Best Of The Web
“When you’re setting up fake Facebook pages, it’s the little details that can mess things up.
On a group computer call last winter, Susan Gerbic was going through her checklist of tips for her team’s latest sting operation — this one focused on infiltrating the audience of a psychic. It all started with maintaining their Facebook sock-puppets — those fake online profiles. “American spellings, everyone!” she commanded her half-dozen international colleagues through the Skype crackle.
Gerbic lives in Salinas, California, and while she is retired from the routine world of work, she has taken on a new job, as self-appointed guardian of Enlightenment Reason. She spends most of her days wrangling her far-flung group of Guerrilla Skeptics into a common cause, defending empirical truth online. This usually consists of editing and monitoring Wikipedia pages — a cat-herding task she says she’s uniquely qualified for. “I was a baby photographer,” she explained. “I ran a JCPenney portrait studio for 34 years.”
Collectively, the group, which has swelled to 144 members, has researched, written, or revised almost 900 Wikipedia pages. Sure, they take on the classics, like debunking “spontaneous human combustion,” but many of their other pages have real-world impact. For instance, they straightened out a lot of grim hooey about the phony teen-suicide “blue whale game” challenge, and they have provided facts about the Burzynski Clinic, a theoretical treatment for cancer operating out of Houston.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"With many other countries already studying the Asian playbook, the United States and Europe could benefit from doing the same."
"Trump's cursing is one of the most straightforward parts of his appeal... Trump is not the only politician whose profanity has stood him in good stead."
"‘If we get all of this because Netanyahu wants to make Trump happy, that’s fine with us,’ says local council rep in Golan Heights as plans ramp up for ‘new’ neighborhood honoring U.S. president..."
"...there is something worth paying attention to in this latest petition from fans keen to have a creative work made the way that they want it. The comments on the petition are instructive."
"The sunny job numbers and steady growth hide the fact that most people think the economy works only for people in power."
"Like many other Americans, I now wear AirPods all day at my desk to combat the awful tyranny of the open office. Since they don’t cancel noise, they provide me with writing music..."
"The logic of attributing mental states to nonhuman animals is complicated. We cannot use deductive inference, because there are no general rules..."
"As the canon of English literature slowly, gradually opens itself up to books by women and authors of color, Modern Library and Penguin Classics have just launched two new series..."
"Egalitarian couples assume their progressive ideology will carry the day. Sociologists know that it doesn’t.... sharing child care is associated with valuing gender equality..."
"Business Booms for Sephardic Food: Women are leading the way as small businesses bring traditional recipes to the commercial marketplace..."
"With most animal populations, the niches that encase the populations are of constant size. Animal societies growing in a given niche have dynamics neatly fitted by equations with a constant limit or ceiling."
"Now some 200,000 Jews live in Germany, a nation of 82 million people, and many are increasingly fearful.... 85 percent of respondents in Germany characterized anti-Semitism as a “very big” or “fairly big” problem..."