Citizendium and the memory of water

“Beyond Wikipedia” in the April 2009 Cites & Insights included a section on Citizemdium that included the following comment:

“Authoritative” is a tricky word. There’s a long draft article on “memory of water” that (as the son of an engineer and brother of a chemist) I find deeply disturbing, and an approved article on homeopathy that, while including a few disclaimers, is slanted very much in favor of homeopathic claims. (For example, it considers the similarity of homeopathic remedies and vaccinations both using “low doses of active ingredients,” and says “the doses in homeopathic remedies are always very much lower”—but you have to go a lot further down in the article to learn the simple fact that most homeopathic remedies “are virtually certain to contain not even a single molecule of the initial substance.” (That’s why “memory of water” is important.)

That was then–when I wrote the article in February 2009 and checked it in early March 2009.

Today, Paul Wormer, Physics and Chemistry Editor of Citizendium, sent me a polite email invigint me to look at the article again and “see if you find it less disturbing now.”

I did. It is. It’s enormously improved, and strikes me as a good discussion of an inherently-controversial topic. (Not “controversial” because “what if it works?” any more than the Dean Drive or perpetual motion machines are controversial in that sense, but controversial beause so many supposedly intelligent people believe it.)

So editorial control seems to be making a big difference at Citizendium.

One Response to “Citizendium and the memory of water”

  1. Spencer Harriss says:

    One wonders if the memory of water article would have been corrected if you had not drawn attention to it.

    The homeopathy article is presently the exact same text as the distressing version you commented on earlier: as an “approved” article, it is frozen until it goes through the approval process all over again. Perhaps a defect of the Citizendium model is that paradoxically, errors are easily fixed in their “unapproved” articles (such as memory of water), while the supposedly higher-quality “approved” articles (such as homeopathy) retain errors and distortions because the process of changing them is so cumbersome.