Sunday, December 29, 2013

Jerry Andrus Revisited

Back in May 2012 I asked the skeptical community to join me and write one Wikipedia page in every language as a training exercise for my newly formed World Wikipedia project.  The page I selected was the Jerry Andrus page.  My reasons were various, but the main reason was because Andrus was a expert with optical illusions, and he only preformed those that he invented himself.  I felt that someone reading the Arabic, Swedish, Russian Wikipedia pages for Andrus would be able to click on the many videos we used as citations and enjoy and understand the illusions without having to understand the language.  And it would be something that could be shared with children and safe for the workplace and grandparents and well, everyone.  No controversy - 100% win for us.  That's how I see it, Andrus is a great stepping stone for skepticism,  he shows you can not believe your eyes, these illusions are amazing and marvelous.

So we started.  I rewrote the English page and launched in August 2012, then my team got started on the translations.  First Portuguese, then closely followed by Arabic, French, Spanish, Dutch, Russian and Swedish.

That was all in 2012, yesterday I revisited the Andrus page as I was writing the Year in Review page for GSoW and wondered what Andrus's view stats looked like.  So I opened up the handy-dandy stat tool and was shocked to see that Andrus on Dec 23 received over 800 page views.  That is quite amazing as he normally gets about 10 views a day.  And the views didn't stop, they trickled down a bit 698 the next day, 440 the next and so on.  Then I looked at the stats for the other language pages, same thing.  A big spike around the 24th.  Only the Spanish and Swedish pages didn't show a spike.  Now what could have caused that kind of hit world-wide?  I have Andrus on Google Alert and occasionally I do get an email, but nothing at all that week.

It didn't even dawn on me till a few hours later.  Mark Edward had shown me a T-Rex illusion that morning that was on his Facebook feed.  "Did you see this?" After a couple seconds I said, yeah, that is a copy of Jerry Andrus's dinosaur illusion.  When it dawned on me later to have another look at that video,  it had over 3 million views and mentioned Andrus in the notes.  One of my GSoW editors mentioned that the video had been on Dig a few days before and I guess the video went viral.  Now it turns out that our own Phil Plait has written about the video on his blog over at Slate magazine.  Plait mentioned that he met Andrus at a conference and suggests that people "look him up" he even included a link to his WP page.  The beauty of the illusion is so wonderful that this could appear just about anywhere.  Fox News anyone?  So tomorrow should really be interesting to re-visit the Andrus WP views.

This is just another example of why we need to have the backs of our skeptical spokespeople.  Even a very quiet page like Jerry's might just spring into action with no notice, we have to be prepared.

Think of it this way, before GSoW got involved, this is what the Andrus page looked like.  Does this look like a respected man in our community?  Does this engage the reader and encourage them to click on the other hyperlinks to learn more about scientific skepticism?  Does this show any of this man's personality?

Now look at the current page, the one that thousands will be viewing the next few days. Click on the hyperlinks from this page, I hope you will be pleasantly surprised that those pages (created by GSoW) are also in excellent shape, engaging and reflect beautifully on our cause.

We have thousands more of these pages to do.  If you would like to help out we are always looking to mentor and train more editors.  Please write to us at

Saturday, December 28, 2013

GSoW Year End

I haven't done this before but thought before this becomes an overwhelming task I would release a list of articles GSoW has either rewritten or created from scratch.  Even though it has only been 2 and a half years, this took me several nights to put this list together.  I was pretty amazed to see everything in one place like this.  

Keep in mind GSoW is busy with all kinds of other edits as well as other support functions to train, mentor as well as keep the forum running.  These are just the more "glamorous" edits.

I'm so very proud of my people, these creations are no small task.  Keep watching through 2014, we have a lot planned.  Or better yet,  join the team.


