Saturday, May 2, 2015

The March - April GSoW Updates

Thinking of joining GSoW? Want to know more about training? Check out our YouTube channel. We have interviews with our editors as well as short videos from past Skepticality podcasts. Most of your questions will be answered by this channel. We are updating the videos often so please subscribe and not miss a single one.


Here is an example of a unhappy Wikipedia editor who is using GSoW as an example of a group that is astroturfing. This person sites an old JREF lecture to say that GSoW is bullying and attacking believers. They say this great line "I hear them echoed on almost every talk page I visit these days".

To which another editor (non-GSoW) responds thanking GSoW for bringing in quality editors that follow the rules.

And one more. This is a very upset group that has launched a KickStarter for a book about Wikipedia and how it refuses to let the other side of medicine (quackery) in. How dare we insist on truth and citations and peer review. Give generously to this kickstarter as it will keep them busy for quite a while. "We will correct the errors and omissions with truthful, scientific data about the specific alternative health movements and modalities. " Seriously readers this is what GSoW deals with every day. Please, we have a lot of work to do and are fighting to make Wikipedia strong and accurate. If you are looking for a project that educates, and is amazingly important, look no further.  GSoW is where its at. Write to us at


Vaccination Team: This project is open to all trained team members. We are working on pro-vax and anti-vax Wikipedia pages. We are making small edits to pages like this one that now appears on Charlie Sheen's Wikipedia page (thanks to Gene) and is getting about 4K views a day.

Wendy Sue Swanson - editor Janyce Boynton - Brand New Page created Wendy Sue Swanson (born 1974) is a pediatrician, educator and author best known for her Seattle Mama Doc blog. As a doctor and a mother, Swanson advocates the use of online tools, such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, to strengthen communication between healthcare providers and patients. Swanson asserts that online technologies can assist patients and families in becoming stewards of their own health. Swanson has dedicated her career to helping physicians learn to use online tools more effectively in helping patients make informed decisions based in science. "While we don't have the capability just yet," Swanson states, "my goal is to prove that an empowered and informed patient reduces health care costs and improves outcomes.

This Did You Know? Appeared on the front page of Wikipedia May 2, 2015

Hungarian Team:

Measles - András G. Pintér - Before & After (Pseudoscientific claims added - Stefan Lanka and the €100 000 to be payed)

Härtlein Károly (huwiki) - András G. Pintér - Brand new page (well known science advocate in physics, chief organizer of Skeptics Conference in Budapest)

Kanyaró (huwiki) - András G. Pintér - Before & After (Hungarian Measles page. Antivax movement section and pseudoscience section added)

Szentágothai János (huwiki) - András G. Pintér - Before & After (the founder of the Hungarian skeptic movement. A section added, mentioning that fact.)

Hungarian Skeptic Society - András G. Pintér - Before & After

HLakos András - András G. Pintér - Brand new page (well known infectologist, MD, specializing in Lyme and other diseases spread by ticks, often debates anti-vax activists)

English Editing Teams:

Team Curie

Facilitated Communication was rewritten by a team of GSoW editors and some people outside GSoW - Facilitated Communication (FC) is a technique used by some caregivers and educators in an attempt to assist people with severe communication disabilities. There is widespread agreement within the scientific community and multiple disability advocacy organizations, that facilitators, not the person with the communication disability, are the source of messages obtained through FC.

Team Rydberg:

We are glad to announce our project has grown enough to launch a new English team! Janyce Boynton (previously on Team Curie) and Greg Neilson (previously on Team Sagan) have agreed to guide Team Rydberg, joined by a record number of members who've just finished their training. We hope to see many fresh and rewritten articles from them.

Team Sagan:

Amanda Bauer - Greg Neilson - Brand New Page - Amanda Elaine Bauer (born 26 May 1979) is an American professional astronomer and science communicator, currently working in Australia. She is a Research Astronomer at Australia's largest optical observatory, the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO), where her principal field of research concerns how galaxies form, how they create new stars, and particularly why they stop creating new stars. She is better known to the public through her efforts as the AAO Public Outreach Officer.

Robert Sheaffer - Jim Preston - Before & After - Robert Sheaffer (born 1949) is a freelance writer and skeptic. He is an investigator of unidentified flying objects, having researched many sightings and written critiques of the hypothesis that UFOs are alien spacecraft. In addition to UFOs, his writings cover topics such as Christianity, academic feminism, the scientific theory of evolution, and creationism. He is the author of five books. Sheaffer writes for Skeptical Inquirer (where he contributes the regular "Psychic Vibrations" column), Fate Magazine, andSpaceflight. He was a founding member (with Philip J. Klass and James Oberg) of the UFO Subcommittee of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and is a fellow of that organization. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and a member of MENSA.

Association française pour l'information scientifique (French Association for Scientific Information) - This brand new page was translated from French to Dutch (see Dutch Team below) and then to English by Leon Korteweg, reviewed by Julie Tomlinson and Janyce Boynton.

