Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lets Talk Numbers

Get out there and Edit!

We are going to talk about numbers today.  We all can agree that editing Wikipedia for skeptical content is a great idea, but how can we measure results?  Do we know if people are actually accessing these sites?  I'm very interested in your opinions about the following stats.

I know that Sylvia Browne is not really performing these days, her star is fading as the criticism is rising.  The Montel Williams Show isn't promoting her anymore (in fact they were cancelled) so I would think that few people access her site.  Well just a few 11,966 looked at her page during June 2011.  I don't know how many hits Robert Lancaster got from his Stop Sylvia Site, but I would bet it would also be in the 5 digits.  Comparing June hits to her Wiki page she had 11,940 in 2008, 10,646 in 2009 and 9,681 in 2010.  So she is averaging about 10K hits in a month.  Robert if you are reading this, would you be so kind to let me know how many hits you got to your site in June of any of the above years? 

Power Balance Bracelets Wiki page was launched in Dec 2010, fairly recent but they have been getting in the news a lot lately.   Reading over the Wiki page there is almost nothing positive there.  Yeah Us!   Would you believe that 20,720 people looked at that Wiki page in June 2011?  Amazing!

I don't know how many hits we get to the IIG Wiki page from the Power Balance Wiki hyperlink, but I do know that in total 1,179 people visited the site for June 2011.  I can't access (yet) where the hits are coming from, direct from outside Wiki or because of a hyperlink left elsewhere on Wikipedia. 

If you have been following this blog you will remember my tussle for an edit on the  Lamar Odom Wiki page.  See this blog on the history of my effort to get my blurb to remain on his page.  Apparently he is a pretty popular fellow.  I had no idea how popular until now.  232,555 hits to his Wiki page just in June 2011.  Wow!

I suppose people are looking at his stats, but anyone a bit curious about Lamar will look at the section on his personal life and find these two blurbs...

On October 28, 2010 Olympic champion gymnast Dominique Dawes working for Yahoo Weekend News investigated Power Balance Bracelets for their claim that they improve balance, flexibility and strength. Odom endorses Power Balance bracelets and states on camera that "if it gives you an advantage, that's the advantage you want". Dawes asked "are you superstitious knowing you won...wearing power balance?" Odom's answer: "100%". After a scientific double blinded test done by IIG's LA office and Dawes the end result was no improvement when wearing the Power Balance bracelet.[30]

A class-action lawsuit was filed January 21, 2011 against Power Balance, Shaquille O’Neal and Lamar Odom for endorsing the bracelet. The Power Balance company in Australia was forced by a court to admit that the $30 bracelet works no better than a placebo. The lawsuit by Brian Casserly and 100 others claims that Odom and O'Neal "wear the product in front of millions of impressionable fans watching on national TV."[31]
Now doesn't that feel good knowing that over 200K people were exposed to Guerrilla Skepticism left on his page?  I know I feel good about it. 

Lets look at some other numbers, I'm just going to list June 2011 for no other reason except for consistency. These are all places that I've hit with some guerrilla skepticism. 

CVS Pharmacy - 9,924
Walmart - 121,493
John Edward - 21,956
James Van Praag - 6,258
TAPS - 23,277
Psychic Detectives - 493
Ghost Hunting - 11,177
Vassula Ryden - 1,238
Peter Popoff - 12,145
Harold Camping - 115,795 (with 20K hits on June 1st - 2nd)
Jenny McCarthy - 115,081 (ranked 1,950 in traffic that month) (this is a site that I didn't tag, others did)
Senator Claiborne Pell - 2,005
Wem Town Hall - 166
Stanley Hotel - 2,868
Andrew Wakefield - 9,215

Really really interesting isn't it. 

What does this all mean?  Well numbers are a great tool, you can view them in many ways.  I'm taking that these numbers mean that skeptical content is being put in the face of Wiki readers.  Are they actually reading the blurb and following the links?

That might be a bit harder to discover unless you are able to look at website stats.  Fortunately I can see the IIG stats each month.  Jan - June we averaged about 6.75% of the hits coming to www.iigwest.org are coming from Wikipedia.  Barry Karr (from CSI) checked May and June stats and they were 4% for May 2011 and 4.75% for June 2011.  Is that a lot?  It is difficult to say.  We know that people are venturing over to Wikipedia and being exposed to the skeptical content.  Only a small percent look further and actually go to the websites to read the original article, maybe their question about the person/place/thing was answered in the blurb written on the Wiki site?

It is also possible they are following other hyperlinks to explain what they are reading?

cold reading - 23,502
hot reading - 2,943
fallacy - 42,573
Occam's razor - 121,724 (ranked 2763)
conspiracy theory - 59,598
skepticism - 31.459

So how am I gaining access to all of these numbers?  I'm giving you the link at the bottom of this blog, otherwise you would not read another word.  This is an awesome toy tool that Tim Farley sent me today, I think it is going to become one of my favorite sites, use it wisely.


PS.  Photo by Kevin Eldridge 



  1. Just fixed up a few things on Ben Radford's page and took a quick look at the Chupacabra page. I did a quick look at the stats for that page, can you guess?

    July (so far) 148,151 hits (this is from English Wiki only, imagine what it must be in Espanol?)

    So I added another blurb trying to firm up the fact that the mystery has been solved. Mainly just copied it from Radford's page.

    "Radford spent five years investigating and solved the mystery of the creature’s origin in his 2011 book Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore. The investigation included eyewitness interviews, forensic and folkloric research, and "a field expedition to the jungles of Nicaragua" in search of the legendary monster.[38] [39]"

    Another thing I noticed... someone had left the category

    ==the "solving" of chupacabra==

    I suppose they were trying to say that it isn't really "solved". That is POV (point of view) in the Wiki world and I personally don't care for it. So I changed it to

    ==Mystery solved of chupacabra==

    Small change right? But it changes the whole mood of the article.

    With over 150K hits EVERY month I think we need to take another look at this page. BTW it is semi-protected because of past vandalism. (crazy right?)

  2. See Footnote #40 on Bill Nye's Wiki page. Just inserted a quote from John Rael's IIG interview. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Nye.

    Bill Nye's Wiki page has been accessed over 24,000 times in the month of July (which isn't over yet).

    This edit was quick and free and exposes the links left on the page to a global audience.