Sunday, January 3, 2016

GSoW November and December Year End!

Welcome all to the end of the year GSoW extravaganza for work completed November and December 2015. It was a really exciting year for us with many new editors, conferences and tours. Its all a blur to me now.  

With a few exceptions the majority of the work completed was done by Leon Korteweg, team leader of the Dutch editing team, who seems to have his finger in every pie.  His energy and skill always amazes me. 

We have had many exciting moments in 2015, one in particular is that the Center for Inquiry has elected one of GSoW's photographers to its board of directors. We are talking about Brian Engler whose photography can be seen all over Wikipedia articles GSoW has worked on.  

Another big moment for us was the creation of the brand new European Skeptics Podcast (ESP), if you haven't already subscribed to this terrific podcast, make sure you do today. The hosts are 
András Gábor Pintér who runs the Hungarian GSoW team,  Jelena Levin on the Russian GSoW team and Pontus Böckman who for some reason has managed to avoid joining the GSoW project. We are planning on using all of their interviews for current and future Wikipedia pages. Very proud of these three!


Its the beginning of a brand new year, and GSoW has already started on its focus mission that will run until the end of June 2016. We are trying to complete 100 new or rewritten Wikipedia pages for Skeptic Books, mostly taken off this list of over 500. Please feel free to add more if you see something missing. We are also hoping to create 20 Did You Know? articles and five Good Articles (GA) which is a category on Wikipedia for well good pages. 

The book project is a passion of mine as I once was a avid reader and still have bookcases filled with old favorites as well as others looking at me wondering when I'm going to get started reading them. We selected this theme because it allowed our editors to be able to work in the areas that interested them most, natural sciences, UFO's, Psychics, general knowledge or whatever they wanted.

Be sure to look at the bottom of this blog for recent mentions of the GSoW project.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!


English Team

Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an Agnostiker - Brand new page - AHA! is the only explicitly skeptical association in Luxembourg (a little over half a million inhabitants), with a clear focus on refuting religious claims, equal rights for all citizens regardless of persuasion, secular education and keeping religion out of politics. Leon translated this article from German, and searched for more reliable sources in German, French, English and Luxembourgish; with Dutch as his mother tongue, this required switching between five languages in total. Reviewed by April, Janyce and Susan.

Religion in Luxembourg - Before & after - Leon Korteweg added and updated information regarding religious demographics in Luxembourg in the past 15 years, taking into account changes and debates on church-state separation, child abuse in the Catholic church, the freedom to leave religion and the rise of the secular community, especially AHA!

Aron Ra speaking at De Vrije Gedachte.
René van Elst CC-BY-SA 4.0. 
Aron Ra - Before & after - Aron Ra has been influential in the online creation vs. evolution debate, the science versus religion/pseudoscience debate in general, and has been a public speaker for skepticism around the world in recent years. We were notified that a new page had been created, but it was quite incomplete and contained errors. Leon Korteweg, aided by Pieter Droogendijk, set out to finish the article properly, and also let René van Elst upload the photo of the lecture Aron held in May in Utrecht, the Netherlands (which was actually organised by Leon). While we were working on this page and before Leon translated it to Dutch (see below), someone we don't know also published a Swedish version.

Central Secular Council - Brand new page - This is the highest institutional body of the organised secular movement in Belgium. Leon translated it from French and added new Dutch info. 

Centre d'action laïque - Brand new pageThis is the umbrella of the all secular organisations in French-speaking Belgium. Leon translated it from French and added extra references. Reviewed by Cédric van Walleghem. 

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain - Brand new page - The CEMB is a UK association that seeks to provide a safe haven for people who have left Islam, and a platform for rational criticism of Islam regarding its factual claims and (un)ethical teachings. Most text was split off from the existing article of Central Council of Ex-Muslims and expanded with info on the #ExMuslimBecause campaign by Leon Korteweg. Some info was inserted in Apostasy in Islam as well.

Humanistisch Verbond - Brand new page - The largest humanist association in the Netherlands, which plays an important role in challenging religious privilege and claims, and providing a community for nonbelievers. Translation from Dutch by Leon Korteweg, aided by Remmelt Ellen.