Susan Gerbic - Kyle Hamar - Brand new page - Susan Marie Gerbic (born August 8, 1962) is an American professional portrait photographer and skeptical activist living in Salinas, California.Gerbic is the co-founder of Monterey County Skeptics, founder of Skeptic Action, leader of Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW), a regular contributor to Skepticality, contributes to Skeptical Inquirer and a frequent speaker at skeptic conferences such as The Amazing Meet!ng (TAM), SkeptiCal and Question, Explore, Discover (QED). Susan Gerbic was born in Salinas, California to Anthony and Tressie Gerbic in 1962. Gerbic manages a Portrait Studio and has a B.A. in social history.

Julia Galef - as we announced in the Jan-Feb blog update, the Dutch team has fulfilled its promise done on 26 January to Julia Galef to create a brand new page about her. Emile Dingemans sought out all sources and wrote the text, Leon Korteweg helped him, Coen took the closeup picture and recorded a voice intro (which will be added later). Susan Gerbic and Michelle Franklin reviewed the text.

Heather Henderson - Susan Gerbic - Brand New Page - Heather Henderson, (born March 7, 1973), also known as Baby Heather, is a professional burlesque dancer, singer, model, filmmaker, producer and host for Ardent Atheists and Skeptically Yours podcasts. In 2012 Ardent Atheist won The People's Choice Podcast Awards in the religion inspiration category. In 1989-1991 Henderson was a regular on the nationally televised Dance Party USA show where she appeared as Baby Heather. In her teens Henderson released a single called Give it up Baby Heather which was given a positive review by Billboard Magazine. She currently is a member of Penn Jillette's No God Band and is a vocal activist for atheism and against psychics.

The Amaz!ing Meeting page rewrite Before & After - Susan Gerbic - The Amaz!ng Meeting (TAM) is an annual conference that focuses on science, skepticism, and critical thinking. The conference started in 2003 and is sponsored by the James Randi Educational Foundation or (JREF). Perennial speakers include Penn & Teller, Phil Plait, Michael Shermer and James 'The Amazing' Randi. Speakers at the four-day conference are selected from a variety of disciplines including scientific educators, magicians, and community activists. Outside the plenary sessions the conference includes workshops, additional panel discussions, music and magic performances and live taping of podcasts including the The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe.

NECSS - Brand New Page - Susan Gerbic - The Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS, pronounced as "nexus") is a four-day conference focusing on science and skepticism held each April in New York City. Its purpose is exploring the intersection of science, skepticism, the media, and society for the purpose of promoting a more rational world. It was founded in 2009, run jointly by the New York City Skeptics (NYCS) and the New England Skeptical Society (NESS). The Society for Science-Based Medicine joined as a full sponsor of the conference in 2015. Attendance is estimated at 400 people.

Recent Graduates Final Projects Team

Dave Thomas - editor David Brown - Before & After - Dave Thomas (born 1953) is a physicist and mathematician best known for his scientific skepticism research and writings. He is a graduate of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and his work includes the Roswell and Aztec UFO sightings, theBible Code, Climate Change, the 9/11 Truth Movement and Chemtrails. Many of Thomas' articles have been published in Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

Lucie Green - editor James Williams - Before & After - Lucie Green (born c.1975) is a British astrophysicist, solar researcher, astronomer and science communicator. Since 2005 Green has been a Royal Society University Research Fellow (previously the Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow) at Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) of the University College London (UCL). Green also runs MSSL's public engagement programme and sits on the board of the European Solar Physics Division (ESPD) of the European Physical Society and the advisory board of theScience Museum.

Elizabeth Whelan - editor Gene Roseberry - Before & After - Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan (/ˈhwlən/; December 4, 1943 – September 11, 2014) was an epidemiologist best known for challenging government regulations in the consumer products, food, and pharmaceuticals industries that arose from faulty science. In 1978, she founded the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) to provide a formal foundation for her work. She also wrote, or co-wrote, more than 20 books and over 300 articles in scientific journals and laymen publications.

Jere Lipps - editor Jerod Lycett - Before & After - Jere Henry Lipps (August 28, 1939) is Director of the Dr. John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center and Curator of Paleontology at the University of California Museum of Paleontology. Lipps was the ninth Director of the museum (1989-1997)and chair of the department of Integrative Biology at Berkeley (1991–1994). He served as president of the Paleontological Societyin 1997, and the Cushman Foundation for Foraminiferal Research Inc.

Carol Tavris - editor Lauren Carr - Before & After - Carol Anne Tavris (born September 17, 1944) is an American social psychologist and feminist. As a public intellectual, she has devoted her career to writing and lecturing about the contributions of psychological science to the beliefs and practices that guide people’s lives, and to criticizing “psychobabble,” “biobunk,” and pseudoscience. Her many writings have dealt with critical thinking,cognitive dissonance, anger, gender, and other topics in psychology.

Mark Edward - editor Cathy Smith - Before & After - Mark Edward (born Mark Edward Wilson, May 19, 1951, Los Angeles, CA) is a professional mentalist who specializes in magic of the mind. He wrote several books on mentalism, séance theory and production and appeared on television as both primary consultant and on-air performer in such diverse programming as A & E's Biography: "Houdini, the Great Escape," NBC's "The Other Side" and "Psychic Secrets Revealed," The Sci-Fi Channel's "Mysteries, Magic and Miracles," The Discovery Channel's "Forces Beyond," and on two episodes of The Learning Channel's "Exploring the Unknown." His featured segment as a spirit medium on the pilot episode of Showtime's "Penn & Teller's Bullshit!" series entitled "Speaking with the Dead" helped secure an Emmy Award nomination for that episode in 2002.

