Friday, June 10, 2011

Carla Baron & Chip Coffey on Wikipedia

Wikipedia has a general rule of notability for all its articles, and I think that is pretty awesome. We don't want everyone with a page clouding the Wikisphere. But I ran across this topic a couple weeks ago when the Rational Skepticism page was discussing whether or not to delete a page for Chip Coffey the "psychic medium" that appears on the TV shows Paranormal State and Psychic Kids (which is in my opinion the latter is another form of child abuse).

Looking at his page you will find that it is almost empty of anything but his picture. I can see why it is on the hit list for deletion. Even on my little laptop when the entire page comes up on the screen and there is no need for me to scroll down, the page is in trouble.

Editors were going back and forth on a discussion page about deleting or not, and I hadn't really thought about it before. Part of me says "Yeah! Delete the SOB he isn't relevant, even his fans aren't keeping up his page" and the more rational side of me says "You know, if people are looking for information on Chip Coffey where would they turn to? His personal website? What are the chances that page would have any skepticism on it? True they might check out this blog by Mark Edward, but then again think about the Goldilocks affect and it might be too negative for a first-time researcher. We need to find the happy medium (get it? Find the medium...LOL...sorry) and as I keep preaching, that would be Wikipedia.

So today I receive this link via Jim Underdown from CFI and the IIG about Clara Baron in the news again. The author Benjamin Radford who is with CFI writes about the missing person Holly Bobo and how psychic (grief vampires) only confuse things and waste police time. Jim was letting me know that the IIG was referenced in the article as they did an extensive investigation into the claims of Clara Baron.

Side note to people learning how to do Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia: I have discovered that not everyone is getting the idea of making one reference from one source and putting it everywhere you can. Even intelligent people like Underdown have not grasped this have to think big and use the limited amount of time you have to make the biggest impact you can. Not only can we "tag" the IIG Wikipedia page about this article (like the Woo are going to go there for information) but we can also "tag" Clara Baron's page, the psychic page, even check if there is a page for Holly Bobo and on and on as many places you can think of. Just change the reference you leave to make sure it fits in the article, so it won't get deleted and will look relevant.

So here we are on Carla Baron's Wikipedia page. First thing we notice is that she isn't note worthy enough to have her own page. All references to her go to the show Haunted Evidence. That's pretty sad, if she was such a hotshot she thinks she is and she has solved all kinds of missing person cases (like Natalee Holloway case) she would be on the front page of Wikipedia, hell she would be the front page of every newspaper AND win the Nobel Prize for physics not to mention CNN. But what we find here is a half-ass stub on Wikipedia. A quick glance on the "discussion" page behind the normal article shows that no one is talking there. This is low low priority in editors minds.

When I first started doing Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia I put up a tiny one sentence on Haunting Evidence directing people to the IIG page as well as to the article they wrote of the investigation. Well now its been a year and I have learned a lot. The page needs some major Guerrilla Skepticism.

My first reference I placed under "Skeptical Episode Reviews" right next to the links to the Bad Psychic podcasts. Woopie! Pretty funny even as bad as this area is the IIG West website gets 2-3 hits each month directly from her Wikipedia page. I know because I am always looking at these numbers analyzing if Wikipedia is bringing hits to our page from Wikipedia.

So lets start on the revision. It should be bigger and a bit more aggressive while still remaining neutral and factual. We need a better worded section for criticism as well as expanding the verbiage from the IIG article, but we need to quote the Radford article too. If I have time I think I should listen to the two podcasts and glean a quote or two from them as well.

First the IIG reference.

OLD Reference:
"The Independent Investigative Group [[IIG]] investigates claims by "psychic detective" Carla Baron, and discovers no evidence that she assisted the police in any of the 14 cases she claims to have worked on. [[IIG]] lead investigator, Owen Hammer." (citation that is not linked to the article on

