02 July, 2009

Just Disrespectful.

Here's one kind of science I despise, the smug up-its-own-ass kind that thinks all you have to do is go around being a smart-arse and everyone will realise what idiots they've been and come and sit at your feet with rapt attention...

I have to say here that I'm not a person who's impressed by reiki or homeopathy but I'm pretty sure most of us consider chiropractors to be a useful therapy.  And some would even go so far as to include the above-mentioned and add acupuncturists as well.  After all, it's what works for you, right?  That's why I can't stand the tone of this guy's article and am pushing this article out.  If the Catholic church had its way, we'd still be curing our ills by holding prayer sessions and subsisting on bread and water to toughen us up...  Similarly, if this guy has his way, we'll just stick with Big Pharma using us as guinea pigs for newer drugs with ever more "interesting" side effects...

I was going to leave this as a comment to Mr Insolence but instead I've decided to put it here and post a link in his comments:
"I live in Australia. We don't have a Sn Harkin to contend with, although we do have people who practice alternative medicine, just like everywhere else on earth. We too shudder at "therapeutic reiki" and all the other alternative therapies and snake oils and ill-advised advice. I'm afraid that one day I'll be referred to a homeopath and diluted out of existence, for sure.
But something I'm even more afraid of than someone like Sn Harkin, though, is the kind of person who sneers and thinks just calling something "woo" means that's it, the end of the matter, everyone has to agree with me now, thank you all very much you poor misguided shills you.
Your attitude of (dis)respectful insolence does nothing at all. Harkin's lumping alternative therapists in with the "legitimate" medical workforce? Awww diddums. Not so many centuries ago, Greek and Roman senators were sneaking in all those "alternative" therapists along with the perfectly good astrologers and soothsayers and shamanic herbalists, too. And it's only a distinct lack of public voice in the form of blogs back then that's saved us from the BC version of your ranting...
What I'm saying is - where does your "respectful insolence" stop? My grandma prescribed camomile tea for certain ailments, other herbs for others. Her knowledge was not learned in a University, it was passed down from one generation to the next - generations that had little better to do than exist, work, and observe the effects of certain herbs on certain illnesses and pass that knowledge on to their offspring. It's how all our advances were made at one stage. It's how pharmacology came to exist.
Is that "woo?"
Because if it is, then monkeys, horses, elephants, and scores of other animals do "woo" every day when they select what foods to eat and what to eat along with that food to counteract the toxins present in that food.
What about we say that "proper" pharmaceutical companies are the only thing that doesn't constitute "woo." Oh dear, they actually have a worse record than the animals and my granny. Because my granny never prescribed anything to me that caused severe side effects or death. And yet, every year, we hear about another drug from big pharma that has caused a spate of deaths or injuries or disablements...
Are surgeons the only medical people that aren't "pitching woo?" In my experience and reading, their success rates are not all that crash hot either. They kill more people by direct action than all the faith healers kill by "wooing" someone into ignoring symptoms. Oh yeah - and they come from a long line of bloodletters, "animal magnetists," and people who thought leeches and maggots would cure blood problems and infections. Oh wait, they're bringing those back in mainstream medicine, aren't they?
What I'm saying to you is to stop being a smart-ass insolent pup and start using your brain for what our ancestors used it for - to observe and record and remember and make discoveries instead of knocking other people down."


Visit The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook and help support my work!

22 comments:

Dr Scooter said...

May I suggest you actually read a little more of Orac's blog before sprouting off in your own little fashion?
Orac is a cancer surgeon and researcher in charge of his own lab researching breast cancer. Does that qualify as "using your own brain for what your ancestors used it for"?
Did you look far enough to see his posts critical of so called "Big Pharma" and other members of the medical profession?
If you want alternative therapies to be taken seriously and not called "Woo", the answer is simple - show us genuine evidence of efficacy. Not massaged and misleading studies. Not a string of anecdotes. Not a barrage of ad hominem attacks. Just evidence.
Those people who promote false cures are at best misguided, at worse deliberatly deceitful and fraudulent. They do not deserve respect.

KWombles said...

Come on, now. Have the courage to put your comment at Orac's. You know it will go on as there isn't moderation. You might as well, now that readers will know you've put it here, and some will come as I did to call you on the cowardice.

It's one thing to post on your blog the comments you CAN'T get on at sites that moderate. It's another thing entirely to do this.

teddlesruss dat who! said...

Yes I have actually been following the blog, I get the RSS feed. Yes I know the author is a surgeon. And yes I in general agree with scientific rationalism, agree that science has most of the answers. What I don't agree with is the schoolboy name-calling, the slightly pious and fervent tone of moral rectitude. That's not rational.

