Wikipedia on MDMA

February 9, 2007

The Wikipedia entry on MDMA is a classic example of the limitations of this public encyclopedia approach. The “winner” in this case is the viewpoint of those with the will and spare time to take over the entry and constantly edit the content. Read over the talk page and see if this seems like a reasonable process to generate an encyclopedia.

Should scientists care? Certainly. We should not abdicate our authoritative role in the public discussion of scientific topics. MDMA and delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol may be somewhat unique in the drug-of-abuse world since the advocates are so fervent. But similar situations can be found with other public health and ecological science areas. Stem cells, autism, climate change- ring any bells? All areas in which the actual science has been obscured by political agenda, commercial agenda, (well-meaning?) lay public advocacy and the like. It is particularly annoying and insulting that in many areas the motives of scientists are questioned to advance the agenda, thereby creating unwarranted public suspicion of the scientific enterprise.

Lose public support, lose Congressional support, lose public funding of biomedical science.