OK, what? The author completely lost me at this point. This seems like a very reasonable definition of the term 'alternative medicine'. If it was tested and/or proven effective then it wouldn't be alternative - it would be just medicine.
Plenty of approaches practiced by "alternative" medicine practitioners are biologically plausible, but haven't been tested in randomized controlled trials, because nobody has the incentive or the resources needed to conduct one. (Trials that require many millions of dollars and several years to conduct only happen if a multi-billion dollar return is likely, or if there is a clear and achievable political incentive.)
The most significant category I'm familiar with is emotion/stress-relief-based approaches for treating non-lethal but chronic and debilitating pain/fatigue/inflammatory/autoimmune conditions.
In other discussions here on this site, when I've bothered to fully articulate the basis for the notion that emotional issues and stress can cause these physiological illness, I've found the response to be something like "yeah of course, that's uncontroversial".
And sure, any good mainstream doctor, on recognising their patient is suffering a stress-related illness, will helpfully suggest reducing stress.
But if the patient wants a comprehensive program that can identify and heal all the stress/trauma/held emotion that is keeping them in chronic illness and pain, practitioners that offer this are generally of the kind that is categorised as "alternative" – or, what Wikipedia defines, unconditionally, as "biologically implausible".
Another example is naturopathy, which seeks to improve patients' health mostly through the adoption of an optimal diet and nutrition program. Not much is more biologically plausible than this, but, hey, Wikipedia knows best.
My basis for knowledge on this is over a decade researching and experimenting with approaches to overcome my own chronic illness, finding that those based on emotion and nutrition were the most effective, and finding material from highly-credentialed scientists explaining down to the fundamentals of cell biology, why it is plausible.
As a result, whilst I still turn to Wikipedia routinely as an info source for general topics, I've come to regard it as largely useless for medical topics that veer even slightly from the middle of the road.
That description sounds a bit biased itself. You're describing a dietician, but the Naturopathy umbrella (and practicioners) also covers unproven herbal remedies, homeopathy, acupuncture, belief in 'vital energy,' etc.
The wording of the Wikipedia article is that anything considered “alternative medicine” is by-definition “biologically implausible”.
But plenty of what is central to what naturopaths do - i.e., nutrition - is plainly biologically plausible. That naturopaths approach nutrition differently to mainstream dieticians doesn’t make the approach by-definition “implausible”. And the “unproven” herbal remedies they may use are not “implausible” (herbs are made up of molecules and thus can quite obviously influence physiology).
“Unproven” and “implausible” are not the same thing; that’s my central point.
If some naturopaths also practice homeopathy, that doesn’t change the biological plausibility of the nutritional aspect, which in my experience, is the vast majority of the practice (at least here in Australia).
For what it’s worth, your assertion that naturopathy is an umbrella term for those other modalities isn’t correct. Sure, some of them are also homeopaths, but not the majority in my experience. And of course acupuncture is from Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is a separate system again.
Speaking of which, in just the past few years we’ve seen Nobel Prize awarded to a Chinese researcher for “discovering” artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin in the herb sweet wormwood, which had long been used as a malaria remedy. She found this by scouring 1600-year-old Chinese medical texts.
So by Wikipedia’s definition, this remedy was “biologically implausible” right up until the moment someone completed Nobel Prize-winning research to suddenly make it plausible.
Fabulous logic. How lucky the researcher hadn’t read Wikipedia beforehand and learned her proposed research was implausible.
Let's try from a couple angles.
First, just the accuracy. Are there any alternative medicines that are effective? I'm fairly prejudiced against many alternative medical approaches (especially homeopathy) but within the wider field seems likely that at least one alternative approach somewhere actually works for some patients. I don't see how it can "actually work" while being "biologically implausible", which makes this a poor defining characteristic. Second, there are many people who describe themselves as practitioners of or believers in alternative medicine. Would any of them come up with or even recognize this definition? Doubtful, which means that at best this is a biased definition believed only by people with a particular preconceived view.
I'm mostly OK with this excerpt, because in this case I'm on the side that shares this bias. But even if it's "right", one should recognize that this still makes it a biased article. There's nothing inherently wrong with propagating this bias, and I prefer it to an uncritical acceptance of alternative medicine, but it's hypocritical to call it a "neutral point of view". The bigger question is whether it's possible or desirable for Wikipedia to actually have a "neutral point of view" while remaining useful, or whether it should adopt an "experts' point of view" and strive for accuracy. I'm unsure --- I think there is probably room for both approaches, but probably impossible for a single resource to serve both roles.
