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Author Topic: From the junkyard: A PERSONAL LETTER TO JIMMY WALES, FOUNDER OF WIKIPEDIA  (Read 583 times)

Julian

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Paolo Bellavite ("MD, Professor, Universita of Verona (Italy), Department of Pathology and Diagnostics") has an online junkyard. Among other crap one finds this PDF, a "personal letter to Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia".

The letter is hogwash. The important part is who signed it:

Michael Frass, MD, Professor of Medicine, Medical University of Vienna (Austria)

Paolo Bellavite, MD, Professor, Universita of Verona (Italy), Department of Pathology and
Diagnostics

Paolo Roberti di Sarsina, MD, Observatory and Methods for Health, University of Milano-
Bicocca, Italy; Charity for Person Centered Medicine-Moral Entity, Bologna, Italy; Expert for Non-
Conventional Medicine (2006-2013), High Council for Health, Ministry of Health, Italy

Dr Clare Relton, Senior Research Fellow (Public Health), School of Health & Related Research,
University of Sheffield (UK)

Stephan Baumgartner, PhD, Institute of Complementary Medicine, University of Bern,
Switzerland; Institute of Integrative Medicine, University of Witten-Herdecke, Germany

Lex Rutten MD, homeopathic physician, independent researcher.[/b]

It is key persons of the homeopathy mafia.


This is the hogwash written by Dana Ullman:

http://www.paolobellavite.it/files/141113Extreme-bias-at-Wikipedia.pdf

[*quote*]
Extreme bias at Wikipedia on homeopathic medicine

NaturalNews
A PERSONAL LETTER TO JIMMY WALES, FOUNDER OF WIKIPEDIA
November 13, 2014 by: Dana Ullman

http://www.naturalnews.com/047630_Wikipedia_academic_bias_homeopathic_medicine.html

This letter was also signed by:

Michael Frass, MD, Professor of Medicine, Medical University of Vienna (Austria)
Paolo Bellavite, MD, Professor, Universita of Verona (Italy), Department of Pathology and
Diagnostics
Paolo Roberti di Sarsina, MD, Observatory and Methods for Health, University of Milano-
Bicocca, Italy; Charity for Person Centered Medicine-Moral Entity, Bologna, Italy; Expert for Non-
Conventional Medicine (2006-2013), High Council for Health, Ministry of Health, Italy
Dr Clare Relton, Senior Research Fellow (Public Health), School of Health & Related Research,
University of Sheffield (UK)
Stephan Baumgartner, PhD, Institute of Complementary Medicine, University of Bern,
Switzerland; Institute of Integrative Medicine, University of Witten-Herdecke, Germany
Lex Rutten MD, homeopathic physician, independent researcher.