Brian Dunning  - Before - After

Sean Faircloth - Before  - After

Jennifer McCreigh -  Before  -  After

Ben Radford  - Before  - After

James Underdown - New page

Playing Gods - Before - After

Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture - Before - After

William B Davis - Before - After


Alison Gopnik - Before - After 

Sikivu Hutchinson - Before - After

Tom Flynn - Before - After

Robert Ingersoll Birthplace - Before - After

Kendrick Frazier - Before - After

Bryan & Baxter - New Page

Jennifer Ouellette - New Page

Tim Farley - New Page

Mary Roach - Before - After

Kiki Sanford - Before - After

Barry Beyerstein - Before - After

Jerry Andrus - Before - After

Jerry Andrus - Portuguese (our very first World page)
Jerry Andrus - Arabic
Jerry Andrus - Russian
Jerry Andrus - Spanish

James Alcock - Before - After

Loren Pankratz - New Page

Ray Hyman - Before - After

Skeptic's Toolbox - New Page

Penn & Teller - Portuguese - Before - After

Bob Carroll - French - Before - After

Bob Carroll - Dutch - New page

Nina Burleigh - Before - After

Indre Viskontas - New page

Bell Witch - Before - After

Vashti McCollum - Before - After

SkeptiCamp -  New Page

Reason Rally - Before - After 

The Steve Allen Theater - New Page


Erich von Däniken - Portuguese - Before - After

Indigo Children - Portuguese - New page 

Power Balance - Portuguese - New page

Paul Kurtz - Russian - Before - After

Mark Boslough - Before - After

Stuart Firestein - New page

Danielle Egnew - Before - After

Sara Mayhew - New page

Kenneth Feder - Before - After

Paul Kurtz - Portuguese - Before - After

Martin Gardner - Portuguese - Before - After

Phil Plait - Portuguese - New page 

Jerry Andrus - Swedish - New page

Karl Shuker - Before - After

Point of Inquiry - Before - After

Our Lady of Warraq - Before - After

SkeptiCamp - Spanish - New Page

James Randi - Dutch - Before - After

James Randi - Portuguese - Before - After

Michael Shermer - Dutch - Before - After

Devraha Baba - Before - After

Leo Igwe - Before - After

Leo Igwe - German
Leo Igwe - Dutch
Leo Igwe - Russian

Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers - Before - After

Donald Prothero - New Page

Skeptical Inquirer Magazine - Portuguese - New Page

10:23 Campaign - Portuguese - New Page

Ruth Hurmence Green - Before - After

Skeptic's Guide to the Universe - Portuguese - New Page

One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge - New Page

Long Island Medium - Portuguese - New Page

Stan Romanek - New Page

Sharon Hill - New Page

Desiree Schell - Before - After

Deseret Travers (psychic) - Page Deleted for not being noteworthy

Skeptic Magazine - Portuguese - New Page

Jeff Peckman - New Page

Child's Healthcare is a Legal Duty (CHILD) - Before - After

James Alcock - French - New Page

Rationalism - Before - After

Bad Astronomy - Before - After

ADE - 651 - Dutch - New Page

Gore Orphanage - Before - After

Phillip Klass - Before - After

Eugenie Scott - Portuguese - New Page
Eugenie Scott - Spanish - New Page

Neil deGrausse Tyson - Portuguese - Before - After 
Neil deGrausse Tyson - German - New Page
Neil deGrausse Tyson - Dutch - New Page

David Gorski - Before - After

Tracking the Chupacabra - New Page

Ronald Bailey - Before - After

Merseyside Skeptics - Before - After

Pascal's Wager - Dutch - New Page

Archie Cochrane - Dutch - New Page

Lawerence Krauss - Dutch - Before - After

Andrew Skolnick - Before - After

Bart Ehrman - Dutch - New Page

Bart Ehrman - Before - After

Chris French - Before - After

Dan Ariely - Before - After

Eddie Tabash - Before - After

Spontaneous Human Combustion - Before - After

Susan Blackmore - Before - After

Burzynski Clinic - Portuguese - New Page

Pet Psychic - Before - After

Rose Marks - New Page

Dutch Association for Critical Shots - Dutch - New Page

Annie Laurie Gaylor -  Before & After 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Egg Balancing and more (lots more)

Just so you know, all the conspiracy theories about GSoW you have been reading the last few months are true.  We are a bunch of mean skeptics that are doing everything we can to make sure every Wikipedia page is backed up with great noteworthy citations, proving all the claims made on the page.  Evidence rules!  We are always actively looking for more like-minded people to train in our guerrilla warfare.  I address the Rupert Sheldrake and Deepak Chopra drama near the bottom of this blog, as well as offer you a few videos, podcasts and blogs that have appeared about our project in the last month or so.

But before we get to all that nasty drama, I want you to see what we have really been doing with our time with a few of the more glamorous updates to Wikipedia.

