a website and then the next thing you know someone could use that as a citation and then the Wikipedia page would say that. Obviously that isn't allowed. If a notable news source does not pick up the story and report on it, then it can't be used as a citation, otherwise everything would be on the page, what Randi has for lunch and what his favorite color is would be on the page, useless trivia. Now who would want to read that? I wouldn't and I doubt you would either. About these other statements that you seem to think should be on the page... Why is the identity theft not mentioned on the page. GOOD QUESTION. I'm not sure. He did talk about it on the documentary. And there are probably notable news articles mentioning it. Personally I think it probably should be on the page. I've not seen any mention of the JREF "crumbling" do you have a good notable citation for that? And what about his "retirement" not sure why you added the quote marks? Are you insinuating something? Maybe because he is 89 years old? Maybe because he wanted to? One more thing anon editor... you are choosing to use words that are not appropriate for Wikipedia. Those are words that you would use on social media or maybe a comment thread somewhere. We don't use those words. You look very biased and angry. We are not kind to people who spout statements that look like conspiracy theories. It isn't nice, and it isn't helpful. If you are here on Wikipedia to improve, then welcome, learn the rules, sign your work, watch your words, assume good faith, there is a lot of work to be done. Sgerbic (talk) 01:56, 31 October 2017 (UTC)
Excellent answer. --Guy Macon (talk) 23:40, 1 November 2017 (UTC)

James Randi's spouse

This may have been hashed out previously, but there's a lot of back talk archives to look through. Question is this: Is there some reason not to recognize in the "Personal Life" section that the person Randi met at the Fort Lauderdale library was Deyvi Pena using the alias "Jose Alvarez", not the actual Jose Alvarez? I made an edit to that effect, and it was immediately reverted. It's a bit jarring to see one place that Randi moved in and is still living with "Jose Alvarez", and then later in the section see that he married and is still living with "Pena" (no Deyvi mentioned there). Randi fans might know what's going on, but I guarantee that will confuse people who don't know, and are looking for information on him. Personally, I think all the information about Randi and Deyvi's love life should be consolidated into one passage. I know it's chronological as is, but it would be clearer if it were topical instead of chronological. Applejuicefool (talk) 05:41, 29 July 2015 (UTC)

We just had a discussion about this at Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons/Noticeboard/Archive228#James Randi's spouse I am taking the liberty of reposting one of the comments from that discussion here:

For folks that might not know, the reason that "Deyvi Orangel Peña Arteaga" is being shortened to simply "Deyvi Peña" has to do with Venezuelan personal-names having the form FirstName MiddleName PaternalLastName MaternalLastName, whereas in the United States and American English FirstName PaternalLastName is the typical style. Also, I have seen the 2014 documentary about this, not sure if that makes me biased or not. :-)     There are eight personas involved here (to date!), but only three humans.
#1. Randi (everyday), The Amazing Randi (stage), Randall Zwinge (birth) ; #2. Alvarez (real) ; #3. Peña (everyday), 'Alvarez' (false), The Great Carlos (stage), Peña-Arteaga (birth).
So, with the redirect mostly covered, in terms of our *textual* use of names, in the prose of articles (as opposed to redirects and titles), I recommend the following: in the article on Carlos hoax ... and holy WP:42 batman, why don't we even have a dedicated article about that incident, there must have been hundreds of newspaper reports and television coverage and all that stuff, sheesh ... in the hypothethetical article Draft:Carlos hoax about the incident, we should refer to the stage-name The Great Carlos when we are giving details *about* the hoax-persona, aka "According to the hoax-paperwork, The Great Carlos claimed to be a psychic that performed at The Majestic Theater in Woodstock New York, when in reality no such theater actual exists." Elsewhere in the hypothetical article about the hoax, we can say that the WP:RS at the time reported that the person behind the stage-name was 'José Luis Alvarez' with scarequotes explicitly included, and then parenthetically mention that it was later discovered that the REAL unscarequoted José Luis Alvarez was not involved at all, but that the human actually behind The Great Carlos was Deyvi Peña ... and then give a fuller explanation, of exactly why Peña was using the 'Alvarez' persona, with all the extended details, over at the appropriate linked article. Most of this is hypothetical, all wikipedia has right now is a one-liner at List of hoaxes#Proven_hoaxes_of_exposure which says this:
My long-term suggestion is that we use the documentary and the 60 Minutes footage and all the other coverage, and write a dedicated article about the Carlos hoax, but for the short-term-moment, I suggest we revise the one-liner like this:


