Talk:Electrical devices in alternative medicine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
          This redirect is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Skepticism (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This redirect is within the scope of WikiProject Skepticism, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of science, pseudoscience, pseudohistory and skepticism related articles on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This redirect does not require a rating on the project's quality scale.
Note icon
This redirect has been marked as needing immediate attention.
WikiProject Medicine (Rated Start-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This redirect is within the scope of WikiProject Medicine. Please visit the project page for details or ask questions at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine.
Start-Class article Start  This redirect does not require a rating on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This redirect has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Alternative medicine (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This redirect is within the scope of WikiProject Alternative medicine, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Alternative medicine related articles on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This redirect does not require a rating on the quality scale.


This article needs some serious NPOV'ing, alas. What are the claims of "electricity therapy," and how is it commonly performed? What do skeptics say about the treatment itself? This article right now is a brief history of this form of quackery, but it is not an information-providing article yet. --Modemac 12:54, 14 Feb 2004 (UTC)

What's a good name for this?[edit]

The article deals with the quackery side (mainly pre-20th century) of electricity therapy, not electrotherapy which is briefly discussed in the article. Should the name be changed to reflect this? The other option is to divide the article into quackery, alternative medicine and conventional medicine.- redcountess 23:33, Feb 24, 2004 (UTC)

  • Why not just call it "Electrical quackery"? Proven medical therapies involving electricity will probably have their own articles (e.g. cardioversion). -- Nunh-huh 23:25, 24 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Excellent idea! I'll move it now. redcountess 23:33, Feb 24, 2004 (UTC)

The novel Frankenstein doesn't actually tell how the monster is created; only the films show electricity as a part of the reanimation process. -Sean 08:50, 23 Mar 2004 (UTC)

It might be worthwhile to work in the "violet wand" device somewhere. This is now sold as a sexual/BDSM toy, but was originally developed as a quack medical device. Google for "violet wand" should be useful. --FOo 00:24, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)

what about that magnetic treatnt for depression?

I think any Wikipedia article that purports to speak about electrical quackery had better be on solid ground with regard to the phenomenon of electricity before pointing fingers and upholding certain dogmas. The point of my additions to this forum are that the greatest bit of electrical quackery thrust upon the public by unwitting true believers, is that of the ionic channel school of nerve impulse propagation whose major celebrants were John Eccles, Alan Hodgkin, Andrew Huxley, Peter Mitchell, Bertil Hille, Julius Bernstein, John Koester, Eric Landau, Bert Sakamann, etc. If you don't know who these people are, or were, then you know nothing about the subject of bioelectricity and the competing models of its functioning, and have no right whatsoever to dismiss my entry as pseudoscience. In essence the message is that no biologist or neuroscientist who believes in ion currents as electricity, can claim to understand the phenomenon of electricity with any credibility. Since this belief is a requirement to pass the tests necessary to get a degree in these subjects, it is safe to conclude that no biologist or neuroscientist has the authority or background to pronounce upon what is quackery and what is not with regard to electricity since they themselves do not know what electricity is and what it is limited to. As long as electrical quackery is a key part of accepted models of the nature of the nerve impulse, these models are useless in distinguishing what is quackery and what is not. A good opening bit of reading for your edification is BIOELECTROCHEMISTRY OF CELLS AND TISSUES (1995) in which the essay by Berry and Grivell presents an electrochemical model of metabolism. These authors have their shortcomings, but their model is light years ahead of the obtuseness of people like Eric Kandel and John Koester whose contributions to PRINCIPLES OF NEURAL SCIENCE with regard to cell membrane voltages are so loaded with contradictions and distortions and inappropriate mathematics [the Nernst equation, the Goldman Equation] that the lessons there are nothing more than catechetical exercises in subservience to the dominant paradigm. That paradigm has yet to produce any effective treatment of any neuromuscular disorder, and has yet to begin to plumb the depths of potential of the clinical application of electrochemistry. 07:58, 8 February 2007 (UTC) Gregorio Kelly

POV in the Introduction[edit]

The third sentence in the introduction states: While electricity is responsible for the transmission of signals along nerves, both the deluded and the outright fraudulent have attempted to exploit the belief that the presence of electricity and conductors will have a dramatic, disease-curing effect on living tissue. This sentence needs toned-down. Any suggestions? If someone is deluded (i.e. mistaken about the facts of reality), is it fair to say they are attempting to exploit the belief? If the "outright fraudulent" (which implies purposeful deceit for some sort of gain) have attempted to exploit the belief, shouldn't the article at least cite once such example? Edwardian 8 July 2005 21:28 (UTC)

