Recently, I have had some interesting conversations with doctors and medical students of Naturopathic Medicine. I am slowly getting involved in editing Wikipedia medicine articles, and I was approached by several proponents of Naturopathic Medicine, who were upset about the following phrases from the Wikipedia article on Naturopathy:
Naturopathic philosophy is based on a belief in vitalism and self-healing, and practitioners often prefer methods of treatment that are not compatible with evidence-based medicine. Naturopathic medicine is replete with pseudoscientific, ineffective, unethical, and possibly dangerous practices.
Of course, they felt this was unfair. In their mind, the Wikipedia article was “wrong” and needed to be fixed and they were frustrated by the tendency for Wikipedia editors to thwart their efforts to “fix” the article.
This put me in an uncomfortable position. I had the option of remaining entirely silent, or informing these followers of Naturopathy of several issues:
Wikipedia has become a “court for facts”. The Wikipedian community focuses on what has become verifiable scientific consensus.
There is very little scientific consensus supporting Naturopathic methods while there is is a substantial amount of scientific consensus opposing some Naturopathic methods.
Naturopathic methods tend to layer “placebo effects” (Ben Goldacre is the inevitable reference for how that works).
These layered placebo effects tend to make the patients of naturopaths and the naturopaths themselves, believe that their methods are way more effective than they actually are.
- I have to admit that I fully expected to have a serving of Tim Minchin’s Storm. But what the hell. Why not?? So I jumped and put the basic issues forward.