MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

By guest blogger João Júlio Cerqueira

A word of caution to all the skeptics out there defending Reason, Science, and the Truth. This is a summary of a long story and only about one of many battles. It is not a very beautiful story but it is what it is. I’m a medical doctor, influenced by some of the great minds of our time, all of them familiar to you, Edzard Ernst, Steven Novella, David Gorski, Harriet Hall, Kimball Atwood and so much more (thank you all, for everything that you do).

I started reading skeptic blogs in 2013 and was amazed by the lack of critical thinking about science production and the lack of knowledge about pseudoscience in the medical community. And if this was bad in the medical community, in the general population it should be close to apocalyptic…

In 2017, I was confronted by a medical doctor that imported the great pitches of international charlatans. From alkaline diet, bioidentical hormones, colonic cleansings all through the “health benefits” of drinking diluted saltwater…yes, this is a real thing. He was transformed into a television celebrity, wrote one of the bestselling books in my country, and only a few people were horrified by what was happening. How? How can someone that says that kind of stuff could have this kind of reach in the media? He even sold foot detox!

So, frustrated by the lack of action of the regulatory institutions and the lack of critical approach by the media, I decided to create a blog that I called SCIMED. Using what I had learned through the years with “the masters of skepticism”, I tried to teach and convince people why pseudoscience is useless and dangerous. Why those selling pseudoscience are a danger to society and are only after the wallet of scientifically illiterate people.

Thanks to hard work and a lot of luck, the blog started to have a decent public projection. Started to get invitations to interviews in the media, invited to speak at conferences, started to write in the opinion section of mainstream journals, appearing on television, invited to do a TEDx talk, was invited to be one of the subscribers to the first world manifesto against pseudoscience and even had the pleasure to be a speaker in a conference side by side with Edzard Ernst, one of my heroes!

It was like something was changing. Well, it was not.

With public projection, came the problems…people calling my employers to get me fired, physical and death threats, constant harassment by email or in social media, doxing, and false accusations about my personal and professional life. You name it. And I endured…I considered it the dark side of defending Science and Truth.

In April of 2019, I was invited to represent my country´s Medical College in a debate about pseudoscience on television, prime time. I was very excited and emotion clouded my reason. I didn´t think about the consequences. And well, it was a shitshow.

The audience was dominated by alternative health practitioners. The moderator was sympathetic with alternative health practices. And of course, the people representing the alternative health practitioners didn’t play by the same rules. They used deception, lying, testimonials, and all the logical fallacies you can think of.

But what really took me over the hedge was a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner with connections to the Chinese Government, a constant presence in the mainstream media, that started to sell “acupuncture anesthesia” as something valid. Talking about how he, more than 20 years ago, used this practice to help perform surgical procedures. For me, that was a disrespect for all the people that suffered at the hands of Mao´s Chinese dictatorship. All the people that suffered excruciating pain, being operated on without general anesthesia only to sell East Snake Oil to the West. The “miracle” of acupuncture and Eastern medicine. The propaganda.

We exchanged words in the debate and that continued into social media. In the days after, I was called everything you can imagine by the defenders of alternative therapies. And this man took the opportunity to write that I was “short, ugly and bald” and that I have an “inferiority complex” because of that. That I´m a lousy doctor that cannot compete with his clinics. That only a masochist woman would want something with me.

But I endured. I could not stop feeling disgusted by the lack of shame of these people. I could not let go. Like Gaad Sad, I feel physical pain when someone is bullshitting. It makes me physically sick that people can say outrageous things with a serious face.

So, I wrote a blog post to explain the myth and the horror of acupuncture anesthesia and to dismantle other claims said by that man, like “all babies born with fire in the

liver…if you treat that problem, you can prevent infertility and cancer metastasis in the future!”. Preventing metastasis of a non-existing cancer… And I used a lot of adjectives: dumb, ignorant, charlatan, and snake oil salesman.

