Tracking the Chupacabra: The Wikipedia Page!

June 20, 2013

I have Google alerts set up to flag certain key words in the news and send stories of interest to me. As those familiar with my work will not be surprised to learn, one of them is "chupacabra." About 95% of the time "chupacabra" hits are junk, rehashed and discredited items from years past, or some new temporarily-misidentified weird (and often hairless) live or dead thing.

But a few days ago I was delighted to find a reference to my 2011 book Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore. The book, which describes my five-year research solving the worldwide mystery of the Hispanic vampire beast el chupacabra, was considered important and noteworthy enough to merit its own entry.

To be clear, this is not a fan page; it's an objective, legitimate Wikipedia entry on the book, just like any other nonfiction book, with reviews and reaction from a wide variety of independent sources. (I had nothing to do with it until I was asked to upload a photo once the page was done.) I'm humbled and gratified, but more importantly the page will increase the amount of skeptical content on this cryptozoological (non)mystery because it will cross-reference with other Wikipedia pages including chupacabra, cryptozoology, and even the film Species, which inspired the beast.

With Wikipedia often being the first (and, all too often, the last) stop in Internet research for millions of people, having science-based skeptical content is essential. As it turns out, this is only the latest of many projects aimed at introducing and expanding the reach of skeptical materials and resources for the public. The team, called Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia and headed by tireless California skeptic Susan Gerbic, has as its mission to improve skeptical content of Wikipedia. They do this by improving pages of skeptical spokespeople, providing noteworthy citations, and ensuring that claims from skepticism-related, paranormal and possible pseudoscientific topic articles are reliably sourced.

The GSoW team has done great work, but they need your help! They are looking for volunteers who are good at proofreading, people who can improve the basic edits we leave, researchers, current editors, photographers, people willing to caption videos and so much more. They need volunteers in English, but also other languages as well. To find out more you can Friend Susan Gerbic on Facebook or Twitter, or visit susangerbic.com.

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