Western Sydney University’s new TCM ‘hospital’ opening soon in Sydney!

About a year ago I added some factual information on Western Sydney University’s (WSU) Wikipedia page. This information reflects their unbridled support of all sorts of quackery, in exchange for industry funding – hence, very important info for any prospective student or academic (wish I had this info before embarking on a 3 year stint at WSU). This addition led to a full-blown ping-pong match between myself and an employee of WSU, who continued to delete everything that I’ve added. The end result of this was that the WSU employee, who is a paid contributor, was named (and shamed?) by Wikipedia: “The following Wikipedia contributors may be personally or professionally connected to the subject of the article. Relevant policies and guidelines may include Paid contribution disclosure, Conflict of interest, Autobiography, and Neutral point of view.”

Great news, because the most important information that I’ve added stayed on their Wikipedia page, but at the same time, terrible news, because over the past year, WSU has made absolutely no attempt to investigate or rectify the problem at hand – let alone ‘repent’ from their open support of quackery. This is after all my main objective!! If anything, in 2017 things just got worse, and 2018 promises to be a humdinger of a year – that is, if you are a pseudoscientist.

At the centre of WSUs controversial support of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine is the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM). They have very big plans and a lot of money is involved. For example: Say Hello to the newest Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) ‘hospital’ opening in 2018 in the Westmead health precinct of Sydney. Using the smokescreen of “Integrative Medicine” and partly funded and operated by the controversial Beijing University of Chinese Medicine (BUCM), this should be the highlight of 2018 for any pseudoscientist. This new ‘hospital’ will emulate Germany’s first TCM hospital (also funded and operated by BUCM) in Bad Kötzting, and if you have a look at their website, any person with half a brain would be extremely worried – but not WSU management!

TCM has also been on the radar of the controversial supplement company Blackmores. This promises to be a very lucrative deal for Blackmores because their recent $10 million ‘gift’ to the NICM for ‘integrative medicine research’ is dwarfed by the potential for them to tap into the $170 billion TCM market. But, it will also fulfil a life-long dream (some people call this a nightmare) held by the director of the NICM and also an adjunct of the NICM, Prof Kerryn Phelps, who describes integrative medicine as “the emerging mainstream”. Sure thing, I just wonder why Prof Phelps won the Bent Spoon award for quackery and why the Director of the NICM was nominated for the same award in 2016. But this story still needs to unfold and that brings me back to the latest Wikipedia addition under their “recent history” section. So, to reflect these latest developments, here it is:

“The controversy surrounding the university’s support of pseudo-scientific integrative and complementary medicine, continued in early 2017, with the university unsuccessfully attempting to block their ‘Bent Spoon’ nomination for “the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle”. This led to a number of articles appearing in the media taking an in-depth look at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine, who are at the centre of this controversy. Not only did their attempt to block this nomination failed, but it also further exposed their unbridled support of pseudo-scientific complementary medicines. The university’s motivation for their continued support became clear, after they accepted an untied gift of $10 million  from the controversial supplement company, Blackmores. These funds will partly be used to establish a traditional Chinese medicine ‘hospital’ in Sydney’s health precinct, Westmead. The University will manage this ‘hospital’ because the public will be more at ease with such an controversial establishment when it is fully supported by a local university.”

And to think that WSU is currently conducting: “A study looking into ways of reminding people to take their health supplements is being conducted by a PhD student at Western Sydney University.  An avatar- based iPad application that can verbally express reminders along with a portable pill organiser that can emit alarms at scheduled times are being tested as a part of the study.” Uhm, Blackmores donates $10 million, Uhm, Blackmores also happens to sell these supplements –  truly top flight medical research happening at WSU.

A LOT more to come, especially about the TCM ‘hospital’!

Should one use Wikipedia to share information regarding the unbridled support of pseudosciences by Western Sydney University? Updated 06/07/2016

On the 12th of May 2016 I made a decision to add an informative, but factually correct, paragraph on Western Sydney University’s (WSU) Wikipedia page. Why? Because it is extremely important that students and researchers, current and future, knows about WSU’s decision to fully support pseudosciences. This Wikipedia paragraph tells a story about how WSU view science, scientific research and how they view their responsibility, as a publicly funded entity, towards the public. The impact of WSU’s decision, taken early in 2016, is truly a milestone in the university’s short history and hence deserves mention on their Wikipedia page. This comes after being warned by myself, and other researchers, to investigate the National Institute of Complementary Medicine hosted by WSU.

The paragraph that I’ve added is given below (deleted by WSU after about four weeks).

“Early in 2016 some controversy surrounding the University’s full support of complementary medicine emerged in the press. Former employees, as well as eminent scientists, criticised the biased and unbridled support of the University for complementary medicines such as homeopathy, acupuncture, energy healing, Reiki etc. The main controversial aspect was the continued support of these pseudo-scientific fields in exchange for continued funding from the naturopathic Jacka Foundation of Natural Therapies. The University has since reacted to the critique by bestowing a honorary fellowship upon Judy Jacka, vice-chairperson of the Jacka Foundation. As a result the current vice-chancellor Prof Barney Glover, the Dean of the School of Science and Health Prof Gregory Kolt and the Director of the National Institute of Complementary Medicine Prof Alan Bensoussan were nominated for the prestigious annual bent spoon award of the Australian Skeptics society bestowed upon the “perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle“.

On the 14th of June 2016 this paragraph was removed. The reason given by Nicole Swanson, digital and social media manager at WSU, was:

“Claims made in removed content are not substantiated and are vexatious. The person who added them refers to his own article which is a skewed version of the truth. The content has no major relevance to the University so does not warrant appearing here.”

But is this true?