In November of 2019, this man goes to a wannabe Joe Rogan show and tells all sort of outrageous things like “Chinese people are so many because Traditional Chinese Medicine was very advanced for those days” or “until recently Traditional Chinese Medicine was more effective treating cancer than Conventional Medicine” or “Homeopathy works but they don´t want you to know…see this Documentary”. Again, I used sarcasm, irony, and a lot of adjectives.

And then, legal problems…

Soon after I wrote this last blog post, I received a letter from the court saying that I was being sued by this man. I hired a lawyer and made a lengthy response to all the accusations, more than 100 pages. Nevertheless, I have been charged with seventeen defamation crimes, awaiting trial, for defending the truth. For defending the people that Institutions refused to defend.

My country, Portugal, legally recognizes “Non-Conventional Therapies” like Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Osteopathy, Chiropractic, and Naturopathy. My country, instead of defending the consumer, took the option to give these people the legal right of robbing people. I thought that the COVID-19 pandemic would change that a little bit since pseudoscience contributed zero for solving the problem, alternative practitioners embraced negationism about COVID-19, and Traditional Chinese Medicine was put in the corner. It was Science that came to the rescue with vaccines.

But now, when the pandemic is finally getting managed in my country, the snakes are starting to come out of hibernation to sell snake oil. And the media are giving them credit, again, like nothing has happened…nothing has changed, except for me.

Right now, I face four legal battles, for defamation. Besides this man, I have another lawsuit from a Nurse that promotes Reiki and Traditional Chinese Medicine, other from a Naturopath/Quantum Doctor and, lastly, from a Medical Doctor that was the head of the “Doctors For the Truth”, an organization part of an international network of Health Professionals that still denies the science about COVID-19.

So, this is my prize for all the hours battling liars and charlatans. The regulatory institutions don´t care. The mainstream media and Social Media don´t care. They are like brokers. They always win no matter if the stock market goes up or down. They will use you just to fuel the battle between science and pseudoscience and make money out of it. Why do you think the “Disinformation Dozen” still exists, besides some gestures of goodwill by the Social Media giants?

What I learned and you should learn…

I learned that it is pointless trying to convince people to change their minds on social media… People don´t follow reason, follow emotion, and something closer to religious belief. People want to be right, don´t want to learn what is right. Facts don´t change the minds of believers.

I learned that “True Skeptics” are unicorns. Everyone is a rational, skeptical person that values truth, reason, and science until you hit some nerve, some irrational belief that they hold dear. And then the “skepticism” goes down the drain. The more topics you talk about, the lonely you will be. And then you became a unicorn or, in the words of Malcolm Gladwell in the book “Talking to Strangers”, a Holy Fool: the truth-teller that is an outcast.

The COVID-19 pandemic just made things a lot worse…People started to getting hit by the pandemic in their quality of life and you start seeing hardcore skeptics doubting the most basic science and common sense. You even see some of your personal heroes like John Ioannidis going down the rabbit hole. Making the same basic mistakes that he spent his life point out about science production!

You start to see the animal inside us taking ground, what William James argued: if something improves your chances of survival, is not that the “truth”? The pragmatic, utilitarian truth? We saw irrationality in all its splendor, people negating reality, trying to conserve their way of life, making sense of events they don´t control. Fighting for control. Reason went to sleep and a lot of skeptics ceased to be…

So, I came to ask for your help… After two years of enduring the Sword of Damocles over my head, the energy to continue is running out. The SLAPP (Strategic lawsuit against public participation) they call it, is making a dent in my will to continue to fight against irrationality and charlatans.

So, I came to ask for your help, the International Skeptic community, for covering the legal expenses. I already asked for the support of my country’s skeptical community but it was not enough…only after two years of this marathon probably will take another two, I took this decision. I´m not proud of this, I´m angry that these people, besides robbing the sick and fragile giving them false hope are now making those who fight them spend money and probably pay “compensation” for not be silent about charlatanism. You can support me through Paypal or Patreon. Thank you in advance and I will keep you up-to-date.