That's how fundamentalists protect their desmesnes and their beliefs. And there's few things as dangerous as a fundamentalist, especially a Scientific Fundamentalist.

I think I did a fair job of satirising the article and I feel fine about asking where the line is going to be drawn, and who decides who's on which side of that line, and why a particular person takes it upon themselves to start drawing and enforcing lines in the first place.

Also, I think you presume far too much when you presume to apologise for Australia. John Howard never learned to say "sorry" and there's no need for you to roll over in his place. See, that's the Fundamentalist coming out in you - *you* have to "take responsibility" for the poor misguided fools of the world because you are a Crusader For The Right And Just.

--

Now let me tell you something. I have fairly advanced emphysema, caused by smoking from an early age. In a time when the government knew how toxic and addictive tobacco was, but allowed it to be spin-doctored and advertised as the world's finest recreational drug.

I began smoking after seeing the ads for "quality" Dunhill and "adventurous" Marlboro, at the age of 12, and then I drew the short straw - and at age 38 I quit after seeing the x-ray shadows of bullae.

If anyone has a clear mandate to save all the poor misguided masses out there from the "charlatans and mountebanks of the Government and the tobacco industry, those woo-pitchers" that would be me.

But I also hate the nanny-state, where self-appointed "Guardians Of The One True Way" decide that since they stepped in a dog turd, dogs should be banned.

You see? I *know* smoking is a Bad Thing, that it will kill others as surely as it will kill me. But do you see me telling everyone that the government is not doing their job by still letting the "tobacco woo show" into the country? Am I out there telling people that it's evil and they are wasting their lives and their money on it?

No. Because that's a matter of personal choice, each person who smokes is ruining their lives, but it's not for me to regulate their lives and harangue them into quitting.

If they ask to smoke in my house, they get shown the veranda and a place to smoke. If they smoke at the bar or restaurant I go to, it becomes no longer the bar or restaurant I go to...

Don't you think a more important thing to campaign and lobby would be the reduction of greenhouse gases and waste and pollution? Isn't that going to save more lives than going after people who have already become figures of fun in today's society?

teddlesruss dat who! said...

KWombles: If I had wanted to comment fully on Orac's blog, I would. I said there what I disagreed with and left it at that.

I generally go out and read articles all over the net, and if they give me material to write about, I write about it. I don't actually take a decision as to whether my article constitutes a comment or an article, and I use my blogs because they are where I write.

I wasn't even going to leave a comment at all, to begin with. If you check my blogs stats out you'll find that I write for a very small readership, and I prefer this to in-fighting on someone else's blog.

I'm sorry you see this as an act of cowardice, it was more a case of not spoiling the flow of Orac's comments. (Which Scooter made sure would stay nicely disturbed by drawing attention to something people normally pay scant attanetion to...)

Shay said...

"I'm pretty sure most of us consider chiropractors to be a useful therapy."

Speak for yourself. They're nothing more than highly paid masseurs.

Sophist said...

What I don't agree with is the schoolboy name-calling, the slightly pious and fervent tone of moral rectitude. That's not rational.

Awww, are your poor widdle feewings huwwwt? Tough. Homeopathy, reiki, chelation, are all worthless. At best they do nothing, and at worst they kill people. Every well conducted study has shown that they are no better than a placebo. Every one. If anyone ise still pushing this snake oil then they deserve to be mocked. Calling this woo is eminently rational. You wouldn't hesitate to call a pyramid sheme fraud, would you? So why does calling a thing by it's proper name bother you so much when it comes to medicine?

I think I did a fair job of satirising the article...

Complaining about tone is satire? Since when?

teddlesruss dat who! said...

Shay: Sorry. I should have said that I have had several misaligned vertebrae and one of the dislocations was twisted from a temporary inconvenience into a lifelong injury by a MD, then exacerbated further into a prolonged absence from work by a physiotherapist, and finally a local chiropractor managed the injury, treated it to the point where I could ride a scooter again, and has left it in better condition than it had been for almost two decades.

Sophist: All you're doing is name-calling, all over again. No, my "widdle feewings" weren't hurt but obviously you're stung. My apologies. As in the above bit, perhaps to you all those people above are useless and achieve nothing, but the case of my back is valid - two medical persons, both having the full approval of the medical establishment, made the injury worse, a subsequent visit to an osteopath showed me that the injury was treatable but at a price I coudn't afford, and then a chiropractor managed to alleviate the condition to the point where I could function normally again.

My father? He was killed by a surgeon, slowly and painfully, over the course of a couple of years, after an operation to put a stent in a carotid left him with a clot and subsequent complete hemispheric stroke. Had he or I not been so convinced of the absolute infallibility of the medical profession and seen a dietitian and a herbalist I'm pretty sure he would still be around today at age 87.