New Reference: The Independent Investigative Group IIG looked into 14 cases Carla Baron claims to have assisted detectives on, including JonBenét Ramsey, Elizabeth Smart and Nicole Brown Simpson. In all 14 cases the IIG contacted the police (or in the case of Nicole Simpson, they received an email from Denise Brown) all mostly saying the same things, "we have never heard of this person" or "the information provided (by Baron) did not produce any new leads in the investigation". IIG's conclusion is that she has never provided any help in any investigation, and her claims stating such are unsubstantiated. The IIG feels that because humans are basically compassionate we have invented forensic science as well as Amber Alert and websites such as NCMEC to really help support victims of crimes. Psychic detectives like Carla Baron might claim compassion but are essentially paid agents with book sales, TV shows, lectures and private readings. Why are they needed when they cannot show one single case of evidence proving they have been helpful? (linked to IIG west report on the web and also to Skeptical Inquirer article that isn't linked)

While re-reading the IIG investigation article I noticed that there are two references to Carla Baron in the news (about her failures) so one at a time I'm researched these and put them on her Wiki page. The first one is from Amanda Tusing who was murdered in 2000. I wrote a blurb quoting the article saying that Baron in 2004 did not provide any useful information but a first name that did not check out. I have followed up with another article to show that in 2010 Amanda Tusing's murderer has still not been found. A lot of help Baron did there, I need to find a neutral way of stating all this while hitting home that Baron wasn't helpful.

Lets try this on: In 2004 Carla Baron was approached by Susan Tusing, the mother of slain murder victim Amanda Tusing who had been found murdered in June 2000. Baron gave detectives the first name of the killer. Detective Jack McCann states "we talked to the name and came up with several other people (with the same name) and nothing came up." As of 2010 the murderer of Amanda Tusing has not been found. (I cited two news websites with proof)

If anyone can improve this blurb please do so. I would love to state something about Baron failing to provide any help, but if I do it isn't Wiki neutral. I suppose it is implied when I mention that 6 years after Baron's help the case still isn't solved.

Here is another reference I found to Carla Baron on the IIG investigation page. Here is how it appears on Baron's Wiki page. March 2003 Svelana Aronov's body was found in New York's Upper East River. Family and friends consulted Carla Baron by email who stated that Svelana was fleeing an "obsessed kidnapper" and jumped into the freezing waters to escape. Police at the 19th Precinct could not confirm Barons statement that she had a "lengthy conversation with a detective." A friend that reached out to Baron and other psychic detectives said they (psychics) only yielded "aggravation". Close friends and family members now say they "distrust Barton who they say 'provided no useful insights and demanded media attention from the start.'" The New York medical examiner now claims that it was probably suicide.

And now on to the article that Jim Underdown sent me. This is from Ben Radford concerning the search for Holly Bobo who went missing April 13, 2011.

Here is what her site now says...

"April 13, 2011, 20 year old nursing student Holly Bobo goes missing from her home in Tennessee. Carla Baron was initially contacted by a friend of the family and Baron claims to have offered her services for free but the family refused to consult with her. On Baron's personal website she states that one condition she imposed on the family is that she is to be the only psychic officially working the case. When the family rejected her offer for help Baron stated "(the family) chose not to seek her information on Holly's death on the advice of the police, who, Baron believes, were "terrified to hear what I might have to say" about the abduction. The response to this from Baron's website, “This, my friends, is yet another “control” tactic deployed by the infinite ‘powers-that-be’ within gov’t jurisdiction to let all of us (a.k.a., the ‘public’) know –Who’s really running the show. Let’s not let anyone steal their proverbial thunder, shall we?".

Skeptic investigator Ben Radford writing for Discovery News states that the police and the family probably decided not to seek out her help because psychic detectives have a "zero track record of success". While some psychics may be well-intended they do waste the police's time. Radford concludes, "Despite the efforts of dozens of psychics over two months, Bobo remains missing, the case remains unsolved."

So now that I'm done I reread Haunting Evidence's Wiki page I realize that there is more in the criticism area than in the body of the article. Will someone notice and come back to edit it out? I have the page on my "watch list" and if there are ANY changes I will be notified. My feeling is that there is almost no one that cares what happens on that page. The main contention might be that most of the info on that page refers to Carla Barton and not the TV show as it was intended. So maybe Carla needs her own page? I'm cool with that. Where else would we be able to add all this negative facts? I doubt she would be open to it on her personal website. LOL

So now where to place these references? I will excited to watch the stats to see if we improve on the 2 referrals from her page every month. Maybe 5? Every hit is probably someone that is pro-psychic and likely never heard of skepticism. Let them do their own research and hopefully they will begin to change their mind.

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