Some time ago, I published ‘The 10 commandments of quackery’. Since then, I discovered that there are several errors that occur with such regularity in the comment section of this blog as well as in most other discussions about so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), that – in the hope to improve the logical reasoning of my readers (and often times my own) – it seems timely to publish the
10 ‘commandments’ of rational thought
- Thou shalt not confuse popularity of a therapy with its efficacy or safety (appeal to popularity).
- Thou shalt not assume that the test of time is a valid substitute for evidence (appeal to tradition).
- Thou shalt not believe that natural therapies are necessarily harmless (appeal to nature).
- Thou shalt not think that those who question your claim need to prove that you are wrong (reversal of the burden of proof).
- Thou shalt not assume that a therapy administered before a symptomatic improvement was necessarily the cause of that outcome (post hoc ergo propter hoc).
- Thou shalt not suppose that, because you do not know or understand an issue, it cannot be true (appeal to ignorance).
- Thou shalt not misrepresent your opponent’s position in order to make it easier for you to defeat it (straw man fallacy).
- Thou shalt not argue that, because others do wrong, you are permitted to do the same (tu quoque fallacy).
- Thou shalt not assume that your argument is correct because some authority agrees with you (appeal to authority).
- Thou shalt not attack your opponents instead of their arguments (ad hominem).
Yes, I know, one could add a lot more. But these 10 ‘commandments’ relate to the errors in rational thought that I feel would, if taken on board, be most useful in our discussions about SCAM.