Respectful Insolence

Wiki woo?

While I was away over the weekend, a reader made me aware of a new development in the world of “alternative”–excuse me, “complementary and alternative”–medicine (a.k.a. CAM). I suppose I should have seen this coming. In retrospect, given the proliferation of wikis of seemingly every shape and for seemingly every purpose, it was inevitable that someone, somewhere would put together a wiki for CAM, known as the Wiki4CAM: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Encyclopedia.

My first thought was that maybe I should register. Certainly I could edit some articles, although, despite what some antivaccine activists say about me, I’ve never actually edited a Wikipedia article before. (I’ve been tempted, but I’ve never done it.) Then I read the wiki’s manifesto:

Wiki4CAM has been started to provide the CAM community their own space where they can build their knowledge base without any undue skeptical diversions. Only CAM practitioners can participate in this wiki.

The article Why Do We Need Wiki4CAM? makes it even more explicit:

Are you wondering why do we need Wiki4CAM when we already have the Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is undoubtedly the world’s biggest and most read and referenced encyclopedia. The community participation has made it a huge success. But its open architecture has (at times) also led to the use of Wikipedia for gaining political mileage and for spreading biased views by a handful of editors.

The same thing has happened to most complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies on Wikipedia. A handful of wiki editors are going out of their way to discredit and disrepute nearly all alternative medicine as unscientific.

Ironically, that’s the best news I’ve heard about Wikipedia in a long, long time! As I’ve alluded to before, my concern about Wikipedia has traditionally been that it is too credulous towards CAM because CAM activists keep trying to edit CAM articles to make them less evidence-based and more “friendly” towards woo and even quackery. Even more amusingly, the whine above about how “biased” Wikipedia is actually shows in some cases how biased Wikipedia is towards CAM. The authors of Wiki4CAM cite what they claim to be “examples” of the “bias” in Wikipedia against CAM therapies, but even a cursory inspection shows that their definition of “bias” is suspect. For example, here are some introductions to CAM therapies that the creators of Wiki4CAM complain about (my comments are in italics):

  • Acupressure: Traditional Chinese medicine’s acupuncture theory predates use of the scientific method, and has received various criticisms based on scientific thinking. There is no known anatomical or histological basis for the existence of acupuncture points or meridians. Actually, this is a fairly reasonable and science-based description of acupressure. No wonder CAM advocates don’t like it.
  • Acupuncture: While acupuncture has been a subject of active scientific research since the late 20th century, its effects are not well-understood, and it remains controversial among researchers and clinicians. The body of evidence remains inconclusive but is active and growing. I suppose whether the body of evidence regarding acupunture is “growing” or not depends upon what sort of evidence is growing. If anything, the only scientific evidence regarding acupuncture that’s growing is the evidence suggesting that it’s nothing more than an elaborate placebo. The better designed the clinical trial and the better sham acupuncture used as a control, the less of an apparent “effect” from acupuncture is observed, and in the best-designed trials the effect is indistinguishable from placebo. Indeed, it’s particularly telling that it doesn’t matter one whit whether acupuncture needles are placed in “real” meridian locations or not; the effect is exactly the same and the difference between the two is indistinguishable.
  • Homeopathy: Claims to the efficacy of homeopathic treatment beyond the placebo effect are unsupported by the collective weight of scientific and clinical evidence,[7][8][9][10] although advocates of homeopathy point to studies of the effects of compounds diluted almost out of existence.[11][12] Common homeopathic preparations are diluted beyond the point where there is any likelihood that molecules from the original solution are present in the final product; the claim that these treatments still have any pharmacological effect is thus scientifically implausible[13][14] and violates fundamental principles of science,[15] including the law of mass action.[15] Critics also object that the number of high-quality studies that support homeopathy is small, the conclusions are not definitive, and duplication of the results, a key test of scientific validity, has proven problematic at best.[16] The lack of convincing scientific evidence supporting its efficacy[17] and its use of remedies without active ingredients have caused homeopathy to be regarded as pseudoscience;[18] quackery;[19][20][21] or, in the words of a 1998 medical review, “placebo therapy at best and quackery at worst.”[22] Actually, I would disagree with this description of homeopathy above and characterize it as entirely too credulous. The number of high quality studies that support homeopathy isn’t just “small.” It’s zero. If anything, this article is far too easy on homeopathy, which by any objective scientific examination is so scientifically implausible as to be, in essence, magic.