Let’s look at the first sentence: “Claims made…” The added paragraph does not contain any claims but only facts. The controversy was reported in an article written by an independent journalist who verified the information with an independent scientist as well as their in-house lawyers before publishing the story in the newspaper. The NICM and WSU was also contacted by the journalist and they were given time to respond – they could not!; “former employees and eminent scientists” – myself and a well-known independent Australian scientist, as reported in the newspaper article, presented the facts regarding WSU and the NICM – fact! (recently an international eminent scientist has joined the choir) etc. etc. This paragraph is based on facts and not claims!

“..are not substantiated…”. I give nine references to substantiate the facts and I can easily give many more references. “…are vexatious….” Very interesting choice of words. Synonyms of vexatious are “annoying, irritating, upsetting, troublesome, bothersome”. With this I can agree. I do believe that what I am saying must be extremely annoying and irritating to WSU, because they know that I am right. They just do not seem to know how to get away with it without anyone noticing.

Let’s look at the second sentence. “The person…” guilty as charged.  “….refers to his own article…”. I reference nine articles, some of them written by myself (in these I use multiple references as evidence) whilst the rest is written by independent persons. And again, I can easily delete all of my references and replace them with references written by independent authors. “…skewed version of the truth.” This is incorrect. The added Wikipedia paragraph contain facts, presented by myself and others. To substantiate this I can also refer to Wikipedia’s explanation on what homeopathy, and many other complementary and alternative medicines, is – it is called quackery and pseudoscience. Not my words but those of scientists around the world.

This is unfortunately the truth unless you are a homeopath or a university receiving millions of dollars from a foundation (Jacka foundation) supporting homeopathy. These facts, as presented in this paragraph, will only become more pronounced as other researchers start to reveal the inner workings of the pseudoscience that is being practiced and supported by WSU. Clearly not a skewed version of the truth, but the truth – they just don’t want to admit it.

Let’s look at the third sentence. “The content has no major relevance to the University so does not warrant appearing here.” I beg to differ. This is a turning point in the history of WSU. They are intentionally misleading students and researchers, current and future, by claiming that they focus on world class scientific research and education while they actually allowed pseudosciences a foot in the door (this is the difference between a claim and a fact). Not even to mention the impact that their pseudoscientific research will have on the public. Will they continue to fight for pseudoscience? Will they decide to have a look at this issue? What will they do? The paragraph that I have added is hence of major relevance.

Wikipedia is a self-correcting medium for sharing information based on facts. It should not be used by companies such as WSU to present a one-sided overly positive view of the company. It is not a marketing platform! It is therefore important that facts, such as what the WSU stand for, is made publicly known. This is who they choose to be and the public, future students and researchers deserves to know this. These are the facts and they should stand by it and be proud of it!  Question is; should I continue to be “vexatious” and continue to add these important facts about WSU on their Wikipedia page? Or will people reading this post join me by continuing to add this paragraph whenever it is missing on WSUs Wikipedia page? (takes about 5 min as the references has to be added manually). As it is, I am alone and WSU has an whole army of people!

22/06/2016

After a discussion on Wikipedia’s “Talk Page” about conflict of interest policies I decided to add a shortened version of the paragraph to WSUs Wikipedia page under section 1.2 Recent History (after my original paragraph was deleted  by WSU on 14/06/2016). This time using only independent references as evidence – how long will it take before they remove it? Below is the paragraph:

“Early in 2016 some controversy surrounding the University’s full support of complementary medicine emerged in the press. An employee, as well as eminent scientists, criticised the biased and unbridled support of the University for complementary medicines such as homeopathy, acupuncture, TCM, energy healing etc. The main controversial aspect was the continued support of these pseudo-scientific fields in exchange for continued funding from the naturopathic Jacka Foundation of Natural Therapies.”

24/06/2016

As expected my paragraph was removed by ‘NeoWalker’ with the reason given “not relevant in context of recent history”. This time though, an unknown person reverted the removal of NeoWalker within the hour stating “unexplained removal of content”. To follow the action, please go to Western Sydney University: Revision history.

02/07/2016

The paragraph is still there! So why not push my luck a bit and add a whole new paragraph. In the contents section under point 8 WSU proudly announce that they won the Ig Nobel prize – strange because this usually means that you are guilty of conducting “useless” research. So I added a new paragraph, using only independent references, under point 9: Bent Spoon Nomination. See below.

“Bent Spoon Nomination

In the same spirit as the Ig Nobel prize for improbable research that first makes you laugh and then think, the university has also been nominated for the bent spoon award. Nominees for this prestigious award is independently evaluated by the Australian Skeptics society and is annually bestowed upon the “perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle”. The university received this nomination based on their reaction to the controversy surrounding their continued biased support for complementary medicine as reported in the press. WSU reacted to this controversy by bestowing an honorary fellowship upon the naturopath Judy Jacka, vice-chairperson of the Jacka Foundation who also happens to be one of the biggest funders of the National Institute of Complementary Medicine hosted by WSU. As a result, the current vice-chancellor Prof Barney Glover, the Dean of the School of Science and Health Prof Gregory Kolt and the Director of the National Institute of Complementary Medicine Prof Alan Bensoussan were nominated for the prestigious annual bent spoon award.”

05/07/2016

As expected my new paragraph “bent spoon nomination” was removed quite quickly. This time by an independent person with the statement “not notable unless awarded“. I do think this is fair enough, but this only means one thing; I have to make sure that the NICM receives this prestigious award. Or if anyone reading this can “undo” the changes made by Jack Upland on the 5th of July 2016 I would be grateful. I cannot undo these changes because I have a conflict of interest and Wikipedia will block me from editing.