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53 Responses to A Word of Caution to Skeptics… A Chilling Story from Portugal

  • ok, I’ll make a start: the first 10 people who send João Júlio Cerqueira >100 Euro of support [confirmed by him], can ask me to send them this signed and dedicated book of mine [https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Edzard-Ernst/Homeopathy—The-Undiluted-Facts–Including-a-Comprehensive-A-Z-Lexicon/19719982].

    we should REALLY do something here!

  • Specially for Joao, perhaps it helps him understand, what´s going on (on both sides)

    https://homoeopathiewirkt.wordpress.com/2021/05/25/homeopaths-and-skeptics-are-we-about-the-same-species/

    Homeopaths and skeptics – are we about the same species?

    Four of the five Buddhist wisdoms are:

    we will grow old

    we will get sick

    we will die

    we’ll lose everything we’re attached to

    Since we homeopaths and also the skeptics seldomly are devoted Buddhists, the fear of illness and death determines all of our actions as a central impulse. So are our fears and the resulting defensive reflexes really that different?

    It’s about powerlessness and power. It’s about helplessness that none of us – skeptics as well as homeopaths – want to feel. It’s about lifelong running away from being wrong and insignificant, from rejection and insecurity. It’s about our inner doubts that we externalize and project (onto the opponents). We all experience and feel powerless when medicine shows its cold, uncompromising side, especially when we are sick. Dogmas give – again for both sides – the feeling of being on the safe and fair side. We have the right ideology!

    The only question is: do you want to be right or do you want to be free? And both sides shout out: I am right!

    In their training, homeopathic doctors have often experienced not only the life-saving skills of university medicine but also the helplessness of conventional medicine. So you go in search of support for the areas where conventional medicine surrenders or cannot classify complaints.

    In their own insecurity, the skeptics experience the need for absolute therapeutic feasibility in the event of a disease. Don’t take risks, the disease is irrational enough; an irrational form of therapy must not stand in the way of the absolute claim to healing.

    Homeopaths are afraid that a valuable tool will be taken away from them, which they use precisely where conventional medicine fails or where the sails are blown or have to admit helplessness and offer: „I still have something that will not harm you, but may still help you”! The patient and the homeopathic doctor no longer have to feel the threatening powerlessness.

    The skeptic: In his fear of illness he needs the supposed omnipotence of university medicine, but homeopathy is associated with imponderability, with a placebo effect and thus voodoo and shamanism. It means an uncontrollable interference in the private and intellectual sphere. A superior force attacking the unconscious, a hostile takeover of control. There is a risk of loss of control!

    Homeopaths and skeptics alike are now getting help from outside (and again the similar pattern of action is noticeable): Studies, meta-studies, evidence-based medicine, placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized are mutually ripped off. The interpretation of the results becomes a secret weapon …

    In the meantime, the homeopaths pout back to the „I saw it without (?) doubt and it cannot have been a placebo effect“.

    Whereupon the skeptics smile in amusement at best, and speak disparagingly of anectotic individual cases. Meanwhile, the skeptics are withdrawing to the standpoint of the ubiquitous placebo effect, especially in view of the (enviable?) time and emotionally intensive involvement of homeopathic doctors.

    What the front of the homeopaths cleverly counters: Healing often happens with limited exposure or with a fourth or fifth dose after previous mistakes. During the disorderly retreat of the homeopaths into the ivory tower of Hahnemannian dogmas, they hear the derisive laughter of the skeptics from outside who chant „Bible believers“ and loudly hostage the „globule in the ear“ as a symbol of the ridiculousness of homeopathic therapy.

    Both are now trying to recruit media mercenaries, bring foreign powers on board and try to win the people’s opinion on their own side. It is about nothing less than the absolute truth, the interpretive sovereignty, the salvation, the ultimate religion, the enlightenment, the redemption (either from the evil of conventional medicine or the pharmaceutical industry or from the dishonest, deceitful quackers). The fight is fought hard, polemical, fanatical and relentless: it seems that much is at stake? Nothing less than fear-free survival! Who is on the side of the righteous, the seekers of truth? Who is guilty of negligent (non) therapy or of being close to the pharmaceutical industry?