I guess I can now see why CAM boosters don’t like Wikipedia, but in reality I’m rather surprised, given the amount of dubious information that finds its way into Wikipedia, thanks to activists making edits. Indeed, that Wiki4CAM exists makes me rather happy. It almost restores my faith in Wikipedia. Almost. It’s especially gratifying to see that Wikpedia gets these guys worked up enough to write:

This is alarming!! Millions of people who use internet to search for alternative medicine are being systematically exposed to anti-CAM data. At the time when the world is rushing towards alternative medicine, the effort to sabotage the alternative medicine cannot be ignored.

The Wikipedia articles on CAM are not a true knowledge-base about any CAM therapy. It is primarily a place to post what CAM is not!!

Wikipedia is a wonderful tool and we are not against Wikipedia in any way. It is the quality of content about CAM therapies and undue skeptical intervention at Wikipedia, that has led us to create a secure environment for the CAM therapies in the form of wiki4cam.org.

Of course, any time you see the word “secure” in a discussion of forums in which to discuss CAM, it really means non-questioning, non-skeptical, and nonscientific. In other words, it means that greatest of all CAM values, “accepting.” We should just “accept” what CAM boosters say, with none of that nasty, scientific, skeptical questioning that real medicine has to endure before it can be accepted as legitimate and then even after. Indeed, the creators of Wiki4CAM are quite explicit about this:

This is why we need a place where the CAM community can build its own knowledge base without the undue interference of skeptics. We need a place where the CAM practitioners themselves write articles and create a true picture of its history, development, efficacy and positive research.

The CAM community needs to come together to create exhaustive articles about each CAM therapy. Hpathy.com will work to optimize the Wiki4CAM content so that the Wiki4CAM pages rank in the top 10 in all search results. We need to make our side of story available too.

This wiki is open ONLY to CAM practitioners. Wiki4CAM is technically supported by Hpathy.com, world’s leading homeopathy portal and we will try to ensure that this wiki gives the CAM community the most conducive atmosphere for creating its knowledge base. We strongly discourage skeptics from registering here. Anybody found posting any anti-CAM data will be quickly removed.

That’s right. They’ll post only the “positive” research about CAM and do their best to tweak the pages to score high on the search engines. That’s because science doesn’t matter. Negative evidence doesn’t matter, and Wiki4CAM will deal with it by simply wishing it away through iron-fisted censorship. Of course, I find it most hilarious that the homeopaths setting up Wiki4CAM explicitly and openly state that they will censor any “anti-CAM” (read: actual scientific) data posted to their Wiki. A more explicit statement of what CAM is about when it comes to science I have never seen. In marked contrast, we in the business of scientific medicine don’t have the luxury of censoring criticism of our therapies, whether those criticisms come from within or without medicine. We have to deal with them, whether they are good science or spurious. That CAM practitioners are too afraid to deal with skepticism and science shows that they are neither skeptics or scientists.

I suggest that any time any CAM advocate claims that his particular brand of woo is science- or evidence-based, that the response should be to refer that advocate to this Wiki and to point out that no discipline can possibly be considered “science-based” if it explicitly censors valid scientific criticism and bans the examination of data that do not support it. That’s an inherent part of science, facing up to scientific examination and criticism. And then laugh–because it is truly gut-bustingly hilarious to see this Wiki. Finally, it may be worth registering with this new Wiki anyway and seeing just how much actual science we can actually manage to get past the censors. Alternatively, we could take the merry prankster approach and have some fun with the concept. What do I mean? I mean seeing just how outrageously, wildly pseudoscientific we can get editing this Wiki. I mean pushing the envelope of woo to see if there is any limit to how ridiculous an article or edit these guardians of CAM will allow when they will not allow valid criticism based on science. My guess is: There will be virtually no limit. No one will notice, and I bet we could even get woo as amazingly, richly outrageous as DNA activation, with its bit about 10 additional “etheric” strands of DNA, into this new Wiki as though it were serious. Or even make stuff up and see if you can surpass DNA activation or quantum gyroscopic homeopathy.

