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Jimmy Wales rants at holistic healers petitioning Wikipedia

Jimmy Wales

By Barry Collins

Posted on 25 Mar 2014 at 10:42

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has issued a sharp response to petitioners calling for his site to "allow for true scientific discourse" on holistic healing.

The petition, currently running on the Change.org site, claims that much of the information on Wikipedia relating to holistic approaches to healing is "biased, misleading, out of date, or just plain wrong". It has attracted almost 8,000 supporters at the time of publication.

What we won't do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of 'true scientific discourse'

"For five years, repeated efforts to correct this misinformation have been blocked and the Wikipedia organisation has not addressed these issues," the petition claims.

"As a result, people who are interested in the benefits of Energy Medicine, Energy Psychology and specific approaches such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques, Thought Field Therapy and the Tapas Acupressure Technique turn to your pages, trust what they read, and do not pursue getting help from these approaches which research has, in fact, proven to be of great benefit to many."

Wales's response to the petition, posted on the same page, is far from conciliatory: "No, you have to be kidding me," he writes. "Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back to check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful."

"Wikipedia's policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals - that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately.

"What we won't do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of 'true scientific discourse'. It isn't."

Edit wars

Wikipedia has been caught in many so-called edit wars over the years, on a variety of controversial topics, and has frequently been accused of granting disproportionate control to a small cabal of editors.

Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger left the organisation in 2002, claiming it had been "taken over by trolls to a great extent", and set up the rival Citizendium, which offered bylined articles that had been reviewed by experts in their respective fields.

Although Sanger left Citizendium in 2010, the site continues to this day, with around 16,700 articles.

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User comments

A touch of hypocrisy from Wales...

Jimmy Wales: "What we won't do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans..."

Wales is letting his prejudices show; he can't prevent publication of information about alternative healing methods on the grounds that they have no proof about what they claim, while himself claiming that the 8,000 people who have petitioned Wikipedia are "lunatic charlatans" when he himself has no proof that they are!

By saying such things he illustrates how biased Wikipedia is by its owner's personal, and it appears, very subjective, view of the world.

By SwissMac on 25 Mar 2014

@Swissmac

Rubbish!

As a personal statement he can say what he likes.

It would only be hypocritical if he published his opinion as fact in Wikipedia.

Even if you could prove that 99% of the population agreed with his view you STILL could not publish it as fact in Wikipedia unless you had the appropriate references.

You could mention that that was the opinion of 99% of the population which is why some pretty whacky theories are 'mentioned' in the encyclopaedia - always qualified by robust statements that these are uncertified opinions.

By qpw3141 on 25 Mar 2014

A personal statement it may be, but it still shows his prejudices.

By SwissMac on 25 Mar 2014

A correct decision

@SwissMac:
If 8000 people signed a petition that electricity was the flow of protons, or that Apple was founded by Bill Gates - then these people might individually be many things. But it is perfectly fair, in the interests of conciseness to label them collectively as lunatics at best (incapable of fact checking themselves) or charlatans at worst - malevolent conmen intent on leveraging any respectability they can get to more easily trick people out of their money. Therefore...

Wiki rules can be annoying. But they exist for a reason. People who want to promote and sell made up BS and take money away from people with genuine medical problems have no business on Wikipedia.

By ANTIcarr0t on 25 Mar 2014

@SwissMac

Being prejudiced in favor of facts over unsubstantiated nonsense seems to be a highly desirable quality in an encyclopedist!

By JohnAHind on 25 Mar 2014

Why is his response a rant?

You may agree or disagree with it, but it sounds a reasoned response to me.

By mnj_lim on 25 Mar 2014

Tabloid thinking?

Just writing these things off without having tried them just because they sound weird is not a logical way to look at the issue. Many alternative therapies really do work, but so far there is less research to back this up because such research will not produce any profitable drugs which can be sold over and over again.

Electricity and magnetism both existed before they were identified and understood, but were thought of as "magic" or Acts of God. Those suggesting they were real were often referred to as heretics, lunatics and charlatans too.

