Talk:Quackery

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Peer review of related article[edit]

A request has been made for peer review of List of ineffective cancer treatments which has some cross-over with the content here. All and any feedback most welcome. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 08:26, 19 September 2013 (UTC)

Stephen Barrett promotional bulk[edit]

This statement just adds bulk to the article and is really not necessary to promote Stephen Barrett's qualifications here. Links to his namesake article as well as his enterprise company should be enough.

Stephen Barrett, who runs the alternative medicine watchdog website, Quackwatch, a consumer information organization with several websites dedicated to exposing quackery, defines the practice this way:

I have attempted to edit it into a reasonable statement, removing wording "alternative medicine" not found in the referenced website and further promotional phrases unrelated to this article. My attempts at guideline adherence have been reverted twice by other editors without satisfactory reason.

Stephen Barrett, who runs the health-related frauds website, Quackwatch, defines the practice this way

"health related" is wording copied from the actual website mission statement and removes WP:OR and some WP:Puffery.This would be similar to the credit given to Paul Offit in a similar cite in the article and with possibly more notability. 72.138.186.80 (talk) 12:59, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

What we have seems like a fair summary of what's in our Quackwatch article. No need for a change here. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 12:57, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
We don't need a fair summary of what is in our Quackwatch article. It's off-topic here and wreaks of over-promotion. 72.138.186.80 (talk) 13:01, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Well, actually we do. The editors over at Quackwatch have achieved a consensus on how it should be described in summary and put that in the opening sentences of the article there. We need to follow suit here, to avoid creating a mini content fork whereby QW is characterized differently in different places on Wikipedia. If you want to change the way QW is characterized, get consensus on the Quackwatch article - and then we can synchronize with the new text here. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 13:12, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
"Content fork"? Nonsense! Let's get a consensus on this article. It would seem we need to get 3O on this or more after that one. You are using arguments that are not WP guideline or policies. Each article needs to stand on it's own merit and this article is NOT about Quackwatch or Stephen Barrett. His statements are important not his history. WP articles are not suitable references and this article needs to use proper references. Nowhere in the mission statement of Quackwatch does it use the term "alternative medicine" and that term is just OR, and needs to match a reliable reference. The second issue is the unwanted puffery. Surely you don't think we should we add a paragraph of notability to all the other notable person's statements like Paul Offit to perpetuate this style? Why just the puffery on Stephen Barrett? 72.138.186.80 (talk) 14:24, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I have no problem with shortening it to this:

How's that? -- Brangifer (talk) 15:40, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Fine - it's ... like ... hypertext :-) Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 16:01, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done -- Brangifer (talk) 16:11, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Well I thought a compact summary of notability origin (Quackwatch.org) would have been in order but it matches the other quotation style and the link is there for diggers. Thanks all. 72.138.186.80 (talk) 17:12, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Stating that specific professions are examples of quackery in the lede[edit]

Recent additions to the lede are in violation of WP:NPOV. The edit is in violation of NPOV because it uses wikipedia's voice to make a controversial and one-sided statement that relies on specific cherry-picked sources, without giving the opposing perspective.

You are trying to state in wikipedia's voice that acupuncture is an example of quackery, yet you are not mentioning any of the reliable sources that suggest otherwise:

You are trying to state in wikipedia's voice that chiropractic is an example of quackery, yet there is a different perspective that is detailed in reliable sources that you are leaving out:

  • Kaptchuk and Eisenberg state: "Even to call chiropractic "alternative" is problematic; in many ways, it is distinctly mainstream. Facts such as the following attest to its status and success: Chiropractic is licensed in all 50 states. An estimated 1 of 3 persons with lower back pain is treated by chiropractors. Since 1972, Medicare has reimbursed patients for chiropractic treatments, and these treatments are covered as well by most major insurance companies. In 1994, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research removed much of the onus of marginality from chiropractic by declaring that spinal manipulation can alleviate low back pain."