One of my more devious editors, Nathan Miller just updated this page with an image.  I offer this as evidence of our nefarious conspiracy to improve Wikipedia.  EVIDENCE HERE  (insert evil laugh here while looking at this page)

From a brand new editor, CFI Fellow Andrew Skolnick's page was given a makeover.  Note: We are looking for a photo of Skolnick as well as a photo or two from his investigation with Ray Hyman of the Girl with the Normal eyes.  Before and After

From the Dutch team - Bart Ehrman's page received some improvements and updates on the English page first, then they translated it for Dutch readers.

UK Skeptic Chris French received a nice rewrite from the English team.  Before and After

Dan Ariely's page received a cleanup courtesy of our Lei Pinter.

You might want to sit down before looking at the before and after.  I met Eddie Tabash at CFI's Student Leadership conference in August.  When he learned that I am both a portrait photographer as well as a Wikipedia editor he asked if I could "someday" do something about the image on his WP page.  So I took him outside, snapped a couple shots and within 15 minutes he had a new image for his page.  That was that for a few months, but the page nagged at me, it badly needed a total re-write and I knew I would be seeing him in Oct at the CFI Summit.  So I put my nose to the grindstone and managed to get it re-written in time.   Before and After

Spontaneous Human Combustion was one of my biggest terrors as a child.  The idea that you could be walking down the street and suddenly burst into flames was horrifying.  I was told that even with STOP - DROP and ROLL you would not be able to put out the flames as they came from inside your body.  The thought still makes me shutter!  Why do we tell kids this kind of thing?  When I started editing WP this page was one of the first I visited and added a few citations from Ben Radford, Brian Dunning and Joe Nickell.  I also took out an entire section of examples of SHC that happened hundreds of years ago.  Regardless of all the edits I added and removed, this page needed more improvements, including a lot of organization.  This page has been a pet-peeve for Joe Nickell who tells everyone that it badly needs to be updated.  Just like with Tabash, I knew I would be seeing Nickell at the CFI Summit and wanted to surprise him with a newly rewritten page.  Editor Nathan Miller stepped up and pulled a few all-nighters (which is why we call him our vampire) and got it in shape just in time for the Summit.    Before and After   Guess how many people viewed the SHC page Nov 2013 before viewing this link.

Susan Blackmore received a makeover with a few new images, this page was improved by a member of GSoW along with the general WP editors.  Before and After

Burzynski Clinic page was updated with the FDA findings as well as the USA Today article. Then Portuguese editor Nix Dorf within a day came through with the newly created page translated into Portuguese.

Another brand new editor that found us from the Skeptic Zone podcast, Caitlin rewrote the Pet Psychic page.  Before and After  As you can see, sometimes this means that we remove most of the article, Caitlin removed dead links and unverified information, plus she cleaned up the grammar and made the article flow better.  In all she removed over 3,000 characters from the article.  We had a bit of a laugh during the discussions of this rewrite, I totally misunderstood what this page was about and kept suggesting that Caitlin look into Sheldrake and Wiseman's work with psychic dogs and not to forget Clever Hans and the investigation that the IIG did with Sparky the Wonder dog.  Finally someone explained that this is a WP page for PEOPLE who communicate with animals with their minds, not animals that communicate with people. Duh Susan.

This is our first news article.  Bill toiled over this page creation for quite some time.  Rose Marks and the family psychic fraud page is a bit different from a normal page, as it reads more as something that is updated as events unfold, and not something static.

Also from the Dutch team we see a rewrite of the Nederlandse Vereniging Kritisch Prikken  Dutch Association for Critical Shots page.  Apparently this is a anti-vac group formed by naturopaths.

Nix also finished improving the James Randi page in Portuguese.

Lei wanted to point out that we finally got a photo for the Vashti McCollum uploaded for her page. Thanks everyone that wrote to me giving suggestions on where to look.

****  The GSoW conspiracy  ****

The drama of Rupert Sheldrake and Deepak Chopra has almost been laughable.  Every morning for a few months I wondered "what is waiting for me in my inbox?"  Would you believe that there are more than 20 anti-GSoW blogs that have been written in the last few months.  Three came from a skeptic blogger who thinks we are making her job talking to the paranormal community more difficult. She thinks we should be working with their community to write WP pages.  My response is ... we already do this, its called being a Wikipedia editor. We might write an article, but once it is live, then it no longer belongs to us and we are at the mercy of all editors, paranormal believers and not.

