User talk:Alexbrn

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“The thing that it's about for me – what it's really about, is just ... really sweet people, er, there are all these really sweet people who are ... they just get online and they are typing and instead of yelling at each other or just having a conversation or reading about gossip or whatever, they're trying to build something that everybody else will find useful. I just think it's really sweet. Really nice people.” — Jimbo Wales


This user seems to be in denial about his COI (see the essay linked from his sig). I have looked long and hard but cannot find any comparable debate about whether giving measurable doses of pharmacologically active substances can cause objectively measurable effects on the body. Guy (Help!) 19:53, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

In my view the linked essay does not properly reflect the community consensus expressed at WP:COI/N - and its text embodies (yes) a denial. More generally I think there is a neutrality problem for the acupuncture article, but the problematic editing there (of all kinds) has driven me away and I don't see any clean solution in prospect. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 20:15, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
The community consensus is actually at WP:COI, isn't it? And isn't COI/N a forum for discussion based on those guidelines?
It might help if I explain my though processes some more. While you may not agree, I hope you can at least see that I take the issue seriously and have specific ways of self-monitoring.
It's important to realize that started the discussion at COI/N not knowing that WP:COI had in fact retained the "profession is not sufficient to create COI" criterion; I only found out about that partway through (see here and here), and while the "instruction" I received at COI/N weighs, the simple fact is that much of that instruction came from editors simply ignorant of what WP:COI actually says. Additionally, and this may be hard to hear, most of the participants at my COI/N were scientific skeptic types, a couple of them quite annoyed with my over a concurrent RfC/U, and their guidance on COI was far more "hardcore" than other guidance I've seen on WP (coincidentally, some via Guy Macon with whom I was just e/c'd below -- thus proving psi [joke]). Don't misunderstand me: my COI/N weighs, considerably, but it's far from representative of other guidance I've seen, including RfC's on the far-more-COI-ish issue of paid advocacy that were not conclusive, and the ArbCom case involving TimidGuy and Will Beback that said that WP"s COI guidelines are vague and even contradictory. All these things factor in, and ultimately I believe the right thing is to follow WP:COI and hold myself to objectively high standards (more on which in a sec).
I'll post more at Guy's user talk, but take strong issue with the idea that I'm "in denial" and that one can't possibly recognize one's biases. My essay makes clear, I hope, that I've engaged and considered the issue, that I recognize the argument for my having a COI (potentially profiting from unduly positive depiction of acu), and that I have identified and acted on ways to hold my editing to high standards. How to deal with one's biases? One's edits are objective entities and can be compared to reasonably objective yardsticks. --Middle 8 (POV-pushingCOI) 14:23, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
These points were covered in some detail at COIN. Apparently you've made up your mind and will rationalize away any discordant view. I don't see in that case there's any point in my adding more. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 14:35, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
I'm sorry you see my view in that light. I'd hoped you would at least take away from the discussion that I am serious about the issues of editorial bias and accountability. Another way to put it would be that I do agree that I have a COI or elements of it, but that on WP it is subthreshold, given WP:COI. I've given the issue a lot of consideration and continue to, and I know that I am not exactly clueless or obtuse about it; see Jytdog's comment on my user talk page. --Middle 8 (POV-pushingCOI) 17:47, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
I specifically mentioned other sources of information besides COI/N, and those points weren't covered at COI/N at all. They too weighed, and weigh, in my consideration. Although you don't acknowledge it, our views aren't wholly discordant, far from it. --Middle 8 (POV-pushingCOI) 20:07, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

My new essay[edit]

...differs considerably from my old one, and incorporates some of what we've discussed, as well as material from my COI/N, etc. User:Middle_8/COI regards, --Middle 8 (POV-pushingCOI) 07:57, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

