I just came across a Change.org petition directed at Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, to more favourably feature holistic (read: alternative) health and medicine. The statement claims that Wikipedia’s current entries on many alternative practices are biased and misleading. The petition was stupid; Jimmy Wales answer, however, is brilliant. Check it out below:
Wikipedia is widely used and trusted. Unfortunately, much of the information related to holistic approaches to healing is biased, misleading, out-of-date, or just plain wrong. For five years, repeated efforts to correct this misinformation have been blocked and the Wikipedia organization has not addressed these issues. 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. This has serious implications, as people continue to suffer with physical and emotional problems that might well be alleviated by these approaches.
Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, left the organization due to concerns about its integrity. He stated: “In some fields and some topics, there are groups who ‘squat’ on articles and insist on making them reflect their own specific biases. There is no credible mechanism to approve versions of articles.”
This is exactly the case with the Wikipedia pages for Energy Psychology, Energy Medicine, acupuncture, etcetera, which are currently skewed to a negative, unscientific view of these approaches despite numerous rigorous studies in recent years demonstrating their effectiveness. These pages are controlled by a few self-appointed “skeptics” who serve as de facto censors for Wikipedia. They clothe their objections in the language of the narrowest possible understanding of science in order to inhibit open discussion of innovation in health care. As gatekeepers for the status quo, they refuse discourse with leading edge research scientists and clinicians or, for that matter, anyone with a different point of view. Fair-minded referees should be given the responsibility of monitoring these important areas.
I pledge not to donate to your fundraising efforts until these changes have been made.
No, you have to be kidding me. 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.
Many a red-herring in the activist question. I’ll be delving further into activism and their weasel phrases, biases, and entrapments in the next few posts. In the meantime, I’m sure you can spot a few from above: “narrowest possible understanding of science,” “gatekeepers for the status quo,” and “numerous rigorous studies in recent years demonstrating their effectiveness.”
From the readings of activists, you’d think that science was some unchanging four-hundred year old institution instead of the method that took us from the heliocentric model to the inflationary; from the humor model of bio-physiology to organ transplants, chemotherapy, surgery, antibiotics, and vaccines.
As is usual for this kind of unintentional comedy, the accuser accuses him or herself unwittingly.