The Perry DeAngelis Wikipedia page received a 3-minute audio update from editor David Brown who received permission from the SGU to edit down audio Perryisms into something we could use for the Wikipedia page. The audio intro project is a GSoW "thing" be sure to check out our progress.

Dutch Team:

The Dutch team is currently focusing on two main projects: the Vaccination Project (see above) and Skeptical organisations in Europe (the latter of which non-GSoW Wikipedians can also participate in). We are working various Dutch vaccination articles, but cannot report any completed pages yet at this moment. However, on the front of documenting the European skeptical movement, the following has been achieved:
(De Vrije Gedachte CC BY-SA 4.0)

De Vrije Gedachte (The Free Thought), a Dutch association founded in 1856 for freethought, atheism, humanism, skepticism, secularism and free speech, was very small before Leon Korteweg got involved with it. He learnt that Tim de Vries was preparing a rewrite, but struggled with what to do next. Leon took over the project and with the assistance of several people including team member Emile Dingemans, photographer and editor of its magazine De Vrijdenker René van Elst, its then-chairman Anton van Hooff, and freethought historian Bert Gasenbeek, executed a major expansion. Right now, the page looks like THIS. An English translation is almost ready as well.

Skepsis ry, the Finnish skeptical association, was first improved in English (before - after) and then translated from English to Dutch by Leon Korteweg, checked by Wim Vandenberghe. However, seeing the Finnish article was much larger and up to date, they wanted to look for a Finnish translator to help expanding both English and Dutch pages. At QED 2015, Leon actually met a skeptic from Finland willing to aid us; we hope to cooperate with him to be able to tell more about Skepsis ry.

Association française pour l'information scientifique (French Association for Scientific Information) is a French group, one of the oldest skeptical organisations in the world, preceding the foundation of CSICOP by 8 years. It was translated to Dutch by Rik Delaet and corrected, improved and illustrated by Leon Korteweg: Association française pour l'information scientifique. Then it was translated to English, see Team Sagan.

CICAP - After Raffaella Vitali had improved and expanded the Italian and English articles of CICAP, the Italian skeptics, Leon Korteweg translated it to Dutch. The text was reviewed by Jurgen Voorneveld, a new associate of the Dutch team.

Wim and Leon are working with Norwegian skeptics to improve their article, and translate it to English and Dutch; we hope to report on those efforts when they come to fruition. We have contacted the Czech skeptics (they were busy testing hundreds of dowsers in Prague, but promised to get back to us). We established contact with COMCEPT - the Portuguese skeptics - who presented at QED, as well as the Greater Manchester Skeptics Society and Glasgow Skeptics. We are trying to get in touch with all other groups in Europe.

(Good Thinking CC BY-SA 4.0)

To our amused surprise, the page for the Good Thinking Society was launched just after QED by someone else! Snatched away right before we could start on it. Apparently we were not the only ones inspired by Michael Marshall's talk on Homeopathy in the UK last Saturday morning. But, as one can see, this article could use further expansion, so we might work on that in the next two months.

We have also launched the Wikiproject Skepticism on Dutch Wikipedia, to increase cooperation between skeptical Wikipedians; they don't have to be GSoW members to participate. We will see how this evolves.

Roguing Emile:

Emile Dingemans again performed many notable hit-and-run actions while "roguing" the Dutch Wikipedia:

  • Added news on the extrication of three psychics by the Belgian mentalist Gili during the Flemish TV-show Café Corsari. He let the psychics wander though and feel the Zuiderpershuis. All three psychics came with a similar story about a murder that had happened in the old factory. A fake story that Gili had put on the official website of Zuiderpershuis. (Added to three articles).
  • Gili Changes
  • Zuiderpershuis Changes
  • Café Corsari Changes
  • Added the biography of a Dutch atheist comedian who only several days later announced in his TV-show to become the first Pharaoh Arjen Henrik I of The Netherlands. He managed to receive enough signatures for his citizens' initiative, to have his idea suggested for discussion in the national parliament. This gave 2.000 hits on his Wikipedia page that day, where people could read about his struggle with his religious background and coming out as an atheist. Changes View statistics
  • Added skeptics criticism on Ayurveda. Changes
  • Updated and restructured several pages on Dutch patenting system: Octrooi; Octrooi in Nederland; Octrooi in België; Benelux Patent Platform; Benelux-Bureau voor de Intellectuele Eigendom; Europees Octrooibureau; Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland; Agentschap NL; Europees Octrooiverdrag.
  • Added section on International Agency for Research on Cancer's classification of glyphosate as 'probably carcinogenic', with criticism to the misunderstanding in popular media as if it was a risk analysis, and analysis by Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung. Changes
  • Update introduction of Dutch article on the controversial MSG (Monosodiumglutamate), pointing out that it is available in 'natural' products like tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms. Listing essential nutrients. Changes
  • Enlarged Massimo Pigliucci's page with information on the Rationally Speaking podcast. Changes

Italian Team:

European Council of Skeptical Organisations - Having been previously written in English, Dutch and Hungarian, the ECSO page has now been translated into Italian by our wonderful editor Raffaella Vitali.