That looks a lot more candid, however I still think you wrongly apply WP:COI to your own circumstances because you equate being an acupuncturist as simply "having a profession". It's not equivalent, as it entails subscribing to an irrational belief system and is bound to selling one specific "product" only. This was aired at COIN and you yourself wrote of your "committment" to acupuncture. BTW, there is nothing wrong in itself with having a COI; I've heard it said that the more COIs one has, the more evidence there is one's doing something in life. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 08:43, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
I like that comment about COI. I don't remember whatever I said about "commitment". My investment in the profession is that I hold a license and have done some teaching (both TCM and natural sciences) but have been on indefinite sabbatical for awhile, handling other life matters.
I notice you said "subscribing" to an irrational belief system, which isn't a bad term to use, because it's distinct from "adopting" a belief system. That is, one doesn't have to believe in TCM to practice it; one can (and many if not most, IME, do) relate to its ideas as "clinically useful metaphors". (For example "Damp Heat", capitalized to indicate that it's a TCM-specific term of art, connotes signs and symptoms that overlap significantly with inflammation and frequently purulence.)
We've talked about "product" before; that concern is imo alleviated when one practices more like massage therapists do, e.g. especially to help one relax and help loosen muscle tension, and sans the TCM diagnostics (although those are important for herbs, a whole 'nuther matter). Lots of people come for acupuncture as a periodic, nonspecific "tune-up" and know exactly what they want and what they're getting. In fact that's many acu'ists bread and butter (and is primarily how I have practiced it) and I don't see ethical problems with that. OTOH, there are patients who swear by acu (or homeopathy or whatever) for alleviation of particular conditions for which it's almost certainly a placebo, but they're habituated, so it's an interesting question, for the disinterested observer, whether to intervene and tell them their imaginary friend isn't real. Cf. "foma" (Bokononism). --Middle 8 (contribsCOI) 01:05, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

Hello! There is a DR/N request you may have interest in.[edit]


This message is being sent to let you know of a discussion at the Wikipedia:Dispute resolution noticeboard regarding a content dispute discussion you may have participated in. Content disputes can hold up article development and make editing difficult for editors. You are not required to participate, but you are both invited and encouraged to help this dispute come to a resolution. The discussion is at BlackLight Power. Please join us to help form a consensus. Thank you! --Guy Macon (talk) 12:58, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

Whose sock are you?[edit]

Just wondering...because of not showing comments like this in your archive: -- (talk) 21:19, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

i reckon your comments are deleted because you are not saying anything worth responding to or keeping. If you have a specific concern about a specific edit, you should make it. Jytdog (talk) 00:50, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
And in fact this is preserved in my archive #2 - in general I archive everything except bot notifications. Not that there's anything worth preserving in this particlar exchange! Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 05:25, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

Suggestion regarding Slimming World article[edit]

Hi Alexbrn,

Thank you for your contributions to the Slimming World article.

I notice that you added an efficacy suggestion which said: 'In common with most other weight loss programmes, Slimming World's regime does not help achieve weight loss any better than increasing exercise levels alone,' citing a study in the British Medical Journal. While the study did include an exercise comparator, it did not control for diet among this group so it cannot be concluded that the participants lost weight through 'exercise alone' as participants may have made dietary changes too. In addition, the conclusion of the study was that 'commercially provided weight management services are more effective and cheaper than primary care based services led by specially trained staff, which are ineffective.' It would be excellent if this point could be added in order to give a more balanced view of the effectiveness of the programme. There was also a follow-up study by the same authors in the British Journal of General Practice in 2014 that compared weight losses of the different commercial providers at 12 months that might be of interest. It concluded that 'at 12 months Slimming World led to greater weight loss but the differences between commercial programmes was small and of minor clinical importance'.

Thank you for starting the efficacy section in the Slimming World article. There is a good deal of published evidence demonstrating the programme's effectiveness at helping people to lose weight that could be included within the Wikipedia article to give a more balanced picture of the evidence. Below are links to published evidence demonstrating Slimming World's effectiveness at 12 weeks, 6 months and for people across BMI's, when patients are referred by the NHS.

