Wikipedia:Fringe theories/Noticeboard

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Kombucha tea[edit]

A fermented tea for which some health claims are made, and which some sources describe as being suspected of harmful (even very harmful) side effects. There have been some heated exchanges on this in recent days, and some editors are holding that describing kombucha as being associated with fatalities is a "fringe" view falling under WP:FRINGE. Wise eyes from fringe-savvy editors may help. Alexbrn (talk) 14:23, 16 June 2015 (UTC)

Home brewing is dangerous regardless of what you are trying to make. Potential contamination is very difficult to eliminate when you are developing methods from the ground-up and methanol production is obviously a risk in kombucha production. Still, it seems a little strange to me that the WARNING DANGERS! notice is found so prominently in the lead of that article. Seems to me that the most notable thing about this drink is that it often gets pulled from the shelves for containing too much alcohol. jps (talk) 15:02, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
(Comment from involved contributor) There is no 'fringe theory' involved here. In fact beyond the common knowledge that jps reiterates above - that fermentation in uncontrolled conditions can create toxins - there is no theory involved at all. Just a simple reliably sourced statement that there have been fatalities associated with kombucha. AndyTheGrump (talk) 15:27, 16 June 2015 (UTC)
Two 2014 journal reviews have noted the toxicity reports are unsupported and further concluded that research indicates kombucha has potential health benefits as an antioxidant and probiotic. Kombucha tea is a popular trendy drink that is commercially produced and marketed as a health drink. There are no RCT to confirm its efficacy in humans. Re: reports of toxicity - every book and paper written on the toxicity issues (and there aren't many) refer to the same small group of case reports, most of which date back 15 years; nothing within the past 5 years. They are exceptional claims that are scientifically unsupported and require exceptional sources. The case reports are from a small group of people, are random, and there are few deaths including one rare case that involves an HIV patient. Aspirin has taken a much higher toll. Sorry, but inclusion of anecdotal reports is noncompliant with MEDRS, is UNDUE and should also be considered FRINGE. --Atsme๐Ÿ“ž๐Ÿ“ง 19:13, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm also an involved contributor on that page. Some products collect lots of case reports of adverse effects while others, like kombucha, collect only a few. If there are only a few adverse effect reports for kombucha, then every review of kombucha is going to include those same reports and this doesn't mean that the case reports are invalid or that the reviews including them can't be used. Once adverse effects have been reported and plausibly linked to a product, that link is considered scientifically supported until or unless it's proven that the product could not have caused that effect. It's like a light switch: once the switch is flipped to "true" (or "plausible"), then the switch stays in that position until research actually flips it to "false" (or "not plausible"). The switch has to be actively flipped through research that contradicts or disproves previous research; excluding previous research is not the same. This means that even if these case reports happened 25 years ago, they're still valid because no research has shown that they're not valid. Finally, as far as I can see, the 2014 reviews either say only that adverse effect reports are very rare or they don't mention adverse effects at all; either way, they specifically don't say that kombucha didn't cause those adverse effects (ie, they don't flip that switch to false) which means that the adverse effect case reports nd the reviews that include and discuss them are still scientifically valid. Ca2james (talk) 20:47, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
I remain optimistic that the contributors on this noticeboard understand that repeating the same anecdotal case reports in RS using the same information doesn't magically make them anything but anecdotal case reports that have been repeated, which does not lend credence to their validity. Atsme๐Ÿ“ž๐Ÿ“ง 22:06, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
If a reliable source states that there have been deaths, they are not 'anecdotes', regardless of how many times you repeat that ridiculous assertion. AndyTheGrump (talk) 22:44, 18 June 2015 (UTC)
AndyTheGrump, your statement about fermentation needs references which specifically refer to kombucha; otherwise this is original research. A number of original statements related to deaths, like the Pharmacology for Health Professionals ref used in the kombucha article, include qualifiers like "the cause could not be directly attributed to the kombucha".Dialectric (talk) 01:51, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
My statement needs nothing - it isn't in the article, and I'm not proposing to add it. And for the record, WP:OR explicitly states that "This policy of no original research does not apply to talk pages". AndyTheGrump (talk) 02:03, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

โ”Œโ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”˜ Ca2james nails how mainstream science treats these case reports - and WP needs to be in-line with mainstream science. Since there are number of RSs to choose from which properly reflect this, and raise concerns about the possible harms of kombucha, this is easily done. Our article is looking in pretty good shape now wrt health. The fringe claims are not those around kombucha's safety profile, but around the widespread scams (which one can see for oneself with some simple googling) based around assertions that kombucha will cure cancer, etc. Readers coming to Wikipedia need to find accurate health information here. Alexbrn (talk) 03:28, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

