Déjà vu all over again: “Natural medicine” wikis


Regular readers will know that über-quack Mike Adams got himself into a bit of a pickle last week. Basically, he wrote a now-infamous post in which he likened scientists working on GMOs to Nazi scientists and pro-science bloggers refuting the sort of nonsensical fear mongering (from a scientific perspective) Adams and other anti-GMO activists like to use to demonize GMOs, calling for a list of “Monsanto Collaborators.” And, lo and behold! Such a list appeared a couple of days later in a website called MonsantoCollaborators.org! (Note that the website now only returns a message, “Bandwidth allocation exceeded.”) Too bad Adams left his own digital fingerprints all over it. Although the evidence was not conclusive, it was very suggestive that Adams was also responsible MonsantoCollaborators.org, so much so that he now appears to be the subject of an FBI investigation. Meanwhile, Adams has been furiously backpeddling, claiming that the MonsantoCollaborator.org website was all a false flag operation planned in advance to discredit him.

It’s so enjoyable to see Adams hoisted on his own petard.

Now, because of his sheer looniness with respect to science, coupled with a penchant for New World Order conspiracy mongering, Adams is an entertaining topic in relatively small doses. That’s why I’m a bit leery of discussing him again, but in all the hubbub of Adams’ epic meltdown last week that clearly backfired on him, bringing him the sort of attention he didn’t want, I didn’t see anyone discussing Adams’ newest foray into the promotion of quackery. The reason is that I see a potential way for us to help Mr. Adams in this endeavor. Help him? you say? Yes! This is exactly the sort of thing that certain skeptics have a great deal of expertise in, as you will see!

Your see, last Wednesday, just as the kerfuffle over Adams’ Monsanto Collaborators rant was approaching its zenith, I received and e-mail from Adams. Well, not a personal e-mail. I am, however, on several quack e-mail lists, the better to have blogging material come to me, rather than having to seek it out myself. Here’s what Mike Adams sent out to his readers under the subject header “Be part of the launch of two new wiki “truth” websites for alternative health and science” (also seen here):

It’s time for an online wiki that finally told the truth. As you probably know, wikipedia has long been overtaken by Big Pharma interests who use wikipedia to deliberate smear natural medicine and all the people and organizations who are part of it. One of wikipedia’s key founders has openly said he is strongly opposed to alternative medicine, and it’s clear the wikipedia website is deliberately used as a tool to defame and disparage holistic doctors, non-profit groups and even healing nutrients!

It’s time to launch a wikipedia alternative that tells the truth about medicinal herbs, nutritional therapies, alternative cancer treatments, acupuncture, chiropractic medicine and all the people, groups and organizations that promote health freedom.

INTRODUCING two new wikis being launched right now: NaturalWiki.org – A site that aims to tell the truth about nutrients, natural medicine, holistic therapies, healing foods, superfoods, health product companies, alternative medicine doctors, practitioners, authors, educators and more.

TruthWiki.org – A site that dares to tell the truth about controversial and alternative topics: free energy, consciousness, parallel universes, the Federal Reserve, fluoride, aspartame, vaccines, etc… plus all the people and corporations who need to be exposed for who they truly are. (There’s almost nothing on these websites so far… they are in “pre-launch” phase and need your help.)

That’s right. Mike Adams, like many quacks and antivaccinationists (but I repeat myself), hate, hate, hate Wikipedia. Fortunately (and hilariously), one of the founders of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, basically told all the cranks and quacks complaining about being dissed on Wikipedia to go…well, you get the idea.

So apparently The One Quack To Rule Them All, Mike Adams, has decided to start his own wikis. Both of them are pretty much shells right now, with virtually nothing there. He does, however, have a sample entry on Oregano to demonstrate the format. It’s pretty unremarkable, except for claims like:

Oregano can help prevent a host of illnesses, including metabolic syndrome and cancer

These same compounds can also help prevent oxidative damage in cells, effectively protecting the body against chronic illness. Individuals with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and various other markers of metabolic syndrome or heart disease, for instance, stand to gain substantially from the inclusion of more oregano in their diets.