If you want to discuss specific professions in the article then it would have to be in the body first, and consistent with WP:NPOV, would have to gives both perspectives. Then, this discussion could be summarized in the lede. The current mention of specific professions in the body is restricted to a quote from a specific individual 'William T. Jarvis' and thus your addition of the list of professions to the lede is not a summary, but rather a new and controversial idea being made in wikipedia's voice. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 108.181.201.237 (talk) 19:34, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Agree—not because I have any desire to push dubious cures, but because there is an important and real dividing line that WP:NPOV requires must be acknowledged. Quackery is fraud or dangerous delusion. The edit made an overly broad assertion that nearly all complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), traditional medicine, and chiropractic are quackery, which is false. There are plenty of elements of herbal medicine, for example, that are accepted as complementary to medical science, even if, quite frankly, their only efficacy comes from placebo effect. There is plenty of CAM that has safety (for example, herbals made with USP good manufacturing practice) and at least weak evidence of marginal efficacy and is considered by both the physician and the patient to be desirable and meeting primum non nocere. Even for physicians who don't put much stock in it, they know the clinical utility of, for example, letting a patient with longstanding recalcitrant pain take some herbs if it makes them feel like they've done something efficacious and they get some peace of mind from it. Whatever delusion may be involved is not dangerous. This topic (locating the dividing line between CAM and quackery) is analogous to the classifications of religious movements in the following way: an angry atheist can say that all religions are cults, but that doesn't mean that Wikipedia states that all religions, even large and mild ones like Grandma's weekly Unitarian supper, are cults. It's not in line with NPOV. It's its own form of POV. Quercus solaris (talk) 02:05, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree with you that the placebo effect in certain cases can be helpful, but quackery does not have to be dangerous. As this article states:
* Even where no fraud was intended, quack remedies often contained no effective ingredients whatsoever. Some remedies contained substances such as opium, alcohol and honey, which would have given symptomatic relief but had no curative properties. The few effective remedies sold by quacks included emetics, laxatives and diuretics. Some ingredients did have medicinal effects: mercury, silver and arsenic compounds may have helped some infections and infestations; willow bark contained salicylic acid, chemically closely related to aspirin; and the quinine contained in Jesuit's bark was an effective treatment for malaria and other fevers. However, knowledge of appropriate uses and dosages was limited.
However, as defined by the dictionary, quackery also involves the promotion of fruadulant and ignorant medical practices. This is the main point I'm trying to make. Not that they are dangerous, but traditional medicine in it's modern form and chiropractic do not do what they often claim to do. They are based on ignorance of modern medicine and science. In this sense, they are indeed cases of quackery. Smk65536 (talk) 07:26, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
As mentioned above and supported with sources, the main issue is that these professions are NOT simply clear examples of quackery that can be labelled as such in wikipedia's voice in the lede of the article. WP:NPOV policy demands that both perspectives be discussed when they exist, and here there is clearly two sides to the coin. If you want to discuss specific professions in this article it must be done int he body first, using sources that provide both perspectives. One completed and achieved consensus, this discussion of professions that represent quackery could be summarized in the lede. I suspect that this has not been done because it is a huge can of worms. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 108.181.201.237 (talk) 17:09, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
Even though I totally get, and sympathize with, what Smk65536 is saying, what 108.181.201.237 subsequently said is an inevitable truth that sets the threshold of effort that would have to be poured in to support the lede change. And there's a reason it's as hugely laborious as it is—the sentence "I suspect that this has not been done because it is a huge can of worms" sums it up exactly. For example, there's a gigantic decades-long history in the U.S. of people calling chiropractic quackery and of legions of chiropractors and, more importantly, legions of their deeply satisfied and loyal customers (many of whom feel positively sure that it saved them from pain and dysfunction) coming out in force to refute the idea, to the point that there have been libel lawsuits over it. It's a huge can of worms. So how does Wikipedia cover that? Well, it's fine to have an entire article on the history of chiropractic with multiple sections and 57 references that explores the whole "it's quackery / no it's not / yes it is" saga. We can make it clear to the reader that its standing remains dubious in many minds, although its standing is high enough that national health services in various countries don't refuse to pay for it. But putting a sentence in the lede of the quackery article that simply says "chiropractic is quackery" is inadequate to meet NPOV. Quercus solaris (talk) 23:50, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

Quackademic medicine[edit]

BullRangifer I don't want to get into an edit war over this, but I respectfully disagree with your reversion. This is not about parity it's about reliable sources and whether there is enough evidence that the neologism in question enjoys sufficient use to justify inclusion in an article. Since the sources generally fail WP:RS and there is as far as I am aware, no evidence that this term has been employed outside of a handful of blogs, I don't think it passes muster. As always I remain open to reconsideration if some argument or evidence hitherto not considered is presented. Likewise I bow to consensus if a body of editors tells me I am wrong. But right now I am not impressed by the sourcing and the usage of the term appears far too limited (trivial might be a better term) to warrant inclusion here. -Ad Orientem (talk) 20:38, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