Truly, this stuff parodies itself.

Comments

  1. #1 Blaidd Drwg
    August 11, 2008

    It’s SHOCKING! Millions of people who are searching for evidence for the existence of invisible pink unicorns are being exposed to anti IPU data!

    We need a IPUWiki, and we must design it so that only pro-IPU data are allowed. Anyone caught posting anti IPU material will be banned, their children will be cursed for all time, and their spouse will be afflicted with incurable anal leakage.

    *Sarcastic mode off*

  2. #2 sophia8
    August 11, 2008

    Since it’s easy to buy CAM qualifications online without having to demonstrate any actual knowledge of the subject, I wonder what these people would accept as qualifications?
    And how would they handle the inconsistencies in overall CAM theory? All the different CAM specialities have their own internally consistent theory of how their particular method works, but few of them intersect with any other CAM theory. The theory behind homeopathy (“like cures like”), for instance, has nothing in common with the theory behind acupuncture (“cure is effected by balancing the body’s energy meridians”), and neither has anything in common with healing prayers (“ask God nicely and He’ll cure you”).
    That’s in contrast to nasty old allopathy, which is backed by an overall theory of medicine and science, so that all the specialities can work together.

  3. #3 Martin R
    August 11, 2008

    The CAM wiki will soon run into some interesting consistency problems. No matter how “accepting” you are, the various fantasies behind the CAM treatments will sooner or later contradict each other.

  4. #4 Yoo
    August 11, 2008

    The first thought that came to mind as I read the first paragraph was “Do we need a Conservapedia for Wiki4CAM?”, but it turns out that Wiki4CAM is already a Conservapedia for Wikipedia, only in the field of medicine.

    It looks like it’s a trend for “make things up as you go” proponents is to create a wiki that won’t be subjected to the balancing forces that work on Wikipedia.

  5. #5 Thomas
    August 11, 2008

    Back to my theory that we need special camps for “reality deniers”. Round them up, work them to death, and keep them from pestering people that weren’t born brain damaged. I know it wouldn’t be fair to them because they are theoretically partly human, but it’s a nice daydream to me sometimes.

  6. #6 IBY
    August 11, 2008

    The thing about there being no limit seems to me too farfetched. Then again, I have seen no limits of woos that is shown in this blog.

  7. #7 Sam C
    August 11, 2008

    A wooki rather than a wiki?

    But for only complementary and alternative quackery?

    What about the holistic and integrative brands of quackery? Will these need their own wookis?

  8. #8 Yoo
    August 11, 2008

    I’d be satisfied with reality deniers refraining from using things that their beliefs say can’t exist.

    Young earth creationists would have to refrain from using a lot of things, from computers to lots of medical advances. Anti-vacciners should live only among other anti-vacciners so they couldn’t take advantage of herd immunity. Acupuncture proponents who claim that it could be used instead of anesthesia should use only acupuncture with surgery, instead of using both and claiming that acupuncture works. And so on. It would force a lot of reality deniers to face reality.

    It’s bad enough that a lot of people deny actual evidence in favor of make-believe. It’s completely infuriating when many of them also take advantage of so many things that would simply not work if their claims were true.

  9. #9 Ramel
    August 11, 2008

    Can Poe’s law be applied to CAM? I feel the urge to conduct a moderatly unethical experiment…

  10. #10 Spook
    August 11, 2008

    A translation : “Waaahh! They keep bringing facts into the discussion! I’m gonna make my OWN wiki. With acupuncture… and hookers!”

  11. #11 Skeptico
    August 11, 2008

    For once, I was ahead of you.

  12. #12 Adam Cuerden
    August 11, 2008

    Well, you know WHY the homeopathy’s criticism is so weak? Because we had to fight tooth and nail just to get the rational point of view included, and they pulled up every flawed study or propoganda piece they coud find to prevent absolutes amnd to try and get us to say Homeopathy works.

    We had DANA FREAKING ULLMAN editing the Homeopathy article. What do you expect when you’re fighting a battle against idiots like him just to hold the ground, while he (and Peter Morrell, and several other less-notable homeoipaths) try their darndest to get every single bit of criticism excised, down to and including any of those nasty silly claims that homeopathic preparations don’t contain any active substance. “But some less-diluted ones DO!” they cry.

