You know you aren't getting a unbiased description from this person, maybe you have heard that homeopathy isn't real medicine, or something about the English Royals being totally supportive of it. Heck, you even heard that the British medical system will pay for homeopathy treatments, and why would they do that if it does not work? So you turn to the Internet. Where do you look if you are just looking for a description? Maybe a search engine?
(23 million hits)
This is the order of links I received on Yahoo Search
Homeopathy on Wikipedia
ABCHomeopathy which is a pro-Homeopathy site
U.S. National Institutes of Health site
The National Center for Homeopathy
What's the Harm in Homepathy? (Tim Farley's site)
Okay now read the first hit that the average person will also see.
What do you think? Does this page reflect a good definition of homeopathy? If you didn't really understand the topic before hand, what would you think after reading it?
Look at the external links. Someone put the Merseyside Skeptics Society "Homeopathy, There is nothing in it" link as well as 14 minute video by James Randi. Awesome!
Another cool link located near the external links is a box stating that there is a Wikipedia News Article related to homeopathy. The headline...
"Parents prosecuted after homeopathic treatment leads to daughter's death"The homeopathy page didn't just happen with one editor working on it. This took years and many many editors contributing to the page. It is still evolving, with discussions all the time happening on the talk page.
The reason why I'm pointing this out is to make you really understand why Wikipedia is so important to getting critical thinking to the people who need it. I'm not advocating for people to start editing the homeopathy page, this is a recognized "natural science good article". Please don't try to edit this page unless you discuss it on the talk page first.
Now go to the talk page. I want you to see what the editors see when they are thinking about changing the page. Look at the FAQ section, these are decisions that have already been decided and letting everyone know that changes to the page aren't up for discussion.
If you ever questioned whether or not Wikipedia is a skeptical site or not, this should leave no doubt in your mind that it is. We might not be able to get people to read the skeptical blogs we keep releasing but we should recognize the importance of Wikipedia.
Just in case you were wondering what kind of impact I am talking about, here are the stats for homeopathy for December 2011... 86,425. For the 2011 year... 1,266,752 hits. Name another single page website that generates those kind of numbers?
In this case the page for Homeopathy is really well written. Not so for many other Wikipedia pages. Won't you take a moment to help out with this project?
further note -
Homeopathy generally gets 2-5 thousand hits each day. Once in a while there is a spike in the hit numbers, to me this is extremely intriguing as it shows how media attention (maybe something WE did?) sends people indirectly to Wikipedia. (by indirectly I mean, the media didn't give them a URL to follow, but Homeopathy was in the news and people just sent to WP to learn more about the topic).
These spikes are usually off a couple days because of the way they are reported on http://stats.grok.se
A normal day is 2-5 thousand hits
Jan 4 - 32.4K
Jan 5 - 23.4K
Feb 7 - 6.4K
Feb 8 - 5.7K
June 5 - 6.5K
June 6 - 7.3K
Aug 13 - 11.5K
Oct 31 - 8.8K
It is quite possible that the surge in numbers for the early Feb was because of the 10:23 campaign.
Lets not forget our non-English Wikipedia friends. Personally I can't update other-language pages because I don't read/write in other languages. This is where we have to get creative. The project of improving Wikipedia pages for skeptical content is FAR to important to only focus on English. If you can help in other languages please please contact me.
Here are a few numbers for homeopathy in other languages... All November 2011 (note: when the page has a ranking, that means the page was really popular, most terms are not ranked)
Homeopathy - English - 106,894 (ranked 4,498 most popular page on WP in English)
Homeopatia - Polish - 12,373 (ranked 1,156 most popular page on WP in Polish)
Omeopatia - Italian - 13,929 (ranked 1,873 most popular page on WP in Italian)
Homeopatía - Spanish - 44,072 (ranked 1,794 most popular page on WP in Spanish)
it reached 3,236 most popular page in Hebrew - hits in Hebrew (it writes left to right) 1,231 הומאופתיה
I could go on and on but have no idea what language most of these are. Hrvatski, Galego, Ελληνικά, Ido, 日本語, తెలుగు, and ייִדיש are just a few other Wikipedia languages that have homeopathy pages. Wonder what their visitors will read?