Talk:Traditional Chinese medicine

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Removing medical jargon[edit]

According to the manual of style for medical articles, medical jargon should be avoided because encyclopedia articles are written for the general public not medical people talking to each other. So, most often the language in the reference material needs to be switched to general language. And health care professionals need to be aware of their habit of using the language carried over from their work or schooling, and switch to general language when they write articles on Wikipedia. See Writing for the wrong audience. Also, articles should not be written as patient teaching materials--as if addressing patients. That is the reason that I reworded the article switching patient to people/person, and other minor changes of wording. My understanding is that these types of rewordings are non-controversial here on Wikipedia. Sydney Poore/FloNight♥♥♥♥ 13:28, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for explaining, FloNight. Seems like a valuable principle to keep in mind, but I'm not sure "patient" counts as jargon. A lot of new vocabulary is introduced to the general reader in this article, I think as long as its clear the article is introducing and defining new terms its ok, we just can't assume the reader understands the technical jargon to begin with.Herbxue (talk) 18:15, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
I'm sorry but I disagree that we should be adding this particular terminology that is widely used by medical personnel when speaking to each other in healthcare but not widely used by ordinary people when discussing illnesses and treatments. "Patient" is jargon that medical personnel use when speaking of their clients and customers. It is not a word that ordinary people use when speaking of themselves in or out of a healthcare setting. Since the material is not specifically written for medical personal or patients I don't think that it is desirable to use that wording when speaking of people in Wikipedia articles. Beyond being unnecessarily, it denotes a mentality of ownership of healthcare topics by healthcare personnel that is undesirable in collaborative projects like Wikipedia where the end product benefits from the scrutiny of a variety of sub-populations of people interested in the topic.
My background in healthcare is an OB/GYN Registered Nurse (dating back to the 1970s) who specialized in working with women with high risk pregnancies and pregnancy loss. Through my work with these mother, babies, and their families and friends, I came to see the value of eliminating unnecessary jargon from my language. It is not a matter of "dumbing down" information by substituting a less appropriate word. It is recognizing that the consumers of health information on Wikipedia are not best thought of as clients and customers of medical personnel. But instead people living with a medial condition, their family, friends, neighbors, and employers, and well as students and the intellectually curious reader.
All that said, I normally remove unnecessary medical jargon in articles about diseases and treatments when I see it, and skip over them when the article is about a medical discipline. Not because I don't think alternative wording is better, but often I don't think that is seems as inappropriate. I went ahead and made the changes in this article because I felt it seemed appropriate to do it. A judgment call on my part. My usual practice on Wikipedia is that I don't ordinarily do any reverts when someone objects (unless I'm doing it in my capacity as an oversighter or checkuser based on strict policy.) So, I'm going to leave the article as you reverted it. If someone else sees that value of making the changes then they can do it. Happy editing :-) Sydney Poore/FloNight♥♥♥♥ 14:34, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
Thanks again for the thorough explanation. I am certainly interested in the idea that the words or attitudes used in the article represent "ownership" by one group over another. NPOV can be tricky because the fundamental assumptions of each editor come out not only in the way we word things, but more importantly the basic questions we have that lead to fleshing out the article. Herbxue (talk) 18:06, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
You think Traditional Chinese medicine treats patients? QuackGuru (talk) 18:17, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
You troll much? But seriously, you are not asking me a serious question, are you?Herbxue (talk) 05:39, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

Inappropriate conclusion in lede of article[edit]

The end of the lede currently concludes that although TCM has some proponents, it is largely "irrational pseudoscience". This statement is problematic for several reasons.

1. The source for the statement is a 7 year old opinion piece. THe problem is not so much the age of the source, but the fact that one opinion is given the privilege of making the definitive value statement of the article (the last sentence of the lede).

2. The article should not be making a definitive value statement. The statement is certainly a notable and wide-spread OPINION, but it must be stated in the article WHO expressed this opinion. If not, it suggests that WP has collectively concluded that this opinion is fact. We have not.

3. Both words "irrational" and "pseudoscience" are intentionally pejorative terms - they do not add anything to the readers understanding of the issues involved, they are simply insults. If you want the reader to understand the lack of confirmation of TCM ideas by science, you can do so by simply citing the results of systematic reviews (which is what we have to do to justify a positive statement in WP med-related articles). If you don't do this, you are giving an opinion here, but presenting it as if it were fact. That is inappropriate. Herbxue (talk) 06:59, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

Criticism needs to be included in the lede, and since TCM is fringe this needs to be made plain according to policy. Nature seems a fine source for such a claim, and age does not matter unless there's evidence TCM has lost its pseudoscience. Of recent interest here is Jimbo's statement on this subject: see Wikipedia:Lunatic charlatans. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 07:09, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
I fully agree that criticism needs to be included, but an opinion piece in Nature does not constitute a fact that must be disproven (as you suggest), it is just an opinion. Your use of terms like fringe, pseudoscience, and lunatic charlatans shows that you are more interested in POV pushing than an honest appraisal of facts. You seem to take "Jimbo"'s POV to mean that WP policy is to push an anti-fringe POV - that is not what he said, he said some sources are reliable and others aren't. Herbxue (talk) 08:01, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
Best to avoid ranting and personal attacks: you're pulling quite a few of the tactics outlined in WP:FLAT. TCM is obviously based on pseudoscience (meridians, anybody?) and that fringeiness needs to be abundantly clear in the lede according to our policy. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 08:36, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
The only thing that's obvious is that using pejorative labels is controversial, as seen in the lengthy dialogue about use of the term pseudoscience in previous talk page conversations (of which I was not the main person arguing against using the term). So, to say its obvious the article should conclude with a value judgement about an entire medical system is nonsense. This is an encyclopedia, not "Consumer Reports". Show, don't tell. Herbxue (talk) 15:18, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
Are you referring to the category discussion? Whether we use the pseudoscience category is a different question (on which I have no firm view). However, saying TCM is "largely irrational pseudoscience" (which the Nature piece says is "obvious") is fine - and not the least bit controversial, I'd have thought. Is there any serious dispute over the statement? Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 15:26, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