    I mean, Jesus-freaking-Christ, give us skeptical editors some credit. We’re doing everything we can, but we can’t just wave a magic ban hammer and make the homeopaths disappear without getting the rest of Wikipedia on us. And the homeopaths have managed to make editing so goddamn awful for everyone that noone wants to deal with their shit anymore, and so we just fight a standing battle.

  13. #13 Adam Cuerden
    August 11, 2008

    Well, you know WHY the homeopathy’s criticism is so weak? Because we had to fight tooth and nail just to get the rational point of view included, and they pulled up every flawed study or propoganda piece they coud find to prevent absolutes amnd to try and get us to say Homeopathy works.

    We had DANA FREAKING ULLMAN editing the Homeopathy article. What do you expect when you’re fighting a battle against idiots like him just to hold the ground, while he (and Peter Morrell, and several other less-notable homeoipaths) try their darndest to get every single bit of criticism excised, down to and including any of those nasty silly claims that homeopathic preparations don’t contain any active substance. “But some less-diluted ones DO!” they cry.

    I mean, Jesus-freaking-Christ, give us skeptical editors some credit. We’re doing everything we can, but we can’t just wave a magic ban hammer and make the homeopaths disappear without getting the rest of Wikipedia on us. And the homeopaths have managed to make editing so goddamn awful for everyone that noone wants to deal with their shit anymore, and so we just fight a standing battle.

    And then you get idiot administrators coming in and whining “Oh, you’re so UNCIVIL to them! Can’t you be a bit nicer? Maybe let them have a little of what they want, as a compromise?” So then you’re battling on another front with some person who thinks that politeness is more important than the facts – and there’s a damn lot of them there, I can tell you. So, you know, we’ve fought as hard as we could. If someone else wants to step in and push harder, great, but while we’re working on homeopathy, some other quackery is getting pushed elsewhere. It’s all a red queen’s race, and the best we can do unless we get a lot more help is to try and get things to the point where we aren’t actively telling people that total quackery works.

  14. #14 Orac
    August 11, 2008

    Adam,

    Chill, dude. I’m not criticizing skeptical editors who try to keep Wikipedia free of pseudoscience. You guys have, as far as I’m concerned the veritable Sisyphean task and nothing but my admiration for taking it on. You’re out-manned, and these guys have a lot more time on their hands than you do. This problem is inherent in the very concept of Wikipedia, as I have pointed out time and time again. It’s also the “neutral voice” culture that Wikipedia demands, which is almost perfect for pseudoscientists to whine against “unfairness” and to wheedle the administrators into giving “just a little.”

    Sadly, cranks will always have the advantage an Wikipidea and that’s not likely ever to change. It’s also why I consider Wikipedia to be unreliable as a source of medical information or information on science that is the least bit controversial. Consequently, although I admire those who take on the task of trying to purge Wikipedia of pseudoscience, I don’t find joining them to be the most productive use of my time. It’s a never-ending battle that can’t be won.

  15. #15 Adam Cuerden
    August 11, 2008

    Sorry, can you delete the first of those two posts? I decided to add a bit more afte rhitting send, but evidently didn’t hit “stop” in time. The second one’s longer.

  16. #16 Adam Cuerden
    August 11, 2008

    Heh. Sorry, Orac, just that it’s a very frustrating task, so a chance to vent in a skeptical atmosphere is very, very welcome. It’s not directed at you, just… well, venting =)

  17. #17 Orac
    August 11, 2008

    For once, I was ahead of you.

    It’s only because I was out of town at the ScienceBloggers Meetup in NYC and thus not blogging and not reading other blogs; otherwise I certainly would have seen your post before I wrote this one.

    Not that it would have stopped me…

  18. #18 Jason Failes
    August 11, 2008

    “without any undue skeptical diversions.”

    Stupid reality! Conform to my beliefs!

  19. #19 Skwee
    August 11, 2008

    RationalWiki to the rescue?
    http://www.rationalwiki.com/

  20. #20 philip urbanski
    August 11, 2008

    There seems to be a part of human nature that needs to believe in mysterious, behind-the-scenes, esoteric driving forces, and, if you have tapped into these placebic currents can become the friendly (yet oh-so-serious) healing wizard. As well, it is about cute, white bunnies. Not bunnies that overpopulate, fight, poo everywhere, and get their heads torn off by foxes, but the cute, cuddly ones that make everyone feel good.

