Discussion of Big Science Today, by an Important Member of the National Association of Scholars

  1. This question is apart from my discussion of Turner’s assertions regarding indirect costs.

As for point 2, indirect costs are not surplus funds. As the blurb from NSF indicates, they go to the university, not the PI or department. And they are distinct from direct costs that pay for the research. If a department is going to get bent out of shape about what the university does with indirect costs (that everyone understands up front and ahead of time do not belong to the PI), they have more serious issues to deal with.

That being said, I suspect that Turner believes exactly that some small amount of indirect cost funds indeed finds its way into “Womens Studies departments” and other units that he dislikes.

@Eddie, I invite you to re-read the bit in the article where Turner mentions indirect costs.

Yeah, and I am sure you want to protect professors whose deeply-held religious convictions dictate that they not teach homosexuals, biracial couples, adherents of disfavored religions, and any of the laundry list of persons that conservatives cannot abide. And I am sure you would give support to those who would shut down biology departments for teaching godless Marxist evolution, physics departments for teaching about the true age of the universe (that I am sure is an inspiration for Marxists), chemistry departments for teaching about unguided (Marxist) chemical mechanisms, and any of the other programs whose (Marxist) teaching would offend the deeply held religious convictions of students and members of the community at large.

Heck, @Eddie, it would seem as if your ideal institution of higher learning is a place where no learning at all takes place. Only rote, mind-numbing indoctrination.

That’s true.

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Wouldn’t a well-written version of the article you started the thread by citing have explained that to you?

And if you didn’t even learn what indirect costs are from the article, how do you explain your attitude toward those who pointed out (in good faith) that it is worthless and contains no new information?

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“I suspect” seems to be the key word here. You have not presented any text that supports this suspicion. Further, I searched the article for vocabulary relevant to Arts subjects. The word “humanities” appears once, in the introduction to the article, in a general context completely unrelated to what he later says about indirect costs. The term “social science” does not appear at all, nor do “philosophy”, “history”, or “literature”. Nor does the term “Arts”. Nor do “economics”, “political science”, “anthropology”, “sociology”, “psychology”, “women’s studies”, “feminist theory” (or “feminist” anything). Your suspicion seems to be a tissue constructed out of your own imagination.

I just did. He makes no connection of indirect costs with Arts subjects, or in fact with the contents of subjects. His complaint about indirect costs seems concentrated on their use to fatten the administration of the university. Reread the section yourself!

You are sure of all these things that I supposedly think, without even asking me? I guess that’s how you’re sure of what Turner thinks about Arts subjects, when his article gives no indication. This paragraph of yours is not good-faith dialogue; it is a rant. And unfortunately, based on my experience on this website, and others like it, I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that rant is the only sort of communication that atheist biologists, when talking about social or political or religious questions, are capable of producing.

This statement, of course, has no basis in anything I’ve ever said on this site about education, and in fact represents the opposite of my stated views. But if one is to speak of “mind-numbing indoctrination,” there is no better example of that than the atheist, materialist, reductionist, socialist, Western-hating, religion-hating, nihilistic orthodoxy that is taught in most Arts departments in most secular universities in the USA. The last place I would send my kids to get a BA is Harvard or Cornell or Stanford or any of the State universities. I would sent them to a good Liberal Arts program, such as can be found at St. John’s College and a handful of other colleges, and at a few Catholic institutions. There, they would be educated by Plato and Aristotle and Homer and Sophocles and Augustine and Aquinas and Milton and Dante and Dostoevsky and Shakespeare and Aristo and Austen and Mill and and Descartes and Hume and Galileo and yes, even Darwin and Marx, rather than by a bunch of third-rate, left-wing, America-hating, West-hating ideologues such as those who make up most of the Arts faculties at mainstream universities and colleges in America.

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But still only an opinion.

I see you omitted my comment about the page having been heavily edited since Sanger wrote that. Even if it was biased then, it may not be biased now.

That’s a “shabby excuse” for not supporting your claims, especially since you were the one who first mentioned the faults of Wikipedia.

That is just your opinion, and since you’re not only heavily biased yourself but also refusing to substantiate it, it’s worthless.

