Sunday, July 5, 2015

May and June GSoW Updates - News and Information

The GSoW Vaccine project has really helped focus attention on all the people and projects from the scientific skepticism world, I know I've learned a lot. We still have a month more and more surprises in store for you, so stay tuned for a early August blog release recapping all that GSoW has done to help spread the word that vaccines are important and good information is available out there. 

As usual, GSoW is doing a lot more than just vaccines these last two months. See below for all the various goodness and awesomeness we have been involved in. Let me remind you dear readers that below are only the major rewrites and new page creations. The GSoW team is always doing far more to educate the world through Wikipedia than what is listed here on this blog update.  Small edits are made all the time that improve content, but are too plentiful to be mentioned here.

If you are thinking of joining GSoW or want to know more about the project, the best place to get information is from our YouTube channel.  There we have many interviews with the team members, they explain why they joined this project, what its like being here and why they stay. I'm always inspired every time I listen to these interviews. They also talk about the pages they have worked on and it is important behind the scenes discussions like this that will open your eyes about the pages we write.  
Also included on our YouTube channel are 3-15 minute snippets from the Skepticality podcast I'm on every couple weeks. These are actual podcast segments, but they have been cleaned up and photos (often very humorous) added. Check these out when you have a moment, they explain GSoW and its many projects very quickly and simply for the newer skeptical activist aficionado.

If you're into short audio spots, share this with those you think might find it interesting. We would love to have lots of you join us!

Finally be sure to join us at The Amaz!ng Meeting July 15-20 in Las Vegas. I have a completely open calendar set aside these days just to hang out with my fellow skeptics. On Thursday I will be on a panel with Sharon Hill and Simon Singh in a workshop on Skeptical Activism in Every Day Life. On Sunday GSoW has its own workshop at 4:00-5:30 entitled How to Edit Wikipedia like a GSoW editor and Change the World Muhahahaha. Please bring your laptop as we will be teaching you how to edit like a GSoW editor without joining the actual project.

In October join me and several other GSoW editors in Australia. I am speaking at the Brisbane Skeptic Conference October 16-18.  But because I'm going to be in the area, I am working on many other speaking engagements all over the country. Canberra, Tasmania, Melbourne, Sydney are on the schedule, dates soon to be decided. I'm also hoping to crash in on the New Zealand Skeptics.  And also very exciting I will be visiting the Hong Kong Skeptics at the end of this tour, and then finishing off with a lecture in China about my cancer treatment and how I relied on my doctors to treat me and not a homeopath or other CAM treatments.

From Brisbane Skeptics President Ross Balch - 
"At some point society is going to become a lot more rational and I think unfortunately no one is going to remember that its a lot to do with us and our activism. I think that we are going to be ... history and no one is going to realize when it happens, but all of a sudden its going to happen. there are some people who they work so tirelessly they deserve to be remembered and as I was talking to you previously about Susan Gerbic. One of the things she does is to make that happen, its a great project Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia because people who deserve to be known they do get known because of that project. Wikipedia is going to be around a lot longer than us in one way or another. Its almost a new history book and that's fantastic. Its actually my great pleasure to let you see this... (video) SkeptiCamp Brisbane July 4, 2015

And now what you actually came to the blog to read about....

English Teams

Brian Deer - Updated by Jim Preston - Before & After Jim felt that Deer's page fell under the Vaccine Projects task list AND Deer will be speaking at the upcoming Amaz!ng Meeting this July. Meet Jim and team at our workshop at TAM.

David Helfand - Colin Hagemeyer - BeforeAfter This is the page that Colin rewrote in order to graduate him from training. Welcome Colin as a brand new GSoW editor!
(De Vrije Gedachte CC BY-SA 4.0)

De Vrije Gedachte (Brand New Page) - The Dutch freethinkers association "The Free Thought" was translated from Dutch (see previous blog and below) by Leon Korteweg, reviewed by Janyce Boynton, Susan Gerbic, Dianne Elizabeth, Julie Tomlinson and Jerod Lycett.

