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) 






English

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.

Dutch

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


Italian

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.

Spanish

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


Mentions 

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.


Dutch

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


English

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

Italian


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

Hungarian


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



Mentions

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 GSoWteam@gmail.com

Enjoy!

=================

Dutch

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

English

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 


Russian

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

Flim-Flam!
View stats for Flim-Flam! 


GWUP
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.





Thursday, October 23, 2014

A pair of facts beats a full house of myths - RIP Fred Green

It is with a very heavy heart that I need to share with you all the loss of one of my GSoW editors. I do not know the circumstances of his death, and how he died is not important to this story.

Fred friended me on Facebook Dec 24, 2012 with this message "I am completely new to WP, I have no account and no experience. I would love to help out in any way I can though, I suspect it will be more rewarding than commenting on facebook posts, lol." He was spot on with that. He invested his time on a project that really makes a difference, his contributions, lasting.

Fred was generous with his time, had a great positive attitude, and quickly became someone that took on responsibilities. GSoW thrived on Facebook groups for over a year, but we kept growing and we wanted to mingle the languages, so we built a forum. Fred was chosen to be the team leader of one of the English teams, Sagan. He remained an important part of our growth until a few months ago when he asked to step down for personal reasons.

During his tenure with GSoW he worked on some really great pages, Hemant Mehta, Ruth Hurmence Green, the Skeptic Booklist and the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF). For someone with no experience he took on the challenge and made a difference. Fred also worked behind the scenes, training and supporting other GSoW editors. On our forum, he introduced himself and added " My experience with editing WP articles is limited but Susan keeps me around for her own amusement." And I would have too, he was that kind of person, you just wanted him on your team. I'm glad that even though it was a short time, I can say he was on my team.

I'm trying not to get all soppy, which is difficult during this emotional time. I think this is a great reminder that there are all kinds of special people out there, people who you haven't met yet, and maybe if your lucky, like I was, you will get a Facebook friend request from one of them and find out you have just met a very special person. The line "A pair of facts beats a full house of myths." was Fred's signature on our forum.


Fred we miss you.

Fred Green's Wikipedia User Page

------------------------

The person on the forum that knew him the best was Lei Pinter who wanted to share her thoughts with you also...

I lost a friend today. We only met once in person but we had a special friendship nonetheless. We worked together on editing a couple of Wikipedia pages and trained other folks how to make the edits as well. It sounds kinda dry, I realize, but for a couple of IT geeks it was an oddly cathartic hobby.

 The one time we met he went out of his way to join my sons and me at dinner while I was near his hometown on a business trip.  We had talked online a few times, had some similar life experiences, but this was our one and only face to face meeting. As we all sat down over a full spread of Mexican food we felt like old friends. Talking about his experiences in the Air Force, comparing notes on current IT fads, and falling into an instant kinship over our shared hobbies. It meant a lot to me that he took the time out of his busy evening  to meet with us. But from what I have read online that was his personality all of the time - kind, gentle, and very family oriented.

I don't know the details of his passing, and may never know. But I know that he made an impact on the world. Writers like Jennifer Michael Hecht often talk about how hard it is to pay attention to life as we are living it. But just in the act of having made it this far our friends have "made it to the first reel". And a little piece of them sticks with us and makes us better people by association.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

July-August updates

Hello everyone, what a busy summer it was for GSoW.  Many of our team members were away from the project but we still managed to get a lot done as you are about to see.  

For those of you not familiar with this blog you will find below all the pages that we have either created brand new or completed major rewrites of.  I encourage you to click on the "before" and "after" for each of these rewrites.  When I see the differences I always get a thrill chill, even after seeing hundreds of these over the last 3 years.  Most of these "befores" have been in this horrible condition for years and if not for GSoW would have probably remained this way forever. 

There is an interview at the bottom of this blog that has this exchange between myself and Emery Emery.  He was thanking us for creating his Wikipedia page.  I answered that I was glad he liked it, but we didn't create it for him, it was created because we felt that it was warranted.  The work we do here is for YOU the reader and for all the Wikipedia readers out there.  I hope you learn something new.  

Enjoy!

Susan Gerbic


A treat for all our readers... Listen to Wikipedia being edited


The Vaccination Chronicles
GSoW members and other skeptics are currently in the process of captioning Richard Saunders' documentary, that features interviews with people who have lived in the time before widespread immunization was introduced, and victims of vaccine-preventable diseases suffered tremendously, often leading to death. It is a pressing warning to everyone: please vaccinate your children.

