>On the one hand, "Pseudo-science" embraces more than just fakery that
>is being passed off as medicine. Other examples of subjects that I
>think would be fairly categorized as pseudo-science would include
>Ley lines, the teleological theory of cultural evolution, the theories
>of Immanuel Velekovsky, & as someone mentioned upthread ghosts. I
>guess you could say that it is any hypothesis that cannot be proven
>experimentally, but the least controversial examples are the ones
>that _have_ been disproven -- yet still have their true believers.
I fully agree.
>On the other hand, "quackery" is more properly applied to medicine
>that either does not work, or is harmful.
I fully agree.
>One can graduate from a
>mainstream, accredited medical school, receive a medical degree, &
>even be board-certified -- & yet still be a quack.
I fully agree.
Some doctors with education in scientific
medicine are quacks. The discipline itself,
however, isn't quackery. Homeopathy, on the
other hand, is pseudo-medicine. Everyone who
practices homeopathy is a quack while she's
doing it, in the sense that she is providing
medicine that doesn't work.
I keep coming back to homeopathy because it
is probably the pseudo-medicine discipline
with the greatest mainstream popularity. It
even has some degree of official recognition
in some countries. And yet it has been shown
beyond any reasonable doubt not to work.
>But if it really doesn't hurt anything if we call it "Alternative
>medicine", & creates a bit of WikiLove to do so, then shouldn't we
>accept the term & move on to other things?
I am arguing that the term is misleading
for the articles that category currently
holds (I won't repeat my argument here,
see my earlier posts). I suggest we replace
it with "Pseudo-medicine" and will do so
myself if objections are not raised.
>I see that we have 5
>candidates for the Wikimedia Foundation who are all well qualified,
>but we can only elect two: isn't that problem worth at least as
>many posts as this one?
Certainly. I wish them the best of luck.
If this discussion is overly burdening the
mailing list I suggest we continue it on the
talk page of Category:Alternative medicine.
Michael Turley wrote:
>The blocking feature makes newbie biting much easier, which is not a
>Regarding "domination". I chose the word to best express why *I* am
>uninterested in a particular subset of admin tools. I prefer
>persuasion to force. I have no current interest in tools of force
>here at Wikipedia; I intend to test the boundaries of wikilove, good
>reason, and persuasion.
>Finally, the rollback feature, as far as I can tell, is unique, in
>that it is a very valuable editing enhancement, but is the only one
>that doesn't have any powers of enforcement behind it.
The rollback feature *is* a power of enforcement, just like blocking is,
in the rhetorical framework you're using (other people prefer the
rhetoric of janitorial tools). Blocking doesn't have any additional
powers of enforcement behind it either, as we regularly find when
dealing with vandals who can edit from multiple IP addresses. Rollback
is just as susceptible to use in biting newbies as blocking, although
people may differ on the degree of seriousness involved.
Reverting is widely considered a "slap in the face" to the person being
reverted. If we are to use your rhetoric, then I don't see how we can
avoid considering it an instrument of force. If you really are such a
wiki-pacifist as you claim, and prefer persuasion to force in all
circumstances, then you shouldn't be interested in having the rollback
Can someone please tell me what I have done wrong?
So far I have edited only a few articles. I cleaned up a vandal at SNES and
added a small section to NES. I added an article and image for the Eyeshield
21 anime and added a link to the manga's page. I read the primer sent to me
by Spangineer and the Wikipedia policy pages. I became involved in the
discussion at Jihad because it seems to show up a lot, and I tried to calm
it down by removing some personal attacks.
I removed personal attacks from the discussion by striking them through
because policy on Remove Personal Attacks says that we're supposed to
refactor without removing the context. I thought that would be the best way
to do it.
I got a bunch of nasty messages back claiming that my removal of personal
messages was "vandalism" when it's clearly policy to remove them. Now an
admin named Carbonite has blocked me indefinitely claiming I am a sockpuppet
of someone named Enviroknot. Carbonite isn't responding to my emails. Can
someone please explain this?
Express yourself instantly with MSN Messenger! Download today - it's FREE!
> I have not had occasion to use them, but If I look at the prices of
> homeopathic medicines I find them rather modest. Compare that with the
> prices of heavily patented medicines sold by major pharmaceutical
> companies. The improved efficacy of some of these is often only
> incremental over that of the drug whose patent has expired. Some of
> these producers are quite happy to withhold medicines from those who
> can't pay. It isn't the homeopaths who are failing to send AIDS drugs
> to Africa, or are using their patent powers to restrict domestic
> African production of these drugs.