If Wikipedia wants to claim neutrality, it needs to write articles that all sides agree offer accurate summaries. But it can be very difficult for people who are certain they are right to neutrally present things they feel are wrong, which means that to achieve this goal Wikipedia may need to increase the ideological breadth of its base. Or it can give up on its claims of neutrality. Or it can continue to be criticized by people who correctly point out the hypocrisy of claiming to be neutral while producing ideologically slanted articles.
that's not enough. what is needed is the ability and willingness of editors to have an open mind and actually consider opposing views. to many times such clashes just end up in editor wars instead of a neutral text.
I think this is the origin of the issue people are having.
But it completely fails to fully cure many chronic conditions. They just give you a pill.
Eastern medicine is more hollistic (meaning it fully address chronic conditions by finding the true source so that not more pills are needed).
So for this statement above: what he was trying to say is that western medicine labels any healing methods that try to use natural remedies or hollistic healing as "alternative".
Or in other words: he is trying to show you that big pharma is controlling everything to such extend that even just trying any hollistic (permanently curing by finding the real cause) medicine is being ignored in favor of permanent pill dispesing.
Why cure it permanently if you can profit from symptom management :)
Studies of Aromatherapy have found nothing statistically significant though, so that’d be down as “alternative medicine”. In the same way as “alternative facts” are not facts. “Alternative medicine” is not medicine. The nice thing about alternative medicine is that there’s a pretty clear and simple path to getting an alternative medicine to become actual medicine if it works. Have it studied and tested using the rigor of the scientific method.
Due to the replication crisis, I imagine it's actually much more difficult to get non-standard treatments in now than it was to introduce treatments last century.
Not that I'm disagreeing with you - I'm fully in the Ben Goldacre 'Bad Science' camp - I just wanted to highlight that these things sometimes take generational and cultural change, and for some classes of treatments, it's not always a case of taking something from the 'not yet proven to work' bucket and putting it in the 'proven to work' bucket (both buckets are somewhat leaky anyway).
That sounds a lot like the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. If you define "medicine" as "anything that works", then of course "alternative medicine" is crap, by definition.
One big problem with being this dismissive is that a lot of medicine started out as "alternative" and then was scientifically confirmed over time.
I remember once when a test result got close to a threshold, I was told, "this test result is a little high, we should work at getting that down, and if it stays high we can pursue medicine to bring it down."
Could this merely be part of some non-confrontational advice? Maybe waiting for me to ask about exercise before answering?
On the other hand, I have had two friends whose relationships soured with their doctor by giving unwarranted advice.
One friend smoked. The other was overweight.
The doctors pursued the smoking/weight issue to the exclusion of what they were coming in for, and neither friend went back to that doctor.
There is a huge issue that there is no feedback loop when doctors are incompetent or cannot be bothered to actually engage -- as your friends' experience suggests, the doctor has no way (or incentive, really, if they're just trying to satisfy a metric) to find out if they actually helped or not. The only filtering mechanism seems to be either a) passed medical school, or b) gross incompetence which gets reported to an authority, but patients themselves (by definition) usually cannot judge if a doctor is giving them actively bad/dangerous advice.
Metrics are becoming a plague in and of itself... I live somewhere in Scandiwegia, and when I reserve a time slot with my doctor, the biggest time slot I could get was 10 minutes. That's 10 minutes to discuss a complex lifelong pain-related issue which may have genetics playing into it, etc. etc. It's absolutely insane for complex issues, but I'm betting a lot of these issues are essentially invisible to the system because people just give up and take (too many) painkillers. Trying to get a referral to experts in the type of pain I experience is of course heavily gatekept, and means I have to face a whole battery of other non-specialists (neuoroligists, etc.) who can only give wholly inconclusive answers as to whether I'm "worthy" of getting to talk to the specialists who could probably give me a proper diagnosis pretty quickly.
Of course, most things (general practitioner) doctors see are probably pretty simple and can handily be handled in 10 minutes, but it just gets very frustrating when it isn't that simple.
EDIT: Just wanted to add that none of this means that TCM (or alternative medicine in general) necessarily has any worth. The science of 'Western' medicine is overall really solid, but the systems around engaging with patients is really screwed up right now.
banyanbotanicals.com has some great articles about this, check out their six tastes article for example
On second thought, thinking how Steve Jobs died I think it is quite apt.
Even smart people can have stupid and ignorant opinions.
Also there is no such a thing as Eastern Medicine, at best you can call it Eastern Pseudo-Medicine because if it worked it would just be Medicine.
There’s a reason why it’s still to this day a huge tradition and there’s countless stories you can read about people benefiting from eastern medicine
As an example... reflexology. All the parts of our body get grounded through our feet into the ground. That’s why touching different parts of your feet can affect different parts of your body
Holistic ways of thinking are extremely alien and foreign to western medicine
Edit: I don’t understand
There’s plenty of scientific support for treatments other than drugs and this idea is compatible with the definition from Wikipedia.