I was attacked by all sorts, an astrologer wanted me to debate him.  Others made fun of my hats (can you imagine!) Rupert's latest blog misspelled my name, Susan Gerbik, so much for his investigative skills.  Tim Farley and I discuss the drama and what led up to it on this episode of Skepticality  Jerry Coyne jumps into the fray and defends us in a series of blogs.  This is the first one.  Here is a blog by an astrologer (not sure if it was the same one that challenged me) This is the first in a series by a person who tried to edit Sheldrakes page, got into arguments with just about everyone and ended up storming off complaining about my team. The really funny thing is that this person only made one tiny edit to the Sheldrake page and accused us of having an agenda, this person has only ever edited on the Sheldrake talk page and no where else on WP. Looking over my notes, this appears to be the very first blog from from all this drama and it dates back to 2012, and just tonight I discover that this person has written a book about this mess and I'm in it (with my name spelled correctly, Sheldrake are you listening?).  Amazing!

Must mention that Tim Farley did an awesome write-up investigation of the whole drama on his blog here.  They of course never read this.  Eyes - Wide - Shut

The stories and drama I'm sure will continue.  My team has been very open about what we edit.  In fact every single WP editor's edit history is available with a couple clicks. Its easy to find out who edited what, when and even the time they edited.  But they didn't care about that evidence stuff.  The only thing important is the conspiracy.  Its everywhere you know.  Well just read back a few months through my blogs and you can see the giant conspiracy we have been involved in.

Other mentions in the media recently...

This is a nice article written about us in Swedish for a blog called Borje Peratt explorer.

GSoW has joined the Candle in the Dark team - apparently

This is a very sweet blog by my friend Kitty all about my hats.  Its got lots of pretty photos too

Skeptic Blog - Mark Edward writes about GSoW and the Sheldrake/Chopra drama.

Susan Gerbic wondering if they can balance an egg on my head

Friday, September 27, 2013

New GSoW Forum - Species - Tyson - Krauss - Scott - Cochrane

The GSoW team is now officially moving from the cramped quarters of Facebook to a spacious custom designed forum.  This will really open up our teams to be able to train, mentor and move from language to language.  Expect to see a lot more from us as we work smarter.

The move of all the editors, files and creating help documents/videos have been keeping my "Away Team" busy for months. They wore their red shirts but we didn't lose a single person.  I want to give special thanks to several people who made this happen.  Our resident vampire, Nathan Miller, Chris Peterson, Bill Grieb, Leon Korteweg, Fred Green, Lei Pinter, Nix "Mini-me" Dorf, Ryan Harding, Zooterkin and Svetlana Bavykina.  But extra special thanks go to Walkiria "Paddling" Nubes and Julie Tominson for their relentless attention to the project.  

Dutch editor Emile Dingemans suggested we start a GSoW fan page on Facebook, and so we have.  It will work a bit like this blog, where you can follow and comment.  Here is the link to the Facebook Fan Page for GSoW, at the moment it appears to be full of photos of guerrillas, just our way of celebrating I guess. Of course the blog you are reading now is superior, as you can search for posts on specific topics of interest. Plus you will find a comment or three from Mabus the Internet troll for your reading pleasure.  I also know that there is at least one comment from the Amazing Randi himself on a post about his dear friend, Jerry Andrus.


Not everyone has been working on creating the forum, some remained editing Wikipedia as you will see. I should point out that GSoW is 
constantly editing on WP, small changes make a lot of difference, but to highlight all those changes would be too much to relate here.  I'm only highlighting the more glamorous changes with these our latest updates!  If you have questions or would like to join our team, please write to us at

Nathan Miller updated the Wikipedia page for the film Species, and I'm sure you are asking yourself, how is that related to scientific skepticism?  Nathan wrote the Wikipedia page for Ben Radford's book "Tracking the Chupacabra", which explains how Radford believes the legend of the Chupacabra started.  Sorry to give away the conclusion but even knowing this, you will still find it a great read.  Just learning how poultry can appear to have all their blood drawn out of their bodies was worth the price of the book.   
Before and After   
The Dutch team seemed to develop a burst of energy this month. The Portuguese team better watch out, they might just loose the title of the most prolific non-English editors.