I agree that that sentence need to be toned down. __meco 20:06, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

Luigi Galvani spoke of animal electricity, something explained by Volta as chemical electricity of DC, that contrasted with the induced electricity of Oersted and Faraday 30 years later, that became known as AC. This is all of electricity. Yet in 1902 Julius Bernstein came up with an insular bit of life science quackery accepted even today as the way the electricity of the body functions. Bioelectricity, for want of a better term for this confabulation involving ion electricity (there is no such thing) was thermodynamic electricity, that is, the Nernst equation defining entropic pressure arrogated to be about electromagnetism. John Eccles, Alan Hodgkin, and Andrew Huxley got a Nobel in '63 for this joke, the modeling of the nerve impulse in terms of atomic electricity. This insult to science was widely accepted in the biology community, and elaborated upon by Peter Michell who got a Nobel in '78 for his idea of chemiosmosis and 'proticity', that is, proton electricity that acted in every way like real electricity, but wasn't, relying instead upon a 'proton pump' similar to the 'sodium pump' of Eccles et al. 15 years earlier. It was never disclosed how either sort of pump was powered, and was even claimed to be a mystery perhaps involving physical laws not yet discovered. Biology is such a ridiculous field. In any case, in 1993 John Eccles, just before his death, recanted his Nobel-winning science, saying that the model he proposed was mistaken and grossly inadequate for information encoding. Despite this, because life scientists are not exposed to real scientific rigor, his ideas are still taught as gospel today. No biologist had the slightest idea what to replace his self-admitted errors with, so, rather than go back to the drawing board, biologists and physiologists still teach the false idea since it had no consequence for academicists whether the idea was wrong or right. It was taught as a fundamental, and never returned to for the rest of one's biological indoctrination. It turns out that if bioelectricity is treated as a phenomenon involving real electricity and not the transmogrification that graces the textbooks of highschoolers and neophyte neuroscientists, than electrical medicine's full potential in the form of electrochemistry, could be harnessed to induce the reduction reactions necessary for anabolism. The evidence is clear, the biggest bit of electrical quackery can be found in the fundamentals of biology. 00:26, 7 February 2007 (UTC) Gregorio Kelly

Article may be nominated for deletion[edit]

There is a lack of citations along the whole article which has been alerted long ago it seems by the first banner.

The article is not neutral and uses adjectives as fraudulent or con in individual's character directly and with no substantiation of verifiable sources.

Furthermore the article seems to be a declaration against electrical devices used in alternative medicine with not enough referencing to solid sources and the title itself does not refer to pseudo-medical electrical devices as it should but directly provides the tone and bias of the article.

No citations are given to devices as TENS, pacemakers, corrective biofeedback, electromagnetic osteo mediccal devices or to recognized research realted with the electrostimulation to cell regeneration which is quite abundant.

Please do not remove this flags until the article is completely reviewed so it doesn't need to be nominated for deletion. The article deserves a place if it is reviewed more referencial and more medically.This article has been reviewed after request by the following member of the WP:MED Jennylen 09:15, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

I share many of your concerns. This article, while covering important matters, does need better sourcing. It needs strengthening, rather than deleting. I do have a few thoughts for consideration. A couple sections are linked to the main articles, where references can be found that likely justify the wording. The citation tags could be removed from them. The title describes the subject, and therefore is fine. Electrical quackery does exist, and an article on that subject is perfectly fine. It just needs to be sourced properly.
I'm not sure what your point is with mentioning "...TENS, pacemakers, corrective biofeedback, ..." The article is not concerned with them, and therefore no mention is necessary. By mentioning them you indicate that you already understand the difference between legitimate electrical medical devices and quack electrical devices. That's good. Rife, Becker, and many other notable quacks have fostered a whole illegal and sometimes dangerous culture within alternative medicine circles, and an article about that is needed. Again, as long as it is sourced properly, then it can include all the various POV on the subject, while fulfilling NPOV criteria by the way it is presented.
I'm a bit uncertain about your remark about the title. Are you suggesting that the title would be more appropriate if it were entitled "Pseudo-medical electrical devices"? Just out of curiosity, how would you define a quack medical device? I'm just interested in your POV, which is perfectly legitimate to have, as long as it doesn't get included in the article in the form of OR or editorializing....;-) -- Fyslee/talk 18:27, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

I see what you are meaning and don't totally disagree. My points of concern are:

  • Quackery is a demeaning adjective not a neutral classification so from start the article gives the tone that it will attack certain subject instead of been more encyclopedic and describe the alleged false claims of the devices. More encyclopedic should be for example "Pseudo electromedicine" or so for complying with ethics and neutrality. Furthermore, it cannot be simply "electrical" as it is not an article about electricity, and is about electromedicine.
  • All the article lacks citations and makes many assumptions about making money with this or getting rich with that, which show aggressivity against the subject of the article, those passages I believe are unnecessary and are part of the neuitrality issue.
  • Many devices are described about how they are built with no reference to patents or verifiable citations.
  • The article in general seems more directed to appeal to the disapproval of those devices than to provide neutral and verifiable encyclopedic information, reads as an essay.
  • For can assume what the article assumes, it needs to be shown cases or studies published and referenced about each device, showing that no results were obtained from the use, there is nothing of that in the article.

I have tendency to agree about your judgement of those devices, I am a MD and an inspector of scientific ethical compliance as you can see in my user's page, so I know exactly what you mean and what you want to make the reader aware of, however, this is not perhaps the best media for awareness articles as Wikipedia is supposed to be a neutral, verifiable compendium of encyclopedic knowledge. I don't know your background but there are some references to some subjects which are if not wrong at least incomplete, for example you have just mentioned Becker above as a fraudster and you forget that Becker's work at the Veteran's Hospital Administration is cited in many scientific publications and generated extraordinary advances in some fields. I don't mean you must know that and it is not my interest to debate the subject, I am only trying to help you to understand which errors to avoid for having a good article which may be considered encyclopedic and neutral, please forgive me if I sound argumentative, I have not such interest, I hope this helps you to create a better article. Perhaps you could engage more people in this edition Jennylen 17:51, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Neutrality is fine, but sometimes it is appropriate to call a spade a spade or a quack a quack. On my last trip to Minneapolis I missed revisiting the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices but I can highly recommend it (and thanks to checking out the blue link I now know that it's been moved.) --Wtshymanski 22:43, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
The Electro-Metabograph
Consider the device pictured to the right, for example - judging by the labels on it, it was supposed to diagnose medical conditions by conductivity tests, or something of the sort. I don't think anyone will argue that this was anything besides quackery. Consider also the Crystaldyne Pain Reliever - a more recent device, basically a gas grill ignitor rebadged as a medical device. Again, I doubt there are any reliable sources which describe these devices as anything but quackery. Zetawoof(ζ) 00:50, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
Please understand that it is not what the devices are or not, it is about references, verification and neutrality, please check out those links. JennyLen 09:24, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
in this general connection, I think there needs to be a distinction between methods that were used in mainstream medicine in the 19th century but whose use today would be quackery, methods that were weird even by their standards, and similarly between methods that were not irrational when introduced but later shown to be, and things that were absurd from the start. For example, electric belts and similar stimulators were I think fairly mainstream in the 19th century--and judging from the advertisements, were promoted with the implication of restoring sexual potency--and the electrical stimulation may have had a genital effect--similar devices are used in DBSM subcultures today. Perhaps the title should simply be early electro-medical devices or something of the sort--this would eliminate the need to specify which ones qualified as 'quackery' , a distinction WP should perhaps not be making. DGG (talk) 20:48, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
A very reasonable title JennyLen 12:26, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Article must reflect encyclopedic definitions and history[edit]

This article must be worked to reflect encyclopedic content, neutrality and historical references, otherwise it is a sure candidate to be proposed for speedy deletion. I assume that the intention of the authors is to inform about these devices not to warn the public about presumed fraud (which should be out of context at WP), I am trying to provide clear points to reach, sorry if I am too blunt ☤'ProfBrumby 15:09, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Well, those devices are fraud. But it is also true that the article cannot be as is,lets see what can be done JennyLen☤ 16:52, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
Quackery is "alternative medicine"? There is no alternative medicine, either it works, then it is medicine, or it doesn't, then it is quackery. — Ashmodai (talk · contribs) 13:23, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

Merge proposal[edit]

The article as it stands is a hodgepodge of therapies involving electricity. The delivery modality, even the theory behind each of these procedures is highly variable. As such, it probably should be merged with the electrotherapy article. Djma12 (talk) 18:22, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

I have worked on this quite a bit but it seems a good idea to merge it JennyLen☤ 18:25, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Electric eels[edit]

The electric eel is a native of South America. What were the ancient greeks (sic) doing with them? Does it mean the electric ray, some species of which are endemic to localities within reach of Greece? — BillC talk 22:00, 26 August 2007 (UTC)