    And then there is the traitor, despised by homeopaths, who has changed fronts, deeply disappointed by the contradictions of a religion in which she firmly believed and which had once given her so much support and success. She is taken into her own camp with dances of joy and, willy-nilly, carried as a monstrance through the media landscape. Look here, she escaped from the sect! [And now landed in another!]. But what did she say in her “Book of Purification”: “From the emotional level onwards, we are no longer dealing with purely material, measurable biological-physical facts” [??]. Can we convict her of this statement, is she even a double agent? Isn’t that exactly what our sect claims for itself? This knowledge is ours!

    But despite all the supposed knowledge, skeptics and homeopaths end up at the same gate where the five Buddhist wisdoms are written!

    We all have to go through it! Please wait in silence until it’s your turn!

    • Way to ramble on with your inanities.

      Also, extra points for trying to create a false dichotomy with skeptics on one side and homeoptaths on the other.

      Being a skeptic has nothing to do with homeopathy. It just means that you are not convinced of claims until there’s sufficient good evidence to believe it.

      Of course, if homeopaths were being skeptical, they would not be homeopaths in the first place, so I can see why you’re trying to portrait it that way.

      But skepticism is applied to all the spheres of our existence, whether it’d be against snake oil peddlers, or religions, or just bad political ideas.

    • I will give you two things
      1 – we are all humans, prone to irrationality, heuristics, bias and logical fallacies.
      2 – Non-conventional therapies have, this days, more “heart” for the patients and conventional medicine is betting on the “brain”. Patients need both, so the way forward is a science based, humanized medicine.

    • I don’t understand why you brought up Buddhism. My father in law was a well respected GP in Hong Kong. He was not a Buddhist himself but many of his colleagues were. I don’t think any of them would have anything to do with homeopathy or traditional Chinese “medicine” or any other pseudoscience.

  • Happy to put in a couple of bucks.
    Could you please post your Paypal address?

  • @João
    I shall definitely make a contribution.

    Unfortunately, this situation is not unique. While defending their deeply-held beliefs (and/or their lucrative deception business, and/or their highly treasured status as a wise healer), quacks and charlatans more often than not make up with arrogance and hostility what they lack in knowledge and scientific rigour – and when they have access to serious funding, silencing their critics through defamation lawsuits is unfortunately quite common.

    Several prior examples come to mind:
    – In 2017, Britt Hermes was sued by cancer quack ‘treating’ naturopath Colleen Huber. And even though Hermes prevailed in the end, costs incurred during the whole procedure amounted to of tens of thousands of dollars. Luckily, Australian Skeptics launched a very successful fundraising campaign.
    – In 2016, Dutch mathematician and sceptic blogger Pepijn van Erp was sued for defamation by controversial scientist Ruggero Santilli. This lawsuit cost well over EUR 200,000, most of which paid by the Skepsis Foundation and sponsors. This lawsuit was later settled without a final verdict.
    – The Dutch Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (Association Against Quackery) was sued for defamation on several occasions. Losing one of these cases after appeal by plaintiff Sickesz caused significant financial damage, even though the verdict was widely criticized.

    I think that trying to get as much publicity as possible is indeed the best course of action. In doing so, it may be a good idea to expand your story into an even more detailed factual narrative about what happened to you personally, while at the same time presenting it in an objective manner, without emotionally charged language.
    About fundraising: maybe Australian Skeptics can help you here as well, or at least refer you to other organizations that may be helpful – or at the very least give you wider publicity. Having a respectable organization doing the fundraising on your behalf greatly increases people’s trust that their money is well spent. Also, it may help avoid trouble with your tax authorities (although you probably sorted that out already).

    • and not to forget BCA vs Simon Singh
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Chiropractic_Association_v_Singh
      the case later prompted Simon to force a change in UK libel law

      • Ah, yes, the Simon Singh case, how could I forget … And don’t leave yourself out, with his Royal SCAMness(*) abruptly ending your career in Exeter. OK, it’s not a hugely expensive lawsuit, but still an act of repression of a critical scientist.

