So-called alternative medicine (SCAM) is, as we all know, an umbrella term. Under this umbrella, we find hundreds of different modalities that have little in common with each other. Here I often focus on:
- herbal medicine.
There are uncounted others, and in my recent book, I published critical evaluations 150 of them. But for the moment, let’s keep to the 4 SCAMs listed above.
What strikes me regularly is that many SCAM enthusiasts do seem to appreciate my critical assessments of SCAM; for instance:
- When I point out that the assumptions of homeopathy fly in the face of science, most SCAM enthusiasts agree.
- When I point out that chiropractic spinal manipulations might not be safe, most SCAM enthusiasts agree.
- When I point out that acupuncture is not a panacea, most SCAM enthusiasts agree.
- When I point out that herbal remedies can interact with prescribed drugs, most SCAM enthusiasts agree.
Most but not all!
- Those who find my criticism of homeopathy unfair are the homeopaths and their proponents.
- Those who find my criticism of chiropractic unfair are the chiropractors and their proponents.
- Those who find my criticism of acupuncture unfair are the acupuncturists and their proponents.
- Those who find my criticism of herbal medicine unfair are the herbalists and their proponents.
Hardly ever does a herbalist defend homeopathy’s weird assumptions; rarely does an acupuncturist tell me that I am too harsh with the chiropractors; never have I heard a chiropractor complain that my criticism of acupuncture is unjustified.
But I find it nevertheless curious, because my critical stance is always the same. I do not change it for this or that form of SCAM (I would also not change it for conventional medicine, but I leave it to those who have more specific expertise to do the criticising). I have no axe to grind against any particular SCAM. All I do is point out flaws in their logic, limitations in their studies, gaps in the evidence. All I do is provide my honest interpretation of the evidence.
It really seems to me that everyone appreciates my honesty, until I start being honest with them.
And this is why I find it curious. Homeopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, herbalists and all the other types of SCAM practitioners like to be seen on the side of science, evidence, critical thinking and progress. This, I suppose, is good for the (self) image; it might even help the delusion that they are all evidence-based. But as soon as someone applies science, evidence, critical thinking and progress to their very own little niche within SCAM, they stop liking it and start aggressing the critic.
I suppose this is entirely obvious as well?
But it also exposes the double standard that is so deeply ingrained in SCAM.