Talk:History of poison

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Good article History of poison has been listed as one of the History good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for History of poison:

Here are some tasks awaiting attention:
  • Article requests : Replace unreliable web sources.
    • Format all citations with Wikipedia:Citation templates, for uniformity of the References section.
    • Copyedit : Some of the language is a little awkward at times; a prose cleanup in needed.
    • Expand : Globalize. To other regions, Africa and the Far East, for example. Also, we need more information on the medicinal aspects of poison.
    • To gas poisons, such as those used in Nazi death camps (Zyklon B).
    • Wikify : Many little MOS errors exist throughout the article.

Arbirary section header[edit]

Why has the wikify notice been put up? It seems a fine article. or was it just that section? ÅñôñÿMôús Dîššíd3nt 03:50, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

Please also note the article is unfinished at the moment. Is there a tag for 'under construction' or something, because it would be very useful and very appropriate for this article. It's not finished, so please do not criticise until it's finished. Feel free, infact, please help, but don't criticise until it's main content is sort of complete. Thanks. ÅñôñÿMôús Dîššíd3nt 03:51, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

Do you use British English or American English? I'd like to conform with your grammar and spelling. I also left a note on your talk page. Most of the problems I put were about formatting. bibliomaniac15 17:18, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
I am Australian, and so conform with British English. Also, I would like to ask you a question: does the page really need a wikify tag? Wikify is for articles that are very short or unimportant, or are extremely poor in grammar and/or spelling, or perhaps are badly formated. I do not think this article really meets any of these criteria - it could use touch ups, but it does not need a tag, surely.

I've gone through for spelling mistakes, and have fixed most up, but you have not been very specific with you formatting concerns. Thank you, ÅñôñÿMôús Dîššíd3nt 03:34, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Just some minor cleanup. Also, if you add quotes from poems or the sort, it would be helpful to use </br> to create a more compacted quote. bibliomaniac15 17:37, 3 April 2007 (UTC)


I cant seem to find information regarding something as recent as presetn day information on poisons. Can anyone help? ÅñôñÿMôús Dîššíd3nt 09:35, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Come on lets make this a DYK, Bibliomaniac. We've both done a great job, if we could just find info on present day, then we could make this into a GA perhaps! who knows, it's certainly long enough, and has got heaps of pictures! If we cant do that, then lets at least get it finished in time for DYK.

Thanks for your help, ÅñôñÿMôús Dîššíd3nt 21:27, 3 April 2007 (UTC)


It's a brave effort, but there are some problems with this article in that it is concerned more with poisoning rather than poisons and is almost entirely focused on Europe. Perhaps a move to History of poisoning in Europe? Yomanganitalk 13:34, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

You are most likely correct, but my soucre is focused on just Europe. I do not think a move is nessicary, just expansion, given the amount of ancient history we have on other countries and the small, but present information gathered on medicines. A move would destroy the ancient history section, but expansion leaves much open. I have seen and thought about these things myself, since I began the article infact, but, surprisingly, there are few sources on the internet which I have been able to find, and the one source I did locate was focused mainly on Europe, and poison as a murderous entity. So yes, your point is absolutely right, but instead of moving, why don't we perhaps forget DYK for the incomplete factor and try to find more sources of information. Obviously, if you think this article is still eligible for DYK, thats great, but I don't care much. I'd rather focus on completing an article like this; it's a subject I was surprised wasn't covered when I began work on it, so I think it's important that instead of moving it to the Histoy of Poisons in Europe, and leave someone to make the History of Poisons in every other continent to allow it to be evenly split, we attempt to find more information and complete the article that exists under the disambiguous title. (Of course, if this article is moved to History of Poisons in Europe, and then someone else comes along and makes History of Poisons, then this rather large article - 26kb I think it is at the moment - may be merged, and my hardwork may be lost and dissected to agree with the new History of Poisons)

What is your opinion on what I have stated above, Yomangani? ÅñôñÿMôús Dîššíd3nt 21:10, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