  1. ^ Although it was not known in 1988 at the time of the Carlos hoax, later in 2011 it turned out that 'José Luis Alvarez' was a false identity used for immigration purposes, and that in actuality Deyvi Peña was the person who played and helped concoct The Great Carlos.
We can leave the details out of the hoax-article (and the DAB-page and redirects and such), and concentrate on getting all the details right in our main article. Now, at the moment, we have no dedicated article on Deyvi Peña the human (under any article-title), nor on their various personas and stagenames used at earlier dates. What we do have, is a redirect to James Randi, their spouse since 2013, and also their co-worker and friend since 1988 in the skeptic-investigation-slash-debunking-business. Thus, the "main article" that wikipedia has about the human-sometimes-known-as-Deyvi-Peña, and thus the main article that we have about persona#3A thru persona#3D, is in fact the James Randi article (which also necessarily covers the human behind persona#1A thru persona#1C of course).
suggestions for what exact human-monikers ought be used in 3 specific sections of James Randi , which is also the 'main' article currently about Peña-fka-'Alvarez'
Apologies for the length of my reply. The BLP-conundrum is an interesting one, partly because the real-world-topics-which-led-to-this-BLP-conundrum are in fact real-world-interesting; I think wikipedia should treat it (the real-world-topic) correctly, and as neutrally as possible, but without varnishing nor censoring the cold hard facts. (talk), originally posted at Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons/Noticeboard/Archive228#James Randi's spouse, 20:13, 31 August 2015 (UTC)

The above seems like a good plan to me. Does anyone object? --Guy Macon (talk) 03:01, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

My concern with this issue has always been undue weight. The article is about Randi, not his spouse and not his spouse's life history. -- WV ●   03:11, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

I agree with WV. I haven't followed this recently (are we supposed to read all the gumph above??) but in the past people have wanted to add gotcha statements to show some negativity about its subject (Randi). Is there a specific proposal? If it's above, please quote the first couple of words so I can find it. Johnuniq (talk) 05:59, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Junk sources

Somebody has recently added something attributed to I quote the foot of the top page of this website:

The opinions expressed on TDG reflect solely the opinion of the person posting the material, not TDG nor its editors.

So there's no editorial oversight, and what appears is only on the authority of its writer. Seems to be junk. I'll remove it. -- Hoary (talk) 02:17, 15 January 2017 (UTC)

Identity theft case

Hi, I am surprised that there is currently no mention in the article of the fact that Randi's spouse was arrested and sentenced for identity theft. I have tried to add some mention of this [1] [2], as have others before me [3], but it was reverted. From the reverts and the discussion above on similar topics, I see that the main counter-argument seems to be that this case is not relevant because the article about James Randi. But I would contend that it is relevant, at least for the following reasons:

  • The article mentions the two names of Randi's spouse, Deyvi Peña and José Alvarez, without a clear explanation of the relationship between these two names. This is confusing, and it would seem logical to give some explanation of the situation.
  • Randi has called Peña's arrest the "hardest moment of [his] life" in [4], so this seems like a pretty relevant point to mention in the "Personal life" section of the article on James Randi.
  • The case is mentioned prominently in another biographical source about Randi, namely, the film An Honest Liar, in addition to many newspaper articles about Randi (cf sources cited in the reverted edits above), so there are definitely serious sources which think that it is a relevant point about Randi's personal life.
  • Randi has admitted under oath that he was aware of the deception (see [5], search for "Randi testified"). Given Randi's role in debunking frauds, this has been used by various groups to criticize and discredit him [6] [7] [8]. I understand that this is just ad hominem, but it feels weird that there would be no mention of these facts in the Wikipedia article.