Agree with Ad Orientum, the main problem is that only 2 sources seem to exist that use the phrase "quackademic medicine" and both sources are blogs. Moreover, the blog where the phrase was coined, source 8, does not seem notable. The only other source that uses the phrase, source 6, is at least from a notable blog (“Science Based Medicine”), but I do not think this is enough to warrant an entire section here, including examples of how mainstream medical journals like the "New England Journal of Medicine" are falling prey to this apparent phenomenon. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 108.181.201.237 (talk) 00:18, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
The sources are reliable. This is a section. Notability is not an argument for deletion. QuackGuru (talk) 02:34, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
Notability is not an issue here. And while some blogs might be notable, they are almost never reliable sources. See WP:UGC. -Ad Orientem (talk) 03:42, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
No, this is about controversy and deals with fringe subjects, so WP:FRINGE and WP:PARITY apply, and www.sciencebasedmedicine.org is considered a RS for those subjects in many articles here, and rightly so. This has been discussed many times. The experts assembled there provide expert opinion on medical, fringe science, and alternative medicine subjects.
For me the only question is whether it warrants a whole section. That may be too much. -- Brangifer (talk) 03:54, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
I should note that after some reorganization and consolidation, they now seem to use a different website: Society for Science-Based Medicine. -- Brangifer (talk) 04:08, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
Agree with Brangifer, the source is clearly not a blog, and represents expert opinion on this subject. I do think though that this phenomena warrants an entire section. It is often discussed and debated in the media. 108.181.201.237 not everything is a blog. Smk65536 (talk) 01:26, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
Really? Where has this term been extensively discussed in the media? I was unable to find much of anything beyond the two cited sources, of which only one is alleged to be RS. But I'm not infallible and might have missed something. Some links would be appreciated. Thanks... -Ad Orientem (talk) 02:19, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
It does look odd to title a section with this term. How about something that describes what this really is, which is critique of the attention given to CAM by mainstream institutions? Within the section you can say "so and so characterize this as 'quackademic medicine'". Herbxue (talk) 19:25, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Agree with BullRangifer, some mention is due - probably not a whole section (certainly not a whole article as he had before). But since SBM is one of our best sources on woo/quacks/quackery, and they are big on this idea, its appropriate for mention here. Alexbrn talk|contribs|COI 19:38, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

Deceased only?[edit]

@BullRangifer:, why limit the list of quacks only to deceased persons? I don't see any good reason to do this. Oiyarbepsy (talk) 20:04, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