The medical profession? In my experience (and here, Sophist, you'll notice I present that this is MY view and I'm not claiming it as a Universal Truth, placing me a few steps up the mental and moral evolutionary ladder from you) medical professionals have rarely been helpful to me and in most cases, have worsened conditions and on one occasion killed someone.

Thank you both though for showing the blinkered attitude I was describing.

teddlesruss dat who! said...

Oh and calling "a pyramid scheme a fraud" is different to saying "a pyramid scheme is a load of hooey." One is stating that something is fraudulent, the other is name-calling.

Similarly, calling alternative treatments "snake oil" and "highly paid masseurs" is just more name-calling, and quite irrational.

In doing it, you're demonstrating that the thing that should be mocked here is yourself.

Anonymous said...

OK.

Alternative medicine, with very few exceptions, is fraud.

How's that?

teddlesruss dat who! said...

Yep. I'll happily accept that, only rephrasing it to the less inciteful terms of "alternative medicine, with very few exceptions, is unsafe and ineffective" and adding that conventional medicine, with very few exceptions, is safe and effective.

Skeptico said...

I think I did a fair job of satirising the article and I feel fine about asking where the line is going to be drawn, and who decides who's on which side of that line, and why a particular person takes it upon themselves to start drawing and enforcing lines in the first place.

And yet here you are, drawing a line and deciding that someone (Orac in this case) has crossed it, and then taking it upon yourself to criticize this in a (not so) slightly pious and fervent tone of moral rectitude.  You know what irony is, right?

What I would say to you, would be to stop being a smart-ass insolent pup and start using your brain for what our ancestors used it for - to observe and record (ideally in a way that controls for biases, and reduces the likelihood of being fooled), and remember to make discoveries instead of knocking other people down. (Hey this is easy. Certainly beats having to provide evidence and facts.)

Anonymous said...

You've done a good job here mate. Regardless of the right and wrong of things, tone is important. Blogs, like the media, ultimately feed on strong emotions and the large audiences gravitate to the sources with the 'best' mix of anger, schmaltz and humor.

Fox doesn't do well because it's viewers agree with everything it says, neither do The Sun or Daily Mail in the UK. The major charm in all those outlets is the emotion they display and engender.

For Orac or PZ, the formula often has some of the same ingredients and their audience, as evidenced in the comments here, seem to lap it up.

Orac's blog on one level is a case of fighting fire with fire and good on him for it. The righteous anger felt by him (and me I must say) at the CAM crowd and their dissembling is perfectly understandable and perhaps makes Orac's style a necessary counter-point. The problem is that tone is important if you are to get across to people who do not initially share your view. If that's not accepted, then Orac should feel free to continue preaching to the choir (myself included) but don't expect those outside the club to want to engage and don't expect it to really make any difference.

It's a shame you're getting monstered here. It's real debate stifling stuff. I do wish the 'superior' crowd understood that. It strikes me that pack-attacks on a fellow-traveler aren't likely to particularly advance the cause. Actually, in a similar but unrelated vein:

http://xkcd.com/603/

Anonymous said...

I'd bet that if your father had eschewed medical treatment, followed a path of woo and still died, you wouldn't be blaming the woo. You people never do. Guess what? There's no magic cure. Treatments sometimes fail. People make mistakes. Your annoyance with a poor outcome does NOTHING to validate your arguments, it just highlights your bias and inability to clearly see the issue.

KWombles said...

teddlesruss dat who!,

Thank you for your response.

Perhaps cowardice was too strong a word, especially since you linked back to your blog; you certainly could have posted anonymously and no one been the wiser. And because I do understand using other people's blogs in order to counter (since I do this, although if my comments were allowed on the site, there would be less a need for that), I can appreciate what you chose to do here in elaborating on Orac's piece.

I suppose my point would be this, it would have been a courtesy to let the person you were writing about know about the post (for example, I often try to get a post on a particular site before I decide to completely deconstruct the piece on my own blog). On the other hand, I doubt that Orac does the same, and what you have done here, in hindsight, is not any different than Orac does on a regular basis (or what I do, to a lesser extent).

I still, since there is no moderation nor length restriction, would have chosen to also post the piece to Orac, but respect your right not to do so.

My apologies for saying not doing so was cowardice.

teddlesruss dat who! said...

