|Wikipedia And Its Article On Dr. Rath
|Cementing The Power Of The Status Quo
|Parallels To Learn From
|The Facts Aren’t Welcome
|From the point of view of its founders, Wikipedia must surely be seen as a rip-roaring success. A multilingual, Web-based, free content encyclopedia project, created in 2001 and written collaboratively by volunteers from all around the world, it has rapidly grown to become one of the world’s top ten most popular web sites.
As the article below shows, Wikipedia can sometimes be highly inaccurate – especially so in the case of articles on subjects related to natural, non-pharmaceutical forms of healthcare. Moreover, by effectively forcing its editors to rely on medical journals, books published by “respected publishing houses” and mainstream newspapers for their references, the reality is that much of Wikipedia’s healthcare-related content is essentially just supporting the same pro-pharmaceutical and corporatist ideologies as are pumped out on a daily basis through the world’s Big Media and publishing outlets.
Whilst there is some controversy as to whether or not he should be credited as the sole founder, or the co-founder, of Wikipedia, there can be no doubt that Jimmy Wales, an American Internet entrepreneur, is its public figurehead. So far as the world’s media are concerned, Wales and Wikipedia appear to be becoming almost as synonymous as Gates and Microsoft, or Branson and Virgin. Perhaps not surprisingly therefore, it turns out that Wales has big ambitions for Wikipedia, as particularly demonstrated by the following two extracts from an interview he gave in 2004:
“It is my intention to get a copy of Wikipedia to every single person on the planet in their own language. It is my intention that free textbooks from our wikibooks project will be used to revolutionize education in developing countries by radically cutting the cost of content.”
“Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.”
Startling stuff, isn’t it? After all, if your ambition is for your website’s content to be used as the future basis for the education of the planet, you’d better make very sure that your content is accurate and that it encourages readers to approach new ideas with an open mind.
Despite all the hype that surrounds it, is where Wikipedia comes up rather sadly lacking. For, whilst its policies and guidelines are theoretically designed to ensure that articles are reliable and take a neutral point of view, the fact is, and as we shall see, that in practice this is unfortunately not always proving to be the case.
So far as its healthcare-related articles are concerned, the reality is that by effectively forcing its contributors to rely on what it sees as “reliable sources” for their material and references – e.g. orthodox medical journals, books published by “respected publishing houses”, mainstream newspapers and so on – far from providing free access to the sum of all human knowledge, Wikipedia is essentially just supporting the same pro-pharmaceutical and corporatist ideologies as are pumped out on a daily basis through the world’s Big Media and publishing outlets.
Think that last sentence was too strong?
Well, if you do – in other words, if you’re the sort of person who believes that everything you read in your daily newspaper and watch on the TV news must be true – (because newspapers and news agencies are free from bias and have a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy, right?) – then this might be a good moment to switch off your computer, pick up your daily newspaper or turn on the TV instead.
But if, on the other hand, you know that journalists telling us that taking vitamin supplements may shorten our life expectancy are sometimes put under pressure to back the studies making these claims, and that shadowy intelligence agencies are pumping out black propaganda to manipulate public opinion – and that the media simply swallow it wholesale, then you’ll know that what you read in your daily newspaper and watch on the TV news can sometimes be anything but reliable. By extension, therefore, the reality is that this also applies to what one reads on Wikipedia.
The areas of truth and objectivity are where Wikipedia comes up rather sadly lacking. For, whilst its policies and guidelines are theoretically designed to ensure that articles are reliable and take a neutral point of view, the fact is that this is clearly not always the case.
As absurd as it might sound, the threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. In other words, if readers are able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a so-called “reliable source“, then no further verification of its accuracy is required. It doesn’t matter one iota whether the material is true or not – or even, for that matter, whether Wikipedia or its editors think it is true – so long as the material can be shown to have been published by, say, the Reuters news agency or similar, it is considered suitably reliable for inclusion in Wikipedia.
To take an example about the distortion of Wikipedia information: Wikipedia reports: “In 2005, according to Reuters, the Foundation distributed tens of thousands of pamphlets in poor black South African townships claiming that HIV medication was “poison” and urging HIV-positive people to choose Rath’s vitamins instead.”
Wikipedia’s Source: The source used for this claim is a news story on the aegis.org website purporting to come from the Reuters news agency. AEGIS, the AIDS Education Global Information System (AEGIS), stated that its website was “made possible through unrestricted funding from Boehringer Ingelheim, … Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, … Roche and Trimeris,” all companies heavily involved in – and massively profiteering from – the multi-billion dollar ARV business built on the AIDS epidemic.The only other website of any note currently carrying the story is thebody.com, a site whose sponsors include Abbott Laboratories, BioForm Medical, Inc., Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Virology, Bio-Technology General Corp., Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Hoffman-La Roche Inc., Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., Merck & Co., Inc., Monogram Biosciences, Inc., Ortho Biotech Products, L.P., Pfizer Inc., Tibotec Therapeutics and Virco – again, all dependent with their drug sales on the continuation and spread of the AIDS epidemic.
The truth is: Whilst the Dr. Rath Health Foundation Africa has distributed information leaflets in South African townships to inform people of the dangers of ARV medication. The same leaflets informed the people of South Africa about the scientifically documented benefits of vitamins to improve immune system function. It is not true that they urged people to choose any particular brand of vitamins, either Dr. Rath’s or any other brand.