Russian Team:

Общество скептиков (Skeptic Society) - Several writers, translators and reviewers worked on this multilingual project that resulted in three new articles about the Russian-speaking skeptical community founded by Kirill Alferov in 2013.

In Russian, the page was created by Katy, Jelena and Svetlana (with the aid of Leon and Kirill himself); in English translated by Jelena and Leon (reviewed by Janyce, James and Julie); in Dutch translated by Leon (reviewed by Emile).

GSoW mentions

András Pintér lectured about GSoW at the Budapesti Szkeptikus Konferencia in Hungarian on 28 March 2015.

The Skeptic Zone published an interview in English with GSoW Hungarian team leader András Pintér on 12 April 2015.

Leon Korteweg and Vera de Kok lectured about GSoW at The Hague Skeptics in the Pub in English on 3 April 2015.

Leon Korteweg lectured about GSoW at Vrijdenkerscafé Utrecht in Dutch on 13 April 2015.

András Pintér gave a talk in English about 'The authority problem' during SkeptiCamp Manchester 2015, preceding QED 2015. A part of the lecture was dedicated to Wikipedia and GSoW.

We're mentioned on the cover of Skepter, the Dutch skeptical magazine! Leon Korteweg's article appears on p. 39–41.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Jan - Feb 2015 Starting the Year off right!

The year seems to be starting off right.  GSoW has launched a new group focus, this time it is all things concerning vaccines. We have decided to focus on this topic because of the recent alarming outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in areas where immunisation rates have dropped. And because we have already done the pages for many of the skeptical spokespeople who are publicly supporting vaccines (David Gorski, Harriet Hall, Steven Novella and more) we are going to focus on the anti-vaxers.  

The only one that was finished in time for this blog update was for the anti-vax lecturer Sherri Tenpenny.  This Ohio woman was planning a Australian tour encouraging parents not to vaccinate their children.  The Australian skeptic community was able to organize and get her tour cancelled. You can read all about it on her Wikipedia page. These pages aren't going to be the beautiful pages you have grown used to reading about here on this blog, with photos and interesting facts about their lives.  These pages are designed to just get the facts and citations out there, just the bare bones.  We aren't going to be hunting these people down and asking them to upload a nice profile photo or audio.  
This is the before and after for Sherri Tenpenny.  The work on this page was completed by Susan Gerbic and two non-GSoW skeptics, Joe Alabaster and Phil Kent.  


The next big news is that the Australian Skeptic's National Convention have asked me (Susan) to travel to Brisbane to speak in their conference. I'm so thrilled, I had no idea I was even being considered.  I hope to be going on a skeptic lecture tour (hopefully hitting all the places that Tenpenny had to vacate) 


Christine Daley and Leon Korteweg improved and expanded the List of prizes for evidence of the paranormal, this is essential for the international skeptical movement: prove us that there is something paranormal, magical, supernatural or whatever extraordinary under controlled conditions, and skeptics will be amazed and pay you well. Curiously, however, nobody has even passed any of the tests, and not for a lack of trying, nor because they were unfair – conditions are always mutually agreed upon between challengers and claimants. Before & After

Leon Korteweg has given the Atheist Manifesto by Dutch philosopher Herman Philipse an English Wikipedia page (reviewed by Michelle Franklin). Although Philipse said he was frustrated everyone in the Netherlands only knew him from 'that odd manifesto', branded 'superficial' by opponents, this booklet was enough for Ayaan Hirsi Ali to reject Islam definitively, after which she became the world's most vocal female critic of religion. She wrote the preface to the 2004 republication. 

On 18 February, Rob Nanninga was featured as on the Main Page as Did You Know, attracting an amazing 11,500 views that day, another 5,000 the next day and 7,500 more the third day! Leon Korteweg, who had previously written his Dutch article in September, and improved it before publishing the English translation (with the help of Susan Gerbic, Julie Tomlinson, Janyce Boynton, Michelle Franklin and Jan Willem Nienhuys who all reviewed it) on 30 January, was overwhelmed at the success.

Warrick Couch - by editor Greg Neilson was a brand new creation. Greg told me that he was shocked that this man didn't already have a Wikipedia page. Once I read Greg's draft I had to agree, this man has done just about everything but "Dancing with the Stars".  I think that might be a reality show that I would watch, can you imagine a bunch of astronomers dancing together?  I think that would be a great theme for a astronomy conference. 

Greg applied for the Did You Know and within a few days it was on the front page. It even bypassed the normal waiting period. We aren't complaining, DYK's get the page views outside the normal skeptic choir. 

Warrick Couch hit 1,999 views during its first 3 days Did You Know window

Perry DeAngelis, who most people will know as a former host of The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast of the New England Skeptical Society (see below) before his death in 2007, was in fact the driving force behind the foundation of both. Susan Gerbic and Jim Preston created a page to acknowledge his importance.

The New England Skeptic Society (NESS) was given a major rewrite by Susan Gerbic, who delved into its history (among them Perry DeAngelis' part, see above), achievements and activities. It now has a worthy article - Before & After

Jelena Levin wrote a new page for Recovering from Religion, an international organisation that provides help to people who struggle with losing their faith. Recently a hotline was launched for anyone facing immediate troubles, while RR does not preach or proselytise, only provide aid where it can. Leon Korteweg reviewed and corrected the article.

