Sunday, August 28, 2011

More very very basic Editing ~ Pet Psychics page as example

If you haven't already read This Blog, you might want to visit there first.  We worked on correcting spelling, adding and removing hyperlinks and how to use Watchlists. I'm going to continue editing the Pet Psychic Page as our example.  I do have an article by Karen Stollznow that I want to incorporate into the pet psychic page, I will try to explain my thinking as I edit the page as well as the "how-to" of doing so.  (NOTE: the hyperlink above to the pet psychic page is the one you should use if you are following along with this blog, it contains the page before making these changes. In other words the Before, if you just want to jump to the After then click here.)

As I said before, this is just a wall-o-text, most readers are going to be bogged down trying to read through it.  We need to get a bit more organized before proceeding with Karen's article.  I'm going to insert headings to help.

I don't want to re-write the article, just better organize it.  If you want to have a go at it after reading this blog, please do so.  That is part of the joy of Wikipedia.

We are looking at 7 paragraphs.  The lede (first paragraph) is okay, but I think that the criticism part where it starts "The scientific community has rejected all claims of psychic phenomena..." should be in its own section.  Also the 7th paragraph is about the history of pet psychics and should go towards the beginning. 

At the end of paragraph 3 there is this sentence "In recent years quantum physics has been able to redress the balance with experiments and meta-analyses of work on thought transfer".  I followed the citation at the bottom of the Wiki article and the author is this person.  Dean Radin, the citation is a book that he wrote in 2006, but it gives you no way of following the cite, no page numbers ect.  So this sentence will be removed from the pet psychic article.  If the original editor wants to put it back in then he/she will have to better reference it. 

The last sentence of paragraph 7 is badly worded, "The number of businesses offering pet psychic services has steadily increased but the industry remains unregulated and its claims unverifiable scientifically".  I think that sounds better. 

Love this line, "They claimed they could communicate telepathically,[28] then came the discovery that they could also communicate with animals...even animals that have died." What "discovery"?  Again referencing a paranormal book with no page number where this knowledge is coming from.  I Think this sentence will also change.  "They claimed they could communicate telepathically with animals living or dead."

This whole paragraph needs to go.  "Reasons for consulting a pet psychic vary, but typically center on bringing a troubled human and animal companion relationship to mutual satisfaction.[23][26] Bernadine Cruz, a veterinarian in Laguna Hills, California, states, "animal owners sometimes seek to center themselves through their pets, and whisperers make it easy."[2] Others pet psychics specialize in helping develop a better relationship with a household pet or competitive partnership with a horse." The veterinarian is not noteworthy, and the whole paragraph does nothing for the article. 

I'm going to clean this up further by adding paragraph headings.  This is done by typing ==name of heading==  the more = signs you use, the bigger the font the heading becomes.  So if you are adding a heading to an article that already exists use the same amount of = signs as are in the rest of the article. 

I'm going to insert headings called ==In the media== and ==Criticism of pet psychics== I've been told by other editors who keep changing my edits that Wikipedia does not capitalize every word in a heading even though I think it looks better that way. 

This paragraph seems to be getting a total pass... "
Parapsychologist Rupert Sheldrake claims that he has shown in experiments that some pets are psychic. A parrot, N'kisi, in New York uttered statistically more words that had to do with random cards her owner were looking at in another room in one series of experiments,[16] and in another series of experiments a dog, Jaytee, spent statistically more time at the window during the time his owner was on her way home (at random times) than other times when Jaytees owner was out"

I'm going to have to look into this article and see if there has been any investigation into it.  I just can't let these statements saying there is evidence for psychic pets go unchallenged.  But in true Wikipedia fashion I won't delete the paragraph, but look for something to add to it.  I know Richard Wiseman has done some experiments similar to Jaytee.  But what I would like to find is someone writing about Sheldrake's experiments. 

Okay, some time has passed and I've been reading about Sheldrake's dog coming home tests.  I found an article by Joe Nickell about pet psychics and he mentions Wichard Wiseman's replication of Sheldrake's experiment. Here is the part of Nickell's article that I'm going to glean from. 