        *: IIRC, it was Charles himself who coined the term ‘So-Called Alternative Medicine’, so I don’t think this use of the abbreviation constitutes defamation – even though I must admit that I have become rather careful not to use derogatory terms when referring to persons, especially after I decided to use my full name in public. And yes, I often have to restrain myself from simply calling a quack a quack. Then again, finding just the right language to convey the exact same meaning in a polite manner is becoming a sort of exquisite pleasure in and of itself …

    • Thank you very much for your comment. Fortunately, I think courts are getting more tolarent and pro free speech lately, thanks to European Court of Human Rights.

      In my country, the defense cost won’t reach those values, but the accuser is asking 80.000€ in “damage”.

      And thank you the advice. I’m going to talk to australian skeptic community. See if they can help.

  • I’m happy to kick down a little too! But I must point out that one of those individuals to whom you refer as “hero”, Dr. Gorski himself has kind of gone down that “other” rabbit hole (the one that Gad Saad knows only all too well!). And quite egregiously at that, it seems. Accordingly, it’s somewhat a challenge to get past Dr. Gorski’s name on a byline anymore, unfortunately… he has poisoned his own well. Anyone who goes on JK Rowling’s Twitter and smugly comments at her “OK, Karen” because she stands *up* for science and reason, just because Dr. Gorski feels impelled to stay in line with the way(s) that *his* tribe rejects reality, well, that’s sort of a dealbreaker. The internet never forgets, as the cliché reminds, and this is not going to magically go away for him. Dr. Gorski needs to own up to that one and issue both a retraction and an apology to this amazing, genuine, brilliant and *honorable* woman who probably did more to save a generation or two from illiteracy than anyone else since Dr. Seuss… whom I now have to wonder might *also* be within the scope of Dr. Gorski’s dutiful (read: petty) “culture war” crosshairs, according to the extreme end of his political tribe’s increasingly banal and cultish dictums. Thanks for listening. 🙏

    Note: As per this blogs’s exhortation to support claims with evidence, I do have screenshot but I don’t see how I can post it here. it’s pretty easy to track this down though, just search “Gorski Rowling Karen” and that should serve.

    • Agreed. It’s been disappointing to witness.

    • Could you explain what you are talking about – the search you suggested enlightens me not one jot ?

        • Thanks, i was actually familiar with the term “karen” but not sure what that has to do with Gorski.

          From doing a bit more searching, it seems the “amazing, genuine, brilliant and *honorable” Rowlings made a twitter comment that some have interpreted as being transphobic and Gorski retweeted it with a comment. So just another typical faction fight amongst progressives. Can’t find anything about Karens yet, or why this has anything to do with standing up for science and reason or “tribes” but this whole thing reminds me why I avoid twitter.

          • Stu is trying to present that I’m a hypocrite because I used the term “Karen” to describe Rowling in the context of her transphobia.

          • The only Karen tribe I know if is the one whose people now live in Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam, though I believe they originally came from China. I don’t suppose it is being used as a term of racial abuse here, but people should be careful throwing insults around if they dont know what they mean.

    • J.K. Rowling has revealed herself to be an anti-trans bigot. She is doing anything BUT “standing up for science and reason.” Stu’s outrage over my having referred to her on Twitter as a “Karen” is quite disingenuous and performative. Indeed, if there’s one huge disappointment I’ve had about the skeptical movement lately, it’s how many self-proclaimed “skeptics” so easily embrace bigotry against trans people disguised as science, except that it’s not science.

      But back to the real topic at hand, how quacks, antivaxxers, cranks, and conspiracy theorists use harassment and legal thuggery to silence opposition:

      https://respectfulinsolence.com/2021/05/26/legal-thuggery-the-favorite-technique-of-disinformation-merchants-to-silence-critics/

      • David – what a shameful thing to say without evidence. What science has JKR got wrong? What bigotry has she displayed.

        Here is the essay that caused the fuss if you have not read it.

