Monday, October 3, 2011

UFO sighting pages ~ Investigation pages

Amazing what you can find on Wikipedia.  After having a conversation with UFO expert Robert Sheaffer I started browsing around at various UFO pages.  Easy to do when you find a category page.  You can usually find these at the very bottom of a page. Category UFO sightings  This is a easy to use way of browsing. 

I think these pages can be excellent example of how to write a Wikipedia page.  You have to be clear, just the facts.  You must have citations.  They must be noteworthy (not just something you saw out your bathroom window, but others need to have experienced it and it must have been something reported in the media).  These should be interesting to read, while still stating the facts.  There is nothing wrong with quoting people in the articles you read, there is something wrong with you drawing conclusions from the eye-witnesses that isn't stated in the citation.  You have to remain neutral in your writing.  You can not state your opinion, let the experts do that for you.

We can quote specific investigators that have published citations.  I'm looking forward to Sheaffer's new book Psychic Vibrations: Skeptical Giggles from the Skeptical Inquirer.  We should be able to find all kinds of references that we can add to these UFO pages in it. External links, quotes and so on.  My point being that you don't have to go out and find a ton of references to add to one page (yes if you are creating a page from scratch) but sometimes it is easier to find an article or book you are enjoying.  Then try and find ways of using that one reference in many different Wikipedia pages.  When I get Sheaffer's book I can look though it and see if he mentions specifically some of the UFO events that are reported on Wikipedia.  Then I can take the exact same citation and paste it in after whatever blurb I'm writing for that UFO page.  Use your time wisely, and more importantly enjoy what you are reading.

I just added "Psychic Vibrations" to the UFO skeptical books to read area.  At the moment there are only 4 books on the skeptical list.  There is a large list of "General" books, a couple by Sheaffer.  I left a note on the discussion/talk page asking how these books are categorized, who decides.  Maybe we should just make all the books general?

One of our very own editors John Farquhar created as his first ever Wikipedia page after reading a blog by Tim Farley.  Vancouver, Washington UFO Sighting - Lets take a quick look at it. 

Just the facts in the leed "The Vancouver, Washington UFO sighting occurred over two evenings in February 2011 as reported by many eyewitnesses in the Clear Meadows neighborhood of Vancouver",
complete with a citation to the newspaper article.

Description of Events: again really nice, to the point.  Quoting what is reported.  I think I like that John is not quoting the people.  I suppose it is a matter of opinion but having too many people saying "I have no idea what I saw!" and "it was just amazing, like nothing I've ever experienced!" might lead the reader on.   Love this line "Due to the hand-held motion of the camera and the absence of any background imagery, size and movements are very difficult to determine."  This is skepticism without being blatant about it.  I doubt it will be challenged but if it were, then simply find an expert to quote.  

Possible explanations follows.  Good job writing what could have been the answer, Sirius, then quoting the expert as saying, that can't be right because of ....  Again John is showing how there can be many explanations more likely than proof of aliens.  Skeptics can be wrong, we admit that.  Sometimes we make statements that when more evidence comes forward we acknowledge it and keep thinking.

John then follows up with what probably the UFO actually was (I'll let you read it yourself) he even presents citations showing how this has been the case in other UFO sightings.

Anyone not following how important editing Wikipedia for skeptical content is?  This is our chance to neutrally get the message out that investigation is fun.  Finding out how it was probably done is cool, way better than conspiracy stories of NASA and Martians implanting us with embryos.   To someone with their faculties still in place this is an example of a great UFO investigation, clearly written and now out there so the world can read it and learn.

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