First up is Gok van Pascal, which in English is known as Pascal's Wager.  Leon Korteweg translated this using Dawkin's "The God Delusion".

Wim Vanderberghe translated the English page for Scotsman Archie Cochrane for Dutch readers.  Very interesting man and I'm glad Wim brought him to my attention, I'm sure you will agree.

Leon also translated the Neil deGrasse Tyson page into Dutch.  We are trying to get ready for the release of Cosmos in 2014 by getting all of the Wikipedia pages that are associated with the series, ready and waiting for the thousands of visitors that will be arriving..  We are making progress, English, Portuguese, German, and now Dutch are finished.

Leon decided that because Lawrence Krauss will be appearing with Richard Dawkins in The Unbelievers his WP page needed some work.  Consequentially Krauss will also be speaking in Amsterdam in October 2014 so even more important that the Dutch page be in great shape.  Look at the difference.   Here is the before link.  And now the after.

The Spanish team is slowing down this month, but still Nix Dorf managed to get another page translated. This time it was for Eugenie Scott, who just announced her retirement from the NCSE by the end of 2013.

That's all the updates I have for the moment.  There are a few that are only a couple days away from finishing, they will just have to wait as we want them completely done before launching them.


In case you have missed GSoW in the news, here are a few links to our more noteworthy shout-outs and interviews.

Two from Scot Bestows's blog Do You Think? This one features a conspiracy theory about the upcoming CFI Summit. Which BTW I've been asked to lecture at, so please try to make it.  His first blog on GSoW was one mainly about me being a Rational Hero for that week.

As usual every episode of Skepticality since January 2013 has had a podlet featuring GSoW.  And most of the Skeptical Connections podcasts have allowed me to record a segment, mostly I talk about how to get the skeptical message beyond the choir but please give them a listen, lots of great content from other people are in these episodes.

This was a blog by Robert Blaskiewicz which talked about what is being done RIGHT in the skeptical movement today and we were on that list.  Really cool.  Skeptical Humanities Blog

From a column I wrote for CFI about some of the pages we have written that concerns the history of scientific skepticism.

Ed Clint writing for the Richard Dawkins blog talks about how to get involved in skeptical activism.  Half the blog is given up to discussing GSoW, and the other half to another project I am active in, the Independent Investigative Group (IIG).

CFI asked me to lecture at their leadership conference this summer in New York.  Here are the videos of that lecture.

Janis Callister gave me a long interview allowing me to explain the GSoW project for the Just Skeptic's podcast.

The French language podcast Scepticisme Scientifique interviewed one of my French team members Christophe Michel about the GSoW project.

Sharon Hill's Doubtful News blog highlighted my JREF award from TAM 2013.

Our very own Chris Pederson was interviewed for Freethought Blog about her involvement with GSoW.

I was listed as one of the inspiring women at TAM 2013 on Ed Clint's blog.

Skeptoid Blog mentions the guest lecture given by Shane Greenup and GSoW Swedish team leader Philip Skogsberg at the European Skeptic Congress, held in Stockholm Sweden this August.  I was supported to be the one giving the lecture, but my oncologist would not allow me to travel from California to Sweden during this time.

Recorded at TAM 2013, I was a guest host for Virtual Skeptics podcast.


Upcoming events...

Wednesday October 9th, 2013 I will be lecturing for the Bay Area Skeptics in Berkeley, CA.  Here is more information.

October 24-27, 2013 find me at the CFISummit in Tacoma, WA.  Here is the website.

Saturday, Jan 18th, 2014 I will be lecturing for the Santa Barbara, CA Humanist Society.  (more info to follow)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Leah Remini - Scientology and Wikipedia Stats

I've long maintained that Wikipedia stats are the purest way of judging popularity.  Nothing interferes. Wikipedia pages are just Wikipedia pages, no advertisements, no followers, no one is tweeting or posting to drive people to the page, its just an encyclopedia.

I've been watching psychic Wikipedia pages for a couple years now, and the top dog was Sylvia Browne.
John Edward replaced her eventually, only to be out viewed by The Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo when she got her own show.  Fascinating data, and available to everyone for free at this website.

