Mr Wikipedia and Homeopathy

This weekend, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales posted an interesting piece to his Quora blog regarding homeopathy.

It turns out that a London pharmacist tried to sell him Oscillococcinum to cure his cold, and at the same time told him that it would ‘disrupt the DNA of the virus before it makes [him] ill.’

I guess if you’re reading this, then you already know that the evidence for homeopathy’s efficacy above placebo is, to put it mildly, poor, but what is possibly surprising is that Jimmy Wales is pretty clued up on this as well.

Wales describes Oscilloccinum as a ‘completely hoax product,’ and then goes onto explain neatly how it’s produced and the likelihood of the product containing any molecule of duck liver.

So far, so good, so what, you say. And in some ways, I agree. Pretty much anyone with a skeptical mind will have looked at the theory and evidence behind homeopathy, found them lacking and be able to explain the above in a similar way – but this isn’t just anyone. This is Jimmy Wales, Mr Wikipedia. One of the most influential web presences in the world.[citation needed]

Perhaps his interest in this isn’t exactly surprising, especially given Jimmy himself admits his personal philosophy is based on reason. I mean, there isn’t much that’s reasonable about homeopathy! But the real interest here is the value that Jimmy’s voice can add to the battle against homeopathy. Having someone with Jimmy’s world and Internet presence, could be a real boost to skeptical and scientific efforts.

Already, people have been reaching out to point Jimmy in the direction of the ten23 campaign and Jimmy has contacted Martin Robbins and Jo Brodie via twitter to discuss his blogpost, and it’s been noticed by Ben Goldacre and Edzard Ernst among others.

This is the perfect opportunity to push homeopathy over the edge, after all, Jimmy Wales and Wikipedia stopped SOPA, why shouldn’t homeopathy be next?

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5 Responses

  1. Shaun Sellars says:

    Absolutely right, both of you.

    The idea was to highlight the opportunity arising from someone of the profile of Jimmy Wales taking a stance against homeopathy.

    Lets hope that this chance isn’t wasted.

  2. David says:

    You’re right Peter, that’s not explicitly mentioned, though I don’t think Shaun was going for an all out attack on homeopathy with this post.

    On a separate point, I’m very much enjoying the comedy use of the “[citation needed]”. Nicely done, Sir!

  3. Peter Vintner says:

    All homeopathic products are “hoax” or “bogus” products.

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