Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Plait, Gardner, Tyson, Kurtz, Andrus and so much more

For those of you just joining us, Welcome.  This is an update of all the new releases from the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project.  To learn more about what this project is please read this, its a little dated but should catch you up.

We translate well-written Wikipedia pages into other languages, currently we have 18 language teams working on the project (but we badly need more editors working with us, we train and mentor, see bottom of this blog for contact info). 

Not only do we translate but we need to write (or re-write) the pages that will be translated.  We have (and need far more) photographers, video interviewers, copy-editors, researchers, people to caption videos and just motivated people who like doing stuff. 

We have many more pages being worked on right now, but they didn't make the deadline for this update... so stay tuned.

So onto our most current updates... 

Martin Gardner &  Paul Kurtz 
Nix Dorf from the Portuguese team rewrote the Paul Kurtz page.  Here is the before... and now the after.   And then got on to the Martin Gardner page (before) & (after)  

Phil Plait
Filipe Russo created a brand new page for our very own Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait.  

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Luis Pratas rewrote Neil deGrasse Tyson  (before) & (after).  

I want to add that Nathan Miller did the research in English for the Penny4NASA section (under "views") on Tyson's page.  He is trying to build a complete page for the project but it might be too soon as they have not become noteworthy enough yet. 

Ken Feder
The English Ken Feder page got a Did You Know (front page of Wikipedia for 8 hours) unfortunately it was up from 11pm to 8am so we didn't get the hits we would have normally expected.  Only 1,190 for that night.  Other links on Feder's page also experienced a surge on that night. Keep in mind that these are mostly people outside our skeptical choir.  So total win for skepticism. 

Jerry Andrus - Now with it's 8th language... English, Dutch, Portuguese, French, Farsi, Spanish, Russian and now Swedish!  Way to go Philip Skogsberg and Wim Vandenberghe!  Very proud of you both!

Karl Shuker
Received a call-out from Blake Smith from MonsterTalk podcast asking if we might help out a cryptozoologist.  His page had fallen into disrepair, even threats to have the page deleted.  Editor Nathan Miller stepped in and cleaned it up.  Before and After.  Nathan stated "This has been a gratifying effort."

Point of Inquiry
Point of Inquiry is often used in our work as editors as a source for interviews.  This page (Before) had been on our to-do list for quite some time until new editor Ric Watts decided he wanted to take it on.  And he sure did.... here is the after Point of Inquiry.

Our Lady of Warraq
Before new editor Wim Vandenberghe joined the team he had been working on and off on this page for a apparition of the Virgin Mary in Egypt.  (before) He kept having problems getting his edits to stick, problems with other editors (believers) were mostly the problem.  He heard about our project and with a little training and some teamwork this page is in far better condition.  (after

As you can see from the before and after, no mention in the lede about what the "apparition" probably was existed until after we did the re-write. 

Danielle Egnew
You might remember from our last update that someone had added the name of Danielle Egnew to the Psychic page.  Listing her as a famous psychic.  I've never heard of her, but she has had an amazing career.  Check out some of these claims... 

Danielle Egnew is recognized in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand for her work in the spiritual and metaphysical fields as a Clairvoyant Channel, Paranormal Investigator, and Healer. She is alleged to have successfully assisted law enforcement on cold case profiles, as documented on TV pilot Missing Peace.

Though she is alleged to utilize many spiritual aptitudes, she is widely known by film and radio audiences for her claims that her primary form of direct communication with spirit life is through angelic entities

Danielle Egnew currently owns and operates her own private metaphysical practice in the Los Angeles area.

She has more credentials in music, theater and LGBT activism.  I'm not concerned with those claims, just the psychic ones.  So my editors Nathan Miller and (3-day old Chris Pederson) went to town sorting through the mess.  First Nathan rewrote all of the citations so we could see where all the claims were coming from.  He discovered that nearly every footnote that supported a psychic claim was coming from her own website. 

Chris did some research to make sure that there wasn't a good secondary source for these claims elsewhere on the Internet.  Don't mean to spoil the surprise, but there were none.  So they spent about a day going back and forth researching and talking and finally Nathan said, everything comes back to Danielle's own website, "I'm pretty sure I could become a successful professional juggler, in the same sense that I could buy a domain name, and remain a 'successful, popular' professional juggle-master provided I'm not fired from my day job."


Exactly right.  Wikipedia is not a place where you get to advertise, it is not a personal brag page.  Wikipedia is where secondary sources (not your personal website) backs up claims.  Wild claims like how you have solved missing person cases using only your psychic powers needs backing up.  

  Here is the before page... and now the after.   
 And now the plea for help.  We can not make these updates happen if we don't have help.  We need people to join with us to improve the 5th most popular Internet site in the world.  Yes, this is a crazy idea, but it is totally doable.  Once these pages are created it is pretty easy to maintain them, and we are only looking at a small section of Wikipedia, not the entire site. 

But we do need your help.   As I mentioned before, not just as editors but in all kinds of ways.  We also need help getting our message beyond the people who are currently reading this.  Do you have a blog/podcast that you can feature an interview of us or highlight our updates?  Can you tweet or post these on your own social network?  Can you write to skeptical and/or science media sources (and conferences) and encourage them to give us some time?  Especially need people willing to work in other languages besides English, we train, we mentor and are really nice people also.  

If you have ideas of helping us outreach, please write to me at susangerbic@yahoo.com so I can best advise how you can make the biggest splash.

If you want to become involved in the project.  First read everything on this blog as far back as you can stand (working from the bottom up is probably the best way to do so).  Then friend me on Facebook and let me know what your interests are, what language(s) you want to work in and what kind of training do you need.  And then the next thing you know you will amongst a group of people that are happy to see you and will get you helping.  

Thank you 

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