Wikipedia Founder to Holistic Medicine Devotees: Drop Dead


Ars Electronica / photo on flickr

Fans of holistic medicine want Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to change the policies of the online encyclopedia he founded, so they launched a petition

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.

The petition, which asks Wales to alter the standards of proof required to make assertions on the site, has garnered about 8,000 signatures. Right now, attempts by boosters to insert claims not up to the standards applied elsewhere on the site are repeatedly removed by other editors, who point to official Wikipedia policy about reliable sources to justify their actions. Remember, anyone can edit any entry on Wikipedia, but there is no guarantee their contributions will be safe from other editors.  

Jimmy Wales

Then things got interesting when Wales himself hopped into the comments section at 

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.

For more on Wales' various strongly held (and often strongly phrased) views, check out this now-ancient Reason profile of the man behind the Wikipedia curtain.

NEXT: Old Man Harry Reid Mimics Your IT Guy Defending Obamacare Site

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  1. What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of “true scientific discourse”. It isn’t.

    Simply awesome.

    1. Excuse me, I have to go donate a bunch of money to Wales’s foundation.

      Next time Wikipedia wants to run one of their donation drives, they just need to run banner ads with that quote in it, and contributions will skyrocket.

      1. They’re running one right now, and they should totally do that. I was thinking about throwing them $20 this morning, now I’m definitely going to.

      2. I agree. I suddenly have a lot more respect for Wikipedia as a whole.

      3. Please. There are so many so-called “rational” people who believe crazy shit. When its the traditional Judeo-Christian Sky Fairy, they’re idiots. When its some unmeasurable crystal energy shit, its all good.

  2. Sheesh, what a stickler. Next thing you know he’ll require quoteunquote proof that Jesus rode a velociraptor into Jerusalem.

    1. Blasphemous heathen!!!!!!.

      Jesus carried the velociraptor into Jerusalem on his back as written in the Book Of Fred, Chapter III, verse 2

      1. That’s why there was only one set of footprints in the sand.

        1. +1 Catholic motivational poster


          1. So? So can the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    2. Wikipedia apparently allows religious entries to claim such silliness, like Muhammed riding a flying horse to jerusalem in the Night Journey.

      Those people should just call their Woo “religious medicine.”

      1. Do they present that as a fact about Mohammed, or as something that is in the Koran (or wherever the Night Journey comes from)?

        I suppose I could go look for myself.

        1. Check Wikipedia, it’s faster.

        2. This article used to present a feng shui as established fact, but some editors (including me) have since edited it to reflect that the feng shui uses of the plant are certain people’s belief instead.

  3. If only he would apply the same level of scrutiny to the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming cult – or as I’ve come to see them, the natural-climate-change deniers ….. 🙂

    1. He does. You’re the one who’s wrong. I don’t know why you people are so stuck on this. It’s embarrassing.

      1. Someone dropped a turd into the punchbowl.

      2. He does. You’re the one who’s wrong.

        What’s comical is that the cultists assert that they aren’t wrong while doing the traditional flailing that accompanies a failed prophecy; they merely miscalculated the date of the rapture the date when temperatures would start to rise again.

        ‘Warming Interrruptus’ ? Causes for The Pause

        -There is no pause
        -Low solar activity
        -The heat is in the oceans
        -Pacific decadal oscillation/Atlantic multidecadal oscillation
        -Chinese coal
        -The Pacific and the La Ni?as
        -Stadium waves
        -Arctic stations
        -Pacific trade winds
        -A coincidence!

        In the meantime, reality continues to not agree with their predictions!

        But totally not a cult! 😀

        1. You don’t get it! Human activity must be harming the planet because it must, therefore climate change is caused by human activity! Put your circular reasoning hat on for fuck’s sake!

          1. Human activity must be harming the planet because it must, therefore climate change is caused by human activity! Put your circular reasoning hat on for fuck’s sake!