If you've never had a treatment involving acupuncture, acupressure or shiatsu, or other related treatments I suppose it is not too surprising that you may adopt tabloid thinking and just pooh pooh the idea of the existence of meridians as something to knock for fun. However, if you have had one of these treatments, as I have, then it is absolutely clear there are such things as energy meridians that have big effects on us, some of which can be immensely pleasurable.

By SwissMac on 25 Mar 2014

Desvirtuationg

@swissmac


1.- He didn't claim that the 8,000 people who have petitioned Wikipedia are "lunatic charlatans". Learn to read.

2.- If you are not agree with her because he has no proofs, why you defend alternative terapies without proofs?

3.- There are lots of compounds you can buy from a laboratory of homeopathy (for example). Why you say it is not profitably? But I agree with you in one thing, it isn't drugs it WATER!!!!

By GregTravis on 25 Mar 2014

@SwissMac

I do not know where to start on that! Do you think your computer works by magic too, or just your body?

We cannot trust anecdote, or even personal experience, when evaluating medical treatments. There are very good reasons why the accepted standard is the randomized, double-blind trial. Do you think we should licence commercial drugs because someone said they worked for them (or that they were "immensely pleasurable")? Many "alternative therapies" (including acupuncture) have been scientifically tested and found not to work, but in practice the burden of proof must be on the proponents, particularly those based on pseudo-scientific concepts like "water-memory" and "energy meridians" that, if real, would be observable in repeatable laboratory experiments.

And spare us this nonsense about "alternative therapies" not being commercial. Did you (or perhaps the Swiss taxpayer?) not pay for your "treatments"?

You should maybe also look into the circumstances behind Steve Jobs' early death as documented by Walter Isaacson.

By JohnAHind on 25 Mar 2014

Science needs to figure this out

I wonder if "science" will one day discover the reasons why Jimmy Wales believes he is "the founder of Wikipedia", when factual evidence all points to Dr. Larry Sanger having been the founder, with Jimmy Wales being the guy who signed Sanger's paycheck. We don't say that Rick Hendrick won the 2014 Daytona 500, so why do we say Jimmy Wales founded Wikipedia?

By thekohser on 25 Mar 2014

@SwissMac

Is there some correlation between paying large sums of money for infinite dilutions (aka WATER) and buying overpriced shiney stuff from a company that makes you feel good just for buying them?

By milliganp on 25 Mar 2014

Tapas Acupressure Technique

Does that come with a free glass of Rioja?

By milliganp on 25 Mar 2014

@JohnAHind

Did you know that most multinational pharmaceutical companies will not proceed with developing a drug that cannot earn over $500 million per year? But if one can earn that sort of money, they sponsor many research projects to prove the efficacy of their drugs.

The holistic treatments referred to are manual, physical techniques practised by people, they are not drugs, holistic or otherwise, nor are they things you consume.

But hey, why spoil a good rant by actually reading about these treatments? Why let the facts get in the way of your prejudices? Why be informed when you can be incensed instead?

By SwissMac on 26 Mar 2014

@swissmac

All Wikipedia asks for is the same level of credible references that apply to ANY other subject.

They are not making a special case for the nut-job remedies.

All you need to do is provide credible evidence using an accepted methodology and you can get your snake oil into the encyclopaedia.

By qpw3141 on 26 Mar 2014

@ SwissMac

"The holistic treatments referred to are manual, physical techniques practised by people, they are not drugs, holistic or otherwise, nor are they things you consume."

None of that prevents them from being scientifically tested and examined for benefits. The fact that you seem to imply that because they are not drugs manufactured in a lab they should not be subjected to the same rigorous testing and analysis says much.

There are more than enough people who would be willing to do 'pure science' and investigate whatever was put in front of them with no prejudice, so the lack of money in the holistic treatment industry compared to the pharmaceutical one (I'll admit the latter is a behemoth, but the former is by no means an itinerant, hard-done by sector) is no excuse for not subjecting such treatments to full scientific analysis.

All genuine studies so far have proven holistic therapy to be so much bunkum, at most providing a placebo effect.

The thing about proper scientists and those who subscribe to science is that if something can be provably demonstrated to do something time and time again, in controlled test environments as well as the real world, they accept it as fact. After all, it is fact. There are some vocal scientists (such as Dawkins) who give the rest of us a bad name as shouty, irreverent zealots, but they do not speak for nor represent the majority.