The researchers responded to a suggestion by Rupert Sheldrake that just such a study be undertaken, and it followed a formal test of the alleged phenomenon by an Austrian television company. That test focused on an English woman and her dog and seemed successful. Wiseman et al. (1998) conducted four experiments designed to rule out the pet’s responding to routine or picking up sensory cues (either from the returning owner or from others aware of the expected time of return), as well as people’s selective memories and selective matching, and other possible normal explanations.

In all four experiments the dog failed to detect accurately when her owner set off for home, contradicting claims made on the basis of the previous (Austrian TV) study. The experiments suggested "that selective memory, multiple guesses and selective matching could often have sufficient scope to give an owner the impression of a paranormal effect."

Each editor of Wikipedia does this differently, I like to quote.  Wikipedia would rather you write it in your own words and quote only a bit, so lets give it a go here.  

"Replicating Sheldrake's experiment with Jaytee,  [[Richard Wiseman]] in 1998 designed four tests for a dog a Austrian television show felt had been successful knowing when its owner would return home.  Wiseman ruled out all cues and routines the dog could previously have been picking up.  When tested with these controls the dog failed all four tests.  [[JREF]] investigator [[Joe Nickell]] writes that "the experiments suggested "that selective memory, multiple guesses and selective matching could often have sufficient scope to give an owner the impression of a paranormal effect."

Can you improve on my writing? Probably!  Your welcome to edit the blurb on Wikipedia.

Now we need to cite it.  Here is the link to the article again.  The author is Joe Nickell, for Skeptical Inquirer Magazine,Volume 26.6, November / December 2002, article is called "Psychic Pets and Pet Psychics". Investigative Files is the name of his column This should be all we need to cite the article.  I'm placing this blurb right after the third paragraph where they reference Sheldrake.  I know that what I'm writing is criticism and should go under the criticism heading, but I want it to flow from the previous paragraph.  We can always change it. 

I find it easier to look for another journal reference located on the page I'm editing, copy and paste it where I want it to go (or on a word document somewhere else) then change all the details.  Lets try it.  I found this reference (called "cite web" there were other references that were called "cite book").

<ref name=Gracely>{{cite web |last=Gracely, Ph.D. |first=Ed J. |authorlink= |title=Why Extraordinary Claims Demand Extraordinary Proof |work=PhACT |year=1998 |url=|accessdate=2007-07-31}}</ref>

Here is what it looks like in the References area.  ^ Gracely, Ph.D., Ed J. (1998). "Why Extraordinary Claims Demand Extraordinary Proof". PhACT. Retrieved 2007-07-31.

Pretty intimidating looking isn't it?  If you want something to appear as a footnote then you must use something that starts with <ref and ends with </ref>    Everything must be changed exactly, so when you are doing something like this, try not to get distracted.  Do it at one sitting.

<ref name=Nickell>{{cite web |last=Nickell |first=Joe |authorlink= |title=Psychic Pets and Pet Psychics |work=Investigative Files |year=November-December 2002 |url= |accessdate=2011-08-27}}</ref>

This is what it looks like on "Preview"

^ Nickell, Joe (November-December 2002). "Psychic Pets and Pet Psychics". Investigative Files. Retrieved 2011-08-27.

Lets use Joe Nickell's article for another area on the page.   Here is what Joe writes about pet psychics.

People who are both devoted to their pets and credulous about the paranormal may easily fall prey to unsubstantiated claims of pet psychics. Some profess to treat animals’ emotional problems, for example, after supposedly communicating with them by ESP or other paranormal means, such as through astrology or assistance from the seer’s "spirit guides" (MacDougall 1983; Cooper and Noble 1996).

Having studied pet psychics at work—including Gerri Leigh (with whom I appeared on Springer) and Sonya Fitzpatrick (star of the Animal Planet channel’s The Pet Psychic)—I find that they impress audiences with some very simple ploys. Consciously or not, they are essentially using the same fortunetellers’ technique—"cold reading"—that is used for human subjects. This is an artful method of gleaning information from someone while giving the impression it is obtained mystically (Hyman 1977). After all, it is the pet owners, not the pets themselves, who "validate" the pronouncements. Here is a look at some of the common cold-reading techniques used by pet psychics.

These and other techniques help convince the credulous that pet psychics have telepathic or clairvoyant or other powers.

Lets glean something from this to use in the criticism section. 