In April, 2014, I had the happenstance of running into you on the streets of Vancouver. I was there
to lecture to a group of medical professionals, while you were attending the TED talks. I expressed
my appreciation to you for creating Wikipedia. I also then expressed concern to you about the
"unencyclopedic" tone and information in Wikipedia's article on homeopathy. You then encouraged
me to express my concerns in writing, and this is that response.
It may surprise and even shock most people to learn that, according to The Washington Post, the
two most controversial subjects on Wikipedia in four leading languages (English, French, German
and Spanish) are the articles on "Jesus Christ" and "Homeopathy."
Because I know that we all want Wikipedia to be the best modern resource of reliable information,
my intent in writing is to show you where Wikipedia is falling below your high standards, and in
fact, Wikipedia's article on homeopathy is providing strongly biased, inaccurate information. This
strong bias is a symptom of a deeper problem at Wikipedia in select articles on topics that challenge
dominant medical and scientific worldviews. After reading the below body of scientific evidence on
the subject of homeopathic medicine, I hope that we can engage in a dialogue that will help reduce
the amount of misinformation that pervades certain subjects, such as homeopathy.
Evidence of the strong bias against homeopathy and against an objective encyclopedic tone is
evident throughout the article. I will first focus on the second sentence of the first paragraph of the
article and the six references which purport to substantiate these claims:
Homeopathy (also spelled homoeopathy; from the Greek homoios which means "like-" and pathos
which means "suffering") is a system of alternative medicine created in 1796 by Samuel
Hahnemann based on his doctrine of like cures like, whereby a substance that causes the symptoms
of a disease in healthy people will cure similar symptoms in sick people. [1] Homeopathy is
considered a pseudoscience. [2][3][4] Homeopathy is not effective for any condition, and no remedy
1has been proven to be more effective than placebo. [5][6][7]
References from Wikipedia's article on "Homeopathy":
1. ^ Hahnemann, Samuel (1833). The Homeopathic Medical Doctrine, or "Organon of the
Healing Art". Dublin: W.F. Wakeman. pp. iii , 48-49 . "Observation, reflection, and
experience have unfolded to me that the best and true method of cure is founded on the
principle, similia similibus curentur. To cure in a mild, prompt, safe, and durable manner, it
is necessary to choose in each case a medicine that will excite an affection similar to that
against which it is employed." Translator: Charles H. Devrient, Esq.
2. ^ Tuomela R (1987). "Chapter 4: Science, Protoscience, and Pseudoscience". In Pitt JC,
Marcello P. Rational Changes in Science: Essays on Scientific Reasoning. Boston Studies in
the Philosophy of Science 98 (Springer). pp. 83-101. doi:10.1007/978-94-009-3779-6_4 .
ISBN 978-94-010-8181-8.
3. ^ Smith K (2012). "Homeopathy is Unscientific and Unethical". Bioethics 26 (9): 508-512.
doi:10.1111/j.1467-8519.2011.01956.x .
4. ^ Baran GR, Kiana MF, Samuel SP (2014). "Chapter 2: Science, Pseudoscience, and Not
Science: How Do They Differ?" . Healthcare and Biomedical Technology in the 21st
Century (Springer). pp. 19-57. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-8541-4_2 . ISBN 978-1-4614-8540-
7. "within the traditional medical community it is considered to be quackery"
5. ^ Ernst, E. (2002). "A systematic review of systematic reviews of homeopathy". British
Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 54 (6): 577-82. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2125.2002.01699.x.
PMC 1874503. PMID 12492603.
6. ^ Shang A, Huwiler-Muntener K, Nartey L, et al. (2005). "Are the clinical effects of
homoeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of
homoeopathy and allopathy". Lancet 366 (9487): 726-32. doi:10.1016/S0140-
6736(05)67177-2 . PMID 16125589 .
7. ^ Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy - Science and Technology Committee , British House of
Commons Science and Technology Committee, 22 February 2010, retrieved 2014-04-05
Is homeopathy really a "pseudoscience"?
Wikipedia asserts that "Pseudoscience is a claim, belief or practice which is falsely presented as
scientific, but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting scientific evidence or
plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status."
The "editors" at Wikipedia have deemed homeopathy to be a "pseudoscience" even though
randomized double-blind and placebo-controlled studies that have been published in many of the
best medical journals in the world have shown efficacy of homeopathic treatment for many
common and serious health problems (below is a partial list of such studies):



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Frass, M; Dielacher, C; Linkesch, M; et al.
"Influence of potassium dichromate on tracheal secretions in critically ill patients." Chest.
March, 2005;127:936-941. The journal, Chest, is the official publication of the American
College of Chest Physicians. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Hayfever: Reilly, D; Taylor, M; McSharry, C; et al., "Is homoeopathy a placebo response?
Controlled trial of homoeopathic potency, with pollen in hayfever as model." The Lancet.
October 18, 1986, ii: 881-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Asthma: Reilly, D; Taylor, M; Beattie, N; et al., "Is evidence for homoeopathy
reproducible?" Lancet. December 10, 1994, 344:1601-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
2