  21. #21 KC
    August 11, 2008

    It’s not really worth your time to try and sneak opposing facts in. They’ll be watching too closely for that, god knows. Instead, take it the other way – sneak in increasingly absurd `facts` to support CAM. Discuss, in a serious tone, how ectoplasam from Angelology has been laboratory isolated in a ELISA test, and cite a review on Boron based organic chemistry as your reference. Or a paper on 12th century Thai peasantry nasal habits. It doesn’t matter, really. Just give a citation, call it science in support of CAM, and watch them self-parody.

  22. #22 Blake Stacey
    August 11, 2008

    I like KC‘s idea best. Time to transgress some boundaries! (Via quantum tunnelling, of course.)

  23. #23 Joe
    August 11, 2008

    I discovered Wiki around 4 years ago and tried to edit some of the articles on sCAM. They were reverted within in an hour, and I was labeled a vandal. The article on naturopathy began “Naturopaths are medical doctors.” I inserted “not” and that is not even controversial since they think they are better than MDs. Nonetheless, my edit didn’t last. Months later, the opening statement was completely revised so, if my edit had been retained it would still have been a waste of my time.

  24. #24 Scotty B
    August 11, 2008

    Does anybody know how to go in to their wiki and add the little superscripts that say “source needed” or to add those banners that say the page is missing sources?

  25. #25 Joe
    August 11, 2008

    I like KC’s idea too.

    I forgot to respond to Martin R’s idea that the conflicting ideas of sCAM will come to light. In his excellent book “Voodoo Science,” physicist Robert Park describes a congressional hearing in which multiple quacks spoke in turn about the biggest health problem facing the nation (feldspar deficiency, leaky karma, past-life bursitis). Despite the lack of commonality, the rest nodded appreciatively as each proponent spoke.

    To a quack, it’s all good.

  26. #26 Natalie
    August 11, 2008

    Scotty, IIRC they’ll have to program the little templates themselves in order for them to work.

  27. #27 marcia
    August 11, 2008

    From the site:

    “Shamans have the ability to diagnose and cure human suffering and, in some societies, the ability to cause suffering [citation needed]. This is believed to be accomplished by traversing the axis mundi and forming a special relationship with, or gaining control over, spirits.”

    I love the “[citation needed]” thing.

    I’ll check back in 30 years to see if they’ve received their citation.

  28. #28 Phoenix Woman
    August 11, 2008

    Orac, you’d better start working on editing either Wikipedia or Rational Wiki pieces — and then post the links on your website. Like it or not, Wikipedia cites are accepted by most people nowadays.

  29. #29 Blake Stacey
    August 11, 2008

    Joe wrote,

    I discovered Wiki around 4 years ago and tried to edit some of the articles on sCAM.

    For me, abbreviating “Wikipedia” as “Wiki” is like saying “chicken” to Marty McFly. I can pose myself all the arguments that I’m being petty and pedantic, but it still pushes my Crazy Button. On a lizard-brain level, my reaction is always that calling Wikipedia “Wiki” is like calling the Encyclopædia Britannica “book”.

    “A wiki is a type of website, a general scheme for collaboratively editing data!” screams my inner reptile. “Wiki4CAM is a wiki. Conservapædia is a wiki. Aaaaaaahh!”

    But yes, the way that wackaloons police the Wikipedia articles about their own favorite kinds of crankery is really depressing.

  30. #30 Joe
    August 11, 2008

    Blake Stacey wrote “For me, abbreviating “Wikipedia” as “Wiki” is like saying “chicken” to Marty McFly.”

    Whisky, Tango, Foxtrot- I have not the slightest idea what you mean.

    Blake Stacey wrote “On a lizard-brain level, my reaction is always that calling Wikipedia “Wiki” is like calling the Encyclopædia Britannica “book”.”

    Did you mean “a book?” It is a multivolume, set of books. I can pose myself all the arguments that I’m being petty and pedantic, but it still pushes my Crazy Button when someone writes “book” intending “a book.”