The 'accurate health information' appears to be that there isn't any obvious health benefit in drinking the stuff... AndyTheGrump (talk) 03:35, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
Indeed so. There seems to be a widespread anecdote that Ronald Reagan drank kombucha to stave-off cancer, which may be at the root of the various health scams, but I can't find any RS on this detail ... Alexbrn (talk) 03:42, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

The article is like a stub. Needs some work. QuackGuru (talk) 04:05, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

Re: the death. I think it is an interesting fact about kombucha. I'm not convinced it is lede-worthy because, frankly, there are lots of things that people eat and drink for fun and non-existent health benefits that have caused deaths and we don't tend to highlight those in other articles, as far as I know -- especially not when the number of deaths is at least one. I don't think there is enough evidence to say that the dangers associated with kombucha are any greater than those of any other highly fermented drink (compare, e.g., kvass), but the difference here, obviously, is that the drink is often explicitly pushed as a health tonic. I think the current version of the lede is pretty good, in all honesty. jps (talk) 16:56, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

The one death is usually stated as "linked with" or "after drinking", because all we know is that the person who died had also consumed kombucha over a few months. So it wouldn't be supported to say that kombucha caused this death. --Amble (talk) 17:39, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
The association is much stronger than simply correlation, but I agree that causation is not the appropriate sense of the report. Currently, the article uses the correct term: "associated". jps (talk) 17:44, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
What are you basing this on? The case report says "possibly associated", not "associated", and does not claim to demonstrate a correlation. --Amble (talk) 17:59, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
An association is always "possible" and never "certain". I can't think of a case to the contrary, so I don't object to that particular adverb being added though I'd argue it's unnecessary. It's pretty clear that there was no other identifiable cause of the toxicity in the case of the woman who died. It is also possible that there was some other causal agent that was missed, but the particular case is striking in its connection between known features of kombucha toxicity and the fatality. [1]. jps (talk) 18:33, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
The fact that the authors of the report chose to use the deliberately indefinite phrasing "possible association" does not align with your statement that "The association is much stronger than simply correlation". What are you basing your statement on? Also, where do you see evidence for a "connection between known features of kombucha toxicity and the fatality"? The woman who died had peritonitis fecal contamination of the peritoneal cavity; are you suggesting that's a "known featur[e] of kombucha toxicity"? It would seem to me rather to constitute an identifiable cause of toxicity apart from kombucha, especially given that the patient's kombucha was tested and did not reveal any such contamination. --Amble (talk) 18:46, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
It wasn't a correlation since this wasn't teased out from statistical data. This is a case study. As I said, I see no issue with including the word "possible", but I find it redundant. Peritonitis can be a feature toxic exposure, absolutely. Your sentence, "It would seem to me rather to constitute an identifiable cause of toxicity apart from kombucha, especially given that the patient's kombucha was tested and did not reveal any such contamination." flatly contradicts the CDC report and seems a bit ignorant considering that peritonitis can be a symptom of toxic exposure and tests on an ingested substance must be done for specific pathogens and toxins and cannot be done for symptomatic contamination of the victim's peritoneal cavity. jps (talk) 18:58, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm asking for sources for the statements you've made, namely that "[T]he association is much stronger than simply correlation" and "the particular case is striking in its connection between known features of kombucha toxicity and the fatality". Please provide. --Amble (talk) 19:05, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure the source provided explains all that. jps (talk) 20:04, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
Then it should be easy to concretely back up your statements from the source. --Amble (talk) 20:06, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
I think I already did that. jps (talk) 20:21, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
Not seeing anything at all in the source that supports an association "much stronger than correlation", since the authors' language is much more tentative; or lists any "known features of kombucha toxicity". --Amble (talk) 00:35, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

The reason the article is short is because there are very few reliable sources on the topic. There could be high quality books available to expand the page.. QuackGuru (talk) 17:48, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

"The consumption of Kombucha has been associated with some adverse effects including muscle inflammation, poisoning, infection, and the death of at least one person.[16][17][2] Some adverse health effects may be due to the acidity of the tea; brewers have been cautioned to avoid over-fermentation.[18]"

I think these two sentences can be improved without the word "some". Not sure why the word "some" is used in both sentences. QuackGuru (talk) 18:06, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