Skeptico: You thought the tone of my article was "pious?" Go back to school and learn English. Irony? Hell yeah I haz irony, let me show it to you: Ah a case of irony would be you attempting to play my words back at me and ... yep ... there you are, doing exactly that. Does that make you a guardian of moral rights? No more than it makes me one. So you're another person who doesn't actually have anything to add to the discussion aside from another personal attack, as we say, playing the man instead of the ball.

The two Anonymous people: I'm glad one of you got it, that any "respected surgeon" shouldn't be out there acting like a rabid terrier, and to the other of you, this:

I've had my share of arguments with people who tell me that water can become "activated" and wheat juice has "properties that can't be measured by a laboratory" and just like Orac, I've told them that I don't believe them. The difference between Orac and myself is that I've told those people directly, and not by dismissing them as "woo" but by pointing out that it doesn't work.

I've tried some of the "woo" for mmyself and that (Skeptico please take note) does fall under the definition of making my own discoveries. I've tried "rescue remedy" and asked the person to tell me if they knew the difference between water in a glass that had had rescue remedy in it and then been tipped out and refilled, a fresh glass with water and rescue remedy, and a fresh glass with water only.

Has Orac personally tried this before shitting on homeopaths? BTW the homeopath couldn't pick any glass correctly, and you'd expect that a glass of water with a more diluted remedy to be even more potent than a glass of water with the remedy much stronger. And who knows, maybe the amounts of rescue remedy tipped down the drain have become enough to significantly activate the ground water. I'm open to those ideas. What I do know is that all tests I've devised to detect an effect haven't shown a positive result.

Also, you may notice that I'm not shitting on homeopaths even now - because some people who are NOT homeopaths claim they derive a benefit from homeopathy. And whether they're being actively defrauded by lecherous quacks or self-deluding themselves into believing that a charming nostrum that a friend put them onto actually works, the fact remains that someone else has obtained results that are different to mine. I'm not the wellspring of truth and I may have been devising the wrong experiments, who knows?

So no, had my father used diet to control his condition and still had a major life-destroying event I'd have to conclude that in his case that hadn't worked either.

The thing is, even conventional medicine recommends proper dietary habits, and my father had started to change his, but at the insistence of the family doctor, still went for surgery that is considered to have a 95% success rate. That's a high claim indeed to make for cutting into a human body, inserting a piece of metal netting, and then sewing them back up again.

A homeopath generally won't claim one of their treatments to have a 95% success rate, and if they do, then one death is cause for people like Orac to be frothing at the mouth that not only is this fraud, it's murder! Yet my father wasn't killed by a fraudster and a murderer, he was a statistical glitch.

See the reasoning? I didn't once say I "believed" in any form of medicine nor what you'd prefer me to call pseudomedicine - yet you all blithely assume so. I just don't think having such a FITH attitude helps anyone.

skepacabra said...

"the smug up-its-own-ass kind that thinks all you have to do is go around being a smart-arse and everyone will realise what idiots they've been and come and sit at your feet with rapt attention..."

But no irrational name-calling from you or any of "the slightly pious and fervent tone of moral rectitude" either.

I fail to see how you can say you properly critiqued Orac's article when you presented zero evidence for why you feel he's wrong. It's not hard to test medicinal claims. All you have to do is test a treatment against a placebo under properly controlled conditions. If it fails to do demonstrably better than the placebo, it's medically worthless and your money would be better spent on cheap sugar pills. Not only are you asserting the effectiveness of chiropractic by mere fiat, but even worse. You're arguing based on popular belief. Even if everyone in the world believed the Earth was flat, that would not make it so.

I don't think you understand what science even is, let alone how science works and reaches its conclusions. You exhibit all the tell-tale signs of a crank unwilling to accept the possibility that they're wrong and in over their head. For instance, you imply a vast Big Pharma conspiracy without providing evidence for such a serious accusation. This is a cop-out to avoid having to rationally justify your position. It also makes me wonder if the "zen" in your name is ironic, since it doesn't seem like you're willing to question your own beliefs the way scientists do every day. And as long as you can assert an evil conspiracy without evidence, I fail to see how you could ever be convinced that you were truly wrong. And because you're incapable of arguing the science that you don't understand, you simply attack the tone of those you disagree with. Learn to think critically.

www.dangeroustalk.net/a-team/CriticalThinking

Skeptico said...

You thought the tone of my article was "pious?" Go back to school and learn English.

It was as good a description of your words as your description of Orac’s was. So perhaps you are the one who needs to go back to school and learn English.

Irony? Hell yeah I haz irony, let me show it to you: Ah a case of irony would be you attempting to play my words back at me and ... yep ... there you are, doing exactly that.