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I have been monitoring that particular Wikipedia page (along with a number of others related to design, creationism, evolution, and connected topics) for many years now, starting from years before Sanger wrote the comment. I can verify that it has not changed substantially in contents or tone. In contents, bits have been added, and bits dropped, but the enduring core is the same as it was, and sometimes in exactly the same words. It still projects the same judgmental attitude (incompatible with the proper tone of an encyclopedia) and contains the same errors (e.g., that ID is a form of creationism) that it has always had. This is not surprising, as the cabal of people who control all the articles on creationism, design, and evolution on Wikipedia exercise very tight control and monitor the articles 24/7, reversing changes almost as soon as they are made.

But I don’t need that article to provide you with a clear example. The case of Gunter Bechly, who was deemed worthy by Wikipedia of his own page, based on his objective scientific accomplishments, and then had his page erased the moment he came out in favor of ID, proves beyond a doubt that those who decide who gets a page and who doesn’t are not objective (i.e., basing their decision purely on the objective scientific accomplishments of the person), but let political considerations (i.e., that they hate the guts of ID proponents) alter their editorial decisions. There are other cases showing obvious bias, but I believe you asked for just one. You can get some of the story at:

See especially the quotations from the reporter Benkajob and from Matt Young at Panda’s Thumb: both are anti-ID, but concede that the motivation for removing Bechly’s page was political.

The linked Haaretz article, by Benkajob, contains a screenshot of the deleted Wikipedia article on Bechly, which Wikipedia “vaporized” (1984-style) in hopes that it would be forgotten, but fortunately it was preserved on the Wayback Machine.

If you want to try to insult the readers’ intelligence by supporting Wikipedia’s lame excuse that they removed Bechly’s article, not because of his ID sympathies, but because they changed their mind and decided that his scientific accomplishments weren’t worthy of a Wikipedia page, you are welcome to do so, but anyone can see from the timing that that excuse was just after-the-fact damage control, and even Matt Young, Panda’s Thumb stalwart, wasn’t buying it. Bechly was regarded as a good scientist, worthy of a Wikipedia page (had species named after him, high h-index, etc.), and was then punished for breaking the unwritten rules of the fraternity. It’s a textbook case of bias, if ever there was one.

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  1. Describing pseudoscience as pseudoscience is not judgemental.
  2. That’s not an error. ID is a form of creationism. It is literally scientific creationism with ‘God’ replaced with ‘a designer’

Straw-man. What I’m actually going to do is note that the treatment of Bechly’s page is not evidence that a different page is biased.

I note that you have suddenly shifted from referring to Wikipedia authors as such a diverse group that prevents conclusions about one page being applied to another, to treating them as a single entity with a unified opinion.

I’d also like to add that the removal of Gunter Bechly’s page may be an indication of bias against IDers, but that would depend on who created the page originally, and why; and why it was deleted, none of which I know for certain. It could also be recognition that while Bechly was once a distinguished scientist, his recent output indicates he’s become a dishonest charlatan.

It could also be simply because Bechly is German, and considered less relevant to English audiences. Bechly still has a page on the German version of Wikipedia. So anyone claiming he was removed from Wikipedia because he’s an ID advocate would have to explain why the German page still exists.

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A bit more research indicates that Bechly’s English Wikipedia page wasn’t deleted because Bechly has come out as a creationist, but because a discussion regarding whether he was sufficiently notable was hijacked by a bunch of creationists who engaged in external canvassing to try to influence the (non-existent) vote, violating the decision process and introducing an unacceptable level of politicking.

So while it’s technically true that Bechly’s page was deleted as a result of him becoming a creationist, it wasn’t deleted because he became a creationist.

This is described in the Haaretz article that @Eddie referred to, so he has no reason for not knowing it.

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If he was considered less relevant to English audiences, why was he given a page in the English version in the first place? And even supposing that the English editors changed their minds, deciding later that he wouldn’t be of much interest to English audiences, isn’t it an amazing coincidence that they only noticed how uninteresting he would be to English audiences after it became known that he supported ID? You’ll have to do better than that.