The same goes for people with dirty colons, chronic inflammation, osteoporosis, allergies, chronic fatigue and headaches. Numerous studies have identified oregano as containing active compounds that target each of these maladies and more, all without triggering any harmful side effects. Oregano is also a highly effective preventative food against cancer.

Actually, if there’s anything that stood out to me about the sample entry on NaturalWiki.org on Oregano, it’s how badly written it is. The other thing that struck me about the whole effort is a sense of déjà vu. For instance, it was just a year ago that Mike Adams breathlessly introduced SCIENCE.NaturalNews.com, which, or so he claimed, would index PubMed in such a way as to make it easier to use, as if PubMed wasn’t pretty darned easy to use to begin with. It was totally obvious that Adams’ real intent was not to create “a shortcut to knowledge that allows you to instantly discover relationships between nutrients and health, chemicals and diseases, medical therapies and side effects, and so on,” but rather to provide a search engine that would result in more pageviews and preferentially lead surfers to NaturalNews.com articles.

But that wasn’t the only reason I felt a sense of déjà vu. I could swear that Adams had tried something like this before, and all it took was a search of this very blog to find out that my memory was correct. Five years ago, I noted that Mike Adams had started a Wiki that he called Naturalpedia.org. Out of curiosity, I went back and browsed the Naturalpedia.org, and here’s what I found: A whole lot of nothing. There were some topics there, such as Germ Theory, Cancer, Living Fuel, and, of all things, Bodhi Soap Nuts. There’s not a single edit that is later than July 2009, which is when Adams first announced the Wiki. (Come to think of it, what is it with July and Mike Adams? He seems to like July as a time to launch ill-fated initiatives like this.)

All in all, Naturalpedia.org is a massive failure. I’m surprised that Adams still hosts it on his servers and hasn’t pulled the plug, because, five years later, what’s there is incredibly embarrassing. Alright, maybe it would be a waste of time for skeptics to bother to infiltrate, given how poorly Adams did the last time he tried to launch a wiki. Never mind.

On the other hand—and here’s where the shameless plug comes in—there is a wiki that is worth your effort. It’s at the Society for Science-Based Medicine (SfSBM), where we (yes, I’m involved) are converting Quackwatch into a wiki:

The Science-Based Medicine Wiki is a work in progress and currently is beta.

The content was generously donated by Dr. Barrett and we hope it will become a definitive resource for SBM, especially when links to the SBM blog are incorporated.

As of 7/3/14 the process of converting the entire Quackwatch sites into Wiki format is mostly complete. Those who helped did tremendous work, but it is only the start.

The next step will be organization of the pages, adding links within the Wiki, and linking to the SBM blog, cleaning up text etc.

Hopefully new content will be added in a year. We are considering the criteria for wiki editors, if you have suggestions please Email admin@sfsbm.org.

It is not difficult task, just enormous and a wee bit tedious. The perfect task to occupy those otherwise empty minutes of the day. 15 minutes a day summed over time can result in a remarkable amount of work being accomplished.

As you can see, the first phase, conversion of Quackwatch to a wiki, is almost complete. The next phase is listed above. Eventually (hopefully by sometime next year), we will need to begin to update the old entries, because, as amazing a resource as Quackwatch is, a lot of its articles (for instance, its articles about Stanislaw Burzynski) are quite out of date and cry out for updating. We will also need to add new articles because there have developed forms of quackery not adequately covered. In addition, we’ll also need entries on the basics of science-based medicine, such as Bayesian statistics, the difference between SBM and evidence-based medicine, etc. Stephen Barrett, founder of Quackwatch, has done amazing work, but he is only one man, and he is not a young man. We want his legacy to live on long after he is gone in a living document, a wiki that is continually updated and will serve as a resource for skeptics and supporters of science-based medicine indefinitely.

Now, there’s a worthy use of your time! Thanks, Mike Adams, for reminding me to send out a recruiting call. The SBM wiki is far more likely to turn into an actual self-sustaining wiki than anything Adams has done or will do.