Sunday, October 30, 2005

An original observation about alternative medicine: there's no internal conflict

I've been enjoying Photon's series on quackery, but most of it is familiar, albeit entertaining. This chapter, however, was new to me:
A Photon in the Darkness: How to Succeed at Quackery (Without Even Trying): Part 3

Professional Courtesy:

No matter how much you loathe your fellow quacks or think that they have the intellect of a peach pit (after the laetril has been extracted), never, never criticize or question their quackery. This is the classic situation of people living in glass houses. Throwing stones will do nobody any good.

If you want an example of how to behave, go to one of the many quack conventions. There you will see speakers get up and say things that are absolutely incompatible with what the previous speaker has said - but they won't make any mention of it. And if the two are in a panel discussion, they will say only nice things about the other's quackery.

This is in distinct contrast to real medical conferences, where voices are raised, snide comments made and embarassing questions are asked. This sort of unseemly and impolite behavior can only be tolerated when there is real data to support what people are saying. In the world of quackery, that sort of frank discussion and argument would tear apart the delicate fabric of our fortunes. Under no circumstances are you to ever, ever even vaguely suggest that the Emperor has no clothes.
This deserves attention. Disputation based on data and logic is a hallmark of science. Intelligent Design evangelicals, however, dare not fight with (if there are any) secular Intelligent Designers. Massage therapists cannot criticize chiropractors. All must agree to live in peace, for if one fights, all are shown to be empty.

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