Jimmy Wales waves a giant "citation needed" sign at crazy alternative medicine lobby

James O'Malley Websites 18 Comments

Good on Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. He has finally responded to a petition setup by practitioners of “alternative medicine” and “holistic healing”, demanding that the encyclopedia waive the desire for things like “facts” and “evidence” in order to placate them.

citationneeded.png

(Pic from xkcd, of course.)

The petition, as spotted by PC Pro, demanded that “Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia: Create and enforce new policies that allow for true scientific discourse about holistic approaches to healing”. The petitioners went on to explain:

“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 Unfortunately, much of the information related to holistic approaches to healing is biased, misleading, out-of-date, or just plain wrong.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.”

Unfortunately – reality has different ideas. Though there have been endless studies into this sort of thing by actual scientists, none of these “treatments” have ever been shown to be more effective than a placebo – even if all of the dreamcatchers in the room are calibrated correctly. (I recommend the excellent Trick or Treatment if you’re interested). Which is perhaps why Jimmy Wales sounded a little exasperated in his response:

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.

So that’s that then. And crucially, Wikipedia’s credibility as a source that is more reliable than Britannica remains.

Hopefully this failure will also stop the unicorn lobby from pursuing attempts to get the pointy horse inducted into Wikipedia’s taxonomy pages.

By James O'Malley | March 25th, 2014





  • Harold Haroldharold

    “And crucially, Wikipedia's credibility as a source that is more reliable than Britannica remains.”

    What utter bullshit. Still repeating that ancient NATURE study that was repeatedly debunked? You are a fool, Mr. O'Malley, and Jimmy Wales appears to have done the best job of fooling you.

    There are some people are Wikipediocracy.com who would like to debate you. But I suspect you're too much a coward.

  • http://www.GregoryKohs.com Gregory Kohs

    I wonder if “science” will one day discover the reasons why Jimmy Wales believes he is “the founder of Wikipedia”, when factual evidence all points to Dr. Larry Sanger having been the founder, with Jimmy Wales being the guy who signed Sanger's paycheck. We don't say that Rick Hendrick won the 2014 Daytona 500, so why do we say Jimmy Wales founded Wikipedia?

    • Peter Vintner

      Firstly it is the author of this article who has stated Jimmy Wales as being “the founder of wikipedia”. The petition to which he refers also credits Jimmy Wales as being “Founder of Wikipedia”. Nowhere above does it say that Jimmy Wales believes he is “the founder of Wikipedia”. So zero out of 10 for reading and comprehension skill there. I wonder if science (without quotation marks) will ever find a solution to that!Anyway, Larry Sanger doesn't take issue with being regarded as co-founder of wikipedia. And I'll bet Jimmy Wales doesn't take issue with it either. But Sanger is no longer a part of the project – he was actively critical of it, which is only right and proper. Everything should be open to criticism, and Jimmy Wales would have no problem with that either.

      Here's Sanger's criticism of Wikipedia (written after he left the project):http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/…Everyone should read it. Especially this – “Let me preface this by saying that I know Wikipedia is very cool. A lot of people do not think so, but of course they are wrong. So the following must be taken in the spirit of someone who knows and supports the mission and broad policy outlines of Wikipedia very well”

      • http://www.GregoryKohs.com Gregory Kohs

        Vintner, the fact doesn't have to be stated in the article above for it to remain a known fact. Here, read: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde… So, zero out of 10 for being condescending when you're essentially wrong.

        • Peter Vintner

          Suggest you re-read your own comment re Jimmy Wales' belief, Kohs.

          • http://www.GregoryKohs.com Gregory Kohs

            To further underscore the correctness of my comment? I have good reading comprehension, so I'm not sure why a re-read would be necessary. It's hard to believe you're a teacher.

  • Harold Haroldharold

    “And crucially, Wikipedia’s credibility as a source that is more reliable than Britannica remains.”

    What utter bullshit. Still repeating that ancient NATURE study that was repeatedly debunked? You are a fool, Mr. O’Malley, and Jimmy Wales appears to have done the best job of fooling you.

    There are some people are Wikipediocracy.com who would like to debate you. But I suspect you’re too much a coward.