So I've been following The Underground Bunker, which is a blog by Tony Ortega.  He writes about Scientology.  Apparently there is this actress, Leah Remini who very recently left Scientology, and there has been a lot of fuss made, I guess she is a popular actress and considered a big defection.  Tony Ortega announced that Remini was interviewed on The Ellen show which is the first public appearance where she mentions leaving the church.   He wondered if maybe this show and all the other media surrounding her lately has increased the public's attention to Scientology?

You all know how to handle that question, and it does not involve getting Scientology to release its website views to us.

The media learned she left the church about the 8th of July, 2013.  She appeared on The Ellen show on Sept 9th.  So lets see what the numbers look like. (keep in mind that these numbers might be 24 hours off)

This shows the page views for Scientology from June 15th to Sept 12th.

This shows the page views for Remini from June 15th to Sept 12th.

Daily average for Scientology during these 90 days is 6,955.  Note there are several peaks (Scientology is in the news a lot) but the biggest peaks are on July 12th with 35,160 views and on Aug 9th with 23,940 views.

Daily average for Remini is 4,246.  The page has two peaks, July 12th, with 43,770 and on Aug 9th with 20,469 views.

On July 8th The Underground Bunker broke the story that Remini left the church, it took a few days for the news to trickle to the media, but that corresponds with the Wikipedia hits on July 12th.  The Ellen Show broadcast Sept 9th, and there is a spike on both pages.  10,326 views of Scientology on Sept 10th.

All Summed up:
What does this all mean?  The question is, did Remini's defection from the church increase the public's attention to Scientology.  Using just Wikipedia page views I can firmly state...

July 12, 2013 when the defection hit the news media, Scientology's page views went up 500% over normal. 28,000 more views.

August 9th the views jumped (on both pages) 345% on Scientology (17K more views) and 482% for Remini over normal.  I don't know what happened on this day, but both pages received a massive hit, so I can only assume that they are associated.

Sept 10th (Ellen Show) Scientology's views went up 67% over normal.  About 3,000 more views.

So to answer Ortega's question.  Yes, Remini's defection has increased exposure to the Scientology Wikipedia page.

To be clear, I have been watching the Scientology Wikipedia page for several years, and don't think I have ever contributed to the page.  This is because that page is very closely watched by editors very dedicated to it not being changed, it is considered done, and I have nothing to add.  A page that receives over 200K views every month is a very powerful page, every sentence is carefully written, and backed up with a citation.  To further see how editors decide what will be allowed on the page, visit the Scientology talk page.  (every Wikipedia page has a Talk page)

Behold the power of Wikipedia.

If you would like to join the GSoW team, we are nearly ready with our super-duper cool secret lair.  Several of my team, have created a forum that allows all languages to interact as well as socialize, train and mentor. We are going to be more organized and focused, you will be seeing and hearing more from this project over the next year. We have simply outgrown Facebook (as far as using for work) and will be moving in the next few weeks.  I will be making an announcement when it happens.  You can always contact us at

Friday, July 19, 2013

July Updates - Scott - Gorski - Tyson - Radford and MORE

WoW July is only halfway done and we have so much to talk about.  Lots going on with the GSoW team.  So in no special order lets get started.

The beauty of having a world team like GSoW  is that we can't all be in the same place at the same time.  While many of my team were at the Amaz!ng Meeting - TAM 2013, others were busily at work editing.  Nix Dorf released the Eugenie Scott page in Portuguese.

Neil deGrasse Tyson just received two rewrites, one in Portuguese by Luis Pratas, here is the Portuguese before,  the other, by new editor Michael Steinkeller in German.  By the way Michael joined after watching the JREF workshop video.  If you haven't seen it yet, it is located here.  One more thing, Michael almost didn't join because he has two small children, but somehow he is managing to find a few minutes to work on this project, remember folks you set your own pace at GSoW.

Here was a major event.  You would think that David Gorski already would have a Wikipedia page wouldn't you?  Well someone attempted to create one, but left it in such embarrassing condition we had to jump in and do it right.  This is what we found.  Okay hold your breath and now look at what we created. Introducing the new and improved David Gorski Wikipedia page! Not sure why I always say "Strong enough to stand an elephant on it" but that phrase keeps coming to mind when I think of this page rewrite. Thankfully we released the page rewrite in time for TAM, Gorski's page views tripled during that weekend.