I took out the first instance of "some". The second one makes sense as a modifier as some but not all adverse effects are related to over fermentation. Ca2james (talk) 21:36, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
Are there any editors participating in this discussion who are not involved at Kombucha, either editing or participating in the TP discussion? What I'm seeing here is the same song second verse sung by the same choir, and so far, it hasn't resolved anything. Is the purpose of this discussion to get some kind of consensus that the toxicity/death claims are fringe? The answer is pretty obvious in the fact that there are approx 25 case reports out of hundreds of thousands of people around the world consuming the drink. I imagine Bayer wishes they could be so lucky.
  •  NBCNews, April 2010 Dr. Brent A. Bauer, an internist with the Mayo Clinic was interviewed: โ€œTo date, there hasnโ€™t been a single human trial reported in a major medical journal,โ€ he said.  โ€œThis doesnโ€™t mean that kombucha tea canโ€™t possibly have health benefits, it just means that at this time, thereโ€™s no direct evidence that it provides the benefits itโ€™s reported to have.โ€ 
  • The author of the article, Janet Helm, R.D. stated: "While kombucha may not be the miracle that some claim, it does represent an intriguing marriage of antioxidant-rich tea and probiotics."
  • Conclusions in two 2014 Journal Reviews confirm the antioxidant and probiotic properties in the fermented kombucha products. The reviews include the older research (and random anecdotal case reports which have been circulated in all the other sources, none of which give the toxicity claims any prominence beyond utilities that may be leaching lead and the products high acid content) but the 2014 reviews also include more recent research that was not included in the 2003 Ernst Review or in most of the other sources cited for the toxicity reports.  One of the 2014 reviews is equal in quality per IF to the 2003 Ernst review, the other surpasses it. A third review has recently surfaced that rates a 3.5 and is yet another high mid-quality review.  
  • All of the reviews, books, and academic reports mirror the same small group of case reports re: toxicity and a couple deaths, all of which qualiify them as anecdotal in MEDRS. It doesn't matter how brilliant a doctor or scientist is - they cannot draw conclusions without evidence and without evidence they're making assumptions and assumptions are not good science.
  • There is no evidence of causality - not one of the claims that link or associate toxicity to kombucha are supported by scientific evidence. Kombucha products are sold commercially, and are considered to be a trendy health drink according to RS. Science has confirmed the presence of antioxidants and probiotics in the fermented products but without clinical trials, we can't say it's "healthy" in Wiki voice, but we can certainly include what is stated in RS.  I don't understand what the head-scratching is all about or why the same group of editors are trying so hard to make the drink appear dangerous. That's FDA's job, not ours. Jiminy Cricket, 25 case reports is hardly worth mentioning beyond the FDA warning about safe prepartion and it was repealed long ago.
  • MEDRS considers reviews to be the most reliable. We are in compliance with NPOV, MEDRS, and FRINGE by including scientifically supported information, properly identifying it, and sourcing it to RS per MEDRS.
  • The conclusions of the two 2014 reviews are in peer reviewed journals with editorial boards consisting of highly credible experts/academics.
  • The NBC coverage (there are also several other 3rd party sources with similar information) is another RS because it was written by qualified nutritionist.  
  • The fringe claims of toxicity or death are not prominent in any of the aforementioned sources and should not be given UNDUE in the Kombucha article.  That's pretty much covers what PAGs tell us.
Editors who may have difficulty understanding any of the information I've provided above might want to review the ARBCOM case on Fringe Science and the conclusion regarding NPOV. Atsme๐Ÿ“ž๐Ÿ“ง 02:35, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
Certainly the ArbCom case on fringe claims may be relevant - specifically in regard to your repeated ridiculous characterisations of reliably-sourced statements that kombucha has been associated with fatalities as 'fringe'. Do you want to take this to ArbCom, or would you prefer someone else to do so? AndyTheGrump (talk) 03:22, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
And further to this, can you please explain why you are simultaneously claiming that "toxicity/death claims are fringe" and asserting that a source which explicitly makes such claims is RS? AndyTheGrump (talk) 03:48, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
A news story like the NBC article is a reliable source for non-health information but it cannot be used to support health claims as it does not conform to MEDRS. No one is trying to make the drink appear dangerous. The majority of editors working on the article are attempting to provide an accurate, neutral summary article that includes an accurate, neutral summary of any benefits or risks associated with Kombucha consumption. The current version of the article does this. Ca2james (talk) 04:42, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
The mention of anthrax recently added to the article is more dubious than the mentions of related deaths. A single case from Iran becomes an 'association' apparently relevant enough to be included in the article.Dialectric (talk) 05:56, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Because the edit does not contain any material which is in violation of WP:FRINGE guideline. You might have been trying to argue that the edit is unduly weighted, but that's something for a different board to consider. jps (talk) 12:37, 20 June 2015 (UTC)