Referral to SW achieves clinically safe and effective weight lossStubbs, J., Pallister, C., Whybrow, S., Avery, A. and Lavin, J. (2011). Weight outcomes audit for 34,271 adults referred to a primary care/commercial weight management partnership scheme. Obesity Facts, 4(2): 113-120

Stubbs, R. J., Brogelli, D. J., Pallister, C. J., Whybrow, S., Avery, A. J. and Lavin, J. H. (2012), Attendance and weight outcomes in 4754 adults referred over 6 months to a primary care/commercial weight management partnership scheme. Clinical Obesity, 2: 6–14. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-8111.2012.00040.x

Stubbs, J., Brogelli, D., Allan, J., Pallister, C., Whybrow, S., Avery, A. and Lavin, J. (2013) Service evaluation of weight outcomes as a function of initial BMI in 34,271 adults referred to a primary care/commercial weight management partnership scheme. BMC Research Notes, 6:161 doi:10.1186/1756-0500-6-161

There is also evidence for the effectiveness of the programme for self-funding members. Below is a link to published abstracts looking at 1.2 million self-funding Slimming World members - the largest ever audit of a lifestyle-based weight management programme. These posters were presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) 2013 and demonstrate Slimming World's effectiveness at 12 weeks, 6 months and for people across BMI's. All three abstracts can be found in Obesity Facts' supplementary journal for ECO at this link on page 189.

Stubbs, J., Whybrow, S., Avery, A., Pallister, C. and Lavin, J. (2013). Weight outcomes in 1.2 million Slimming World members during their initial 3 months’ membership. Obesity Facts 6(1):189

Stubbs, J., Morris, L., Pallister, C., Avery, A., Horgan, G., and Lavin, J. (2013). Weight outcomes as a function of BMI in 1.2 million members of a commercial weight management programme. Obesity Facts 6(1):189

Pallister, C., Stubbs, J., Morris, L., Avery, A. and Lavin, J. (2013). 12 month weight outcomes in 45,395 high-engagers with the Slimming World weight management programme. Obesity Facts 6(1):189

Finally, here is a link to evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of the Slimming World programme in helping people to develop healthy lifestyle behaviours.

Pallister, C., Avery, A., Stubbs, J. and Lavin, J. (2009). Influence of Slimming World’s lifestyle programme on diet, activity behaviour and health of participants and their families. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 24(4): 351-358

Please let me know whether this information might be of interest to you in order to update and add to the efficacy section that you created. Like you, I am keen to produce a balanced, objective and informed article so please do let me know if I can be of any help or assistance. Thank you for your time and interest in the organisation.

Best Regards

Leigh Greenwood

Senior Press Officer

LeighGreenwood (talk) 14:04, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

Hi there! It's been a while since I worked on that article, and I haven't been watching it. In general we don't need to (in fact shouldn't) "balance" anything, but just reflect what the best sources say. For any information about diet effectiveness we need a good WP:MEDRS source. You mention PMID 24567651 which looks like a good candidate - it seems from this the SW diet is about the same as the others assessed (and a bit better than the NHS offering). The article should probably be updated to reflect that. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 14:25, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
Hi Alex! Thanks for the fast reply! And thank you for pointing me to the WP:MEDRS article which is really helpful. It would be excellent if you would be able to update the article as an independent party to reflect the finding that commercial weight loss programmes like Slimming World have been found to be more effective than primary care based services. Thanks again for your time and appreciate your quick response.