The stub for Mark Forsyth was massively expanded by Janyce Boynton. Before & After

On 11 February, Janyce Boynton's page about American folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand featured as a Did You Know on English Wikipedia's Main Page. It received over a 1,000 views that day.

Leon Korteweg translated Het Denkgelag (see below) from Dutch to English.


The Dutch team has continued translating biographies of Dutch-speaking skeptical activists to English. As reported in early January, we have published the English pages of Flemish philosopher Maarten Boudry (SKEPP, Het Denkgelag) and Dutch physician Catherine de Jong (VtdK), both actively involved in the movement.
Now Leon Korteweg has translated the articles for Jan Willem Nienhuys (reviewed by Ryan Harding, Susan Gerbic and Nienhuys himself) as the public face of Stichting Skepsis, and the late Rob Nanninga (reviewed by Michelle Franklin, Susan Gerbic, Janyce Boynton and Jan Willem Nienhuys), who was the driving force behind Stichting Skepsis as editor of Skepter magazine until his death.

Leon Korteweg also translated the English entry he wrote for Skeptics with a K, which was reviewed by Wim Vandenberghe and Coen de Bruijn.

Emile, Leon, Jozef and Coen at Het Denkgelag in Antwerp.
(Photo: Pieter Van Vlaanderen)
After visiting Het Denkgelag in Antwerp on 26 January together with Jozef, Coen, Emile and others who are allies of GSoW, Leon worked together with them and several Flemish skeptics including Pieter Brauwers, Pieter Van Nuffel, Dries Van Giel and Maarten Boudry to write an article for this young conference that tries to reach people beyond the skeptical choir. We also got an amazing opportunity to interview Julia Galef for a future page about her, as well as meeting Maarten Boudry whose page we had been expanding in Dutch and translate to English for several weeks, for which he kindly thanked us. Vera de Kok aided in the layout of pictures across the page.

The improved and expanded the List of prizes for evidence of the paranormal (see above) has been translated into Dutch by Leon Korteweg and Wim Vandenberghe.

Lanyrd is increasingly used for planning, documenting and coverage of skeptical events, ranging from multi-day conferences to smaller gatherings such as Skeptics in the Pub. Leon Korteweg and Emile Dingemans thought it was time to make Lanyrd known among the Dutch-speaking public by giving them a Wikipedia page in Dutch.

Roguing Emile
Emile Dingemans performed many notable hit-and-run actions while "roguing" the Dutch Wikipedia:

  • Orthorexia Nervosa (disorder of obsession with "healthy" food, which is not yet in DSM-5 but probably will enter in DSM-6). Added explanation and causes of the disorder, with sources from experts. Removed what looked like unsourced laymen interpretations. Changes
  • Complete update for Voedingsadditief (Food additive). Explained what they are, and why they are in our food. How they are documented, and how strict the regulation is (with 1500 views a month, quite popular). Changes
  • Added on Multiple Sclerose (Multiple Sclerosis) a large study that HPV-vaccination is not a cause for MS. Changes
  • Addition to Essentieel nutriënt (essential nutrient). Changes
  • Checked controversial claims about the Partij van de Eenheid (a local Islamic party). Changes
  • Added information on Chemische synthese (Chemical synthesis) to explain the misconception of 'chemical' and 'synthetic'. Changes
  • Rigorous restructuring of Universiteit (University). Including revising the definition as an institution for scienctic education and research. Moving national segments away to their appropriate articles, keeping the focus on University. Removal of POV, unencyclopedic writing, etc. Changes
  • Asked for several sources for dubious claims on Orthomoleculaire behandelwijzen (Orthomolecular medicine). Added criticism on the method by Luc Bonneux and David Gorski. Changes
  • Added explanation on E-nummer (E number). Removed dubious claims and alarmist writings, explaining what they mean after some desk research, and why they are called 'safe'. (has around 2500 views a month) Changes
  • Added information on the dye Amarant (Amaranth) explaining why it is forbidden in the US and not in the EU and how safe intake is controlled. Removed unnecessary alarmist cancer-claims. Changes


Raffaella Vitali put a lot of effort in translating the Burzynski Clinic to Italian. This fine article now joins our German, Dutch, Portuguese, and Polish versions on the controversial Texas alternative cancer treatment clinic of Stanislaw Burzynski.


Monica Quijano rewrote the Spanish page about Chupacabras, the cryptids that are often ascribed mysterious disappearances or deaths of animals in the Americas, but for whose existence there has never been found any conclusive reliable evidence, despite wide popular belief. The page was riddled with unsourced claims or poor citations (16 in total), now it has 53 solid references, providing much more accurate information on the subject. The article was reviewed by Walkiria Nubes and Erik Hess. Before & After


In a special article for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, 'Burzynski Clinic: A Scientifical Year Of Fail', Sharon Hill credits GSoW –among others– for providing 'extensive information and citations of [Burzynski's] failure to produce evidence, his failure to follow regulations, and the consensus that scientists and cancer organizations have discredited the doctor and his treatments' on Wikipedia (in several languages).

Evan Burnstein writes about the Perry DeAngelis page creation. 