For all these reasons, I believe that we should add some mention of this case to the article, for instance following my latest edit. If there are valid arguments to justify that this is irrelevant for the article, please let me know. Thanks! --a3nm (talk) 13:16, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

I don't see any of the above as being sufficient reason to highlight a crime committed by a low profile individual. As it says in WP:BLP1E"The significance of an event or individual is indicated by how persistent the coverage is in reliable sources". --Guy Macon (talk) 15:09, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
@A3nm: If you find the two names confusing, then follow the link to the first reference after the names are mentioned in the article. It explains it all in more than adequate detail. That's one of the great things about Wikipedia references, they are a wonderful resource for learning more and for finding out about related subjects that would be WP:UNDUE to include in the encyclopedia article about Randi. --RexxS (talk) 15:57, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
@Guy Macon: Thanks for your explanations. I understand the point about Peña being a low-profile individual, but as the question is about inclusion to James Randi's page, I think the main question is whether this story is relevant to James Randi's bio. If it is, I guess it should be included nevertheless, even if it incidentally mentions Peña's crime. About "persistent coverage in reliable sources": the story was prominently featured in one movie and was the topic of articles in major newspapers (LA TimesNY Times) as well as local newspapers (South FloridaSun Sentinel Sun Sentinel again) over five years (from 2011 to 2015). I think this justifies that it is significant, don't you agree?
@RexxS: I agree that readers can follow links to external articles, but how are they to guess which one to follow? Wouldn't it be simpler to just explain briefly the situation and point to external articles for additional detail? I don't think articles should be confusing and rely on external links just to be understood. I understand you believe that it is WP:UNDUE to mention this story, but please argue why -- I have given several sources over a five-year period above to justify that it is notable, and several reasons in my original post about why it is a relevant thing to include. Thanks for your input! :) --a3nm (talk) 18:23, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
@A3nm: The external article in this case is a reference and – like all inline citations – it can be found in close proximity to the text to which it relates. It wouldn't be simpler to include more content because it would be undue in an article that is not about Peña. The content you're keen to write has Peña as its subject, not Randi. If you think the sources are sufficient to write an article about Peña and justify his notability, feel free to do so, but remember that notability is not inherited.
The sources you suggest should justify Peña's notability are not relevant to Randi, but if you still think that some content is relevant here, despite our WP:BLP policy, you always have the option of opening an RfC to seek input from more editors. I also invite you to review the opinion offered by Johnuniq in the section #Carlos hoax in Australia that the details of Peña's court case are not suitable content for an article whose subject is his spouse, any more than it would be for any married couple. --RexxS (talk) 18:56, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
@RexxS: Thanks for your input. I don't think writing a full article about Peña is adequate, though -- in any case, definitely not about this incident. However, I do think it is relevant to an article about Randi. First, because part of the content I am suggesting to add is undoubtedly about Randi and not Peña, see the second bullet point in my original lists of reasons above.
Second, because all sources I have indicated above except the Sun Sentinel articles (i.e., movie LA Times NY Times South Florida) are about Randi (as their titles indicate). So I don't understand why you say that they are "not relevant to Randi". Could you clarify?
As for Johnuniq's opinion, his second message in the thread that you mentioned indicates "If the matter is as substantial as described above, it will develop, and secondary sources will write a thoughtful analysis of the situation. That is when information should be added here." This was written in 2011 and such secondary sources now exist as I pointed out, so I think it makes sense to reexamine the matter.
I will not open an RfC for now as I am still waiting for the opinion of more editors here. Best regards, --a3nm (talk) 19:18, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
There are a number of issues here: simply because Randi said this event was the most difficult moment of his life doesn't make the event about Randi. Try searching the articles of a number of actors to determine what they felt was the most difficult role of their lives was; you won't find it. Try searching the articles of a number of scientists to find what they felt was the most important discovery of their career; you won't find it. In all those cases, the subject is the role or the discovery, or (in the case of Randi's quote) the arrest of his spouse.
There's also the issue of WP:BLP concerns. Adding content about a crime committed by a BLP subject's spouse implies wrongdoing on the part of the BLP subject. Even if it is very carefully worded, it nonetheless implies something due to the way the human mind (of the reader) works. There's a reason that guilt by association is such a common fallacy; it works. For newspapers to write about it is natural: they are conveying news. For an encyclopedia to write about it is not: we are attempting to provide an overview of the subject.
The final base consideration is one of relevance. The usual heuristic I like to give to new editors is "if something doesn't change the narrative of the article, it doesn't belong." In this case, we have the narrative of a man who started as a stage magician, then turned towards debunking fraudulent psychics, then turned his efforts towards managing an educational foundation devoted to promoting critical thinking and skepticism. The fact that his spouse committed a crime doesn't change that narrative one bit. Had Randi committed a crime, that would change the narrative.
Last but not least, there is an issue that arises when you consider the last two base considerations: writing from a neutral point of view. This information does nothing to change the narrative of the article, while simultaneously impinging upon Randi's reputation. It makes our article less than neutral, because we are conveying negative information about a person for no appreciable benefit to the article.
I hope this helps. I know that the rules we have here can be confusing, and that many times something which seems fine by the standards we publish can result in a bit of drama. That's normal. The biggest rule here, one which is rarely written down, but which every editor is expected to follow in every edit is: make sure what you're doing improves the project. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 19:50, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
At Wikipedia, anyone can add anything. Therefore the community has developed strong procedures to avoid coatracks for the frequently occurring cases where a notable person (X) has a relative (Y), and an unfortunate incident occurs regarding Y. The rules are simple:
  • If X's career is affected, write about the effect (something substantive, not that they felt bad for a while).
  • If Y is notable, write an article about Y.
  • If the incident is notable, write an article about the incident.
However, do not use the article for X to write about Y or the incident. The benefit is that BLP articles will be free from undue muck—if a reliable secondary source has failed to detail substantive changes to X's life due to the incident, the negativity is WP:UNDUEJohnuniq (talk) 05:04, 6 April 2017 (UTC)