Every Child by Two - Page rewritten by Janyce Boynton - Before & After

Marsh on GTS' UK homeopathy campaign.
(Photo: Andrew Merritt CC-BY-SA 2.0)
Good Thinking Society - As related in our previous blog, to our great surprise the Good Thinking Society was already written before we could start on it. However, Leon Korteweg has been able to improve its contents somewhat with the help of Michael Marshall ("Marsh"), and translate it to Dutch (see below). Before & After

Human Dynamics - Cleanup of un-scientific statements - Ryan Harding & Leon Korteweg - Before & After

Irish Skeptics Society - Leon Korteweg - Expanded with info, more reliable sources and a logo, translated to Dutch (see below). Before & After

Jorge Allende -  Page rewritten by Javier Ardouin Bórquez - Before & After This is the final project from Javier to finish off his training. Welcome to our newest GSoW editor!

Klub Sceptyków Polskich (Brand New Page) -  Written by guest editor Tomasz Witkowski in Polish first (see below), and translated by Tomasz & Leon Korteweg and reviewed by Susan Gerbic and Janyce Boynton. The KSP is amongst the most active skeptical organisations in Europe, and manage to get national media coverage often.

Leon Jaroff - (Brand New Page) - Written by Janyce Boynton, this biography is about the founding editor of popular science magazine Discover, and co-founder of CSICOP, the first successful skeptical organisation in the United States. (reviewed by Leon Korteweg)

Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters (Brand New Page) - This page was written by one of the new English editors, James Williams, about a group of concerned citizens in the part of Australia with the lowest vaccination rate. The article was reviewed by Susan Gerbic, Janyce Boynton and Leon Korteweg. 

Fun Fact - The NRVS people were unaware of the creation of their Wikipedia page, it was decided that as the Brisbane Skeptics were having a SkeptiCamp on Saturday July 4th and at least one member of the NRVS team would be in attendance, GSoW would delay announcement of the page.  Susan Gerbic and James Williams gave the skepticamp organizers a video where James surprised the audience with the page. Video here

Ryan J. Bell (Brand New Page) - After meeting Ryan Bell at QED 2015 in Manchester, Jelena Levin decided to write his biography. Together with Leon Korteweg (especially for the Dutch sources; we noticed a remarkable interest in Bell's Year Without God from the three main Christian newspapers in the Netherlands) and aided by photographers Andrew Merritt and Al Johnston at QED, and reviewers Kyle Hamar, Susan Gerbic and Gene Roseberry, the article was published and eventually featured on English Wikipedia's Main Page as a Did You Know? on 21 June (over 2600 views that day).

Stephanie Messenger (Brand New Page) - Susan Gerbic - This is the anti-vax author of Melanie's Marvelous Measles which encourages children to seek out and embrace measles in order to make themselves stronger. The MMM Wikipedia page was written by Susan Gerbic in May 2015.

Dutch Team

Louis Fles (Brand New Page) - Leon Korteweg - Important Jewish-Dutch freethinker and arguably the most vocal atheist and secularist in the Netherlands in the Interwar Period. Article translated from English and expanded in Dutch, added photograph. 
On 3 May, Dutch team members met in Utrecht at AronRa's lecture.
Left to right: Rogier, Emile, Leon, Vera, Rian. 
(Photo: René van Elst).

Rob Nanninga - Leon Korteweg - short expansion on his study of crop circle / UFO believers. Before & After

De Vrije Gedachte - More images were added by Leon Korteweg, extra links were created by trainee Jaap. Before & After

Irish Skeptics Society (Brand New Page) - A well-known but nowadays apparently relatively inactive skeptical organisation in Ireland. Translated from English (see above) by Leon Korteweg, reviewed by Raymond van Es.

Good Thinking Society (Brand New Page) - Translated from English (see above) by Leon Korteweg, reviewed by Emile Dingemans.

Charlie Charlie Challenge - Coen de Bruijn got an email from his children's school that pupils were forbidden playing the hype gamen (at its height around late May/early June), wherein the 'ghost' of an unknown Mexican boy or man name 'Charlie' is invoked, who allegedly answers yes/no questions by 'moving' balanced pencils on a sheet of paper. Coen found the school's reaction of prohibiting the game to be 'fearmongering' and referring to 'the Internet' as a source for more information to be very irresponsible.

As expected, the Dutch-speaking Wikipedia entry showed up high in search engine results, but it was full of alarmist paranormal-promoting nonsense without any references or sources, so Coen decided to rewrite it. Wim Vandenberghe soon joined him, and finally Leon Korteweg completed the revision crew. Unsourced material was challenged or removed, reliable sources were added and grammar was drastically improved. Although another Wikipedian had previously nominated the article to be deleted, because it was so misleading and poorly written, the team decided to try and keep it to help anyone who was worried find trustworthy information and calm down instead of forcing them to less reliable sites which would probably only confirm their fears; the page was kept. Before & After 

Polish Skeptics campaign against
pseudoscience in psychology.