In line with the GSoW Vax project, we will now concentrate on providing more accurate and reliable information about vaccination and the anti-vaxx movement. Susan interviewed Leon about his own story with vaccination and the situation in the Netherlands (an abridged version featured on Skepticality #248 @11:10).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Short tutorial on how to use Cat-A-Lot on Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is the media database of the Wikimedia projects. It is structures using categories, I've blogged about how categories work on 'Commons before. Yesterday Leon asked me if I knew a tool that would easily categorize a batch of images. Cat-A-Lot is a usefull tool for this. I made a short screencast explaining how to use it:

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Year End GSoW updates (Nov-Dec, 2014)

What an amazing year! Really we have been busy. I look back on the last few blog updates and see some incredible work by our GSoW team. We are really making a difference and continuing to grow. The conference season is about to start and lets hope that you will see GSoW members at all the conferences (big and small) as you know we need the outreach in order to be able to recruit new members and gather more citations, audio and photographs of the people and projects from our community.  Yours Truly began the year with the first SkeptiCamp of 2015 in my local skeptic group (our first conference) it was a blast and am already planning the 2016 event. 

Check out this awesome cartoon Kyle Saunders drew for us and it tells the story better than I can. We have really frustrated a lot of paranormal people. I got a tweet last week from someone I don't know that said this...

Well I can only assume this is another person that is upset that we are asking for citations for claims made on Wikipedia. Sorry, but that is just how it works.  Fascinating mentality.  

We have had nine new members in the last two weeks. That is a very good sign, and three others are about to come out of training. I should be able to talk about their final projects next blog update.  

We have several pages that are only sentences away from being finished that are not included here on this update. We want to make sure everything is completed before we release them. So they will be waiting till the next update as well.  So in the meantime, enjoy what our team has created for you, and for the rest of the world. We are truly reaching beyond the choir!

Updates, Updates, Everywhere
GSoW has started to experiment with editing events loosely based around the Wikipedia This Weeks Article for Improvement effort. Many editors working on a single subject with many small improvements can make a huge difference.


Leon Korteweg continued his efforts to document all skeptical organisations in Europe by translating Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften (GWUP) to Dutch. This organisation that unifies all German-speaking skeptics in Europe (essentially Germans, Austrians and Swiss), is among the most active and visual skeptical societies on the continent and works together closely with other groups in for example the Netherlands and Belgium. The article was reviewed by Rian van Lierop and Tijmen van Assen.
In the same category, Leon translated European Council of Skeptical Organisations and Association for Skeptical Enquiry that he first wrote in English (see below). Emile Dingemans reviewed the Dutch versions.

Although famous as "The Science Guy" in the United States, Bill Nye is not well-known in the Dutch-speaking world. Tijmen van Assen, assisted by Leon Korteweg, decided to make extensive biographical information about this science educator available in their language.

Coen de Bruijn, Emile Dingemans and Leon Korteweg greatly expanded Flemish philosopher Maarten Boudry's page (Before & After). A rising star within the skeptical movement, he repeated a Sokal-style hoax and succeeded in fooling two Christian philosophical conferences. His thesis on psychoanalysis (that was recently made into an audiobook by Jozef Van Giel), earned him the SKEPP prize for the best research into pseudoscience and the paranormal. He has since organised and spoke at many conferences about pseudoscience.

Catherine de Jong is arguably the most powerful woman in European skepticism. She led the 10:23 Campaign in the Netherlands, became chair of the Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (Dutch Society Against Quackery, the oldest skeptical organisation in the world), and in 2013 was elected board member of the European Council of Skeptical Organisations. Vera de Kok took her picture and recorded her voice intro, Leon Korteweg wrote her biography, our new member Raymond van Es reviewed it.

Emile Dingemans successfully managed to keep the page about "The Iceman" Wim Hof factually accurate, when Hof's son tried to insert extraordinary claims without any evidence to back it up. Although Hof claims to be able to cope with extreme cold through a mixture of Buddhist, Hindu and other Asian meditation techniques, scientific investigations from two universities provide some evidence suggesting that a particular breathing technique, that has nothing to do with the psyche, but also a genetic advantage, help Hof endure low temperatures rather than any psychological manipulation of the auto-immune system. Before & After

Comité Para was updated by Leon Korteweg after it adopted a new logo and changed its longer official name. Before & After

When the Lijst van skeptische tijdschriften (List of skeptical magazines) was challenged for a lack of reliable sources, Leon Korteweg took the criticism seriously and contacted the Archive for the Unexplained in Sweden, that holds one of the world's most extensive collections of skeptical and ufological magazines. With its database as reference, the page was revised and expanded in both Dutch and English (see below), and saved from deletion in Dutch, having been reviewed by several non-GSoW Wikipedians. Before & After


The European Council of Skeptical Organisations (ECSO) coordinates the work of many (trans)national and regional groups in Europe, hosting, organising or sponsoring conferences and symposia, exchanging information and supporting the setup of hew groups. Leon Korteweg collaborated with many others to complete this umbrella organisation's article, including ECSO chairman Gábor Hraskó, ECSO board member Catherine de Jong, former ECSO board member Michael Heap, András Pínter, Susan Gerbic, Vera de Kok (technical support) and Ryan Harding (reviewing). After publication, the page was translated to Dutch (see above) and Hungarian (see below).