            Feynman on Scientific Method

            If it disagrees with experiment, it’s WRONG. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are who made the guess, or what his name is? If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”

            1. If it disagrees with experiment, it’s WRONG.

              But, but, but… Consensus!

          2. I think maddened gases streaming nonstop out of the very large mouths of climate-changers is contributing to exponential rates of climate change. Crap, I guess I DO believe in humanity-based climate change.

        2. See that thing about reliable sources. Why are you allergic to them?

          You are choosing to place political tribalism over basic rationality. It is sad.

  4. I had a roommate who was into all that shit. Had a room full of crystals. He even made a few buck on the side doing polarity treatments. Nice guy. Total nutjob though.

    1. Reflexology is all the rage these days. Apparently, for neurological conditions.

      1. My spleen is aching.

        *caresses the upper mid-quadrant of his left foot*

        All better now!

        1. No surgery for you!

        2. Yeah it may not work but it is a lot cheaper and it’s the only thing covered by Obamacare so, enjoy your crystal talisman and try not to let cancer bum you out.

      2. Why they have to ruin a foot massage (which feels good on its own) with those kinds of ridiculous claims is beyond me.

        1. They get to charge more.

          1. Bingo. A lifestyle of acai berries, Priuses and fair-trade hemp scarves isn’t cheap.

    2. The Placebo Effect is scientifically verified, so, if you believe this foolishness, there’s definitely a small chance it could help you.

    3. My wife is into shit like that. What are you going to do?

      Though I can’t help but say what I think every time she talks about astrology as if it has any validity at all. The damn Zodiac constellations aren’t even where astrologers say they are anymore.

      1. My wife believes in a lot of that stuff as well. One of our cats died on Friday, and she swears she saw its ghost the other night. Whatever. Life would be boring if we agreed about everything.

      2. My wife believed in fortune cookies until she got one that said “Nagging will result in the opposite effect”.

        Cured her instantly.

    4. But don’t crystals keep your shaving razors sharp for years? Or are those magnets?

      1. If the crystal has enough hardness and grit, it can be used as a sharpener to keep the razor sharp, I guess. There is some manual intervention required, though.

        1. I’m talking about magic crystals.

          I can’t remember where I saw them for sale, but the claim was that you store your razor next to it, and it will keep even a disposable razor sharp for years.

          Oh, and big “corporations” don’t want you to know about it.

            1. That was a catchy tune.

      2. When I was young, it was pyramids.

  5. these approaches which research has, in fact, proven to be of great benefit to many

    If there are reliable sources out there, then, as mentioned in the article, Wikipedia already has a provision to let you do what you want: Cite them. If there aren’t, then asserting that research has proved such-and-such is just a bluff. I can assert that research has proved that the sun rises in the west, but unless I can find reliable sources, you are entitled to reject my assertion.

    1. I can assert that research has proved that the sun rises in the west

      It does, just not on Earth. Other planets, however…

      1. “It does, just not on Earth”

        So it doesn’t by your own admission. WTF is that stupidity?

    2. We all can call monsters from the vasty deep.

    3. Why are you othering the geographical dyslexics?


    1. To be fair there’s the “I’m really only doing this because it’s fashionable” gluten free crowd, and then there’s the “if I eat wheat I’ll ass-wash the toilet for 8 hours” people with a legitimate degenerative disease.

      1. And shame on the stylistas for trivializing it.

  7. My brother is a Witch Doctor (Chiropractor), we go round and round. There are certain benefits to alternative medicines, certainly, but no where near what they claim. There are also many different levels of charlatanry.

    The mind is a wonderful drug.

    1. Lets face it FDA: chiropractors are miracle workers. Even my doctor admitted they are totes legit. In private.

      1. bwa? Maybe if you need therapeutic massage, sure, but I’ve heard of chiros claiming that their manipulations cure colds and the flu. fuck that.