Progress so far:
Danish subtitles - Claus Larsen (non-GSoW)
Dutch subtitles - Rik and Leon Korteweg (GSoW)
German subtitles - Steff (GSoW)
Italian subtitles - Raffaella Vitali (GSoW)
Portuguese subtitles - Nix Dorf (GSoW)
Russian subtitles - Svetlana Bavykina (GSoW)
Turkish subtitles - Isil Arican (non-GSoW)
Expected: Hungarian, Serbian, Slovak, possibly also Norwegian, Greek, Spanish and Finnish. If you don't see your language here, contact Richard Saunders to see if you can help! (GSoW membership not required)

Leon talks about the project here and here





Dutch

Rob Nanninga - Leon, Emile - Before & After

Stichting Skepsis - Leon, Emile - Before & After

The Four Horsemen (atheïsme) - an edit war and intense discussion about possible deletion resulted in improvement by Leon, Emile and others; the page was kept in a much better condition. Before & After


Victor Stenger - Wim Vandenberghe

English

Alton Lemon - Brand new page

Astronomical Society of Victoria - Greg Neilson  

Bart Bok - Greg Neilson - Before & After

Bill Bradfield - Greg Neilson - Before & After

Brian Brushwood - Todd Dietrich - Before & After

Center for Inquiry - Chris Allen - Before & After

Chris Mooney - Kevin Elsken & Dustin Phillips - Before & After

Comité Para - Leon Korteweg

David Koepsell - Dave Trumbore & Christine Daley - Before and After


Daniele Bolelli - Greg Neilson - Before & After

Dickson Despommier - Kyle Hamar Before & After

Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions - Before & After

Friends Of Science In Medicine - Christine Daley - Before & After

Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften (GWUP) - Michael Steinkellner, Leon Korteweg

Heather Dewey-Hagborg - Janyce Boynton - Before & After

Ian Patrick Harris - Erik Hess - Brand new page 

Joe Nickell - Sarah Gilbert - Before & After




L. Sprague de Camp - Before & After - Janyce Boynton


"List of skeptics and skeptical organizations" was renamed "List of notable skeptics",
List of skeptical organizations split off from it and expanded. - Leon Korteweg

List of skeptical conferences - Leon Korteweg

List of skeptical magazines - Leon Korteweg

List of skeptical podcasts - Leon (additions by András, Svetlana, Todd, Raffaella and Michelle)

Lists about skepticism ("One List To Rule Them All") - Leon Korteweg

Massimo Polidoro - Raffaella Vitali - Before & After 

Matt Dillahunty - Jay Young - Before & After

Vincent Racaniello - Before & After - Kyle Hamar 

Maynard - Greg Neilson - Before & After

Neil Gershenfeld - Jelena Levin - Before & After

Robert Ingersoll Birthplace Museum - new photos (thanks to Tom Flynn & Monica Harmsen)

Richard Wiseman - Walkiria Nubes Cordova & Dustin Phillips - Before & After

Rosemary Altea - Lee Christie - Before & After

Skepter - Leon Korteweg

Skeptics with a K podcast - Leon Korteweg - New page

Stichting Skepsis - Leon - Before & After

Template:Skeptical magazines - Leon Korteweg

Template:Skeptical podcasts - Leon Korteweg

Victor J. Stenger - Todd Dietrich - Before & After

Wonder en is gheen Wonder - Leon Korteweg

Hungarian

Christopher Hitchens - Peter Mogyoros, Attila Harta - Before & After (including June)


Hungarian Skeptic Society - Attila Harta, András Pintér - Before & After (including May and June)

Italian

Massimo Polidoro in Italian - Raffaella Vitali 

Portuguese

Steven Novella - Nix Dorf

Richard Wiseman - Valério Andrade Melo


Russian


Richard Wiseman - Svetlana Bavykina & Jelena Levin

Spanish

Leo Igwe - Erik Hess


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Just in case you have missed it, GSoW has had some great new interviews, be sure to check them out.

Skeptically Yours recorded at TAM 2014 - Emery Emery & Heather Henderson Interviewed Susan, Nix and Lei

Data Skeptic - lots of numbers in this interview - skeptics like stats don't they?

A Public Thank you from a Fan

Skepticule talks about the GSoW secret forum (at about 8:00)

Here is a dowser's site that is frustrated with Wikipedia editors you might enjoy

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As usual if you want to join GSoW or have questions please contact us at GSoWteam@gmail.com