If we put something through that process and find that outcome, we classify it as medicine. My understanding is that tests of some Traditional Chinese Medicine (which I assume is what we're talking about here when we say "eastern medicine") aren't able to replicate successful outcomes and so we therefore don't classify those things as medicine in the west.
That's not to say they don't help trigger the placebo and so on, just that we haven't proven it through double blind studies and so on - which is my understanding of what OP means by "empirical".
If you have any relevant sources that prove other wise I'll be happy to change my mind.
People who are practiced in eastern medicine don’t bother with rigorous scientific studies as much anyways. What’s the point, you can just see the reasoning and common sense yourself without needing to look at a study, not to mention the countless anecdotes they’ve collected from people they’ve met and who’ve found healing
I find it quite frustrating that placebo can be observed to be effective in many scenarios but many scientist seem to dismiss it out of hand.
The writer goes on to describe various issues about various articles, which could be brought up directly in the discussion sections of these articles, as well as possible solutions for these issues.
However, the first few lines point out something really interesting: Wikipedia doesn't seem to look for facts, but rather to describe point of views. If you are familiar with stackoverflow, the main policy there is to only provide factual information. Any opinion-based question or answer are at the least frowned upon, and usually rejected (though it may also depends on a sub-topic local behaviour). However, I believe that this policy wasn't devised from the beginning, but rather refined over time, considering that the entries at the dawn of the site were much less restricted on that ground. Wikipedia seems to be much more open to opinions, in a "neutral" way, which they explain by giving each opinion as much coverage has it is popular (and thus accepted). So, does it mean that if the "flat Earth" theory (which is given as an example in the Wikipedia page) was much more popular, it would be prevalent in the article about Earth?
So mainstream ideas will be described in much more details than so-called alternate views. For me, this seems somewhat counter-intuitive. I would want to have an encyclopedia which compiles facts, rather than opinions. Am I missing something?
> I would want to have an encyclopedia which compiles facts, rather than opinions. Am I missing something?
That 'fact' and 'opinion' aren't clean categories.
For anyone interested in reading more Wikipedia criticism, I recommend this essay by Jaron Lanier
True, what I meant is that the writer accuses Wikipedia of some sort of agenda, but it's not just one group of people, but many factions with opposite goals, including the one described in the meta pages. Although not being a well defined entity doesn't preclude discussing it, there are things that cannot be said about it because of that.
Another thing that the writer says is that Wikipedia failed, as if it reached an irrevocable state, but Wikipedia is all but in a well defined state (unless you count this as a well defined state, but then we might end up in a Russel paradox), it's content is constantly fluctuating, even if slowly so. When you speak of emergent tendencies, I find the idea compelling, but I wonder if this compatible with a constantly changing set of editors. And even if it is, perhaps this trend is like a disease, and at some point (like in evolutionary algorithms), a cure will emerge?
> That 'fact' and 'opinion' aren't clean categories.
Indeed, perhaps I was guilty of the same mistake as the writer?
However, it is possible to find many pages with annotations criticizing the page content for lack of references or sources. I see that as an attempt to implement fact checking.
Crowds, for example, behave similarly even if you shuffle around who is in the crowd.
> However, it is possible to find many pages with annotations criticizing the page content for lack of references or sources. I see that as an attempt to implement fact checking.
You seem to be operating under the assumption that if we only threw more manpower at Wikipedia we could incrementally improve it to perfection. That seems implausible to me for various reasons.
From the essay I linked,
"A core belief of the wiki world is that whatever problems exist in the wiki will be incrementally corrected as the process unfolds. This is analogous to the claims of Hyper-Libertarians who put infinite faith in a free market, or the Hyper-Lefties who are somehow able to sit through consensus decision-making processes. In all these cases, it seems to me that empirical evidence has yielded mixed results. Sometimes loosely structured collective activities yield continuous improvements and sometimes they don't. Often we don't live long enough to find out. Later in this essay I'll point out what constraints make a collective smart. But first, it's important to not lose sight of values just because the question of whether a collective can be smart is so fascinating. Accuracy in a text is not enough. A desirable text is more than a collection of accurate references. It is also an expression of personality."
Indeed, but the issue is that the Wikipedia editors are not a crowd, it's a crowd of crowds. What's the behaviour of that? And can we compare this context with those used for whichever experiment was used to come to that claim I'm citing above.
> You seem to be operating under the assumption that if we only threw more manpower at Wikipedia we could incrementally improve it to perfection. That seems implausible to me for various reasons.
My idea actually was that overtime, editors would improve in their way of doing that task. However, admittedly, they would have to hang around long enough for this to happen. Maybe that's what "Hyper-Libertarians" have in mind as well? That by default humans are trying to get better at what they do, and thus the system can only improve?