[[Joe Nickell]] believes that [[cold reading]] is the reason why so many pet psychics look like they are communicating with animals.  Watching pet psychics like Gerri Leigh and [[Animal Planet]]'s [[Sonya Fitzpatrick]] work in front of an audience, their conversations with the animals appear to be impressive until you understand that "it is the pet owners, not the pets themselves, who "validate" the pronouncements."

We can use the exact same citation.   At first I didn't hyperlink to Joe Nickell, but looking at the "show preview" as I'm adding this on to the page, it seems it has been many paragraphs since Joe was linked, so I'm going to do it.  Also because I'm checking the "preview" each time I noticed that Gerri Leigh whom I had first tried to hyperlink to is giving me only red print.  I searched for her on Wikipedia and she does not have a page, so I'm removing the [[ ]] around her name. 

There might be more I can glean from Nickell's article, but lets move on.  Here is Karen Stollznow's article that brought me to use the pet psychic page as the example on how to edit.  Article called "The Ballad of Jed (and the Pet Psychic)" March 2003 for Skeptical Inquirer Magazine. 

Here are the parts that sum up the article (the conclusion), I will need to glean two or three sentences that will represent the article on the pet psychic page. 

On the basis of this session, Ann didn’t provide any evidence of psychic abilities but instead appeared to employ similar techniques, either consciously or not. As confirmed by Jed’s owners, Ann was completely inaccurate in her reading of Jed’s age, place of birth, background, behavior, health, and my health. The shelter “hit” was more miss, posed as a question, and then an uncertain claim with the caveat “think.” Most damning of all, Jed is not my cat, and my home is not his!
It’s an easy gig to speak on behalf of the voiceless. Animal communication, of a paranormal nature, presupposes that the pet is telepathic, is able to understand human language and thought, and able to “respond” in kind. “Interspecies communication” appears to be a visual and subjective or imaginative interpretation of the physical and behavioral traits of non-human animals. No matter how many commands your dog responds to, no matter how many words Koko can sign, no matter how many words your parrot can mimic, language is human-species specific. We don’t and can’t “know” what animals think. Despite our own linguistic abilities, it’s difficult enough to know what people think. 

I've already read the article several times, so writing it in my own words with very few quotes shouldn't be a problem.  

Linguistic professor [[Karen Stollznow]] writing for [[Australian Skeptics|The Skeptic]] magazine tested a pet psychic with a cat named Jed.  Not only was the psychic "completely inaccurate in her reading of Jed’s age, place of birth, background, behavior, health, and my health..." she was unable to tell that Jed was not her cat.  Stollznow concludes that "language is human-species specific. We don’t and can’t “know” what animals think."

Now our citation.  Lets just use Nickell's cite as a starting point, change out everything to apply to Karen's article.  

<ref name=Stollznow>{{cite web |last=Stollznow |first=Karen |authorlink= |title=The Ballad of Jed (and the Pet Psychic) |work= |year=March 2003 |url= |accessdate=2011-08-27}}</ref>

^ Stollznow, Karen (March 2003). "The Ballad of Jed (and the Pet Psychic)". Retrieved 2011-08-27.

Notice on the reference cite I left blank the "work=" area.  On Nickell's article I wrote "Investigative Files" on Karen's I didn't know what to write so I just left it blank.  The same thing was done on both Karen and Joe's cites where it says "authorlink=".  I didn't know what to write there so I left it blank.  The citation still footnotes and looks wonderful!   

So now I'm going to preview the page one more time, it is already on my watchlist.  I'm going to write "added two articles and reorganized the page" in the edit summary.  Then when I'm sure I'm completely done I will "publish" the page. 

So I'm done working on this page.  Please feel free to expand the article, rewrite it, fix grammar or whatever you think is needed.  Remember we are looking for neutral tones, let the reference you are citing speak for you.  I left almost everything that was in the page when I got to it, just moved things around and added the two articles. 

There were several things I almost did to make the skeptic side sound better, but I removed them.  For your learning sake this is what I didn't include (but wanted to).  Professor [[Richard Wiseman]] or [[Richard Wiseman]] PhD. 

