Medicine News of the Weird Politics


Fellow ScienceBloggers Ed, PZ, Afarensis, Tim, and John have all been having loads of fun beating up on a rather amusing and pathetic project known as Conservapedia, which, according to its creators, is designed to “combat the liberal bias” in Wikipedia. There’s not much for me to add, except that I noticed one particularly amusing howler in Conservapedia’s Examples of Liberal Bias in Wikipedia page:

Wikipedia’s entry for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a conservative group, features a rant against the group by a British journalist who was a former press officer for the leftist Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.[1] The only cited credential for the journalist is that he works for a television “programme-production company,” and there is no citation for any of the factual claims in his intemperate and misleading description of the group, which were prompted by an independent criticism in England of the journalist’s own work. After receiving a complaint about this, Wikipedia trimmed this rant but still kept most of it, reflecting Wikipedia’s bias. Preserving this unpublished diatribe is against Wikipedia policy (e.g., NPOV), but it Wikipedia administrators insist on keeping it. Wikipedia’s entry also features another liberal journalist’s swipe at AAPS from … 40 years ago!

Here’s what the Wikipedia entry says about The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS):

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS)[11], until 2003 named the Medical Sentinel[12][13], is the journal of the association. It’s mission statement includes “… a commitment to publishing scholarly articles in defense of the practice of private medicine, the pursuit of integrity in medical research … Political correctness, dogmatism and orthodoxy will be challenged with logical reasoning, valid data and the scientific method”. Articles in the journal are subject to a double-blind peer-review process[14].

The journal is not listed in the major journal databases of PubMed[15] nor the Web of Science[16]. Quackwatch lists it among untrustworthy nonrecommended periodicals[17]. WHO found that a 2003 article on vaccination published in the journal had “a number of limitations which undermine the conclusions drawn by the authors”[18]. Investigative journalist Brian Deer states that the journal “is barely credible as an independent forum for such material. No objective medical scientist with important information of any standard would submit it to such a publication, unless they couldn’t get it published anywhere else”[19].

That’s actually a pretty mild description of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and JPandS. In truth, they’re a bunch of ultra-libertarian, antivaccination whackjobs, and their “journal” reflects that fully with its racist tirades against illegal aliens, antivaccination screeds, and HIV/AIDS denialist posturings, as I described so long ago.

Oh, and Conservapedia apparently doesn’t like mandatory vaccination, either:

Wikipedia’s entry for the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) reads like an advertisement for vaccine manufacturers, including unsupported and implausible claims about vaccination.[11] Unsupported claims featured there include “Vaccine makers indicated they would cease production if their proposal for the NCVIA was not enacted” and “concern that the NCVIA may not provide an adequate legal shield.” Wikipedia’s entry omits references to leading pro-parent websites concerning vaccination,[12] and instead Wikipedia’s entry lists pro-government and pro-vaccine-manufacturer websites.

I agree with PZ. How long before parodists sneak in to edit articles to make them subtle (or even not-so-subtle) parodies of far right wingnuttery? Or has it already happened?

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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