I see the point, but you may find the article grows too large once you include poisoning and poisons from around the world. An alternative would be to split of the relevant parts to History of poisoning in Europe and still continue to develop this article to cover the history of poisons (that way your hard work results in two articles). Whatever you decide, the article on arrow poisons that I created a while back (to save a poor little stub at AFD) but never fully developed, may be useful. Yomanganitalk 22:26, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
I am not entirely sure about what to do, considering that it was you who voiced the concerns in question. I am open to advice, but in regards to the history becoming too long... well I don't really see that happening because there aren't too many other places, countries or continents that need covering. We don't need to do every country, we just perhaps need to generalise over several continents. Perhaps a new formatting is needed, where a section for each country or continent etc. is provided, and then the subheadings for each place can be the eras. For example, we could have one section for Asia, one for Europe, one for Africa or Middle East, and one for Europe and, if needed one for Americas and ancient Americas, with each having subheadings such as 'ancient age', medieval' and such like.(this idea could also occur in the reverse) What do you think? ÅñôñÿMôús Dîššíd3nt 02:04, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
I'd support such a split. However, I think that articles such as History of Poisoning in Asia would be stuffed to the gills in information. If needed, I suppose we could do it by country. bibliomaniac15 04:40, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, I think a concensus should be reached. My opinion (currently) is that we should use the information in the article, but reformat it so that we have a section for each area, and then subheadings for each era. (or vice versa) I think a split is a messy and overly-complicated way of dealing with the identified issues.

Hiowever, whatever happens, the matter of information sources remains a problem, so I think, before we do anything, that we should find a way to get more information or sources. ÅñôñÿMôús Dîššíd3nt 06:22, 5 April 2007 (UTC)


What is this new tag that has popped up? Does anyopne else think it's not formal enough? ÅñôñÿMôús Dîššíd3nt 11:02, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

Livy wrote before Nero and so didn't know that he preferred cyanide. Tacitus? Nhjphd 05:21, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Unsure. That may need investigation. Thanks for pointing that out. ÅñôñÿMôús Dîššíd3nt 22:33, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Poor sourcing[edit]

A couple Wikipedia articles are used as references throughout the article. That's a poor sourcing practice since they are citing a tertiary source; the sources used in writing those articles should be cited instead. 05:32, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

GA article passed[edit]

Good Article criteria :

  1. Article is well written, comprehensive, and easy to understand.
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable, sourced to (33) citations.
  3. It is broad in coverage, covering a large historical period, and was an interesting read I might add.
  4. It is neutral, representing data covered in a fair manner.
  5. It appears to be stable, with no major conflicts between editors regarding this article that I could find.
  6. Good use of images, (9) images overall, and of those, all of them are free-use images, and not fair use.
    • Good articles -- Good job to all of the contributors involved. Smee 07:20, 22 May 2007 (UTC).

On towards FA...[edit]

Thsi article has promise, but needs some work to get to FAC.

A to-do list of sorts:

  • First would be add and subtract some information within the article:
I'd beef up many stubby sections. Nearly all the early mythology bits can be fleshed out a bit more. e.g. I have a greek myths book at home - (which will thankfully give us another reference other than that same article!)
The above should also help in diversifying the refs a bit.
I'd think about drastically summarising the present day section as this article should be seen as a companion of poison (maybe both together can be a Featured Topic...)
Haven't thought about what else is missed thus far. PR mentions both Shakespeare and Socrates. I'd agree they need to be inserted somewhere.
Once content settled, then have a look at the LEAD and the copyediting.

Tally-ho chaps....cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 02:39, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Ok. I'll work on summarising the present day section later today. -- Anonymous DissidentTalk 03:31, 26 July 2007 (UTC)


I tossed up the idea of adding bit or link to the death of Heracles as there's lots of poison used in that story but it's all fictional (Lernean Hydra blood) whereas I thought myths with real poisons probably should have precedence. I couldn't think of another greek myth with poison off the top of my head but thought also that you books with a more worldwide focus would be good to see what came up. cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 12:46, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Finally, I stuck in the bit about poisoning by radiation as it is really noteworthy - though whether it is better here or on poison is debatable. cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 12:46, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Yomangani has sort of suggested that FA would be difficult for this topic, but I think that, with the excellent (I really stress the excellent) book source I have obtained, it might be possible, so I will try for a while, submit it to FA when I think it might be ready, and if it fails, then I will see from there. -- Anonymous DissidentTalk 14:28, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

I've mentioned it on AD's talk, but the page needs about poisoning animals (e.g. use of piscicide in fishing). Why isn't there anything about South American tribes' use of poison? Or even use of the poison outside Europe? Second Opium Warmentions an incident involving arsenic in bread aiming to poison the whole European community in Hong Kong for example. Circeus 17:03, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

GA Sweeps (on hold)[edit]

This article has been reviewed as part of Wikipedia:WikiProject Good articles/Project quality task force in an effort to ensure all listed Good articles continue to meet the Good article criteria. In reviewing the article, I have found there are some issues that may need to be addressed.

