Tag Archives: Guerilla Tactics

Guerilla skepticism on Wikipedia: how should Christians and conservatives respond?

The Messianic Drew urges us to watch the first 27 minutes of this lecture featuring skeptic and anti-paranormalist Susan Gerbic. He wants us to see how skeptics are monitoring and policing wikipedia entries to give it a skeptical bias.

Here is Gerbic’s thesis:

We use Wikipedia to shape the public’s view of paranormal topics. We already know that shouting and belittling believers is not the way to go about changing minds. Guerilla skepticism is the act of inserting well-documented well-cited information into Wikipedia. We still follow all of Wikipedia’s guidelines. We are also trying to improve the history of the scientific skeptical movement and document it. It allows editors to edit from home without being confrontational with people.

The Messianic Drew wrote about the lecture on his blog.

Excerpt:

Gerbic is absolutely right. People generally trust Wikipedia, and do not view it with the same degree of scrutiny with which someone would view an atheist website.

If you are a rising Christian apologist, but don’t have the time, money, or experience to publish in professional journals or debate atheists on stage, that’s fine. The Internet is a great place to conduct apologetics. Instead of wasting your time arguing on message boards or social media (like Facebook), why not learn to edit Wikipedia? It costs nothing but time, and it reaches an audience far more open-minded than anyone you will debate online. Remember that people trust Wikipedia as a reliable source of information, something not lost on Gerbic.

Gerbic’s tactics have worked due to organization. Wikipedia has mobs of tens of thousands of editors. Gerbic’s group is a small, but highly focused army of 90 editors, and it has changed the face of Wikipedia’s paranormal pages, as well as its pages on famous skeptics, creationism, and evolution. As far as I know, there is not one single Christian apologetics organization that focuses on Wikipedia. Not one. Zilch. Zip. Zero. This needs to be fixed.

He has a whole bunch of ideas on how Christians can get on this, and he has examples of what the skeptics have been doing (before and after edits) on specific pages.

Now Drew was telling me about this video and his idea last night, and I had two objections. First, I told him that Wikipedia is a cesspool of secularism and leftism that is policed by thuggish fascists. I got this impression by reading about Wikipedia’s suppression about intelligent design on the Evolution News blog. Second, I told him that no one respects Wikipedia as a source. I never use Wikipedia as a source for anything, I prefer to link to the peer-reviewed journal articles or to reputable news sources.

Drew came back with two responses that have swayed me back from opposition to indifference. First, he said that like it or not, people do use Wikipedia to get basic information about things they are interested in. Google search even displays information from Wikipedia entries in the searches. Second, he pointed out specific edits that he had made to specific pages that were not deleted, even after a few days. And these were impressive edits, linking to sources critical of skeptics and skeptical ideas.

We were discussing this on Facebook, and many people started off by objecting to Drew’s plan to have Christians (and conservatives could also do this) systematically monitor and edit Wikipedia pages. A band of Wikipologists, if you will. I know that J. Warner Wallace tweeted his post, and Nancy Pearcey and Mike Licona both posted it on their Facebook pages. So I wanted to ask my readers: do you think that Christians should imitate these guerilla tactics on Wikipedia? Why or why not?

If you want to get involved with this, message me on Facebook, by the way.