The Sciences

What a week for alt-med smackdowns

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitJun 16, 2009 12:02 PM


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Well, antiscience is taking major body blows the past week or so, and it's a wonderful, wonderful thing to see. It started with Newsweek taking down the quackery promoted by Oprah Winfrey, and has taken off from there: 1) Reader's Digest jumped on the anti-Oprah ride... and when the milquetoast middle-of-the-road offend no one RD takes you on, it's time to rethink your very existence. 2) Deepak Chopra -- who couldn't find reality with both hands, a compass and, evidently, the aid of centuries of scientific advancement -- ran to Oprah's defense, and, as usual, mangled more logic in one essay than can be humanly possible without the aid of quantum healing. Massimo Pigliucci magnificently takes him down, as did JREF's Jeff Wagg at the Swift blog. 3) The Australian government has ruled that Arnica Montana, a homeopathy company, falsely advertised the efficacy of its product -- which, in the case of homeopathy is everything they advertise -- and they had to post a humiliating retraction. I weep non-diluted tears for them. Dr. Rachie has more info. Also, Steve Novella has written a lengthy and complete destruction of homeopathy on his NeuroLogica blog. If you are a homeopathic believer and feel you must spout your undiluted nonsense in the comments below, read his essay first, because if you make any of the claims he debunks I will allow everyone free reign to mock you. Because that's better than allowing babies to die due to homeopathy. 4) Simon Singh is being sued by the British Chiropractic Association because he wrote about their "bogus" claims. BCA vice-president Richard Brown then posted a flailing essay titled In Defence of Chiropractic in New Scientist magazine, a piece laden to the hilt with astonishingly poorly thought-out logic. Apgaylard thoroughy dismantles the claims from Brown, leaving the emperor looking a little naked out there. This kind of antiscience antireality antihealth garbage will always be with us, but I can hope to help amplify the chorus of voices being raised against them. It's important, as I have been hammering home for months. They will never rest as long as people credulously accept their claims, so we need to make sure as many people as possible examine their claims as critically as possible.

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