What’s up at Wikipedia?

While we homeopaths appreciate Wikipedia immensely, often visit the site on research outings, and even donate to its mission of democratic knowledge, Wikipedia’s open editorial structure allows groups that are well funded, or just have nothing better to do, to dominate certain discussions.

Within a certain segment of the rational thinking universe — a segment who really love what science teaches them but often do not practice science themselves — homeopathy can be quite controversial. That is because the size of a homeopathic dose seems so improbable and because the mechanism of its operation has never been fully explained.

As a subgroup of these folks who are simply skeptical of homeopathy, there is a corps that seems to be downright offended by its existence. Led by a charismatic rationalist who used to be a magician and now likes to insult people by calling them “charlatans,” this group has made public statements to the effect that homeopaths should all be jailed. They have dedicated many websites to “quackbusting” and love to tout their own scientific-ness while hardly ever being scientific.

This group keeps a tight lid on the Wikipedia Homeopathy page. Any edits suggesting that homeopathy might be worth considering are promptly modified to either make homeopathy look silly or to stack up the same old studies that claim homeopathy is ineffective. Anyone looking to understand what homeopathy is and how it is applied will get very little help on this page. Those wanting to know about Avogadro’s Constant and the placebo effect, on the other hand, will find it quite diverting.

It is as if someone hijacked the Wikipedia page on Christianity and dedicated the entire page to the proposition that God does not exist. The existence of God may be a pertinent subject, but it is only one facet of a broad cultural and theological tradition that has a profound effect on life in the modern world. Whether certain things have been explained or not, perhaps there are facets of the subject that deserve attention.

The Homeopathy page at Wikipedia spends close to 30,000 words on the proposition that a homeopathic dose is too small to exert a physiological effect. Meanwhile, the page glosses over (or mocks) the details of a 200-year-old medical system with connections to Hippocrates, Paracelsus and the most cutting-edge medical research, a system whose founder was the first Western doctor to call for drugs to be tested, who is known to conventional medicine as the Father of Hygiene, whose theory of chronic disease pre-figured germ theory and whose followers introduced modern medicine to the idea of a placebo-controlled drug study!

So, I offer this rebuttal in the spirit of informing those who are truly curious about homeopathy, about its history and its tenets and its clinical application. I will endeavor, despite the mocking language used in many places on the Wikipedia page, to keep my comments civil.

I will not, however, entertain the comments of the scientism-ists here. They have Wikipedia and their own quackbuster websites. If there are homeopaths, scholars or even real skeptics (a skeptic being someone who questions with the object of finding the truth) who wish to offer corrections or additions to this work, I will be happy to consider their comments.

I will start with the introduction to the Wikipedia page, because this section contains the most misleading statements about homeopathy, and treat each of those with care. After that, I’ll give some general impressions of the sub-sections and rebuttals of any statements that are particularly outrageous. 

(The edition of the Wikipedia page that we’ll be working from existed sometime during the year, 2012. We will not attempt to keep up with the page edits since then.)


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