I don’t see anything to explain. Apparently the German and English versions of Wikipedia operate semi-autonomously, so there is no reason to assume that one central office is dictating what the German version can contain. See the lengthy article on German Wikipedia at:

When I said that “Wikipedia” showed bias, I wasn’t claiming that all the distinct national versions of Wikipedia showed bias. I don’t consult the non-English editions, so I make no claim about them. I was talking about the only version of Wikipedia that anyone here has ever quoted, i.e., the English version. My charge of bias pertained only to the English version. And regarding the Bechly case, it’s obvious that the critics are also talking about what was done in the English version. The fact that the German editors did not show a bias against Bechly does not change the fact that the English editors did.

You asked for an example of biased treatment, and I provided one. And I also provided an article with quotations from people – and note, people who agree with you (rather than with me) about the value of ID – who conceded that had Bechly not embraced ID, he would not have lost his English Wikipedia page when he did. So it’s not just my perception.

Let’s be honest and call a spade a spade. The English Wikipedians hate ID and have done all that is in their power to discredit it. That they would remove an article about a scientist they previously considered worthy of a page, out of spite for his endorsing ID, is completely consistent with their past behavior, and that they acted from this motivation is the only hypothesis that makes sense of the timing of the removal. The conclusion of bias is therefore the natural one to draw, so natural that (as shown by the examples above), even anti-ID people have conceded it.

It wouldn’t be an incredible co-incidence if they changed their mind because creationists hijacked the process of determining whether to retain his page.

That would be an explanation, albeit an unconvincing one.

You haven’t established that as a fact.

That’s not ‘calling a spade a spade’, it’s calling a spade an evil entity with a penchant for murdering innocent bystanders.

Again, you have not established that as a fact, and the article you referenced suggests otherwise.

The author is no doubt correct in his narration of the internal political struggle, and the role of the “no canvassing” rule in turning the tide away from the dissenters. However, the author’s own words make clear that, though the reaction to the canvassing contributed to the final result, the canvassing postdated the original motivation for removing the article: (emphasis added):

“The heated debate between experienced Wikipedians and proponents of “intelligent design” ended up backfiring on the latter and actually helped to finalize the deletion of the Bechly article.”

The phrase “helped to finalize” implies that there was already a motion on the table, so to speak, to delete the Bechly article. And where did that motion come from? From the “creationists” you’re talking about? No, it came from the existing cabal which wanted to dump the Bechly article the moment they heard he endorsed ID.

I suspect you have no experience as a Wikipedia editor. Since I do, I can tell you the dynamics in play here:

1-- The local cabal overseeing the Bechly article, incensed by Bechly’s “defection” to ID, sought to remove the article about him;
2-- A group of editors (supposedly all “creationists”, though there is no proof of that, since Wikipedia cabalists routinely assume that anyone who opposes any of their high-handed actions must be a creationist) thought this an action motivated by political or culture-war bias rather than principle, and opposed it;
3-- Seeing that they were locally outnumbered (as is always the case in the articles connected with origins), and therefore would lose the vote, the protesters figured the only way they could stop the biased action was to recruit other Wikipedia editors;
4-- So they summoned other editors to come and vote with them, thus breaking the “no canvassing” rule;
5-- This technical foul was then used to discredit their opposition, and had double the usual force, because not only were they breaking a rule, they were “creationists,” so it could be painted as religiously motivated political interference in the processes of Wikipedia;
6-- This gave the cabal a clear path to do what they intended to do anyway, and had enough local votes to do anyway, which was to trash the Bechly article.

That, in plain language, is what happened. And when looked at in this blunt form, it’s clear that the “creationists violated the no canvassing rule” part is a distraction. The motivation to dump the article preceded anything the “creationists” did. Even the author you’ve cited clearly implies that.

The author’s concluding statement, which you did not draw any attention to, is (emphasis added):

“If Bechly’s article was originally introduced due to his scientific work, it was deleted due to his having become a poster child for the creationist movement.”

Notice, not “due to creationist violation of the no canvassing rule”, but “due to his having become a poster child for the creationist movement.” That is, it’s the author’s view that those who wanted Bechly’s page dropped were motivated by their discovery that Bechly had embraced ID.

And the poster over at Panda’s Thumb said the same thing.

You can keep denying the obvious, as you please. I cannot provide you with a proof of motivation of Euclidean certainty, if that’s what you’re demanding. But the sequence and timing of actions, and the lame justifications, provide more than sufficient evidence to convict Wikipedia in the court of common sense. When even someone from Panda’s Thumb agrees with a columnist from Discovery, the jig is up. But if you’re determined to believe that Wikipedia editors are totally objective and fair intellectual angels who have never shown any bias in their origins articles, go ahead and believe what you want to believe. I’m done.

All the more reason to retain his Wikipedia entry, I would maintain. Put it out there. There will always be disagreement as to what constitutes bias, but cancellation is what creeps me out.

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Your own source disproves that:

Bechly even participated in a movie, “Revolutionary,” produced by the Discovery Institute, that presented testimonies of scientists dubious of evolution.
These activities prompted some Wikipedia editors to question Bechly’s scientific bona fides, and in turn the value of his biographical entry as a scientist in the encyclopedia.
However, what began as an orderly debate about whether Bechly’s work qualifies him to have his own entry in Wikipedia and whether the entry about him meets the criteria required for academics – standards thoroughly covered by Wikipedia’s general notability guidelines – soon deteriorated into a battle royal between science-minded Wikipedia editors and promoters of creationism.

Questioning whether some-one merits mention (and finding out that some-one is involved in pseudoscience is a legitimate reason to question their merit) and starting a discussion is not the same as “wanting to dump some-one”. Perhaps you didn’t quote those paragraphs because they contradict your fantasy.

You suspect wrong, as usual.

Overblown fantasy, with not a shred of evidence to support it.

More evidence-free fantasy. You have an overactive imagination (cf Nicholas Angel). Although I can believe that a bunch creationists would assume a standard discussion was a witch-hunt motivated by bias. You just did.

Yet more fantasy. Your own source explains that there wouldn’t be a vote, so being outnumbered was irrelevant:

These one-time editors’ lack of experience became clear when they began voting in favor of keeping the article on Wikipedia – a practice not employed in the English version of Wikipedia since 2016, when editors voted to exchange the way articles are deleted for a process of consensus-based decision through discussion.

There’s also the still-extant Wikipedia deletion discussion page, where it can be seen that there were initially more comments in favour of keeping the page.

Finally, something that isn’t fantasy.

…and we’re back into fantasyland, complete with paranoia and another reference to a non-existent vote.

No, that is florid language about what you imagine happened from your paranoid fantasy world.

Yes, the motivation to re-examine Bechly’s inclusion (Bechly’s involvement in pseudoscience) preceded what the creationists did. But despite your rabid insinuations, the decision did not.

I’ve already agreed with that. But despite your conspiracy theories, that’s not the same as Bechly’s page having been deleted because he was a creationist.

Had the creationists not tried to stuff a non-existent ballot box, Gunter Bechly’s page might still be there, alongside the many pages for ID creationists that have not been deleted:

Being an ID creationist is clearly not grounds for deleting some-one from Wikipedia, and both the Haaretz article and the WIkipedia deletion discussion page show that your ‘version’ of events is a conspiracy theory.

That doesn’t follow. Embracing ID and “becoming a poster child” are not the same thing.

I’m asking for evidence, and all you’re providing is fantasy scenarios and paranoid delusions. @Eddie, let Dr Edgemar help you out.

Since the tired old carnard about how unfair it was that Günter Bechly’s (English) Wikipedia article getting deleted, I thought that it would be better to get information from the horse’s mouth, rather than depend on Klinghoffer’s heavily-slanted and self-serving screed on ENV (aka ‘Creationist Whine & Cheese’):

The original Article for Deletion discussion:

The Deletion Review:

The 2nd AfD:

I did not participate in either AfD, but did review the sources contained in the last pre-deletion version of it a few years ago. It only contained ten references, none of which were to sources that were particularly independent of Bechly (the closest to independent was an interview that Bechly gave to a German journalist).

Relevant Wikipedia guidelines:

A topic is presumed to be suitable for a stand-alone article or list when it has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject.

Independent of the subject” excludes works produced by the article’s subject or someone affiliated with it. For example, advertising, press releases, autobiographies, and the subject’s website are not considered independent.

I can also remember finding evidence suggesting that the article had been written by Bechly himself.

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This topic is in slow mode. To encourage thoughtful, considered discussion, editing old posts in this topic is not currently allowed during slow mode.

I therefore cannot edit this comment:

To add the information that the last pre-deletion version of the article can be found here:

Yet on the very Wikipedia discussion page you cite, there are about 15 times where various people in the discussion say things like “I voted” “I didn’t vote twice” or refer to “keep votes” “delete votes” etc. Check it out yourself, using the Find function on your browser.

To be sure (and this is probably what the author was referring to), there is – though it completely contradicts the self-understanding of all the participants, who clearly thought of themselves as “voting” to either keep or delete – a big blurb in the middle of the page, saying:

please note that this is not a majority vote , but instead a discussion among Wikipedia contributors. Wikipedia has policies and guidelines regarding the encyclopedia’s content, and consensus (agreement) is gauged based on the merits of the arguments, not by counting votes.

Now let’s think about that coherently. (As the pretentious Wikipedia people who posted it haven’t.) Consensus is based on the merits of the arguments, not by counting votes? How is that possible? Does everyone listen to everyone else’s arguments, and then agree on which argument has the most merit? That’s great when it happens, which, in human affairs, is about a .0001% occurrence. What do you do when not everyone agrees which arguments have the most merit? Do you take a vote on which arguments have the most merit? Whoops! There goes the principle that we settle everything without voting.

Or do we settle which arguments have the most merit by handing the decision over to those with the most qualifications in the subject-area? For example, the editor with most advanced degrees or the most publications in the field of the biology gets to decide whether Bechly’s biological accomplishments warrant keeping an article on him? Whoops! There goes the democratic principle which is central to Wikipedia! And even if Wikipedia were willing to sacrifice equality in order to reach a decision, how would the editors know who among them has the most degrees or the most publications, when all of them are using pseudonyms and all of them could be complete academic fakes?

Or do we settle it by seniority? Do those editors who have been with Wikipedia longest get to decide which arguments have the most merit? And how does one prove to the other editors that one has been with Wikipedia longer? Is there a page where one can check on when other editors joined? And does “longer” mean chronologically longer, or with more edits under the belt, which would seem more relevant?

Or are there, despite the pretense of democratic equality, certain editors who have secretly been given authority (by nameless higher editors whose identities and intellectual qualifications to run an encyclopedia are shrouded in mystery) to decide which arguments have merit, whether the other editors agree or not? When there isn’t unanimity, do those editors flash their secret CIA badges and demand compliance from the others?

In short, this little blurb is incoherent in terms of political theory, and vacuous regarding practical procedure. The people who wrote that little blurb are obviously both theoretically and administratively incompetent.

In the end, a decision was made to remove the article, and I defy anyone here to prove (a) that the decision was unanimous and (b) that every editor involved in all the various stages of the discussion was in on that unanimous decision (i.e., none were excluded because of their inconvenient disagreement). If this cannot be demonstrated, then the boast about “consensus” was sheer BS. There can’t be “consensus” if some members think a decision is wrong. There can only be the imposition of the opinion of the majority on the minority (or, worse, the imposition of the opinion of the minority on the majority, which may well be what happened in this case; we can’t tell because the discussion page ends without resolution, and you can be sure the Wikipedia will never reveal the details of how the decision was reached).

Aside from all this, that Talk page shows what hopeless, politicized jungle Wikipedia is, and also how snotty and insulting some of the editors can be to teach other. And this is one of the least polemical and nasty Talk pages I’ve seen!

Sheesh.

Um… From the article:

Indirect-cost revenues are highly valued by universities. Through various creative budgetary and accounting tricks, indirect-cost monies have become essentially discretionary funds that universities can use to subsidize all sorts of administrative mischief. Among these is administrative self-aggrandizement, which is how, for example, administrative bloat — the principal driver of the extraordinary inflation in the costs of higher education — is paid for and supported. Indirect-cost monies also pay for administrative aims unrelated to research, including that roster of usual suspects.