  • http://www.GregoryKohs.com Gregory Kohs

    I wonder if “science” will one day discover the reasons why Jimmy Wales believes he is “the founder of Wikipedia”, when factual evidence all points to Dr. Larry Sanger having been the founder, with Jimmy Wales being the guy who signed Sanger’s paycheck. We don’t say that Rick Hendrick won the 2014 Daytona 500, so why do we say Jimmy Wales founded Wikipedia?

    • Peter Vintner

      Firstly it is the author of this article who has stated Jimmy Wales as being “the founder of wikipedia”. The petition to which he refers also credits Jimmy Wales as being “Founder of Wikipedia”. Nowhere above does it say that Jimmy Wales believes he is “the founder of Wikipedia”. So zero out of 10 for reading and comprehension skill there. I wonder if science (without quotation marks) will ever find a solution to that!
      Anyway, Larry Sanger doesn’t take issue with being regarded as co-founder of wikipedia. And I’ll bet Jimmy Wales doesn’t take issue with it either. But Sanger is no longer a part of the project – he was actively critical of it, which is only right and proper. Everything should be open to criticism, and Jimmy Wales would have no problem with that either.

      Here’s Sanger’s criticism of Wikipedia (written after he left the project):
      http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/12/30/142458/25
      Everyone should read it. Especially this – “Let me preface this by saying that I know Wikipedia is very cool. A lot of people do not think so, but of course they are wrong. So the following must be taken in the spirit of someone who knows and supports the mission and broad policy
      outlines of Wikipedia very well”

      • http://www.GregoryKohs.com Gregory Kohs

        Vintner, the fact doesn’t have to be stated in the article above for it to remain a known fact. Here, read: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Jimmy_Wales&diff=prev&oldid=154297650 So, zero out of 10 for being condescending when you’re essentially wrong.

        • Peter Vintner

          Suggest you re-read your own comment re Jimmy Wales’ belief, Kohs.

          • http://www.GregoryKohs.com Gregory Kohs

            To further underscore the correctness of my comment? I have good reading comprehension, so I’m not sure why a re-read would be necessary. It’s hard to believe you’re a teacher.

          • Peter Vintner

            You underscore something, clearly, but not what you think.
            To quote you:
            “…the reasons why Jimmy Wales believes he is “the founder of Wikipedia”…”.
            Even Larry Sanger doesn’t agree with you and regards himself and Jimmy Wales as co-founders. So there is nothing wrong with Jimmy Wales’ belief. He is a founder for wikipediea. The author of this article, and the petition mentioned therein, refer to Jimmy Wales as THE founder, which may well be incorrect. Jimmy Wales himself, however, I have no doubt has no such belief or delusion since both he and Larry Sanger agree (and are on record as agreeing) they are co-founders.
            Dispute it all you like. Patronise all you like.
            Have a nice life, Kohs.

          • http://www.GregoryKohs.com Gregory Kohs

            Vintner, you clearly cannot comprehend English text. I provided you a link to Jimmy Wales saying, “I am the sole founder of Wikipedia”. That was in 2007. The time when Jimmy Wales agreed that he was merely a co-founder was the period between 2001 and about 2004. Since 2005, Wales has deluded himself and others that he was the “sole founder”. This is so simple and so laid-out-in-lavender for you, I have to reiterate again, it is difficult to believe that you are a teacher.

          • Peter Vintner

            I teach English, much to your dismay I suspect, and I comprehend it very well. You are free to disagree.
            I’ve taken the trouble to read your hagiography.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Jimbo_Wales
            Click on the word “Founder” (paragraph 2) and you arrive here:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founder_of_Wikipedia
            Follow the links from there.
            Both links were last edited in 2014, so I think we can agree (since you are keen on dates) they are up to date. I see no argument from Jimmy Wales on this in 2014; not even on his own biography, to which your 2007 link refers, or elsewhere.

            Have a nice life

          • http://www.GregoryKohs.com Gregory Kohs

            You teach English, but you spell our topic of the day as, “wikipediea”. No wonder our younger generation can’t find jobs.

          • Sindigo

            When your counter argument is simply to fling an ad-hominem based on a typo you officially lose. Hard.

          • http://www.GregoryKohs.com Gregory Kohs

            Wow, you shredded me, dude.