        Please feel free to quote the sections that disgust you.

        https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues/

        João’s problem here is that some people think that when people say words they do not like they should be punished. As sceptics we say that is wrong. We are tied to the idea that the defense against error is reason. We meet bad arguments with counter-arguments.

        I am appalled at how so may people who call themselves sceptics will not say what people like JKR have got wrong – but instead wish to punish and socially shame her. In what way are you different to the quacks punishing João?

        • As expected, nearly two weeks later and no response from Gorski to your questions.

        • JK Rowling is bending over backwards to be fair to both sides in the essay you linked to – very like a woman.

          She’s a wonderful writer, by the way – of books for adults, not just Harry Potter books. Her Cormoran Strike series – her first attempt at detective novels – is very worth reading. They are very modern books. I didn’t like the first one so much, but they got better. Her detective characters feel very real – they have emotional reactions that real people would, rather than being superhuman in their endurance, as detectives in some other novels are. She makes lots of subtle observations about human nature, and has wonderful imagery sometimes.
          For example, about Strike and his ex-girlfriend Charlotte:
          “Ever since he had seen her at Lancaster House, Charlotte had slid in and out of his disengaged mind like a stray cat.”
          Her adult novels need a Dramatis Personae, because there are so many characters with complicated relations between each other, and readers tend to get confused. So I’ve been writing up Dramatis Personae lists – what work the characters do, how they’re linked to each other, etc., and putting them online.
          And readers don’t guess who the killer is on their own. She makes sure you’re surprised.

      • J.K. Rowling has revealed herself to be an anti-trans bigot.

        My understanding is that J. K. Rowling, having been a victim herself of sexual assault, once highlighted the fact that other rape victims might wish to have access to a safe space which was for women only, and that some of them had such traumatic exeriences that they could no longer feel comfortable or safe in the presence of somebody who had been born a male, however they might choose to identify themselves. This seems a perfectly rational position to me – that they way people feel is not the same as the way that they “ought” to feel – and one that has been taken completely out of context.

        I am going to stick my neck out further, however, and say that a transgender person who has chosen to identify themselves as female is not the same as somebody who is biologically a woman. I say this as an oncologist who has been involved in managing prostate cancer in an individual who had had surgery to transition from a man to a woman. The surgical alteration to their pelvic anatomy made the conventional alternatives of radical prostatectomy and prostate radiotherapy quite hazardous.

        • Julian

          You may be surprised to find that such reasoned statements will redsult in you being labelled a transphobic bigot by some.

          Also be aware “man” & “woman” = someone’s gender expression whilst “male” & “female” = biological sex. “Biologically a woman” is now regarded as meaningless, hence the vogue for referring “birthers” for cervical smears and “prostate owners” for PSA tests because to do otherwise is considered offensive to the trans community.

          “Some women have penses. Get over it.” Is the mantra.

          Interestingly, there are many trans people who diagree strongly with this position.

        • >a transgender person who has chosen to identify themselves as female is not the same as somebody who is biologically a woman.

          A person born with a male body and medically/surgically altered to be more like a woman is a kind of medically constructed intersex person. They aren’t female in many ways and won’t ever be; but they also couldn’t fairly be described as a man, since they have many of the attributes of women. Same is true of the reverse.

          • The whole issue of sex and gender becomes more complex the more closely you examine it.

            More generally, people think they have a lot more control over their bodies than they actually do.

          • You seem to be skirting quite close to the position of Rowlins original tweet.
            If someone wishes to live in accordance with their gender why does that bother you so much?
            Why are you trying to use the language and authority of science and biology to deny them this?

            The fact that gender is complicated (and that there are edge cases such as Dr JMK describes) doesn’t mean that whole concept of being transgender is wrong or flawed, it just means its complicated, and those who are trying to live their lives this way should be given our support not opprobrium.

          • zebra said:

            to live in accordance with their gender

            What do you mean by that?

          • @Alan
            for example someone should be able to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity

          • Zebra,

            If someone wishes to live in accordance with their gender why does that bother you so much?
            Why are you trying to use the language and authority of science and biology to deny them this?