    Blake Stacey wrote “A wiki is a type of website, a general scheme for collaboratively editing data!”

    Uncapitalized (wiki), that is fine; I intend the capitalized word to refer to the original, giant fiasco that is The Wikipedia.

    If you don’t like my usage, I’ll give it some thought tonight- between when my butt hits the bed and my head hits the pillow.

    I hope you take this as intended- in the jocular vein.

  31. #31 Ruth
    August 11, 2008

    Wiki woo would be a great name for one of those little lap dogs blue-haired old ladies have.

  32. #32 Linda Rosa
    August 11, 2008

    KC has a delightful idea. Beat them at their own game, I’d call it.

    In some areas though, we might be able to just sit back and watch the fur fly. For example, the “college-degreed” Naturopaths are hardly going to be happy with the current Wiki4CAM listing for “Naturopathy”:

    http://www.wiki4cam.org/wiki/Naturopathy

    It’s quite a contrast with the regular Wikipedia listing for Naturopathy that is dominated by the “more educated” NDs:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturopathic_medicine

    What do you suppose the worsening economy will do? Send more people to quacks, or create competition (bad vibes) between quacks?

  33. #33 D. C. Sessions
    August 11, 2008

    What do you suppose the worsening economy will do? Send more people to quacks, or create competition (bad vibes) between quacks?

    The quacks will duck.

    Seriously, the Eleventh Commandment of Woo is, “never speak ill of another quack. Blame it all on Evil Organized Medicine.” If an apparent contradiction between schwools, keep in mind that contradictions are a matter of logic, and logic is one of the tools of The Oppressor. Thus, when logic enters the discussion it’s time to invoke the Wookie.

  34. #34 Joe
    August 11, 2008

    DC Sessions wrote “The quacks will duck.”

    hence the expression “If it dicks like a quack …”

  35. #35 Joe
    August 11, 2008

    Dang- should be:
    DC Sessions wrote “The quacks will duck.”

    Hence the expression: “If it ducks like a quack …”

    Maybe Orac can delete the offending post.

  36. #36 Militant Agnostic
    August 11, 2008

    Joe – the quacks are alwways dicking around.

  37. #37 D. C. Sessions
    August 11, 2008

    Hence the expression: “If it ducks like a quack …”

    Maybe Orac can delete the offending post.

    I hope not — I rather like your version.

  38. #38 Glendon Mellow
    August 11, 2008

    Okay, I just wanted to use this thread to say I love your blog, Orac. I read it regularly, and I have the utmost respect for what you do. Normally, I don’t have too much to add, either in wit or information.

    Between yourself, Denialism and The Skeptic’s Dictionary, it makes me hopeful that more people will learn how they get snowed by misinformation and new age nonsense.

    Okay, I’ll go back to lurking now.

  39. #39 phisrow
    August 11, 2008

    Any scientific criticism would, obviously, be shut down in mere moments; but I’d be interested to see their response to a woo vs. woo conflict.

    It would be an amusing experiment to grab a mill degree and hop on in the persona of an irate friend of micronized quantum silver, dedicated to the destruction of the lies of the reflexologists, or something to that effect.

  40. #40 gimpy
    August 12, 2008

    I came across this lunacy the other day too. Inspired me to register the domains quackapedia.org and quackapedia.net and set up a cheeky redirect (pending).

  41. #41 DLC
    August 12, 2008

    Heh. What next DumbassOpedia ?
    “We’re stupid and want to have our own Wiki space where we can prove it!”

    Or maybe it’s ConOPedia where we Con men provide articles that run Contrary to well-known and well-established science.

    I wonder if they’ll be sponsored by Homeopathic Pain spray or Penile Enlargement Pills companies ?

  42. #42 Benjamin Geiger
    August 12, 2008

    Blake Stacey:

    Seconded. “Wiki” as a proper noun will always mean Ward’s Wiki (aka the Portland Pattern Repository, aka the first wiki) to me.

  43. #43 Thomas
    August 12, 2008

    “Wiki editors” reverted some of my edits about a type of sports car of which I have one of the less than 1500 examples on the entire planet left in roadgoing usage. It taught me much about “wiki” people. Mostly that they don’t know what they are talking about and many might be children.