While drafting the ECSO, Susan suggested we should contact the Association for Skeptical Enquiry as well. The ASKE is, amongst other things, known for organising skeptical conferences in Manchester a decade before QED originated, distributing the Skeptical Intelligencer and conducting dozens of paranormal investigations, mainly by Tony Youens. ASKE chairman Michael Heap soon aided Leon Korteweg in completing both pages, Vera de Kok helped with picture restoration, the draft was reviewed by Ryan Harding. After publication, the page was translated to Dutch (see above).

After the Dutch version of the List of skeptical magazines was challenged (see above), Leon Korteweg made sure reliable sources were also added in English, significantly expanding the list as well. Before & After

The Last Dragon (2004 film) has been thoroughly cleaned up by Leon Korteweg, after warnings by other Wikipedians that no (reliable) sources were provided had been ignored for more than a year. The text consisted almost entirely of a plot summary without any reference, and seemed to encourage an uncritical view of dragons as more than mythical creatures, and to portray cryptozoology as legitimate science, blurring the lines between fact and fiction, history and imagination, with suggestive categories such as "hypothetical life forms" (which dragons aren't in biology). Critical but honest reviews of the film have been added from reliable sources. Overly important that this page gets the GSoW treatment and has correct information on it.  December 2014 it received over 3 thousand views.  Before & After

Comité Para was updated by Leon Korteweg after it adopted a new logo and changed its longer official name. Before & After

Skepticality - Christine Daley has taken on a much needed update of the Skepticality podcast Wikipedia page. Before & After

Article Montel Williams has been updated with a criticism section by Chris Allen - Williams page now says "Controversial self-declared psychic Sylvia Browne featured frequently on The Montel Williams Show from 1991 until its finalé in 2008. Williams described Browne as "the most appearing guest on a talk show in the history of television" and "the longest running guest in daytime television",[18][19] and her appearances included particularly controversial incidents relating to kidnap victims Shawn Hornbeck and Amanda Berry. Williams has been criticized for allowing his high-profile show to serve as a channel for Browne, notably by fellow retired military officer Hal Bidlack, with Bidlack publicly asking "Commander Williams, have you lost your honor?". 

The Montauk Project (Chris Allen) rewrite and merge from Preston Nichols's page that was deleted. Before & After  I had not heard of the Montauk project before Chris had taken on updating this page. So I was pretty surprised to learn that it gets a lot of page views, December 2014 it got over 10,000 views. Amazing!

Jan Harold Brunvand This was a really fun and much needed rewrite by Janyce Boynton. I knew nothing about this man, but of course knew all about the term "Urban Legend" which he is famous for. Fascinating man, so happy to see his Wikipedia page go from 3 citations to 73 citations. Truly an amazing page. Before & After


CICAP, the Italian skeptical organisation, was recently completely rewritten and expanded by Raffaella Vitali. Before & After


European Council of Skeptical Organisations - translated by András G. Pintér from the English article by Leon Korteweg

Origin of Species - András G. Pintér extended the contents of the article and divided it into sections, along with providing more reference - Before & After

Paleoastronautics - An article by Attila Hartai on the theories of claimed historical visits by extraterrestrial intelligence

Hungarian Skeptic Society - (work still in progress) András G. Pintér added an info box along with additional information to the article, backed up by references - Before & After

Tényeket Tisztelők Társasága - A former, no longer existing, unofficial group of Hungarian skeptics (no photo yet, work still in progress). András G. Pintér added more information, backed by references, Attila Hartai made some structural corrections - Before & After


GWUP conference - May 2014 - lecture by Michael Steinkellner 

Carbon Dating blog

Leon Korteweg's interview with Dutch Kritisch Denken

Skepticality podcasts - Nov 20, Dec 3 & Dec 24th 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

GSoW on the Move - Sept-Oct 2014 updates

Many great things have happened in the last couple months, lots of work getting done as you will see below in a few minutes. Make sure you check the before and after's on each of these rewrites, you will be amazed.


I have been honored by parapsychologist Rupert Sheldrake by placing me on his list of Who's Who in media skeptics.  I'm not sure what that means, but heck I'm with a great bunch of people.  From what I can tell this is a website devoted to several aims... 

  • "Investigates popular media pseudoskeptics."
  • "Explores the pseudoskeptical mindset, motivation, and method."
  • "Looks at ways in which scientific objectivity is compromised by vested interests, fraud, experimenter effects, and merchants of doubt who use skepticism as a weapon to further corporate interests."
  • "Discusses current controversies."
Its a terrific looking website, someone spent some time on that. I love the webpage they gave me, great photo (James Randi is sitting next to me though you can't tell) and they even finally spelled my name right. I do love this part, "Gerbic bills herself as a “professional portrait photographer who specializes in people who don’t want their portraits taken”, an insight into several forms of psychological pathology, including a lack of empathy." I suppose they think I take photos under bathroom stalls and with a hidden camera on a bus or something. It's possible taking pictures of children who don't want their photos taken might mean I lack empathy? Anyway, guess I'm just going to have to stay tuned to see how this all plays out, can't wait to be "investigated" by this crowd.