Fibromyalgia: Bell, IR; Lewis II, DA; Brooks, AJ; et al. "Improved clinical status in
fibromyalgia patients treated with individualized homeopathic remedies versus placebo."
Rheumatology. 2004:1111-5. This journal is the official journal of the British Society of
Rheumatology. http://rheumatology.oxfordjournals.org.
Fibromyalgia: Fisher, P; Greenwood, A; Huskisson, EC; et al., "Effect of Homoeopathic
Treatment on Fibrositis (Primary Fibromyalgia)," BMJ. 299(August 5, 1989):365-6.
Childhood diarrhea: Jacobs, J; Jimenez, LM; Gloyd, SS. "Treatment of acute childhood
diarrhea with homeopathic medicine: a randomized clinical trial in Nicaragua." Pediatrics.
May, 1994,93,5:719-25. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
ADD/ADHD: Frei, H; Everts, R; von Ammon, K; Kaufmann, F; Walther, D; Hsu-Schmitz,
SF; Collenberg, M; Fuhrer, K; Hassink, R; Steinlin, M; Thurneysen, A. "Homeopathic
treatment of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a randomised, double
blind, placebo controlled crossover trial." Eur J Pediatr. July 27,2005,164:758-767.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Jimmy, can you name ONE other system of "pseudoscience" that has a similar body of randomized,
double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical trials published in high-impact medical journals
showing efficacy of treatment?
It is more than a tad ironic that this first paragraph in the Wikipedia article on homeopathy
references only one article that was published in a peer-review medical journal. This one article by
Shang, et al. has been thoroughly discredited in an article written by Ludtke and Rutten that was
published in a leading "high-impact" journal that specializes in evaluating clinical research. The
Shang meta-analysis is highlighted on Wikipedia without reference to any critique of it. The fact
that there is no hint of any problems in the Shang review, let alone a reference to the Ludtke and
Rutten article that provides evidence of bias, is itself a cause for concern.
The Shang article is also the primary reference used by the widely ridiculed "Evidence Check"
reports issued by the Science and Technology Committee of the British House of Commons, which
also conveniently omits reference to the severe limitations of this one review of research. Further,
the "Evidence Check" was signed off by just three of the 15 members of the original committee,
never discussed or endorsed by the whole UK Parliament, and had its recommendations ignored by
the UK Department of Health.
It should be made clear that the Shang meta-analysis was co-authored by M. Egger, who is a well-
known skeptic of homeopathy and who wrote to The Lancet that his hypothesis before conducting
the review was that homeopathy was only a placebo effect. Readers were never informed of this
bias.
The meta-analysis by Shang evaluated and compared 110 placebo-controlled trials testing
homeopathic medicines with 110 testing conventional drugs, finding 21 homeopathy trials (19%)
but only nine (8%) conventional-medicine trials that were of "higher quality." Ludtke and Rutten
found that a positive outcome for homeopathy would have resulted if Shang had simply compared
these high-quality trials against each other. However, with some clever statistical footwork, Shang
chose to limit the high-quality trials to only eight homeopathic and six conventional medical trials, a
result that led to a "negative" outcome for homeopathy. Ludtke and Rutten determined this review
as biased for its "arbitrarily defined one subset of eight trials" and they deemed the entire review as
"falsely negative."
By reducing the number of studies, Shang created convoluted logic that enabled his team to avoid
evaluation of ANY of the above high-quality studies that were all published in respected medical
3journals. Further, seven of eight homeopathic studies only tested one homeopathic medicine for
everyone with the similar disease even though one of the primary tenets of homeopathy requires
individualization of treatment. Many other extremely scathing critiques of the Shang research were
published in The Lancet shortly after publication, including the exclusion of one high-quality
homeopathic study due to the questionable assertion that the researchers could not find a study in all
of conventional medical research that treated patients with polyarthritis (arthritis that involves five
or more joints).
Skeptics typically assert that the above high-quality studies published in high-impact medical
journals are simply "cherry-picking" the positive studies, and then, they begin cherry-picking
studies that had negative results. However, skeptics of homeopathy fail to differentiate good, sound
scientific investigations that are respectful of the homeopathic method and those that are not. Just
because a study was conducted with a randomized double-blind and placebo-controlled method
does NOT mean that the study gave the appropriate homeopathic medicine for each patient or even
each group of patients. This ignorance is akin to someone saying that antibiotics are ineffective for
"infections" without differentiating between bacterial infections, viral infections and fungal
infections. Ironically, skeptics of homeopathy consistently show a very sloppy attitude about
scientific investigations.
What the most comprehensive review of homeopathic research found...
Skeptics commonly assert that various meta-analyses verify that homeopathy doesn't work and that
homeopathic medicines are equivalent to the effects of a placebo. These skeptics typically chose to
ignore various meta-analyses that were published in highly respected medical journals and that
show positive benefits from homeopathic medicines. Skeptics also ignore the largest and most
comprehensive review of research ever conducted... one that was funded by the government of
Switzerland.
It is useful to know that the Shang/Egger meta-analysis was funded by the same Swiss government's
Complementary Medicine Evaluation Program that also funded a much more detailed and
comprehensive review of clinical research, preclinical research (fundamental physio-chemical
research, botanical studies, animal studies and in vitro studies with human cells), epidemiological
evidence and cost-effectiveness studies.
This more comprehensive Swiss government-funded report found a particularly strong body of
evidence to support the homeopathic treatment of upper respiratory tract infections and respiratory
allergies. The report cited 29 studies in "Upper Respiratory Tract Infections/Allergic Reactions,"
with 24 studies having a positive result in favor of homeopathy. Six out of seven controlled studies
that compared homeopathic treatment with conventional medical treatment showed homeopathy to
be more effective than conventional medical interventions. When the researchers evaluated only the
randomized placebo-controlled trials, 12 out of 16 studies showed a positive result in favor of
homeopathy.
Ironically, the Shang/Egger meta-analysis acknowledged that there have been at least eight clinical
trials of patients with acute infections of the upper respiratory tract and that there is "robust
evidence that the treatment under investigation works." And yet, Shang/Egger assert that this
limited number of trials is inadequate for evaluating homeopathy, while at the same time they assert
that eight other trials provided unquestionable evidence for damning homeopathy (it should be
noted that Shang/Egger somehow determined that some of the studies on respiratory infection and
allergy were not "high quality," even though numerous other meta-analyses have unanimously
defined three trials by David Reilly as high quality (two were published in the British Medical
4Journal and one was published in The Lancet).
In actual fact, although some meta-analyses have had a "negative" result, there have also been a
significant number of meta-analyses that have had positive results, including this partial list:






Linde L, Clausius N, Ramirez G, Jonas W. "Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo
effects? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials." The Lancet. September 20, 1997.
350:834-843. Although a later review by some of these authors found a reduced
significance, the authors never asserted that the significance was no longer present. Further,
two of the lead authors of this article provided a very sharp critique of the Shang, et al.
review of research (2005). Also, both Linde and Jonas wrote to The Lancet after the
Shang/Egger article was published and asserted that The Lancet should be "embarrassed" by
their publication of this article and the accompanied editorial (The Lancet, 366 December
17, 2005:2081-2). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Kleijnen J, Knipschild P, ter Riet G. "Clinical trials of homoeopathy." BMJ. 1991, 302, 316-
23. Of the 22 best studies, 15 showed positive results from homeopathic treatment. The
researchers concluded, "there is a legitimate case for further evaluation of homeopathy."
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Jacobs J, Jonas WB, Jimenez-Perez M, Crothers D. "Homeopathy for childhood diarrhea:
combined results and metaanalysis from three randomized, controlled clinical trials."
Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2003;22:229-34. This metaanalysis of 242 children showed a highly
significant result in the duration of childhood diarrhea (P=0.008).
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Kassab S, Cummings M, Berkovitz S, van Haselen R, Fisher P. "Homeopathic medicines for
adverse effects of cancer treatments." Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2009,
Issue 2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Taylor MA, Reilly D, Llewellyn-Jones RH, et al. "Randomised controlled trial of
homoeopathy versus placebo in perennial allergic rhinitis with overview of four trial series."
BMJ, August 19, 2000, 321:471-476. The BMJ published an editorial in the issue in which
this study was published asserting, "It may be time to confront the conclusion that
homeopathy and placebo differ...... This may be more plausible than the conclusion that
their trials have produced serial false positive results" (This week in the BMJ.
Homoeopathic dilutions may be better than placebo. BMJ 2000;321:0).
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Jonas WB, Linde K, Ramirez G. "Homeopathy and rheumatic disease." Rheumatic Disease
Clinics of North America. February 2000,1:117-123. http://www.researchgate.net.
Is homeopathy really "implausible"?
The third paragraph in the Wikipedia article, as it appeared July 15, 2014, (since revised) continued
to show both strong bias against homeopathy and inaccurate information.
Homeopathy lacks biological plausibility [11] and the axioms of homeopathy have been refuted for
some time. [12] The postulated mechanisms of action of homeopathic remedies are both scientifically
implausible [6][13] and not physically possible. [14] Although some clinical trials produce positive
results, [15][16] systematic reviews reveal that this is because of chance, flawed research methods,
and reporting bias. Overall there is no evidence of efficacy. [6][17][5] Continued homeopathic
practice, despite the evidence that it does not work, has been criticized as unethical because it
increases the suffering of patients by discouraging the use of real medicine, [18] with the World
Health Organisation warning against using homeopathy to try to treat severe diseases such as HIV
5and malaria. [19] The continued practice, despite a lack of evidence of efficacy, has led to
homeopathy being characterized within the scientific and medical communities as nonsense, [20]
quackery, [4][21][22] or a sham. [23]
Ironically, the article makes reference to articles written by known antagonists to homeopathy (such
as E. Ernst and K. Atwood) that have not even been published in peer-review scientific or medical
journals. Reference #11 by Ernst was published in The Skeptical Inquirer, a magazine that is not
listed in Index Medicus or any other respected scientific indexing service, and reference #12 by
Atwood wasn't even published in a magazine but at a website. If and when any person tried to edit
the article on homeopathy in any way in which homeopathy is presented in a positive light and
makes reference to a "magazine" or a "website," that person would be laughed off of Wikipedia, yet
the editors of the homeopathy article allow and even encourage the use of inappropriate skeptical
references (according to Wikipedia's usual standards).
In the same way that Wikipedia's editors have inappropriately deemed homeopathy to be
"pseudoscientific," they have also deemed that homeopathy lacks "plausibility." The definition of
plausibility is: "having an appearance of truth or reason; seemingly worthy of approval or
acceptance; credible; believable."
The journal Langmuir is the journal of the American Chemical Society, and in 2012, they published
an important article that provided a plausible explanation for the actions of homeopathic medicines.
First, they verified using three different types of spectroscopy that nanoparticles of six original
medicinal agents persisted in solutions even after they were diluted 1:100 six times, 30 times and
even 200 times.
Avogadro's number predicts that none of the original medicinal agents would have ANY persisting
molecules of the original medicinal substance after 12 dilutions of 1:100. However, the scientists
describe reasonable and even predictable factors that lead to the persistence of nanoparticles after
their multiple dilutions. The scientists note that the use of double-distilled water in glass vials leads