> It is also an expression of personality.
That's a point I disagree with: I don't believe that an encyclopedia article should show personality, but quite the contrary. For me, an encyclopedia is something like a dictionary with a more in depth treatment of the topics. It is first and foremost a compilation of informations.
So all in all what I did was minor editing, perhaps it doesn't count as what you would mean as an edit immediately reverted by other editors. I have no doubt that there are factions monitoring pages of strategic value, it makes sense for a website of that importance culturally. But it also means that the Wikipedia core community must always remain vigilant about these unfortunate slides.
The author criticizes Wikipedia for not mentioning "Obamagate", but that name has no reputable source, remember Trump never defined it, even though the author seems to have understood what it meant. An encyclopedia needs to be based on reliable sources, and Trump's blabbering is just not reliable.
Just listen to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTLu8vCH4Os
By that logic every Venture capitalist’s Wikipedia page should have a massive section called scandals that lists all their investments that did not pay out.
Leaving aside the issue of whether these articles warrant inclusion on the Obama Wiki page:
and at the same time it does have its biases
I'll give an example that should illustrate this
ONe of my close friends belongs to a royal family
The Wikipedia editors who control the article will not update the information ABOUT HIS FAMILY because of some reason they will not explain
They also disregard records from the Government about his family
whoever the Czar of that area of Wikipedia is, or the group that controls those decisions
want to put their research (or beliefs)
What the government of the country says
What the actual members of the royal family say
they have family member names wrong
the hierarchy wrong
and key details wrong
As an example, he complains that the so-called "obamagate scandal" is not covered on wikipedia. As a reminder, the "scandal" is that:
1) Russia sabotages the US election (both sides of the political
aisle agree on this)
2) the Obama admin puts sanctions on Russia
3) Russia doesn't retaliate (this is VERY weird)
4) The Obama administration asks the intelligence agencies
to investigate why they didn't retaliate.
5) They find that an American was talking to the Russian
ambassador and they told them not to worry about the
sanctions since they will make them "go away" when Trump is
6) To find out who was undermining US foreign policy, they go
through a legal process that everyone agrees (including Trump)
was followed to the tee.
7) They find that it was Michael Flynn (Trump's national
security advisor) who was talking to the ambassador and
it was on a call that as national security advisor he knew
8) Flynn lies to FBI officials about the call (he has plead guilty to
this under oath twice)
8) Obama warns Trump that Flynn is being sketchy and that he
might want to reconsider hiring him
9) It comes out that Flynn was interfering with US foreign policy
and Trump fires him saying that he lied to VP Pence. Pence when
asked about it says that he made the right decision in firing him.
11) Now we're being asked to believe that investigation was an
"Obama deepstate coupe" to bring down Donald Trump
It is a shameless political ploy to spin up a scandal that doesn't exist. I'm proud that wikipedia isn't curtailing to what is, simply put, a republican talking point designed to stir up support in an election year.
edit: I'm bad at formatting
What? No. Objective truth exists and stating it is absolutely not an indication of bias. If Wikipedia is incorrectly referring to his statements as false then those cases should be fixed, but his argument is that it doesn't even matter if these assertions are correct or not.
His "Encyclosphere" is going to be an absolute disaster if it adopts his conception of neutrality as described here. It sounds like he rejects any evaluation of the factuality of the subjects at hand and his preferred standard for inclusion is "some people believe." That sounds like a great way to create a catalog of falsehoods and misinformation.
Now take that quote and expand it into a long-form article where you get asked for money at the end, and I've saved you ten minutes of your life.
Now that it’s normal for 30% of the world believing whatever they want and finding their tribe to support them, it’s hard to convince everyone that facts are even valuable, let alone more valuable than those incorrect opinions.
I’ll admit, I’ve never been banned, so idk what it looks like when you try to log in or do something.
HN used to shadowban (i.e. ban people without telling them), but it led to a lot of resentment, not just from the banned users but from many community members who don't think that's fair. At the time, there wasn't much of an alternative because HN had one moderator (pg) and he was also working on YC and raising small children. It takes a ton of time and energy to write such comments and to engage with user responses about them.
We still shadowban accounts when they're new and show signs of spamming or trolling: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que....
p.s. Banning mostly just means that your posts are autokilled. They're still visible to anyone with 'showdead' set to 'yes' in their profile.
 Or maybe not. Comments seem to have stopped flowing, and I don't find it on any of the first few pages of links, so maybe it was flagged off again.
And it is a left wing bias.
But this is a fail at showing it's true and any proof on it's magnitude and any argument Wikipedia just needs to be thrown out and any argument if any alternative is even possible.