TCM Practitioner Tears Down Wikipedia For Calling Acupuncture Pseudoscience

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The Wikipedia entry for acupuncture has been slammed by a leader in Chinese Medicine, who calls the site “irresponsible” for its current definition of the medicine.

One of the most-frequented sites on the Internet, Wikipedia is the first stop for millions who are seeking a basic overview of a topic. As a free, non-for-profit organization, this allows anyone to edit information. That includes the page on Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Despite best efforts, the main disparaging quote about TCM hails from a Western medical practitioner, Stephen Barret, who says: “TCM [Traditional Chinese Medicine] theory and practice are not based upon scientific knowledge, and acupuncture is a pseudoscience.” Barret’s statement is not from a scholarly article or research paper, but from his personal website called QuackWatch: that attempts to debunk “health fraud.” His site has not been updated since 2011. Barret is an unlicensed psychiatrist who has lost several defamation lawsuits and his personal opinions from Quackwatch are cited by insurance companies seeking to deny payment claims for alternative healthcare.

A civil lawsuit in Canada saw Barret admit the following about QuackWatch and the NCAHF (National Council Against Health Fraud, that he founded): “The sole purpose of the activities of Barrett & Baratz are to discredit and cause damage and harm to health care practitioners, businesses that make alternative health therapies or products available, and advocates of non-allopathic therapies and health freedom.”

Li Zhenji, World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies Vice-Chairman, issued a response to Barret’s comment, saying via China Daily, that it is “irresponsible to list the medical technique as pseudoscience,” and that “the efficacy of acupuncture has been proved by history and is widely practiced in China and abroad.”

Many reputable health bodies support and encourage the use of acupuncture including the British Acupuncture Council which responded with a similar sentiment: “acupuncture therapy has been tested in controlled clinical trials” for “a wide variety of diseases or disorders.” Likewise, the World Health Organization undertook a lengthy review of clinical studies based on acupuncture’s efficacy and discovered it to be effective in treating a wide range of health complaints.

Sites such as Wikipedia, that rely upon user-generated content, are not always the most trustworthy of sources. It offers a broad overview of topics, yet its sources should always be strictly vetted as many originate from personal blogs. Despite this fact,  millions of people turn to this site for easy access to information.

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