• Guerrilla Skepticism: An (evidently) thankless task


    Be warned. I’m taking a moment here to construct my high horse, for I shall be mounting it in a moment.

    OK. Almost done. Here we go.

    I was minding my own business, perusing my Facebook feed (most horror stories seem to begin this way, btw), and noticed an innocuous post. It was composed by a somewhat big wig in the skepticism game. It said:

    [Name redacted]’s wiki page got updated by someone.

    Well, I happened to know who, exactly, updated that page because the information was splashed on my personal Facebook wall the day before. So I piped in:

    I believe his page was updated as part of the Guerrilla Skeptic project, the one headed by Susan Gerbic. Wendy Hughes announced it on my page. They sure did a good job, I think.

    No response from the original poster, which rather surprised me. I figured she’d say something like “Cool. That’s awesome. Thanks, Guerrilla Skeptics.” But she didn’t. So I posted again.

    Link: http://guerrillaskepticismonwikipedia.blogspot.com/

    Still nothing. So I posted a third time:

    They posted about [snip]’s edits here: https://www.facebook.com/GSoWproject


    Finally, the recipient of the incredible edits chimed in. However, s/he didn’t thank the wiki editors… nope. S/he responded to a previous commenter about something unrelated to the edits.


    I guess I’m too old for this biz. In my world, when someone does something terribly nice, you say, “Thanks.”

    This person will clearly benefit from this updated and expanded wiki page. Indeed, even the commenters on that post pointed out some of the unsung, incredible things s/he’s done.

    But the Guerrilla Skeptics got zero thanks for their efforts. Not even a nod. Not even a hat tip in their general direction.

    Now, I’ll admit it’s possible this person has formally thanked the Guerrilla Skeptics and I missed it. But I haven’t seen it. I’m not holding my breath either.

    But while researching the Guerrilla Skeptics, I found something else. It seems there are other people who are not only mum about their valuable contributions to Wikipedia, they’re downright hostile to their efforts. Like this writer at astrologer.com:

    Now the cat is out of the bag! This video (May 2013) reveals a campaign to subvert our consciousness with propaganda and censorship. Not only does this covert ring of sceptics promote themselves, but they actively seek to demote competing viewpoints and to denigrate their opponents.(Sheldrake 2013) Watch it soon – as it is likely that those involved will wake up and want to remove it from public view on YouTube to cover up their embarassing and questionable practices.

    Oh my! The blurb even has citations. It must be true, eh? I included the video below because (according to our fine astrologer), it appears as though the JREF might take it down at any minute. (Oh, and if you’ll note, the JREF vid is uploaded under the Astrology News Service account. Clearly these folks aren’t interested in copyright issues.)

    Also, reported from the Guerrilla Skeptics page itself, we have the folks at White Crow Books complaining that the skeptics have wrongly edited pages on “dowsing.”

    Skeptics with their Materialist dogma are anti-science because science consists of a series of investigative tools, used by people of all races, religions and beliefs. The moment religious or philosophical conclusions are made about reality, we no longer have science. Instead we have dogma. The science that each of us uses, needs to have humility in the face of hard data. It tries to gain some approximation to what is the case, with further investigations always possible.

    The Skeptics prescribe the conclusions, and therefore attempt to preclude the research. Many of their members are not scientists, and only once as a group did they engage in serious research. Here is one of many sites that spell this out. They exist to influence the media, and unfortunately they have the ear of the media. If a paranormal event is reported, the Skeptics are invited to present an opposing view, in the name of β€œbalance”.Β  The public of course would be much better served if a real scientist competent in the field were to be consulted.

    So yeah. The work of being a Guerrilla Skeptic is apparently thankless.

    Which brings me to you. If you have a minute, please send support to the Guerrilla Skeptics. Like their page. Participate by sending an encouraging word. An occasional “thanks” would mean a lot. If you have time, train to become an official editor.

    We, in the skeptic community, seem to like to call people out. We challenge beliefs. We question. That’s all fine and good. But sometimes it would be fabulous if we would occasionally point at something online and say, “Wow. That was awesome. Thanks!”

    I’ll start: Great job, Guerrilla Skepticism! The before and after pages you edited are jaw droppingly amazing. I can’t imagine how much time it took to complete each entry: the research, citations, crafting of the page, wrestling with detractors. You are a talented, patient, and fabulous bunch of skeptics. Thanks!

    I’ll dismount my high horse now. πŸ™‚

    Category: InterestingMy Opinion


    Article by: Beth Erickson

    I'm Beth Ann Erickson, a freelance writer, publisher, and skeptic. I live in Central Minnesota with my husband, son, and two rescue pups. Life is flippin' good. :)


    1. Thank you so much for bringing to light this most important point. I talk about practicing skeptic love all the time, which means that most of us are not in this for the money (there is none in my projects) but for the goal of doing what is right for the movement. And as it so often happens we burn out, just walk away. When people give you kudos and some support, that can often keep the fire burning and everyone motivated and doing what they do best.

      I’m not sure which of the amazing rewrites you are referring to above as we have released a few pages this week. I believe in all the cases we have heard from the “target” that they appreciate our efforts.

      You are 100% right when you write that there is a lot of work that goes into writing these pages (or rewriting in some cases). I can assure you that on a major rewrite like the ones we just released the editor has probably spent 40-80 hours researching the target. (I’m sure they would say even more) The editor probably is now an expert on the topic/person and knows them better than most people ever would. This is not the project for the faint of heart. But it needs to be done, if we are to be respected in the eyes of the world we need to show respect to our spokespeople.

      1. Susan! Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate a peek into the world of Guerrilla Skeptics. Wow, what a lot of work. A big hat tip to you and your efforts.

        As I was pondering this last night (yes, I evidently ponderer), I recalled you were the person at TAM wearing the awesome hats. Wendy told me you were dealing with cancer. This makes your project even more poignant to me. As a fellow cancer person, there were times that first year when I could barely think, let along launch a project that took 40 – 80 hours of research. Wow.

        Thanks for what you do. I’ll keep my eye on your project and do what I can to promote it. Definitely. πŸ™‚

    2. I for one rest easier knowing Guerilla Skeptics are in the world. I’m not a member, but you all have inspired me to add or correct some things that I’ve encountered, and I imagine there are many, many more like me you’ve inspired that you don’t know about. Many thanks!!!

      1. Thanks for your kind reply! You made my day. It’s a thankless task, all this fact checking, but it’s definitely worth it. Thanks again. πŸ™‚

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