Maajid Nawaz popularised the term 'regressive
left' for those hesitant to criticise Islam.
Eugene Regis CC-BY-SA 2.0
Maajid Nawaz - Brand new page - Leon translated the English lede of this article to Dutch. Maajid Nawaz is an influential British reformist Muslim, who is trying to intellectually fight islamism and jihadism, persuading Muslims to abandon those theocratic tendencies, without having to apostatise completely. Well-known New Atheist author Sam Harris has recently started collaborating with him to enable the dialogue on the need to reform Islam.

Regressive left - Brand new page - "The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist." (Zig Ziglar). This is true for pretty much any topic of concern to skeptics, who often face the question 'What's the harm?' This requires us to highlight the possible consequences of denying potentially harmful ideas.
"The regressive liberals in some Western countries."
Freethinkers of Pakistan, 10 December 2015.
Political Islam or Islamism, and its especially violent subcategory of Jihadism, shouldn't be exceptions. However, these are branches of a religion that nowadays (often with violent blackmail) demands and – all too often receives – an amazing amount of undeserved respect that no other extraordinary belief system seems to even come close to. Especially amongst many Western liberals, there is a tendency to exempt Islam, sometimes even in its most harmful expressions, from any fair and open inquiry, criticism, or satire. They state various reasons – perhaps best summarised overall as 'political correctness' – none of which appear to stand up under scrutiny. Such liberals have been dubbed the "regressive left" by Maajid Nawaz (see above), to distinguish them from the "progressive left" that he deems *is* prepared to criticise Islam and especially its theocratic forms. Leon Korteweg originally published this page in November, and it has since been expanded and challenged from many sides. At the moment of writing, this page is still controversial and nominated for deletion, but it looks like it will be kept.
UPDATE: Maajid Nawaz himself has commented on the matter.

SkeptiCamp video ident by John Mount.
Susan Gerbic CC-BY-SA 4.0
SkeptiCamp - Before & after - New video by Susan Gerbic, refs fixed. 

Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij - Before & after - Listing all chairs since this oldest skeptical organisation was founded in 1881. By Leon Korteweg.

Dutch Team

Ambiguïteitsdrogreden (ambiguity fallacy) - Brand new page - Category of informal logical fallacies that rely on ambiguous usage of language.

Amfibolie (amphiboly) - Brand new page - A kind of ambiguity fallacy, invoked by confusing two ways in which a sentence can be interpreted grammatically. By Leon Korteweg.

Equivocatie (equivocation) - Brand new page - A kind of ambiguity fallacy, invoked by confusing two meanings of the same word (homonyms). By Leon Korteweg.
A well-known meme to counter an appeal to tradition.
Pictured: Pamplona bull running, 50–100 injuries annually.

Argumentum ad antiquitatem (appeal to tradition) - Brand new page - An informal fallacy that argues something must be right, just because it's been believed or practised for a very long time, ignoring the possibility it could have been wrong all along. By Leon Korteweg.

Aron Ra - Brand new page - Translated from English (see above) by Leon Korteweg.

Centrale Vrijzinnige Raad - Brand new page - Leon from French and new Dutch info.

Centre d'action laïque - Brand new page - Leon from French (see above).
One of dozens of ex-Muslim tweets that
were made into memes by the CEMB.

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain - Before & after - Leon Korteweg expanded it with info on the #ExMuslimBecause campaign.

De Ranitz - Before & after - Leon Korteweg took on an (increasingly?) popular conspiracy theory that king William III of the Netherlands was not the real father of queen Wilhelmina, but sir S.M.S. de Ranitz; he would have 'saved the monarchy' by creating desperately needed offspring. The three most common arguments that claimants (especially republican activists, who seek to abolish the royalty) cite in their defence don't appear to hold up under scrutiny. Another Wikipedian elaborated on the matter, providing additional reliable sources.

Hizb ut-Tahrir - Before & after - Leon countered one-sided claims (using a slippery slope fallacy) as if this was a 'terrorist' organisation that should be outlawed everywhere, providing a list of countries where it is legal and where it is not. Although an islamist organisation, it seeks to seize power through military coups, not through armed rebellion (jihadism) let alone by targeting civilians (terrorism), and therefore some countries have deemed it proper not to prohibit their activities, lest they go underground and become uncontrollable.