            I’m not trying to deny them anything; quite the reverse. However, science and biology follow their own course, whatever language we use to describe them.

            What bothers me is that I’m the one who has to treat them when they get prostate or testicular cancer or whatever. What is important then is what impact their new anatomy has on treatment options and techniques, and what effect their altered hormonal environment has on tumour growth.

            Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was an academic Fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge, specialising in English. Unlike many of his colleagues in the Arts he had a number of friends who were scientists. It was a revelation to him that as far as they were concerned whether something was true was not a matter of opinion but experiment, and the only final arbiter was Nature.

            Many many times over the course of my career I have had patients ask me “Why have I got cancer? I have always followed a healthy lifestyle and eaten a good diet?”. The answer is that these can only improve your odds so far, beyond which Nature and chance takes over.

          • zebra said:

            for example someone should be able to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity

            That doesn’t answer the question I asked.

            You would first have to provide a cogent meaning for ‘gender’ and ‘gender identity’ and then what it means to live in accordance with either or both of these (whatever they mean) and how a ‘bathroom’ could ‘correspond’ to ‘gender identity’. Then why you think that should be the case.

          • Alan,
            the question you asked was a rather vague “what do you mean” which gave me rather a large lattitude in how to interpret it, and I assumed that it was a question that was asked in good faith.

            However, from your response I think you may be getting close to a practice that I believe has become known as sealioning.
            I doubt that the word “gender” is genuinely new to you, and you do not have any idea of its meaning.
            Instead you demand of me that I give a “cogent definition” of it.

            I gave you an example of “using bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity”
            If you disagree, perhaps you could give an explanation of why this should not be allowed.

          • @zebra

            You used a phrase; I asked you what you meant by that phrase.

            I doubt that the word “gender” is genuinely new to you,

            It certainly isn’t but that’s hardly the point. There are any number of meanings of it: all but one are irrelevant to this discussion. The only one that matters here is what you meant by it when you used it. We have made no progress on that yet.

            I gave you an example of “using bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity”

            An example doesn’t provide a definition. And without you saying what you mean by ‘gender identity’ no one can decide whether or not they agree with you on that, never mind what you mean when you say “live in accordance with their gender”.

            I

            If you disagree, perhaps you could give an explanation of why this should not be allowed.

            How can I agree or disagree when you haven’t said what you mean when you say those words?

            I’m with Voltaire here: “Define your terms.”

            All you’ve said so far is “live in accordance to their wabe”: it’s nonsense until you define your term.

            But if you are unwilling or unable to do so, please just say and we can leave it there.

  • Just today, my employer, the Director of Health, had to defend my right of expression in my capacity as a private person, in matters not concerning my official duties, which have to do with regulation and sulveillance of healthcare.
    A producer of food supplement complained that I had commented on their Facebook advertisement for their latest miracle product with a variety of fantastic effects. He stated his opinion that such conduct was inappropriate for a public servant.
    My comment was actually to the effect that the claimed effects of their new supplement mixture were really fantastic and exciting, that I knew of no research that confirmed the claimed efficacy so I asked if they could please[sic] forward any research documents or published articles that confirmed the claims. What might have irritated the rather wealthy owner of the supplement factory, was that some weeks later I again commented on this daily appearing advertiesement that I had not heard anything from them yet and wondered if the claims might be made up 🙂

    I have made a contribution via PayPal. Please keep the flag flying Dr. Cerqueira, and keep us informed.

  • Great cautionary tale! Reminds us all that People in glass houses shouldnt throw stones. Maybe João should focus his efforts on cleaning up the mess that is his chosen CON-Med (conventional medicine). People frequently dont choose the alternatives for any other reason, particularly for chronic conditions, than they dont relish the idea of spending the rest of their lives on an expensive chemical crutch with side effects. There is plenty of corruption and bad science in CON-Med that he could focus on, and very few true cures of chronic diseases.

    • Oh, goody. It’s not a though skeptics haven’t heard this tired old trope before when we criticize quacks and quackery!

