Clean up the Wikipedia Acupuncture page to reflect medical and scientific consensus
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The acupuncture page on Wikipedia, in a flagrant violation of Wikipedia's Neutral Point of View Policy, currently states that "acupuncture is pseudoscience." Wiki's Neutral Point of View policy says, in a nutshell: "Articles must not take sides, but should explain the sides, fairly and without editorial bias. This applies to both what you say and how you say it."
Pseudoscience, according to Wikipedia, is determined by medical and scientific consensus. Throughout the years, volunteer editors have clearly demonstrated that considerable swathes of the mainstream medical and scientific community firmly support the use of acupuncture - position statements, medical consensus guidelines, Cochrane Reviews, and reviews of acupuncture's biological mechanism research clearly demonstrate that the statement 'acupuncture is pseudoscience' is controversial at best, which means that this categorisation of acupuncture violates Wikipedia's neutral point of view policy. Editors who attempt to update the article in line with high-quality medical references are consistently banned from editing.
Medical consensus guidelines that recommend acupuncture include:
- The Joint Commission, which accredits more than 21,000 hospitals, health care organizations and programs in the United States and globally, recommends acupuncture as a first-line treatment in the management of pain
- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) guideline on Non-invasive treatments for Low Back Pain found acupuncture to be amongst the most effective treatments (1)
- The Joint Clinical Practice Guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Low Back Pain recommends acupuncture (2)
- The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends acupuncture for a variety of pain conditions (3)
- The American college of occupational and environmental medicine’s practice guidelines recommend acupuncture (4)
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – National Institutes of Health Guidance on Low Back Pain recommend acupuncture (5)
- The State of Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation Medical Treatment Guidelines for Low Back Pain recommends acupuncture (6)
- The Institute for Health Economics Evidence-Informed Primary Care Management of Low Back Pain Alberta, Canada recommend a course of acupuncture for chronic low back pain (7)
- Scotland’s National Clinical Guideline for the Management of chronic pain recommends acupuncture for low back pain and osteoarthritis, characterising the strength of the evidence as Grade A (the highest support available) (8)
- The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends a course of acupuncture for the prevention of migraines and tension-type headaches. In fact, acupuncture is the only treatment recommended for the prevention of tension-type headaches
- The 4th Edition of “Acute Pain Management: Scientific Evidence,” Produced by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and Faculty of Pain Medicine, found Level I evidence for acupuncture for five different clinical indications (9)
- The World Health Organisation has developed a list of 27 conditions for which it recommends acupuncture after its evidence review (10)
These are all highly respected, mainstream medical institutions and they all recommend acupuncture in their consensus statements based on unbiased evidence reviews. Yet, the administrators of the page essential practice denialism and have consistently stated that merely providing evidence that acupuncture has this support is grounds for being banned, for example: "if you continue to claim that acupuncture has mainstream scientific validation, you have no future as an (sic) Wikipedia editor."
In order to maintain the position that the statement 'acupuncture is pseudoscience' is not controversial, even though it clearly is, the administrators who are controlling the acupuncture page are censoring this vast and growing body of evidence that presents a very different reality. They frequently make factually incorrect, unreferenced statements while ignoring and deleting high-quality peer-reviewed systematic reviews that contradict their opinion.
In 2014, you said: "Wikipedia's policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals - that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately." It is this evidence, from Cochrane, Harvard, the Journal Neuroscience, Plos and many others, that is being systematically censored by Wikipedia's administrators. Wikipedia is not remotely covering acupuncture appropriately, by your or any reasonable definition.
We fully recognise that there are those who believe acupuncture to be pseudoscience - these are typically members of vocal pseudoskeptical organisations, such as Guerilla Spepticism on Wikipedia (most of the editors and admins of the acupuncture Wikipedia article are members of such organisations) and a number of highly vocal Skeptical individuals. However, these groups constitute one opinion and do not reflect the overall medical consensus. Their opinion papers and websites constitute much weaker evidence than peer-reviewed evidence syntheses and institutional medical guidelines.
Those Wikipedia editors who point out the copious high-quality medically reliable sources that contradict the biased tone of the article are bullied and banned from editing, in a clear act of censorship and abuse of administrative powers. Last week alone, two editors were banned from editing the acupuncture article without having violated a single Wikipedia policy. Both editors had merely pointed out the violation of Wikipedia's neutral point of view policy, with the support of high-quality, peer-reviewed medical references published in mainstream publications. This state of affairs is completely unacceptable and puts the public at risk by denying access to a balanced and accurate perspective on evidence-based health care options. In the United States, the number one cause of accidental death (more than car accidents) is overdose from prescribed opioids for pain - the Wikipedia article misinforms patients, doctors and healthcare policy makers about an effective and safe treatment option for pain, unnecessarily increasing the risk to the public.
Wikipedia, which is a highly accessed source of medical information by medical professionals and patients alike, has a responsibility to ensure that articles accurately reflect the balance of information available and the appropriate participation of the editorial community through enforcing its guidelines. In the case of the acupuncture article, this process has clearly broken down. Valid, appropriate, evidence-based and referenced perspectives are being systematically silenced so that administrators can present their narrow opinions as scientific consensus.
Wikipedia: for the sake of accuracy, scientific integrity, and public health, please clean up the administration of the acupuncture article to be in line with your editorial and administrative policies so that the article can reflect best-evidence, not individual bias, and allow editors to remove acupuncture from the Pseudoscience category.
- Chou, R., Deyo, R., Friedly, J., Skelly, A., Hashimoto, R., Weimer, M., et al. (2016). Noninvasive Treatments for Low Back Pain.
- Chou, R., Qaseem, A., Snow, V., Casey, D., Cross, J. T., Shekelle, P., & Owens, D. K. (2007). Diagnosis and Treatment of Low Back Pain: A Joint Clinical Practice Guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society. Annals of Internal Medicine, 147(7), 478–491. http://doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-147-7-200710020-00006
- Kelly, R. B. (2009). Acupuncture for pain. American Family Physician
- Hegmann, K. T., Hughes, M. A., & Biggs, J. J. (2011). American college of occupational and environmental medicine’s occupational medicine practice guidelines. Elk Grove Village.
- NINDSs. (2014). Low Back Pain (pp. 1–32).
- State of Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. (2014). Low Back Pain Medical Treatment Guidelines, 1–117.
- Toward Optimized Practice (TOP) Low Back Pain Working Group. (2016). Evidence-informed primary care management of low back pain, 1–49.
- Network, S. I. (2013). SIGN 136; Management of Chronic Pain. Health Improvement Scotland; December.
- Schug, S. A., Palmer, G. M., Scott, D. A., Halliwell, R., & Trinca, J. (2016). Acute pain management: scientific evidence, fourth edition, 2015. The Medical Journal of Australia, 204(8), 315–317. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.acpain.2006.05.002
- World Health Organization. (2002). Acupuncture: Review and analysis of reports on controlled clinical trials.
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