@Oiyarbepsy:, your question is reasonable, and that concern has been addressed a long time ago. Here is the hidden editorial note you may not have seen:
"NOTE: This section is not intended as a complete list, but instead as a sampling so the reader may have some examples of notable persons who have been called quacks. Entries in this list should be limited to clear examples, and the sources documenting them being called quacks should be well-referenced.
"To avoid WP:BLP concerns (and endless edit wars!) this list should be limited to deceased people. Please arrange names alphabetically after last name. Descriptions may be taken from the lead section of their articles here, if such articles exist, and are not used to demonstrate why they were called quacks. Let readers do their own investigating. It may be a good idea to discuss any additions to the list on the article's talk page."
I hope that explains it well enough for you. -- Brangifer (talk) 03:38, 3 February 2015 (UTC)
I'm fine with the requirement that sources actually use the word "quack", I suppose, but don't think it's truly necessary. The two (Andrew Wakefield and Mehmet Oz) clearly meet the definition of quack even if a lot of sources don't actually use the word. And I strongly feel that excluding living people just for being living is a gross misunderstanding of biography of living persons. It doesn't mean to exclude people from lists to avoid hurting feelings, if someone belongs in a list, they should be there. Finally, the nature of quackery has changed since 100 years ago, and Wakefield and Oz are a great demonstration of its current nature. BTW, was there a discussion about this exclusion previously? Oiyarbepsy (talk) 03:54, 3 February 2015 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure we discussed it, but it's a long time ago. I agree about Wakefield, Oz, and others, and, strictly speaking, you are right that Wikipedia's BLP rule does not prevent the mention of living persons, as long as the sourcing is good and the content framed properly. You can look at our List of topics characterized as pseudoscience for how this could be done in a list. We just have to be very careful. It should be done in each biography first. -- Brangifer (talk) 05:03, 3 February 2015 (UTC)
Wakefield's article describes his research as "elaborate fraud", "utterly false", and that he behaved "dishonestly and irresponsibly", and that's just in the lead section. For Oz, he won the "The Pigasus Award for Refusal to Face Reality" for "quack medical practices, paranormal belief, and pseudoscience", and that 15% of the products he promoted in direct contradiction to medical evidence. I think we are completely sound in naming these two in our list. Oiyarbepsy (talk) 05:45, 3 February 2015 (UTC)
Would you like to start a new subsection for "Living persons accused of quackery"? -- Brangifer (talk) 05:50, 3 February 2015 (UTC)
No, I think it makes sense to put them all in the same heading, instead of having an arbitrary distinction. After all, what if we put them in a separate section and one dies - this creates article maintenance we don't need. Change the heading back to what it was and add Oz and Wakefield to the list. Then put in a big fat warning that any living persons need to be well cited. Oiyarbepsy (talk) 15:11, 3 February 2015 (UTC)
That makes sense to me. -- Brangifer (talk) 16:18, 3 February 2015 (UTC)
It should be under the "same" heading with a "different" subsection name. See Quackery#Living. QuackGuru (talk) 18:19, 3 February 2015 (UTC)
I agree with Oiyarbepsy; we should include living quacks, if properly sourced. Caution around BLP is very sensible, but if we could only report positive things about people and not negative, we'd have a terribly unbalanced encyclopædia. bobrayner (talk) 23:18, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Monkey glands[edit]

Was implanting testicular extracts from animals (or maybe whole testicles, I don't know) in men in the early twentieth century, prior to the isolation of testosterone, an example of quakery, or was this legitimate medicine? I'd really like to know. deisenbe (talk) 14:04, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

Robert Gorter[edit]

He may not be notable (at least in the English Wikipedia), but there is a Dutch court case which specifies that calling him a "quack" is not libelous. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 03:46, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

Nope, it is libelous, and it is also libelous in the US under certain circumstances. It is better to stay away from the contentious labels and pejorative terminology. Keep the statements encyclopedic. The case in Holland was about physician Sickesz being called a quack by Renckens. In December 2003 an attorney for Sickest directed Renckens to stop calling her a quack. She filed suit on August 4, 2005, and the lower court ruled against her. "The court accepted the explanation of the VtdK of the term 'kwakzalver' or curer, namely that it didn't imply the intent to deceive." Sickesz appealed on May 31, 2007, and won the appeal. The use of the term is libelous in Holland. [3] [4] The case you're talking about is a different case in Belgium. It was Gorter vs Skepp & Betz. Gorter lost in the lower court, appealed and won most of his argument but not all. The court ruled that use of the terms quack and quackery were libelous. Gorter is protected by the law, not because he appeals to (generally accepted Western) science but because it relies heavily on alternative 'medicine' (anthroposophy, acupuncture, homeopathy and Ayurvedic medicine) and his "experience" as a cancer patient. Because he himself believes in him is no 'ill will' or cunning to charge. They used the Sickesz ruling as caselaw. They can say his treatments don't work, are not supported by science, etc. which is basically what we've been arguing for 3 months to modify in Griffin. There is no need to use contentious material because it reflects badly on our professionalism and lowers the quality of information we provide to readers. [5] For example, scientifically unsupported, and not FDA approved is factual, dispassionate, and accurately described, and it sounds so much better than quackery. [6] AtsmeConsult 07:03, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

Antiquackery classics posted[edit]

The Quackwatch website has posted the complete texts of two volumes of Nostrums and Quackery: Articles on the Nostrum Evil, Quackery and Allied Matters Affecting the Public Health; Reprinted, With or Without Modifications, from The Journal of the American Medical Association. Volume I was published in 1912. Volume II was published in 1921. The books, which total more than 1,500 pages, are no longer copyrighted. (From an announcement by Barrett.) -- BullRangifer (talk) 05:08, 1 July 2015 (UTC)