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Old 25th March 2014, 10:46 PM   #1
Puppycow
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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales responds to alt-med petition

Alternative medicine advocates were upset that Wikipedia didn't allow them to publish their claims as fact, so they started a petition:

Quote:
"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 Unfortunately, much of the information related to holistic approaches to healing is biased, misleading, out-of-date, or just plain wrong.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."
Here is his response:
Quote:
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.
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Old 25th March 2014, 11:02 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Here is his response:

"lunatic charlatans?!"

Unbelievable.

Mind you, I'm not disputing that a lot of them are lunatic charlatans. I'm just boggled that he'd actually say so publicly.


I should buy Jimmy Wales a beer . . . .


ETA: Seriously, I'm going to contribute some $ to Wikipedia now.
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Old 25th March 2014, 11:13 PM   #3
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It's very encouraging to see such a straightforward response, and the positive attention he's getting for it.
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Old 26th March 2014, 01:34 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
It's very encouraging to see such a straightforward response, and the positive attention he's getting for it.
Absolutely, this is a direct and enlightened response. Extremely refreshing given the usual weasel words so often heard on the subject from people who really should know better.

Right, I'm off to donate to Wikipedia!

Yuri
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Old 26th March 2014, 04:46 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Yuri Nalyssus View Post
Absolutely, this is a direct and enlightened response. Extremely refreshing given the usual weasel words so often heard on the subject from people who really should know better.

Right, I'm off to donate to Wikipedia!

Yuri
Agreed. I'm please that I've already donated!
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Old 26th March 2014, 05:51 AM   #6
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I think I'll just shoot a few bucks that way myself - what better to contribute to than a commonly-used source of information that attempts to provide valid content? Growing the adults of tomorrow...
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Old 26th March 2014, 06:03 AM   #7
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Spade (disambiguation)WP
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Old 26th March 2014, 06:04 AM   #8
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I laughed so hard I donated $20 to Wikipedia just now.
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Old 26th March 2014, 11:32 AM   #9
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It is so refreshing to see such a straight forward response. Hazzah to Wikipedia!
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Old 26th March 2014, 12:27 PM   #10
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Such win. Jimmy wales on alt-med. Wale on!
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Old 26th March 2014, 04:58 PM   #11
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Ah, was going to start a thread on this, just saw this post on Boingboing:

http://boingboing.net/2014/03/26/jim...nergy-wor.html
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Old 26th March 2014, 10:49 PM   #12
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Nice.......
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Old 26th March 2014, 11:05 PM   #13
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OMFG, that's HILARIOUS. I'm gonna pretend to donate right now!
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Old 27th March 2014, 01:08 AM   #14
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Tidy. More people need to speak this bluntly when woo is raised. Normally too much pussy footing around.
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Old 27th March 2014, 07:34 AM   #15
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Very good response; but unfortunately, that hasn't stopped Wikipedia pages for some types of alt.med woo from reading more like advertisements than scholarly articles.
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Old 27th March 2014, 08:07 AM   #16
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That is too funny. The woo must have their panties in a twist over this.

I just love that there is no attempt to take them seriously.
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Old 27th March 2014, 12:22 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by luchog View Post
Very good response; but unfortunately, that hasn't stopped Wikipedia pages for some types of alt.med woo from reading more like advertisements than scholarly articles.
There's a lot of pages, woo-related or otherwise, that read more like advertisements than they should. Wikipedia content doesn't change unless someone changes it. That's never going to change. What this announcement means, though, is that it's more-or-less open season on woo content in Wikipedia.

