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