Jimmy Wales Gets Real, and Sassy, About Wikipedia's Holistic Healing Coverage

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
March 27 2014 2:40 PM

Jimmy Wales Gets Real, and Sassy, About Wikipedia's Holistic Healing Coverage

148205655-wikipedia-founder-jimmy-wales-speaks-during-wikimania
Jimmy Wales knows what's up.

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages

Sometimes there's drama on Wikipedia. The latest commotion is over Wikipedia's coverage of holistic healing: Members of the alternative medicine community don't like how they're being written about, so they created a petition, pledging not to donate to Wikipedia if something doesn't change.

Lily Hay Newman Lily Hay Newman

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

The Change.org petition, titled “Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia: Create and enforce new policies that allow for true scientific discourse about holistic approaches to healing,” lays out a case for using “fair-minded referees” on posts related to holistic healing. The group cites posts like the energy medicine Wikipedia page, and the emotional freedom techniques page, which notes prominently that “EFT is generally characterized as pseudoscience.”

Advertisement

The petition says, “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 Unfortunately, much of the information related to holistic approaches to healing is biased, misleading, out-of-date, or just plain wrong.” Wikipedia's thought field therapy page, for example, states at the end of the introduction, “There is no scientific evidence that TFT is effective, and the American Psychological Association has stated that it 'lacks a scientific basis.'”

The petition has reached 8,100 signatures, but Jimmy Wales says they can keep their money. He posted this response on the petition:

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.

All hilarious and valid points, Jimmy. But the choice phrase there is definitely "lunatic charlatans.”

On a completely unrelated note, the FDA recently recalled some homeopathic medicine for containing actual medicine. It's just one thing after another.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Nov. 21 2014 1:38 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? See if you can keep pace with the copy desk, Slate’s most comprehensive reading team.