The following sentence was deleted from the article. A 2003 Edzard Ernst systematic review found that the mostly unclear benefits do not outweigh the known risks.[2] QuackGuru (talk) 03:27, 21 June 2015 (UTC)

Yes unclear why? Doc James (talk ยท contribs ยท email) 07:46, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
Because its scientifically unsupported, that's why. For the same reason we can't link the death of an athlete to an energy drink he consumed just prior to his death. For the same reason we can't link case reports to Atrazine, or GMF. For the same reason we cannot say kombucha has curative properties but we can say it is a healthy drink for the same reasons black tea is considered to be and is scientifically supported in at least 3 Journal reviews. Case reports linking kombucha products to toxicity and/or death are anecdotal and do not meet the lowest standards of MEDRS - it doesn't matter how many reviews those claims are published in, remember? FDA doesn't seem to be concerned, either - they pulled their warning. The case reports included in the Ernst review were poor, nonspecific, scientifically unsupported and did not confirm causality much less that it had anything at all to do with the drink. It involved a small group of people, all of which had other issues to boot. I am amazed by the questions being asked and the statements being made by medical editors because quite frankly this is information even a layperson can decipher. Why should we treat kombucha any differently from the way we treat other drink articles that fall in the same category? I really don't see where this noticeboard is helpful considering the same editors are arguing the same points and we're not getting any feed back from uninvolved medical editors. --Atsme๐Ÿ“ž๐Ÿ“ง 01:17, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm uninvolved but not a medical editor. Having said that, I would have thought that the Ernst source would meet WP:MEDRS. Personally, I would drink it if I tried it and liked it, and not if I didn't like it. By the way, jps, I'm not sure that all fermentation carries risks - risks over and above preparation of any food and drink - otherwise I wouldn't make yoghurt or sourdough bread. Itsmejudith (talk) 10:06, 29 June 2015 (UTC)

The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History[edit]

The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views)

Is this book, replete with fringe theories and written by the white supremacist, Michael H. Hart, notable enough for an article? I can really only find reviews in the white supremacist circles.

For that matter, is Michael H. Hart himself notable enough for a biography?

jps (talk) 17:48, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

I'm not seeing any noteable mention of the book from secondary sources currently used in the article, so I'd look to just delete it. Reference #6 doesn't even mention the book and only appears to be used as WP:SYNTHESIS. Reference #4 is the only seemingly independent source used to mention the book. I'd be iffy about it though considering that The Fountain does appear to take an Islamic point of view in their publications, so they really only seem to use Hart's ranking as a springboard for a very different discussion with next to nothing about the book itself. I'd say the book isn't notable enough for inclusion based on what I've seen so far at least. Kingofaces43 (talk) 18:04, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
Startlingly, I see a lot of familiar faces on the talkpage, but no one has seemed to notice the notability problems. Maybe because of the insider baseball connection to Top 100 historical figures of Wikipedia? I just removed some original research and WP:ONEWAY violations on that page, but I'm dubious as to whether that page should survive either (perhaps a discussion better left for another board since I don't see much in the way of fringe theories at that article, TBH). jps (talk) 18:18, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

Related, anyway: Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Top 100 historical figures of Wikipedia. We should continue to discuss the other articles more relevant to WP:FRINGE for possible adjustment. jps (talk) 22:27, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

  1. It's a fairly notable book. I've got a copy. A lot of people do. It's remained in print since its publication and there's been a second edition. You see it mentioned on the web (try Google search) here and there in reasonably serious venues,
  2. There's nothing -- nothing -- fringe in the book whatsoever, with the singe and sole exception that in the second edition Hart decided to replace Shakespeare with Edward de Vere on the grounds that he had become convinced that de Vere had written the stuff attributed to Shakespeare. OK, that's one of 100. The other 99 entries are valid (and of course, the entry for the person who wrote Shakespeare is valid, it's just that Hart has (what most people would agree is) the wrong person).
  3. I get that you don't like Mr Hart, which is understandable, and I gather that he's some kind of white supremacist which is regrettable, and maybe as he's aged he's gone a bit off the deep end... but there's nothing of that in the book. Hart's rankings are sensible, cogently argued, succinctly stated, and so forth -- which is probably a reason why the book remains in print and remains reasonably notable. If you want to argue for deletion of the article on pure notability grounds, take it to WP:AFD -- but leave WP:FRINGE, which has utterly nothing to do with this book (well, except the de Vere thing) out of it. Herostratus (talk) 00:28, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
As far as I can tell, there is no particular rhyme or reason to the ranking system that Hart employed except Hart's say-so. I'd say that's pretty fringe in the sense of it being the idea of one crazed individual. Also, isn't the book self-published? jps (talk) 02:19, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