Klub Sceptyków Polskich (Brand New Page) - After the page was first written and published in Polish (see below) and then translated into English (see above), Leon Korteweg translated the KSP to Dutch; the text was reviewed by Rogier van Vugt, Emile Dingemans and Rik Delaet.

Five people from the Dutch-speaking skeptical/freethought movement had their voice intros recorded by Leon Korteweg (see below).

Hungarian Team

Richard Feynman - András G. Pintér Before & After Feynman is well known among Hungarians as books of his have been translated to our language and are quite popular. His Wikipedia page, however was rather disorganized and lacking in terms of information, too. It could still be further advanced.

Florence Nightingale - András G. Pintér Before & After She is not part of popular culture in Hungary, but references to her work are available online and in books dealing with the history of medicine, thus finding proper information was not that much of a hassle. Her work is also relevant to skeptics, hence the rewrite.

Italian Team

Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI)
- The first successful skeptical organisation in North America, founded in 1976 as CSICOP, with their magazine Skeptical Inquirer that popularised the term "skeptic" for our movement. Translated to Italian by Raffaella Vitali - Before & After

Portuguese Team

The article on Table-turning (Mesas girantes), recently massively expanded and improved by our Brazilian editor Valério Andrade Melo, it was just featured on the Main Page of Portuguese Wikipedia! Check it out, this is a very big deal - Before and After 

Polish guest editors

Klub Sceptyków Polskich (Polish Skeptics Club) - After Leon Korteweg contacted Tomasz Witkowski of the Klub Sceptyków Polskich, a fruitful correspondance led to an agreement that he, together with Polish Wikipedian Maksymilian Sielicki and photographer Kamil Przyboś, would write the article on the KSP in Polish first, and then translate it to English. After a month of silence, Tomasz called in and showed that the Polish page was done! Maksymilian and Leon just needed to do a few more fixes, referencing and extra sources, and the translations could begin (see above). Also, we had the luck that someone found it so well-written that it was featured on Polish Wikipedia's Main Page on 27 June. Many thanks to our Polish guest editors!

Audio of Skeptics (here)

This area continues to expand - newly added voice intros are American skeptic Julia Galef, American health educator Wendy Sue Swanson, Dutch freethinker and 
historian Anton van Hooff, Dutch religion critic and lawyer Paul Cliteur, Iranian-Dutch ex-Muslim activist Ehsan Jami, Belgian skeptic philosopher Maarten Boudry and Dutch terrorism expert David Suurland.


At the moment, we are experimenting with video uploading and inclusion. Videos are still rare on Wikipedia, so we can make articles extra interesting by uploading reusable material. We've done this before with the 10:23 Campaign (thanks to Vera de Kok), now Leon Korteweg is exploring further possibilities. Ex-Muslim activist Maryam Namazie's opening address at the Secular Conference 2014 has been added, and excerpts from her interview with comedian Kate Smurthwaite on free speech have been embedded in her page. Also, a video of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales calling for the release of Raif Badawi has been included in all language versions (including Arabic) of the latter's biography.

Skeptical organisations in Europe: our not-so-hidden agenda... :)

Our regular followers will have noticed that we write a lot about skeptical organisations in Europe lately. Leon Korteweg, who found it remarkable that everyone knows all about the JREF, The Skeptics Society and Skeptical Inquirer, but almost nothing about their fellow skeptics in neighboring countries because of language barriers, took the initiative to provide basic documentation on several skeptics groups on the European continent (and that includes the British Isles). This has gradually evolved to a continuous project to write a page about every national or regional group in their own language first, then translate it into English, then into Dutch. Hopefully, more languages will follow, so all of us get to know about each other and form a tight movement across the borders, which will make us more powerful and noticeable by the general public whom we're trying to reach.

Skeptical organisations in Europe with their logos. Made by Leon Korteweg.
Since April 2015, Leon is maintaining a public schedule as part of the Wikiproject Skepticism on English and Dutch Wikipedia to visualise every step of progress:
Skeptical organisations in Europe (English)
Skeptische organisaties in Europa (Nederlands)

It's a real challenge to find people who can provide information in the language we need, and then to translate it into English and vice versa. It's exciting but also hard. If you're not a GSoW member yet but are considering joining us and you can read and write Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Spanish and/or Swedish besides English, this is the project where YOU can really make the difference!