to varying amounts of silica fragments that fall into the water, as much as 6 ppm. The vigorous
shaking of the glass vial creates bubbles and "nanobubbles" that bring oxygen into the water and
increase the water pressure substantially (William Tiller, PhD, the former head of Stanford's
Department of Material Science, estimated this pressure to be 10,000 atmospheres).
Ultimately, this increased water pressure forces whatever medicinal substance that is in the double-
distilled water into the silica, and every substance will interact with the silica in its own
idiosyncratic way. Then, when 90% of the water is dumped out, the silica fragments predictably
cling to the glass walls.
When skeptics of homeopathy reference Avogadro's number as "evidence" that homeopathic
medicines beyond 24X or 12C (dilution of 1:10 24 ) have "no remaining molecules left," they are
simply verifying their own ignorance of Avogadro's number, because this widely recognized
principle in chemistry does NOT account for the complexities of the silica fragments, the bubbles or
nanobubbles, nor the increased water pressure. In fact, any serious scientist or educated individual
who asserts that a homeopathic medicine is "beyond Avogadro's number" has no ground on which
they stand. And yet, Avogadro's number is prominently a part of Wikipedia's article on homeopathy.
Despite the obfuscation throughout Wikipedia's article on homeopathy, in actual fact, the
homeopathic pharmaceutical procedure called "potentization" is a clever, perhaps brilliant, method
of creating nanoparticles of whatever substance is originally placed in the glass vial. Even more
compelling is the significant and growing body of evidence that nanodoses of medicinal agents have
6several benefits over crude doses of the same substance, including enhanced bioavailability,
adsorptive capacity, intracellular accessibility, increased ability to cross cell membranes and even
the blood-brain barrier, and of course, a substantially better safety profile.
The creation of nanodoses actually increases various characteristics of a substance's properties.
Once a substance has an extremely small size but has larger surface-area-to-volume ratio, the
nanodose properties create increased chemical and biological reactivity, electromagnetic, optical,
thermal and quantum effects. Further, the idiosyncratic properties of nanomedicines reduce the
required doses by orders of magnitude and predictably reduce toxicity.
In light of the above, it is stunning and shocking that Wikipedia's article on "Nanomedicine" has no
mention of homeopathy, which rightly is deemed to be the original nanomedicine and
nanopharmacology. At a time in the history of medicine and science in which the field of
nanomedicine is becoming increasingly accepted and respected, Wikipedia seems stuck in the 20th
century, or perhaps the 18th century. It is not surprising that there is an international and inter-
disciplinary journal that focuses on the power of extremely small doses in various biological
systems, not just medicine.
Given the above, it is no longer accurate to consider homeopathic doses to be "implausible."
Wikipedia's article on homeopathy asserts otherwise, deeming homeopathy to be "biologically
implausible" (citing a non-peer-review magazine, called The Skeptical Inquirer, that is not listed in
any scientific indexing service), "a sham" (citing a website!), and running "counter to the laws of
chemistry and physics" (what is interesting here is that the article cites an article in the journal
Homeopathy, and yet, whenever a positive statement, clinical trial or basic sciences trial is
published in this same journal, the Wikipedia editors claim that this journal is not worthy of a
citation).
Further, just one of the theories of how homeopathic medicines work has been described as the
"memory of water." The Wikipedia article refers to this concept as "erroneous" without any
acknowledgement that it is inaccurate to assert such a black-and-white statement. It is more
accurate to say that this theory is "controversial," because there is, in fact, evidence of a "memory in
water," as both verified by the above research on nanoparticles remaining in homeopathically
potentized water and as evidenced by research conducted by the French virologist Luc Montagnier,
who discovered the AIDS virus and won the Nobel Prize for doing so. Dr. Montagnier not only has
published research that provides evidence of this "memory of water" but was interviewed in the
prestigious journal Science, and on July 5, 2014, the French government's public television station
showed an hour-long documentary entitled We Found the Memory in Water (On a retrouve la
memoire de l'eau).
What is shocking about Wikipedia's article of homeopathy is that there is NO reference to this
Nobel Prize winner or to his interview in one of the most respected scientific journals in the world
today or any reference to the French government's documentary on this very subject. Obviously, the
people who are editing the homeopathy article have a profound bias.
Numerous people have sought to improve Wikipedia's article on homeopathy, but they have been
blocked or prohibited from editing the article. In my case, I was blocked from editing any article to
do with homeopathy because I was deemed to have a "conflict of interest" due to the fact that I am a
homeopath. Ironically, no medical doctor is prohibited from editing on any medical subject just
because she or he is a medical doctor! Further, the bias against homeopathy and against any positive
evidence for homeopathy is so strong that the vast majority of the articles from the high-impact
medical and scientific journals are not referenced or described in the Wikipedia article on
