Sunday, July 5, 2015

May and June GSoW Updates - News and Information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

English Teams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dutch Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Polish Skeptics campaign against
pseudoscience in psychology.

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

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

Hungarian Team

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

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

Italian Team

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

Portuguese Team

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

Polish guest editors

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

Audio of Skeptics (here)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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).