A SkepTalk by Susan Gerbic on 11 May 2017
We should all applaud Susan Gerbic’s impossible mission: to keep Wikipedia free from promotions of pseudoscience. Amazingly, she has been remarkably successful due to her methods. She recruits volunteers to help in this mission, puts them through ‘boot camp’ so they know what to do and how to do it, and tracks everything that is accomplished.
Her cadre of recruits living around the world is the Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia, a.k.a. GSoW.
Because anybody can edit Wikipedia pages, making a change can…
be like poking a hole in a pond with your finger; those who have a financial or philosophical interest in disseminating falsehoods can whisk away your edits. There are, however, strategies to limit the forces of drivel.
The mere fact that you are reading this suggests you care about truth AND you have a few minutes out of the week when you could further this essential work. Join the GSoW and make a difference. Not only will you receive at-home training, you will receive ongoing mentoring. Send an email to GSoWTeam@gmail.com
Susan Gerbic’s SkepTalk in Berkeley began by referring to a kerfuffle involving William Shatner, the autism community, and the skeptic community but in a way that apparently assumed i knew about it and that i understood the issues involved. I was totally ignorant and felt guilty for not keeping abreast of skeptical news. Then it occurred to me that others in the audience were likely as clueless as i. We only had Susan’s word that “it was bad.” Fortunately, the details and issues were only ancillary. She was paving the way to an important observation, “A crank website can capture the mind of a celebrity … and discredit one of the most reliable sites on the Internet.”
The balance of her presentation kept everyone riveted with anecdotes, data, examples, and graphs. She left us wanting to know more so her talk was followed by many questions from the audience. Susan’s answers were right-on and smart but it’s obvious that anything less than the GSoW boot camp is not enough.