        1. Those claims are total BS but they can absolutely get your spine aligned.

          1. Once it’s “aligned” you should be able to stop going and live out the rest of your days in comfort, right?

            1. So long as you go back twice a week.

              1. Dang you! And it’s twice a week?

            2. That can only be achieved through weekly appointments for the rest of your life.

            3. It got unaligned somehow in the first place, and that can happen again. That part seems fairly legit.

    2. Chiropractory (I know they call it “chiropractic”, but that sounds silly to me) seems to sort of straddle a line. They might be able to make your back feel better, but they sure as hell aren’t going to cure everything else that is wrong with you.

      1. There are some conditions for which it can be applied – they just claim to help far more conditions than are actually treatable in that manner.

      2. I agree. One did fix my back once. He claimed that my allergies should get better and maybe I would be a little bit less gassy. I just nodded in hopes that the massage would start sooner.

        1. I hope you got gassy during the massage.

        2. Did you proceed to fart in his face? Was this skit written about you?

      3. The company where I work had a group of chiros come in to give a talk as part of the “wellness” initiative. Apparently, if you detoxify, you can throw away your medications. All disease is caused by inflammation. Inflammation is caused by pH imbalances, which are due to consumption of soda. It takes 500 gallons of water to neutralize the effect of one can of Diet Coke.

        They didn’t know their audience- a bunch of PhD chemists and one guy with an MD as well. I started to protest one of their earlier bullshit claims when my boss shot me a look that said, “Shut up, if you argue, we’re stuck here longer.”

        I shut up.

        1. Sooo, according to them, sickle cell anemia is an ‘inflammation’ of red blood cells that makes them small and misshapen?

          1. Gunshot wounds are just lead inflammation.

            1. That’s more of a trauma than a disease.

          2. Yeah. This started when they asked me what causes “heart disease.” I replied, “Which one?”
            They said, “All of them.”
            “All heart disease has the same etiology?”
            “Yes. Inflammation!Get rid of that and you can get rid of all those allopathic medicines!” (the use of the word “allopathic” already signals that you’re dealing with bullshit)

            As I opened my mouth to ask the next question, that’s when my boss shut me up. He’s a nationally ranked shooter and a 6th degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do, so I don’t usually argue with him. Especially when he’s right.

        2. There was a guy handing out “alkaline water” at an event I was working at, and he was talking about all of the health benefits of “balancing” your pH levels. I explained to him that the human body regulates pH by exhaling CO2, and all I got was a blank stare.

          1. Yeah, alkaline water is the new fucking quack crap being pushed.

            Was watching a cooking show and the host was talking about it. Went and looked it up and thought, “yup, that’s some bullshit right there.”

            I wouldn’t try talking with people pushing this stuff about complex bio-chem. Instead, simply ask them if they know what pH is a measure of.

            1. While I recall that pH is a measure of acidity, I forget how far the scale goes, or which direction is alkaline.

              1. Most simply, pH is the log10 of the inverse of the concentration of H+ ions.

                0-7 is acidic and 7-14 is basic (alkaline)

                1. Thank you.

                2. ph is the part of the strip I want to be pink when I pull it out of my hot tub.

                  1. All I read of that sentence is “strip” and “hot tub” and I was sold. I want to subscribe to your newsletter.

                    1. It’ll be in your box weekly.

            2. While you’re at it tell them to look up what organic means, and then find me some inorganic vegetable greens.

              1. Some words do have more than one meaning. Containing carbon is not the original definition of organic. Not that I think organic food has any advantages, or that it is a very good use of the word.

          2. Is that like that super-oxygenated water I heard tell about a few years ago?

            1. Probably along those lines, yes. Was that like $3 a bottle too?

              1. I dunno…I just remember thinking “Doesn’t water contain one oxygen molecule no matter what?” All the athletes seemed to be drinking it. I’d love to meet the fricken genius that came up with $3 water and sold it to stupid, rich football players, though.