(Actually, the announcement itself doesn't change anything, since this merely reinforces the existing rules; Jimmy was the court of last appeal for the wooslingers.)
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Old 27th March 2014, 12:28 PM   #18
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Old 27th March 2014, 12:38 PM   #19
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I've donated to Wiki for the last 3 years. It has it's weaknesses but as a resource for lots of stuff I'm interested in or need from day to day it has proven invaluable.
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Old 27th March 2014, 08:19 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Ethan Thane Athen View Post
too much pussy footing around.
Welcome to the 21st century. Don't offend me!
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Old 28th March 2014, 12:20 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Cain View Post
OMFG, that's HILARIOUS. I'm gonna pretend to donate right now!
Now you've spoiled it. I was going to pretend to be impressed.
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Old 28th March 2014, 06:55 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by xtifr View Post
There's a lot of pages, woo-related or otherwise, that read more like advertisements than they should. Wikipedia content doesn't change unless someone changes it. That's never going to change. What this announcement means, though, is that it's more-or-less open season on woo content in Wikipedia.
Except that's not how Wikipedia works. How it happens is the woo-slingers set up an article to advertise their woo, the skeptics go in and try to add a realistic and critical perspective, the changes get reverted almost immediately, more changes are made, and again reverted; and after a few iterations of that, the article gets locked for "edit wars", still in its original form, with a small caption stating that the article's neutrality is in doubt.
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Old 28th March 2014, 02:42 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by luchog View Post
Except that's not how Wikipedia works. How it happens is the woo-slingers set up an article to advertise their woo, the skeptics go in and try to add a realistic and critical perspective, the changes get reverted almost immediately, more changes are made, and again reverted; and after a few iterations of that, the article gets locked for "edit wars", still in its original form, with a small caption stating that the article's neutrality is in doubt.
That just means that more skeptics need to learn about the proper approach. Instead of edit-warring, you need to call for standard conflict resolution. Start on the talk page, and escalate to 3O or DRN as necessary. Be calm, and remain patient--a long-term fix that sticks is better than a short-term one that doesn't. Keep in mind that many woo-slingers have carefully studied the WP rules and guidelines for loopholes, and take the time to at least learn the basics, so you don't fall into obvious traps. You've got the WP foundation on your side, but they've got a lot on their plate, so you need to act in a way that doesn't make them leap to the wrong conclusion.
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Old 28th March 2014, 04:24 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by xtifr View Post
You've got the WP foundation on your side, but they've got a lot on their plate, so you need to act in a way that doesn't make them leap to the wrong conclusion.
Well, that's the other problem, you don't necessarily have the WP foundation supporting the skeptical point of view. In fact, as noted in a few other threads here, there are admins there who do in fact support their own personal favorite woo, and those articles tend to get protected from any skeptical influence. Wales may be anti-alt.med; but not all his underlings are, and has his own woo beliefs aside from that (eg, he is a self-described staunch Objectivist). There have been controversies regarding his revisionist tendencies with regard to articles regarding himself and his history, his fellow Wikipedia founder Sanger, and the history of Wikipedia itself. Hell, his entire "wisdom of crowds" philosophy is a pretty woo belief in and of itself.
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Last edited by luchog; 28th March 2014 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 28th March 2014, 05:59 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by luchog View Post
Well, that's the other problem, you don't necessarily have the WP foundation supporting the skeptical point of view. In fact, as noted in a few other threads here, there are admins there who do in fact support their own personal favorite woo [...]
Admins do not represent the Foundation. In fact, they're just people who've managed to earn a bit of extra trust due to the overall quality of their work. I was invited to become an admin myself (declined because I realized I was spending too much time as it was). There's nothing magical or final about what some random admin says. Dispute resolution with an admin should be handled no differently from dispute resolution with anyone else. In particular, being an admin doesn't give someone carte blanche to ignore WP:Fringe.

I agree with you about Jimmy's objectivism; I'm neutral on the whole wisdom of crowds things, though, if only because every piece of software on my computer is open-source, and seems to be working just fine--better, in my opinion, than most of the alternatives. Which may make me a less-than-impartial judge.
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Old 31st March 2014, 07:03 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by xtifr View Post
I agree with you about Jimmy's objectivism; I'm neutral on the whole wisdom of crowds things, though, if only because every piece of software on my computer is open-source, and seems to be working just fine--better, in my opinion, than most of the alternatives. Which may make me a less-than-impartial judge.
The big difference being that software needs to be created by people with actual programming skills; and if it's not, it simply doesn't work right. If the code isn't done right, it will show up pretty obviously. Add to that that the vast majority of functional, popular open source software is not created by "crowds", but rather an individual or small group of dedicated contributors. The main contribution from the crowd is reports of bugs or feature requests; which are still commonly filtered through the original developers. Stuff that is wide open for any random person to contribute without review and evaluation tends to be riddled with bugs and/or malicious code.

The problem with the "wisdom of crowds" thing is that it has been repeatedly demonstrated to be nonsense. People with actual academic credentials are needed to keep any semblance of accuracy; and as the various "advertising" articles and edit wars prove, crowds have little to no actual wisdom. Invariably, some sort of "elite" management is needed to keep things from degrading into useless chaos.

And that's not bringing up Jimmy's own revisionism with regard to his and Wikipedia's history.
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