To get this back on track, whether the book is fringe, or Hart is a white supremacist, or his ranking method is stupid and arbitrary has nothing to do with whether there should be an article on the book. The only relevant question is whether there is evidence of notability. After all Mein Kampf is a blue link. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 02:25, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

Agreed. On the other hand, it is still an outstanding question as to why certain non-notable books have articles and others do not. WP:PROFRINGE can enter in to such a discussion. I'm having a very hard time figuring out why this article exists at all. jps (talk) 02:40, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
It's a legitimate question. I don't think that it applies in this case. I could be wrong about that. The article's existed since 2004, it's a reasonably interesting (if not deep) book and conversation-starter that somebody felt like writing about, probably, and in this case I don't think there's anything more than that to it. Hart's other proclivities are just a coincidence, I think. Herostratus (talk) 22:19, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
I've been doing a bit more research. It seems the book has been translated into many different languages and is published by Citadel [3]. Not having a lot of luck finding many reviews from notable reviewers. A lot of Islamic apologists seem to like the book because Muhammad is given the #1 slot, in spite of the author's Islamophobic proclivities. Can anyone dig up any reviews from its first release if possible? jps (talk) 22:42, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

Cute, but...[edit]

Fear,_uncertainty_and_doubt#Food_Babe - yes, I did say that (and I did not hear it from anyone else first and don't know of any mentions before that), but I don't count myself much of an authority. Guy (Help!) 17:19, 23 June 2015 (UTC)


FYI, there's a complaint at the biographies of living persons noticeboard from a notable person who doesn't like being called "fringe" even at an article talk page.

I think Wikipedia's nomenclature in this area is horrendous. We call a Sasquatch/UFO theory "fringe" which is fine, but then we insist on calling virtually every other non-mainstream theory "fringe" as well. This is a recipe for confusion and indignation. To top it all off, WP:Fringe offers a set of examples that are only of the Sasquatch/UFO type, thus undercutting the allegedly broad Wikipedia definition of "fringe". The whole thing is highly f*cked up, IMHO.Anythingyouwant (talk),

Can you point out where anyone has called the person "Fringe" rather than the specific claim being put forth? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 05:44, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
If you mean that the person's ideas were called "fringe", rather than the person himself being called "fringe", that may be true, but the same remarks of mine apply to that. I dislike being called an idiot about as much as I dislike my words or thoughts being called idiotic.Anythingyouwant (talk) 05:49, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Eh, WP:FRINGE is not meant to be "broad". It's meant precisely to be a minority idea in the context of consensus WP:MAINSTREAM knowledge. The term is intentionally chosen to be non-judgmental (read WP:NPOV) in the sense that there is no particular reason to think that a fringe idea couldn't one day become mainstream or vice versa (the word fringe literally refers to the edge of a tapestry, for example, and when it was first applied to ideas as in fringe festival was actually something of a positive thing -- but then euphemism treadmill... so). The problem is often that people who have fringe ideas tend to not to like being lumped with other people with different fringe ideas. Global warming denialists hate being compared to creationists who hate being compared to perpetual motion enthusiasts who hate being compared to ufologists who hate being compared to quantum mystics who hate being compared to geocentrists who hate being compared to flat earthers and so on. The thing is, we at Wikipedia are not equipped to figure out which of these myriad of minority ideas are worthy of more consideration than the others. So WP:RS we take it and move along. There are instances where people insist that an idea is "fringe" when it is strictly not in the Wikipedia sense. These tend to be in the area of religion, politics, and social conflicts especially. jps (talk) 02:28, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
There's a difference between a 49% minority and a .01% minority, and there's no reason to lump them together. The 49% is a large minority theory. The .01% is a tiny minority.Anythingyouwant (talk) 02:37, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Those are very particular numbers you choose there. Examples might help. What 49% minority theory is being maltreated, for example, by this guideline (which would, along with WP:WEIGHT, encourage Wikipedia to use about 49% of its space to present the minority idea in comparison to the 51% majority, for example)? jps (talk) 02:56, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
According to WP:Fringe, "We use the term fringe theory in a very broad sense to describe an idea that departs significantly from the prevailing or mainstream view in its particular field." Sรธ if the 49% theory has aspects that depart significantly from the 51% theory then we slap a "fringe" label on the 49% theory. I'm just going by the policy here. If practice ignores policy, well, that just makes everything even more weird. Now, if an article gives 49% of its space to describing the 49% theory that's fine, but still it seems quite unnecessary to toss around the label "fringe" which is easily misunderstood as referring to the really bonkers .01% stuff.Anythingyouwant (talk) 03:20, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Again, it would help if you would be specific about which idea you feel is being slapped. jps (talk) 09:48, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
I linked at the start of this section to a BLPN discussion, and that is specifically why I came here.Anythingyouwant (talk) 17:29, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
The discussion linked does not comport with an example of 49% vs. 0.01%. Try again. jps (talk) 18:32, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
The hypotheticals corresponding to 49% and .01% are hypotheticals, obviously. The discussion linked is a more concrete example. You said above: "There are instances where people insist that an idea is 'fringe' when it is strictly not in the Wikipedia sense." Those instances happen, I think, because the Wikipedia guideline defines "fringe" so broadly: "We use the term fringe theory in a very broad sense to describe an idea that departs significantly from the prevailing or mainstream view in its particular field."Anythingyouwant (talk) 18:54, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