Moreover, despite the fact that the Dr. Rath Foundation supposedly distributed “tens of thousands” of pamphlets “urging HIV-positive people to choose Rath’s vitamins,” it should be noted that nobody has yet produced a single copy of one of them to verify this claim. Which, of course, they never will, because the Foundation has never distributed any pamphlet making this statement. For anybody who is interested to know what these pamphlets did in fact say, they can be found online here, here and here.
In most normal encyclopedias, articles are written by people who are experts on the subjects they are writing about. In other words, you wouldn’t expect to find articles on subjects such as Alternative Medicine; Megavitamin therapy; Naturopathic medicine and Orthomolecular medicine being written by orthodox doctors and proponents of pharmaceutical medicine. On Wikipedia however, with a small number of exceptions, literally anyone who visits the site can edit any article. As a result, its articles on non-pharmaceutical forms of medicine tend to be written from a highly sceptical standpoint and are effectively “policed” by editors exhibiting a strong and open bias towards pharmaceutical medicine.
One example of such an editor is a Wikipedia Administrator known as ‘MastCell‘, who, right from his very first edits in August 2006, made it immediately apparent that his primary interest and knowledge base – and probably even his career – centers around the practice of pharmaceutical-based medicine. (Intriguingly, therefore, Ilena Rosenthal – a natural health-orientated editor who has been banned indefinitely by Wikipedia – has suggested that ‘MastCell’ is “probably” David H. Gorski, formerly an Associate Professor at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, currently a surgical oncologist at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Michigan, United States).
A member of Wikipedia’s WikiProject Medicine, the first article MastCell edited was on bone marrow examination. After this he moved on to contributing to articles on pharmaceutical drugs such as Dasatinib; Vinblastine; Doxorubicin; Bleomycin and Dacarbazine; and to articles on medical specialities including bone marrow; hypernatremia; flow immunophenotyping;anatomical pathology; the history of cancer chemotherapy; chemotherapy; blood transfusionand transfusion reaction; Hodgkin’s lymphoma; hemolytic disease of the newborn; sickle-cell disease; thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; melanoma; acute myeloid leukaemia; myelodysplastic syndrome; granulocytic sarcoma; chronic myelogenous leukaemia; leukemoid reaction; neutrophilia; myeloperoxidase; ischemic colitis;hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and esophageal varices, amongst others.
MastCell’s other early contributions to Wikipedia included creating the page on exchange transfusion (the medical treatment in which a person’s red blood cells or platelets are removed and replaced with transfused blood products); adding the logo to the article on the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; and editing the article on pharmaceutical marketing. All things considered, therefore, it’s difficult to imagine somebody less suitable to edit the Wikipedia article on Dr. Rath.
MastCell began editing the article on Dr. Rath on August 31, 2006, when, amongst other things, he used it to accuse Dr. Rath of being an AIDS denialist. This was an absurd accusation, of course, as Dr. Rath has never denied the existence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Since then, and as described above, MastCell has persistently defended the inclusion of a statement in the article that the Foundation “distributed tens of thousands of pamphlets in poor black South African townships… urging HIV-positive people to choose Rath’s vitamins”, despite the fact that this claim is demonstrably untrue.
In addition, he has pointedly removed references in the article to statements made by Dr. Rath himself, despite the fact that in some cases Wikipedia’s guidelines on biographies of living persons clearly permit these.
And, perhaps most notably of all, MastCell has also removed reference in the article to a court judgement given in Cape Town, South Africa, in March 2006 in which the judge explicitly stated that he was not persuaded that the following statements about the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) were defamatory:
Given these facts, and in knowledge of the reality that the TAC is vigorously promoting the use of toxic anti-retroviral drugs, it is illuminating to compare MastCell’s attacks on Dr. Rath with the number of clear Wikipedia policy violations that are currently being overlooked in Wikipedia’s article on the TAC.
At the time of writing (July 2008) Wikipedia’s article on the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) clearly breaks a significant number of the official policies and guidelines that its editors are supposed to follow.
For example, there are no references whatsoever in the article. This is in clear contravention to Wikipedia’s policy on sources, which, as described earlier, requires that articles should rely on reliable, third party published sources with a reputation for fact checking and accuracy. Given therefore that MastCell is demanding these for the article on Dr. Rath, it would only seem reasonable to expect him to do likewise in the article in the TAC.
Similarly, the TAC article also appears to contravene Wikipedia’s policy of not publishing “original research or original thought.” Bizarre though it might seem, unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, or ideas, and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material is not permitted in Wikipedia. As such, the opening sentence of the article, which describes the TAC as “unique for combining the issue-specific targeted direct action tactics of North American AIDS groups like ACT UP with the culture and organization of the South African trade union and anti-apartheid movements” should, unless a specific reference for it can be cited, be deleted.
In addition, neither can it be said that the article is written in a neutral point of view. Phraseology describing an organization as “unique” requires, for example, according to Wikipedia’s own rules, a supporting reference, and, unless one is supplied, should be removed accordingly.
In short, therefore, it would seem appropriate that the Treatment Action Campaign article should be labeled as having multiple issues until such time as all of the above contraventions have been corrected. Meanwhile, until such time as it does fully conform to Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines and is written in a neutral point of view, one can only presume that MastCell is happy for Wikipedia to exhibit double standards of this sort.
Wikipedia is the mouthpiece of the promoters of toxic ARV drugs across Africa while – at the same time – discrediting science-based natural health approaches to AIDS and defaming scientists, who dare to stand up against this unscrupulous drug business with the AIDS epidemic.
Examples like this document for everyone to see, why George Soros and other stakeholders of the Oil and Drug Cartel helped to set up Wikipedia and are controlling it to promote their business interests.