No, that wouldn’t be irony.  Irony would be the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning. Once again, you are the one who needs to go back to school and learn English. No, that would have been me using your own words to demonstrate how vacuous your words were. You see, you can only do that when the  words you are paraphrasing back (that would be your words) are vacuous assertions unsupported by evidence. Try it with a piece containing actual evidence, and logical and factual arguments – something like one of Orac’s posts, for example. It doesn’t work. It only works with the vacuous drivel of the sort you write.

Does that make you a guardian of moral rights? No more than it makes me one.

Never said it did. You love your straw men, don’t you?

So you're another person who doesn't actually have anything to add to the discussion aside from another personal attack, as we say, playing the man instead of the ball.

Pretty funny from someone (you) who adds nothing to the discussion – accusing someone else of adding nothing to the discussion. Here is a summary of your post:

- Straw Man

- Orac’s rude, rude I tell you.

- Straw Man

- Appeal to ancient wisdom

- Science is sometimes wrong

- Straw Man / general name calling.

Your whole post was lame, fallacy ridden, and ended with name calling. Pathetic.

I've had my share of arguments with people who tell me that water can become "activated" and wheat juice has "properties that can't be measured by a laboratory" and just like Orac, I've told them that I don't believe them. The difference between Orac and myself is that I've told those people directly, and not by dismissing them as "woo" but by pointing out that it doesn't work.

And if you read Orac’s blog you’ll see that he does that too. With detailed examination of the evidence. Plus he then calls it woo. But he calls it woo - pseudo-scientific and often anti-scientific ideas that are irrational and not based on evidence commensurate with the extraordinary nature of the claim – after he has demonstrated it is woo. That isn’t pious, smug, up-its-own-ass or Scientific Fundamentalism, or any of the other names you called.

teddlesruss dat who! said...

To the two "skepts" (or am I making "straw men" of you by calling you that?) I'd just like to say that I can't believe either of you is now doing anything but trolling, and not too well at that.

To KWombles no offense was taken, and if I've offended you I do apologise.

Travis said...

Umm, do you know what trolling actualy means? I guess one might call it trolling as it does seem to have provoked an emotional response but trolling normally is done to disrupt the discussion at hand and they still seem to be pretty much on topic.

Skeptico, while perhaps being a little sharp with their writing, has pointed out a number of things you have said that are incorrect, you did use straw men, in your other comments, as well as in the original blog post, and instead of responding to it you have taken a very huffy tone (a funny thing considering tone seems to be very important to you).

Rather than say why they are wrong you have just gotten emotional. You have not even addressed the fact that your post actually does contain logical fallacies, as Orac pointed out you have a classic tu quoque fallacy.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so I didn't read through all these, so I don't know if someone else has made the same point as me.

an injured back and vertabrea can be fixed if the person knows how to massage properly. that is all that a chiropracter would do. My martial arts teacher did that for people. She knew (unlike you who don't appear to really understand) that what she did wasn't the same as what doctors do. She could pop bones into alignment, but she couldn't practice medicine because she isn't qualified for anything else.

Have you ever wondered why surgeons have such a "low" success rate? It is because they deal with much more serious cases than the woo doctors. Who would go to an acupuncturist for cancer or a stroke? No one. The cases that are deadly and serious are the ones that give doctors a "low" success rate. if those patients didn't treat their conditions or went to a woo doctor they would die just as quickly.

And if you are one of those people who is looking for anecdotal evidence (it seems that way because you use your experience as definite proof) then i have some stories to tell. My grandfather had two heart attacks. If it hadn't been for his doctor, he would have been dead. my grandparents have diabetes. If it wasn't for their insulin they would probably be dead. My father got into a car accident. If it hadn't been for the MRI's and medicines, he would be in a lot of pain. I had 3 surgeries myself by the time I was 16. If it hadn't been for them I would be in pain and would not be able to breath through my nose. my cousin's grandfather had a stroke. If it hadn't been for the doctors he would be dead. My dance teacher is now in critical condition and not for the world would any intelligent person give his care over to a chiropracter or an acupuncturist. They would do nothing that would work.

the placebo effect is only good enough for people who can afford not to get better.

Andy said...

Hmmm, every other article on your front page, bar one, has attracted exactly zero comments. This one has 20 or more.

Congratulations on finding a way to increase your traffic.

Now go and learn what irony and satire are before you make yourself look even sillier.

onein6billion said...

"I'm pretty sure most of us consider chiropractors to be a useful therapy."

I'm pretty sure you're incorrect. But you have an "out". "Most of us" might include a very large number of irrational people like you.

"And some would even go so far as to include the above-mentioned and add acupuncturists as well."

Yes, "some" of us are completely irrational.

Email Subscriptions powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe to all my blogs at once!

Your email address:


Powered by FeedBlitz