โ”Œโ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”˜I don't think that this is a particularly controversial definition of what is fringe. Your hypothetical rather proves the point, in my estimation. As for the discussion at BLPN, I am going to need some crib notes here to understand what you think the problem is. Apparently you think there is some idea that is being falsely labeled as "fringe", but I what I need you to do is identify what that particular idea is and why it is being so falsely labeled. Then we can see if its the guideline that's causing the problem or something else. jps (talk) 21:13, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Per the BLPN link initially provided above, one of the people who employed the term fringe said it was "merely a comment that your opinion-pieces do not reflect the mainstream coverage". That seems to comply with the current definition at WP:Fringe, "We use the term fringe theory in a very broad sense to describe an idea that departs significantly from the prevailing or mainstream view in its particular field." All I am saying is that it would be better to limit the definition of "fringe" to more outlandish stuff, rather than to every theory that differs in some significant way from the prevailing theory.Anythingyouwant (talk) 21:27, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Respectfully, maybe you're overreacting a bit here? Ultimately, we are here to write an encyclopedia. If someone on a noticeboard discussion loosely uses a term that happens to comport loosely with this guideline, the question is what is the harm it is doing to the encyclopedia? Do you think there is some problem with this term being so used on talkpages in normal (if maybe heated) conversation that would have a direct and negative impact on content? Your hypothetical really didn't do it for me, you see. jps (talk) 21:33, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
The word "fringe" is inflammatory. If you want this word to be used for any theory that departs significantly from a leading theory, then fine, but I respectfully object. Perhaps you're overreacting to my objection.Anythingyouwant (talk) 21:38, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
You should think about why you think the word "fringe" is inflammatory. Above, I pointed out how it's actually less inflammatory than other vocabulary. "Against the mainstream" is another synonym. "Minority report" another. At some point you use these terms enough and someone finds fault with them. Really, "fringe" is an embellishment on the edge of a tapestry. jps (talk) 21:50, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
The word is inflammatory because of its normal English definition. Per Fringe theory, "the term is commonly used in a narrower sense as a pejorative roughly synonymous with pseudo-scholarship." Likewise, dictionaries commonly define fringe as "Those members of a group or political party holding extreme views". Using the word for all minority views (even ones that are not considered extreme or irrational or outside the realm of possibility) is bound to be inflammatory.Anythingyouwant (talk) 22:11, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Unconvincing. I think you may have missed where I mentioned the "euphemism treadmill". If you want to keep coming up with synonyms for toilet, feel free to propose them. jps (talk) 20:42, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
I find your reply unconvincing. I have no objection to using the word "fringe" for ideas that are extreme. But using that word for ideas that are not extreme is unnecessary, and likely to be inflammatory. Since you don't acknowledge the existence of any problem, it's doubtful that we could ever agree on a solution. Thanks for the discussion.Anythingyouwant (talk) 21:13, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