Yes, there is. Its fine to include as long as you clearly identify, in the body of the text, who is expressing that it is irrational pseudoscience. As it is written, it implies that WP editors have come to consensus that TCM is irrational pseudoscience. We have not, but even if we did it would be Original Research to express it in this way, thus a violation of guidelines. If the statement is changed to clearly assign ownership of that opinion / conclusion, then I have no problem with it. As it is, it is inappropriate. Herbxue (talk) 05:12, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

So that would be a WP:FLAT No 3? – "You must not say 'the earth is not flat' but 'according to critics of the flat-earth theory, the earth is not flat'". Needlessly attributing uncontroversial statements risks creating the appearance of doubt or disagreement where there is none. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 05:23, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
That's a dismissal on your part, not a sincere engagement with the issue. The "earth is not flat" is not equivalent here. MIllions of people consider TCM to be a valuable system of medicine, don't dismiss them unless you really know them (many are accomplished scientists). I assure you, the statement is controversial and disputable. You are smart enough to know that the article as written makes a conclusion that represents an opinion, and I have made clear that I am not interested in censoring out that opinion, only in making sure it is properly attributed. Herbxue (talk) 06:05, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
Ha! By swaying to popular misconception we'd be in trouble with our UFO, creationist, homeopathy, etc. articles too! TCM is essentially a medieval pre-scientific belief system that has no correspondence with real science. No serious source disputes that. It's just an obvious fact which we can, and should, assert. You have provided no sources for your argument, merely: assertions (that the statement is controversial), an argumentum ad populum and a personal attack. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 06:19, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
"We" could if we had consensus, and we don't. Simply agree to attribute the quote to its source and you would be doing the honorable and scientific thing to do. Instead you just make comparisons to other, more marginalized subjects. TCM may not be mainstream, but it is not "fringe" - there is licensure in many countries and universities dedicated to the subject in Asia and accredited colleges in the U.S. There are many convergences between TCM treatments and scientifically-verified actions of substances, so your dismissal that there is "no correspondence with real science" just shows your ignorance of the subject. If you do not understand the subject, how can you determine what an "obvious" judgement of its merits is? You cannot - you are only presenting an opinion. Herbxue (talk) 06:51, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
I merely echo the mainstream, expert sources. Again, your arguments are of no use here. TCM is licensed in some countries ... so? Homeopathy is available from the National Health Service - that doesn't mean it's science. To repeat: "Needlessly attributing uncontroversial statements risks creating the appearance of doubt or disagreement where there is none". Show me the sources. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 07:42, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── There are many sources stating that TCM is "pseudoscience". The question should be: "Why is there only one reference calling TCM pseudoscience?" Practitioners call TCM "science", yet the practitioners don't seem to perform scientific studies, so it passes the WP:DUCK test. I.e. pseudoscience. Given all of the points @Alexbrn: has made here, the "honorable" and "scientific" thing to do here is to call it Fringe and Pseudoscience. @Herbxue: your behaviour here is bordering on a personal attack. Please focus on content. Jim1138 (talk) 07:35, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

The Joseph Needham source (currently in further reading) has some good content that can be used to expand the article explaining the disjunction between TCM and science. I hope to have time to get round to this shortly (unless somebody beats me to it!). Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 07:44, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
I respectfully disagree Jim. Practitioners generally do not call TCM science, and yet often do participate in scientific studies. I have personally conducted a pilot study on a topical herbal preparation, and have the highest respect for those that conduct serious research as a career. Alexbrn gets under my skin because he defended POV-pushing edits by Dominusvobisdu that misrepresented Ernst's conclusions regarding placebo effect, and thus has a history of preferring his opinion over facts. That should not cloud the real issue here - labeling a system of thought that is pre-scientific and that does not claim to be based on science "pseudoscience" is an expression of opinion, not fact. It may be a popular opinion, it may even be the MOST popular opinion, but that does not make it fact. An opinion should be attributed to those who express it in the body of an article. Alex, I fully welcome your contributions about the "disjunction between TCM and science", I have no problem with that line of thinking. Herbxue (talk) 07:56, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
An appeal to personal experience and more personalization. If the statement is not in serious dispute (i.e. in high-quality sources) then it's a fact we can just assert. Failing to do so would not be neutral. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 08:01, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
We've gotten circular at this point, need input from others.Herbxue (talk) 15:16, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
Looks to me like there's no consensus for your proposed change. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 15:19, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

Not yet at least.Herbxue (talk) 21:29, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

I don't feel comfortable with putting "pseudoscience" in the lede, for various reasons.
1.) I think TCM's theoretical base is largely superstitious, but "pseudoscience" implies that TCM actually tries to sound scientific. Which it doesn't. It has used the same terms since 2000 years.
2.) The source we have now is stating nothing else but the opinion of the author of the article, so the source could actually only be used for a sentence like: "An editorial in Nature stated that..."
3.) Apart from "pseudoscience", TCM has also been labeled "proto-science"[1] and "pre-scientific"[2] (and probably a couple of other terms as well that didn't show up on my google search).
My suggestion would be to either to not include all this labeling (and I actually don't understand the necessity for it) or to keep all these sources in a sentence like "TCM has been labeled pseudoscience, proto-science..." etc. --Mallexikon (talk) 10:33, 17 April 2014 (UTC)