"Why let the facts get in the way of your prejudices?"

I suggest this is your problem - you are so "incensed" by someone offering criticism of something you seem to hold dear, that you are letting your own prejudices flow through and obliterate any form of reasonableness.

By bioreit on 26 Mar 2014

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMvMb90hem8

Dara O'Brien on this subject.

"Herbal medicine has been around for thousands of years. So we tested it all and the stuff that worked became Medicine. The rest is a bowl of soup and some pot pourri"

By TBennett on 26 Mar 2014

What about change.org?

Ironically, change.org or maybe the sponsors of this petition appear to be censoring opponents of the petition. Yesterday there were many messages supporting Jimmy Wales, but today these have all disappeared and you can now only comment if you sign the petition!

Change.org need to allow opponents of a petition to register their opposition and state why they oppose it.

By JohnAHind on 26 Mar 2014

Laughable

Do you know what the name is for alternative medicine that has been peer reviewed and proven to work?

Medicine.

By Captain_Shaw on 26 Mar 2014

and?

It is my experience that these lovers of natural medicine are very tight with their money outside of buying woo. It's unlikely that anyone of them were ever going to donate to wikipedia anyway. I call no loss.

Reeks of bullying to me.

By Illyria on 4 Apr 2014

Wikipedia Page on Wilhelm Reich includes Sexual Slander and Worse

I tried to erase sexual slander and other "skeptic club" disinformation and lies on the biography of the energy-medicine pioneer Wilhelm Reich, as given at Wikipedia. This effort also included my providing of multiple citations to peer-reviewed scientific journals and other studies done at universities by PhD or MD scientists into the Reich Wiki page. None of it was allowed, and all was deleted back to the original slanders and lies, and lies of omission. So Mr. Wales also is telling lies, or doesn't even know what's going on at Wikipedia, because reputable scholars doing energy medicine research, across the board, are excluded, ridiculed, lied about, slandered, and censored routinely at Wikipedia, even with the required peer-reviewed scientific publications he claims they are open to. They aren't. The pages on any controversial subject are lorded over by groups of "skeptic club" types, who are cheerleaders for the most rigid of dogmatic science and medicine, and no amount of positive research results will sway them, because they have no interest in honest or ethics. It is all a power play. If the Wright brothers' airplane were invented today, no doubt Wikipedia would be slandering them as well, making ridicule out of serious concerns, just as Scientific American did for years, calling the Wright flyer a "hoax". I openly wonder, do the Wikipedia "editors" get paid off by the pharmaceutical firms? I wrote my concerns about it here:
http://www.orgonelab.org/wikipedia.htm

By JamesDeMeoPhD on 9 May 2014

Wikipedia Page on Wilhelm Reich includes Sexual Slander and Worse

I tried to erase sexual slander and other "skeptic club" disinformation and lies on the biography of the energy-medicine pioneer Wilhelm Reich, as given at Wikipedia. This effort also included my providing of multiple citations to peer-reviewed scientific journals and other studies done at universities by PhD or MD scientists into the Reich Wiki page. None of it was allowed, and all was deleted back to the original slanders and lies, and lies of omission. So Mr. Wales also is telling lies, or doesn't even know what's going on at Wikipedia, because reputable scholars doing energy medicine research, across the board, are excluded, ridiculed, lied about, slandered, and censored routinely at Wikipedia, even with the required peer-reviewed scientific publications he claims they are open to. They aren't. The pages on any controversial subject are lorded over by groups of "skeptic club" types, who are cheerleaders for the most rigid of dogmatic science and medicine, and no amount of positive research results will sway them, because they have no interest in honest or ethics. It is all a power play. If the Wright brothers' airplane were invented today, no doubt Wikipedia would be slandering them as well, making ridicule out of serious concerns, just as Scientific American did for years, calling the Wright flyer a "hoax". I openly wonder, do the Wikipedia "editors" get paid off by the pharmaceutical firms? I wrote my concerns about it here:
http://www.orgonelab.org/wikipedia.htm

By JamesDeMeoPhD on 9 May 2014

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