LeighGreenwood (talk) 14:53, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

@LeighGreenwood: okay, looking at this some more PMID 24567651 is in fact a cohort study (my mistake) and so not really good enough quality to be usable. I'll take another look at the secondary sources and wording and see if we're up-to-date here ... Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 08:34, 10 September 2014 (UTC)


Why did you remove cancer research on Phosphatidyslerine page? The reference was more than adequate. I am considering adding it back. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Edcpf (talkcontribs) 10:46, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Hi there! It's primary biomedical research and so fails WP:MEDRS. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 10:56, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Please comment on Talk:Shooting of Michael Brown[edit]

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September 2014[edit]

Hello Alexbrn, You may be interested in a new discussion on the Extraterrestrial life Talk page. Your comment/input would be welcome. Regards, David, David J Johnson (talk) 15:08, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Gokhale Method Page -- Suggestion for Deletion[edit]

Hi Alexbrn! I noticed that you suggested the page I recently created about the Gokhale Method for deletion. I am rather new to Wikipedia, but having listened and learned from your criticisms and the criticisms of another user, Ronz, I have substantially revised the article I wrote. I made special efforts to include notable, independent, unbiased, and reliable sources as the basis for the article. I also included a section about notable patients who have studied the Gokhale Method, which I found in a reliable source. I removed any explicit references in the text to the website for the Gokhale Method, and I kept references to Gokhale's own work and presentations to a minimum. The bulk of the article now relies on secondary sources. I found additional independent, unbiased sources and included them in the further reading section. I was also able to find criticisms of the Gokhale Method from a notable source, for which I created a new section in the article. Please come and take a look at the new version of the page when you get a chance. Thanks! Cheers, Dandem1 (talk) 00:01, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

French fries and cancer[edit]

Hi there, I've found the following references to support the research conducted by the University of Maastricht. The original reference, a newspaper article, was indeed very flimsy.

The reference that you use for your edit ( actually uses the same Dutch research(es) in its own list of references. It is very disconcerting, to read about the significantly higher risk of certain types of cancer that were found in the Dutch research, in connection with the intake of acrylamide. Concluding text from #2: If the associations we have observed in this study were found to be causal, acrylamide in food today could prove to be a relevant health hazard. Therefore, we encourage other researchers to prospectively investigate the association between dietary acrylamide intake and cancer in hormone-sensitive organs. As such, I find the statement that is now in the French fries article -"it is not clear, as of 2013, whether acrylamide consumption affects people's risk of getting cancer"- a bit too general. Perhaps something along the lines "high amounts of acrylamide in foods such as French fries have been found to correspond with certain forms of cancer, although direct links still have not been determined." - Takeaway (talk) 14:28, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

(talk page stalker) the current statement you quote is exactly accurate. we do not know. please do not push the evidence harder than it will bear. Jytdog (talk) 14:38, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
Hi! Discussion of the article content should take place on its Talk page but in brief I think that since the multiple sources on this topic have been reviewed by the American Cancer Society and they conclude from them the picture is still uncertain, Wikipedia is bound to follow that (as a high-quality WP:MEDRS source). We could say more, but not based on primary research like the Dutch study. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 14:43, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
Ref #1 from the Royal Society of Chemistry is a secondary source, and a reliable one. It states: "A study has for the first time confirmed the proposed link between dietery intake of acrylamide and cancer - five years after the suspected carcinogen was detected in cooked food." - Takeaway (talk) 15:02, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
(talk page stalker) Please read Wikipedia:Identifying_reliable_sources_(medicine)#Definitions - the RSC article is not a secondary source per MEDRS. This discussion should not be continued here but on the relevant article Talk page. You have my permission to copy my comments there.Jytdog (talk) 15:05, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
Feel free to copy mine too. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 15:12, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
Ah, I see what you mean Jytdog. I think where we mainly differ is how it is formulated, and not the genera conclusion. Why I raised the issue here and not directly at the article talk, is that it has been my experience that that can sometimes work counter-productive. Apparently many editors find it confrontational which isn't very good for a discussion. To eventually move it to the article talk page is easily done. - Takeaway (talk) 15:16, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
i went ahead and started a discussion there... it is just useful to have these things be in the article Talk page, as especially with health related content, the same concerns tend to come up over and over as people over-react to media reports hyping scientific research results... thanks for talking!!! Jytdog (talk) 15:22, 15 September 2014 (UTC)