Completely true and completely irrelevant.
> If indeed homeopathic medicine doesn't work as you allege, there is at
> least no recent claims of it doing direct harm. (Direct harm involves
> far more than any allegation of negligence for failing to send the
> victims to a "real" doctor.) The recent problems over Vioxx/Celebrex
> did not come from the homeopathic community.
True enough, I suppose, and also irrelevant.
I don't think there's direct harm done by
homeopathy beyond that which selling any
completely useless product under false
pretenses would entail. That the product's
advertised effects are medical makes the
practice all the more repellant.
> Your use of "beyond reasonable doubt" is too
> categorical. The popularity of homeopathy alone
> is not be enough to establish that the medicines
> work, but it is a clear expression of reasonable doubt.
Here I must disagree with you. To repeat an earlier
example I don't think the popularity of Holocaust
denial is a clear expression of reasonable doubt
that the Holocaust occurred. Nor do I think that
the popularity of Mormonism is a clear expression
of reasonable doubt that America was colonized by
a Hebrew tribe in 600 B.C.
To compare with something at hand I'd say that
there is more doubt that Kurita77 is Enviroknot
than there is about homeopathy being useless.
And I hope you agree that that case is beyond
any *reasonable* doubt.
And yet, unlike homeopathy, the hypothesis that
Kurita77 is a user with no connection to Enviroknot
does not break any *physical* laws. It's *conceivable*
that all the facts linking the two are coincidences.
It is, however, so unlikely that we can dismiss the
possibility for practical purposes.
There is ample information on homeopathy available
on the Internet. Please study it carefully for yourself
and see what conclusion you come to on the efficacy
of the discipline.
> Healing involves more than medicines that produce the desired chemical
> results. It can involve more than the syllogistic thinking that has
> become so commonplace in the Western World ever since Aristotle.
There is no useful alternative to syllogism.
>I raise an objection: that's not what it's called in English (my overriding
>objection), and "pseudo-medicine" is an invented term hence original
Very well, you're probably right.
I think I've said my piece on this topic and I've
got a better idea of the various opinions of other
community members. It seems we have reached the typical
Wikipedian conclusion of calling a truce on a status
quo which is unacceptable to everyone :)
At any rate I will proceed with caution in any
changes I make to these articles and categories.
>The current article on [[Alternative medicine]] has suffered a bad case of
>Gohde and could do with a lot of cleaning up, but the Category links to
>Pseudoscience and Protoscience get the point across IMO (having as it does
Currently the Protoscience category includes such
topics as String theory and Quantum gravity as well
as Phrenology (old debunked non-sense) and Biorythm
(recent debunked non-sense). To me it does not seem
that these things have enough in common to be usefully
included in the same category.
On 6/30/05, Rebecca <misfitgirl(a)gmail.com> wrote:
> On 6/29/05, Chris Jenkinson <chris(a)starglade.org> wrote:
> > Let me remind you that I have never voted on requests for adminship
> > before, and that I have never insulted or in any way had a confrontation
> > with any Wikipedia admin. Do you have any proof of these accusations?
> > The only person to make such ridiculous claims as an 'anti-admin lobby'
> > and 'me whinging' is you. Maybe you have strong feelings about that -
> > but that is certainly no reason to attack or insult others in this way.
That was not specifically directed at you; rather, the previous
poster. I apologise if I worded my point badly. The point is that if
you want rollback, apply for adminship. Adminship should *not* be seen
as some form of supreme power structure, as much as some users (and I
don't count you as one of those) have tried very hard to make it so.
It's simply a mop and a broom - and if you want that mop and broom,
apply for it through the normal process rather than getting it by
another name for no good reason.
Protoscience is anything scientists are still working on, which hasn't
become really established.
The problem is that Science itself has only just begun to tackle the
really difficult problems. In Aristotle's time, they merely thought that
"heavy things fall faster". It wasn't until 1600 or 1620 that it was
definitively proven that heavy, dense objects (think cannonballs!) fall
faster and faster - and that this is NOT related to their weight. That
is, a 10-pound cannonball and a 20-pound cannonball, dropped from a
tower at the same time, will hit the ground at the same time!
It was not until the period 1860 - 1910 (or so) that the Germ Theory of
Disease became well known, and there was considerable resistance among
doctors to even LOOKING at the research results.
