Sunday, December 11, 2011

Every day is Spring Cleaning on Wikipedia - BE BOLD

Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia isn't just leaving well-cited well-written blurbs on paranormal Wikipedia pages.  Sometimes a good Spring cleaning is needed.  Uncited material needs to go.  Often times we leave a "citation needed" tag beside the sentence.  Looks like this... 
{{Citation needed|date=October 2011}}

Other times it is best to just be BOLD and delete the mess (cited and uncited)  

Let me give you a few examples of what I mean.  

I was adding articles by Ben Radford and Brian Dunning to the Spontaneous Human Combustion page when reading through the article I noticed this cited reference... 

Two examples of people surviving static flash events[clarification needed] are given in a book on SHC.[2] Author John Heymer claims that the two subjects, Debbie Clark and Susan Motteshead, speaking independently and with no knowledge of each other, give similar histories.[3]
  • In September 1985, Debbie Clark was walking home when she noticed an occasional flash of blue light.[4] As she claimed, "It was me. I was lighting up the driveway every couple of steps. As we got into the garden I thought it was funny at that point. I was walking around in circles saying, 'Look at this, mum, look!' She started screaming and my brother came to the door and started screaming and shouting 'Have you never heard of spontaneous human combustion?'" Her mother, Dianne Clark, responded, "I screamed at her to get her shoes off and it [the flashes] kept going so I hassled her through and got her into the bath. I thought that the bath is wired to earth. It was a blue light, you know, what they call electric blue. She thought it was fun, she was laughing."
  • In winter 1980, Cheshire, England, resident Susan Motteshead was standing in her kitchen, wearing flame-resistant pajamas, when she was suddenly engulfed in a short-lived fire that seemed to have ignited the fluff on her clothing but burned out before it could set anything properly alight.[3]
In addition, Jack Angel claims to have survived an SHC-like event.

Yep, that is true evidence of SHC right?  I deleted the whole thing and went over to the discussion page and left this note.  
I removed this section on survivors. There is no evidence that these people were experiencing spontaneous human combustion, no indication of medical evidence following up on these "stories". One girl had a "blue light" coming out of her that she thought was funny, her mother put her in the bath. The other story is about a woman wearing her PJ's in the kitchen when she caught on fire. So? The third reference is to someone mentioned but not cited. If someone would like to put these edits back in and can give a compelling reason why they should be in the article, then they are below for you to copy/paste. Sgerbic (talk) 00:02, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
Its been a month and no one has responded to my deletion.   BTW the page received 52,171 hits November 2011. 

Can't remember how I stumbled on this one, I think I might have been searching for "Long Island Medium" and "Theresa Caputo" on Wikipedia and the page for Hicksville, New York came up in the search.  Apparently they have a small list of "notable natives/residents" which includes Billy Joel (you might get that question on a trivial pursuit card).  Someone had added Theresa Caputo from Long Island Medium on the notable list.  Because there is no page for either, the words were in red ink on the Hicksville page.  I removed the names and went to the discussion page and left this for the editor...

Having a list of notable people means they should be Notable. *Theresa Caputo of Long Island Medium neither person or show is notable. Sgerbic (talk) 20:54, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

Today I noticed that the same person went back and added the names back in the list (thankfully I have Hicksville, NY on my watchlist).  I reverted the edit and followed the editors ISP (no user name just anonymous editor)  and found that the only edits they have done on Wikipedia are the ones here on Hicksville's page.  That's kinda strange.  Then there is one more edit, to this page.  The editor is trying to create a page called Long Island Medium with the only thing on the page this...
Long Island Medium is a television show on TLC that follows the life of Hicksville, New York's Theresa Caputo, a psychic medium.
Wow!  Going to need a lot more info before that page becomes reality.  I put it on my watchlist so I can watch the page as it grows with citations.  This person didn't just make the page, they somehow are asking administrators to make the page.  It is being reviewed and I'm sure nothing will come of it.  One admin left a really nice welcome note on that editor's user page (yes, even anonymous editors have a user page) explaining how to edit and what notable means.  NOTE: while writing this blog I noticed that another admin has already deleted the request, stating that there is insufficient context.

Here is another clean-up I did this time for Rosemary Althea's page.
I'm removing all of this until it can be cited.
Rosemary Altea is a New York Times best-selling Author and psychic medium who also runs a charitable healing organization. As well as writing books and doing private consultations with clients, Altea gives lectures and holds events talking about the subject of spirituality and healing. She is well known world wide and has a large following in England, America, Italy and Latin America in particular.
Sgerbic (talk) 01:50, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
Still no response from the original editor.

Here is a rather pleasant discussion I left on the Sally Morgan (stage artist) WP page.  Someone named Hayleysme left the edit, I reverted it... Hope I don't sound too snarky.

Hayleysme: Your edit to the page was reverted. Just wanted you to understand why so that you can help us improve this page in the future. Here is what you wrote... "Sally's gift evolved organically over the years and through word of mouth she soon had a thriving psychic practice that she used to run from my home. Since becoming a professional medium she has read for thousands of people who have experienced a personal tragedy and suffered a great loss. Over the years Sally has been linked to A-list celebrities and Royalty famously reading for the likes of Uma Therman, George Michael, Natalie Imbruglia and most notably the late princess Diana."
Wikipedia "works" because everything written HAS to be cited. If you can just go from personal stories then you will find people saying that the moon is made of cheese and that they visit it often before they have friends over for a party. What you have written is firstly that she has something called a "gift" not sure what that means? Is there some kind of proof of that? Popularity is not proof. Running a "psychic practice" from your home tells us what? Is there proof of this? I'm sure we can prove that she has read a thousand people who have suffered losses, but how does that improve the article? So she has been linked to these celebrities, what does that mean? Where is the citation to prove they are "A-list". And seriously where is the proof that she is getting messages from Lady Di? Other than she says she is doing so, Wikipedia needs evidence.
Really would love to hear back from you, Its possible that you have this evidence but just don't know how to properly cite it in the article. Please paste the links here, and one of us can add the evidence into the article once we look over the link. Personal blogs or just hear-say isn't evidence by the way. We don't need more edits about moon cheese, please help us improve Sally Morgan's Wikipedia page. Would love to see some positive links showing how she is finding missing persons and solving crimes. Having that ability would really be awesome and could really make the police's jobs a lot easier. Maybe even stop crimes before they happen. Sgerbic (talk) 05:19, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
 This happened over a month ago and no response from anyone.   I'm just noticing that in October I left a "citation needed" for several of her books.  I think I will just remove those books as it has been a couple months and no one has gone to the trouble to cite them.  I can't stand seeing "citation needed" from several years ago.

I just removed this bit and will leave a note on the discussion page saying why I did so.  If someone wants to take the time to add them back in with the correct citations then wonderful. 

In March 2010, she appeared on an episode of ''[[What Katie Did Next]]'' in which she investigated the home of British model [[Katie Price]].{{Citation needed|date=October 2011}}

Sally has also filmed a biopic titled "The Psychic Life of Sally Morgan" which was shown on Sky's Bio Channel.{{Citation needed|date=October 2011}}

Sally Morgan has published two books, these were her autobiography 'My Psychic Life' published by [[Penguin]] in 2007 and 'Healing Spirits' which was published by Penguin in 2009. Her new book 'Life After Death' was released by Penguin on the 7th April 2011.{{Citation needed|date=October 2011}}

Just noticed that in her now one-sentence Career section the only reference is to a TV-show she did and the link is dead.  Someone tagged it long before.  Maybe there is a better link?  I'm not going looking for it at the moment.  It isn't a good idea to remove dead links from articles as it probably worked at one-time.  If I remove the one sentence from her Career area then the only thing on her page is 4 paragraphs of criticism.  Not even a picture of her.  Guess her fans really don't have her Wiki back, so sad. 

This is a small edit I did for a New Zealand TV show called "Sensing Murder" the lede read like this before I got to it...

Sensing Murder is a television series in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, in which alleged psychics are asked to act as psychic detectives to help solve famous unsolved murder cases in each country. The psychics have not managed to solve any of the cases so far.
I erased the last two words.  I noted that as the show is cancelled, it is unlikely that they are going to solve the cases.  

These are only a small percent of the edits that remain to be done.  Every day is Spring Cleaning day!  Please help.


  1. You are doing a marvelous job Susan. Anyone calling themselves a skeptic should be half as busy as you - then we might see some change in the Spook Racket.

  2. Love the work you are doing ! I have seen so much pseudoscience in magazines and newspapers. It really is depressing. I'm glad someone takes the time to demand evidence from "psychics" etc. I recommend the podcast The Skeptics Guide to the Universe to anyone interested in skeptisism.


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