a3nm, it appears that what we have here is a good-faith disagreement about article content. Everyone is being reasonable and thoughtful, which is a welcome change from how these content disputes sometimes go. You can post an RfC, but considering that so far there are six editors who disagree with you and zero who agree with you, it is doubtful that such an RfC will go the way you want it to. Nonetheless, you are free to try -- I might be wrong. I wrote an essay about this exact situation which you might find to be useful; it is at WP:1AM. --Guy Macon (talk) 06:32, 6 April 2017 (UTC)

Thanks everyone for your detailed and civil feedback. As @Guy Macon: points out, given that no one here seems to agree with my opinion on this, I will not be pressing the matter further. If anyone else cares, though, they are welcome to comment.
Maybe some explanation about my motives may help understand why I have been pushing this specific issue. (Of course I don't care personally about Randi, Peña, or any of that stuff -- I had just vaguely heard about Randi some years ago.) It's just that, the other day, I stumbled upon this Conservapedia page mentioning this weird scandal about Randi and Peña that I had never heard of. At first I thought it was complete bullshit, but researching it a bit showed that it was at least based on a true story. In this light, I found it pretty strange that the episode was not mentioned at all anywhere on Wikipedia (indeed, its absence had help me believe initially that it was bogus), so I thought it would be an interesting addition, although I expected there may be some disagreement.
Indeed, as it turns out, the consensus appears to be against the addition. I understand that there are valid general motives against it, in particular the need to avoid drawing unwanted attention to Peña, or the general fact that the story is unexpected but not especially relevant to Randi's professional achievements (no matter what Conservapedia and others would imply). Nevertheless, I can't help but wonder: when I see the very careful efforts to avoid mentioning an incident that could put Randi in bad light (i.e., guilt by association), I wonder whether all Wikipedia article subjects enjoy the same level of care. I suspect that the fact that we all like Randi adds up to bias in our treatment of people like Randi on Wikipedia relative to other people that we don't like as much, especially as it is easy to justify (in good faith) this bias through selective application of Wikipedia's vast corpus of policies.
Anyways. I hope this can be helpful to understand my point of view. In any case I appreciate the fact that everyone was very civil about the matter. :) As I said earlier, I won't be insisting further because I seem to be alone with my views, but if someone else agrees that the episode should be mentioned, they are welcome to express themselves.--a3nm (talk) 14:19, 6 April 2017 (UTC)
Clicking on that conservapedia article is great for a laugh. It opens with a ridiculously contrived claim (that the majority of "prominent and vocal defenders of the evolutionary position" are atheists) sourced to two creationist publications and just goes downhill from there. I would not give much thought to what conservapedia has to say about anything, in honesty. Just one click away from that page, you can find them using a 2006 arbcom case about competing claims of harassment between two editors to claim that "evolutionist administrators" tried to force arbcom to delete the article of a creationist and that arbcom heroically declined. So of course conservapedia will make a mountain out of a molehill for any prominent atheist or skeptic: they are, quite literally, ideologically opposed to critical thinking. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 21:25, 10 April 2017 (UTC)