Yesterday, I received the following interesting tweet from my friend Natalie Grams:

Edzard, YOU are just influenced by ideological biases (they told me so yesterday – so it must be true;-)

If I understand it correctly, Natalie was a guest in a public discussion about homeopathy somewhere in Austria during which my name must have been mentioned, and some homeopath or homeopathy-fan made the above allegation about me. Sadly, I was not present (but it is typical that allegations against me are rarely made to me in person) to discuss it further.

I am very much used to allegations against me and, in a strange way, have even grown to enjoy them. Here are some of my favourites:

  • I have undeclared ties to the pharmaceutical industry.
  • I am incompetent or not even qualified.
  • I was employed at Exeter to ditch alternative medicine.
  • I have never done any original research.
  • I sit in the ivory towers of academia.
  • I have no clinical experience.
  • I am basically a liar.

Even though they have been repeated ad nauseam, all of these accusations are untrue and have been refuted so often that I do not want to go into them again (for those interested, see for instance here, here, here and here).However, the allegation that I am ‘influenced by ideological biases’ is a new one, at least to me. And therefore, it might deserve some serious consideration.

Let’s start by getting our definitions straight:

  • An ideology is a system of ideas and ideals.
  • Bias is an inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair.

Now let’s see how these two terms apply to me and my work.

  • According to the definition above, I am clearly influenced by an ideology. Yes, I do have ideals! For instance, I believe in science, want to see sound evidence, hope to improve healthcare, insist that patients deserve the best treatments available, and feel that ethics are of paramount importance in healthcare.
  • To make things worse, I am even proud of this ideology and I pity those who do not share it.
  • What about bias? Do I hold a grudge against one person or a group of people? As I just stated, I pity those who do not share my ideals, and if I am brutally honest, I do not like charlatans, liars or entrepreneurs selling false hope.
  • The question is whether this attitude is unfair. Personally, I do not believe it is, but I have to not deny that this is merely my perspective. There may be – and clearly are – other viewpoints.

So, to conclude this somewhat rambling post, I ready to admit that the Austrian homeopaths might have had a point:


2 Responses to My ‘ideological biases’ !?!

  • As I’ve said before, you and others on this blog do at least have some scientific knowledge/ background.
    Many of us do not( my own career an/ port interests are Art, illustration, Rock and Roll, drumming, literature, film, etc. All of which, at least to the late Logos- Bios, qualified me as a no- account fool.
    However, I have also been accused of much of this, including ( this is where it gets truly mad) being paid by the pharmaceutical industry.
    It’s been pointed out many times that this ‘critical thinking’ business is important here, as in other areas of life, and surely one needs to convince the non- scientific, not just preach to the converted.
    I learn a lot on this blog, and often post stuff and recommend it to others.

    Go to the wonderful, but utterly frightening, Cancer Tutor site for some world class stupidity and insults.
    One layabout, after I’d merely asked for some evidence of their bonkers claims, exploded into foul- mouthed anger and abuse,at one point shouting’For God’s sake man, you’re on a site where there are more than 240 reports of cures. What more do you need?
    I replied ‘Evidence’, and never heard from him again.
    More power to your various elbows.

  • Please keep pitching your brand of truth!

    It seems an effective deterrent to snakes, weasels , oracles, an those who are looking to prey on the weak, naive , or misguided.

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