Wikipedia article

In June of 2015 a person with the alias Pizzaman created a scurrilous, perhaps defamatory, Wikipedia article about the book The Wonder Weeks by Frans Plooij and his late wife Hetty (Hettij). (This link goes to that version of the article.) Drawing on 1997 Dutch newspaper reportage of an academic dispute, the article aimed to discredit the research by the Plooijs and others and on that basis challenged the reliability and usefulness of the book. (Pizzaman, according to his or her Wikipedia user page, is Dutch and characterizes himself or herself as an MD and a neuroscientist. The history of that user page indicates that the latter status is recent.)

This disinformation has had some public effect. Although my daughter and more than a score of other young mothers have personally attested to me the accuracy and usefulness of the book I see that a number of parenting blogs include comments that quote those adverse accounts. Since there is no indication that these blog participants are able to read Dutch newspapers, I assume they got this from the Wikipedia article. Notwithstanding, the comments on these blogs have generally been countered by mothers with positive experiences, and the book continues to enjoy best-seller status in spite of the distortions.

In January 2018 another person with the user name ​Plas420​ replaced the Wikipedia article with a more neutral description of the book omitting the newspaper reportage of the academic conflict. (That user page is in Dutch, and at least in Google-friendly browsers a rough translation is available; that revision of the article can be read here.) Pizzaman summarily deleted it, having ferreted out the fact that the author of the revision worked for the Wonder Weeks organization. This violates the “Conflict of Interest” guideline in Wikipedia.

Since I am not so encumbered, I have rewritten the article to correct the distortion.

The conflict that the newspaper reporters gossiped about involved Paul van Geert and Carolina de Weerth, whose dissertation research he was supervising. She was invited to replicate the Plooij’s work. Ignoring confounding influences, she and van Geert concluded from a statistical analysis involving four mother-daughter dyads that the cognitive development of infants is chaotic, with lots of variation between individuals. (More detail in the rewritten Wonder Weeks article and in cited references.) This is consistent with van Geert’s strong commitments to ‘dynamical systems’ theorizing about cognitive development. As you can see in the Wikipedia article about dynamical systems theory, he probably regards control theory as “an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and mathematics, that deals with influencing the behavior of dynamical systems.”

My rewrite is heavily laden with footnotes. This is because everything in Wikipedia must be verifiable by any reader, and in particular anything that is controversial or disputed must be demonstrably derived from reliable secondary sources. I mention these important principles because others here may want to be able to defend the Wikipedia articles about PCT, Bill Powers, MOL, etc. from attack by editors to whom these articles present disturbances.

I welcome any comment or correction to the article. I suppose in due course someone fluent in Dutch (other than Frans or anyone closely connected with him) will post a translation on the Dutch Wikipedia site, or at least bring up the need for a translation on the Talk page of the Dutch article.