    The fact that I’ve survived a bout with cancer makes me dislike the “pretend medical” people. If my dad used homeopathic medicine in his residency many a decade ago, treating like with like, if somebody got shot with a .45 would he have been allowed to shoot them with a .22 out behind the Accident and Emergency to make them better?

  44. #44 Dr Aust
    August 12, 2008

    we will try to ensure that this wiki gives the CAM community the most conducive atmosphere for creating its knowledge base. We strongly discourage skeptics from registering here. Anybody found posting any anti-CAM data will be quickly removed.

    Isn’t it amazing how every statement the Alt-oids make hammers home the central point that they do not understand how the scientific process (in its broadest sense) works, plus their preference for learned doctrine that they can repeat like a mantra?

    You can see the same effect in action over our side of the Atlantic in the Times Higher Education webpages here. The story is that a UK university prof has written an open letter to all the faculty in his Univ in protest at the University starting up yet another “Bachelor of, quote “Science”, unquote, degree in Woo”.

    On the comments thread the scientists are backing him, while the woos are blustering about “academic freedom” (to invent laws of physics of your choice) “high professional standards” (of magic thinking), and “teaching in experimental methods” (namely how to insist loudly that randomized control trials cannot assess woo).

    As we Brits like to say: you couldn’t make it up.

    ———————————————————-

    On a separate point, D.C. Sessions is spot on about how all Woo co-exists even when the Woo is mutually exclusive / orthogonal. The Woo credo of acceptance means that by a special kind of “Doublethink” even Woos which completely contradict one another co-exist.

    As I wrote a while back about homeopathy:

    “Don’t like the physical laws of this universe? Insist on being judged by the laws of a parallel one you thought up specially!”

    And to take this idea a bit further, if my Woo-niverse and your Woo-niverse are irreconcilable, don’t worry, because in the Woo Multi-verse they can ALL co-exist. As all Woos know, all you have to do to justify this is to wave your hands and invoke quantum theory.

  45. #45 Brian X
    August 12, 2008

    Wikipedia needs an enema, that’s for damn sure. Though even rational sites like RationalWiki aren’t immune to that — one of our libertarian contributors is in the midst of a force five hissyfit because we decided to start adding skeptical commentary (and, let’s be fair, plenty of snark too — it’s what we do at RW) to his puff piece article on Libertarianism.

    Hell, we have a Conservapedia editor who’s a regular these days — he’s pretty misinformed, but he’s way more reasonable as an editor than this libertarian dude.

  46. #46 skept
    August 13, 2008

    I have always enjoyed reading the disscussion pages of controversial wiki articles. This seems to be the same over at s.c.a.m.-wiki, mention something like “evidence based medicine” and you will be slapped down: CAM Chiropractic discussion page.

  47. #47 AndyD
    August 13, 2008

    My small contribution to the discussion here.

    Orac, various references to posting requirements appear at odds with each other (why aren’t you surprised?). On the Editor Registration page they say articles can be edited by “well-informed amateurs and hobbyists.” You’re certainly well informed on CAM and since you don’t sell it, you must by definition be an amateur.

    So sign up and know you were invited.

  48. #48 wackyvorlon
    August 13, 2008

    I’m one of the editors who works tirelessly on wikipedia to stem the tide of crap. It is a constant battle, but in spite of the battle, I think we’ve built something wonderful, and useful. Orac, I encourage you to edit Wikipedia. If you don’t wish to, you have my email address. Please feel free to email me and I’ll make suitable edits.

    The tendency is to want to give up and walk away, but if everyone did that, the CAM practitioners would win. Wikipedia wouldn’t even have the skeptical information it does have. There’s an old saying that I know many here are familiar with, “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.”

    Editing wikipedia doesn’t cost anything other than the time to make the change. It is the easiest and cheapest way you can strike a blow against the rising tide of stupidity. The more of us that get involved with wikipedia, the more accurate it can become.

  49. #49 Joe
    August 13, 2008

    wackyvorlon wrote “Editing wikipedia doesn’t cost anything other than the time to make the change.”

    Time spent making “the change” is completely wasted if the wiki article is totally overhauled, as often happens on controversial topics. It is great that some people (such as yourself) take up that challenge, I have too low a level for frustration.

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