Friday, August 19, 2011

We Got Your Wiki Back! The Numbers from Nightline's Beyond Belief

You have all heard me go on and on about the need to improve the Wikipedia pages of our skeptical spokespeople.  This I call the "We Got Your Wiki Back!" project.  I've mentioned not only the reasons for doing so but whose pages desperately need help, and how you can help edit.

Today I want to talk about the numbers.  We can use our handy Wikipedia Statistics tool brought to us by Tim Farley.  I want to point out that this website is not exact to the day, because of time zones ect I believe that the stats are off by a day.  (again not sure)

I'm going to work just with the ABC Primetime Nightline "Beyond Belief" show that aired August 17, 2011.

The first segment featured a reporter investigating James Van Praagh, and being unimpressed with him, pretty much saying that he thinks he is cheating when he says he talks to dead people. Van Praagh did a reading on the reporter, giving some amazing hits.  But after the fact the reporter was able to pull up an interview he gave two years ago listing all the details that Van Praagh supposedly got.  This SWIFT blog pretty much sums everything up.

James Randi was also featured on the show, lets look at his Wikipedia hit statistics.

There is a clear jump with about 550 hits over what he had been trending that week.  Because Randi is all over the media it is unclear if the July 18th jump was because of Nightline or not. 

I think that the next featured skeptical spokesperson will give us better clearer results.  Banachek was very prominent in the show, using the stats tool we can see what his hit rate looked like for months even years before the Nightline show aired.  This next graph is from July 2011.

We see that he averages about 56 hits a day.  Because of TAM9 July 15-17 this might be the reason why the jump in numbers on July 17-18th. 

Banachek July 2011

Here is August 2011.  We clearly see a major jump in numbers hitting about an 800% increase over normal. 

Banachek August 1 - 18,  2011 

Something Van Praagh did in the media caused an upsurge of hits.  Looks like he normally gets about 200 hits a day, then suddenly in the 900's?  As I said I don't really follow his schedule (and don't watch TV) so these could be from the Nightline show.  I'm sure someone will clear this up for me.

What about other people featured on the show?  ABC reporter Josh Elliot is the one who interviewed Van Praagh.  By the way I think he did a terrific job and maybe the skeptical movement should approach him for future media coverage.

 Major jump.  Averaging 423 hits a day during August 2011, he has a 600% increase when the show aired.

Lets try one more.  The JREF was mentioned a few times on the show, did it see an increase in hits?

An increase, but not a significant amount like with Banachek.

Another person mentioned on the show (and his name appeared on the screen) was Dr. Gary Schwartz.  Lets look at his stats for August.

A small increase in hits, but nothing significant. 

Here is Allison DuBois's page stats for August.  The other psychic interviewed was Rebecca Rosen who does not have a Wikipedia page, but according to Nightline has a 2 year waiting list for readings.  Odd that if she has changed that many lives that she is not noteworthy enough to have her own page.  Remember Georgia O'Conner?  She has testimonies from thousands of people she has helped, you got it, no Wikipedia page. 

What does this all mean?

These are just the raw numbers, there are a lot of factors that could effect who gets hits and who does not.  Was the name written on the screen?  Van Praagh and Schwartz names were.

I think overall that I have made my point.  When our skeptical spokespeople are in the media, they are going to get an upswing in hits to their Wikipedia page.  People want to know who these people are.   What are we presenting to the world? 

Not only our spokespeople's pages need updating but so do the pages of people like Gary Schwartz.  Nightline went to a lot of trouble to mention that he was a Harvard Professor now working at the University of Arizona.  Major creds right?  Allison DuBois's page also needs some serious cleanup.

I'm sure the page for Psychic Kids could use some updating.  I think Banachek's powerful words would really help to spruce it up.  In fact I think Banachek's comments could be used all over these psychic's pages.  Hint Hint

What about this Nightline Show?  We need to get it up on the pages of all these people and onto the JREF page.  That's keeping things updated.

Get Editing!


  1. I noticed you have Andrew Weil listed as one of the Wikipedia pages you want to enhance, Weil is a snake oil salesman who is trying to integrate woo with science.

    Maybe you listed it in hopes of skepticizing it?

  2. Thank you JuJu. This happened before with the BEM guy, Robert Jahn. I wrote a blog on it stating that I should know better. And if the page fools me when I'm looking at it then what do you think the rest of the world thinks when they read it?

    And now that I look more closely I notice these two blurbs left...

    "Dr. Arnold Relman, editor in chief emeritus of The New England Journal of Medicine wrote:

    "There are not two kinds of medicine, one conventional and the other unconventional, that can be practiced jointly in a new kind of "integrative medicine." Nor, as Andrew Weil and his friends also would have us believe, are there two kinds of thinking, or two ways to find out which treatments work and which do not. In the best kind of medical practice, all proposed treatments must be tested objectively. In the end, there will only be treatments that pass that test and those that do not, those that are proven worthwhile and those that are not. Can there be any reasonable "alternative"?"[9]

    Speaking of government funding studies of integrating alternative medicine techniques into the mainstream, Dr. Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale School of Medicine wrote that it "is used to lend an appearance of legitimacy to treatments that are not legitimate." Dr. Marcia Angell, executive editor of The New England Journal of Medicine says, "It's a new name for snake oil."[8]"

    Very good catch JuJu. I suppose that there is some work to be done on this page. His page "looks" better than a lot of our skeptical spokesperson's pages (yet no picture, so I guess his followers don't care that much, only a little)

  3. Just quickly added some Wiki Hyperlinks to Steven Novella and a few others.

  4. One more thing...Andrew Weil is getting about 6K hits a month. As much as Van Praagh over 70K a year. That's a lot of views.

  5. I'm very familiar Dr. Novella, I read the Science Based Medicine blog everyday, along with Oracs Respectful Insolence and Dr. Barret's Quackwatch. They're all extremely helpful in expanding my personal knowledge about CAM and the rest of the Wooniverse (LOL). I think it was Quackwatch that first brought Andrew Weil to my attention, now he's on my radar, so when I saw he's name on your list I was a bit surprised and just knew it was either a mistake or you hadn't really looked into him thoroughly. But anyway, I'm glad you read my comment and acted on it like a true skeptic. Thanks

  6. Oh, and by the way. I found your blog through the website. That's another one of my daily lurking grounds.