Sometimes it is the little things that give me that kapow feeling.  We managed to get Gorski mentioned on the Steve Jobs page.  Its kinda lost in the mass that is Jobs page, but still with the hit count it receives, it can't hurt. Searching for "Gorski" on the page, I learned that according to Gorski, the 9 month delay with the cancer treatment may not have killed Jobs, interesting.  Another thing I just learned is that even now in June 2013, Jobs is ranked number 70 in top Wikipedia views.

Ben Radford's book Tracking the Chupacabra was front page of Wikipedia as a DYK.  Follows of the GSoW project know what that means, a ton of views for the 8 hour window it is up. Well the results are in, here are the view stats.  The ripple effect caused the page for Chupacabra to also receive a spike. And the movie Species as well.

Bill Grieb rewrote the WP page for Ronald Bailey (before) (after)

Another rewrite for Bill Grieb was this one for the Merseyside Skeptics, what a difference (before) (after)

Fresh new photos I took at TAM have been added to these pages... Daniel Loxton, Harriet Hall, Derek Colanduno, Mark Edward, Donald Prothero and Massimo Polidoro.  This isn't difficult to do, if you have a photo that you think would improve a WP page, please contact me and I'll walk you thought the process.

A GSoW team member reminded me that we are responsible for a lot of quick edits on Wikipedia that are pretty cool.  We do a lot more than just page rewrites.

Braco the gazer got a lot of attention from editors trying to get the first sentence of the article just right.  You would be surprised at how much time we can spend on a single word when dealing with believers and other WP editors.

Here's a fun one,  my son mentioned that Jenny McCarthy was going to be on The View, which led me to getting all ranty on Facebook skeptics needing to do something.  People quickly began posting links to noteworthy articles about this announcement.  I in turn threw the links over to my GSoW team and Nathan Miller quickly responded by successfully adding a couple of the links.  Since then other WP editors (not on my team) have added a whole section under the criticism section.  You will notice that not only is Bill Nye mentioned, but so is Derek Bartholomaus's Body Count website.  And just in time, Jenny isn't as popular as Steve Jobs, but she is sure rolling in the views this last week.

TAM 2013 was awesome.  I'm still not completely recovered.  Here are a few videos I created while there.  This first one is a 3-parter on Crowd-Sourced Activism.  I spoke with Shane Greenup (Rbutr) and Tim Farley (What's the Harm?) and had a major blast.

Susan in the Superwoman pose at the Crowd-Sourcing Workshop

Later in the afternoon I participated in the Preserving Skeptic History workshop with some of my favorite people, Daniel Loxton, Ray Hyman, Tim Farley and Robert Sheaffer. Special guest appearance by Susan Blackmore.

Here is a series of shots I took of people whose pages we created or rewrote along with the WP page. Just for fun.
Tim Farley

Robert Sheaffer

Leo Igwe
Sean Faircloth
Richard Saunders
Sara Mayhew

Recording a Skepticality episode
Recording a Virtual Skeptics episode
 The surprise of all surprises was the wonderful comments from James Randi and DJ Grothe when they presented me with the JREF award for Skepticism in the Public Interest,  It reads "With gratitude for your steadfast advocacy for skepticism on the World Wide Web and at the grass roots."

Backstage with DJ and Randi
Just of few of the GSoW team

Its all about having fun and changing the world

As you can image, we have far more work to do than editors to do it. Please contact me at if you have questions or would like to join the project.  For the last two years we have been working out of secret Facebook groups.  I'm happy to say we have outgrown Facebook.  In the next few weeks we will be moving to a custom built forum that will allow better communication between the language teams, as well as better training of new editors.  Just like the Facebook groups, the forum will be hidden away unless you have joined our team.

Thank you for your support, and I hope to hear from you soon.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Happy 2nd Birthday GSoW! (and updates)

How very exciting, we are turning TWO!  After the video read on for the latest updates.  


New French editor Christophe Michel adds the James Alcock page to French Wikipedia, Christophe will also be interviewed as our French representative for Observatoire Zététique.  The OZ has agreed to support us with updates as the French team rolls them out.  


The Portuguese Team scored our very first non-English DYK on the front page of Portuguese Wikipedia.  Unlike the English page which stays up only 8 hours, the Portuguese DYK remains for days.  So for a week or more in May 2013 Portuguese readers were treated to a photograph and DYK of our very own Neil deGrasse Tyson which they had translated in March.