Now we have psychology, political science, economics: these fields are
still in their infancy. How can we describe them accurately and without
And what about climatology? The global warming theory is so
_politically_ controversial (with liberals and conservatives evenly
split on it) that we've been unable to take the NPOV-dispute tag off the
article for the whole 3 years we've been trying to write it. I'm good
friends with William Connolley, but he can't write NPOV for crap (sorry,
Ed Poor, aka Uncle Ed
> And in the end, maybe what it comes down to is: Categories should not
> serve as "warning" flags. They are meant to just be taxonomic devices.
Agreed. If someone reads an article on, say,
homeopathy and only realizes when she sees the
categories at the bottom that the thing doesn't
work then there's something wrong with the article
(incidentally I think [[homeopathy]] makes the
"doesn't work" part fairly clear as it is).
I think rejecting this particular useful category
on grounds of the NPOV-policy is a bit too much.
Almost every category could be questioned by
someone. For a random example I see that the
article on the Church of Jesus Christ of the
Latter-day Saints is in the "Christian denominations"
category. There are Christians that think Mormons
As for the "alternative medicine" category then I
suppose "medicine that has not been proven to work"
or some such would be more accurate. I for one would
actually prefer "quack medicine" since "alternative"
has some undeserved positive connotations and implies
that quackery is somehow a viable alternative to actual
So, don't forget to take the Grumpy Scientist Point
of View into account :)
Haukur Þorgeirsson (User:Haukurth)
> I still don't really like that idea, because it's strongly taking one
> side in a dispute. Should we, for example, have a
> [[Category:Pseudoscientists]] that we apply to [[Linus Pauling]] for his
> wacked-out ideas on nutrition? (Of course, he could also get
> [[Category:Scientists]] for his more respected work.) This sort of
> derisive labelling I find troubling, even if it's derisive labelling
> that's widely accepted. The term "Alternative medicine", by constrast,
> doesn't carry nearly as much ideological baggage, because it can be read
> as either good or bad depending on your perspective, so more accurately
> simply labels a category of stuff without judging it.
I would not object to classifying Pauling's ideas on
nutrition (vast amounts of vitamin C etc.) as pseudo-science.
The label is no more derisive than the topics under discussion
deserve. We call vandalism vandalism. We don't call it
"alternative editing". We call the trolls trolls. We don't
call them "complementary editors". The labels are only
derisive insofar as they are accurate. Such is the case
with pseudoscience and quackery.
Whether or not using the 2004 Encyclopedia Britannica
to form a list of articles that Britannica has but
Wikipedia doesn't constitutes a violation of
The WikiProject:Missing encyclopedia articles
currently uses four very large lists of topics that
appear in other encyclopedias but do not appear in
Wikipedia. Of these lists, two are from sources whose
copyright has expired, one is a composite of multiple
unnamed sources, and the last is based on the 2004
Encyclopedia Britannica (hereafter "EB").
On the talk page,
there is an ongoing discussion of whether EB holds a
copyright in the list of articles itself. Under US
copyright law (e.g. Feist v. Rural), a mere list of
facts, topics, names, etc. can be protected by
copyright if the selection and/or arrangement of those
items is, in and of itself, a creative expression.
Since the selection of articles for an encyclopedia is
certainly an act of creativity, this may grant EB a
copyright over the list of articles in their
encyclopedia. If true, then creating derivative works
from their list of articles (i.e. by making a list of
articles that they have but we don't) is likely to be
a copyright violation.
As can be seen from the talk page, not everyone agrees
that this applies to the EB list. This includes
conflicting opinions from users Jamesday and Postdlf,
both of whom I respect for their legal acumen.
In March 2004, a very similar situation occurred when
someone created a list of missing topics based on the
Columbia Encyclopedia. At that time, it was decided
by community consensus to delete that list as a likely
Archive of that discussion (look under March 2):
In my opinion, the only real difference between the
two cases is that the EB list has existed for four
months without being challenged, whereas the Columbia
list was challenged and removed almost immediately
after its creation.
So what now?
Either we need to accept that such a list, though
potentially useful, is too much of a copyright concern
to keep around.
We need to come to some agreement that such lists will
be maintained despite the potential liability. In
which case, Jimbo probably needs sign off since he is
ultimately the one who is liable.
WikiProject: Missing encyclopedia articles:
Feist v. Rural:
US Copyright Code: