Skeptic? Atheist? Then Help Fix Wikipedia

funny-dog-pictures-skeptical-dog-does-not-believe-youI read an article by Daniel Loxton, editor of Junior Skeptic, which was about how skeptics need to pitch in and help make Wikipedia, the people's encyclopedia, a science-based resource. He says the skeptical movement has a great opportunity to help propagate accurate and scientific information with this public resource that is so widely used.

It's free and easy to contribute either a small correction or whole pages. You just need to be able to cite references. If you can add a resource to the page, you can even link directly to good skeptical websites for people. You don't need permission, and with simple edits, you don't need any coding skills.
Best of all, it’s rewarding and fun to use your skeptical knowledge to enhance an essential public resource. Furthermore, we know from our internal traffic statistics that people really do follow up on the skeptical resources cited in Wikipedia articles.

Tim Farley gives an in-depth primer on Why Skeptics Should Pay Close Attention to Wikipedia.

You can read a rundown of some basics and rules, as well as get a bunch of useful links on how to get started here.

The Wikiproject Rational Skepticism is an association of skeptical Wikipedia editors. They vigilantly keep track of articles to make sure vandalism doesn't happen. When it does, they make sure someone can go in and fix the problems quickly to get the right information back up on the site.

Another project is the Skepticwiki, which is a standalone site devoted exclusively to skepticism. It shares the wiki encyclopedia format.

Many skeptical topics are well covered on Wikipedia. But where a skeptical eye is really needed is in paranormal topics.
When people turn to Wikipedia for information on iridology or “reptoids” or chiropractic, that article may often be the only source they consult. Or, if they do consult further sources, these may often be the sources cited in the Wikipedia article. Either way, paranormal proponents have been quick to load Wikipedia with content and citations that are friendly to their own claims. Sometimes, these articles are virtual commercials for paranormal industries. In those cases, skeptics can perform a valuable public service by bringing paranormal articles up to the NPoV standard with descriptions of skeptical criticism and references to relevant skeptical sources.

On lesser-known subjects, paranormal proponents have the freedom to make sweeping, biased, and wildly unsupported claims. These low-quality articles stand unchallenged until a skeptic eventually happens to review them. Finding and fixing these is fun and satisfying for skeptical editors. Because those articles are so bad, they are easy to improve — and edits will tend to stand for a longer time.

If you have suggestions for topics to edit, or if you have edited articles, let us know!


  1. I've been editing on Wikipedia for years. It can be a lot of work, but it is fun. I've done mostly stuff that is my forte such as books and literary research, but lately I've been doing more on social issues.

  2. I've been editing Scientology articles the past few years, because there used to be a real sock-puppet problem (Scientology members pretending to be objective, using dummy accounts, and loading the site with propaganda.) Now that Wikipedia has BANNED Scientology IP addresses from edits, this is much less of a problem, so I'd be happy to move on to other skeptical topics.

    I think a really important one we could focus on is the issue of vaccinations. There are a LOT of parents in US who think vaccines are dangerous, or that they cause autism. Since today's parents rely heavily on the net for information (since family doctor's don't have time for consultation) we could make a big change, and encourage the majority to have their kids safely protected (which makes all our kids safer).

  3. Thanks for the skeptic wiki link, just tweeted it for all the other secular homeschoolers/home educators looking for good science resources.