Science & Technology

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.