  1. The lead needs to conform to WP:LEAD. Specifically, it must adequately cover all of the major points/headings made in the article. Currently, the lead is far too general for it to effectively accomplish this. If someone read only the lead, they should be able to walk away with a understanding of the general nature of the article, but without the details. For an article of this size, the lead is going to have to be larger and more detailed than it currently is.
    Yes check.svg Done
  2. There are many one-two sentence paragraphs (most noticeable in "In ancient mythology," but in other places as well) that distract from the flow and chop up the article, making it difficult to read. These need to be either merged or expanded, as they cannot stand alone.
    I have opted to remove that whole section regardless, as it will never be complete.
  3. Some statements require citations:
    "The discovery of poisons had both advantages and disadvantages in probably every civilisation in which it was discovered. The use of poisons for homicide and assassination also caused the need for antidotes for these poisons, and soon after the potential of the poison was realised, the search for ways to detract from or reverse its power began" (Ancient times and Dark Ages) Sounds like original research without a citation.
    Removed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Anonymous Dissident (talkcontribs) 05:24, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
    "At a similar time to the ban of poisons, priests in Notre Dame became so astounded with the number of poison-related confessions that they had listened to that they decided to inform the king about how bad the 'epidemic' of poison actually was. In response to this, the king organized an order dedicated to the investigation of poisonings called the Chambre Ardente, and the investigation itself became known as the affaire des poisons." (Chambre Ardente)
    "One person named Dr. Rodrigo Lopez, a Jewish physician, was called on by Spain to kill the queen, but he was caught and then later hanged, drawn and quartered for the act, though Elizabeth herself and Robert Cecil doubted his guilt. It is thought that some aspects, specifically a character, of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice may refer to or have been inspired by this Dr. Lopez. After this particular incident, the queen's food had to be tasted for poisoning, and greater security was put into effect. She was even known to have taken antidotes on a weekly basis for protection." (In Spain)
    "This put a new strain on toxicology and other branches dealing with poison, and they were forced to work hard to keep up with the criminals who were using poisons that they had never previously encountered." (Old poisons) Again, sounds like OR.
    The non-table part of "Present day"
    Progress is being made tracking down sources, but it is harder than expected...
    "Today, poison is used for a wider variety of purposes than it used to be. Quite often, poison can be used to rid an unwanted infestation by pests or to kill weeds and such, and provides perhaps the most effective way of destroying an infestation." (Uses in the modern day) ORish again.
    Fixed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Anonymous Dissident (talkcontribs) 23:45, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
    "Certain poisons can also be used to preserve foods and building material. For safety and health reasons, the poisons that are used for these purposes are usually found to be somewhat less poisonous than poisons used for weed killing and infestation ridding." (Uses in the modern day)
  4. Image:Strychnos Toxifera by Koehler 1887.jpg needs to fix its copyright tag

I won't hold this against the GA Hold, but I suggest a reworking of the tone if the goal here is FA status. Many parts read more like an essay on the history of poison than an encyclopedic article on it.

I will check back in no less than seven days. If progress is being made and issues are addressed, the article will remain listed as a Good article. Otherwise, it may be delisted (such a decision may be challenged through WP:GAR). If improved after it has been delisted, it may be nominated at WP:GAN. Feel free to drop a message on my talk page if you have any questions, and many thanks for all the hard work that has gone into this article thus far. Cheers, CP 20:50, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Hi CP, I only just noticed this today. I appeal that you don't delist this tomorrow - I literally don't have time to fix it tonight. Please consider this. I intend to fix these issues, but please allow some more time. -- Anonymous DissidentTalk 07:42, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Fair enough. I'll give you seven days from the date of your comment. Cheers, CP 05:07, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

I've merged many of the short sentences and fixed the image copyright. I'm not sure how to better expand the lead, since it looks awkward to me, but I'll think about it. bibliomaniac15 03:47, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

I'll do the lead, I have an idea. -- Anonymous DissidentTalk 01:13, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
Just randomly stopping by, but I must say that I'm impressed with the progress; the article looks a million times better than when I first reviewed it. Cheers, CP 00:51, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
I think enough of what I asked for has been addressed. I hope that the remainder of my suggestions help you on your quest for FA status. I think there's still some work to be done to get there but, given how much you have done thus far, I'm sure that it won't be too much of a problem for you. GA status retained and reaffirmed; congratulations and thank you for your hard work. Cheers, CP 04:23, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for your reviewing and suggestions. bibliomaniac15 04:24, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