      • you must forgive Roger – his middle name is BROKENRECORD

        • Oh goody! Its Orac the Nipple Ripper Gorski! In just the same manner we alt med folks are tired of the old tropes that the SS (so-called skeptics) bring out by accepting only a small fraction of the studies done on alt med, only the ones that fit their paradigm. I repeat stuff because newbies coming through this site, might think Edzard and the SS know what they are talking about when it comes to alternative med.

          • I repeat stuff because newbies coming through this site, might think Edzard and the SS know what they are talking about when it comes to alternative med.

            Oh dear, Roger. This again?

            As we repeatedly eviscerate your insignificant and fatuous blatherings you have to take solace in the similarly-rubbished canard that we don’t understand AltMed.

            All you demonstrate to newbies is your own inability to apply logic and the unarguable and repeatedly-demonstrated truth that AltMed is nothing more than an unevidenced religious faith followed by the credulous and weak-minded.

          • he’s just so happy that he is allowed back in – but the way he is doing, it might not last.

          • Now what does this remind me of … ah, yes:

            … quacks and charlatans more often than not make up with arrogance and hostility what they lack in knowledge and scientific rigour …

            (and my apologies for quoting myself in this very same thread, but it just goes to show that I have have amazing predictive talents SCAM proponents indeed have little to contribute in terms of sensible discussion points)

  • “But what really took me over the hedge was a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner with connections to the Chinese Government, a constant presence in the mainstream media, that started to sell “acupuncture anesthesia” as something valid. Talking about how he, more than 20 years ago, used this practice to help perform surgical procedures. For me, that was a disrespect for all the people that suffered at the hands of Mao´s Chinese dictatorship. All the people that suffered excruciating pain, being operated on without general anesthesia only to sell East Snake Oil to the West. The “miracle” of acupuncture and Eastern medicine. The propaganda.”

    This does not surprise me. Acupuncture has a political dimension in modern China. It’s use declined during the Qing dynasty. It was excluded from the Imperial Medical Institute by decree of the Emperor in 1822 and was finally made illegal in 1929 in the time of the Chinese Republic. After 1949, the legitimacy of Mao’s government rested in part on its ability to provide some sort of rudimentary health care for China’s vast population. The government was unable to provide scientific health care to the population in general and “traditional” medicines came to the rescue. Acupuncture was especially useful It could be presented as a uniquely Chinese practice that dated back to the stone age. The claims of its ancient origins are especially dubious as they rely on stone age artefacts that could possibly have been some sort of surgical instruments, but whose actual use is unknown. The assumption that they were used for acupuncture is completely unfounded. At the same time acupuncture could be claimed to be part of the new revolutionary China. After all it had been opposed by both the hated Qing dynasty and the “decadent” republic that followed.

    Acupuncture in its present form is essentially a modern invention. Historical texts are not detailed enough to tell us how precisely acupuncture was practised. The most detailed such text , The Great Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, was published some time in the Ming dynasty. It lists 365 acupuncture points but is otherwise completely unclear as to how and why the practice should be carried out.

    Although acupuncture, at its best, was little more than a placebo, it allowed the Maoist government to convince the masses that something was being done. Added to that it was considerably quicker and less expensive to train an acupuncturist than a properly qualified doctor. In addition there was political pressure on members of the medical profession to adopt acupuncture along with real medicine, leading to the absurd idea that it could serve as a replacement for a general anesthetic.

    Mao, himself, was only ever accepted treatment with “decadent” Western medicine.

    • This is a very good example of cynical governments who care only about remaining in power and very little about the welfare of their own people, which sadly seems to be a recurring theme in China.

      By the way, I am curious about the Chinese version of your name. Is “this bear’s heart” how Hurley is transcribed in Cantonese (apart from the first syllable I can’t make it work in Mandarin, but my knowledge of the language is very limited)? Or did somebody give it to you as a Chinese name based on how they saw you? Or is it something else entirely?

      • “Bernard” is derived from a low German name meaning “Bear’s Heart”. The modern German form of the name retains the “h”.

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