                1. One oxygen atom. /pedant

                  1. OOpsie – my bad. Water is the molecule, O is the atom. I ain’t dum, I swearz.

                2. “Doesn’t water contain one oxygen molecule atom no matter what?”

                  Yes and no. Water is a great solvant, and you can get suspended oxygen molocules mixed in with the water (as well as other dissolved gasses) Fish respirate this. So, it is possible to infuse additional oxygen into water.

    3. The mind is a wonderful drug.

      The “scientific” medicine guild relies on this as much or more as the alternative quacks.

      1. Ding. Ding.

        Let’s not kid ourselves, here. While “Western” medicine can certainly point to more scientific support, there is a whole lot that they do, that they don’t know why it works.

        And, yes, a big part of any true healer’s repertoire (and I do not include in that group the pill mills and procedure assembly lines of too many physicians) is harnessing the placebo effect. Pretty much like the “alternative” medicine providers.

        1. As I understand it, why something works is not a big part of medical testing in western medicine. You just have to show that it does in a consistent and repeatable way.

          And, yes, a big part of any true healer’s repertoire (and I do not include in that group the pill mills and procedure assembly lines of too many physicians) is harnessing the placebo effect.

          Which kind of makes it a drag to be such a skeptic. It would be so much easier if I could just believe in some of the bullshit that so many people buy into.

    4. Does he have one of those devices that measures the temperature of your spine? Always wondered abouit that.

      1. Hadn’t heard about that one.

  8. He could have been less of a dick about it, but hey, it’s his site, his rules.

    1. “He could have been less of a dick about it…..”


      1. Because that is something that is possible.

  9. My prescriptions are anecdote, man! Don’t you ever fuck with my anecdote. Not once. I need those anecdote. To live. Love. And see the fairies flying in the jet streams of eagles.

  10. For those who come to San Francisco
    Summertime will be a love-in there
    In the streets of San Francisco
    Gentle people with flowers in their hair

    All across the nation such a strange vibration
    People in motion
    There’s a whole generation with a new explanation
    People in motion people in motion

  11. Given the flack Uber is under in Shitcago and San Antonio, I thought I might use them today to go to the fancy hotel for my birthday treat. What can I expect, price-wise? Comparable to a cab?

    1. No, the fancy hotel room will be much more expensive than the cab ride.

      1. I’m not taking a cab – I’m taking Uber! Sheesh!

        1. Kristen, Kristen Uber Alles!
          Uber Alles in der Kab…

    2. I’ve always found Uber in Chicago to be the same price or a bit cheaper than a cab. The benefits obviously are you can get one in most places in the city in a matter of minutes from your phone without every having to step outside. Even though most of the ones that I take are cabs, they are usually a lot cleaner than the normal ones you flag down on the street.

      It’s also nice to not ever have to pull out your wallet and try to figure out the tip at the end of the ride as well.

    3. And for your birthday the upgrade to a black car is totes worth it.

      1. Nice! Thanks!

      2. Coincidentally, I got an email from Uber about a week ago saying that they cut the the black car prices by 25%. Have fun!

    4. You could also get a quote from their website.

  12. …”the benefits of Energy Medicine, Energy Psychology, and specific approaches such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques, Thought Field Therapy and the Tapas Acupressure Technique,”…

    And those benefits are?

    1. I’ve heard that walking and sitting are a bit easier with a lighter wallet but have no studies to back that up.

      1. My plastic never changes weight. Maybe I should start carrying coinage as an exercise regime? I can’t afford paper money in that weight range.

  13. OT:

    We are fucked. Hillary wipes the floor with all republican comers in VA poll. Not that I’d like to see most of those guys as president, but it’d be nice if Rand actually had a shot.

    1. Secretary Hillary Clinton’s lead over New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie, top-seeded among Republicans

      I could have sworn she wasn’t Secretary of State any more.