A further thought along the lines of referencing is that you should be more detailed in your specification of poisons used at different times. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:18, 18 October 2013 (UTC)


@ every German user who would like to translate this article: Please contact me (RedSolution) in German Wikipedia since I don't want to get a kind of Edit War. I'll probably translate it for the Writing Contest.--RedSolution (talk) 15:55, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

#Poison in other cultures today.[edit]

Any alternative name we could give this sub-header? "Other cultures" seems to assume that whoever is reading isn't from x region, something we cannot do. Maybe something along the lines of "Tribal usage" (though this specific wording may be offensive to some)? · AndonicO Engage. 01:16, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

Maybe "In developing cultures"? · AndonicO Engage. 03:21, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
Consider, for example, the increasing use of Sarin, particularly in the Islamic world, both by terrorists, as in the Japan railway poisonings, and by nations (Syria). Russia has also used Ricin and Polonium. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:16, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

Things to do (MOS mostly)[edit]

  • For all page numbers, put "p." (only one page) or "pp." (range of pages) before.
  • Fill out all possible fields for references; ensure web references are reliable.
  • Remove vague redundancies.
  • Replace hyphens (-) with en dashes (–) for ranges and em dashes (—) for disjunction.
  • Go over the prose and reword awkward phrasing and/or grammatically incorrect sentences like this one which is terrible and would make my old English teacher weep.

There'll probably be more, but I'll have to find them. Nousernamesleft (talk) 19:18, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

This source [1], which is used, I kid you not, eleven times, is definitely not reliable - it was compiled by a group of university students. It needs to be replaced. Nousernamesleft (talk) 19:24, 8 July 2008 (UTC)
Have you contacted Anonymous Dissident about this? He was the one who introduced the source. I never really bothered to check what he was using. bibliomaniac15 22:55, 8 July 2008 (UTC)
Yep - see his talk page. Nousernamesleft (talk) 23:03, 8 July 2008 (UTC)
Actually, I see a number of sources from that same website - all unreliable. We have a lot of work ahead of us... Nousernamesleft (talk) 02:00, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
Oddly, AD still hasn't responded... Nousernamesleft (talk) 19:08, 11 July 2008 (UTC)
Ah, apparently he's still on wikibreak. If we could acquire History of Poison by Robert Templar, that would be extremely helpful. Would you check your local library, biblio? Nousernamesleft (talk) 01:44, 20 July 2008 (UTC)

I'll compile an ordered to-do list here; Anonymous Dissident is apparently no longer interested in this article(?) since he hasn't responded to my message...

  1. Replace all references from this website.
  2. Format all other references correctly.
  3. Find a better section title than "Middle ages and equivalent time periods on non-European continents".
  4. Clean up MOS and prose.
  5. Peer review.
  6. Repeat step 4.
  7. FAC.

So much to do, so little time... Nousernamesleft (talk) 22:12, 13 August 2008 (UTC)


Does the photo of the dead Goering have to be on this page? I don't think that we actually have to see a picture of a dead person, nor one with such an infamous background, on this page, in order to understand that deadly poisons kill.Kyle 314159 (talk) 04:30, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

I do think it adds to the article, for the same reason that he was notorious and influential. Just my opinion, though, not saying we need to keep the picture. · AndonicO Engage. 04:47, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

Humans as innocent victims[edit]

This article always has poison as the object of human action but probably as many people have been killed by accidental or other unintended poisoning e.g. lead, ergot poisoning phossy jaw etc. Half of the subject is missing. Sheredot (talk) 15:41, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

Poison Epidemic[edit]

The outline in the header needs elaboration in the text, as there were two distinct phases, the Arabic in the 12th Century[1] and the European in the 15th Century [2][3]

References and notes[edit]

In culture (instant death toxin!)[edit]

Where this article, like Arrow poison tells us about instant death poison which works immediately with no saving throw, actually clicking on the link to Antiaris, the plant from which the poison is said to be derived, takes us to a page which calmly informs us about greatly exaggerated accounts of the plant's toxicity which ought not to be taken seriously. I notice that the citation for the "instant death venom" comes from not a toxicological source at all, but a webpage intended to arouse the interest of visitors to London's Victoria and Albert Museum to view a collection of poisoned arrows. Is there a genuine medical source for the extreme toxicity of the poison? Otherwise, this looks rather like some Colonial Era traveller's tall tales. Paul S (talk) 16:59, 20 December 2014 (UTC)