The same thing with Joe Nickell.  I wanted to write "after years of experience investigating pet psychics..." this would also have been non-neutral, I'm sure I could have come up with references to his "years of experience" but it wouldn't have anything to do with the article.

I did include the words "Linguistic professor" for Karen's blurb.  I suppose that could be removed, but as I was quoting her about human communication, I felt that in this case it was an important part of the blurb. 

Just in case you were wondering how many people we can expect will read our newly improved pet psychic page... About 350 a month or 4,200 a year.  Is that a lot?  If I, Susan Gerbic were to write a blog about those same two articles and place it somewhere on the Internet for the world to read, I doubt that I could get that many reads.  Keep in mind that whether or not I wrote the blog, people are still going to be visiting the Wikipedia page.  I'd rather those 350 people find the Wiki page. 

As I said, I'm moving on to other Wikipedia articles that need improvement as well.  This one isn't perfect, but it is way better.  I hope you learned from my thought process, and maybe it will make you a better editor.  Improve on what I'm teaching you, and the only way to do that is to get out there and EDIT! 



  1. Hey,

    Browsing some skeptic pages, I noticed that while Greta Christina has a Wikipedia page, it looks rather lacking. I'm not sure I have the ability to fix it up but I thought I'd mention it, at least.

  2. Thank you Anne Marie. I have never heard of Greta Christina before, and you are wrong, it isn't "rather lacking" it is horrible. The creator Dante8 should be ashamed. Created August 5, 2011 it has had little work done on it since.

    I just launched a page for James Underdown a few minutes ago, it took me several weeks to write, hers looks like minutes were spent on it.

    Anyway, let me stop ranting.

    If you want to work on it, I will help you work on it, just tell me the most convenient way to help you.

    Personally I think that without a lot of knowledge about this person I wouldn't dare try and fix this page. But if someone feels "attached" to it, then please go ahead.

    Lets talk more about what you want to do Anne? Contact me at

  3. I added the page to my watchlist. So we will just see what happens.

    To easily add a page to your watchlist, when you are logged into Wiki, at the top of the page you want to "watch" you will see the words

    "Read" "Edit" "View History" (and a star) click on the star and a message should pop up saying that "this page has now been added to your watchlist".

  4. I added two links to Amazon rather than her person site for her books and added a sentence about TAM9. I also threw in 4 internal links for atheism, TAM, the Skeptical Inquirer and Alternet. I did my best in the short time I had! (:

  5. I was "watching" you do it. Great job!
    I left you something on her discussion page. It is an info box, I added a tiny bit of info that was already on her page like her bday, where she lived ect...

    All you have to do is to add more info if you can, and copy paste and then preview and and save. I think the page will look a lot better with just that little change.

    Great job! and Thank you!

  6. Good job, Anne Marie. It looks like you chose a good page to work on!

    I am slowing working on the page for Vashti McCollum, so I also benefited from sgerbic's suggestion about the info box.

  7. Thanks Allecher for reminding me to "talk out loud" more often. I need to remember that there are a lot of readers of this blog, very few comments, so we need to remember to teach each other.

    I only learned about the info boxes by accident. When I couldn't figure out how come Mark Edward's page didn't look right when I was making it I finally went to someone elses edit page and took a good look at it.

    I've stolen (copy/paste) from some of the best!

    Apparently there are info boxes for all kinds of things, scientists, artists, regular people ect....

    So if you need a box, just go to a complementary page and copy it. For example, IIG's info box I took from CFI's page. I think it was called a non-profit info box. I guess there is a wiki site just for grabbing these things. I just don't edit that way, but the resources are there for those of you who need them.


  8. Wow Allecher thanks for that. Just read the page you are editing on Vashti McCollum. I think I had heard about this boy having to sit outside in the hallway and was really bullied. We have come a long way with the separation of church and state. Yet we still have a way to go.

    One thing is for sure, you don't mess with a mother who is standing up for her child. From a dance teacher to a major activist leader, neat-0.

    Let me know when you think you are done with the page, we can focus on it as a before and after. Wonder if you can find a picture that can be uploaded to wiki commons. Let me check and see if there is one there already.

    Nope. Here is the link if you want to try searching again.

  9. Great writing! I like your approach to written expression.

  10. Good Job. I just read this blog its very nice written. I like your blog.

    Animal Healing