Looking over the stats from that period you can see that the Tyson page was averaging about 100 views each day.  There are spikes of over 1,000 each day during the time he was featured as a DYK.  But as you can see, the views every day since the DYK are averaging about 300 views.  I'm not sure what the reason is, we released this page in March and it could be from a combination of things.  All we know is that his page views are over 3x's what it was receiving before our involvement.  A win for science!  

Even more interesting.  Look at the stats for Carl Sagan's Portuguese page for the same time period.  Averaging under 100 views each day, now it is averaging 500 a day since our involvement.  The same effect is happening (though smaller) on the Cosmos page.  

CFI was kind enough to send me to lecture to the Portland CFI group in May, there I found 3 new editors.  One of which has just finished a re-write of the Rationalism page.  View the before page. Now the after.  Great work Joshua Filmer!


Leo Igwe was just given the high honor of receiving 3 new pages in one week.  GermanDutch and Russian.



English editor Bill Grieb re-wrote the page for Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy book.  Yes, even books can have their own Wikipedia page if they are noteworthy enough.  This is such a well written page, that others on our team will be using it as an example for other book pages they are currently working on.  So stay tuned.  

Before and After

As you know, we try to get our pages noticed outside the skeptical community.  So Bill managed to get the Bad Astronomy page on the front page of Wikipedia for 8 hours as a DYK.  Here are the stats during that period.  

When I knew that the DYK was going to appear, I wrote to Phil Plait to tell him.  To my surprise he wrote a blog about it for Slate Magazine.  That article gave us several new editors. Thanks Phil!  Here are the stats for the Plait WP page.


English and Dutch editor Wim Vandernberghe has translated the English ADE 651 page into Dutch.    Maybe some governments will benefit from a good Google search before they invest in their next "bomb" detector.    


Josh Hunt (from Cleveland, OHIO Skeptics) took issue with the Gore Orphanage Wikipedia page.  As you look at the before page you will see how it was depicted as if this orphanage was really haunted. Many Ohio ghost-hunting groups venture out to the ruins of this orphanage to report back on all the "activity" they find.  Funny that, as Josh discovered that there was no such place called Gore Orphanage, only a Gore Orphanage road.  And even more odd, there was no Orphanage.  At least not one that had been burned down killing children.  Seems that this is all a urban legend once you look into the story, wonder how the ghost hunting groups explain this?  

Because Josh wanted a complete story, he and his wife went out to the site where this was supposed to have happened and photographed the marker.  Awesome job Josh.  After page


This page has been a long-awaited re-write.  As I've said before, I do not assign projects.  People choose something off the list or come up with something on their own.  Shane Vaughn for whatever reason selected Phillip Klass for a re-write, and I'm very pleased to show you the Before and now the After.   

I've had a few interviews since the last update.  Skepticality Podcast continues to allow me a few minutes each episode, and editors roll in after each one airs.  All of them long-time listeners to Skepticality, I'm told they have been wanting to get involved in a project that  can be done from home that makes a real difference in the world.  They all tell me they have found it with GSoW.  Thank you Derek Colanduno for your support.  

CFI and the JREF have been very supportive of this project, with publicity, retweets, and opportunities to lecture.  Thank you for supporting us.  

There are many other people to thank, including my vast group of Facebook friends who step up when I need something Photoshoped or advice about some bit of research.  The comments, retweets and shares really help our team succeed. 

If you look at our last update you will see that I have had many interviews and shout-outs the last few months.  Everyone has been so nice and supportive even though I tend to ramble.  Skeptical Connections Podcast is just starting out and allowing me a segment to talk about on-line activism as often as I want.  

So that is it for this update.  There are many more projects that are in varying stages of completeness.  We don't just churn these pages out, it can take weeks of research to re-write (or create) a page.  Add in the formatting and code associated with writing for Wikipedia, and you will see this is a very difficult chore we are taking on.  I don't want to scare away potential editors, we do train.  Everything is discussed throughout the process, positive feedback is given and nothing is released onto Wikipedia unless it has been reviewed by several editors.  I promise we won't allow you to blow up Wikipedia.  

I should mention that not every person on the team is involved in research.  We have people who support pages by copy-editing and photography.  Some people caption videos.  Some are involved in small edits that only take a few minutes to finish.  There is a lot of work to be done.   We are in this together, so please consider joining our team.  Friend me on Facebook and I'll get you started.  Lets Go!

Happy Birthday GSoW!