This goes out to Kickstarter backer Susan Gerbic!

GSOW

Susan is the organizer of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia group (facebook), arguably one of the most influential skeptical programs out there. She personally trains science-minded people to become wikipedia editors, and they put in a lot of volunteer hours. To date she has trained 112 editors in English, Portuguese, Russian, Hungarian, German, Italian, and Spanish. Yes, she does have an evil laugh. Quietly behind the scenes they’re been having a huge impact, such as checking over Bill Nye’s page leading up to the big debate (before, after).

Pseudoscientists like Rupert Sheldrake and Deepak Chopra have both personally blamed Susan for changes to their pages that removed unverified facts and unreferenced information. In other words, upheld the wikipedia standard. This has been a common complaint of alternative medicine peddlers as well, and their petition for “allowing more discourse” received this response from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

What’s ironic here, is that while it may seem like zealous editors can make sweeping changes easily, wikipedia is structured for transparency. What I mean is that all the edits, discussions, and even what pages a certain editor works on is all tracked. In an extremely detailed breakdown, Tim Farley uses this data to show that Deepak and the like have a small number of editors who ONLY update their pages, while skeptic editors engage in more transparent discussion and participate much more broadly. Bottom line: Deepak is hypocritically swinging at strawmen.

↓ Transcript
ROB
Wait, you're Susan? The one that all the self-help gurus are up in arms about?
SUSAN
That's me!

ROB
What did you do to make them so angry?
SUSAN
I asked for sources on their wikipedia pages.

ROB
-And that's it?
SUSAN
They're a little sensitive.

 

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