GSoW would also like to thank Peter Mogyoros for his many months as team leader of the Hungarian editing team. Due to work and school issues he will be stepping down, but remaining with the project. Peter was know for the amazing work rewriting the Péter Érdi pages in English and Hungarian. Our first ever non-English voice audio. Thank you Peter.

Replacing him will be András Gábor Pintér a current member of the team. We all look forward to watching you grow the Hungarian team and turning out those pages András. 

And we are adding one more team leader to our group.  Team Curie will now have three Team Leaders

Ryan Harding, Richard and joining us is Christine Daley. Christine has been one of our Honeybadgers, 
running all over the place trying to get things done. She has been active on Todd Robbins, I Sold My 
Soul on Ebay, Angela Saini, Sanal Edamaruku, David Koepsell, Paul Zenon, Derek Colanduno and 
Friends of Science in Medicine. Welcome Christine.

Here is a project that I have only become aware of in the last week. I've had a long phone conversation
with the leader of this project and think its so important that I'm willing to take a chance that this will
steal some of GSoW's "thunder".  I'm going to link to James Heilman's NYTimes interview here, but 
in a nutshell what he is trying to do (and is doing) is to get correct medical information onto Wikipedia
in all languages. Sounds familiar right?  He has a different organizational approach than GSoW has, but the 
goal is the same, focus is on educating the World.  He has selected 35-50 Wikipedia medical pages and 
made sure they are well-written, then he is working with Translators without Borders to get these 
articles into all languages. In some cases they are translating the entire page, in others they are working 
on making sure the lede of the article is available in all languages. As he said to me, it is more important 
to write 30 small articles with correct information, than to write 2 complete articles with all the detail.
 In this case he is correct, time is money. And if you would like to contribute money I'm sure they 
would not argue, in many cases he has to actually hire someone to translate these pages.  
James and I will keep in touch and collaborate if possible. Very exciting to see two projects spring up 
like this. I've already learned a great deal from his project.  

I think that is all the updates I have for you all at the moment. Please review the before and afters of
each of these rewrites. 

Remember we are only able to do this work with the support from you. Please share this blog and 
shout it on the rooftops whenever you can. We always need people to learn how to do what we do. It is 
a commitment, but a good life-changing one. We train and mentor at your pace. 
Write to us at




Burzynski Clinic (new page created) - Rian van Lierop, Leon Korteweg

Voice intros recorded and pictures taken of Cees Renckens, Catherine de Jong and Jan Willem Nienhuys - Vera de Kok

Elektrosmog - Emile Dingemans - Before & After

Lijst van cognitieve biases (new page created) - Coen de Bruijn, Emile Dingemans, Leon Korteweg

Lijst van skeptische conferenties (new page created) - Leon Korteweg

Lijst van skeptische organisaties (new page created) - Leon Korteweg

Lijst van skeptische podcasts (new page created) - Leon Korteweg

Lijst van skeptische tijdschriften (new page created) - Leon Korteweg

Maaneffect (new page created) - Leon Korteweg, Coen de Bruijn, Emile Dingemans

Tim Trachet - Leon Korteweg - Before & After

Wi-Fi#Gezondheidsrisico - Emile Dingemans - Before & After

Wim Hof - Emile Dingemans - Before & After


Seth Andrews (new page created) - Jelena Levin, Leon Korteweg

European Humanist Federation - Leon Korteweg - Before & After

Tim Trachet (new page created) - Leon Korteweg

Budd Hopkins - Janyce Boynton - Before & After

Robert Sapolsky small rewrite - Steff  - Before & After

Peter Gleick small rewrite - Monica Quijano - Before & After

Derek Colanduno - Tim Farley & Christine Daley - Before & After 

Bruce Hood - Steff  - Before & After

Vincent Racaniello - Kyle Hamar - Before & After

Sarah Gray Thomason - Monica Quijano - Before & After 

Preston Nichols/Montauk Project hoax - Chris Allen (the Nichols page was nominated for deletion months ago for lack of notoriety and the Montauk Project page was a stub. Chris took what was needed from the Nichols page and then asked for deletion, then merged it into the Montauk Project page. We want to make sure when people are looking for info about conspiracy theories, they are finding good information. Look at the talk page for the Montauk Project page and you will see how much interest there has been on this page, its quite an eyeful.  Chris has done a terrific job with this merger. Before & After 

Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Pseudosciences (CICAP) - Raffaella Vitali, Bill & Tim Farley - Before & After 


Seth Andrews (new page created) - 
Jelena Levin & Ekaterina Lobur

Did You Know? 

Did you Know? is a feature of Wikipedia that select pages can appear for 12 hours on the front page of Wikipedia. This window allows us to show off our work to people outside our choir. We had several articles featured recently. 

Alton Lemon
View stats for Alton Lemon

Maynard & Bart Bok
View stats for Bart Bok and his wife Priscilla Bok
View stats for Maynard

View stats for Flim-Flam! 

View stats for GWUP

GSoW in the media

Shoutout from Skeptics with a K (0:00–2:20)

Daniel Loxton's Insight Blog about TAM 2013 workshop on Preserving Skeptic History

CFI Summit - Workshop - October 2013

Science Based Medicine - Steven Novella - Why Wikipedia is so important concerning medical pages.