      Whatcha bet that the 2008 early polling looked about the same? Nah, Hillary is vulnerable. Where do you think “Ban Bossy” and the recent spate of “anti-ageism” chin-strokers come from? Its her machine trying to neutralize her negatives, early.

    2. Unfortunately that’s because NoVA and Charlottesville control the entire state now. VA will never be Red again, and it never really was all that Purple, either It just kind of flipped to Blue overnight.

    3. “We are fucked. Hillary wipes the floor with all republican comers in VA poll.”

      So what?

      We are fucked? What the hell is wrong with you?

  14. As long as contributors cite their sources, I don’t see what the problem is.

    1. If the contribution is bullshit and the cited source is as well, yeah, that’s a problem.

      1. But only an idjit takes the Wikipedia brand as any assurance of reliability. The most that any Wikipedia contributor should be claiming is (in essence) “source Y says X.”

        1. That doesn’t change that they are trying to be more reliable by getting rid of the crap.

          So, your point is kind of stupid and beside the point.

          1. What’s the point of the Wiki platform if you’re going to superimpose validity czars on it? As long as contributors follow the rules for citing sources, I say let it all in and let me (the reader) decide the validity of what’s included.

            1. You’re free to do that on your own site.

            2. That would make it worthless. You read an encyclopedia entry so you don’t have to spend time vetting source material.

              Of course you should never take Wikipedia as a final and authoritative source, but on uncontroversial subjects it is usually pretty good exactly because there are lots of editors sorting out the bullshit.

              1. You can get a general sense of the value of most sources from the identifying info in the notes.

                I want to be able to read about crazy conspiracy theories and hollow-earth claims, not just what Jimmy thinks is deserves to be posted.

                He’s just making it into the Jimmy Wales-opedia, like the Conservopedia and the liberal one, whatever it’s called.

                1. You can. E.g.,

                  It’s just that it’s prominently labelled as bullshit.

                  1. Or this:


                    You must be quite lazy to spout off without bothering to look.

    2. Wikipedia is chock full of mysticism and religion so I agree.

      1. So fix it.

        You act like that’s an argument of some kind.

        1. I’m not acting I’m simply recalling reality. A lot of silly shit is on Wikipedia for sound reasons. Holistic stuff IS part of various levels of oddball culture (pop, scifi, New Age, and so on) in much the same way spiritualism and mysticism are. All of it is anecdotal hooey but interesting nonetheless. I don’t see the point in getting all ‘sciencey’ with Voodoo rituals and spells because their tain’t none, but hell that stuff is fun to read about so include it. Wikipedia can’t be ALL facts and no fun, bro.

  15. I’m 100% behind the scince-literacy devotees of the skeptics’ movement right up until the knives come out and they begin demanding that pseudo-scientific or woo practices be criminalized (excepting of course provable cases of negligence or fraud). My favorite is when they (properly) lambaste a congressman for favoring herbal supplements or somesuch, but fail to heed any lesson about corporatism or the fallibility of the regulatory state. Probably something to do with all that grant money.

    1. When your shit doesn’t stink it’s very difficult to comprehend alternative views that may offer sound wisdom.

    2. Dweebston|3.27.14 @ 12:44PM|#
      “I’m 100% behind the scince-literacy devotees of the skeptics’ movement right up until the knives come out and they begin demanding that pseudo-scientific or woo practices be criminalized”…

      Paul Kurtz’ foundations stopped getting my money when he started pumping for criminalization.
      And then it got worse; his pubs went from mimeographed pulp to slick 4-color books while he griped that news publishing was increasingly monopolized by big KORPORASHUNS!
      The lack of self awareness was breathtaking.

  16. Bravo, Jimmy Wales.

  17. “…turn to your pages, trust what they read, and do not pursue getting help from these approaches…”

    I am having trouble following that. Is that supposed to be sarcasm?

  18. I like Wales….There is iron in his words.

  19. Yeah, they wouldn’t want misinformation somehow ending up on Wikipedia. That’d be all crazy.

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