Jihadisme (jihadism) - Before & after - Leon Korteweg renamed the page from 'jihadi' and massively expanded it to describe the origins of the term, how its usage changed over the last 25 years, how differs from terms like Islam, Islamism and (jihadist) terrorism. Defining these terms is useful to distinguish between the majority of ordinary Muslims who do not support jihad (holy war) as it is currently being practised around the world, and the relatively small yet important and dangerous minority of Muslims who sympathise with or even participate in it.
Justin Bieber infamously committing the No true
Scotsman fallacy against his own fans (2011).

No true ScotsmanBrand new page - Translated from English by Leon Korteweg, rearranged and examples given from recently published books by two Dutch-speaking skeptical philosophers, Maarten Boudry and Floris van den Berg, whom the Dutch team (Coen, Wim, Emile, Leon) has written about earlier.
This logical fallacy is invoked to save the perception we would like have of a certain group, especially a group of people we're part of and like, or a different group that we dislike, by (temporarily) excluding a person or people that belong(s) to the group, but do(es) not conform to the expected behaviour of that group.

Regressief links (regressive left) - Brand new page - After writing it in English, Leon translated it to Dutch. Unlike on English Wikipedia, its existence has not been controversial so far, nor have Dutch Wikipedians changed it, so this page has stayed close to the original design.

Sam Harris - Before & after -  By Leon. Added his new book with Maajid Nawaz, Islam and the Future of Tolerance, and his part in the 'New Atheism' movement.

Stichting Skepsis - Before & after - Notable controversies the Dutch Skeptics have been involved in, a new board picture (arranged by Leon at the recent Skepsis Congres). By Leon Korteweg.

Suggestieve vraag (suggestive question) - Brand new page (partly split off from 'strikvraag', which appears to not be an actual logical fallacy) - It's not clear what the exact difference is between this fallacy and several related terms, such as 'loaded question', 'leading question' and 'many questions', especially considering the literature on several of them use the classic 'Have you stopped beating your wife?' example to illustrate why it's fallacious. Despite terminological problems, Leon Korteweg presented 5 forms of a suggestive question that people (especially in law & order) should avoid during cross examinations, to prevent false accusations, false confessions and distorting eyewitness testimony. Assisted by Wim Vandenberghe.

Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij - Before & after - Listing all chairs since this oldest skeptical organisation was founded in 1881. By Leon Korteweg.
Loretta Marron. Eran Segev
CC-BY-SA 4.0

Vitus Bruinsma - Before & after - Added picture and some references and categories to a newly written article about (arguably) one of the first Dutch skeptics ever, cofounder of the VtdK, (arguably) the oldest skeptical organisation in the world.

Russian Team

Loretta Marron - Brand new page - By Svetlana Bavykina, translated from English. Marron is the CEO of Friends of Science in Medicine, which has challenged numerous false and dubious claims from alternative mecidine, and warning the public about these treatments. Australian Skeptics named her Skeptic of the Year three times.

Hungarian Team
Gábor Hraskó. András Pintér
CC-BY-SA 3.0

Gábor Hraskó - Brand new page - By András G. Pintér, translated from Hungarian. Hraskó is chair of the European Council of Skeptical Organisations (ECSO) and president of the Hungarian Skeptics Society (SzT), and active as a science communicator and skeptical spokesperson in Hungary's national media.

Italian Team

Massimo PigliucciBrand new page - By Raffaella. Pigliucci is an Italian-American philosopher and skeptic, co-host of the Rationally Speaking podcast with Julia Galef, and co-author of the 2013 book Philosophy of Pseudoscience with Maarten Boudry.


Photos from the Skepsis Congres 2015.
Book covers added to Category:Scientific skepticism media.
Massimo Pigliucci. Tim
Deschaumes CC-BY-SA 3.0
Logos of Giordano Bruno Foundation, ex-Muslim organisations, Skeptic Society (Russia), HuJo and HVV (Flemish humanists).


TheESP - European Skeptics Podcast Ep #001 feat. an interview with Gábor Hraskó

Friendly Atheist Podcast interview with Susan Gerbic

Australian Skeptic Magazine interview with Susan Gerbic


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