It's also a completely inaccurate interpretation of WP:FRINGE. The guideline spends quite some time detailing "alternative theoretical formulations" and explaining how they are not pseudoscience, and, while they should be compared to the mainstream, shouldn't be dismissed as pseudoscience. The key word in "an idea that departs significantly" is "significantly". It's the difference between, say, species selection (controversial, but not fringe) and creationism (pseudosience) Adam Cuerden (talk) 10:32, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Under Wikipedia policy, something can be "fringe" without being "pseudoscience". So the fact that something is not "pseudoscience" does not resolve my concernAnythingyouwant (talk) 17:29, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
"Departs" also deserves emphasis. Sources may argue against an idea, or ignore it entirely, without it being fringe, as long as it generally coheres with Western rationalism. Fringe theories depart not just from what the mainstream considers to be true, but what the mainstream considers to be conceivable. As an Wikipedia policy its meant to deal mainly with pseudoscience, or in some cases with conspiracy theories about historical events, where accepted scholarship is very clear. WP:UNDUE is the applicable policy in most cases; I do not think WP:FRINGE is a guideline that should be invoked at all when dealing with contemporary politics. Rhoark (talk) 15:30, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
User:Rhoark, you say, "Fringe theories depart not just from what the mainstream considers to be true, but what the mainstream considers to be conceivable." That's not in the policy now, is it? If so, where? If the mainstream view is that there is no chance that the minority view could be correct, then the policy should say that this is a requirement for a theory to be "fringe".Anythingyouwant (talk) 17:37, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
There is not a guidance page that says that. That's my interpretation constructed backwards from the topics that have broad agreement for being fringe. I think WP:FRINGE at present does not offer sufficient guidance on how being fringe differs from being undue, and how fringe material should be treated differently than material that is merely undue. Rhoark (talk) 17:45, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Okay, thanks. If I have time, then maybe I'll mention this at Wikipedia_talk:Fringe_theories.Anythingyouwant (talk) 18:30, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

โ”Œโ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”˜Sadly, more and more contemporary politics is intersecting with pseudoscience and other fringe theories. Global warming, GMOs, creationism, historical revisionism, nationalist mythologies, and alternative medicine are just a few of the areas that intersect with politics. Of course, the political questions associated with these controversies are only incidental to the WP:FRINGE aspects of these ideas. If a country decides to start a government astrologer post, that's not a WP:FRINGE issue, per se. The facts related to whether the astrologer is able to predict the future or not are, however. jps (talk) 15:57, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Looking at the actual discussion, the disputant appears to be consciously misinterpreting what's been said to him - David Gerard (talk) 16:11, 24 June 2015 (UTC)


An IP has determined that since Rupert Sheldrake and Brian Josephson treat parapsychology as science, the article should be framed as if only skeptics view it as a pseudoscience. Additional views are welcome. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 05:41, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Rupert Sheldrake[edit]

The Sheldrake Summer Squad has come again to attempt to argue that presenting in detail and unchallenged the claims from Sheldrakes books is appropriate. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 11:36, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

Discussion about interpreting WP:FRINGE[edit]

Following up on the consensus gap in the BLPN discussion above, I've started a place for discussion at Wikipedia_talk:Fringe_theories#Does_WP:FRINGE_establish_any_unique_guidelines.3F about how WP:FRINGE fits in the overall ecosystem of WP policies. Rhoark (talk) 21:33, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

This discussion has started to include proposals for changing or clarifying the definition of "fringe theory," so more input from editors experienced in fringe areas would be welcome. Sunrise (talk) 02:04, 28 June 2015 (UTC)

Primo-vascular system[edit]

A very odd article on a complete separate vascular system missed by all the "conventional" anatomical texts, discovered in 1962 and "confirmed" half a century later by a group of people who - purely coincidentally - seem to eb vested in promoting the doctrine of meridians in acupuncture. Guy (Help!) 14:01, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

Please note the related Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Kim Bong-han. jps (talk) 16:02, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

$$$ Reward levels for editing the science out of alt med articles? Need for sources on alt med marketing schemes.[edit]

This edit says, "Classifying Alternative Medicine as pseudoscience... Wikipedia is on a misinformation campaign against alternative health and the healing arts... Natural health deserves fair representation.... Weโ€™re going to set the record straight. We need your help and invite you to get involved in the process. Please check the various reward levels to discover how to participate."

An editor on the alt med talk page suggested more is needed on these kind of marketing schemes by alt med promoters, to create the illusion of scientific justification, biological plausibility, or that there may be energies undiscovered by physics that alt med studies can reveal by "systematic reviews" that admit to using imperfect studies, yet get published as showing efficacy anyway. Does anyone have RS sources for these marketing strategies? FloraWilde (talk) 15:49, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

The reward levels referred to are not for editing. They are for donations to a Kickstarter campaign (since discontinued) to fund the writing of an โ€œunbiasedโ€ book describing WPs supposed abuse of altmed topics [4]. - LuckyLouie (talk) 16:42, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. If the off-wiki campaign was discontinued in April 2015 (per the link you provided), do you know why this edit was made on June 25 2015? FloraWilde (talk) 16:48, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
There really is no way to know the motivation of an anonymous IP with only 6 previous edits. If their vandalism persists, you can file a report at WP:ANV. - LuckyLouie (talk) 16:58, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. I was more concerned about getting RS that respond to another editor's call for adding content on alt med marketing strategies, of which this edit is just one example. FloraWilde (talk) 17:04, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies[edit]

Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies (2nd nomination)

Comment, please.

jps (talk) 23:36, 26 June 2015 (UTC)


In the article acerola, on a tropical fruit, does source 5, an article in the journal Fruits, meet WP:MEDRS? It is used to support the idea that the Vitamin C in the fruit is more easily absorbed than synthetic Vitamin C. I would have thought that unlikely, or unknowable, or dependent on the amount of each consumed? Itsmejudith (talk) 09:49, 29 June 2015 (UTC)

There are multiple molecules that have Vitamin C-like activity. The source that is cited for this is a review article that attributes the claim to "Araรบjo P.S.R., Minami K., Acerola, Fundaรงรฃo Cargill, Campinas, SP, Brazil, 1994, 81 p." which looks to me like a job for Wikipedia:WikiProject_Resource_Exchange/Resource_Request. The review article does not name the supposed superior molecule. I would not consider this adequate for what should be regarded as a medical claim. Rhoark (talk) 15:29, 3 July 2015 (UTC)
I read the article and it's clear what's going on. It says "We can only absorb 50% of synthetic vitamin C," with the Araรบjo paper as the source. This probably refers to the fact that the plant would contain only the active enantiomer of ascorbic acid (called L-ascorbic acid). Synthetic ascorbic acid would typically be a racemic mixture and would contain 50% of the active enantiomer, L-ascorbic acid, and 50% inactive D-ascorbic acid. Roches (talk) 06:51, 5 July 2015 (UTC) in CIAโ€“al-Qaeda controversy[edit]

I have posted a question on WP:RSN regarding the use of in RT in CIAโ€“al-Qaeda controversy. - Location (talk) 20:48, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

Michael Corbin and Paranet Continuum[edit]

Michael Corbin (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) Paranet Continuum (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views)

Michael Corbin hosted Paranet Continuum, but I'm not finding coverage in reliable secondary sources. Feedback from others, particularly those familiar with the usual UFO-related sujects, is requested. - Location (talk) 03:43, 3 July 2015 (UTC)


Ufology (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views)

Has anyone looked at the sprawling mass that is ufology lately? It is atrocious โ€” full of original research and references to deleted articles along with what seems like reams of coatracked content.

I'm not even sure where to begin with a rewrite. Is there any social science text written on this subject which describes the particular pathological thinking that leads people to think of UFOs as worthy of serious consideration? I have occasionally crossed paths with people who argued as much, but when I press them they tend to run away from my specific inquiries.


jps (talk) 03:47, 4 July 2015 (UTC)

I wouldn't know where to begin. The section regarding COMETA should go as it appears to be built on primary sources and a discussion at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/COMETA found nothing to support its notability anyway. - Location (talk) 04:48, 4 July 2015 (UTC)

Robert S. Mendelsohn[edit]

Robert S. Mendelsohn (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views)

Biography of a doctor who "viewed modern medicine as an idolatrous religion" and who "questioned the necessity and safety of many childhood vaccinations", sourced entirely to the man's own books. It's impossible to tell from the current state of the article which parts of his teachings were reasonable criticisms (e.g. unnecessary radiation exposure in the US in the '60s) and which parts were fringe medical beliefs (e.g. antivax). Kolbasz (talk) 12:52, 4 July 2015 (UTC)

Mendelsohn was a crank, and no mistake. Guy (Help!) 22:53, 4 July 2015 (UTC)
That is what I gathered between the lines, but a casual Wikipedia reader cannot tell from the current state of the article. Kolbasz (talk) 01:07, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
There was an old version last edited by Krelnik that was less fawning. Then there was a rapid succession of edits by probably one person, initially as an IP and later with an account. These are clearly promotional, including the obsessive reference to the doctoral title which is characteristic of cranks promoting the views of the few medically qualified people whose views are ideologically consonant and removing reality-based criticism.
It doesn't help that he was portrayed as a critic of medicine - actually he was a critic of medical paternalism. We did not have an article on that, which was a surprise, so I started one. Guy (Help!) 12:03, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks! Kolbasz (talk) 12:41, 5 July 2015 (UTC)

List of people associated with vaccination[edit]

List of people associated with vaccination (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views)

Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/List of people associated with vaccination

The article apparently originated here back in 2011, so dropping a notice here for anyone involved. Kolbasz (talk) 13:52, 4 July 2015 (UTC)

Overton window[edit]

I thought this is a fringe theory proposed by a marginal politician, who has never been an academic scientist, and never seriously discussed as a real academic hypothesis. However, the lede makes an impression this is an established concept. Does anybody know more about this?--Ymblanter (talk) 12:35, 5 July 2015 (UTC)