@Eddie, just who or what do you imagine “that usual roster of suspects” is? I believe you have mentioned one above (Women’s Studies departments that hire “Marxist deconstructionist feminist professors”). Given Turner’s opinions about climate science and COVID-related research and policy (opinions framed entirely in political terms, since Turner has zero scientific basis for his biases), I think he is as infuriated as you, @Eddie, that indirect costs might go, even in a tiny amount, to such departments.

In case it is not clear, I have placed Women’s Studies in “The Arts” when talking about the impacts Turner’s proposals would have. No doubt Turner wants to stop what he feels is surreptitious support of programs he dislikes. It just turns out that his proposed actions also would affect other programs more to @Eddie’s liking, and possibly to Turner’s as well.

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I don’t imagine anything. I don’t know what he is referring to there, and I don’t like guessing, and even if I were to venture a guess, I would not present my guess as knowledge. In any event, the immediately preceding words are: “administrative aims unrelated to research”, not “research into bleeding-heart left-wing causes” or “departments that are ideologically motivated.” So your surmise is a huge stretch from what he says in the paragraph.

Neither of which are mentioned in the paragraphs about indirect costs, which is what you asked me to examine. Further, climate science involves subjects such as oceanography, physics, astronomy (sunspot effects), physical geography, geology (volcanic effects), etc. – all science subjects, not Arts subjects. COVID-related research involves subjects such as biology, biochemistry, genetics, epidemiology, etc. – all science subjects, not Arts subjects. You are grasping at straws to make a connection with the specific contents of any Arts subjects.

Maybe Turner does have a low opinion of many of the Arts subjects as currently researched and taught, but there’s no way of establishing that from what he wrote in the article.

As for “Women’s Studies,” “Afro-Caribbean Studies,” and “Latino Studies,” “Gender Studies,” and “Animal Studies” (which one university at least was trying to start up, and whose goal was to oppose meat-eating, zoos, horse-racing, keeping pets, etc.), and other “X Studies”, one doesn’t need a complex analysis of “indirect costs” and science research grants to know what should be done with them. They’re all sub-academic, ideology-driven rubbish, on which not a single penny of taxpayer’s money should be spent. Any healthy university would cancel all these programs, thus saving millions of dollars annually in salaries which could go to salaries for professors in genuine academic subjects, such as math, chemistry, physics, biology, geology, economics, political science, English, philosophy, ancient and modern languages, Classics, and religion. If that’s what Turner believes, I’m with him, but such thoughts were far from my mind when I presented his article on science research funding.

And here’s another nugget from the deletion discussion:

It is entirely possible that your badly-sourced autobiographical additions to the article documenting your changed beliefs caused the problematic nature of the article to become more readily apparent to other editors. But you are still missing the point about the nature of the problem. It is not about your religious beliefs or their incompatibility with science. It is about whether it is possible to have an article that presents you as others see you (as published in reliable sources) rather than as you see yourself. If the sources that would make that possible do not exist, or if you cannot be made to stop editing the article about yourself, then the better option is to have no article at all.

So Bechly may have triggered both the deletion discussion and the eventual deletion himself.

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Apparently not, since you’ve just written two pages of ill-informed blather.

The highlight:

You look at the evidence.

This isn’t just how Wikipedia works, but also how science works. Not by voting, or by seniority, or by qualifications, or by a clandestine inner circle, but by evidence. This is such a foreign concept to you that you didn’t even think to mention it in the above polemic.

And you’re supposed to have a PhD. Sheesh.

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And a nugget from the 2nd deletion discusion:

There are plenty of scientists with orthodox views who have discovered multiple species who don’t have Wikipedia pages. They haven’t had their pages deleted because they didn’t have one of their buddies try to create a page about them:

“The article was created by a colleague at our museum and subsequently expanded by myself” --Dr. Günter Bechly 11:06, 21 August 2012 (UTC)

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