7homeopathy, while there are numerous low-level references to websites and to non-peer-review
magazines that populate Wikipedia's article.
I could easily show over a hundred other sentences in Wikipedia's article that are either errors of
fact or that are evidence of bias or spin against homeopathy, but I think that I have adequately and
accurately provided you with solid testimony proving serious problems with Wikipedia's article on
homeopathy.
I await your reply to this letter which you have requested, and I look forward to collaborating with
you in improving the article on homeopathy at Wikipedia as well as in establishing guidelines so
that strong bias is minimized throughout your usually excellent website.
Pathological skepticism
Brian Josephson, Ph.D., won a Nobel Prize in 1973 when he was only 23 years old and is presently
professor emeritus at Cambridge University. Josephson contends that many scientists today suffer
from "pathological disbelief" -- that is, an unscientific attitude that is typified by the statement
"even if it were true I wouldn't believe it" (Josephson, 1997).
Josephson asserts that skeptics of homeopathy suffer from a chronic ignorance of this subject, and
he maintains that their criticisms of homeopathy are easily refuted: "The idea that water can have a
memory can be readily refuted by any one of a number of easily understood, invalid arguments."
Dr. Luc Montagnier won a Nobel Prize in 2008 for discovering the AIDS virus, and in an interview
in Science (Dec. 24, 2010), he similarly expressed real concern about the unscientific atmosphere
that presently exists around certain unconventional subjects such as homeopathy: "I am told that
some people have reproduced Benveniste's results [showing effects from homeopathic doses], but
they are afraid to publish it because of the intellectual terror from people who don't understand it."
Montagnier concluded this interview when asked if he is concerned that he is drifting into
pseudoscience. He responded adamantly: "No, because it's not pseudoscience. It's not quackery.
These are real phenomena which deserve further study."
Ultimately, at Wikipedia there is a certain substantial body of editors who embody "pathological
skepticism" and who do not allow good evidence from high-quality studies and meta-analyses
published in high-impact journals to be included into the body of evidence for homeopathy just
because they provide a positive spin to the subject. On the other hand, these same editors allow
references to non-peer-review sources, such as popular magazine and websites, when the
information in these questionably valid sources is offensive to homeopathy. Today, Wikipedia's
article on homeopathy is a classic example of a biased, off-balance and non-encyclopedic review of
the subject.
Practical solutions...
Jimmy, I assume that you want your website to be the most reliable resource possible, but it can not
and will never become one unless you, as the founder of Wikipedia, provide some guidance and
guidelines so that information for OR against a subject is fair and accurate. In 2009, at a TED talk,
you claimed that Wikipedia's most important virtue is its objective reporting of information; you
asserted, "the biggest and the most important thing [about Wikipedia] is our neutral point-of-view
policy."
8Larry Sanger, a co-founder of Wikipedia, quit the organization several years ago due to serious
concerns about its integrity. He maintained:
"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. ...
The people with the most influence in the community are the ones who have the most time on their
hands--not necessarily the most knowledgeable--and who manipulate Wikipedia's eminently
gameable system."
Ultimately, there are indeed subjects at Wikipedia that will probably remain highly controversial no
matter what is or isn't said, and it makes sense to inform readers about this issue. However, at
present, the article on homeopathy strongly suggests that there is no or inconsequential evidence
that homeopathic medicines have biological activity and/or clinical efficacy, and this letter clearly
dispels that myth. Objective reviews of both basic science research and clinical studies suggest that
there are simply too many high-quality laboratory and clinical trials that show positive results.
One solution to dealing with Wikipedia's article is to have two separate sections in the article that
present the "skeptics' point of view" and the "homeopaths' point of view." Although one could have
hoped that the article would have evolved into this multi-view perspective, there are simply too
many anti-homeopathy fundamentalists who have squatted on this article and have made it literally
impossible to have any positive or even any slightly positive assertions about homeopathy.
Because this letter proves that skeptics are incapable of presenting information on homeopathy with
even a modicum of objectivity, perhaps the best solution is to enable both viewpoints to be able to
express themselves. Some people claim that debate is the best way to understand complex subjects,
and therefore, allowing and even encouraging a multi-perspective viewpoint in articles at Wikipedia
may be an important and worthwhile change in your website's policies.
I can provide other specific suggestions for helping Wikipedia create a truly neutral point of view if
and when you are open to constructive dialogue.
You have now been given strong evidence that Wikipedia is NOT maintaining a "neutral point-of-
view" on the subject of homeopathy. My question is to you now is: What do you suggest should be
done to rectify this problem?
References:
1. Max Ehrenfreund, "The Science of Wikipedia Flamewars." The Washington Post. July 23,
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